Why "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Must End

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.

Politics & Current Affairs

Political division is nothing new. Throughout American history there have been numerous flare ups in which the political arena was more than just tense but incideniary. In a letter addressed to William Hamilton in 1800, Thomas Jefferson once lamented about how an emotional fervor had swept over the populace in regards to a certain political issue at the time. It disturbed him greatly to see how these political issues seemed to seep into every area of life and even affect people's interpersonal relationships. At one point in the letter he states:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

Today, we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation, with our political environment even more splintered due to a number of factors. The advent of mass digital media, siloed identity-driven political groups, and a societal lack of understanding of basic discursive fundamentals all contribute to the problem.

Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.

The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?


Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression

In a 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey by Cato, it was found that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had silenced important discussions necessary to our society. Many have pointed to draconian university policies regarding political correctness as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.

It's a great irony that, colleges, once true bastions of free-speech, counterculture and progressiveness, have now devolved into reactionary tribal politics.

Many years ago, one could count on the fact that universities would be the first places where you could espouse and debate any controversial idea without consequence. The decline of staple subjects that deal with the wisdom of the ancients, historical reference points, and civic discourse could be to blame for this exaggerated partisanship boiling on campuses.

Young people seeking an education are given a disservice when fed biased ideology, even if such ideology is presented with the best of intentions. Politics are but one small sliver for society and the human condition at large. Universities would do well to instead teach the principles of healthy discourse and engagement across the ideological spectrum.

The fundamentals of logic, debate and the rich artistic heritage of western civilization need to be the central focus of an education. They help to create a well-rounded citizen that can deal with controversial political issues.

It has been found that in the abstract, college students generally support and endorse the first amendment, but there's a catch when it comes to actually practicing it. This was explored in a Gallup survey titled: Free Expression on Campus: What college students think about First amendment issues.

In their findings the authors state:

"The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas. However, the actions of some students in recent years — from milder actions such as claiming to be threatened by messages written in chalk promoting Trump's candidacy to the most extreme acts of engaging in violence
to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.


Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like
violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students
do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones,
speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment
to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on
controversial issues is "always acceptable."

With this in mind, the problems seen on college campuses are also being seen on a whole through other pockets of society and regular everyday civic discourse. Look no further than the dreaded and cliche prospect of political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner.

Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner

As a result of this increased tribalization of views, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to engage in polite conversation with people possessing opposing viewpoints. The authors of a recent Hidden Tribes study broke down the political "tribes" in which many find themselves in:

  • Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
  • Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
  • Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
  • Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
  • Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
  • Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
  • Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
    Patriotic.

Understanding these different viewpoints and the hidden tribes we may belong to will be essential in having conversations with those we disagree with. This might just come to a head when it's Thanksgiving and you have a mix of many different personalities, ages, and viewpoints.

It's interesting to note the authors found that:

"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."

You'll find that depending on what group you identify with, that nearly 100 percent of the time you'll believe in the same way the rest of your group constituents do.

Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:

  • 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
  • 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
  • 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people's preferred gender pronouns.
  • 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
  • 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
  • 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.

Understanding the fact that tribal membership indicates what you believe, can help you return to the fundamentals for proper political engagement

Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:

  • Avoid logical fallacies. Essentially at the core, a logical fallacy is anything that detracts from the debate and seeks to attack the person rather than the idea and stray from the topic at hand.
  • Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
  • Have the idea that there is nothing out of bounds for inquiry or conversation once you get down to an even stronger or new perspective of whatever you were discussing.
  • Keep in mind the maxim of : Do not listen with the intent to reply. But with the intent to understand.
  • We're not trying to proselytize nor shout others down with our rhetoric, but come to understand one another again.
  • If we're tied too closely to some in-group we no longer become an individual but a clone of someone else's ideology.

Civic discourse in the divisive age

Debate and civic discourse is inherently messy. Add into the mix an ignorance of history, rabid politicization and debased political discourse, you can see that it will be very difficult in mending this discursive staple of a functional civilization.

There is still hope that this great divide can be mended, because it has to be. The Hidden Tribes authors at one point state:

"In the era of social media and partisan news outlets, America's differences have become
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.


Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."

We need to start teaching people how to approach subjects from less of an emotional or baseless educational bias or identity, especially in the event that the subject matter could be construed to be controversial or uncomfortable.

This will be the beginning of a new era of understanding, inclusion and the defeat of regressive philosophies that threaten the core of our nation and civilization.

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