Thursday, September 22, 2011
Now Republicans Boo the Military?
The Republican Party is definitely in a strange universe. The latest "reveal" got some attention. The latest debate follows the previous two. The audience is vocal and restless. Whatever the Bush / Cheney years did, the GOP of 2000 when Bush went around calling himself a "compassion conservative" no longer exists. It is now a party of mean people who are open about their hate. Perhaps this is the legacy of Cheney, because he never pretended to be a cuddly teddy bear. To tell the truth, I never bought into Bush's "compassionate conservatism" because during the 2000 election cycle, he was the governor who had executed the most prisoners during his tenure (he was somewhere above 120). And when he was asked about Karla Faye Tucker, he mocked her plea for clemency (which a truly compassionate person would not do). Now, Governor Rick Perry (who assumed the governorship after Bush became president) holds the record at 235, if I'm not mistaken (last week, the guy who drove the truck that pulled a black man tied to a rope, was electrocuted).
I had no idea that there was another debate. I did not even get to watch the last one yet (the one where some in the audience yelled out a "yeah!" regarding allowing a man in coma who lacked health insurance to die). Why are they scheduling a debate a week? The primaries are still months away, and despite the states holding the early primaries wanting to host a debate, we live in a national society where everyone who is interested can catch the debate on TV or through the Internet. Do they really discuss anything different from debate to debate? It seems more designed to catch gaffes in which to fill a week's worth of political pundits time. The chattering class have to earn their pay, I guess.
Earlier this evening, I was attending a special class at a nearby Presbyterian church (the same one that held the series on Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth earlier this year). It was an informative class on how to look at Christianity and the Bible in modern times. I'll devote a blog post to that later. Had I not had the class, though, I would likely have watched the debate if it was available online. When I got home and checked Facebook, I noticed that someone had posted a clip from the debate. Now, it's Ricky Santorum's moment in the spotlight!
The Fox Propaganda Network played a video from a soldier serving in Iraq at this moment. The shock for any conservative I imagine is that the muscular soldier is GAY! I can imagine Pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle freaking out, because in his mind, gay men are wimpy sissies that he would like to beat up so he can feel more manly. Well, this soldier was not afraid to show his face, because the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy officially became history this week. Even the Fox network babe mentioned that they had planned to disguise his face until he gave them the authorization to air his question unedited.
His question was about if the new non-discrimination policy would remain in place if a Republican becomes the next president. Santorum then said something completely ridiculous (surprise, surprise!). He said that sexuality has no place in the military. Uh, really?!? Seriously! Are you freaking kidding me?!? We are talking about an organization that appeals to a certain demographic. The majority of recruits are teenage males, many of whom are either jock-types or conservative, with an almost fanatical need to prove one's manhood. It is no organization for wimps.
Teenage and twentysomething males are not known to be well behaved, chaste monks. When I was in the Navy in the early 1990s, there was definitely peer pressure to join the guys on an outing to a brothel, or to the bars where bar girls hint at possible sex if you buy enough drinks. Where I lived in Italy, I saw enough marriages break apart because of infidelity (sailors sleeping with their shipmates' wives). I've seen people go to Captain's Mast for sexual harassment, fraternization, and inappropriate sexual relations. The military disciplines people for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. On a ship, for example, any sexual activity is a violation and subject to punishment. There is no need to change things.
It is interesting that conservative-minded people automatically equate homosexuality with sexual activity. I was in the Navy when President Clinton stated that he wanted to lift the ban. I heard the comments people made. It amused me that some guys were afraid that if the military allowed gay people to serve openly, that some gay sailor will climb into their racks at night and rape them. Or that if they drop the soap in the communal shower, a gay servicemember will see his opportunity. Do guys want to have sex with every woman they see? Obviously not, as there were some ladies on the second ship I served on (the USS SIMON LAKE, in which 30% of the crew were female) whom no guy showed much interest in.
Santorum's answer was an embarrassment. He proved how ignorant he was by his stupid answer. He might as well end his campaign right now. It's not like the cheering audience will vote for him based on his answer on this particular question. Anyone who never heard of him until now, they will have a shocking surprise if they Google search his last name (try it! Google: "Santorum" and read the first link that comes up. You'll never look at him the same way again!). Santorum's best known statement was when he compared homosexuality to "man on dog" sex. To me, this says a lot about his mindset. He can't understand that one is about an orientation or attraction to the same gender and desiring an intimate relationship with another human being, the other is about bestiality in which the animal is at the mercy of the human. If he (or others) can't understand the difference between the two, then there really is no hope for them. That level of ignorance is beyond redemption.
I do find it interesting, though, that homosexuality is an obsession with the Republican right. Based on some elementary psychology, I don't think it is wrong to wonder what Santorum's fascination with the topic is. Does he harbor secret fantasies? Rick Perry tries to come off as a macho cowboy, making Bush look like an amateur, but he is rumoured to have had an affair with another man. If that allegation is true (it might not be, though, because it has Karl Rove's dirty tricks fingerprints all over it, and the Bush family does not like Rick Perry, apparently, so who knows?), I really hope it comes out in the next few months. It will make the Republican primaries so much more spectacular (nothing like watching this destructive political party completely self-destruct before the eyes of the world). And then there's Michele Bachmann's husband, who has a gay-conversion therapy as part of his practice. That bit of info reminds me of the old Hair Growth Club commercials. You know, where the guy says, "I'm not just the president, I'm also a client." So, does Marcus Bachmann's interest in helping gay people "pray away the gay" stem from a deeper source? If there is anything in his past, I hope that comes out too. Such revelation would make the fallout of the Mark Foley and Ted Haggard scandals in 2006 look like child's play.
Should one feel "schadenfreude" at the potential destruction of the Republican Party? Well, I think this party has planted enough bad karma for itself that the bill is most definitely due. I would love to see it reap the whirlwind that it put out. Their hatred of all minorities and pretty much anyone who is not rich means that they are bad news for America in the 21st century.
Don't be fooled by Santorum's belief that there is no sexuality in the military. The military reflects the horomonal angst of the typical 18 year old male. The desire to prove one's maleness to peers and family is a fact of life. And as long as there are women out there who make a living fleecing money out of the pockets of young sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines with hints of potential sex, there will always be sex going on somewhere. The military's job is to ensure that the sex lives of its members do not interfere with unit cohesion. This means enforcing the UCMJ regarding no sexual activity on ships, in barracks, or office spaces. If two gay servicemembers want to have sex, they can do what everyone else does: rent a room at a budget motel or get their own apartment.