SPOON, FULL OF TRUTH

A heavy dose of truth, humor, and political activism.

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Location: Phila, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, July 28, 2006

THE ARMY/NAVY SHAME

UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU (TO KEEP YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION TO YOURSELF) Bleu Copas is a 30 year old man attending East Tennessee State University, where he is pursuing a master's degree in counseling and working as a student adviser. Until recently he was also a decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist in the U.S. Army. That is until he was dismissed from the U.S. Army earlier this year under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (though he says he never told his superiors he was gay and his accuser was never identified) less than four years after he enlisted, he said, out of a post-Sept. 11 sense of duty to his country. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, established in 1993, prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members, but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay. I have quite a few problems with this. First of all, anyone who wants to join the U.S. military should be able to. I’m certainly never going to join up so I’m very thankful for all of those people who do. Whether they sign up because they feel a sense of duty, because they are poor and have limited options, or just because they are completely foolish, it shouldn’t matter what their religion, race, or sexual orientation are. A gay man can be just as good as a straight man (or better) when it comes to being a language specialist and I have it on good authority that gay men can needlessly lose their lives in Iraq just like a straight guy can. I’m surprised Dubya and his goons haven’t actively encouraged gay men to sign up and then sent them straight to the front lines to be the first to die. I guess he still has it in for blacks and poor people before all else. Then there is the issue of the whole “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the first place. They got it 50% right. Don’t Ask. It’s no one’s business who military members have sex with when they are not doing their job. It’s not like a gay man on the battle field will not cover his fellow soldiers because he’s too busy checking out how good their asses look in fatigues. A gay linguist isn’t going to do a poor job deciphering Arab messages because he’s gay. “What did that last message say soldier?” “I’m not sure General. I got a little distracted because he had such a rugged sexy man voice. I’m sure it was something fabulous though. By the way, where’d you get those boots? They’re delicious!” Don’t Tell needs to go. Maybe all the military personnel who have a problem with gays should be dismissed from the military instead. Don’t Tell? Are you kidding me? It gets worse. More than 11,000 service members have been dismissed under the policy, including 726 last year, an 11 percent jump from 2004. Nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California. Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara. $369 million dollars to replace qualified military personnel because they are gay! This is where our tax money is going? With our government’s history of wasting tax money it really should come as no surprise. It did give me an idea though, so for any of you soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else who may be reading this, pay attention. Sick of fighting a pointless war for a government that won’t appreciate you once you return home? Start telling anyone who will listen that you are gay, and not just a little gay, over-the-top gay. Copas received an honorable discharge. So I ask you, what is worse, being honorably discharged from the military and having people think you are gay, or being stuck in the desert in the middle of a budding civil war, getting blown up by roadside bombs, and quite possibly shot with automatic weapons? Sadly, I think a lot of military members would say that being gay is worse. For those of you, I’d rather you stay in Iraq anyway. Good luck with that. For those of you that have enough sense to realize this war is completely unnecessary and is only going to get worse, put on some lipstick, start singing show tunes (On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater) and blow a kiss or two to your superior officer. Chances are, you’ll be home safely before you have time to pack your rainbow fatigues. THE RICH GET RICHER, THE REST OF US GET IGNORED Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest public oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profits surged 35 percent to more than $10 billion. "While American families get tipped upside down and have their savings shaken out of their pockets at the gas pump, the Bush-Cheney team devises even more ways to line Big Oil's pockets," Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement on Exxon's profits. Can anyone say windfall tax? With both a President and VP who are in bed with the oil companies, I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Even if a windfall tax was imposed, I’m sure it would be written in a language that would leave loopholes big enough for a Saudi prince and his pet elephants to jump through. While the padding of big oil’s pockets continues, our government keeps us distracted with unimportant rhetoric like banning gay marriage, embryos deserving life, and the war on “terrorism”. How can you fight a war on terrorism? Dubya’s speech writers knew what they were doing when they coined that phrase. Terrorism is such a broad term that Bush can apply it to anything he doesn’t like. You can NEVER win a war on terrorism. Period. When are we going to force our government to deal with real issues? The minimum wage needs to be raised substantially. There are almost 50 million Americans with no health care coverage. Our education system is failing American children left and right. Our right to a free press and free speech are being increasingly threatened. Our civil liberties are being mauled by a loose cannon President armed with The Patriot Act and a total disregard for the law. The Patriot Act is a sham. It should be called the Monarch Act. All it does is allow Bush to act like he’s King of America and do whatever he wants in the name of “fighting the war on terror”. While none of these important issues are being dealt with, the oil companies are recording record profits. Exxon, notorious for rarely changing its plans no matter how high oil prices are, boosted its capital spending forecast for the year to $20 billion, citing fresh exploration and production opportunities. The company, the World's largest by market capitalization, also said it planned to increase its already hefty stock buyback program to $7 billion in the third quarter to make use of its ballooning hoard of cash. It makes me sick, and very happy that I no longer drive a car. With the Senate races heating up, I urge all of you to get as many Republicans are you can out of office. That especially rings true for those of us here in PA where the devil incarnate, Rick Santorum, is up for reelection. Make your voices heard! VACATION FROM THE MADNESS As you all count the remaining hours to the weekend I myself am preparing for a trip to Canada for a few days of relaxation and fun with the in-laws, some Tim Horton’s doughnuts and steeped tea (it’s SO steeped), and fun with the wife’s friends. We will also be attending Elvis Fest which is the largest Elvis festival in North America but happens to take place in small town Canada. I will return midweek with tales to share of my Canadian adventures. If you missed the last post, it contained a link to the photos from my birthday/Spoon event on July 14th. I hope you all have a great weekend, and a great start to next week. Until then, share the Spoon, share the TRUTH.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to play devil's advocate, don't you think that part of the "Don't tell" policy might actually be used to protect gay service members? As you mentioned in your article a good deal of service members think being gay is worse than fighting in this war. If soldiers were openly gay don't you think that would put them at risk when fighting this war side by side with people who hate them? I'm not saying that its fair, but I think you make light of a very complicated issue.

Also, most service members have too much pride in their duty to their country to play gay. While I disagree with the war in Iraq and I know many of the men and women fighting it do too, they take their job of protecting our country seriously. I think the people of this country take our freedom for granted and can't imagine ever fighting for it...but if you had to fight for your right to feed us from your spoon, would you?

July 28, 2006 3:49 PM  
Blogger D. Jacob Miller said...

The don't tell policy right now means you are prohibited from telling people you are gay. If they did away with the policy, it would not force those gay service members to out themselves, it would only ALLOW them to, which is their right. There are a lot of bigots in the armed forces so many gays might choose to stay silent but it should be their choice. As far as being proud and fighting for our freedom, no one fighting in Iraq is fighting for our freedom. They are fighting pointlessly for Bush's selfish agenda. If America was attacked, on American soil and the military was REALLY needed to defend our freedom, then it might be different (9/11 does not count, because our Gov't allowed it to happen in order to further their own agenda like the Patriot Act and unjustly attacking Iraq). Right now our military is not protecting our freedom, they are doing the exact opposite. By destablizing Iraq, they have only made us, and the rest of the world less safe.

July 28, 2006 4:48 PM  
Anonymous The Unc. said...

Just attended the Opening Ceremonies for the International Outgames in Montreal. It was like witnessing the early days of the women's movement or the Civil Rights movement. When are people going to realize that sexual orientation is a person's right, the same as being white, male and heterosexual?
The Don't ask, Don't tell rule is a continuation of America's refusal to see all people as equal. I guess most Americans cannot read the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution.
Keep up the good work Spoon.

July 30, 2006 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as I said, I don't think the policy is fair, I was just giving a thought from a different perspective.

Soldiers don't choose their battles, they have to go where they are ordered whether they think its the appropriate move or not. They cannot opt out of their duty when it doesn't meet their standards because that would undermine our entire defense system. Watch how you word things "Right now our military is not protecting our freedom, they are doing the exact opposite. By destablizing Iraq, they have only made us, and the rest of the world less safe." The military isn't to blame, you had it right before, G.W. and our government is, and of course all the morons out there who voted for Bush...they should be the ones fighting this war.

July 30, 2006 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Don't ask, don't tell policy is like most legislative acts or policies ,a compromise. I think it is regretable that gays who are willing to serve in the military cannot be treated by the same standards as other enlistees.On the other hand, I think the intent of the policy was to recognize that pragmatically gays were not going to be treated as other members of the armed services.Consequently, the policy came about as it did.Ultimately,I think the policy will need to be mothballed. Just as African Americans, and women have been integrated into the armed services, so will gays.

I also agree that the debacle in Iraq is not the fault of our men and women in uniform, but can be laid directly on the shoulders of the President and his Secretary of Defense.

August 02, 2006 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoonful- Once again you prove that you are right on top of whatis happening . In today's philadelphia Inquirer is an article about 3 young adults who inquired at arecruiting station if they could enlist and were told no..The three prospective enlistees were told , "...if we were truly interested in enlisting we'd have to conceal our sexual identities."

August 02, 2006 2:24 PM  

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