A clean, well-lit place to vent
Please feel free to contribute to this frequently-updated forum, which posts selected commentary on our favorite comic strip. If you’d like your critique to be posted, please note that civility, if not approbation, counts. Click here to submit a comment.
Reading the recent Blowback, particularly the more deeply felt responses to DADT and institutional homophobia, I am reminded that there is a second and more insidious harm done by oppression. The harm to the targets is more or less obvious, but there is a hidden layer of harm to those who participate in the oppression, whether actively or passively: they lose a little of their humanity. Voicing one's regret is a way of regaining that humanity -- what could be more human than regret? In my orisons, be all our sins forgiven.
I served as a JAG officer on an Air Defense Command Base in the early 60's. Air Force Regulations made any act of homosexuality a dischargeable event, even if not prosecuted under the UCMJ. There was a young very visible homosexual enlisted man who over a period of time had sexual contact with about 15 different enlisted men-most of whom, if not all, were not homosexual, but experimented or were drunk. All were discharged, general discharges. A lot of good airmen were lost, and as the years have gone on and I have learned about homosexuality and that it is something people are born with and do not choose, I regret more and more my part as a JAG officer in what was a pointless witch hunt.
When I was in high school (1973) I was living with my gay uncle, a WWII vet. One of his best friends was Col. Frank Dixon, another vet. The remarkable thing about Frank was not that he was gay but that he spent WWII in Bataan. I have read stories about the Death March that mention Frank, and the courage he showed there should be an example to all soldiers. Thank you all for that you have done.
I retired from the US Army in 1989. I served in the Infantry, Military Police and for a while in Personnel. In my 22 years I can only recall one homosexual prosecution under the UCMJ* (two men caught in the act), and never recall anyone being discharged for that reason under Chapter 13. We had at one point an Intel sergeant named Ernie, who everyone thought was homosexual, but because he was so well-liked he was not harassed nor investigated. At Fort McClellan (then the WAC basic training post) women danced together and even kissed, without any great consternation. My general impression about homosexuals in the Army of the 60s through the 80s was that you could be homosexual and left alone, unless you were caught in the act, or really pissed the chain of command off. But that is just my opinion.
UCMJ: Uniform Code of Military Justice;
WAC: Women's Army Corps
It occurs to me how very proud and fearless the gay community has been in the deplorable treatment they have received from our government. They are certainly expected to pay taxes, vote and serve on juries, all responsabilities of good American citizens. However the gay members of American society have had to fight for the right to serve in our Armed services, and they have fought with pride and dignity to do a job most other citizens try to avoid. I'd like to say that it's about damn time the military and government made this most obvious and common sense change in policy.
I was kind of hoping we'd follow Pvt. Illegible-Name-Tag for a while, maybe see how things are now between her and her girlfriend.
Todays strip reminds me of my dad. It's possible to love someone who is just wrong. And to be confused for years by that. That's why sometimes government has to decide.
October, 1960, 12 years after President Truman integrated the services, I was studying FDC for the 105 howitzer at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. PFC Davis (me) was walking across the base with a Sgt. from my company. We passed an African-American Lieutenant. We saluted him and he saluted us. All very normal. As we continued, the white Sgt. said to me, “You know, I was only saluting the uniform." I draw these lessons for DADT: 1. Prejudice dies very slowly. 2. There were dire predictions of doom and gloom when President Truman integrated the services. 3. When the military receives a directive, they salute, say “Yes, Sir” and get on with the mission.
If another former soldier may join Melissa's father in talking about the "Old Army": The Army is remarkably tolerant of any beliefs or behavior as long as they're not "in-your-face" and don't interfere with good order and discipline. You can be a white supremicist, a black separatist, a radical feminist, or an evangelical Christian, but as long as you don't bother people and keep your activities out of the office and on your own time, no one much cares. I worked with gays when I was in the Army, and everyone knew they were gay. But they kept a low profile and did their jobs, and no one bothered them. I was in the Army when the civil rights movement gave more power to black troops, and when the Women's Army Corps ended and more career fields opened to women -- two events that the repeal of DADT has been compared to. To extend the comparison, there was trouble only when the militant blacks and militant whites and militant feminists and militant sexists caused it, and I predict that the same will happen today. There will be trouble when the militant gays and the militant homophobes cause it, and it will take awhile for the leadership to discipline and/or discharge the jerks and troublemakers. For the rest of the troops, I predict the general attitude in the ranks will be same now as it was back then: "OK, you got what you wanted. Now shut up about it and get back to work."
There's a military expression I heard sometime ago: OBE (Overtaken By Events). I hope this applies to Jackie's storyline, but then again, there's some continuing controversy over the right to reenlist (per this Slate article). Let's hope they let her come back -- she deserves better than clumsy come-ons from Jeff.
I don't know where GBT is going with the current storyline, but I love Melissa more every time I see her. That gal has moxie!
Sam and her mom remind me of my daughter and me -- but you have to realize her dad's a head case; I'll spare the details and ask you just just to take my word. B.D. is not (okay, there was that shooting up the garage thing, but still, he's not the overblown controlling kind). Now Jeff and Melissa? He'd annoy the hell out of her, but puppy love may be what he needs to finally get his kit together. Meanwhile, DADT in the ashcan of history where it belongs brings tears of joy to my eyes. Were I in the military, I'd still be circumspect about my sexual orientation; why risk it? I'll add that it doesn't surprise me the former military people have a problem with DADT's repeal. I know several, and they don't seem to quite understand that today's forces are composed mainly of people who don't remember when there was no DADT, and largely find it silly that there is/was such a rule. Our society has changed a lot in my lifetime, and it seems common knowledge that orientation has nothing to do with capability, good sense, or the capacity to stand and deliver in combat. Lastly, shame on you, John McCain! You've proven yourself a dinosaur waiting to join the annals of history. Maverick, my middle-aged tushy! Shame, sir, shame.
What you gay right advocates do not understand is that you proved to the military leaders that their opinion is irrelevant and you will not listen. If you had listened, you would have heard that the 70% of the military that said that gays could serve are the very ones that will now try to get out of their eight-year enlistment contracts by claiming their religious rights do not allow them to serve with gays! You were used and you fell for it.
I opened today's paper, saw the continuation of last week's storyline on DADT, and realized that for the first time I can recall in 40 years, Congress acted on an issue before Doonesbury had finished satirizing inaction.
Go Sam! When did she get savvy like that? B.D.'s doomed if his women are ganging up on him.
I see today that the Senate finally voted to repeal the odious DADT farce. It's about time. I served thirty years and served with sailors I and everyone else in the Command knew were gay, and I am quite sure I served with many who I did not know were gay. In my years as a senior enlisted advisor to the COs I served with, I never once had a problem with a sailor because of his (or her) "gayness". Drunks, dopers, malingerers and just plain stupid sailors, yes, there were problems with all of these, but never a problem with a gay person because of their sexual activities or conduct. It's about time the old dinosaurs like McCain and General Amos move into the twenty-first century and quit spouting their tired homophobia disguised as concern for the troops.
I really appreciate the sensitivity and depth with which you approach the DADT issue. As usual, politicians are testing the wind, looking for a lever, considering their options. Your character has reason to be wary. While the services shoot themselves in the foot by discharging (I hope it's not a UD or DD; prolly GD) capable people. I don't recall liking everyone I served with, but I did strongly prefer people who were steady and capable under stress. I did not inquire about their sexual preferences at the time. It does seem stupid and rude in the extreme to discharge capable service members when they're way down on brains in the Army anyway. Oh, yeah, Facebook. I've told my kids, and I keep this promise; never write anything on a computer that you don't want read on the Six O'Clock News, or in a court of law. Merry Christmas to all.
Jeff is self-absorbed and narcissistic, but he's not a sociopath. The latter know what they're doing and they intentionally harm others for the sake of their own self-aggrandizement. If Jeff would just withdraw his head from the proverbial you-know-where, he'd be fine.
I love where you are taking Melissa this week. As a (liberal) Army civilian employee, I work with a number of former infantrymen who are against the DADT repeal. Thursday's strip summarizes better than I ever could why the ban is ridiculous. On a side note, never mind the naysayers, I want to see what happens when Melissa and Jeff get together!
I must admit, in the 20 or so years of reading Doonesbury, this thread on the DADT issue is a pretty good representation. I knew several gay soldiers when I served and had no issues with them nor they with me because we had the common soldiers bond. DADT shouldnt be a law; discriminating against anyone in the military is just wrong. And when DADT is repealed, it is just as well that Women should be allowed to participate in Combat Arms on the front lines. I know plenty of women that can sit front seat in an Apache or fly an A10 just as well or better than most men. And a few that can even outshoot me.