Tim Dunkin
December 30, 2010
The military should not be gay "positive-liberty"
By Tim Dunkin

Recently, my fellow columnist Jamie Freeze at Renew America took the decidedly un-conservative position of supporting the recent repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. Erroneously hiding behind an appeal to "liberty," she presented several short arguments for why repealing DADT was the right thing to do. None of these arguments were particularly persuasive to those not already on board with repeal. Nor are they difficult to deal with. Once again, however, I find myself stepping up to confront her arguments. I get the sense that I'm becoming something of a gadfly for her.

Full disclosure — I know Jamie personally, my wife and I have had her over to our home many times for food and fellowship, and we both think she's just swell. She also writes for me over at Conservative Underground, and I more or less "recruited" her to Renew America. So when I rebut her arguments, I do so as a "friendly" gadfly.

"Divine argument"

Anywise, to begin addressing her arguments, let us first look at her assault on the "Divine argument." Jamie is correct when she points out that America was not founded with a state religion. However, that is actually quite beside the point, for nobody has been suggesting that we institute a state religion, and the mere fact of having laws that conform to Christian moral standards does not constitute the creation of a state religion. Or put simply so as to pertain to the issue at hand, preventing homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military — even when we recognize that homosexuality is immoral and socially destructive — does not constitute the imposition of a state religion. If we will recall what the First Amendment actually says (rather than what many would like for it to say), all that amendment forbids is the establishment of an official state church. It does not imply that government cannot be ordered to reflect Judeo-Christian values and morality. If that were so, one of the first acts of the federal Congress (composed of people who were there when the Constitution was written, ratified, and promulgated) would not have been to use public funds to print and distribute Bibles among America's backwoodsmen. Sorry, Jamie, but there is simply no First Amendment issue to be had here — certainly nothing that Backus and Leland would have gotten worked up about.

And frankly, the Founders would agree with my view on the matter. Need I quote, as many have before, Adams' assertion that our Constitution would only work for a "moral and religious people"? Patrick Henry asserting that America was founded not by religionists, but by Christians? Thomas Jefferson trembling upon reflecting that God is just, and His justice cannot sleep forever? Perhaps that is why Jefferson — libertarian saint though he may be — proposed a bill to the Virginia state assembly that would have punished homosexuals with castration, something that nobody today is even close to suggesting. The Founders obviously saw no conflict between the First Amendment and the maintenance of good social order through moral laws.

With regards to the statement by Jamie's Christian associate that "For us to feel appointed to execute some sort of cosmic justice on the Lord's behalf is the height of hubris," I frankly don't see where this individual is getting this from. Certainly not the Bible. Not from the Lord, who told us to "judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24) and who instituted government for the original purpose (no matter how perverted it may have become today) of establishing justice and sound social order among human beings (Genesis 9:5-6, Romans 13:3-4). Jamie's associate's argument appears to be a variant of the typical "judge not lest ye be judged yourself" argument that liberals tend to make when they completely take Matthew 7:1 out of context (I wish they'd read on down to verse 5...) for the purpose of urging Christians to stop condemning the naughty things that the liberals like to do.

"Destroy argument"

Jamie's next argument was against the "Destroy argument." Once again, she starts off with a statement that sounds fine — "If Christians or moralists are relying on their efforts to keep America from moral degradation, not only have they failed, but they will never succeed" — but whose premise is incorrect. Yes, it is true that no amount of government effort will establish moral perfection in America. But that's not really what's at issue. Opposing the gay agenda generally is more about preventing, or at least slowing down, further destruction, rather than positively impacting the morality of the nation. Nobody presumes to think that keeping DADT in place would suddenly turn America into a righteous outpost of moral perfection. What they do understand, however, is that you don't put out a fire by throwing kerosene on it. Putting an official government stamp of approval on moral rot will only increase moral rot. That's not exactly something we need to do, either.

Jamie then goes on to state that "Liberty of choice is essential to a society, and we should preserve that within reason." I find her comment interesting, if for no other reason than the caveat which she necessarily had to attach to it. Despite what libertarians might think, "liberty of choice," in many ways, is NOT essential to society. In fact, in many cases, liberty of choice is detrimental to society. Nobody should be free to choose to murder someone else, or burn their house down, and so forth. Jamie understands this, which is why she added the phrase "within reason." And frankly, it is reasonable to restrain individuals from activities detrimental to other people if they won't govern themselves. This is the whole point to Lockean commonwealthianism. Put very briefly, Locke posited that human beings formed societies largely as a means of providing a framework through which they could protect and advance themselves without having to kill or enslave each other all the time, so that they could work together constructively for both individual and mutual benefit (i.e., things like commerce, law and order, protection from outsiders, etc.) without having all the disadvantages of the theoretical "state of nature" in which it was every man for himself. In other words, when your liberty of choice impedes another person's ability to live their life freely, then society may restrain you from making certain choices, at least in some circumstances.

Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice that is detrimental. As I alluded to in a previous article, "gay culture" with its frills and smashing interior designs is a relatively recent phenomenon. The norm for those who have historically engaged in homosexual behavior more closely resembles the sexual culture that exists within America's penitentiary system, with its violence and its division of participants into the dominant and the submissive, usually forcefully. One merely has to read about what homosexuals do to each other to see how destructive the lifestyle is — and I don't mean reading about it in Christian publications (which one could argue were exaggerating for effect), but rather in police reports and mainstream medical journals. Frankly, it is a lifestyle in which there is no sense of self-control. There is a reason why homosexuals were the major cause of AIDS spreading through the West so rapidly and thoroughly — even today, many gays will refuse to take even the most basic preventative measures, since doing so would interfere with their enjoyment of their hedonism. And it's the homosexuals who you can thank for the threat to America's blood supply.

Yet, in the spirit of the fact that America is not a theocracy, I do not think we ought to go around rounding up gays and stoning them. Since they generally keep it among themselves, they don't necessarily present an acute physical threat to most of the people in the country besides themselves. However, we should not cater to their agenda, either, nor encourage them by giving them the blessings of the federal government. And we definitely should not allow them to serve openly in the military, which leads me to skip down to Jamie's fourth argument, the "Damage argument."

"Damage argument"

Why would we think it a good idea to allow people who habitually lack self-control to openly flaunt the lifestyle which is the source of their intemperance inside an institution whose success at its primary function is dependent upon each individual exhibiting self-control? Why sanction indiscipline within a military which requires discipline on the part of its members to accomplish its objectives? That's where the arguments about the destruction of group morale and unit cohesion come from — not because people who oppose the repeal of DADT are all just a bunch of fuddy-duddies who "irrationally hate gays" and who are worried that some gay soldier might look at their rear end while they're huddled in a foxhole. As experience and common sense tell us, people who don't control their behavior in one area tend to lack self-control in others, as well.

Some might try to argue, based on what I said about violence and homosexuals above and in other articles, that, "Hey, if gays are more prone to violence, then don't we want them serving?" Well, no. After all, do we really think that a group of people acting in many ways not dissimilarly to our prison population are going to make good soldiers, who need to follow orders and subordinate their own desires to the good of the unit and the service? No, probably not.

Let's face it — the military is NOT an institution whose members have much freedom of choice. In the military, you don't get to do what you want or go where you want when you want to. Jamie's "liberty of choice" argument does not apply here. In the military, you do what you're told — and guess what, in our all-volunteer military, you agreed to that from the onset.

Jamie has made the argument elsewhere, as have others, that PVC Bradley Manning, the gay soldier-turned Wikileaker-turned soon to be Leavenworth inmate, is a great argument for why we should allow gays to serve openly. Supposedly, Manning did what he did (which was, you know, compromise America's national security) because he was mad about the DADT policy and about having to stay in the closet. So, he spread wartime secrets all over the internet. And we want to allow MORE unstable people like him to serve in the military? Because he got mad about not being able to openly flaunt his lifestyle, and decided to put people at risk, we're supposed to think he's a poster child for repealing DADT? Are they serious? Bradley Manning strikes me as exactly the sort of mentally-unstable, unable to control himself type of person that we DON'T want serving in the military. Manning is, at is turns out, a good argument for keeping gays out, if they end up being like him.

Jamie's Army correspondent, her unnamed 1st Lieutenant who has no problem with gays in the military, makes several very poor arguments for repealing DADT which he attempts to paper over by his authority as an Army officer (i.e., an argument from authority fallacy). What I found especially of interest, however, was his circular argument for why gays in a unit don't cause decohesion:

"Please enlighten me as to how units have been destroyed by homosexuality. Because in the real world, as soon as a soldier is identified or identifies himself as being gay, he immediately gets moved out of his platoon. The entire chain of command gets notified, and he's processed for a chapter 15 discharge as quickly as possible."

His argument is essentially the same as saying that people who attempt to break into houses in the dead of night and who get shot by homeowners or caught by the police never get the opportunity to actually steal stuff, so it's dumb to get all worked up about people trying to break into your house. Soldiers who go to the effort to identify themselves as gay get "immediately" (note that word) removed from their platoon and moved into the discharge process. It's hard to corrode a unit that you don't stay in, so I guess it's true, as far as it goes, that the gay won't affect unit cohesion in such cases.

Jamie and the Lieutenant both refer to their belief that most military personnel don't have a problem with openly gay comrades, relying upon various "studies," including the lately-released Pentagon study that precipitated this whole mess. As I and others have pointed out elsewhere, this argument is spurious. It is unsurprising, when military officers have a President and a SecDef who have both let it be known that they want to repeal DADT, that they will be "encouraged" to produce results that reinforce the political line. Yet, even within the Pentagon report, we have seen that the claim that "most military personnel" have no problem with openly-serving gays is not exactly accurate when we're talking about the military personnel who this policy would most directly affect — the combat arms who don't get to go home to individual base housing or off-base apartments at the end of the day.

And fine, Jamie can produce a serviceman who supports repealing DADT. I can produce those who don't. Like a Marine corporal who strenuously opposes it. Or an Air Force sergeant who is really, really mad about it. And so on.

I'm still not sure what to make of the guy who emailed me after my last article who supported (rather crudely) the repeal, and who claimed to be a Marine — yet was very easy to out (pun intended) as a faker.

In this portion of her argumentation, Jamie also claims that military units are "crippled" as replacements for gay soldiers who are discharged must be recruited and trained. Um, so the same problem doesn't exist when straight soldiers are discharged after they leave the service? I fail to see the importance of Jamie's point here. Besides, as her Lieutenant friend has assured us, there are only a "handful of gays" serving anywise, so replacing them couldn't be much of an issue, could it?

"Disallow argument"

This takes me back to Jamie's third argument, where she attacks the "Disallow argument," whereby it is said that nobody has the "right" to serve in the military. Unfortunately, her arguments against it are not convincing.

She notes that the military is a "federal institution," by which, one supposes, she thinks that the military is bound to all of those myriad of politically-correct laws designed to keep people from discriminating against other people. This is an odd argument, since the military discriminates against all sorts of people — often for things that they cannot help. If you're mentally retarded, you can't serve in the military. If you're blind, you'll likely be turned away. The military used to classify you as 4-F if you had flat feet. You can't join the ranks if you're grossly overweight. Apparently the military is not, in fact, bound by these various "anti-discrimination" laws. Sorry, but the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't apply to fighter pilots and infantrymen.

Even being able-bodied isn't a guarantee for service. One recent estimate I saw said that nearly a third of American young people are disqualified from military service because they simply aren't smart enough — they wouldn't be able to pass the AFQT and other standardized tests that the military uses as surreptitious IQ tests for applicants and serving personnel. The fact that the military can (and does) turn away so many able-bodied applicants even for things like not having enough horsepower under the ol' cranium suggests that Jamie's assertion that the military desperately needs every able body with a pulse is somewhat overstated. While Jamie doesn't think the military has the luxury of turning away applicants, the military itself apparently thinks otherwise.

Again, let's face it — nobody has the "right" to serve in the military. The military will be more than happy to take your service, provided that you won't be a detriment to the ability of the military to do its job. That's the issue with why gays weren't allowed to serve — there are very legitimate concerns on the part of those in the know that gays will be deleterious to unit cohesion, morale, and therefore combat effectiveness, if they are allowed to serve openly. Nobody can force the military to accept them as a recruit.

"Deny argument"

Now for Jamie's fifth point, in which she assails the "Deny argument." She argues that homosexuals should not have to "live a lie." Nobody was asking them to. Nobody was asking them to pretend to be heterosexual. Nobody was asking them to get an off-base girlfriend. DADT simply stated that they not flaunt their sexual orientation. There's quite a difference between "lying" and "keeping it to yourself." I am a chemist, a homeowner, and a Kansas City Royals fan. If I don't go around telling people these things about myself, does that mean I am "lying" to them about these? Of course not.

Indeed, I can't really see why Jamie is worried about this, with respect to DADT. As the name suggests, DADT was actually a quite functional compromise between the two extremes of persecuting gay service members in witch hunts and openly legitimizing their behavior, with all the effects that would come with it. They don't ask, you don't tell. Seems reasonable enough, right? And it was. Despite the "horror stories" that can be found on pro-repeal websites pushing the gay agenda, gay military personnel were not "hunted down" to be dishonorably discharged under DADT. Indeed, from what I've heard from numerous people who served in the military under the DADT rule, a gay person actually had to be pretty open and in your face about their sexual orientation to bring down the house. Often, the individual who did so wanted to be discharged, because they didn't want to be in the military anymore. Typically, a gay serviceman was not discharged because he accidentally "let it slip" once that he didn't bat for the same team as the rest of the squad.

"Discrimination argument"

I now come to Jamie's sixth argument, against the "Discrimination Argument." I found this one to be a bit non sequitur, mainly because I have not heard anyone arguing against gays serving openly due to their possibly being beaten up or bullied by other servicemen. However, supposing that somebody, somewhere, has made that argument, well, okay. I don't really have any argument against Jamie's point that people should be free from being beaten up or bullied. But her apparent belief that "liberty" implies the positive right to make other people do what you want them to (in this case, let you serve in the military) is quite a bit more problematic, for reasons given above. It's not much of a stretch to make the jump from suggesting that gays have the right to force the military to allow them to serve openly to suggesting that gays should be allowed by weight of law to force private businesses to accept them as customers (which has, by the way, already happened).

Locke's view

Hence, Jamie's assertion in her closing paragraph that she is "Lockean to the core" is simply not the case. Locke's conception of liberty was a "negative" one. By this, I mean that Locke felt that liberty was primarily centered around what others (primarily the government) could NOT do to you. Freedom of speech implies that the government can't muzzle what you say or write. Freedom of religion implies the government can't make you go to a certain church or believe a certain doctrine. And so forth. Jamie's conception of liberty appears to be "positive." She apparently believes that individuals can make others do what they want them to, and that it is "tyranny" to not be able to do so. She seems to think that gay people should be able to force an all-volunteer military to accept them openly, even when doing so may well be detrimental to that institution's ability to provide for the common defense of all Americans. She seems to think that gays should be able to force their agenda, regardless of the effect on America as a whole, just as she has previously argued at one point that Helen Thomas should be allowed to require United Press International to give her a paycheck while saying nasty things. This line of reasoning isn't too far from the arguments those on the Left make for a positive "right" to free health care, or free housing, or whatnot.

I'm sorry Jamie, but the repeal of DADT has nothing to do with "liberty."

© Tim Dunkin

Comments feature added August 14, 2011

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Tim Dunkin

Tim Dunkin is a pharmaceutical chemist by day, and a freelance author by night, writing about a wide range of topics on religion and politics. He is the author of an online book about Islam entitled Ten Myths About Islam, and is the founder and editor of Conservative Underground, a bi-weekly email newsletter focusing on foundational conservative worldview and philosophy. He is a born-again Christian, and a member of a local, New Testament Baptist church in North Carolina. He can be contacted at tqcincinnatus@yahoo.com


Receive future articles by Tim Dunkin: Click here

Latest articles


Amy Contrada
Huckabee: Governor Romney acted unconstitutionally on "gay marriage"

Henry Lamb
Rep. Herger is wrong about Agenda 21

Alan Caruba
The Looney Tunes version of the GOP campaigns

Larry Klayman
Have American leaders been bribed, again?

Barack Obama using scripture

Matt C. Abbott
Komen almost aborted by Planned Parenthood

Audrey Ignatoff
Welcome anti bullying law in New Jersey

A.J. DiCintio
The king of crony capitalism
  More columns


Michael Ramirez


RSS feeds



Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
J. Matt Barber
Kelly Bartlett
Michael M. Bates
. . .
[See more]
Nicole George

Sister sites