Why "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Must End
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jason Christopher Hartley is a member of the New York Army National Guard. After serving at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks, Hartley was stationed in Iraq, where he maintained the controversial blog Just Another Soldier until he was forced to stop by his commander. He is the creator of "Surrender," a play based on his wartime experiences, as well as the author of the book "Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq."
Question: Should women serve in the infantry?
Jason Christopher Hartley: This is a topic that is tricky for me because, I don’t know. As far as soldiers go, I am probably one of the more liberal soldiers you’re ever going to meet. I really like the idea of everything being completely egalitarian, but this is the one topic that I have the most difficult time trying to reconcile is the short answer is no. I absolutely do not think women should be in the infantry and if I had to boil it down to a single reason there is… Guys will list all kinds of reasons about why it’s not a good idea for women to be in the infantry. Some of them I guess have more weight than others, but I think for me the single… If I had to boil it down to one thing, it would be just that it’s easier to maintain discipline with a bunch of dudes if there’s no chicks anywhere, is the bottom line, because… and that I know infuriates my friends when I say that, but you know, if I’m honest when I’m doing my job in the Army there’s not going to usually be a whole lot of girls around and then whenever there is, that’s where all my focus is, especially if I’m working with her. I’m thinking what can I do? How can I sleep with this girl? That’s all that I’m thinking about, and then after that, then I’m sort of thinking about my mission, OK, I need to make sure that I’m, you know, covering my sector and killing bad guys and what have you. How can I sleep with this girl?
I mean I think it’s like the reason why you have like boys’ schools or you know all-girls’ schools. It’s just to like remove the distraction, and of course there’s other reasons that come into play. The hygiene is kind of the deal. Psychologically it can be very difficult for guys working with women, especially if the women are lost in combat. There can be a ton of infighting, you know, love triangles. I mean the list kind of goes on and on, but I don’t have a good solid intellectual answer that I can tell you that I feel good about. All I can say, I just don’t like working with women in that capacity. I like being able to be kind of like a barbaric pig while I’m carrying a rifle, be completely primal, and just leave it at that and not have to apologize for any of it.
Question: What about gays?
Jason Christopher Hartley: I think “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a stupid fucking policy and can’t wait for them to repeal that shit. It’s just lame. I mean there’s countless times in which extremely qualified soldiers have been outed for whatever reason and they weren’t allowed to… Or even like… There’s been a lot of articles about this in the Times. Officers who are completely competent who we’re like… We’re in desperate need of certain jobs, but then it’s like we’re kicking people out because we’re not fans of their personal sexual practices. It’s just dumb. Homophobia is still kind of alive and well in the military, especially in the combat arms and it’s -- you kind of have to appreciate how that affects the perceived morale. Soldiers really do still kind of freak out about the idea of homosexuals being able to serve openly in these jobs. We’re very roped together very, very closely and it’s… I can appreciate that. It can’t be completely… It can’t be initially… It can’t be dismissed out of hand even if I think that their way of thinking is maybe un-evolved. It doesn’t matter. It’s still very prevalent and it’s important.
My humble opinion -- I think that if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed, I don’t think it’s going to change the culture of the military very noticeably at all. It’s not like there’s going to be some huge influx of queens, you know, are going to like enlist in the military to prove a point. There may be people that do that, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. There’s not going to be guys just coming out of the closet left and right. It’s not going to destroy morale. It’s going to be business as usual, and you might occasionally have a guy who, you know, is open about it and it changes nothing because you’ve already been working with the guy for 20 years, whatever, and you like him. It’s like oh, well gosh, I guess it’s not as big a deal as I thought it was, and life goes on.
The author and former infantryman argues that homosexuals belong in the infantry—and women don’t.
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