Thursday, July 24, 2008

Look out: a gay rant


The day's music choices reflect a news story I will be following: yesterday, a House subcommittee revisited for the first time since its enactment 15 years ago the "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the military, signed into law by that great friend of gay people, Bill Clinton. (If you're interested, Diane Rehm will be devoting her first hour this morning to a discussion of the issue.) If any changes are in the offing, they of course won't come until after a new administration is in place, but it's heartening to know that a re-examination is starting now, as ugly and personally insulting as I know I will find the conversation. Just as when I pass a serious car wreck on the highway, I find myself morbidly drawn to this discussion, simultaneously relishing and hating hearing myself referred to in the third person, as if I were not in the room.

I hope whoever advised Clinton to make this issue the very first one to tackle after he was sworn into office was drawn and quartered, or at least summarily fired. The "born politician" overplayed his hand disastrously on this question, and he ended up codifying into law the lying that, up to then, gay people in the military had only occasionally been forced into, by individual circumtances. At the time, it was viewed as a humane compromise, but that view was held, of course, by people who weren't forced into hypocrisy by it. The inevitable witch hunts ensued: under this law, more than 12,000 patriots have been drummed out of the service for loving whom they loved. That number includes field medics and scarce Arabic speakers. The policy is a national disgrace. (Funny. As I wrote that I realized we've experienced so many national disgraces since this one that the expression has lost much of its punch. But this still outrages me, which I guess means there's hope yet for our dear country.)

Me, I'd never have touched a military career. I wasn't made for one, and am grateful that another means of expressing my patriotism was available. But I am also grateful to anyone willing to put his or her life in danger in order to protect mine. And isn't that what it all boils down to? These people have volunteered to give their all, literally, to this country, and this is the gratitude they receive. If they kiss the wrong kind of person they aren't worthy.

Have I made myself clear how I feel about this? Carry on, dear friends.

11 comments:

Eclecticity said...

Well ranted Ralph! E.

Ralph said...

Thanks, E. But I was still editing it when you read it! It's more refined now....

Zoey & Me said...

Good post Raff. Can you name one plus of this Administration? I can't. So look ahead. Gotta let this one go while Bush is still pResident.

Ralph said...

Oh, yeah, Z&M, I know it's all in the future. I think we're all looking ahead for our own reasons.

Kat said...

Ralph,
It enrages all of us!

Zoey & Me said...

I can see how enraged you and others are, Kat on this issue. I for one, having served in a combat company during VietNam, heard about what was known as "fragging" against officers by enlisted men and also, gay service men dying from friendly fire which I felt was murder, fragging, call it whatever. GI's who hated their superiors and hated gay would kill them on the battlefield. I think the Armed Forces knew this was going on, the fragging of officers even made headlines stateside. I thought at the time a gay person was crazy to join the military and I wonder if much has changed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember the star football player who died in Afghanistan? He was murdered. The survival odds aren't very good, at least they weren't in Nam. But I hear ya!

Ralph said...

Thanks, Kat. Let's just hope enough people are, anyway.

Ralph said...

Z&M, I'd heard the term "fragging" but never thought about it applying specifically to gay soldiers. I do really think that young peoples' attitudes today are different than they were in the 60s--how much, I don't know. of course...

What's the basis for your claim that the football player was murdred? I've never heard that theory....

Zoey & Me said...

His name fails me and I'm a football nut. But his parents were told he was killed in combat, then another story surfaced he was killed by a US bombing mission, then finally it was found that he was killed by his own enlisted men, friendly fire. You can bet we'll never know the truth but I found a website that had the whole history. If I remember his name, I'll email the site to you. It's a sad story.

Ralph said...

I forget his name too but I'm very familiar with the story. Pat Somebody. It just seems like a leap to me to go from accidental friendly fire (which has now been established) to murder and then to gay fragging. I was surprised at the connection and was wondering if you knew something about Pat I didn't....

Zoey & Me said...

Follow this 60 mins link, then google Pat Tillman.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/01/60minutes/main4061656.shtml?source=mostpop_story

copy and paste in your browser.