Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blame Betty Grable for Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

In the 1940's during World War II, millions of american soldiers had Betty Grable posters pinned up over their baracks bunk beds. Unfortunately, if a soldier was gay, they could not put up a hunky poster of their favorite male movie star.

Whether you google male pinups from the 40's, or female pinups from the 40's, the images are basically all of women.

Fast forward to today, and the repeal of don't ask, don't tell. Is it possible that once the pinup posters of Brad Pitt go up in the male barracks, a rift might form among soldiers who are supposed to put aside all of their differences and be there for each other on the battle field, as soldiers?

I would assume that gay soldiers having to look at heterosexual pin ups in their baracks, but not being able to put up a pin up of a male figure that they admire, is discrimination. Is that what the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is about. Well, yes.

But if you are a commander in the army, you probably care less that 10% to 20% of your soldiers can't put up the pin up poster they want, if it might make some of the other 80% to 90% uncomfortable in such a way that it could subliminally impinge their performance in pre-battle or battle time situations.

You can sit there and say, screw you, you homophobes, that's your problem. But a commander in chief is still going to want what produces the most effective result ON THE BATTLEFIELD. Strengthening the resolve for a much smaller percentage of the troops, at the risk of possibly weakening the resolve of a portion of the majority of the troops, may not be the ideal scenario for a commander in chief.

What I always thought was cool about "don't ask, don't tell", was that even if someone revealed they were gay, in theory, they could not be prosecuted because nobody else was allowed to tell, even if they heard. It was double protection against persecution. However, my perception of what Don't ask, Don't tell, might not actually be how it was followed.

In terms of the military, all I care, as an outsider, is that the entire troop watches out for each other to the max, and I wonder if Betty Grable changed that for all time. Maybe one day only posters of family, or friends of family will be allowed up on a barracks wall, thereby making the issue moot. Oh wait, that won't work either until anyone can legally be married.

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