Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Peter Pace Provokes a Peck of Patriotic Poofs

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace is entitled to his opinions regarding homosexuality. Whether it's proper for him to express those opinions publicly is another matter.

In an interview with Chicago Tribune editors and reporters, Pace expressed his support of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.
He said his views were based on his personal "upbringing," in which he was taught that certain types of conduct are immoral.

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said... "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.

"As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," Pace said.

I have serious problems with equating homosexual behavior and adultery, but even if, for a moment, we accept the two as similar moral behavior, Pace's statement is charged with a kiloton of hypocrisy. You couldn't count the number of generals and admirals who have had extramarital affairs on the toes and fingers of Old Mother Hubbard and all of her kids. Many of those affairs involved junior officers. I know of one case where an admiral was playing patty cake with a senior enlisted man's wife, and the admiral arranged for the enlisted man's ship to be out at sea whenever he rolled into town to for a roll in the hay. That guy wound up making four stars and commanded a regional unified command.

What's good for the goose…

"Don't ask, don't tell" was a goofy loophole to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ says homosexual activity is a punishable offense. "Don't ask, don't tell" essentially said it was okay to be gay and serve in the military as long as you didn't tell anybody you were gay and didn't engage in homosexual sex. In other words, "keep your mouth shut, don't swish, and don't get caught."

As a senior officer, I swam through an ocean of administrative nightmares. Some of them involved closeted gays getting outed by homophobes, but that was nothing compared to the fraternization issues between young men and women working closely together in the same command. (And that's in no way meant as a knock on women serving in the military. I'm just saying that having homosexuals under my command was the least of my headaches involving the sexual behavior of my subordinates.)

So I don't know. The way I presently look at the gays in the military issue is that gays have served in militaries since there have been gay people and militaries, which has been a heck of a long time. I heard on MSNBC today that an estimated 65,000 gay persons presently serve in the U.S. military. No matter how we try to legislate homosexuals out of the military, we'll still have homosexuals in the military. So why bother making laws to prevent something we can't prevent?

As to the close living quarters situation: if I'm showering in an open bay with 20 other sailors, odds are that one or two of them are gay. Given my choice, I'd as soon know which one or two of them are.

As to gay fraternization problems: we should treat them the same way we treat heterosexual fraternization. (Colonels and generals get away with it, everybody else fries.) And from an administrative point of view, gay fraternizers have a major advantage over heterosexual fraternizers. Gay fraternizers can't knock one another up.

As for Pace calling homosexuality immoral: heh! Nobody in the Bush administration has any business public making moral judgments about anybody else.

As to whether a military that allows open gays to serve will be effective, well hell, it's not effective now. The best-trained, best-equipped force in the history is getting its heinie poked in two third-world sinkholes.

The cavalry isn't getting the job done. Maybe it's time to call in the Village People.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Love the closer.

    I'd love to ask the General how he feels about the morality of starting a War against people who never attacked us, had no intention of doing so and did not have any worthwhile capability to do so.

    I rarely cuss online, however since you understand the language,
    Pace ain't nuttin but a shitbag.
    Or maybe that's more of an Army term.


  2. This was a really funny post. Thanks for making me laugh, I needed that today.

  3. I think there has to be some form of deniability. I don't want to know someone is gay. Once you know, that becomes the major defining characterstic as far as I am concerned. Can't look past it.

    Now that said, I agree this should not be expressed as a moral vs immoral issue. The military has no business judging morality, when by definition it is chartered to commit the biggest immorality on the planet-the murder of fellow human beings.

    As I commented over at my blog-I don't think are homophobic-they just cannot understand it. No amount of rehab is going to change that. Sorry-its the way it is.

    The best question to ask is what gets in the way? Knowing someone is gay gets in the way. Not knowing or at least having a way to deny it in your head is about the best the homosexual lobby can hope for.

    Jeff on this we will have to agree to disagree.

  4. Skippy, I don't get it. Not wanting to know someone is gay IS homophobia. What gives? To quote a commenter from Tennessee Guerilla Women,

    "Common sense and human decency would assume that attraction would only be acted on when the attraction is mutual. Otherwise, it's called harassment.

    There are already harassment laws, ya know. We don't need something that basically comforts straight men with complexes about their (and others) sexuality.

    For eons, men have been making unwanted sexual advances toward women and a shower wasn't even necessary! Now a bunch of scared straight boys are afraid a dude will look at their pecker so we have to have laws and policies in place to make the boys feel safe again."

    Seriously, what gives?

  5. Skippy,

    No need at all for us to agree on everything. How boring would that be?

  6. Skippy, I bet a chick's big rack gets in the way for you, too. So what? Your inability to deal with people different than you is hardly a good reason to discriminate against an entire class of people.

  7. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Not a military man, so don't presume to judge what it's like, but what exactly are people afraid of? That some gay guy is going to slip you the tube steak when you're asleep? That they'll get their bum touched in the shower? It all seems so...paranoid.

  8. bob g2:56 PM

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In a perfect world sexual preference wouldn't be an issue, but it is. It's a big issue. Just look at how the neocon/religious right parlay this fear to win elections. And the right wing forces in the military will use the same tactics they see in the civilian world. We'll never remove this debate from the political arena but maybe we can reduce its impact on military politics.

    It may be wrong; it may be sad; but it is human nature. I'm 100% with Skippy-san-- "The best question to ask is what gets in the way? Knowing someone is gay gets in the way. Not knowing or at least having a way to deny it in your head is about the best the homosexual lobby can hope for."

  9. Antonio4:48 PM

    Love it. Former military commander myself with the "big boy" service. (Marine Corps, kidding.) The rough number of gays is 65,000. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is: Even if we could find every gay in the military, would we want to? What would the effects be on the fighting force. General Pace should have paid more attention at The Basic School in Quantico. All good Marines know that one does not express personal opinions while in uniform or in an official capacity.

  10. Personally I respect General Pace for having the balls and audacity to tell it like it is instead of how they wish it were.

    His opinions on this matter are not that important to me. What is important is that this leads me to believe that he will give straight scoop to the Commander in Chief instead of being a yes-man.

    Semper Fidelis General Pace

    Every day you ask a question, you save a brain cell. What you choose to do with that brain cell is another matter.

  11. Benjamin Walthrop9:19 AM

    Your questions about General Pace inserting personal opinions into essentially a policy discussion are spot on. General Pace has admitted as much with his response. I think that perhaps the more interesting question is why this happened. It is possible that General Pace just made a mistake, but the underlying assumption in that assessment is that he had not thought through his response to the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board talking points or he is not as smart/politically savvy as his past public history indicates. I find the underlying assumptions a little hard to believe. It is a trait of the American public (myself included) to believe that our leaders are rogues or knaves or both. The facts just don't bear out these attitudes across the spectrum of our country's population of leaders (on either side of the political aisle). A couple of interesting questions that this situation brings to my mind (and have not been asked by MSM or bloggers that I have found) are:

    1. Are there other reasons (given the current geopolitical situation) that General Pace might want to engineer an opportunity for the administration to ask for his resignation over this issue rather than more important/pressing issues?

    2. What was he doing at a meeting of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board anyway? There is a "real" agenda here. The Chairman of the JCS doesn't accidentally decide to discuss this issue (or any other issue) with these folks on a whim.

  12. BW,

    Your guess as to what he was thinking is as good as anything I can come up with.

    Like you say, he's a big boy, and he knew he was talking to reporters, and he was talking to them for a reason.

  13. Depends on the size of the rack as to whether it gets in the way.

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