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Acceptance of Gays in the Military
Can't Be Legislated

October 23, 2010 by Murky Waters

Lately the Whitehouse, the courts, and the media have been revisiting the old question of whether openly gay soldiers should be allowed to serve in the military. If fact, President Obama was recently booed by gay rights activists for not taking a tougher stand against "don't ask, don't tell." There seems to be an assumption by opponents of the policy that gay and straight service members could learn to co-exist and respect each other. But personally, I don't see how a gay soldier would benefit by making his sexual orientation known while serving in uniform. Wouldn't he be making himself a target by doing this?

Technically, if the law was changed to allow openly gay personnel to serve, a gay soldier would be legally protected from physical and verbal abuse. But how would it change the attitudes of soldiers who want nothing to do with homosexuals? It might be hard for such a service member to concentrate on his mission if he's wondering if his fellow recruit there in the tank is checking out his backside. Would these men be given psychiatric medication to help them overcome their homophobia? Could they be compelled to accept the gay soldier as a result of taking sensitivity classes? I'm not so sure about that one.

It's hard to change attitudes that have been learned over the course of a lifetime. Parents and peers aren't the only source of anti-gay nudges and winks. The message also emanates from television, radio, and the internet on a regular basis. In fact, I would argue that America's homophobic pop culture is a vital conditioning tool used to prepare future recruits for their military service. Those manly truck, beer, and burger commercials send a threatening message to young males: If you don't aspire to superhuman levels of toughness, your status as a heterosexual is in question. Sadly, the lives of millions of young men are routinely hijacked by this propaganda. They are persuaded to give up all creative pursuits and to seek out activities they view as manhood-affirming, such as dangerous sports, daredevil stunts, violent video games, self-destructive binge drinking, and the competitive sexual conquest of women.

This pursuit of the masculine stereotype instills into our young men the qualities most desired by our Department of Defense: a total desensitization to violence and cruelty, the complete repression of the emotions, and a willingness to pull the trigger for Uncle Sam, no questions asked. This is nothing new, of course. Our military has always operated this way. Having open-minded soldiers who embrace diversity is not a priority of the top brass at the Pentagon who seek to spread the American socio-economic system across the globe. The job of the military is, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, "to kill people and break things."

Right or wrong, it's easy to see why many in our military would be averse to serving with openly gay soldiers. They don't necessarily hate gay people, but they view the inclusion of gays in the military as an undermining and degradation of their collective identity. If you believe it's important to keep military recruitment and morale high, I would argue that "don't ask, don't tell" is the best policy. It's not inconceivable that gay and straight service members could learn to co-exist and respect each other, but I wouldn't bet on it either.

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"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...