Disappointed with DADT repeal letter

Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2010

I was disappointed, although not surprised, by Mr. Larry Smith's Dec. 22 letter to the editor. The letter was entitled "DADT repeal not in the public interest". I was intrigued, since it was most assuredly in the public's will that DADT should be repealed. As of Dec. 9, Gallup reported that 67% of the American public supported such a repeal. So, I read on, expecting an argument as to why the public ought to be checked, why we ought to embrace paternalism, and assent to let Mr. Smith and his moral brethren steer us correctly.

Much to my surprise then, there is not a single sentence as to why this isn't in our interest. Instead, the letter devotes itself to retreading the same tired arguments against the recognition of homosexuality as a morally worthy category. No matter how fallacious and thoroughly refuted these claims are, no matter that they are non sequiturs and red herrings, I won't try to address these assertions here.

Rather, there are only two things about the letter to which I'd like to call attention. First, just because Mr. Smith doesn't think homosexuals should have the protections of legal marriage, it simply does not follow that they shouldn't be allowed to serve in their nation's armed forces (unless of course he thinks only married persons should be allowed to serve - but I doubt Mr. Smith would assent to such a position). And secondly, it is categorically and unequivocally false that (to borrow Mr. Smith's words) homosexual "actions have been defined and condemned as immoral by every society in history..." No less a civilization as the ancient Greeks actively and institutionally engaged in homosexuality. And they are most assuredly not outliers in this. I would caution Mr. Smith against hasty generalizations that are so transparently incorrect.

It is important to realize that the civil rights movements of the past were not specially engaged in recognizing skin color or gender as acceptable social categories. What civil rights is (or ought to be) about is recognizing, as people, classes of humans that were not previously so recognized. This is known as moral progress. I recently read a delightful quote: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." The repeal of DADT is one (small) step towards the recognition that homosexual men and women are people too.

Olin Robus


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