Here's a Challenge

>> Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sorry, I wrote this yesterday. I just now realized I didn't publish the damn thing.

On my last post, someone seemed to think we (the US) might be too puritanical for the change of just accepting gays in the military (which isn't to presume how this person feels on the topic itself).

Well, that got me to thinking. When have we ever made a change where we moved in the direction of tolerance, eradicating discrimination, or expanding support or protection to a previously unprotected segment of the population where the reaction was so bad we eventually undid it?

Now, let me put some parameters in this. I'm not talking about people swallowing the benefits for undoing progress because they're not old enough to remember what it was like before, like the self-deluded railing against vaccines (perhaps because they don't remember the horrors of the diseases that have all but disappeared due to vaccines - that "all but" being critical) or those who remember the good old days when "no one needed an abortion" because they won't remember or don't know about the women maimed for life or killed with back alley illegal abortions - back when being pregnant and unmarried meant ruin. But that's not what I'm talking about here: those are proposed changes to the status quo because there's at least a whole generation that's lived with this.

No, what I'm looking for is when have the ones against these changes been demonstrably right, so right we had to step back and do something different. I mean, I'm thinking of suffrage for blacks, women, Native Americans. Laws to protect workers, medicare, medicaid, social security, child labor laws, and, yes, laws to protect gays or even allow them to marry.

Let's face it, all of these changes had doomsayers who predicted the end of life as we know it as a result. Did it happen? I don't mean some disgruntlement, usually among the same doomsayers, but real issues either similar to those predicted or ones we didn't see coming that demonstrated the change was untenable?

That's what I think. I think the problems will be limited almost entirely to the ones predicting horrors now and the fact they didn't get their way. And, with an adjustment period shorter than anyone predicts, it won't be any big deal.

Because, here's the thing, there are gays in the military now. They're serving our nation and fighting or working alongside the rest of us with *gasp* no horrible things happening to their comrades as a result. No one is bothered because their preference doesn't make any difference in the kind of soldiers they are or how they treat others. We repay their sacrifice by making them lie to the rest of us to do what they do, lie to their comrades, keep secrets in order to stay there.

I don't see how that makes any sense. Just sayin'.


  • The Mother

    My point, yesterday, was that America is a sexually repressed society. And any repression means that a lot of the repressors will gasp and scream when their value systems are threatened. ANY sexuality scares them, and sexuality that is different from their own scares them more.

    That's why I think America lags so far behind on this issue. I hope I have clarified, now.

    As for my own personal stance, I have sort of a non-puritanical view of sexuality. ANY sexuality. I really don't care who is doing what to whom, as long as they are both consenting adults (not that I turn a blind eye to teen sexuality, but that's outside the scope of this post). What they are doing in the privacy of their personal lives has NO bearing on their ability to function in any capacity in their professional lives.

    But there are a lot of people who disagree with me, who feel so challenged by or terrified of sexuality that they continually shrink from it, and many of them are making public policy here in the good old USA.

  • Stephanie B

    I did try not to presume your opinion, though I'm not surprised what it was. Life is too short to worry about what everyone else is doing in their own lives.

  • Aron Sora

    I also think that you are asking the American people to think about their moral system. To do what feels right instead of following rules. That's a huge step. I think we are not very comfortable with ourselves. We don't like feeling our emotions, we want to follow rules and dictations others have given us. Asking people to do that, to let go of something that they have allowed to think for them, is going to be hard for people to even listen to.

  • Stephanie B

    Someone pointed out some arguments on the side of the issue opposite my own. Although he deleted the comment, I think the arguments are worth addressing (though I've paraphrased them - feel free to correct them if you think I've misrepresented them).

    Anything two consenting adults do? What about bestiality (example: two consenting adults and a farm animal)? In my opinion, bestiality violates the X consenting adults (I don't really care how many are involved as long as they are all adults and all consenting) unless the sheep is a consenting adult, where adult means that the farm animal would be found competent by a legal court and capable of testifying as to its sexual desires. Otherwise, it's cruelty to animals and that's a crime. In other words, in my opinion, it's a distracting argument and has nothing to do with the case in point.

    Sexually repressed? With all the perversion in America you think we're sexually repressed? There's a fallacy that sexual repression and perversion are proportional when history has repeated demonstrated something closer to, but not exactly inversely proportional. Take Catholic priests as a case in point. Societies where sex is openly discussed, accepted, and readily available legally have far fewer sexual crimes per capita, in fact, orders of magnitude fewer. Also less sexual child abuse and less domestic violence. Sexual repression has less to do with the actual amount of sex going on and more about how much one is willing to acknowledge it and accept it.

    You say gays have always been in the military. So, that's fine. But why do we have to sanction them talking about it? The point isn't to tell them they have to talk about it; it's to say they can talk about it without being thrown out, can acknowledge who they are without being refused. I know people in the army - sex is a huge topic. Don't Ask-Don't Tell says they can talk about their sexual exploits but you can't. But, more than that, you must hide your own preferences well because if they find out, even if you haven't told them, you can still be thrown out. I don't see how to see that as anything but discrimination.

    Now, if you want to throw them out for making inappropriate passes, sexually harassing lower ranking officers, or rape, I'm on your side. That's inappropriate no matter what genders are involved. But just BEING different? There, I can't agree with you.

  • The Mother

    I couldn't agree more with your response on the sexual repression issue. The Catholic priests and their sex scandals make that point quite clear--when sex is open and accepted, it doesn't have to hide in "perversions" or subjugate into violence.

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