Why Ask? Why Tell, Period?

Shame (OMD song)

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For centuries, homosexuals had been harassed into separate closets and were more recently told that a military demand for confidentiality was about returning to that situation. Crusaders instilling shame and defenders from it imagined that this policy was about their own holy wars. It was not, but rather it asked whether homosexuals would be allowed to move on to that or any non-disclosure without being stigmatized as having acted in shame.


Nor was it about imposed dishonesty; after all how could one lie if one didn’t tell? How could one’s silence have inferred homosexuality if none who were asked answered? Or if they simply replied that they were not available. The problem was not with don’t ask don’t tell; it was with those heterosexuals who had presumed that they were only on the don’t-ask part of the protocol. Why were setting-the-record-straight servicemen and women being allowed to place the onus of the policy’s practicality on the homosexual community?

We live in a society that often takes non-disclosure as affirming shame. In fact, raising the issue may be support or the cast of the curious who would reel in relief from an otherwise dull afternoon on the line “Don’t be ashamed.”

The policy, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, offered an opportunity to break the misconnection between casting out and recasting others. Those whose lives are riddled with shame (either as recipients, inflictors or both) saw their own experience as being imposed upon military Gays & Lesbians. Looking back upon the centuries, this is an easy mistake and ought to be an easy sell, yet I am telling those same endurers to stop even thinking of it.

Instead support an awareness that, beyond inflicted or legitimate shame, a vast part of our inner selves is simply private. It may be something magnificent that would shrivel before the probes of a multifaceted public; something just too easily misunderstood even by those convinced that they are helping us through it; or something that may mess up other lives, even the life whose curiosity now probes. This last case has the military experience written all over it.

The current policy will never be ridiculous. Voting it out merely legislates the misunderstanding. Even without this legal reversal, were men and women one day on joint patrols, sleeping side by side, and being posted together as lookouts; the policy would not have been absurd. It would merely have become dated, while generally being considered to have been absurd.

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