A Philosopher's Blog

The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 22, 2011

The rather odd policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has finally come to an end. Since I have been consistently opposed to this policy, I am glad that homosexuals have been given the chance to openly serve their country.

One interesting impact of this change is that there will be empirical confirmation or dis-comfirmation of all the dire consequences and harms predicted by the opponents of this change. If their predictions turn out to be in error, I wonder if they will acknowledge this mistake or if they will simply remain silent and move on to another issue (such as getting the policy put back in place). In my own case, I state now that if the evidence shows I am in error, then I will admit that  was mistaken about this matter. Naturally, if people intentionally try to “cause trouble” in response to this change, this does not repudiate my view. After all, the source of the trouble would not be the change in the policy but people intentionally electing to cause said problems.

Another interesting point is that if it turns out that the policy change does not have a negative impact on the American military, will opponents of same-sex marriage take this as evidence against their claims about the threat of homosexuality? After all, if having gays serve openly does not damage the military, then it would seem to indicate that allowing same sex marriage would not damage marriage (which is, I think, already terribly beaten down). Naturally, there are differences between the two situations and these dissimilarities could be enough to break an analogy drawn between them. However, if the end of Don’t Ask turns out to be a military destroying disaster, then it would seem that such a disaster would serve as evidence for the claim that same-sex marriage should not be allowed.


13 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on September 22, 2011 at 6:53 am

    There is some science that suggests that increasing the level of diversity in the military will decrease the level of trust within the community. If we assume this science is correct, we need to decide whether ending DADT is appropriate despite the fact that it will likely weaken the military. I would say yes, because we are a diverse, low-trust society and the military should reflect that, for better or worse.

    The science:

    In recent years, Putnam has been engaged in a comprehensive study of the relationship between trust within communities and their ethnic diversity. His conclusion based on over 40 cases and 30 000 people within the United States is that, other things being equal, more diversity in a community has a correlation [expressed as a beta equal to 0.04 in a multiple regression analysis (see Putnam, 2007)], to less trust both between and within ethnic groups. Although only a single study and limited to American data, it claims to put into question both the contact hypothesis and conflict theory in inter-ethnic relations. According to conflict theory, distrust between the ethnic groups will rise with diversity, but not within a group. According to contact theory, distrust will decline as members of different ethnic groups get to know and interact with each other. Putnam describes people of all races, sex and ages as “hunkering down” and going into their shells like a turtle. For example, he did not find any significant difference between 90 year olds and 30 year olds.

    Low trust with high diversity not only affects ethnic groups, but is also associated with:

    Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.
    Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in one’s own influence.
    Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.
    Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).
    Less likelihood of working on a community project.
    Less likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.
    Fewer close friends and confidants.
    Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.
    More time spent watching television and more agreement that “television is my most important form of entertainment”.

    Putnam published his data set from this study in 2001 [1] [2] and subsequently published the full paper in 2007.[3]


    • magus71 said, on September 22, 2011 at 9:43 am

      I was going to post some of these stats, but feared I’d be labeled a bigoted racist. The more “multicultural” an area in the US, the lower the trust index. I’ve been studying the trust index to see how it could be applied to counterinsurgency operations.

      • WTP said, on September 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

        Why fear being labeled? Being labeled a racist is nothing to be ashamed of. Being a racist, OTOH, is. But only because it involves judging people for what they are rather than who they are. While I may disagree with the position that gay behaviour is anything to be ashamed of or persecuted for, there are plenty of reasons to discriminate based on the requirements of the task at hand. My opinion on this matter is that the DADT policy is worse than the new policy. But I could be wrong and I welcome informed input on the matter. Not that I haven’t heard from many other sources many of the points that you have raised in the past, but you are real. A significant number of opinions I have heard in the past are mostly from those not directly impacted, gay or otherwise.

        Something to be ashamed of, however, is to be afraid to say what you believe based on your experience in the real world based on what someone who does not live in that real world might think of you.

        • dhammett said, on September 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm

          “only because it involves judging people for what they are rather than who they are”
          Don’t you mean “because it involves judging people for what [the racist thinks] they are”? i.e. inferior beings. Being labeled a racist ^is^, or certainly should be, something to be ashamed of if one, indeed, thinks and acts like a racist. Unfortunately, it seems feel no such shame. They’re like cats looking at their own faces in mirrors. They have no idea what they’re seeing.

          One different angle on your last paragraph: Should a Southerner raised in the early to late 19th century have been ashamed to express his beliefs about ‘dark boys’ based on his own “experience in the ‘real’ world’, just because most others in his ‘real world’ had the same opinion about the inferiority of the black race I mean, just because he demeaned and mistreated blacks (they were, after all, his property) should he have felt shame if others judged him for what he actually did and labelled him a bigot? It might have been a good step in the right direction if he had. . . And I don’t think that one is not a racial bigot just because he doesn’t think he is. There is legitimate room for neutral outside observers to be involved in that decision. Such objective observers are likely not, as some would have us believe, reverse bigots.

          Finally, to “The task at hand” Same applies to discrimination against women and presumably against any person’s sexual orientation in the workplace? I agree. If a person is successfully completing “the task at hand”, anyone who harasses him or her should be “properly handled” by management or, if management fails to do so, the law.

    • magus71 said, on September 22, 2011 at 9:45 am

      As someone post on my blog; it may be that getting rid of DADT is the “moral” thing to do while also weakening our military. I believe that is the case.

      • dhammett said, on September 22, 2011 at 10:44 am

        Magus, I seem to remember you writing that you think Frontline, unlike most of PBS and all of commercial tv, is a pretty good PBS offering and a cut above most tv reporting. The following is chock full of facts, personal interviews, and what seems to be very tight, unbiased editing.


        Is Fort Carson an anomaly? Is the Third Platoon an anomaly? At “Pigs” we dealt with reaching conclusions from individual or limited experiences, so just to keep this on the specific subject, do the specific case of Carson, the specific case of Third Platoon ,and your own opinions about the current military reflect an accurate general view of the weaknesses of the current military? Will the lifting of the ban make things worse than they already are? Because if it does, it would seem we should just hope that we get that drone army prepared to meet all the requirements of modern/primitive warfare asap or prepare to raise the white flags right now

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on September 22, 2011 at 8:27 am

    As with the same sex marriage issue, I believe homosex is not the same as or just-as-good-as or equal to heterosex; therefore I think we do the LGBT community a disservice by saying (through policy) that it is if we do so without qualifications. Can a homosex person be a good troop? Certainly. But all male combat units will be affected by this policy, negatively, I believe. Just as they would be by the introduction of women into such units, which would, I think, be shameful (Would you want your 18 year old daughter drafted into a combat unit? I wouldn’t.)

    I am all for same sex unions and legal protections of such unions, but they are not the same as or just-as-good-as or equal to opposite sex marriage. I think it’s a disservice to the homosex community for us to say that it is, especially under pressure from political correctness. The two are vastly different and it’s foolish to say they are not.

    Homosex is not best for people and we should be honest enough to tell them it’s not, as I have done on many occasions with the LGBT friends I’ve had and do have, which have been quite a few. Although many hetero sex couples are not as happy as they could be some are very happy and healthy (emotionally) in their relationship. Homosex couples will never be as happy or as healthy (emotionally) as they could be in a heterosex relationship due to the inherent flaw of homosexual sex.

    I liken homosexual sex to gender incest, meaning, they fail to leave their gender and do the hard work of male-female communication and relationships, preferring to take the easier way (for them personally, not that it’s easy for them in society) of same gender communication and gender relationships.

    Are we prepared to tell a man and a woman who are father and daughter that their sexual relationship and marriage is the same as or just as good as or equal to a non incestuous relationship too? Or would we tell them that, for both to be healthy, they need to get outside the family, even though it’s not as easy or comfortable and can be lots of hard work?

    See: Is Gay Okay? http://ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/is-it-okay-to-be-gay/

  3. T. J. Babson said, on September 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Off topic, but too cool not to share. The McGurk effect:


  4. dhammett said, on September 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

    This, from your article: “(the marriage issue is, I think, a religious matter; which is up to one’s church), ” is, obviously, based on your choice of words “I think” and a very reasoned counterpoint to your opinion can be found here:

    In explaining the benefits of legal gay “marriage”, in or out of the church, the author emphasizes the societal benefit of the symbolic kinship conferred by marriage. Civil “unions” do not create that bond. A legal marriage would. Church weddings do. Strange though how many people divorce their ‘kin’ every year. . .

    Cline ends with this:”In summary, what’s the point of gay marriage? The point of gay marriage is the point of all marriage. Marriage is different from other contractual relationships because it creates bonds of kinship. These bonds are in turn different and more important than other bonds: they create significant moral, social, and legal obligations both for those who are married and between those who are married and everyone else. Some individuals may not choose to acknowledge those obligations, but they exist and they constitute the basis of human society — a society which includes both heterosexual and homosexual human beings.”

    Marriage is a civil matter in some states and countries, but not all. And there are differences between civil marriages and civil unions; that’s why when the two “arrangements” are described the words “similar to” are used rather than the words “same as.”When the marriages are “the same as” that would be the time when homosexuals are full-fledged citizens of the American community in deed rather than just in easy words.

    The following from your article baffles me:”
    “I am all for same sex unions and legal protections of such unions, but they are not the same as or just-as-good-as or equal to opposite sex marriage.”
    “If, when posing the question “is it okay to be gay?”, we mean “are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals second-class citizens?”, then the answer to the question “is it okay to be gay” (in America) is clearly: “yes, being gay is okay—being gay does not make anyone a second-class citizen.” But if when posing the question “is it okay to be gay?” we mean “is being gay the same as, equal to, or just-as-good-as being straight?”, then I think the answer to the question “is it okay to be gay?” is clearly “no, being gay is not okay—being gay is not the same as or just-as-good-as being straight.”

    So. They’re not second- class citizens, but their “condition” (i.e. being gay *) renders them incapable of being the “the same as , ^equal^ to, or just-as-good-as-straight.” and in many states they must live under legal restrictions “normal” people don’t experience? Of course they don’t face “Separate but Equal” signs. They can drink out of the common water fountains you and I drink out of.
    The obvious source of my bafflement? How can gays be so unequal in the sense that “being gay [is not] the same as, equal to, or just-as-good-as being straight” and they don’t experience equal rights in all 50 states, yet not be treated like or rightfully feel like they’re being treated like second-class citizens.

    *You seem to imply in the article , and correct me if I’m wrong , that this orientation can be changed, though the process is difficult. What is the conversion rate? Any clinical evidence? Is the success rate as high as that of the average fad diet?

  5. FRE said, on September 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    In the early 1970s, some cities began to enact ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those opposed to the anti-discrimination ordinances argued that they would cause a mass migration of gay persons. Of course, that never happened. That is only one example of lying to support opposition to fair treatment of gay persons; there are many examples available. Regardless of any available proof, those opposing equality will never admit that they were wrong.

    Despite their protests to the contrary, those opposing equality for gay men and women are motivated by a white-hot hatred and will manufacture all sorts of reasons to support their position. They will continue to the bitter end to use lies to support their opposition to equality since to them, honesty and integrity are not important virtues. They are very Machiavellian and believe that any lie to support their position is acceptable.

    Note the similarities to the arguments against racial equality. It was even argued that there was scientific proof that blacks were incapable of learning to fly an airplane.

    • WTP said, on September 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      “Despite their protests to the contrary, those opposing equality for gay men and women are motivated by a white-hot hatred and will manufacture all sorts of reasons to support their position.”

      Really? White-hot? Even in the context of military service there is not a legitimate concern? Not that I would agree with those concerns, but they are certainly legitimate and worthy of discussion without those expressing them being labelled as bigots. Certainly not from a philosphical perspective.

  6. jelillie said, on September 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Seems like kind of a jump to say that if homosexuality doesn’t harm the military it won’t harm the institution of marriage. Not sure the correspondence between the two institutions is solid.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      A reasonable point-the analogy might break on relevant dissimilarities. However, if the alleged harms from allowing gays to openly serve turn out to not occur, then this would serve as a positive indicator that the dire harms predicted regarding same sex marriage are also not going to occur.

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