Ignoring Human Nature: The Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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The United States Senate has followed the vote of the House and repealed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexuals joining the military services. This policy had allowed homosexuals to serve in the military if they did not publicly state their orientation. Those who did “tell” were often expelled from the military services. Changing this policy is a bad idea. To allow homosexuals to openly state their orientation is a bad idea in a military culture.

Defenders of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” argue that it was discriminatory against homosexuals. But that assumes that homosexuality is equivalent to race or sex, something an individual cannot help and is therefore not a moral issue. This is not the case, however. There may be some role that heredity plays in a homosexual orientation, just as it plays a role in people with a stronger than normal sex drive towards those of the opposite sex. Just as the latter does not make committing adultery morally right, so the former does not make homosexual activity morally right. There is at least an element of choice involved in the decision to have sexual relations with an individual of the same sex.

Now someone might argue that even if the decision to have homosexual intercourse is a moral issue, if someone has a homosexual orientation, he or she should be allowed to openly state that orientation without penalty while joining the military. But just as homosexuality itself goes against human nature, as I have argued in an earlier blog post, so open homosexuality will meet reality face to face in the close quarters of the military. Take two soldiers in a bathroom, with one being an open homosexual. If that homosexual is obviously aroused and the other soldier sees that, he may think that the other solider is turned on by him–and there is then the risk of an argument or worse. In the close quarters of a ship or submarine, the tensions that develop between homosexual and heterosexual soldiers would almost certainly lead to arguments, fist fights, and perhaps worse. The fact that it is the more aggressive homosexuals who parade their sexuality who supported the appeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” the most bodes badly for their good relations with fellow soldiers if they join the military. The U. S. Congress, by ignoring facts of human nature and in the name of “nondiscrimination,” will decrease the effectiveness of the military.

The fact that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and some others in the General Officer Corps support the repeal means nothing. General Officers are, to a great extent, political appointees who will support the zeitgeist of the ruling party. There are exceptions, such as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, but the majority of high-ranking General Officers tend to “go with the flow.”  The real test will be how the repeal will affect the daily activities of soldiers, especially soldiers in combat. My sense is that it will harm morale and efficiency in the military, but this is an empirical claim that can theoretically be tested, although causal relationships are difficult to establish in studies involving real life. But if I am right that any action that violates human nature will fail, then this new policy will fail. We shall see.

“Stop all that Negativity”

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I have read a number of online posts on controversial topics such as abortion or the nature of marriage. Almost invariably, when a traditionalist posts against abortion or in favor of marriage being only between a man and a woman, a liberal will protest, “Stop all that negativity!” This is another tactic that social liberals use to cut off rational debate. Instead of taking the time to think through the issue of when human personhood begins or the nature of marriage, these “liberals” attempt to stop debate with a rhetorical ploy. “Negativity” is an emotive word; it has the connotation of opposing everything, even good things. Americans like positive people, and thus the screed, “Stop all that negativity” appeals to emotions and poisons the well against the person allegedly presenting the “negative” message.

Of course any rational person realizes that issues such as abortion and the nature of marriage should be discussed based on the best scientific, philosophical (and in the case of people sharing a religious tradition), theological reasons both sides can present. Such issues are far too important for one side to try to intimidate the other with the “negativity” label. If the social liberal is confident in his position, he would argue based on empirical and rational arguments, and he would avoid using such an emotive and below-the-belt rhetorical tactic to halt debate before it can begin.

This is not to say that conservatives cannot be guilty of the same crime. They also have a duty to rationally and empirically debate issues rather than using only appeals to emotion or attempting to cut off debate. But lately it has been the social liberals who have been most guilty of this particular appeal to emotion by labeling social conservatives “negative” people. And in that respect, they should change their tactics or admit that their positions are irrational, based only on their emotional wants.