Saturday, May 29, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Work

In 1993, then-president Bill Clinton introduced the controversial “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. The policy prohibited homosexual people from disclosing their sexual orientation while serving in the military. Military proponents support it because they believe that soldiers would function more effectively around people of their own sexuality and that having integrated units would be disruptive towards unit cohesion. However, there is widespread opposition to the policy by civilians and politicians; a recent CBS poll shows that 44% of Americans favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly (CBS). The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy violates the freedom of affected parties by prohibiting the expression of their sexuality, discriminates against homosexual people and is opposed by a large portion of Americans and military officers.
A Violation of Freedom

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” contradicts the First Amendment protections guaranteed by the Constitution by abridging the autonomy of affected parties. The policy was enacted as a compromise when president Clinton’s campaign promise to integrate gays into the military conflicted with the Department of Defense Directive 1304.14, which stated: “A member may be separated for violation of laws or regulations regarding sexual conduct of members or the Armed Forces, for example, engaging or attempting to engage in a homosexual act” (DDD 1304.14). This compromise failed to effectively satisfy both sides of the issue and aroused a large amount of controversy since its inception. Opponents argued that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” violates the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech. The policy violates the First Amendment by prohibiting speech pertaining to one’s sexual orientation, specifically, permitting the disclosure of one’s heterosexuality and not one’s homosexuality (Rubenstein 19). A straight serviceman is free to expose his heterosexuality to others, but a gay one is prohibited from revealing his homosexuality. This is tantamount to selective censorship, as it restricts the free expression of a certain minority. Furthermore, document “§ 654. Policy Concerning Homosexuals in Armed Forces”, which authorized the passage of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, states “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high File:Rainbow flag and blue skies.jpgstandards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability” and that “The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service” (Feldbum). This means that, given the circumstances of military service, the free exercise or expression of one’s sexuality is seen as a threat to unit cohesion. This “unacceptable risk” is seen as justification for circumventing the First Amendment, because being openly gay is acknowledged to be overtly dangerous for military effectiveness. This presents a gaping contradiction in government policy and adherence to constitutional ideals. While the First Amendment promises freedom of expression, the expression of one’s homosexuality in the military is seen as dangerous and threatening and is therefore prohibited. In order to preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” must be repealed.

Public Response to the Bill

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discriminates against gay military officers by specifically targeting them as a cause for discomfort among heterosexual peers (Rubenstein). The policy supports a largely outdated view of the compatibility of homosexuality with heterosexuality, specifically, that heterosexuals would not be able to function properly with homosexuals and must be segregated. This contradicts with the findings of a 2006 poll, wherein 73% of respondents said they felt comfortable working amongst gays and lesbians (Zogby). In addition, Michael Mullen, chief military advisor to President Barack Obama, said in a personal address, that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do” (Bumiller). Scientific research refutes claims that open gay presence is harmful. An American Psychological Association study found no adverse effect to military effectiveness when gay and lesbian officers were present in a unit (APA), proving false beliefs that gay presence would damage unit cohesion and morale. Adding that “the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue’ policy as mandated by Title 10 of the U.S. Code (Section 654) discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, and has caused many qualified personnel to be involuntarily separated from military service solely because of their sexual orientation” and that “comparative data from foreign militaries and domestic police and fire departments show that when lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are allowed to serve openly there is no evidence of disruption or loss of mission effectiveness” (APA). The association likened it to the desegregation of the military, integrating multiracial units into the army was effectively done in the past, indicating that integrating open homosexuals was feasible (APA). In 1993, Gregory Herek, a professor of psychology from UC Davis, testified that “research data show that there is nothing about lesbians and gay men that makes them inherently unfit for military service, and there is nothing about heterosexuals that makes them inherently unable to work and live with gay people in close quarters” (Herek). Herek’s testimony as well as the APA study proves that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” fails to accomplish its goal of preserving military effectiveness while accusing gay people of causing unrest and discomfort in their units. photo

Other Nations and Civilian Opposition

Statistically, there is widespread opposition to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy from both civilians and politicians. When President Barack Obama promised to repeal the policy in his 2010 state of the union address (Siegel), interest in repealing the policy was sparked again. Civilian opposition to the policy is heavy; a 2008 Washington Post poll reported that 73% of responders supported allowing gays to serve openly (Dropp). Changing perceptions of homosexuality is responsible for this shift in beliefs, making “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” outdated. For example, the Pew Research Center found that negative thoughts of gays have subsided when a 2007 nationwide poll stated that 27% of Americans supported firing gay teachers as opposed to 51% in 1987 (Cohen). Certain populations have also shown support for the integration of open gays into the military, with 57% of white Protestants supporting it and 82% of white Catholics (Dropp). Interestingly, the same poll also found that participants in the military are more likely to support the policy, with 48% of respondents saying that open-gay presence would be detrimental to unit cohesion (Zogby). The findings of these polls indicate that public perception of homosexuality has changed through the years to become more understanding, making the current “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy outdated. Furthermore, other nations allow gays to serve openly with no harm to their military effectiveness. Uruguay lifted a ban on gays in their military in 2009, previously considering homosexuality a condition rendering soldiers unfit for service; it retracted that view with further developments (AP). Israel also allows gays to serve openly without policy discrimination, despite this, a Jerusalem Post poll found that 52% of gay soldiers reported harassment by their fellow squad mates (Lefkovitzs). Britain is also among the nations that allow openly gay members to serve without adverse effect on their effectiveness, making it illegal to harass other servicemen on basis of their sexual orientation (Barr). Considering that other nations like Israel and Britain were able to integrate homosexuals openly into their respective militaries without any problems, there is little reason as to why the United States cannot do the same.

The Future of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

President Obama’s 2010 State of the Nation address refueled hopes of repealing the policy (Siegel). He said, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are" (Hornick). This promise brings “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” under scrutiny again, and the policy will be challenged or defended by members from all sides of the political spectrum. Given that there is evidence that the policy is ineffective in preserving military order (Herek) and that other nations hold effective and successful militaries with openly gay members (AP), it is unnecessary for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to remain in effect.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Sites 59

I’m still alive.

Yes I am, I haven’t posted in a while. Here’s the first Sunday Sites in weeks.;title;1 Study shows that Brain-Training Games don’t improve mental acuity This guy is awesome|aim|dl1|link3| This is from a while ago. Interesting nonetheless. An evangelist preacher was blocked from an interfaith meeting due to his intolerant views of other religions. Kinda like an IRL troll. Testimony to this sad new movement in gaming. If you click on one thing in this issue, click this. A knowledge engine unlike anything I have seen before. It’s been out for a while, but if you still haven’t had the chance to use this amazing new tool, now’s your chance. You have no excuses. Super Mario Galaxy 2 launched today to some of the highest acclaim ever seen in years. The seventh game in twenty years to score a perfect 10 at Gamespot. This day will be remembered historically as the birth of a new classic.

That’s all for now. Enjoy. I’ll be back with more in the coming days.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Petition: Entertainment Consumers Association

Hey there

As many of you may know, this October brings with it a legal case determining government legislation of video games and restriction of their sales. This brings the entire medium under scrutiny and will hold huge ramifications for the industry as a whole.  The Entertainment Consumers Association, an organization comprised of gamers, developers, and publishers, has created a petition regarding the bill.

The ECA wrote:

For nearly two decades, elected officials have tried to regulate which video games you can buy, rent and play. Every single time they’ve passed a law, the federal courts have struck it down as unconstitutional. But this may change this fall. It only takes a few seconds to speak out, 

The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear the State of California’s infamous ‘violent video game case,’ Schwarzenegger v. EMA. That means that this year, or early next, the Court is going to decide whether to agree with the lower federal courts or not. Agreeing would mean that they believe that video games are, and should continue to be, First Amendment protected speech; just like books, movies and music. The court disagreeing would mean that they think video games should be treated differently. This could lead to new bills and laws curtailing video game access in states across the country. 

Join others in signing The Gamer Petition,

It is no exaggeration to state that their hearing represents the single most important moment for gamers, and the pivotal issue for gaming, in the sector’s history.
Previous attempts at video game legislation have been made, none of them successful. California is currently the most restrictive state regarding free access to video games. The passage of this law constitutes an abridgment of the First Amendment rights of game developers and a restriction on the liberty of the artist to access his audience. Anyone with a passing interest in protecting the freedom of gaming in the future should sign this petition.
So spread the word, tweet this, post it on Facebook and get your friends to know about the case and the petition.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Sites 58

Hey there

Unfortunately, immense backlogs of work have piled up, and I have not been able to consistently update. I have a post planned on the proposed challenge of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” coming soon, so visit here for that. This guy is awesome Intelligent objections to an unethical marketing campaign (Thanks, Calvin Schrader) Girls accused of killing gay man in attack like Clockwork Orange now for a tactical facepalm

demotivational posters<—Reaction to above link