Don't Ask Don't Tell
I just read a story in the New York Times, written by Tamar Lewin, that was both touching and infuriating. It concerned a change noted recently by staffers at the GI Rights Hotline, a number for people to call if they want help becoming conscientious objectors.
The touching part of the story came in the descriptions of the work done by those who staff the hotline. Since conscientious objector status is decided based on a person's beliefs, and since a caller's beliefs and a staffer's beliefs might be quite different, it can be a challenging job and these workers come across as very dedicated to helping people despite conflicting belief systems. It was also touching to read the concerns they shared about those who never make it to the hotline, speculating that many of those who desert or who kill themselves are people who are "struggling with their conscience."
The infuriating part comes in when people apply their beliefs in illogical ways. Specifically, the change on which the article reports is the new growth in calls by people who want conscientious objector status because they cannot in good conscience serve in the military with people who are gay. Lewin explains in her article that this objection on the face of it fails the conscienctious objector test, in which a person must clearly object to participating in all war as a result of some deeply held moral, ethical, or religious belief. She quotes J. E. McNeil, a long-time staffer of the hotline, who explains that “In the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situation, they’re not opposed to participating in war, they’re opposed to who they’re participating with”.
File Under: Research methods 101 > Survey Construction > Question wording
Constructing a survey on support for the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? Keep this in mind: Democrats in particular are much more likely to support letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military than they are to support letting homosexuals serve openly.
Dalia Sussman, writing for The Caucus (the politics and government blog of the New York Times) describes a New York Times/CBS News poll which found that 60% of respondents who were asked whether gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the military said yes. On the other hand, only 44% of those asked whether homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly agreed that they should. And Sussman says that political orientation mattered a great deal:
It's been a long time since I was last sitting at breakfast, reading the Times and came across something that drove me to my blog. When I began my blog during a sabbatical a few years ago that's how it used to happen: Breakfast, newspaper, outrage, blog. Lately, though, I've been lucky to be able to even skim the headlines at breakfast, and as for time to sit down and blog, well, that's been nearly nonexistent. So it was refreshing to have the time this morning to casually read the paper and then stumble upon an outrageous statement, and then to have some time to blog about it.
Which makes it sound like I am happy to be outraged, which is not the case of course. I'm simply happy that given the outrage there was time to read, think and blog instead of just feeling frustrated and angry.
This morning's reaction was to an article with the headline "Pentagon Steps Up Talks On Don't Ask Don't Tell", written by Elisabeth Bumiller. It is a relatively short article with several sources of irritation.
Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, a day that typically means barbecues and parades and the honoring of those who serve the military while remembering those who have served and lost their lives.
Unless those who serve are gay. Because gays, lesbians and bisexuals are prohibited from serving openly, theare rendered invisible, and face losing their jobs if they are open about their sexualities. Because of the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) more than 12,000 service members have been dismissed because of their sexual orientation since 1993 according to Lamda Legal.