It's always frustrating when liberals or conservatives take one crazy person spouting off nonsense and try to paint the entire opposing team with the same brush. So when we read a particularly bananas editorial about gays in the military on the website of the Daily Caller, we certainly did not assume that everyone who is against repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy shares the same fringe viewpoint. (Including John McCain, although he does seem to be against a change even after every single legitimate criterium he's laid out for repealing DADT has been met.) However, what is interesting about this piece is the way it plays to "feelings" and "impressions" that foes of the repeal in general — and those serving in the military in particular — might have about gay people. This comes as a contrast to the "surveys" and "recommendations from top military brass" that are bandied about by those in favor of repeal.
There's little point in trying to refute the opinions of someone who has made so many blanket judgments about a group of people while clearly knowing little about them (in this case, the person is former National Review contributor and Army vet Joseph Rehyansky), so we'll do our best just to let the arguments stand on their own faulty merit. The theory of the piece is that "lesbians should be allowed to serve, gay men should not." Here is a roundup of the fallacies and logic failures involved:
"Common sense"–sounding stereotypes or logic leaps with no evidence to support them:
• "Lesbians do not face the same pressures as straight women to 'put out' for men. They therefore tend to develop long-term, monogamous, stable, and even permanent relationships."
• "Certainly [monogamous lesbians] have their counterparts among gays, but they are rarer than hyperactive sloths." [Ed: Everyone is welcome to call me this wonderful new nickname from now on.]
• "Most gays are not inclined toward military service, but many lesbians are, and it is an open secret that they do well in the calling, especially in medical and administrative specialties."
• "Gays spread disease at a rate out of all proportion to their numbers in our population and should be excluded from the military ... The military has depended on 'blood on the hoof' — transfusions from live donor to live recipient — ever since transfusions were perfected by the discovery of blood groups in 1901. A significant population of gays in the military has the potential for disastrous health consequences." [Hyperactive Sloth: The American military mandates regular HIV/AIDS tests.]
Ideas based on absurdly outdated statistics:
• "My wife and I watched a sad documentary about AIDS a few years ago. An emaciated man in his mid-30s or so, not long for this world, said that he’d spent a lot of his free time on Fire Island and estimated that he’d had sex with 'about 3,000 men.' My wife said, 'I don’t think I've spoken to 3,000 people in my entire life.' I replied: 'I'll bet he hasn’t, either.'" [H.S.: File this also under "All around just hateful things to say."]
• "The unrefuted 1978 study by Bell and Weinberg indicated that 43% of gays had sex with 500 or more partners, and 28% had 1,000 or more partners."
• "Most men who are sexually attracted to other men can and do indulge their promiscuous urges with little or no restraint; i.e., it’s 'party time' all the time."
All around just hateful things to say:
• "How our ancient foremothers ever managed to establish any choice in [mates] is utterly beyond me when one considers that they did not have access to Mace, police whistles, Lady Smith .38s, or domestic violence hotlines."
• "Kinsey’s notorious World War II-era study concluded that about 10% of adult males in the United States were homosexual. Never considered in his study was the fact that most able-bodied American male heterosexuals were elsewhere, serving as part of The Greatest Generation, leaving a larger percentage of gays at home to keep one another contented."
• "If a Constitutional right to privacy that guarantees access to abortionists can be summoned from thin air, certainly the prohibition against involuntary servitude should prevent unwilling heterosexual men from providing beefcake parades without their informed consent."
(Thank you to the Awl for finding this.) To repeat: It's nearly futile to try to have an argument with someone like this. But supporters of a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" who don't understand why people can oppose them — even when faced with solid evidence that a repeal would have few ill effects — should realize that this is the kind of thinking they'll sometimes be dealing with.
Don’t hint, don’t wink: An immodest proposal [Daily Caller]