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Feb. 2003 - Gays, in the military and outside of it

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Chris OConnor

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Feb. 2003 - Gays, in the military and outside of it

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This thread is for a discussion of the February 2003 article, Gays, in the military and outside of it.Quote:N. 33, February 2003Gays, in the military and outside of itI never understood what the "gay problem" is all about. As far as I am concerned, the moral aspect is simple: as long as the people involved are consenting adults, what they do in their bedrooms is only and exclusively their own business, end of story. Alas, plenty of people who are otherwise adamantly against any interference of the government in the private life of its citizens (e.g., when it comes to business practice or guns control), cry out loud for a government-imposed "morality" that extends from the treatment of gays to that of abortion practices and school prayer.It was therefore no surprise that last November the US Army dismissed nine of its linguists
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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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First, it is abundantly clear that Massimo is extremely liberal in his political views. I agree with much of what he says, but his liberalism might be biasing or skewing his Reasonometer(TM). Yes, I invented that word just now...so back off. Quote:I never understood what the "gay problem" is all about. As far as I am concerned, the moral aspect is simple: as long as the people involved are consenting adults, what they do in their bedrooms is only and exclusively their own business, end of story.I completely agree. When in the privacy of their own homes people should feel free to do whatever they desire, providing they do not infringe upon the rights of others. If they would like to have fun hanging from the the ceiling fan shooting each other with a potato cannon, its their prerogative. This is simple stuff...so far.The problem with gays in the military is a bit more complex. As a vet of the US Navy I have mixed views. I'll be blunt here. Homosexual men are obviously attracted to other men. Having a homosexual male in close proximity is almost the equivalent of having a female in their place. In day to day affairs this matters not, but in the tight quarters of the military I do see serious problems.For those that haven't been in the military let me provide the scenario. It is very common in all branches of the military for men to be nude in front of other men. Who cares though, since most men don't stare at other mens weiners. In the Navy, we all took showers in a large room - together. There were no curtains, dividers or means of gaining privacy. You got naked in one room, hung your towel on the wall, and walked naked into another room with shower heads and a dozen other naked guys. Imagine how interesting it is to look over and see Seaman Recruit Peters oggling your glistening naked body sporting a semi-erection. Oh, laugh if you will, but it happened during my bootcamp experience. It happened a few times. And no, my last name is not Peters. There is no difference between this homosexual man having free access to a room full of naked men and a women walking into those same showers. In fact, most of us would have loved for the voyeur to have been female, as we would have at least had the opportunity to return the stare and check her naked body out. But no such luck! They are wise enough to seperate the males and females in bootcamp - at least in the showers.Forget the showers for a moment. Think of what life is like on a nuclear submarine. Have you ever heard of "hot racking" it? This is where you share your bed with two other people. All 3 of you have access to the rack for one 8-hour shift. When you arrive at your rack ready to sleep, the bed is still "hot" from the last user. We're talking tight quarters on subs and also just about every Naval ship. I mention this so you can get an idea of how cramped life is on these vessels. Sailors must change in these tight quarters independent of whether or not they have an audience. There aren't little private spots in which to hide so that prying eyes can't see. How would you feel being forced to get naked in front of a homosexual who is attracted to naked men...by definition? Would you strip everything off if a female walked in? Whats the difference? You would!? Don't answer this if you're an exhibitionist. Quote:From a practical viewpoint, furthermore, not only there is absolutely no evidence that the presence of gays in the military has any negative effect on troops morale (remember, the same was said of blacks and women, before those issues were settled), but we have at least one glaring example
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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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Having not read the article yet, there's one point in your post I feel I can address, Chris.Isn't it standard military procedure to do a health physical? If so, wouldn't those who are HIV positive be seen as a threat to their comrades, and so honorably discharged? There are gay men without HIV, and there are heterosexuals with it, so it would only make sense to be screening for everyone's safety...
stevepainter

Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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After two days of being snowbound, I'll jump in. In case anyone's curious, we received about 18" of snow here in the Trenton, NJ area.I've never been in the military. I'll put that right up front. I have a few friends and relatives who have, and I believe that they would offer a view similar or more, um... conservative than the one that Chris has presented.That being said, I think that Massimo was trying to point out that it shouldn't matter - not that it doesn't matter right now. It all has to do witht he way people think. As you basically said Chris, how would you feel if this happened to you? You're assuming that we all think the same way. Certainly, unwelcome advances are not something that anyone likes, man or woman, straight or gay. However, there are a few factors at work here.The first is the hypothetical(guess not) Seaman Peters. From conversations I've had with a number of people who would fall into the "non-straight" category of sexuality, they're not really interested in those who aren't interested in them. Making sure that the other person realizes that you are not interested is usually enough. That doesn't mean that they won't think you're good looking (or not).The other factor is the way Americans are brought up to think about sexuality. Among males, it generally isn't even acceptable to notice that another man may be good looking. I admit it - somehow I found myself watching that TV show last week called "Am I Hot" or something like that. During the show, three celebrity judges rated a number of women and men as to how attractive they were. Sitting there, watching with my wife, I felt comfortable enough to comment on what I thought about the guys that walked out. I wonder if I would have felt that comfortable in a room full of men. Regardless, the fact is that just because I can notice that some guy is good looking doesn't mean anything more than just that. I can find women attractive that I have no interest in. Attraction is more than appearance. I contend that Chris is right - right now in the military it does seem to matter. But Massimo is also right - it shouldn't matter. Unfortunately, that will require a change in attitude from the majority of Americans in the military service before it can become reality.I need to cut htis short now since I have a meeting to attend. Have fun.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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SteveQuote:From conversations I've had with a number of people who would fall into the "non-straight" category of sexuality, they're not really interested in those who aren't interested in them.I find this hard to believe and think your gay friends may be being a bit less than honest with you. Maybe not, but I would gamble on it. I guess it all depends on how we define the word "interested" as used in your above quote.So they don't want to form a long-term relationship with another man who isn't also a homosexual - this makes sense. But are we to really believe that the average gay man is not "interested," as in sexually aroused by an attractive naked man? Please...think about it. You're in a committed relationship with your wife Steve, but how would you react if you walked into a room full of buck-naked showering women? It would be out of some fantasy - wouldn't it? Picture the scenario...of naked glistening bodies for you to ogle every single day for 8 to 12 weeks. It wouldn't exactly suck would it?A gay man is attracted to men in the same way you are attracted to women. Just because the gay man hides his interest while in those showers, the point is the showering experience is much more to him than it is intended to be for those men. He is in a state of bliss and this makes every hetero male uncomfortable. It makes them so uncomfortable that homosexuals have found themselves beat senseless in the showers or given blanket parties late at night. I'm NOT advocating such behavior, but throwing the "opposite" sex into a room full of naked men is NOT fair to those men. It is borderline abuse in my opinion. While I personally wouldn't mind a girl of my choice walking in on me showering, I would be extremely pissed if some female hideous monster strolled in uninvited, especially if she were given permission by my Company Commander. Now what's the difference between a gay man walking in and a female that was uninvited and not desired?Why do you think there are those jokes about gay men in the Navy? There is much truth behind those jokes, as there usually is with most good jokes. The Navy attracts gay men because of exactly the reasons I've mentioned. There are tight quarters with nothing but men grouped together day and night. They shower, eat, work and sleep together. There is no escape as there is for the rest of the military branches. It is a gay mans paradise. Does this mean I have a problem with gays? Not even a little bit. I simply want a military that is at the top of its game at all times. We don't need low morale on our nuclear subs and aircraft carriers because men, who are afforded no privacy, are being subjected to the prying eyes of homosexual men day and night. This might sound harsh but I experienced it in boot camp. One recruit was caught writing a love note to his homosexual friend outside of the military and he was booted out. It sucked. The guy was super nice and I remember him crying as he was humiliated, knowing his secret was out of the bag and his family and friends would now know. But...in the Navy's defense...it was this individual who repeatedly was letting his eyes drift down the guys bodies in the shower. Everyone was uncomfortable. It wasn't fair and it disrupted boot camp. The Navy solved the problem in the best interest of company morale.Chris
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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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Chris...I understand where you are coming from, but what is the difference in showering shipboard and showering in junior high gym class? It's been clearly shown that homosexuality is not something that just "appears" as a young adult. Personally, my policy is that "as long as he doesn't try to hit on me, we'll get along just fine. If he does, I'm gonna hurt him."I just don't see where 1) gays shouldn't be entitled to defend our countries the same as any other group. Hell, we've had people who are not even citizens of our nation take up arms in our behalf. Who are we to tell them no? 2) I just don't see where this is the purview of the government. You would think that at some point in time, people would realize the futility in attempting to legislate "morality".I personally assign ANY who have served in the armed services of this country a special place of honor, no matter their race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation. The matter of the translators being dismissed to me illustrated the assine actions of this government and the stereotypes of today's society in this country. Sometimes, the best person for the job may not be the typical "virile all american male". Jeez...what if those standards had been used in WW2? That code breaker dude that Russell Crowe played in "A Beautiful Mind" would have been in jail rather than helping do something for the war effort that NO ONE else could ever do.To me, I see this as more of "You're okay in our book, as long as you are doing something that is of immediate use to us." but then when the crisis is over...you are back to being an "undesireable".Well, sorry for rambling.Ernie
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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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ErnieI'm not saying I have a firm opinion about whether or not gays should be allowed in the military, but I am saying that problems can and do arise as a result of their integration. Throughout my life I have known gay men and women and I recognize that their sexuality is a small piece of who they are as people. Their sexuality is also not a fault or to be construed as a bad thing, anymore than a person born tall, short, pretty or ugly. They are what they are and should be afforded all of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.But a problem does need to be addressed and sweeping it under the carpet won't solve anything. Ok, let us assume that in the United States we have reached a level in our cultural evolution where men and women are considered equals in just about every respect. Even at this point would there still be separate men's and women's restrooms? Why? Because we are equal...but different. We all have the same rights under the law, but society does recognize that there are inherent differences between the sexes. Men have outties while women have innies. Men are attracted to women's innies while women tend to have a fondness for men's outties. So how do we handle this? In situations where these innies and outties can be exposed...we separate the sexes. We have men's locker rooms and women's locker rooms. Men's showers and women's showers. Nobody ever really complains about this as most of us do indeed enjoy being able to pick and choose who sees our innie or our outtie. Right?Along comes a man who breaks all the rules. He has an outtie, but is attracted to other outties. Well, all be damned. We now have to provide a separate shower and bathroom for him. The men don't want the homosexual staring at their outtie, and the women don't either. Actually, the women might welcome him into their flock. So gays should be entitled to defend the country, but not where they cause morale problems with the rest of the sailors or troops. Any armed forces personnel that rocks the boat is removed from the boat, for the good of the whole. It must be this way to establish harmony and maximize morale. If one sailor walked around ship telling rumors and speaking negatively about the other sailors he would immediately be separated from the rest until the problem could be resolved. This sailor could be excellent as a signalman, and have incredibly high military bearing, but the fact remains that he is harming group dynamics and must be removed.You mentioned junior high school showers. I am firmly against any child being forced to shower in front of others. This is a violation of their rights to privacy. If a school cannot provide separate showers then they shouldn't require students to shower. But your point is taken. The exact same scenario could arise if the students were required to shower and one student was known to be a homosexual. The solution is you don't require showering in a group setting. The military doesn't have much of a choice, so the simplest solution is to not mix the sexes. Having a homosexual male in a group of heterosexual males is the same as mixing the sexes.... in situations involving nudity.Oh, and I'm sure a homosexual male could enter this conversation and argue passionately about how most homosexual males are mature enough to handle these group situations where they are around naked men. Bullshit. How would you handle showering in the middle of a room full of naked cheerleaders? Exactly.By the way...I enjoy conversations like this tremendously. Don't ever feel like you're rambling here at BookTalk. Speak your mind loud and clear and do your best to support your arguments. When someone makes sense...concede. When you make sense, hopefully others will have the character to recognize your reasoning for what it is. In other debates I have had my mind changed by people who held different views. That's the beauty of freedom of speech. If we keep open minds and are willing to listen to others points of views we will continue to learn and grow. I might be looking at this subject completely wrong and maybe when this months article has been discussed to exhaustion...maybe I'll do a 180 and change my mind. Who knows? But this is fun.Chris Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 2/18/03 6:04:34 pm
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Re: Feb. 2003 - Four political parties?

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Massimo's idea to split the two U.S. political parties into four is great, one that I've considered for a long time. There is no logic to how they are currently formed. Consider the dilemma of a gay man who believes in minimal Government. He can vote Republican, but they have many supporters that are vehemently anti-gay. He may find more acceptance among Democrats, but then he might disagree with most of their policies. Why should anti-gay or anti-abortion policies necessarily be tied to conservative economic policies? If there were four parties split the way Massimo describes, most everyone would find a better fit and the political dialogue would make more sense. And the dialogue is rather disgusting at the moment with extremists on both sides being the most vocal, ranting about the verbal abuses of the other while ejaculating even more outrageous charicatures.I have seen another quadrant of political ideas similar to the one proposed by Massimo. It has the traditional Liberal/Conservative dichotomy on the X axis with Authoritarianism/Libertarianism on the Y axis. Same concept with different words - one could be a right winger on the Government's role in economics, but either an authoritarian or libertarian on social issues... Here's a little quiz that suggests where you fall on this quadrant.www.lp.org/quiz/BTW, I'm not a libertarian - most conservatives that I encounter think I'm a pinko commie, but according to that quiz I'm a centrist: 36% Libertarian, 18% Liberal, 7% conservative, 8% Authoritarian, and 30% centrist. Edited by: LanDroid at: 2/18/03 10:31:06 pm
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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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I tend to agree with Chris' position on this. It isn't a case of the government looking to legislate morality. Rather it's a case of the military looking to keep morale as high as possible for the benefit of the greater whole.Steve said, " Regardless, the fact is that just because I can notice that some guy is good looking doesn't mean anything more than just that. I can find women attractive that I have no interest in. Attraction is more than appearance."I would agree with that if you're talking about attraction in a relationship. However, many men are visually stimulated. That's why pornography is so popular among men. There doesn't have to be any interest shown for many men to become sexually aroused by looking at a naked woman. The same would be true for a homosexual man looking at another man.Men and women are not forced to shower together or share close quarters in the military. It's really not fair that any man (or woman) be forced into a sexual situation with someone who makes them uncomfortable. If I were forced to expose my naked body in a shower while men watched I would feel that it was severe sexual harassment, even close to rape. Who are we to tell a man that he should be forced to shower naked while gay men watch. Why should he have to be comfortable with that? I see that as a form of sexual harassment. But here's what it all comes down to, I think. Why would a woman be uncomfortable with a strange man watching her shower? Why would many heterosexual males be uncomfortable being forced to shower in front of a gay man? A lot of it has to do with how our society has shaped our views of these things. In some primitive cultures it's common for men, women and children to wear little to no clothing in one another's presence. It's not an issue. It's customary. In the U.S. we have been conditioned by our culture to associate nudity with sexuality. And we tend to be very conservative about it.Massimo mentioned Holland's army. Europe, in general, is much more open about sexuality than the U.S. and the Netherlands has been hailed as the most liberal of European countries. If the citizens of Holland are much more open and comfortable with sexuality and nudity than Americans, it seems reasonable that they would not have such a problem with heterosexual men tolerating gay men in close quarters, whereas in the U.S. many men would be very uncomfortable with this.Steve said, " I contend that Chris is right - right now in the military it does seem to matter. But Massimo is also right - it shouldn't matter. Unfortunately, that will require a change in attitude from the majority of Americans in the military service before it can become reality."I think this summed it up well. The only thing I would add is that the change in attitude needs to come about in American society and culture before it can come within the military.Zach said, " Isn't it standard military procedure to do a health physical? If so, wouldn't those who are HIV positive be seen as a threat to their comrades, and so honorably discharged? There are gay men without HIV, and there are heterosexuals with it, so it would only make sense to be screening for everyone's safety..."Zach, there are a couple problems with this. One is that there is a 6 month window with HIV testing. A person can take up to 6 months to test positive from the time they contract the disease. The second problem is that a person could test negative, but if they have unprotected sex the next day they could contract the disease and start spreading it. Not only would it potentially not show up on a retest for 6 months, how often do you think the military continues testing for HIV? They could go for years without having any symptoms. So there could easily be people with HIV in the military.Cheryl
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Re: Feb. 2003 "Gays, in the military and outside of it&

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I can concede the point of TODAY perhaps things being such where homosexuals may happen to be the minority...but what if such was NOT the case? Would it be necessary to remove heteros in much the same manner?Quote:I tend to agree with Chris' position on this. It isn't a case of the government looking to legislate morality. Rather it's a case of the military looking to keep morale as high as possible for the benefit of the greater whole.So, if the whole eventually turns out to have a majority of what today is a minority, what then? I think we all know the answer to that...Just look at where minority rule landed South Africa. My experience with gay men is pretty limited. I have worked with a couple of men who made no particular secret of their sexual orientation. Also, my wife's brother from Atlanta, is gay. I have to say that I have never been in a position (no pun intended) where I have been made to feel uncomfortable in their presence. I think that there must be a solution...it's just not been thought of yet.I think that the splitting of the parties might be good for the initial couple of elections...but over the long haul, I think that there will really be little difference in the old 2 party system that already exists. Much of the money to each campaign comes from the same sources. It's simply a matter of the special interest groups hedging their bets. They may not get all of what they want if the other candidate wins, but usually they will have enough concessions made that they will not feel that they have lost much of anything because of election results. Personally, I try to learn as much about ALL the candidates that I can and vote for the one that I think can best do the job. Unfortunately, it seems that the dumber and more easily manipulated a candidate is, that's the one that gets all the campaign donations and endorsements. (e.g. Bush & Gore) It seems that the ones who really appear to have some good ideas about government get ousted in the primaries.Interesting discussion...Glad y'all made this new forum, as I have yet to obtain the books currently being discussed.Ernie
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