Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Now that the policy of DADT has been repealed I guess I shouldn’t still be thinking about it, but I am. First, I never really understood it very well. That is, why would anyone have been asked at all? I mean, what was it, a person’s appearance, their voice, some casual comment, an anonymous tip, what? And what, precisely, was asked? I can imagine someone, when asked if they were “Gay,” replying simply, “No, I’m miserable.” So what then? Were heterosexuals ever asked? Why not? We don’t usually ask people what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms, so why ask those who someone thought might have been “different?” If the goal of this witch hunt was to preserve the integrity, morality, or effectiveness of the military, why weren’t more people asked? Given the apparent attempt in recent years to proselytize and promote religion in the services (that I have been reading about for months now), and given the false belief, “There are no atheists in foxholes,”why didn’t the military expand DADT and ask heterosexuals if they were atheists, or perhaps practiced “kinky” sex with their spouses, or failed to use the proper missionary position, or maybe preferred sex with underage children (would you want to share a foxhole with a pedophile or an atheist)? This seems to me to have been not only very unfair, but even a bit unreasonable. But, of course, it’s too late now. Actually, I’m not even much interested in what happened in the military with DADT, what I really want to know is why this incredibly important advice was wasted merely on the military for so long?

Think of it, DADT is truly important advice that should probably be given to everyone just as a matter of course. I should think that certainly at weddings the minister should be required to close the ceremony with, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” (and above all, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell). I bet this single piece of advice would immediately bring down the divorce rate. But the utility of DADT doesn’t stop there, especially when it comes to the institution of marriage. Think of those moments when she asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?” How about those situations when, upon entering someone’s absolutely ugly apartment, she gushes “isn’t this just a lovely room?” What if she asks, “Did you eat the last piece of pie I was saving for mother?” There are probably dozens of things you should not ask about in most marriages. “Did you use my toothbrush again,” “Why do you always leave that little wad of toilet paper in the toilet?” “Why don’t you put the lid down when you’re through?” More importantly, what if, in an extremely passionate moment he demands, “Did you just call me by your previous husband’s name? DID YOU!”

I believe DADT, if mandatory, could prevent a great deal of domestic violence. I recall a few years ago a man stabbed his wife some sixty times. When asked why, he said, “Because for 30 years she kept putting my orange juice behind the milk.” More recently a 90 year old man killed his wife of 65 years in a domestic dispute (I don’t know why, but it certainly seemed strange). When a policeman asked a man arrested for beating his wife why he did it, the man replied “If you were married, you’d understand.” Just think of how much a rigorous devotion to, or enforced prescription to DADT might have helped these unfortunate people.

I should think, however, that in the realm of international politics DADT is of even greater importance. You would not, for example, when questioning the Dictator of Pipelinestan, ask ,”Do you really boil your dissidents alive?” I’m pretty sure he would not want to tell. Likewise, you would probably not be advised to ask an Israeli leader, “Aren’t you attempting a slow genocide of Palestinians?” Indeed, I should think DADT is so critical in international relations they would absolutely not survive without it. This seems to be understood by all at however an unconscious level.

Of course DADT offers a number of different possibilities. You could, for example, have a situation of Do Ask, and Do Tell. “Do you still love me (after I just carelessly wrecked your new BMW)?” “Of course I do, darling.” Then you could find lots of examples of Do Ask, but Don’t Tell. “Where were you last night until so late?” Strangely, you can even have a situation of Don’t Ask, but Do Tell, as in the case of our war criminals, Bush and Cheney. President Obama and the Attorney General seem to have been very careful not to Ask, but Bush/Cheney have been keen to Tell, actually boasting of their war crimes. I guess you could also find Don’t Ask, Don’t Ask also. “I won’t ask you about where you were if you don’t ask me where all the money went.”

I hope you appreciate all we may have lost by not institutionalizing DADT a long time ago, actually making it the law of the land. I think it may be even more important than the golden rule, that is rarely followed by anyone anymore. You might even say it has become “quaint.” We should be willing to concede that it is DADT that makes life livable, promotes domestic and international tranquility. Pity it did just the opposite as it was used by the military. So good riddance for its repeal as far as the military goes, and hip hip hooray! for its much broader applicability. Admit it, it would make the world a better place (I think).

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