Friday, February 5, 2010

Can't Shoot Straight

Well, looks like it's Social Issue Day on the old blog, so you just might want to reconsider whether to stick around. Today, we're all going gay.

That is, we're addressing the matter of gays in the military. I've had this 1993 letter from former President Clinton's Administration (click to enlarge) around for years and never really had an opportunity or reason to post it. Actually, it's strange that the White House even had to issue a letter of this sort, since so many other countries have openly allowed gay people into their military services for years without problems. Based upon my observations, I had written the White House to encourage the inevitable. Yes, I wish Mr. Clinton's letter had actually read, "Dear Robert: Hillary and I realize, like you, that the UFO issue is real and important, and soon I'm going public with demands that all U.S. government information on this subject be released. . ." Well, dream on. That was supposed to happen during the Carter Administration, too.

Politically, I fear that significant national public policy is currently administered by something akin to misguided lunatics, radicals, maniacs and others who may be too smart for our own good. Less arrogance, a dash of humility and a respectful attitude toward those of us who don't dwell in the official Big Boys' circle might be helpful, because those of us with even a modicum of common sense see lots of trouble coming down the pike. Well, who doesn't these days? Change we can believe in, yes-we-can, oh yeah, uh huh. Some days, I wake up wishing I could bottle up all the human testosterone and estrogen in the world, stuff it in a rocket ship and send it to the sun, gender problems being what they are, but that's another story. So now the gays-in-the-military subject is back atop the pile and President Obama swears the policy will change. Ah, where to begin. . .

You may already know that I'm ex-military, having spent four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam years, and I served in a medical field in USAF hospitals stateside. During those years, I both worked among gay airmen and WAFs (Women's Air Force) and encountered gay patients. In fact, those patients were usually about to be discharged simply for being openly gay. It was common for them to be hospitalized in the psychiatric section, and on occasion I learned of outrageous experimental things the psychiatric staff would do to attempt a "cure." Remember, this was 1968-72, still a "dinosaur" era in terms of attitudes about homosexuality in general. I met some of the most talented and essential personnel one could imagine who were booted out the door merely because of their sexual status.

The gay thing is serious stuff with the Armed Services. It's like the cartoon elephant and mouse, where the elephant screams, "Eek! A mouse!" and jumps up on a chair, in mortal, unreasonable fear of something non-threatening. At my own pre-induction physical, when the military draft caught up with me before I enlisted soon thereafter, there literally perched before me the psychiatrist everybody reads about in the humor books, the one whose sole obligation appears to be an ability to ask the question, softly, soothingly, in a fatherly manner, "ARE YOU A HOMOSEXUAL?!!?"

Later on, during Air Force basic training, I recall a session where our entire flight (a "flight" in the Air Force is sort of like a gaggle of geese) was ordered to sit down and relax on the grass, and then our training instructor gave a standard-issue speech about venereal diseases one might catch in town amongst the prostitute community and so on, and, of course, there was one more obligatory low-key mention about h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l-s and how anybody who was one or thought he might qualify as one should tell officials immediately so he could exit the Air Force and save the military any further expense or embarrassment. Oh, the absurdity of it all. I wonder how many young men from all branches of service falsely, but successfully, "claimed gay" just to avoid the Vietnam nightmare.

The letter posted here reflects President Clinton's attempt (yeah, I know, first line, second paragraph, do as I say, not as I do. . .) to put a reasonable face on what would soon become the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, as he abandoned more ambitious plans in the face of opposition by, frankly, a preponderance of stubborn old blockheads in Congress, feigning the wisdom of their ages, refusing to let gay military personnel serve openly.

It's my understanding that today's young military folk, the ones from age 18 and up into their thirties, are far more informed and much more at ease with the gay military issue. Did anybody "ask" them if they had anything to "tell" about the controversy?

It's way past time for modern military forces to take a tip from ancient armies -- the gay thing was always there. Imagine the countless numbers of gay people who served and died in wars for this country. Why should they be forever invisible and unacknowledged? Thank you for your service, but you don't exist, nope, you were never here, couldn't be, we don't allow those kinds of people into our ranks. Why, it's just not compatible with our religion (our religion?). . .
Truth be told, current psychological military radar is probably focused more upon non-gays than gays, and to this end I reference nationally syndicated radio host and M.D., Dr. Dean Edell. When the issue of homosexuality materializes on Edell's show, he often mentions a reliable study performed where a cross-section of young men were attached "strategically" to equipment which registered their responses to viewing photos of males in various stages of undress. To the surprise of researchers, the most homophobic (defined as a fear or hatred of gay people) among these men were the ones who evidenced sexual stimulation and arousal. The homophobes? Wow.

If this is true, official efforts cannot ignore the likelihood that some heterosexual servicemen, obsessed with perpetual demonstrations of masculinity, also have a deep psychological ability or desire to chase something other than women's skirts. Therein lies the biggest problem for military officials -- keeping a tight rein on potential heterosexual berserkers who subconsciously question their own sexual insecurities. The most dangerous pressure-cooker in town.

Ma Nature, it seems, has her own little way of having a good laugh at our expense, and attempts to legislate and sort gender into neat little compartments, even in the military, seem increasingly ridiculous. Good grief, there's nothing new here. Let's get over it and let gay men and women who wish to serve their country do so with honor. Then we can get back to determining what the government knows about UFOs observed over and apparently influencing operations at military nuclear missile bases, an infinitely more troubling and legitimate national security issue.

(WINDMILL COLLAPSE UPDATE: Engineers checking a windmill in the town of Fenner, NY that toppled over mysteriously one night a few weeks ago were scheduled to issue a final report, but plans were put on hold as they apparently announced continued puzzlement and inability to determine a cause. Should more information become available, I'll include it in a future entry. Hmm. Maybe some unknown ethereal recipient of the windmill's air flow became upset and decided to blow back.)