I had not planned on stirring up a controversy, but there are multiple sides (maybe) to the current Navy firing of CAPT Honors. Probably the most coherent and even handed discussion is that which I found in USA Today.
Several points – made by Mark (Special Forces), Ron (spent way too much time with Armor and FSTs) is that anyone who is offended at the time needs to say so. PC can be taken too far. I fully agree with them on speaking up, but it assumes that making a complaint at the time implies that the command is going to listen, evaluate and modify inappropriate behaviors.
Honors’ dismissive treatment of the objections says as much as the videos do about his leadership qualities. At the start of one video, he talks about complaints sent “gutlessly through other channels,” and tells the “bleeding hearts” that they’re likely to be offended again. Then the show goes on.
Honestly? In the Army I see a command response more often that not. Senior leadership cares mostly and makes an effort. But a ground force is inherently different than a seagoing force. On land normally there is greater access to communications and different expectations. Walking the plank is neither option or reality. Commanders are always immediately responsible to their chain of command. (Recent change of command in Afghanistan is a case in point).
Army is not perfect.
Back to the Navy – what is clear now is that the Navy, in the form of CNO and others, would like to use Honors as a scapegoat and absolve themselves of all responsibility. Is it worse that they are sacrificing him? Or that they knew about all of this and did not act until forced by the public?
“Contrary to assurances that standards of conduct will remain high, and that ‘leadership’ and sensitivity training can ‘mitigate’ the consequences of human failings, this embarrassing episode demonstrates how discipline can be incrementally redefined downward, lowering standards for all,” Donnelly said. “Adm. Mullen and like-minded allies in the White House, Pentagon and Congress are inviting trouble that cannot be ‘mitigated’ by wishful thinking alone.”
And when Fox news is negative, well. the Navy has lost a lot of support.
There is more at stake here than the career of one officer.
As a country, we are trying to move forward on all fronts. Yes, there are times when PC is used as an excuse. But what is really wrong with treating all your colleagues with dignity and respect? That means not making fun of people, not using offensive language, keeping ones hands and opinions to oneself so that they do not make the workplace an extremely negative experience.
It would be nice if we all had a sense of humor and a bit thicker a skin, but deliberately targeting groups and individuals; demeaning them is not conductive to good morale and discipline.
Frankly, the military culture has changed over the years. There may be too much sensitivity at times, but I will take it any day over the overt discrimination and hostility I lived with my first tour on AD (1981-1984). I don’t have to put up with being cursed at, sworn at, and told that “you #$%^&* have no business in the Army.
I am concerned that the person next to me does their job. Not their religion, skin color, ethnic background, marriage status, sexual orientation. I want them to do their job. I should not be making fun of them, nor they of me.
We have enough enemies out there, why would we want to create enemies of members of our own forces?
(I took a quick look at the controversial videos. Didn’t find them funny or particularly appropriate. And that is after the worst of the language has been edited out)