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Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
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The military is a unique place where the political correctness of the civilian world just doesn't apply in all cases. The best example is the question of whether or not homosexuals should be permitted to serve. The evidence is overwhelming that their presence causes more harm than good, so the answer should be clear - bar them from service.
(R) I'm taking what information I offer from Randy Shilts' book "Conduct Unbecoming". Shilts is an investigative journalist who wrote a history of gays in the military that was very well received (to my knowledge, this book hasn't been discreditted).
(MB) Nor is there any overriding need to discredit either him or his book. Perhaps, you've also read one of his other books, "And the Band Played On", in which he describes the darker side of the homosexual lifestyle.
(R) Your argument against allowing homosexuals to serve is a pragmatic one, that doing so would be a cure worse than the disease. Yet that seems like the same argument that kept the American army first all-white, then segregated. The desegregation of the military was difficult, yet in retrospect worth doing.
(MB) Indeed, it was. However, trying to draw an analogy between the questions of allowing blacks to serve and allowing homosexuals to serve is invalid. There are two entirely different central issues involved. Unsubstantiated prejudice (in the case of blacks) is not nearly the same kind of problem as the documented medical, psychological, and social disorders that are common, if not ubiquitous, among homosexuals.
Colin Powell said of this: "Skin color is a benign, non-behavioral characteristic. Sexual orientation is perhaps the most profound of human behavioral characteristics. Comparison of the two is a convenient but invalid argument."
Also, the military itself has never viewed those two questions as being equal. Prior to the official integration of the military during the Korean War, a survey of white male Army personnel found only 33% opposed to integration. A similar survey conducted in 1993 concerning allowing homosexuals to serve showed 78% opposed.
(R) One difference is that gays have always served in the military.
(MB) So have people who have been guilty of all make and manner of criminal activity. However, that, in and of itself, does not justify their continued service. The fact that some of them may well be able to function successfully as soldiers is of little or no consequence. There are a great many things that can disqualify somebody from military service and all of them have their reasons. It may not always be "fair", but the military is not a place that can afford to be "fair" above
and beyond its other concerns.
(R) This raises another question: assuming that the ban on homosexuals in the military is justified, is criminal prosecution, prison time, and a dishonourable discharge also justified?
(MB) Yes, it most certainly is justified. Prior to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", potential Army recruits were asked on their enlistment forms if they were homosexual. Falsely answering "No" risked the same penalties as deliberately lying about anything else on the forms - felony convictions with heavy fines and jail time. Also, by their very nature, homosexuals must violate the Army regulations against sodomy and other prohibited sexual activity. Thousands of soldiers are kicked out of
the Army or do serious jail time for lesser violations of Army regulations. Why should homosexuals be granted special dispensation to violate regulations?
(R) One very interesting piece of information in the book is that the DoD undertook a study in the late eighties, I believe (I apologise for my vagueness: it's been a year since I read the book, and it was borrowed from a friend, so I can't check it quickly), examining the performance of gays in the military. The report concluded that, in general, gay servicemen and women were above average in all categories. The report was then buried as deeply as possible.
(MB) There is no possible way such a report could have been accurately compiled. To do so would require identifying all homosexual soldiers in the military and obtaining access to their NCO or Officer Evaluation Reports. There is no identification of sexual orientation on these reports. Indeed, if such orientation was known, the individual would have been processed for elimination from the Army and their evaluation would have been highly negative.
In every instance where I have been in a unit where one or more soldiers (enlisted and officer) have been homosexual or have been suspected of being homosexual, the impact on that unit has invariably been negative and those soldiers are generally substandard.
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