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January 07, 2011

Comments

OK, I'll bite......

My first thought is that I am totally under-whelmed by Gary's post. Of the hundreds of posts by the late Major he seems to have dedicated only a couple of murky paragraphs to the subject of gays and DADT. It must not have been an issue of serious importance to him.

I respectfully disagree with the Major's and with Gary's argument.

One of the problems with the argument is a complete lack of definition of terms.

First we "the military" as if it is a monolithic all encompassing concept. It is, in reality, not. There are four main branches of the service (five if you count the Coasties). Each branch has its own distinct mission and culture. Then, within each branch there are wide spectrums of jobs (MOS) that an individual can be tasked with performing. There are many jobs, especially in the Air Force and Army, that are mostly no different than jobs in the civilian world. At the other end of the spectrum are combat jobs that have no civilian correlate at all. Each of these job types also has its own mission and culture. To illustrate, there is little in common between an Air Force motor pool job and a position in a Marine rifle company.

Then we have the term "gay". I admittedly don't know a whole lot about the "gay community", but from my own observations there are homosexual men that run a spectrum from the swishy, limp wristed, lisping overly effeminate hair dresser type to the overly macho type that tends to blend in to traditional male culture in terms of projected rough and tumble persona.

Then the Major tosses out the word "criminal" and makes a comparison between serving with one of these versus serving with a homosexual. I suspect that Gary likes this comparison for its emotional pull. Maybe my ESP is off again as I am sure someone will point out to me.

"Criminal" is also a vast spectrum. There are 18 year olds that grew a couple of pot plants. A young man that might have stolen a car or gotten into a fist fight and was convicted for this. Then there is John Gotti and Charles Manson.

So we have all of these possible combinations of "gay", "military" and "criminal".

There are many jobs in the military where I think even the hairdresser could be accepted and perform well. There are other jobs where I think that even the most macho homosexual, if open, would be a disruption and a problem, generally.

There are situations in which, if I was in command, I would prefer the homosexual - even the hairdresser - to the John Gotti and there are situations in which John Gotti would be the superior choice over most anyone - straight or gay.

Finally, there is the idea of "openly" gay. What does that mean? Major Olmsted confesses that he doesn't even know if he served with a gay peer. How would openly gay change the equation? We don't know until we define "openly".

If definitions for all of these terms are not delineated and the various combinations discussed thoroughly, then I continue to assert that the people pushing for the repeal of DADT are thoughtless idealists with an over arching agenda engaged in forcing social engineering on a culture - really cultures - they don't understand, don't care to understand and without regard to the consequences of their actions.

BTW, I would have told the Major that the M16 functions just fine in the desert if you ignore normal lubrication procedures. In the desert an M16 (or the M4 carbine variant) works just fine if you a) use far more than the normal dose of lubricant or b) use far less than normal. The normal amount seems to just right to attract and maintain sandy grit in amounts that cause jams. Drier does not allow the grit to stick. Wetter overcomes the grit.

Gary, while I admire your intentions here, this has the potential to get really distasteful, really fast. Andy is no longer with us to defend or expound on his arguments, and none of us should be so presumptuous as to speak on his behalf.

If the pile of vomitus directly above me is going to lead to another 200-comment whirlwind of nonsense, I'd ask that you either close comments or take this down.

avedis, thanks for reading and responding!

[...] First we "the military" as if it is a monolithic all encompassing concept.[....]
Certainly many people do speak this way, as do most of us, when we have appropriate rough generalization, and other times it's a less accurate generalization, not covering the distinctions adequately. Yes.

In this it is similar to using the word "civilian." Or "academic." Or "conservative." Or "liberal." Or "libertarian."

Or any word that both covers millions of people, and yet which it's also necessary to frequent be more specific about.

Which makes it like most "nouns."

Thus we attempt to use language carefully, and specifically, as time and circumstances allow.

To illustrate, there is little in common between an Air Force motor pool job and a position in a Marine rifle company.
In terms of MOS, and plenty of service distinctions, and others we can draw, surely.

In terms of discipline, order, legal system, and way of life, compared to being a civilian, there's more commonality.

The question then rises when we turn to a specific question as to whether the commonality or distinction is most relevant. This is a point of general logic that universally arises whenever one looks at whether any generality or specific is more relevant.

But you stopped there. So I'm left saying "yes, that's true. And?"

We have to get to the specific.

[...] Then we have the term "gay". I admittedly don't know a whole lot about the "gay community", but from my own observations there are homosexual men that run a spectrum from the swishy, limp wristed, lisping overly effeminate hair dresser type to the overly macho type that tends to blend in to traditional male culture in terms of projected rough and tumble persona.
And a whole lot more, in between, beyond, and orthogonally.

One might similarly say that there are military personnel that run on a variety of spectra, as well, and, hey, that's in fact more or less what you just did in your first paragraph, as regards treating or referring to "the miliary" as "if it is a monolithic all encompassing concept. It is, in reality, not...."

Yup! All true!

Ditto we could make distinctions and/or generalize, similarly about the Corps, various MOS, officers and NCOs, various theaters of operation, Commands, types of bases, units and so on.

The point is to be accurate, not to simply observe that everything in life can be described more generally or specifically. We all know that.

[...] Then the Major tosses out the word "criminal" and makes a comparison between serving with one of these versus serving with a homosexual. I suspect that Gary likes this comparison for its emotional pull. Maybe my ESP is off again as I am sure someone will point out to me.
Indeed, all you have are words on a page, and in this case, since I didn't edit a word of MAJ Olmsted's, they're all his, and you have absolutely no basis whatever for judging what I do or don't like, other than your own assumptions.

And what someone assumes tells us something about them, not the object of their assumption.

As a rule, I'd like to suggest that discussing what anyone imagines about what anyone else thinks simply is almost never productive.

The only way one can confirm such thoughts is by either asking in words, and then deciding if the words are credible or not -- in which case, just ask in the first place -- or if you have access to a mind-reading machine, and as it turns out no, none of us do.

So we all around here, and where "logical thinking" is done, find it counter-productive to discuss what our imaginary versions of the insides of someone else's head are. I don't, you notice, speculate about what you are thinking, and then proceed to address you as if my imaginary version of you were the real one.

You are free to chat with whom you like, but I suggest that sticking to the person who writes words you can read is more productive than chatting with your imaginary Gary.

Myself, I'll stick to responding to what you write, rather than sailing off into guesses about what you think, and then trying to have a discussion with my imaginary avedis.

After all, I can just ask you what you think, if you're around, and I find conversation has a better chance of happening when both people involved are talking to each other, rather than just their own imaginations.

So perhaps we could try sticking to responding to each other's words, and not speculating about mind-reading: would that work for you?

In any case, it's how I'll respond, whatever you think: to your words. If you find me straying, please do call me on that.

Finally, there is the idea of "openly" gay. What does that mean? Major Olmsted confesses that he doesn't even know if he served with a gay peer. How would openly gay change the equation? We don't know until we define "openly".
I can help you there!

It simply means treating everyone alike as regards appropriate behavior: if a behavior is inappropriate for a heterosexual in the Marines, it's inappropriate for a homosexual, a bisexual, an asexual, or anyone on the Kinsey scale, which is to say, everyone human should be judged exactly the same way: is their behavior appropriate, reasonable, allowable, and compatible with being a good Marine, or isn't it?

We already know how to judge that, right? That's what order and discipline and unit cohesion are all about, right?

So: no problem.

See also defining "white people" and "black people" or "yellow people" or "pink people." Or any other division of people you'd care to perceive: either it's relevant to how it affects the mission and unit, or it isn't.

And the Corps and rest of the U.S. military don't find this to be a new question.

So, now we've answered that. But we may need to discuss it in further depth, and length, so do feel free. You may have additional questions, and we're all free to discuss them, or ignore them, as we see fit. I'll do my best to respond as I can, without making it my life's work. :-)

Incidentally, a useful test in general, I've found, is whether nouns in sentences can be changed and still have the sentences make the same sense or not; if yes, "why?" is interesting, and if no, "why?" is interesting.

The same goes for simply inserting or removing negatives from a sentence/paragraph.

So: if "If definitions for all of these terms are not delineated and the various combinations discussed thoroughly, then I continue to assert that the people pushing for the repeal of DADT are thoughtless idealists with an over arching agenda engaged in forcing social engineering on a culture - really cultures - they don't understand, don't care to understand and without regard to the consequences of their actions" is a reasonable statement, logic says that "If definitions for all of these terms are not delineated and the various combinations discussed thoroughly, then I continue to assert that the people pushing against the repeal of DADT are thoughtless idealists with an over arching agenda engaged in forcing social engineering on a culture - really cultures - they don't understand, don't care to understand and without regard to the consequences of their actions" is either identically true or isn't true.

If it isn't, it's up to you to explain why it isn't true. It's your assertion, just with a different noun. Does the noun change reverse the meaning, or not? The answer will sometimes be yes, and sometimes no.

Let's discuss.

So: why isn't your own sentence true if we change nouns?

Over to you. I won't discuss this with my imaginary version of avedis: I'll ask the real avedis. I find it's more productive and less of a waste of everyone's time to stick to asking you, and then I'll respond to what you merely write, rather than my own guess, however accurate or inaccurate my speculation may be.

Your last statement was here on January 02, 2011 at 10:55 PM. Perhaps you stand by all of it, perhaps some you'd like to reconsider or withdraw. I can't know without asking.

So I'll ask a few questions. You wrote that:

[...] I truthfully disclosed that I have friends that are gay and that I enjoy a drink with them from time to time. Yet, I am repeatedly called a "homophobe".
If I told you that I am a "white" guy from Texas, or am a Baptist, or or are tall, or short, and you told me me that you have friends who are "white" guys from Texas, or Baptists, or from Ohio, or are tall, or short, would that demonstrate you treat everyone in those categories identifically? No, it would not. Because you don't. You treat them as individuals unless, of course, you do find all such people to be identical clones. Do you?

Would saying that you enjoy a drink with a tall guy, or a short guy, prove that you therefore are incapable of of treating different tall guys and different short guys differently? I doubt it, but do you?

Would saying that you enjoy a drink with a tall guy, or a short guy, prove that you treat all short guys and tall guys identically? I doubt it, but do you?

Are you starting to see any problem with the notion that just because you have a drink with someone doesn't demonstrate anything at all other than that you are a nice guy who can have a drink with someone not identical to you?

Or are you suggesting that everyone you drink with you would treat identically in all other situations? I doubt it, but do you?

If definitions for all of these terms are not delineated and the various combinations discussed thoroughly [...]
It's been done. There are whole books about it, and millions of people have had these discussions. We will keep having them.

You can participate and familiarize yourself with them, or not, as you like. What you can't truthly say is that this hasn't been done. All you can say is how much of this you've done.

And that's up to you.

We'll be here all week.

Good to see you back, so long as you stay within the posting rules.

But let's all try to limit our need to return to the same points, in sofar as we can, okay? It's called, in legal terms, "asked and answered."

Nothing you've said isn't something I couldn't have answered with thousands of other people's words by simply linking to them or quoting them. That's because this is not the first conversation about this that has ever happened.

It would save time if you did do more reading on points of view contrary to your own, just as you wish the civvies to know more about the jarhead view.

We all need to work off the same, agreed-upon, information, for us to get anywhere towards understanding each other, I'm sure you'll agree.

I like to try. Let's see what we can do, gyrene.

A few other questions about your previous statement of January 02, 2011 at 10:55 PM: you wrote that:

One of the fundemenatal points I was attempting to make throughout is that people here have no understanding of military life; especially in combat arms.
And yet you've said this of a variety of people who have explained to you that they have or are serving. Do you stand by this claim?

You're now responding to the dead MAJ: are you asserting that he had no understanding of "of military life; especially in combat arms"?

"Yes," or "no" will do, but please do explain the complexities as necessary.

You wrote:

[...] I'm sure none of us want to start rehashing what has already been argued.
I'm afraid you're wrong. I'm a fan of consistency.

That is, you're free to make contradictory statements. This is casual conversation, over time, and I, for one, don't write these comments as if I'm being paid to write a careful and perfectly coherent essay each time, or any time. I'm writing this as I'm waking up, and I'm apt to wander, write carelessly, and sometimes accidentally make no sense.

I expect you to ask me to clarify anything I've written that you find confusing, because in many cases, I was simply writing too fast, or was distracted, or phrased my words poorly, and if you point that out, I'll probably notice, and agree that I want to modify what I previously wrote, so it makes more sense, and better reflects either what I intended to write then, or perhaps my new thought, after reconsideration. Sometimes I find that I just said something stupid, and now I realize it, five minutes or five days later!

Changing one's mind, for one thing, is not just allowable, but necessary. It's how argument has to work if it serves any purpose. All concerned have to listen to what the other person says, and think about it. I'm not saying this to you: I'm agreeing with you that everyone needs to think about what you say, and not just respond as if you were some homogenous Other, when you're just you, avedis, not A Homophobe or All Marines or All Men or All Americans.

In turn, I suggest responding to other people similarly: as individuals, rather than as "you people" or imagining that all the widely disaparate people who comment at ObWi, which includes you, were anything other than individuals, no matter that a bunch happen to disagree with you in different ways about one particular view.

Does that approach work for you?

[...] I guess what I was -and am - trying to say is that even at my most hard charging (some 20 years ago when I was in the service), I was more open minded and liberal in my thinking than the majority my peers. I've mellowed quite a bit since then. I assure you that there are many in the service at all levels that me look like Mary Poppins.
I agree completely!

And the same is true of those you're responding to: we're each and everyone one of us extremely different people. This might be clearer if we had a photo gallery, or little bios for everyone, but if you stick around and keep reading enough to get to pick up on who some of the individuals are, you'll learn that, say, Slartibartfast is not Sebastian, who is not Phil, who is not matttbastard, who is not Gary, who is not Eric, who is not avedis, who is not envy, who is not Charles Bird, who is not liberal japonicus, who is not Uncle Kvetch, who is not RobW, who is not RobInCT, who is not Brett Bellmore, who is not Doctor Science, who is not Countme--In, who is not Jacob Davies, who is not McKinneyTexas, and on and on. None of is is the same person.

The fact that we're writing in the same little comment boxes, and our words all appear in the same font, does not, in fact, make any of us have in common anything other than that we all have some vague ability to communicate in English.

Every other similiarity is either there or not, and you simply have to either care to get to know the individuals, or not.

Just like everywhere else in life.

Save that in writing, all we have is the writing, which is what words people choose to use.

I try to cut people a lot of slack to say "hey, that was poorly rephrase by me; can I try that again? Here's what I was trying to say...."

Does that work for you?

You wrote:

At the end of the day, I find this blog to be exactly what I said it was in my first comment; an echo chamber.
You're as identically a member of what you called "an echo chamber" as anyone else? Would you still assert that everyone's opinions are the same as yours? Or might you want to reconsider that possibly this might have been... something worth reconsidering?

I don't know, but I do know that I now have to feed some cats, and do other chores.

This is the schmuck you're talking to. Here's me, and the cats, as of December 30th, though I have a much shorter haircut now!

Almost, but not quite, Marine style. Not intentionally, but that's how it worked out.

If those links don't work for you, or anyone else, let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

If you have any complaints with your treatment here, write us at ObWings@gmail.com, and we'll try to get back to you.

I will, anyway. I realize it's still a Secret Address, but I'm trying to work on that.

Talk to you later!

Phil:

Gary, while I admire your intentions here, this has the potential to get really distasteful, really fast. Andy is no longer with us to defend or expound on his arguments, and none of us should be so presumptuous as to speak on his behalf.
And I won't let that happen, Phil.

"The question then rises when we turn to a specific question as to whether the commonality or distinction is most relevant."

Yes, of course. For example, I was, I think, the only one who pointed out the distinction in the results from the DoD survey between the answers of combat arms and non-combat arms. Everyone in favor of the repeal was using the generic "military" and quoting overall statistics that are, by mathematical realities, skewed toward the larger subgroup; which is non-combat arms.

"In terms of discipline, order, legal system, and way of life, compared to being a civilian, there's more commonality."

Negative. This is a lack of understanding on your part. No more so than there is commonality between ciriculum and academic ambiance coming from engineering prof.s, womens studies prof.s and sports sciences prof.s, even though they all may be employed by the same university. They most likely have dramatic differences in everything from the standards they expect from their students, personal attitudes regarding social issues, the cocktail parties they attend, etc, etc.

"As a rule, I'd like to suggest that discussing what anyone imagines about what anyone else thinks simply is almost never productive."

Fair enough. If I decide to stick around - and I think I won't - I'll expect all parties to be held to that rule; including Phil.

"...which is to say, everyone human should be judged exactly the same way: is their behavior appropriate, reasonable, allowable, and compatible with being a good Marine, or isn't it?"

This is where your idealism clashes with reality. You already know my counter positition. I provided links to statements from Marines of my era that described life in a Marine rifle company; one of which included the specific statement that a gay's chance of survival in that environment would be "slim indeed". So it's not just me talking. You are also aware that I am concerned about the possibility of discrimination suits by gays when they are disciplined for reasons other than sexual orientation, but then seek to appeal the disciplinary action on the basis of imagined or outright disingenuous claims of discrimination. Morale and unit cohesion are threatened when the organization learns to grant special treatment to gays so as to avoid bad press and law suits. These things do happen in real life.

You also know that based on what I - and my links - described as valued personality attributes in combat arms, I dismiss the comparison between racial integration and homosexual integration. And with that in mind, Major Olmsted provides a hint of contradictory testimony. On the one hand he complains that standards are being lowered such that "criminals" are allowed to gain entry into the service due to a need to meet recruitment goals. I - and others like the esteemed Col. Patrick Lang - say that the combat arms culture, largely derived from and reflecting "fly over America" where the personnel come from, will not accept the integration and that there will be an exodus of career enlisted and officers. Where is the solid evidence that these people will be replaced, on not only a 1:1 boots on the ground ratio, but on a combat effectiveness evaluation, by homosexuals who are waiting on the sidelines to serve under a repealed DADT? I know of no study proposing this. Yet you and Major Olmsted still make the unfounded assertion that it is so.

Asked and insufficiently answered.

".... then I continue to assert that the people pushing against the repeal of DADT are thoughtless idealists with an over arching agenda engaged in forcing social engineering on a culture - really cultures - they don't understand, don't care to understand and without regard to the consequences of their actions" is either identically true or isn't true.'"

That is marginally clever. It is also irrelevant. What is relevant is that we currently have an organization(s) and system that works for all but a miniscule minority (homosexuals who can't manage to exist within DADT). We are fighting two wars. In the current global situation a third war is always possible at any time.
Do we start monkeying with the system that works and is stressed under these circumstances for the benefit of a very few at the potential risk of substantially greater cost to the whole? I think that is simply bad decision making. That being said, I think that a reasonable proposal would be to repeal DADT within the Air Force only and see how that works out in terms of all of the assumptions made by those on both sides of the fence.

On that note, here's an important point; not asked and not answered. In previous discussion, some commentors stated that they knew (or know) gay Marines, SEALS, etc. Ok, I believe that for a minute or two. So these gay people are IN the service. Apparently, if a homosexual is able to adhere to your standards - what is appropriate behavior for anyone - then they are not experiencing any issues. Major Olmsted, again, stated that he didn't know if he served with a homosexual or not, but figures he must have due to the law of averages. He didn't know because those he served with were also able to maintain proper demeanor within the Gary Farber definition of such (and it's a definition that I generally agree with).

So why do we need the repeal? This is why I am highly suspicious of the term "openly gay". What does that mean as opposed to what we have now?

"Your last statement was here on January 02, 2011 at 10:55 PM. Perhaps you stand by all of it, perhaps some you'd like to reconsider or withdraw. I can't know without asking."

I stand by it.

If I drink with someone, I accept them as a friend. That's how I roll. Would I treat each friend the same in all circumstances? No, of course not. The fact of those friends' homosexuality does factor into certain social planning situations. For example, I do not invite them to parties that will have a preponderance of homophobic attendees. In fact, I have told them on more than one occassion that I was having a get together, but it wasn't their "kind of crowd". Our friendship is strong enough and they are reasonable enough that they understand and accept this. Honestly, I don't get your point. When you have worn/wear as many different hats as I have you make friends from all walks of life. I accept that most people are stuck at assessing others on a more superficial level and, because of that, some of my friendship circles won't mix. I don't invite people from the backside of the race track to hang out with me and people from the corporate world or vice versa. Is that pointing toward bigotry or is it simply social awareness?

FYI.....gyrene is usually considered a derogatory term. I'll assume you didn't mean it that way.

"You're now responding to the dead MAJ: are you asserting that he had no understanding of "of military life; especially in combat arms"?

"Yes," or "no" will do, but please do explain the complexities as necessary."

No.

I think he offered an opinion based on an ideal. He also qualified his statement, "Would allowing openly gay people to serve in the military cause serious damage to the institution? While I cannot guarantee that the answer would be no.....".

However, as Phil notes, he is not around to flesh out or add nuance or context to his very limited statement on the topic.

I am not entirely comfortable basing an argument on a brief statement by a man who cannot further speak to his meaning.

Unlike Phil, I do not understand what it is you are trying to achieve with this.

As for your other questions; yes, when making comments on a blog I am often sloppy in everything from spelling and grammar to content and meaning. Many times I have hit the post button only to regret not having better or more accurately put forth my opinions. I did make some retractions in previous threads. I am perfectly capable of admitting when I am wrong.

@avedis:
You are also aware that I am concerned about the possibility of discrimination suits by gays when they are disciplined for reasons other than sexual orientation, but then seek to appeal the disciplinary action on the basis of imagined or outright disingenuous claims of discrimination. Morale and unit cohesion are threatened when the organization learns to grant special treatment to gays so as to avoid bad press and law suits.

Given that you've brought this up, again, without ever having made even a pretense of effort to address my prior questioning of you on this point, I frankly don't feel like you're arguing in anything resembling good faith, and am having trouble seeing you as being worth addressing... but I'll give it one last go.

How will the addition of another EO category suddenly Change Everything? How will dirtbag gays protesting justified disciplinary actions on EO grounds be different than any other dirtbag belonging to a protected category protesting justified disciplinary actions on EO grounds? How will the military, which currently is surviving the existence of protected categories based on race, color, religion, gender, and national origin, suddenly be overwhelmed and ruined by the addition of sexual orientation?

If you cannot explain how adding another protected category will suddenly break the system, then your continued assertion of this point is spurious, and you are arguing in decidedly bad faith. Period, full stop.

"Negative. This is a lack of understanding on your part. No more so than there is commonality between ciriculum and academic ambiance coming from engineering prof.s, womens studies prof.s and sports sciences prof.s, even though they all may be employed by the same university. They most likely have dramatic differences in everything from the standards they expect from their students, personal attitudes regarding social issues, the cocktail parties they attend, etc, etc."

This is both a comparison of apples to oranges and a really good comparison if taken to its logical conclusion.

1) Of course different disciplines have different curricula, it is perfectly logical that the set of knowledge you will need for physics is not going to be precisely the same as that needed for anthropology or even a closely related discipline such as Mathematics.

2) The cultures between different departments in the same university can vary quite considerably (this can often come down to a difference in leadership as much as anything else)

Having admitted to both of the above...
3) All academics within the same university have agreed to abide by the same set of official academic standards and the same rules on cheating, plagiarism and dishonest behaviour. Almost all of them will react to plagiarists as if they have destroyed an entire village full of puppies and almost all of them will be working their graduate students/tutors/TAs finger's to the bone.

4) Unofficially academics (and support staff) from a wide range of disciplines will socialise together and share horror stories and gossip about students, administrators and agree that standards are sliding downhill.

So to summarise...It is possible for a number of disparate groups to agree to abide by a set of common values and rules (and judging by events over the last few years here it is even possible to repeatedly change those rules).

Your analogy supports Gary's point of view much more than your own.

Envy, I thought I had answered your question previously. Maybe I did not. Here is the answer. First off, you probably know perfectly well that only a fraction of the possible EO issues actually become full blown MEO complaints. The concern with adding this new EO catagory is that it is coming all the way down from the very top and an official MEO complaint on this issue has a good possibility of going all the way back up. It is a political hot potato with substantial backing from well organized political action groups and no battalion or regimental level command is going to feel comfortable burying it (IGMFO and a career) like they are wont to do with many other of these types of issues. That is my sense anyhow. As you are no doubt well aware there are often ways, through non-official channels, to deal with complaints and complainers (see linked coments by OCSteve). I don't believe those will be used with the homosexuals for reasons I just stated.

And the above should serve in part as a reply to Annamal's. "It is possible for a number of disparate groups to agree to abide by a set of common values and rules ".

Additionally, agreeing to abide and actually abiding are entirely different things. I attended and graduated my undergrad studies from a research 1 university with a well developed athletics program. I can assure you that the rules applying to plagairism, cheating and academic performance in general were quite different for athletes and the courses of study they tended to follow than it was it the harder sciences that the athletes tended to eschew. I can further attest to the differences in grading standards in different departments as well as the amount of work required to meet the basic curriculum, the quality standards, etc.

It was just a loose analogy that a reasonable person without military experience might be able to understand if they really want to.

And I've spent my entire life around academics and academic support staff(as well as obtaining my own undergrad degree) from a variety of different disciplines (within the same country's academic system but from different universities) and I'm telling you that if your university turned a blind eye to plagiarism or cheating then a significant proportion of the academics I know would regard it as a monumental failure on the part of the entire university (and grounds to regard *any* piece of academic work coming out of that university with suspicion).

Requiring different amounts of work or assigning marks based on differing criteria is just a logical consequence of differing disciplines and is irrelevant to the discussion.

I understand the analogy just fine, I merely believe that it points in a different direction than you intend.

Well, Annamal, your experience is different than mine (BTW I also obtained a masters degree from a major university). I suppose we could engage in "yes it is/no it isn't" games all weekend long......I don't want to, so, ok. It was a bad analogy. I'll think of another. That's part of the problem. I have to try to find something that folks here can relate to instead of speaking directly to the point; which is that the service branches are different in respect to how they internally adhere to the rules and within each branch there are further delineations depending on MOS, unit, etc.

Maybe it's more like police departments. All precincts within a large city sworn to protect and serve and to follow the directives of the same chief, but all with varying degress of graft and corruption, racial tension, use of deadly force, ethnic profiling, etc.

Now someone will tell me that there are no corrupt police forces?

Right. Uh-huh. You're not actually offering any support for your position, you know. As if there are no political action groups for other protected categories. As if none of them are political hot potatoes. Will people try to use orientation-based EO complaints to game the system? Of course. Do people use the current EO system to game the system? Of course. Will there be a period right after the repeal when it's politically touchy and some people will be reluctant to go anywhere near orientation-based EO complaints? Of course. Will there be plenty more perfectly legitimate EO complaints cropping up because troops sharing your outlook will attempt to impose illegitimate disciplinary measures on their newly outed comrades? Of course. Will some "otherwise good" troops lose their careers for pursuing such behavior? Of course. Will it be entirely their fault and proof that "otherwise good" != good? Of course. And then, in 3 or 6 or 9 or 12 months, the military will shrug its collective shoulders and Solider on, and sexual orientation will be no more of a hot button protected category than any other. We'll execute the mission just as well as we do now, and the system won't suddenly be clogged with dirtbags hiding behind orientation-based EO complaints... because the system is resilient. This won't be some magical gamebreaker. You've said nothing that is at all convincing in that regard. "It'll be different because it'll be different!!!" does not a substantiated argument make.

Look, I get where you're coming from. I work in military corrections, and I get to see the worst of combat arms mentalities up close and personal every damned day. I get to see people gaming the system constantly to the absolute utmost of their ability. I get to see concentrated contempt for good order and discipline, the UCMJ, and lawful regs incessantly, both from brown-suiters and green suiters. And yet somehow I don't share your unwavering, self-sustaining "it just will" perception of utter chaos and doom, nor contemptuous lack of faith in military order, when the repeal gets implemented.

You sell the resilience of the US military grossly short. Just because you might not be capable of mustering the discipline or professionalism necessary to deal with the repeal doesn't mean the serving military won't.

Police departments are a fantastic example!

If harsh new rules to cut down on say for example,unwarranted racial profiling were introduced and individual officers piped up and said that those rules would damage their ability to operate as a cohesive unit we should allow them to continue damaging the reputation and operating capability of the police force in the community in order that they can continue to hold on to their own personal bigotry?

Or should a society change the rules based on its principles and accept that some sections of the force will be slower to adapt than others?

envy, Actually, if I was currently serving, I would be capable of mustering the discipline or professionalism necessary to deal with the repeal.

At least you get where I'm coming from. I get where you are coming from. We can't ask much more of each other, can we?. We can respectfully disagree. You think I am selling the military short and I think you are giving it - or at least certain aspects of it - more credit than is realistic. We both have an opinion. I am having a sense of deja vu. We will have to leave it at that and re-visit the topic in a couple of years.

Annamal, you are a clear illustration of my point. You are an idealist and your ideals are good ones. Ideals versus the real world....like a good liberal you want to believe in the power of big gov't to impose progress as you define it.

For how long have citizens tried to clean up corruption in their police dept.s? NYC and LA come to mind. The corruption is exposed, then it goes underground, then it surfaces again and so on and so forth for generations.

Fraternal organizations have ways of subverting rules forced on their culture by outsiders. That or the culture collapses when the rules cannot be subverted and the imposition goes to the heart of the organization's mentality.

Does this mean we shouldn't try? I'm sure we agree the answer is "no". My point has always been that the repeal of DADT is a social experiment that should not be carried out when we are at war. An incremental carefully monitored implementation during peace time makes more sense to me.

envy, one more thing; since this post is about Maj. Olmsted. It is clear that the Major did not share you complete optimism. "Would allowing openly gay people to serve in the military cause serious damage to the institution? While I cannot guarantee that the answer would be no..."

What I do today is all about risks versus benefits. If my son were to come home to me in a box because of some incident related to this repeal I would be pretty damn upset with people that weighed in favor of it because their idealism blinded them to a fair analysis of the risks versus benefits. That is also where I am coming from. Understand?

"Annamal, you are a clear illustration of my point. You are an idealist and your ideals are good ones. Ideals versus the real world....like a good liberal you want to believe in the power of big gov't to impose progress as you define it."

Nope I'm a realist, I've observed huge changes in the so-called "real world" within my lifetime and I've observed that a huge amount of progress has happened after my government made changes to relevant legislation.

I'm not claiming that legislation is the only or even the driving factor in these changes but I will claim that legislative changes have contributed to an environment where progress can happen and that the truly phenomenal progress could not have happened without those legislative changes.

"Fraternal organizations have ways of subverting rules forced on their culture by outsiders. That or the culture collapses when the rules cannot be subverted and the imposition goes to the heart of the organization's mentality."

Given the evidence from every single country that has previously implemented this kind of integration it is almost certain that the US military culture will not collapse if homosexuals are allowed to admit to being gay. It is also reasonable to assume that subversion will happen (just as racism, sexism and every other ill of human society happens within the military). Subversion sucks but is not a good reason to avoid legislating on principle.


"Does this mean we shouldn't try? I'm sure we agree the answer is "no". My point has always been that the repeal of DADT is a social experiment that should not be carried out when we are at war. An incremental carefully monitored implementation during peace time makes more sense to me"

As far as I am aware, the US military still technically bans women from front line service. The two current wars have rendered this ban utterly meaningless in reality. Given that this is a huge practical social experiment that the US military is currently conducting without careful monitoring (or of course peace time)it seems a bit rich to claim that allowing soldiers to discuss their private lives (if they want to) requires that the entire military grind to halt while tests are conducted.

Annamal, women are being shot at more often than ever before, but they are not serving in combat units. There is a big difference. I assert that their performance is being assessed.

We have already covered the argument that other countries have managed to integrate homosexuals in previous threads. The simple response is that none of those other countries populate their armed forces with young men from fly over America. A more complex answer speaks to differences between the armed forces of other countries and ours. Ours is rather unique in several respects beyond the demographics of the men in combat arms.

I would recommend that you visit Pat Lang's site, Sic semper Tyranus and look under catagories: politics for his perspective. I don't want to repeat my own arguments.

You, too, are failing to address the cost/risk versus the benefits. Is this because you have never been and never will be in a positition where you or loved ones could suffer from the downside? Or are you just an unbridled optimist?

What I do today is all about risks versus benefits. If my son were to come home to me in a box because of some incident related to this repeal I would be pretty damn upset with people that weighed in favor of it because their idealism blinded them to a fair analysis of the risks versus benefits. That is also where I am coming from. Understand?

Too well. There will always be a reason to support the status quo. "Oh, we're at war. Oh, we're at risk of war. Oh, we're not at war and our military's morale is already low from force contraction." You're taking the lazy small-c conservative approach to maintain your big-C conservative cultural values.

However, having said this... That you would invoke a vague, unspecified specter of "fatalities related to this repeal" is nothing more than a base, cheap rhetorical slight of hand. It's really unbecoming, and adds nothing to the discourse. One could as soon invoke the anguish of a hypothetical closeted homosexual fratricide's parent under a heteronormative environment tacitly encouraged by continuing DADT. It'd be a cheap, lazy, baseless, hypothetical ploy. Alas, your vague cautionary "worry" is not one bit better...

To clarify the value of your careful, rational "cost/risk" analysis... you rhetorically are arguing that even the possibility of one death because of the repeal is too much, and justifies its being postponed until... when? With so vague a criteria, it can always be kicked further down the road.

Had a rationale like your so-serious "cost/risk analysis" prevailed in the last century, we'd still have a segregated military today.

I've lost track. Is it still considered a legitimate concern that, you know, what if someone gets a boner in the shower?

Is there any argument against having gays serve openly that doesn't apply to minorities, in the past tense?

none of those other countries populate their armed forces with young men from fly over America

I'd like to suggest that young men from flyover America just might be more resilient and adaptable than you seem to think they are.

avedis:

FYI.....gyrene is usually considered a derogatory term. I'll assume you didn't mean it that way.
Thank you. You're completely correct.

I entirely apologize.

Thank you for the assumption of good faith. That means a lot to me.

avedis:

[...] This is why I am highly suspicious of the term "openly gay". What does that mean as opposed to what we have now?
I'm sorry that I may not be able to reply further today -- this isn't one of my better days.

But my short answer is that it means the same thing as being "openly heterosexual."

Imagine what your life would be like if you had to be "don't ask, don't tell" about being "openly heterosexual" on a planet where only -- just as a thought experiment, let's not get into questions of "how would they reproduce?" or how realistic the thought experiment is, please -- 10% or so of the population were hetero, and 90% were homosexual, and you had to live with that.

All the time.

With that in mind, although it's only a very minor aspect of the following piece of fiction, written decades ago, by a thoroughly heterosexual man, who was a Vietnam combat vet, wounded and still suffering from his wounds, a man whom I've known for deaces, along with his wife gay, and even though it's science fiction, I'll still pass along simply a recomendation of a good read in which homosexuality and this question is really entirely incidental to it being a good book, a classic of military science fiction, which is Joe Haldeman's The Forever War.

(Not to be confused with the recent nonfiction book by Dexter Filkins of the same title.)

Joe Haldeman.

You may not like science fiction; I recommend the following out of print book by Joe: War Year.

I'm not recommending it for any other reason than that he's an excellent writer, you might enjoy it, and it's a book that shouldn't be O/P, and more people should read it.

I have a lot of past connections with Joe, going back to 1974, his now dead brother Jay (whose sf fanzine collection I wound up with half of), working on the novelization of the unfortunately dreadful movie "Robot Jox," none of which was his fault; they rewrote his good script into a piece of sh*t. And rewrote it so many times that our novelization wound up bearing little resemblance to the movie.

None of which is here nor there, but having written it, there it is.

An excellent writer, and I recommend everything Joe's written that I've ever read, which is certainly only a fraction of his work.

Sorry for not being more responsive, but, as I said, not one of my better days.

Back when it's a better time for me.

And Phil can assure you that even though I have reasons to be biased in his favor, I haven't hesitated to tell him to dial it back, even though I have been a front-pager here only for a handful of months; prior to that, it wasn't any more of my business than yours, save that we encourage everyone to try to do what they can to maintain some minimal level of civility, if not comity, while admittedly enforcement is beyond erratic.

I'm hoping to do something about that latter, but... we'll see what happens.

What I can say is that insofar as I can, I'll certainly do my best to keep an open and level playing field, bearing in mind that I'm as flawed and human as the next person, if not probably highly more flawed, and I'm perfectly capable of saying things I regret, and I do it all the time.

But, yes, you absolutely have as much right to be treated with respect as everyone and anyone else, and to ask for consistency.

Everyone has that right around here.

The actual reality: well, it does help to have a thick skin and patience, and none of us are perfect.

Thus the assumptions of good faith are things I always want to encourage everyone to attempt, knowing that, of course, we all fail at that at times, since none of us are Buddhas, Jesus, take your pick of inspirational figures. :-)

Digressively, since although my past editing and publishing experience is, as I've mentioned, quite eclectic, my primary work in the field has always been in science fiction, so utterly digressively, purely as a diversion into being chatty, may I ask if you hate, like, or are indifferent to "sci-fi"?

I probably shouldn't ask if you have read Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein, since there are few better ways to divert a conversation than that question to those who, well, actually, even a "yes" isn't necessary, but what the hell, I'm curious, and it's my thread.

Digressive to that digression, could we pretend there's never been a movie made of the book, since there hasn't been? :-)

But if you've seen that movie not made from the book, you might enjoy this.

A lot of ifs, and very digressive, so feel free to ignore all this.

envy:

[...] Given that you've brought this up, again, without ever having made even a pretense of effort to address my prior questioning of you on this point, I frankly don't feel like you're arguing in anything resembling good faith, and am having trouble seeing you as being worth addressing...
I feel it's necessary to suggest that no matter that you and I and most other folks here are quite firmly convinced that our beliefs are correct -- that avedis is in a situation of being surrounded on all sides by people disagreeing with im, and this is, without anyone intending to be since we all, as I've pointed out to him, and he seems to have taken the point reasonably well, are individuals, resulting in a group pile-on where it's not reasonable to expect him to respond to every link, question, and comment thrown at him, however legitimate any and all of them are, given that it's not his full-time job, or even part-time job, to so respond.

None of us respond to everything said to us if we comment much. Not even me, and I'm, as people easily observe, traditionally the most lunatically proflific commenter ObWi has ever had.

So I think it's entirely reasonable to -- while not giving way on any specific point -- cut avedis some slack that he doesn't get around to responding to lots of stuff, because it's simply unreasonable to expect anyone to do so in these sorts of circumstances.

Obviously, I still think that I'm correct, you're correct, and so on, about the basic issue here, but even though I'm, I'm afraid, only superficially glancing through this thread right now, it seems to me that, while I probably have missed some important comments right now, avedis does appear to be paying a lot more attention to what's being said to him, taking it much more seriously than he previously did, and is responding in good faith to the best of his ability.

I've found, myself, that assumptions of good faith, and a lot of patience, over time, can sometimes be rewarded.

It isn't easy, it holds no guarantees, and my best friends will tell you that we have furious arguments over all sorts of things, and I'm hardly the most patient of human beings.

And I'm holding no one to an inhuman standard.

Neither do I expect anyone to be other than honest, so long as they stay within the posting rules.

But anyone who can manage some patience, and assumptions of good faith that people can hold differing views because of different life experiences and information, without acting in bad faith.

The more we share views patiently, and with such at least attempts at assuming good faith -- unwarranted as they may seem -- the more chances there are of people actually listening to each other.

And I've found, myself, that listening for a while to even people I find wildly offensive and wrongheaded often teaches me a lot about their POV, where it comes from, and why.

And I learn from that, and value it. And yes, that includes that I've read lots and lots and lots about Nazism, all the public speeches of Joseph Goebbels, endless amounts on Stalinism, Maoism, the Khmer Rouge, child molestors -- you name the repulsive horrific view, and I've since childhood sought it out and read as much as I could about these views, precisely because I wanted to understand views so utterly and completely appallingly different from mine.

I can't figure out what's wrong with my views without listening to, or reading about, the views of those whom I utterly disagree with. I can't understand how people can hold such different views unless I try to, you know, understand.

Understanding doesn't call for agreement.

And nobody is obliged to do any of this, or listen for one moment to anyone telling them terrible things about their lives, or, well, nobody is obliged to listen to anyone, period, absent being in prison, the military, or possibly your parents or spouse, or otherwise by agreement.

No obligation.

But I'm not going to tell anyone to stop listening, or trying to, either, so long as what is being said -- here -- is within the posting rules.

That's all.

Nobody has to play "let's pretend I love you," we don't have to sing Kumbaya together, but, still, a little patience and willingness to believe that people simply have very different backgrounds and experiences than ourselves, yet still are doing their best to be honest and open-minded, even if they're not, can go a long long way.

In my limited experience, and there are no guarantees.

YMMV, and that's fine.

Here endth the the sermon.

envy:

[...] then your continued assertion of this point is spurious, and you are arguing in decidedly bad faith. Period, full stop.
You are absolutely entitled to your opinion on this. You are absolutely entitled to state it.

But you are not a mind-reader, and you can't actually know who is and isn't acting in good faith; all you can know is what you think someone is doing.

Period, full stop.

Avedis wrote:
I did make some retractions in previous threads.

I think it would be helpful if you could identify what you retracted and why as it would help decide where we disagree.

envy, "...That you would invoke a vague, unspecified specter of "fatalities related to this repeal" is nothing more than a base, cheap rhetorical slight of hand. It's really unbecoming, and adds nothing to the discourse...."

No it isn't. It is a rhetorical slight of hand on your part to claim it is. My son is a company commander. In our conversations he has revealed that there are a lot of red neck and conservative religious types in his company. It is not a great stretch of the imagination to conceive of dangerous scenarios around this repeal. One is that a member of the company reveals that he is homosexual and the other members of the company take offense and my son is must enforce the new rules to the intense distaste of the homophobes. Maybe he has to damage or ruin a career or two in the process. Now the company is combat. In addition to all of the normal responsibilities a company commander must endure in that situation he not only has to pay special attention to the safety of the resented homosexual, but he has to watch his own back as well. Even before combat there could be issues with maintaining respect and order.

Slarti, "I'd like to suggest that young men from flyover America just might be more resilient and adaptable than you seem to think they are." Suggest away. That's all it is. I suggest you are wrong. Do you have any evidence beyond your wishful thinking? I have only personal anecdotes and experience. I am open to professional and valid studies. Please present them if you have them.


Gary, "Imagine what your life would be like if you had to be "don't ask, don't tell" about being "openly heterosexual" on a planet where only -- just as a thought experiment, let's not get into questions of "how would they reproduce?" or how realistic the thought experiment is, please -- 10% or so of the population were hetero, and 90% were homosexual, and you had to live with that."

Sorry buddy. I'm not going to let you get away with that 10% figure. Let's make the turning of the tables more realistic and put the figure at 2%.

If I was a 2%er, I guess life would suck, but I'd find a way to get by if not be totally happy. I wanted to be a professional boxer, but I just didn't have that extra je ne sais quoi to make it to the top. Several years of training and painful bruises for nothing. Oh well. Life ain't fair. There are plenty of ways to make a positive contribution to humanity other than serving in the armed forces. In fact, in retrospect, I think that the armed forces can be the antithesis of serving humanity. The Peace Corps is a better choice.

That's the funny thing about this discussion. Gays fighting for the right to participate in killing people and liberals backing the concept. I know that military service has always been a way for minorities to gain acceptance into the larger society. I think this is what the whole thing is about. I've been holding back my true sense of the matter. Maj. Olmsted was killed fighting in a senseless, and what would probably be found to be, in a fair court, illegal war of aggression. Liberals want the same thing for the homosexuals they claim to care so much about.

Military service is way over glorified by our bloodthirsty imperial culture.

My family has always served because that is what we do. None - from my grandfather through my son and daughter (and yes, she helps kill via remote location) - have ever expressed the act of participating in the slaughter of fellow humans as "heroic".

Gays are killers too! There's a winning slogan.

Liberals want the same thing for the homosexuals they claim to care so much about.

If that's what they want to do, the fact that they are gay should be irrelevant.

Whether I, or any other "liberal", thinks the particular wars we are involved in are worthwhile or not has nothing to do with it.

We all make our own choices. The choices available to any of us should be available to all of us.

"Annamal, women are being shot at more often than ever before, but they are not serving in combat units. There is a big difference. I assert that their performance is being assessed."

So you admit that the US army is unofficially conducting a major social experiment on women on the front lines(combat units or not they are being sent out to shoot and be shot at) in the middle of two wars?

"We have already covered the argument that other countries have managed to integrate homosexuals in previous threads. The simple response is that none of those other countries populate their armed forces with young men from fly over America. A more complex answer speaks to differences between the armed forces of other countries and ours. Ours is rather unique in several respects beyond the demographics of the men in combat arms.

I would recommend that you visit Pat Lang's site, Sic semper Tyranus and look under catagories: politics for his perspective. I don't want to repeat my own arguments."

I would appreciate it if you could point me to a specific link rather than a website. I would be very suprised if young men from flyover America presented any more complex issues than say, young men from say Queensland Australia (or young people from the various tribes here).

"You, too, are failing to address the cost/risk versus the benefits. Is this because you have never been and never will be in a positition where you or loved ones could suffer from the downside? "

Well now that's an interesting appeal to emotions and a very poor argument, do you feel that it warrants a response or were you just lashing out?

"Or are you just an unbridled optimist?"

I think I've already established that I'm a realist.

avedis:

[...] My point has always been that the repeal of DADT is a social experiment that should not be carried out when we are at war. An incremental carefully monitored implementation during peace time makes more sense to me.
avedis, you've said a lot I either respect or agree with, and I'm not noting any of that, due to brevity and time. But be aware of this, please.

For the same reasons, you've said a lot I don't agree with, but am not responding to at this time.

But, question: since 1938, which year was it that you consider the United States of America to have been in a condition of "peace time"?

As a followup, and I've previously asked you a variant of this: what year, or set of years,, or time frame, do you predict we'll again in in a condition of peace time, and not at war, that this experiment might be acceptable, in your view?

I know you've previously said that, in essence, to paraphrase, that you didn't know.

I'm not holding you to that, I'm asking you again, but this time I'm pointing out that your previous answer, in combination with other statements you've made, appear to me -- and please immediately correct me if I'm misunderstanding you, which I certainly may be doing -- seems to go back to the essential point that you believe the number of people affected is tiny, insignificant, and that the military is better off without such people, and it isn't worth the risk.

Since that seems to be your main point -- correct me, as I said, if there's more to it than that -- this doesn't seem to leave us much to further discuss, since it's simply a subjective personal opinion.

Which you're perfectly entitled to. But it's not debatable, any more than would be a statement from me that simply said "well, I don't think so."

And then we might have an entirely useless discussion that consisted of "is so," "is not," which I think we'll both agree would be a complete waste of everyone's time.

Having said that, I'll note that I consider your suggestion that you'd be willing to, to paraphrase you, go along with experimenting with allowing "open homosexuality" (which simply means people being allowed to be known as gay, not, you know, having more physical affection in public than is allowed heterosexual fellow serving members of the military, or the Marine Corp) to be an advance, from my perspective, from your previous position.

I know, of course, that you neither seek nor desire my approval, and obviously do not need it.

I'm merely suggesting that through further conversation, we've made some progress in the direction of more agreement, rather than away from it, and that's something I regard as evidence of what I call a "productive" conversation.

Again, I hope you don't take this as some form of condescension, which is a tone I'm badly prone to unintentionally be perceived as striking, due to come conversational faults of my own, rather than intent.

LJ:

[...] I think it would be helpful if you could identify what you retracted and why as it would help decide where we disagree.
He made some quite clearly, but I don't have time or interest in listing them.

I don't deny that a summary would be helpful, but it's also not something any of us tend to be able to do quickly or easily, unless "we" are a lot more organized than I am. :-)

avedis:

[...] My son is a company commander. In our conversations he has revealed that there are a lot of red neck and conservative religious types in his company. It is not a great stretch of the imagination to conceive of dangerous scenarios around this repeal. One is that a member of the company reveals that he is homosexual and the other members of the company take offense and my son is must enforce the new rules to the intense distaste of the homophobes.
My thanks to your son for his service to our country. (And to your daughter, but she's not who you're discussing here.)

My question to this is how you would, and again I must go back to this, differentiate your response from the objections to Truman's Executive Order 9981?

I'm afraid I'm not seeing the distinction immediately. Could you perhaps return to this point and clarify further?

Later:

[...] Sorry buddy. I'm not going to let you get away with that 10% figure. Let's make the turning of the tables more realistic and put the figure at 2%.
Let's not make up figures we like, period.

I'm perfectly happy to discuss the actual studies that have varied, and how they vary.

Then we'd probably end up deciding the other was cherry-picking for preferred data. I'm prepared to have that argument, but it would be tedious, and I don't consider it crucial. If you do, we can go back to it.

But I'll only debate actual cites, if we're going to have that discussion.

[...] If I was a 2%er, I guess life would suck, but I'd find a way to get by if not be totally happy. I wanted to be a professional boxer, but I just didn't have that extra je ne sais quoi to make it to the top. Several years of training and painful bruises for nothing. Oh well. Life ain't fair.
I understand your perspective, I believe, if that isn't presumptuous to suggest. However, this goes to the heart of where we may have to agree to disagree, and as you've previously suggested, simply await the results and look again in two or four years, and see whose predictions turn out to be correct.

Meanwhile, though, I see that I did a bad thing, which was write very carelessly. I intended to ask a question, got part way into it, and then completely failed to actually ask my question. That was stupid of me. Sorry about that.

I'll try again, this time with an actual question. :-)

I didn't intend to ask whether in such a world where you were one of the tiny percentage (whatever the number; a population of 2% heterosexuals would be far more difficult for heterosexuals to live in hiding as than 10% heterosexuals, would it not?), choose to serve in the military or not.

The question I intended was, and forgive me, please, if I return later with yet another version, because I'm still... not at my best, and not able to write at all clearly right now: Imagine what your life would be like if you had to be "don't ask, don't tell" about being "openly heterosexual" on a planet where only [...] [fine, 2% or so] of the population were hetero, and [fine, 98%] were homosexual, and you had to live with that: what would your reaction be to living in that world, and how would it make you feel to live in that world?

Would you feel that your heterosexuality was something that you should rightfully be ashamed of, and rightfully expected to conceal?

I don't ask that to put answers in your mouth; I can think of various possible answers. I'm not going to suggest any. I'm asking you to answer as you will, and we'll take it from there.

Thanks, but please forgive me if I may be absent from this conversation for quite sometime. I'm afraid I have some serious priorities in the next week that I have to but over Obsidian Wings, though I'll try to be around as much as I reasonably can.

But I may very likely need to postpone much substantive response from me for subsequent conversation. If so, it won't be for lack of interest on my part; I'm sure you'll understand how that works for all of us, given that, after all, it's just a blog discussion, and it's not as if any of us are in Congress, and our agreements or disagreements have any effect beyond possibly stimulating discussion, and thoughts among any readers. :-)

avedis: "No it isn't. It is a rhetorical slight of hand on your part to claim it is. My son is a company commander."

'Scuse the interruption, but I thought you said your son is a First Lieutenant?

Gary, that's true, but if avedis feels that this conversation is important to have, and given that it has been spread out over the comments of three threads, I'm not sure what avedis is arguing for.

I'm also baffled by this most recent point

That's the funny thing about this discussion. Gays fighting for the right to participate in killing people and liberals backing the concept. I know that military service has always been a way for minorities to gain acceptance into the larger society. I think this is what the whole thing is about. I've been holding back my true sense of the matter. Maj. Olmsted was killed fighting in a senseless, and what would probably be found to be, in a fair court, illegal war of aggression. Liberals want the same thing for the homosexuals they claim to care so much about.

Beyond both the conflation of all the opinions on the blog being some sort of 'liberal' construct and the idea that the military only does one thing, which is kill other people, one can welcome the fact that homosexuals are slowly being treated as full members of society without necessarily celebrating what the military is called on to do. This blog post from Duck of Minerva deals with the seeming contradiction. But to argue that liberals, in order to be true to themselves, should oppose DADT repeal on the grounds that the military kills people really makes me think that you fail to understand most of the points made.

wren, he is a 1st Lt AND he is a company commander. The Cpt was relieved of command under certain circumstances of which I do not know the details.

lj, that was thw scotch talking. It was just an observation its part;-)

which leads me to Gary's comments. I think we understand each other and I accept your perceptions concerning the course of the discussions. We are probably at or past the point of diminishing returns.

You are correct that I would not be opposed to homosexuals openly serving wih that servicing occurring under the circumstances that you paraphrased from my comments.

I also get your point about what the military has been doing since 1938. BTW....This is one of the aspects that makes our military different than that of other countries. We are imperial and expeditionary. At this point I would prefer a discussion pertaining to why we are a country engaged in endless war over the topic of gays in open service. I'm getting tapped out and repetious on that one.

Like I said to envy, we'll have to revisit this in a couple of years.

cheers.

" It must not have been an issue of serious importance to him."

It was.

He loved the Army. The fact that its policies put people in a position in which they had to lie about who they were caused him real pain.

avedis:

We are imperial and expeditionary. At this point I would prefer a discussion pertaining to why we are a country engaged in endless war over the topic of gays in open service. I'm getting tapped out and repetious on that one.
avedis, I believe this is a position that not only do I agree with, but that in fact is one that most people who read ObWi -- obviously not all -- will tend to agree with, and it's also a subject many many times discussed here, though I won't at this time go and give links, since there are so many.

I'm glad we've had this conversation.

I'd like to point out to all who have insisted that avedis is a troll and that conversation will go nowhere, and only go badly, that, in my view, this has not happened.

In my opinion, avedis has been more and more and more reasonable, listened more and more, written more and more carefully, thoughtfully, respectfully, as he's gone along, and I believe he's at least thinking about what we've discussed -- and, again, I don't intend that to be condescending -- just as I've found some useful information and views from what he's written.

No one need share my view of this.

But I'm happy to have had this conversation.

That's just the way I swing.

avedis:

[...] I'm getting tapped out and repetious on that one.
It's always impossible to know what the next thing someone may say in the next comment, or few comments, that might reignite a whole new vigorous debate, but I agree that at the moment, I think we're at that point of diminishing returns.

Thanks for engaging; I've benefited from it, if no one else has, and since it's my post, that's good enough for me.

Also, I feel I'm breaking no confidences in mentioning that Eric Martin, in email, did find time to state his firm view that avedis was no troll, that Eric has known him for years, and respects avedis' views, while disagreeing with many.

Both Eric and myself have no problem respecting the views of others whom we disagree with, each in our own way, despite the fact that, of course, we have our own individual beliefs, preferences, and tempers.

I share many of Eric's views, but certainly not all, and we disagree at times, as well.

No one need agree with either of us about anything, just as is true with all of us as regards all the rest of us.

Eric, I think, also said something to the effect that avedis wasn't a troll, in the DADT thread, but for reasons I've stated here, I doubt I'll have further conversation on this for today, although on the other hand, it's perfectly possible that I'll feel perfectly chipper and energetic an hour or two from now.

That, too, is also the way I swing.

Meanwhile, cheers.

One thing, avedis. I think it's reasonable to inform you that I'm extremely good at research and google fu, and knowing where to look to find public records of all sorts.

I feel I should warn you that solely through use of your handle, and the information you've stated on these threads, and your past public record on the internet, it's trivially easy to know your legal name, and much of your past.

I haven't gone and made a special effort to do this. I took all of five minutes to learn a lot about you.

I mention this not to frighten or upset you, but simply to let you know that for anyone with my skills, which are far fewer than any professional investigator, or at least any competent one on the internet, you may wish to consider switching to a new handle, given how close yours is to your legal name.

I'm only trying to do you a favor in warning you about this, in case you'd prefer more privacy in future, which changing your handle wouldn't make a great difference in, but would at least slightly make more difficult trivially finding out much about your personal history that, like most people, you would probably prefer to retain some more control over than you may realize you do.

You may be perfectly aware of all this.

But I felt uncomfortable not informing you of this, because I respect you, and most people don't realize how much public info on this is publically online -- I'm constantly receiving "warnings" from friends about this or that site they've just discovered, which I've known for years, and this from extremely smart people with considerable experience on the internet.

So, now you know this, and I'm more comfortable having let you know.

If you wish further information on this, I won't email you, though I could, but I consider that to be inappropriate, so what I'll do is repeat that my personal email address is gary underscore farber at yahoo dot com, and if you'd like me to be more specific, I'll be happy to explain a bit further when time and energy allow me to. If I don't respond, feel free to nag me in a week or so, and then again.

I believe people should be allowed to have as much influence over their privacy as possible, even though, frankly, short of leaving this country -- which still would only lessen the possibilities somewhat, at least for me, that's pretty well impossible; and even then, it's not possible; it's merely, as you doubtless know, a matter of who cares, and that nobody much will care, absent falling under suspicion from FBI, other agencies, and so on.

Or, perhaps, having had legal battles, and having hem again in future. You'll take my point, I believe.

Lastly, I mention this because everyone should be aware of this sort of thing. One doesn't need to look at IP addreses to trivially find info on most people. Lots. No matter that you use a handle.

Handles help, but not as much as people tend to think.

Here endth the lesson.

And I couldn't be more overjoyed to see Hilzoy post publically here, no matter the cause, however sad the thoughts it stimulates.

Thank you, Hilzoy.

I'm sorry for the circumstances, but at least know that you've just majorly improved my day, through this simple act that I know was painful for you.

Thank you.

Most all of us love you. You've changed so many of our lives for the better, forever. You will always be an inspiration to me, and in many ways, another role model.

And you have no idea, I think, of how many people have shown up since you've been gone, to say how disappointed they are that you're no longer here, and how you're missed. Not regulars, but total strangers posting for the first time, solely to say that.

Of course, they also tend to observe that the rest of us, or me, suck by comparison to you, but that's only true, so I agree with them about me, at least. :-)

That's all. Do what you can to be happy, please, and that's all I ask of you.

Gary, that is all very interesting (the whole ID thing you took time to explain). I know all about what you are referring to and more re; what our government is doing to build data bases around profiling based on internet activity and purchases at stores and tv viewing habits.......etc.

However, I think you have made a wee mistake if you think you know who I am; that is if you think my first name starts with an 'E' because I could see how you might come to that conclusion. My first name actually starts with a 'D'.

If this is the case, then I may change some things so that the 'E' person doesn't suffer any unwanted attention by being mistaken for me.

I may take you up on your offer for personal contact so you can explain further. Thanks.

Suggest away. That's all it is. I suggest you are wrong. Do you have any evidence beyond your wishful thinking? I have only personal anecdotes and experience. I am open to professional and valid studies. Please present them if you have them.

Right back at you, avedis. I'm not asserting anything; I'm suggesting that your bald assertions about pretty much everything surrounding gays serving openly in the service are completely without any kind of merit. Sure, you may expect the entire USMC to all of a sudden sprout flowers and doilies, but there's really nothing other than opinion to ground that POV.

In other words, it (gays serving openly in the service) has never been done. Your expectations have no scientific basis.

I completely get that this is your opinion, though. I think you've made that point pretty clear. It's not my opinion that your opinion is wrong, so much as it is my position that your opinion doesn't have the strength of anything other than your (apparent) reluctance to make any changes in your favorite service, because those changes would ruin it forever.

That last bit was just a guess on my part, I acknowledge.

We could transplant this same kind of conversation five or six decades in the past and be talking about how letting black people have the right to sit in the front of the bus, eat at any old diner counter, or drink at a water fountain of their own choosing would inevitably erode and destroy our then-fine culture. A lot of people thought that, back then. That a lot of people believe something to be true doesn't make it automatically true.

In other words, it (gays serving openly in the service) has never been done. Your expectations have no scientific basis.

Gays are serving openly in quite a few countries. The change was often controversial, with predictions much the same as being made by avedis. It would seem to have been in practice a non-event. A good place to start looking at this is:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation_and_military_service

Now it could be that the American military, or just the marines, is sufficiently different from the rest of the world's military forces, that it will cause problems here where it didn't for the rest of the world. This is probably not knowable since I doubt that there are studies comparing the degrees of homophobia and its role in various military organisations. The likelihood is that we aren't all that different from England, Canada, Australia etc. and that this will not be a problem for us either.

It could also, as avedis asserts, be harder for us because of our state of endless war. Again this is not knowable. It could work better because the troops just have more important concerns than worrying about someone's sexual preference.

Avedis could be right. I rather doubt it. I guess we'll find out.

Amend to "(gays serving openly in the US armed services)", please.

I'm pretty sure that a good number of us here started life as "young men from flyover country." I for example, am not only from a small town northeast Ohio, but grew up on military bases. I know that liberal japonicus is from Lousiana. Lots of regulars here started life in flyover country. And somehow we managed to turn out fairly resilient and adaptable. Why avedis thinks this is unlikely is a mystery to me.

Also, this comment really makes me cringe:

The fact of those friends' homosexuality does factor into certain social planning situations. For example, I do not invite them to parties that will have a preponderance of homophobic attendees. In fact, I have told them on more than one occassion that I was having a get together, but it wasn't their "kind of crowd". Our friendship is strong enough and they are reasonable enough that they understand and accept this.
Are we supposed to admire avedis here, for sparing his alleged gay friends the discomofort? Are we supposed to admire his friends for being "reasonable enough" to accede to being, essentially, told that they're something to be ashamed of? Just what events are these that are populated by "a preponderance of homophobic attendees?"

Me, if I throw a party and someone doesn't care for my gay friends, that'd be the last party of mine that person would be invited to. Why punish my gay friends for a problem that someone else has?

Finally, "openly gay" has, to me, a very simple meaning: That a gay man (for example) can refer to "my boyfriend" without worrying that someone will try to beat him up or get him fired; or that he can bring a partner to office events, or have a picture on his desk, or whatever. Just that.

Close, Phil, Southern Mississippi, though a lot (far too much perhaps) time was spent in New Orleans. I don't really think of the Miss Gulf Coast as 'flyover country' because, well, no one actually flies over the place...

there's really nothing other than opinion to ground that POV

Just to clarify: I'm not saying that your opinion in matters pertaining to the USMC or US armed services in general is only as good as mine; I'm saying that your opinion is just your opinion and isn't, IMO, the issue-closer you seem to think it is.

"Me, if I throw a party and someone doesn't care for my gay friends, that'd be the last party of mine that person would be invited to. Why punish my gay friends for a problem that someone else has?

Finally, "openly gay" has, to me, a very simple meaning: That a gay man (for example) can refer to "my boyfriend" without worrying that someone will try to beat him up or get him fired; or that he can bring a partner to office events, or have a picture on his desk, or whatever. Just that."

This is well said.

I have a much lower threshold for "openly gay": that a gay person in the service doesn't have to pretend to be straight, and doesn't have to lie about his/her sexual orientation.

I don't think we've been at that point, to date, so it'd be an achievement (call it an interim goal if you want) just to get there.

What amazes me about this debate is that apparently other Western nations having gay soldiers serve openly (openly as in not hiding, as opposed to trumpeting it - who the hell does that, anyway?) has no impact on the discussion.

Either those militaries have suffered (no indication of this) or those militaries differ from ours in some key way.

The only difference I can think of that might qualify is the "flyover country" thing, but that strikes me as overstating the supposed redneckness of our soldiers and also caving in to such redneckness. Surely it was way worse when Truman integrated the armed forces. The military got through it, somehow.

Avedis: Of the hundreds of posts by the late Major he seems to have dedicated only a couple of murky paragraphs to the subject of gays and DADT. It must not have been an issue of serious importance to him.

Okay, I can't "prove" this because I know this because of private e-mail conversations with Andrew Olmsted which I am not now able to quote from.

The US military's hateful discrimination against GLBT people was something that was an issue of serious importance to Andrew: although I disagreed with him on many, many issues, he was a man of heart and brain, of wide humanity, a soldier I respected very much, a thoroughly loving person and a good friend to many.

That you never knew him, is your profound loss. That you see fit to dismiss his views because they won't fit in your small soul is your bottomless loss. That you hold ugly prejudices against people whose sexual orientation or gender identity doesn't fit your idea of "soldier" is something Andrew might have fought against: or might have shrugged off with tired dismissal because the world is full of ugly things and you can't fight all of them all the time. But yes. He cared.

(Regular commentator, retired. But dammit.)

Hey, Jes, hello!

"The only difference I can think of that might qualify is the "flyover country" thing, but that strikes me as overstating the supposed redneckness of our soldiers and also caving in to such redneckness. Surely it was way worse when Truman integrated the armed forces. The military got through it, somehow."

Also too... if you think that the Australian and New Zealand armies do not include rural rednecks you have missed the whole "agricultural" thing that describes both of our coutries (hell the town my partner lived in as a kid held a parade when a KFC first opened there).

If I were shot in the head in combat, I'd rather have this comrade on hand to do what it necessary ....

http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2011/01/openly-gay-intern-daniel-hernandez-jr.html

.... than .....

... this sorry excuse for an American:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2011/01/he-did-what.html

Hello, Jes.

(Regular commentator, retired. But dammit.)

Thanks, Jes.

Hey Jes....

Jesurgislac, I couldn't be more happy to see you comment.

I've written several mildly lengthy comments about how much I'd like to see you return, but I'm, er, running out the door now, and can't link. If anyone else could find and link to any of those comments of mine in recent weeks to show Jes, I'd be very thankful.

Specifically: now that I'm a front-pager I will absolutely abide by any request you make that I not respond to you, absent any need to respond Officially, which would only take place if I couldn't ask any other ObWi co-blogger here to respond instead.

I would do anything within reason to make this a comfortable and welcoming place from you.

I can elaborate, but not now, and you may not even wish to know this, which I respect, and, again: I will strive to abide by your wishes, respect your boundaries, and do my best to live up to this stated commitment I'm making you to it.

My email address, gary underscore farber at yahoo dot com is open to you, as is ObWings@gmail.com, the kitty email address that someday may be put on the "email me" link under the kitty; don't write the old, still listed, email address, I suggest, because it seems unlikely you'd ever get an answer, and I can't speak to why that might be.

I hope you'll at least consider visiting ObWi again.

Also, I extend to you an open invitation to guest post here. We'd have to discuss a few details, but I promise to give you as free a hand as I... can promise. I would love to see you do some guest posts, on topics of your choosing. The offer is open-ended.

I'm very glad to see your pixels even momentarily; I've intended to write you a clearer email about this, but haven't had time, and now must go.

If you notice, this is the only comment I'm making here since last night, and for the next few hours.

I feel this strongly about desiring to do what I can to make you feel this is a place you'd like to participate in even a little.

Please consider guest posting, and no obligation to comment or otherwise read the rest of the blog, or ever read anything else by me. I desire to respect your boundaries.

Anything I can do within reason.

Thanks if you read this.

Avedis, I was thinking the e person might have once gone to a Rialto theater.

Gary, The e person did go to a rialto theatre and ran up against a situation where he was out of his league in terms of the deck being stacked against him. That experience gave him pause for thought concerning continuing to live an entrepreneurial life. I adviced him that health care is a good field for a steady job and what he should do, educationally to get there, my having already been in it, and, well these days, no one lands a good job unless one has personal contacts that can get one a foot in the door. The horse farm is, let's say, an arrangement between him and me. A good deal for both in several ways. There is a whole clan of us in this area; though a few have departed further toward the coast for even bigger and better careers.

Re; Fly Over American values:

www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/IB_ruralvalues_06.pdf

Rural - or fly over - America is far more religious than just about any where else in the Anglo/Euro world. Included in those beliefs is the prominent notion that homosexuals/same sex marriages are an abomination to god (not a belief that I personally share, just to be clear).

I was watching a Monty Roberts special on the military channel. He is a horese training expert and he was using his program to help vets with PTSD. The interaction with horses helps with their issues. One of the vets was a woman who worse trauma on deployment was being raped, more than once, by members of her own unit. By the end of her tour she kept herself locked in a room and still had to physically defend herself from assualts by members of her unit when she came out. I am hearing that this is common. It is unspeakably awful. It gets back to one of points; which is that people who do not know what really goes on in the military should be more cautious when making assertions as to how policies will play out.

should be more cautious when making assertions as to how policies will play out

I think everyone should be cautious when making assertions as to how policies will play out.

Rural - or fly over - America is far more religious than just about any where else in the Anglo/Euro world. Included in those beliefs is the prominent notion that homosexuals/same sex marriages are an abomination to god

One of the vets was a woman who worse trauma on deployment was being raped, more than once, by members of her own unit.

Avedis, do you think that folks here are unaware of stuff like this? That everyone here who disagrees with you is naively ignorant of the fact that lots of people hate gays, or that women are preyed upon, or that the culture of military service in combat arms is aggressively macho?

Are you thinking you are the only person here who "really understands what goes on in the military"?

Are you thinking that there is *only one kind of thing* that "really goes on in the military"?

From what I can see, the only argument you've made here or anywhere against the repeal of DADT is that some folks in the military aren't going to like it.

Quite so. Consider the point made and acknowledged.

What Russell said. And what Slarti said and so forth.

Also, Avedis, your stance seems to be that you are anti-imperialist, but since we are going to be imperialists in the near term then we should do it well, and so we need units of homophobic, misogynistic storm troopers who will go overseas, meet interesting people, and kill them. I think this is a peculiar way to transition towards a less imperialistic foreign policy.

What Russell said. What Slart said. What Donald Johnson.

And what I said in a comment that I just lost.

Part of which was: Thank you for your favoring of universal health care, gay marriage, and your service to country. I don't sing "Kumbaya", but I respect the fact that you at least hum it some of the time.

Also:

Let me get this straight. The military is mostly staffed with fine young male patriotic flyover recruits who: 1) are devoted to the Lord and their sweet grandmother's three-bean salad at the church social, and 2) just might have to d*ck-slap, rape (well, I guess they spend a good amount of time doing this) and beat the sh*t out of female, gay, and male heterosexuals who might have a lisp and are deployed to the Marines' barbershop because ... ?

And further, I must be ever mindful, cautious, and respectful of BOTH of these deeply held and apparently mutually-reinforcing convictions as I prescribe recruitment policy for the U.S. military?

This reminds me of the Giffords shooting, in which her flyover boy Tea Party political opponent fondled both his gun and his rifle (appropriately lubricated for desert warfare) in his CIVILIAN political ads and invited his would-be constituents to do the same and bless the Lord and eradicate the IRS? Am I to understand that he was raping and assaulting his fellow recruits while he was deployed, too?

But I should be ever mindful, and understanding, and cautious, and piously respectful about suggesting that he curb his motherf*cking rhetoric and his raping and assault lest something even more "unspeakably awful" happens, over and above six dead, and what, ten wounded?

These are the understandings with which I am to indulge this increasingly f#cked civilization and its violence-threatening asswipes?

And then in my lost comment I added some crap about women being advised by the gun-lovers to fend off rapists in civilian life with some gun-loving concealed or unconcealed carry, but if she was being gang-raped in her military unit, there doesn't seem to be a sidearm within reach.

But, screw it.

Rural - or fly over - America is far more religious than just about any where else in the Anglo/Euro world.

This is actually a pretty strong claim to be made wholly unsupported. I say this as someone who grew up in rural flyover America.

Or... it's got some pretty heavy baggage packed into it regarding what does and does not constitute really being "religious". Speaking again as someone who grew up in the rural Midwest, I find that rather easy to believe.

Just sayin'.

By the way, I agree with Sarah Death Palin that Republican rhetoric like "crosshairs" and "death panels" are just rough and tumble metaphors that have no relationship to events or consequences in real life:

"In late November, Mark Price, an Arizona father who had been battling leukemia for a year, died due to complications related to chemotherapy treatment he was receiving. Price was awaiting an organ transplant that could’ve saved his life, but he was unable to receive one in time due to Brewer’s budget cuts.

Now, the University of Arizona Medical Center has told the press that another patient passed away in late December because they were unable to get their organ transplant funded. Although the attending physicians declined to release the name of the patient out of respect for the family’s privacy, they confirmed that the patient that passed away was one of the 98 Arizonans cut off from organ transplants by Brewer and the GOP-controlled state legislature. He “was our patient. He was on our list,” said surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman"

Republican politicans and media words AND policies are mere metaphors.

They are just poets and they don't know it.

My advice to them, of course, to "Shut the f#ck up" is a literal and grievous assault on freedom and America's posting rules and an occasion for gunfire.

Commit that to memory.

Here’s what I don’t get: Avedis raises a practical concern regarding the attitudes of military personnel toward homosexuals, especially gay men, it seems, particularly among marines, particularly among fly-over country-raised marines, particularly among fly-over country-raised marines in front-line combat units (because they’re just SOOOO different from all the men in those other countries). But, as a practical matter, what does the repeal of DADT really mean (or what will it)?

Does anyone envision stereotypical, effeminate, flamboyant, fabulous gay men heading en masse from the hair salons, art galleries and interior design studios over to the recruitment office so they can sign up in hopes of deployment with the Marine Special Operations Regiment, or what? Does anyone think it’s now mandatory that gays identify themselves as such, perhaps by wearing special insignia (probably pink, right?) so that everyone will immediately know who’s who in their presence? Is Private Parts suddenly going to start staring at all the other privates’ private parts? Will Major Woody be standing around with a woody at the sight of all the other majors’ woodies? I’m imagining a small group of marines under heavy fire. One says, “Cover me. I’m going in. Oh, and, by the way, now that DADT has been repealed, I just have to say, you have a great ass, Corporal.” (I know I’m straw-manning here (just a bit), but what fun would this be without a little satire?)

Gays have been serving in the military for some time now. DADT’s repeal isn’t ushering in a new regime of previously inconceivable gay military service. What is going to change so drastically, other than that gays won’t have to worry so much about being found out and fired from their jobs?

I know it’s been said before, but I think it needs to be said again: Teh Gays are already in the service!

One now suspects what the ass-covering in military appropriations has been all about.

I'm looking forward to "Shagging Private Ryan", the no-holds-barred musical devoted to telling the story of DADT repeal, brought to us by the same producers of the upcoming movie epic "Atlas Shrugged", in which Dagny Taggert does a suggestive pas-de-deux with a life-sized battery-operated replica of the Chrysler Building, otherwise known as Moe Lane's friend's wife's well-lubricated shotgun, though special effects might have to be employed to depict the utter banality of the original Ayn Rand novel.

The opening number of "Shagging Private Ryan" could be "The Yanks Are Cumming".

Instead of Reveilley (Revelly?, Revily?, dammit!), the troops could awake to a brisk rendition of "Ribaldry" before hitting their morning showers.

For balance, opponents of repealing DADT in the film could be given a series of short musical numbers with Sondheimian lyrics in which they strenuously object to "blowing" Taps, and instead request the House of Representatives pass a law mandating that Taps be played on a heavily-distorted Stratacaster electric guitar.

The entire DADT repeal debate reminds me of Goldie Hawn in "Private Benjamin" cleaning the latrine with her electric toothbrush.

Repealing DADT might turn out to make more sense and be more efficient than avedis believes at the moment.


Reveille

Stratocaster

Another episode of what Countme--In misspelled.

Repealing DADT might turn out to make more sense and be more efficient than avedis believes at the moment.

One man's social experiment is another man's bureaucratic adjustment.

"Rural - or fly over - America is far more religious than just about any where else in the Anglo/Euro world. Included in those beliefs is the prominent notion that homosexuals/same sex marriages are an abomination to god (not a belief that I personally share, just to be clear)."

Yes but can we also agree that included in those beliefs is the idea that all those who are non-religous or religous in a different way (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim etc) are both dangerous and heading straight for hell?

The fundamentalists I've known were usually every bit as threatened by atheism as they were by homosexuality (in some ways very much more so, I can dig out the study that showed that the interviewees trusted atheists less than gay people if you like)

And having agreed on that, can we also agree that the current situation in the US military legally requires that religous freedom (including the freedom to not be religous at all) be protected?

And having agreed on those two things can we then note that either the "flyover" filled army is composed entirely of harmonious co-religionists (in which case none of them are liable to come out as gay so DADT will have no impact either) or leaders within the US army already have ways of dealing with people whose fundamental way of life upsets the fundamentalists and whose lifestyle is legally protected?

Probably not very good ways, certainly ways that are vulnerable to lawsuit (and my people, the atheists, are notoriously litigous) but ways nonetheless.

In other words they either already have the remedies for this stuff or they won't need it because no-one will come out.

Hey Jes, don't be a stranger. Good to hear from you.

From what I can see, the only argument you've made here or anywhere against the repeal of DADT is that some folks in the military aren't going to like it.

In 1948, the military was chock-full of young, church-going, rural white men from flyover country from whom the idea of treating a black man as an equal, let alone a brother in arms, was unthinkable. Not troublesome or worrisome or discomfort-inducing: unthinkable. Contrary to the laws of nature. Contrary to everything they had ever been taught about "race."

There were dire predictions aplenty about "unit cohesion" then too.

He is a horse training expert and he was using his program to help vets with PTSD.

Vets or vets?

Considering what the US military represents and does, I'm having a bit of a hard time viewing the repeal of DADT as a major human rights victory. I'm all for it, but in the face of several hundred thousand dead people and aggressive imperialism, it just seems very insignificant to me.

Considering what the US military represents and does, I'm having a bit of a hard time viewing the repeal of DADT as a major human rights victory.

You have to understand, the US is a highly militaristic society. As such, military service brings with it a unique social status. For example, if you claim to be a military veteran, you can waltz onto Obsidian Wings, make nutty arguments about LGBTs, refuse to engage with anyone's counterarguments, ignore all the local norms about citing evidence when making claims and still find that people presume good faith and treat you like a serious commenter rather than mocking and ignoring you.

the US is a highly militaristic society.

Indeed - that is the root of the problem. The military-industrial complex becomes instantly personalized and even people critical of US militarism seem to have a hard time not getting caught in "support our troops" rhetoric.

Hm. What Turb and novakant said, though in my case this comment--

"people critical of US militarism seem to have a hard time not getting caught in "support our troops" rhetoric."--

gets it backwards. What has interested me about avedis is that we are supposed to support the troops whom he portrays as really noxious individuals prone to violent acts against women and gays--and that's in their own ranks, nevermind what they might feel inclined to do to foreign civilians.


That aside, I think it's true that liberals in the US are usually eager to be seen as "supporting the troops". People further to the left are more mixed--some portray the troops the way avedis does, as a bunch of barbarians, while others treat them as innocent pawns (which is condescending in its own way). I think the "support the troops" impulse goes back in part to the bad treatment Vietnam vets allegedly received from antiwar protestors (some of it real, though I've also read that some antiwar protestors supported the troops and some of the disrespectful treatment came from war supporters.) It sometimes leads to convoluted arguments. It's hard to criticize the brutality of the US presence in a foreign country without seeming to criticize "the troops", which is the worst sin in American politics, so it is safer to criticize the war on other grounds. No American politician would ever want to be guilty of that sin, and I get the same impression regarding TV liberals like Rachel Maddow.


novakant and Donald make very good points, and I've expressed my own conflicted thoughts on this before at ObWi. Given my own anti-imperialist/anti-militarist tendencies, the fight against DADT stuck in my craw quite a bit, given that we still don't have ENDA, which I see as a far more fundamental and far-reaching advance in equality. But at the end of the day, we're striving for a future in which LGBT folk are free to make the same decisions about their lives as anyone else...including decisions I personally disagree with. My partner and I probably wouldn't take advantage of the right to marry if it became available in our state -- but that has no bearing on whether we should have that right if we wanted it.

And Turb's right: in a political context in which unquestioned reverence of all things military is simply a given across the "mainstream," the end of DADT really does have ramifications that reach far beyond the people directly implicated by it. Given its symbolic weight, I think it really does have the potential to push things forward on other fronts.

[...] and still find that people presume good faith and treat you like a serious commenter rather than mocking and ignoring you.
I can only observe what "people" do. I, myself, can only have some control and influence over one person, and that's a bit shaky, just as all of us aren't perfect.

But I try to treat everyone with as much good faith, and as little unfairness, and with as much equality, as I can muster at any given moment.

I can only speak for myself, and people should call me on any violations of consistency, let me know any criticisms, critiques, and advice, and I don't expect any shortage. It's part of the job.

What other people than me do: you have as much power over that as I do. Whomever "you" are.

Donald - I think the "support the troops" impulse goes back in part to the bad treatment Vietnam vets allegedly received from antiwar protestors (some of it real, though I've also read that some antiwar protestors supported the troops and some of the disrespectful treatment came from war supporters.) It sometimes leads to convoluted arguments. It's hard to criticize the brutality of the US presence in a foreign country without seeming to criticize "the troops", which is the worst sin in American politics, so it is safer to criticize the war on other grounds.

Mix this with a sense of patriotic service from a time when war meant conscription and people being taken out of their civilian lives and I think we have a winner. It's not just a public notion of guilt over the received cultural narrative of our treatment of returning vets during Vietnam. There is also the sense of "our boys" as reluctant soldiers being sent off to war. We now have an AVF but our culture still conceives of it like conscription in many ways.

I think nous nails it. Culturally, we cling to a moral framework for military service based on conscription. As a result, a decision to serve in the military can never be construed as a moral failure. Even if you believe that the US government occasionally sends the US military to engage in pointless wars that end up exterminating hundreds of thousands of people and that there is a high probability that it will do so again in the future, military service is at worst morally neutral, like choosing to wear a red shirt instead of a blue one.

American culture is very strange to me.

While I don't disagree with the observations above, I'm not sure if examining how avedis was treated for his comments is a good way at getting at the question of how Americans view military service and how it may be problematic. As Turb noted in the DADT thread, and Donald echoed above, the conflicting bag of policy beliefs is hard to imagine reified in any one person so I don't think it gets us very far.

I suggest a better starting point might be the Duck of Minerva post I linked to earlier (here) as well as Robert Farley on progressives and military questions (here, there are two more later posts related to this and as a sidenote, there is a post that links to Farley's discussion of inter-service questions about airpower, related to what Donald was talking about in the open thread).

"Mix this with a sense of patriotic service from a time when war meant conscription and people being taken out of their civilian lives..."

I would point out that, in some sense, the massive use of reserve forces in the current wars continues to take people from their civilian lives.

we cling to a moral framework for military service based on conscription

Errr...what? Service is voluntary, in the US. It's been a generation since conscription was in effect.

I'm not sure if examining how avedis was treated for his comments is a good way at getting at the question of how Americans view military service and how it may be problematic. As Turb noted in the DADT thread, and Donald echoed above, the conflicting bag of policy beliefs is hard to imagine reified in any one person so I don't think it gets us very far.

Just to explain my thinking (which my spouse claims can be somewhat...opaque): you can model avedis as a far leftist anti-imperialist with some extra features tacked on. We've had a bunch of people like that come through OW over the years. Most of them have not been treated with the um...patience avedis has seen. So the difference might be due to those extra features. To my mind, the extra features that discriminate avedis from the typical Chompsky-reading granola-crunching School-of-the-Americas-protesting far lefty are (1) being a veteran, (2) abject dislike of gays in the military, and (3) poor discussion skills. In general, (3) gets you no points. There seems to be near universal hostility to (2) from everyone, but maybe the desperate search for a meaningful opponent on this issue contributes to blog love? So (1) is the only thing left.

Of course, this whole analysis could easily be wrong: maybe the especially gentle treatment that avedis received wasn't actually special or maybe it was but can be explained by some other feature (random luck, holidays timing, a particular way of drawing out the discussion in time [note that avedis introduced his military service early in the discussion but sprinkled in far leftist views later in time]).

avedis in and of himself doesn't really matter for this argument. The point is how the community responded to him.

Marty - I would point out that, in some sense, the massive use of reserve forces in the current wars continues to take people from their civilian lives.

Agreed, but there has been a change in the way that we frame military service. It's no longer a matter of going in only to fight a war and then getting out. The focus is on the service, not the war. That's more open ended.

Slarti - Errr...what? Service is voluntary, in the US. It's been a generation since conscription was in effect.

Yes, but we treat service in war as being the same today as it was in WWII and Vietnam and in fact those two wars drive the national dialogue about how we should treat vets. We started shifting to the AVF even while Vietnam was winding down.

We treat wars as if they are elective, now, because everyone is a volunteer. It really lowers the bar for use of force because, we are assured, they [the military] want to fight. But our sentimental and moral picture in public is still of the civilian who turns soldier because his country is at war and needs him. There is a reluctance in the latter that is not in the former.

That's a significant difference.

Slart:

Service is voluntary, in the US. It's been a generation since conscription was in effect.
You're responding to this:
[...] we cling to a moral framework for [....]
Everyone knows service is voluntary.

"So the difference might be due to those extra features."

Or that you're generalizing based on the behavior of one Gary Farber, possibly. I'm the one who treated him so gentlely. I'm happy to be complained to -- well, not happy, but I'm the one responsible -- so do please do so, but I don't think there's much reason to otherwise fault others, particularly any of the other bloggers here, for me being patient. Though if you feel anyone else was too gentle, by all means, take it up with them, too. But I doubt generalizing will be very productive, since we all make individual decisions, and we make different ones at different moments of the day, too. I do, at least.

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

And I try to be patient as I can with everyone I can -- as a front-pager, and since I'm that at present, then more so as a commenter, as well, though, of course, I'm full of human failings and then some. I will continue to fail and be inconsistent.

But if anyone is to "blame" for the patience, do please blame me, not any of the other bloggers here, or any of the other commenters.

And hold me to consistency when a Nazi antisemite comes through, or anyone else whom you may think I may be less patient with. I won't always be consistent, of course, but I'll try.

To my mind, the extra features that discriminate avedis from the typical Chompsky-reading granola-crunching School-of-the-Americas-protesting far lefty are (1) being a veteran, (2) abject dislike of gays in the military, and (3) poor discussion skills.
I suggest that what you're describing is someone who heavily overlaps with many Buchananite paeloconservatives. So it seems to me, at least; YMMV.

antiwar.com has a lot of -- or I should note that I haven't updated there in a couple of years now, so this may be way out of date -- interesting sharing of views by both leftists and Buchanan types who agree on many anti-imperialist issues, while being mutually appalled at many other views.

I'm hardly a fan of Buchanan, or Justin Raimondo, but that doesn't get in the way of my observing this that I regard to be a fact.

Or that you're generalizing based on the behavior of one Gary Farber, possibly.

No Gary, I specifically excluded you from the analysis because, as you took pains to point out, you were trying to give everyone a chance. But excluding you from the analysis doesn't change it. There were lots of people who engaged avedis besides you.

But if anyone is to "blame" for the patience, do please blame me, not any of the other bloggers here, or any of the other commenters.

Gary, this is not about blaming anyone for anything. If people want to engage with someone that looks like a troll to me, it really is not any of my damn business. It doesn't bother me. My point here is what the community's response tells us about internalized militarism. From that perspective, avedis was the stimulus in a natural experiment.

I suggest that what you're describing is someone who heavily overlaps with many Buchananite paeloconservatives. So it seems to me, at least; YMMV.

I was talking about the context of people specifically commenting on OW. Can you point to any regular commenters on OW that are both strongly anti-imperialist anti-war and are Buchananite paleoconservatives? I can't think of anyone that meets that criteria on OW, and I'm not sure why their existence on some site that is not OW matters.

I don't know how to say this without making it an insult to one or the other, but I wouldn't claim that the attitudes of the ObWi commentariat can somehow be taken as a stand-in for the attitudes of the United States.

I don't know how to say this without making it an insult to one or the other, but I wouldn't claim that the attitudes of the ObWi commentariat can somehow be taken as a stand-in for the attitudes of the United States.

This is true on so many levels and it insults neither.

I wouldn't claim that the attitudes of the ObWi commentariat can somehow be taken as a stand-in for the attitudes of the United States.

I'm assuming you mean "US population" rather than the US.

I think the OW commentariot (the subset that actually is American) can be a decent sample of the US population for some questions. For example, "is eating human children ethical?".

Now, as a group, they differ statistically from the US population: the sample here is more liberal, has higher income, is a bit older, are better at writing and informal reasoning, more involved in politics, and far more likely to know about the real world effects of our wars and how they go wrong. All of those differences make the OW commenters less prone to militarism. If a random group of Americans that should be less militaristic than average all (or mostly) succumb to the same error, I think that can tell you something about American society at large.

I think you are drawing far too many inferences from what is a very very tiny sample. I also think that if you want to talk about the US population's attitude towards the military and the effect it has in skewing discussion, there should be far better evidence to draw on than how everyone here reacted to avedis. As you note, avedis is not needed for you to make your case, so why do you need the ObWi commentariat to make the same case? And how do you take half of the dialogue out and claim it is immaterial?

I don't think it is worthwhile to dissect avedis' contribution, but I'd note that rather than initially entering as a far-left anti-imperialist, his first comment was on 'breaking up the liberal circle jerk' with the implicit claim that Sebastian was a liberal. The far left trappings were added subsequent to that. I can't speak to what other people were reacting to, but as for me, he appeared as a conservative (and more importantly, as a newbie) so I tried to be a bit more circumspect and at a certain point, basically disengaged. Taking that as evidence that American culture is beholden to the notion of military service, while I don't disagree particularly with that, I really don't see the reaction to avedis as being so revealing.

[...] Taking that as evidence that American culture is beholden to the notion of military service, while I don't disagree particularly with that, I really don't see the reaction to avedis as being so revealing.
Agree.

Let me be brief Major. "Queers in here" ain't gonna work! Never has never will. I'm a 20 year + veteran and so is my wife. Only a bunch of liberal left wing Democrats like Obami and company would ever think it would. Ask yourself, "why were they in such a hurry to pass such a bill?" Answer; it would have never been passed under anything but a house majority. Now they don't have that majority and his personal agenda would have failed.

Are homosexuals in the military criminal. You bet yer arse. It's not only mandated against in the current Standards of Conduct but also in the Article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Anyone who swore allegiance to the Military under oath even up until today has breached the Oath of Enlistment and disobeyed direct orders of their superiors. Both of which are punishable under the UCMJ. They are liars and cannot be trusted and a major distraction, which gets soldiers killed in battle.

There has never been nor will there ever be a homosexual honored in the military. If they came out after their service all honors and decorations would be stripped and the individual would be subject to prosecution for a felony, falsifying a government document.

It's a unnatural act of a thinking individual. You only have to look at nature to see it's law at work. Even an animal can distinguish between male and female for the purposes of procreation and companionship. It a sick minded perverse lifestyle that isn't accepted in society as a whole and never will.

Homosexuals keep screaming equal rights as if to emulate a race of individuals. They are only individuals with a perverse sense of sexuality and are allotted equal right under the Constitution, "All men are created Equal." To apportion more rights to a homosexual would mean inequality for everyone else. This is not the way of our society nor it's founding doctrine.

For those who believe the lifestyle is acceptable, then why not just become one as it's a matter of choice and lifestyle. If you don't like the message then all I can say is; GET OVER IT! Grow up and quit acting like a child. Everything in life is not ok or correct. There is an order to all things great and small and a homosexual is contrary by choice to that order.

Lastly, children of today have enough on there plate with an ever changing world. To blur the lines between sexuality only causes children more stress and anxiety for them. It's not an accepted lifestyle and never will be. it's simple man's rebellion against all things natural, wholesome, and right. It is an abhorrent abomination in any moral society and it's time homosexuals understood this, LOUD AND CLEAR.

No one ever learns from history Has everyone forgotten about Roman and Greek societys and their debauchery which caused their eventual downfall. Preverse minds and attitudes in all walks of life, form preverse laws which contribute a preverse society. We are as we acted and accept. I for one will speak out loud and clear both as a moral man and a American citizen. Your preverse actions and filth are not accepted and will never be.

Please send your future correspondence to privacymatters@google.com

Thank You

The first line of John Doe's comment is a series of gay porn titles.

And so is his wife.

Even an animal can distinguish between male and female for the purposes of procreation and companionship.

Unfortunately, John Doe can't tell between the living and the departed. Maybe avedis was right to be worried about necrophilia?

Are there really people in the world who believe that the Greek and Roman empires collapsed amidst a furious orgy of sodomy? If there are, why do we let them have guns?

They have guns. It's the rifles they shouldn't
have.

Remember, guns kill empires. Rifles kill liberals.

John Doe: I find your views intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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