July 1, 2009

Gay Translators

An Arabic Army translator from Tustin who announced to the world his homosexual predilections has been recommended for discharge by an Army panel. He invited this decision by making his genital inclinations into a cause, but still, discharging him seems unwise. Arabic translators are scarce as hen's teeth.

A Facebook friend (and relative) took offense at a comment of mine on this issue (I do despise PC language and got rather too pithy for her taste, and she was afraid I might offend someone else, which I did not intend to do).

So--a few words on the whole Gay thing and the gays-in-the-military thing. We spend much too much energy on this issue. About 2% of the population is exclusively or near-exclusively homosexual, and threats to family life stem less from this quarter than from the incontinent behavior of heterosexuals and the license the culture and the law give for same. Sex is a messy business and most people (including yours truly) have a great deal of difficulty controlling their impulses and staying out of trouble, whomever they are attracted to. In short, we are all sinners, and of sinners, I am chief.

That said, homosexuality is not just another variant on the spectrum of sexual behavior. It makes very little evolutionary sense, because as a near-exclusive practice its practitioners will fail to reproduce. It is, as some Pope or other said, "disordered." It's also scary to straight young men, who have enough trouble establishing a model of manhood that is neither predatory nor effete. Nevertheless, the preference for same-sex gratification seems deeply ingrained in some people.

One may exhort them to chastity, but good luck. The state should be chary of intervening in these matters, so long, as the Duchess said, as they don't frighten the horses.

Notwithstanding the rantings of the homosexual lobby, however, the issue is hardly on a par with racial discrimination. The black-white divide in America is sui generis. All the other movements we have seen are essentially parasitic on the black civil rights movement, even though their issues and history are quite different. The case for official action in all other cases is much weaker. Let families and communities work these issues out. If two men want to be a maison de vieux garçons, leave them in peace. Calling this sort of thing "marriage" is a social experiment with little basis in history or reason and with unpredictable results, and offends the religious traditions of most of the world. Good enough reason for caution on that score.

Now to the military. We need Arab translators. Better to have fluent Americans than potential double agents, or do without, if we are to mess around in Arabic-speaking countries as we currently are doing. If an officer is discreet about his sex life, and otherwise honorable, let him do his job.

The phrase that concerned my relative was something to the effect that not having been in the military, I had no opinion on the issue of "queens in foxholes." The blander way of saying this is, I do not know whether the presence of homosexuals in close quarters, especially when their demeanor is most salient, would affect good order and discipline, by freaking out their comrades-in-arms. Perhaps this danger can be mitigated by the command structure; perhaps not. Young men at war, or about to be at war, often look for sexual outlets. In any event, the potential for disruption in barracks and bivouacs is the principal argument of the opponents of a change in the policy.

My impression, though, is that our military is rather good at overcoming this sort of problem. Our military will not collapse if homosexuals do serve, on the understanding they will be careful and discreet about their sexual activity. As a cause célebre, however, I leave this to the annoying Frank Rich.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

Yeah... there just doesn't seem to be a way to hold and express an intelligent opinion about these things without either being a bigot or too permissive to be spiritually justified when it comes to how other people will judge.

I have decided to remain mum on this issue, in part because I have friends who know this young man personally, and other friends who take very hard lines on what they view as a moral issue, and I am quite sure that I will offend someone if I even take a stab at expressing my not-very-clearly-formulated take on these things.

I think you did an admirable job here, and I admire the chutzpah it takes to put it in writing.