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)
What I see lacking in all this discussion is the role of the Commanding Officer of the vessel.
He (I assume is it male) could not have been blind to all this, yet allowed it to proceed.
As a CO silence is taken as approval.
Their responsibility has not been discussed, and I feel they are as culpable as the XO who acted in a manner he was led to believe had command backing.
By silence, if nothing else.
It shouldn’t be that much trouble to treat people decently, and I really admire the way the military generally has worked to change culture to do that.
At the same time, we have people taking the N word out of Huckleberry Finn. Should we really? Is that a logical extension? That just drives people nuts.
(ITSM, if that is what it takes to make people comfy enough to read Huck Finn in high school, OK, but the introduction to the book needs to say clearly what has been done and why, and needs to tell the reader that there’s an unabridged version.)
I’m not touching this one…having been in during a time when this was considered ‘normal’. Interestingly, I saw less discrimination when I spent my almost 3 years at Beeville, Texas than at any time during my civilian life, before or since.
As for the videos, I’d say he can get a job at SNL any time… The full unedited versions are, of all places, available on navytimes.com
I have to say that the responses of some of your commentators are a bit disappointing and lacking in insight. This has nothing to do with mechanical political correctness, but the whole tone and atmosphere of a command environment. Maybe it is just as well that some folks have retired. You are very correct in your comment that this kind of atmosphere encourages the kind of bald face discrimination that the military has, I believe, tried to eliminate.
Complaining to the chain of command does not always work, especially when the command atmosphere is degraded and servicemembers are treated as second-class citizens. Doing one’s job with honor, integrity, and upholding all of the honorable traditions the military holds dear should be the main factors by which each member is judged. That does not mean that UCMJ regulations are disregarded; the opposite is true. The bar is higher for the command because lives and property are in their hands. When a chain of command is oblivious to the effects their actions have on the morale of the entire crew, that command group is inadequate and dangerous.
How can a junior enlisted be comfortable coming forward to voice objections to a certain situation when the chain of command is seen complacent, in a deployed environment? It is not easily done in the rear and pretty darn difficult under “normal” circumstances.
I am waiting to see what happens to CAPT Honor’s former commander. The CO had to know about this and tolerated it, or it would have stopped with the first video. I have a real problem with that. On the flip side, I would like to know why this kind of stink wasn’t raised before. It wouldn’t have been that hard to leak these to the press back when it happened; why now?
What gives anyone the right to make fun of others? To belittle them, publicly judge them, to criticize, the way they dress or live? Are we so perfect? What gives?
This is an issue with me, we have no right, we have no idea what that person has been through or where they are at in there lives., it is in fact none of our business.
Like i said it’s an issue and yes I care about whether they do their job or not i do mine and dont expect anyone to pick up after me