Thursday, October 14, 2010

Now There's An Idea That Just Might Work...

Here's a good Toledo Blade editorial calling for ending the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Within it is this little nugget:

...Few in the military even try to argue that discriminating against gays is right. Instead, the argument is that treating gays equally would make life more difficult for officers. Discipline would be undermined, they say, and esprit de corps would be damaged.

But many of the problems related to gays and lesbians serving openly in the military will be logistical, having to do with training, revising regulations, and changing benefits. And soldiers who are uncomfortable serving next to gays will have to get over it, as previous generations of soldiers got over their reluctance to serve next to blacks and women.

But just as there continue to be a few racists and misogynists wearing the uniforms of America's Armed Services, there will always be a few homophobic service members as well. That's not a rationale for continuing to punish the victims, as the current policy does. The better policy is for the military to weed out the bigots.

And the better policy for the White House is to do the right thing, to defend constitutional rights, even when it's inconvenient.

Basically, when Robert Gates says there will be enormous consequences if gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, he means that a lot of the homophobes in uniform are going to lose their shit. So maybe the military should start discharging the homophobes instead -- as well as the racists and misogynists. I'll bet that would go a long way in raising the esprit de corps of the military. Most likely, the total number of discharges for being bigoted would be lower than expected. Prejudice often spreads within a person's mind like cancer -- if you find out that someone of your acquaintance is, say, a racist, you shouldn't be surprised if you find out he's a misogynist and/or a homophobe as well. At bottom, it's all hatred and fear.

Unlike homosexuality, homophobia is an acquired form of behavior. Which means that if it can be learned, it can be unlearned, too. I've done it myself -- I speak as both a former racist and a former homophobe here, and I know full well what I'm talking about. Ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is going to hurt the bigots far more than anyone else. But that's just the short-term effect. Over the course of the long-term, those bigots who decide to deal with their new environment will gradually shed their fear and hatred of gay people, and will become better and happier human beings in the process. The only ones who will ultimately lose out are those who choose to cling to their prejudices. Oh well. Some folks you just can't reach. Those are the ones you have no choice but to shun.

Really, this whole issue is far beyond ridiculous now. It's time to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," let the chips fall wherever they fall, and grow the fuck up. If some homophobic asshole can't handle the idea of serving alongside gay soldiers, he won't be of any use whatsoever once the shooting starts. Cut him loose...

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