As part one of my strange jobs I earn money by watching new DVD boxsets, and recently watched the series NCIS this week along with the DVD Coming Out Under Fire, a documentary by the filmmaker Arthur Dong.
I was particularly leery of NCIS because, hey it deals with the military, specifically the US military and from my viewing experience, often shows like this preach the message that it is better to “serve the Corp” than, for example, “tell the truth.” But reviews of NCIS talked about it as a CSI with “fun” and “wacky” characters “outside the military.” After 23 hours, I am not really sure who this is marketed to, certainly not for me or anyone I know. It appears the target audience is one which unquestioningly accepts everything the government says, believes every military operation is a perfect one and watches the show painted up in camouflage, wrapped in a US flag while leaping to their feet every few minutes to scream “Ho-oouup!” and “Semper Fi!”
How I wondered, would they deal with LGBT people in, or associated with the military? At first I thought the “they don’t exist” line (or as the lead senator in the 1993 senate hearings said, that if LGBT people were “true patriots” they would be willing to give up part of themselves, like being LGBT, in order to serve the country) but toward the end of the series, within 5 episodes there were three dealing with LGBT people, specially lesbians, then transsexuals, and gay men. To summarize the NCIS message, it was hard for me to differentiate the sentiment in these three episodes broadcast to tens of millions of Americans and the public execution of a gay man in front of a cheering crowd in Kermanshah, Iran yesterday.
Here are the episode outcomes: two men return home from “serving their country as heroes” only to find their wives “stabbing them in the back” by falling in love with each other. One lesbian is killed while the other is arrested (though it is unclear how a 125 lb woman snapped the necks of TWO people - maybe it is their anti-american backstabbing ways which grant them their evil powers) while the lead investigator sighs his way through the sad aspect of “betrayal.” The transsexual, once discovered, ends with the lead investigator putting a gun to her head and then pulling the trigger in what even his associates understand as a case of premeditated (but okay and understandable) murder. The gay Navy SEAL is found out by his wife, and thus, to protect the name of the service, and his unit, commits suicide. This, it is concluded, is a “good man” when the ending scene eliminates any doubt that the solution to don’t ask, don’t tell is if found, kill self for the national good. In final minutes one investigator talks to a priest the man had been confiding in. The priest says that though it may not be the stance of the church, he had been trying to encourage the man to be true to what he was. “I think, in the end, he was” the investigator states (meaning, he was because he realized that his “true” nature was military, not gay, and thus, he acted to “protect the service” – aka a good gay marine is a dead gay marine).
Coming Out Under Fire is a documentary about the history of the US military with homosexual recruits, focusing on WWII, when the military started screening for sexual perverts. Of course, for those tens of thousands of gay men and women who volunteered, the choice between lying and being sent home labeled a sexual predator by the US government was an easy one. Ironically, once admitted, gays flourished in the military as they could only be removed under the articles of war for sodomy. So, as long as you didn’t have sex, or kept it very hidden, you could be as out as you wanted (and with the definition of sodomy, there was no way to throw out lesbians at all). Gay men started hanging around with each other, and clubs were formed, even a gay military newsletter was created by two gay typing clerks and sent round the world. The military decided to use the “special abilities” of these sexual deviants by making some into drag queen entertainers for the troops (one ex-marine said; “I was just like any other marine, and I carried my pack, it’s just that my pack was full of dresses and costumes”) while one suggestion to the W.A.C.’s was to promote lesbians into positions of leadership.
However, due primarily to the repeated request of commanders, the policy was changed so that no longer did there have to be an act of homosexuality but merely the suspicion of moral and sexual deviancy in order to be thrown out. The policy makers stated “there has never been and there will never be a place for homosexuals in the US army.” Thus, unit spies, mail censoring, illegal arrests and held until further names were given up started as standard policy. Once enough names were gathered, the individuals were dumped onto the streets in Wartime US, with a “blue paper” a dishonorable discharge for being a sexual deviant. After the War, the policy was expanded to the entire US federal employees, in order to set a standard on the moral fabric of hiring policies. And since then, many different reasons have been given, passed off without substantiation or research to back it up, that the US MUST NOT have LGBT personnel. On that note, two weeks ago, Justin Fisher, who orchestrated the murder of pfc Barry Winchell in 1999 for dating a transsexual, was granted early release. Still, that was just over ½ of his original lenient sentence. Due to the escalation of harassment which lead to Winchell being beaten to death, the Military created a 13 point anti-harassment plan. It has yet to be implemented.
Perhaps it is just me, but when the military, training what will become our future police, firefighters, EMT personell and other professionals teach and train that while gay people are an automatic no-no, harrassers of gay people are okay and murderers are semi-okay (they shouldn’t have killed or conspired to kill, but hey, it wasn’t the same as killing a “real” solider), I get worried. And when TV shows reinforce that view (only showing that if you are high up enough, you CAN murder them), painting open LGBT people as traitors and betrayers then it is downright scary. Particularly during a time when the justification for any action or excess in the US is “we’re at war”, and there seems to be the feeling that the US is going to be “at war” a long time. And quite frankly, the US has shown that it has a far greater ability to catch and punish homosexuals than the murky waters of their operations on “terrorism and freedom.”
11 hours ago