Friday, July 28, 2006

She was too old for Yentl...

James Joyner notes that there has been yet another case of a gay military Arabist being discharged from service.

Now, it's unlikely that we are going to lose the war on the basis of 55 discharged gay linguists, but it's pretty hard to argue with Joyner when he notes that:

Whatever one’s thoughts on the suitability of homosexuals for infantry duty, it’s rather difficult to fathom the argument for tossing out a linguist–let alone a critical Arab linguist–on the basis of finding out he’s gay via anonymous emails.

It’s said there are no atheists in foxholes; there probably aren’t a lot of translators there, either. Further, it’s rather clear his fellow All-American paratroops had no clue he was gay; it’s unlikely, therefore, that he was harming the esprit de corps. Conversely, the potential loss of life because there’s nobody around to translate in a critical situation could be quite bad for morale.

Well, quite. The story is not made any less whimsical by this delightful footnote:

On December 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater.


Excuse me, are we a little teapot?

Of course, it's a much kinder, gentler military these days. It wasn't all that long ago that there was a brouhaha when, following vague watercooler rumours that an (married) NCO was not as other NCOs, military investigators subjected his wife to a series of interviews in which the questions included, but were not limited to, "Does he ever ask to fuck you in the ass?"

What a delightful window dressing.

Just on a final note, it seems to me that the worst bit is this:

"The director brought everyone into the hallway and told us about this e-mail they had just received and blatantly asked, 'Which one of you are gay?"' Copas said.

As far as I can tell this came before any of the interviewing or whatnot. By acting this way it strikes me that the senior officers made it completely impossible for it to be kept under wraps. Had they played it somewhat more softly softly catchee monkey, it seems that it might have been that his mates need never have known and things could have ticked over more or less as usual - especially given that the chap involved had apparently gone to great lengths to keep his sexuality and his military service hermetically sealed from each other. That said, it may, of course, be that this was precisely the result the officers involved wanted.


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