Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Get your house in order first
The YDN offers an article today with the headline "Recruiter visit raises concern." Now, the debate over ROTC has been big at Yale recently, as has the debate over JAG recruiters at the Law School. This is a new arena, however, with students objecting to military recruiters showing up on campus because of "don't ask, don't tell." I won't bore you with m views on the subject, but I wanted to point to a most absurd segment of the article:

But in response to a complaint from a student who told the recruiter he was gay and was turned away from enlisting, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said the University is reevaluating its current recruitment policies.

The student, an activist who asked to remain anonymous because he has not revealed his sexual orientation to friends and family, said he complained to University officials, who told him that because of the University's anti-discrimination policy, action would be taken to prevent further potentially discriminatory encounters. [emphasis added]
There is something wrong when you are so proud of your sexual orientation that you feel a need to exclaim it to a military recruiter that you know will reject you immediately from consideration, but you can't admit it to your own family, who is supposed to love you unconditionally. And how can you call yourself an activist when the people closest to you don't even know that you have something to be active about?

I'm not going to hazard guesses about why this kid is behaving the way he (or she) is, but I have to suggest that he takes a deep look at himself and figures out why this is so ultimately important to him. I think the ideal is that society would ignore sexuality entirely, whatever it may be, but when a gay person puts so much emphasis on that side of his or her life, all it does is elevate the matter to the foreground of everyone's thinking. It would be no different than my walking around, angry that the people who know I'm a Republican don't like me, and reacting by walking into a Democratic party office, asking to sign up to work on their campaigns, and then proclaiming "I'm a Republican, and I condemn you for not hiring me even though I knew that's how you'd react anyway."

I know I'm not making sense here, but my point is: this was an immature thing for a student who is clearly not comfortable with his (or her) own sexuality to do—once you're ok with who you are, and you've admitted that fact to the people that are important to you, then you worry about rectifying it with the government and society as a whole. In the meantime, worry about yourself.

UPDATE [2/23/2005 - 12:37]: It has come to my attention that nothing I said above applies to this case. Why? It turns out this "student activist," who was personally offended by the fact that he could not be recruited because he is gay, but also hasn't told his family or friends that he is gay is a fictional character.

No, I am not accusing the YDN of making up stories, I am accusing them of having been misled. It turns out [ed. note—this has not been confirmed, it is merely the word on the street] that this student is in fact heterosexual, and merely wanted to make a point to the recruiter. When word got out that a gay student had directly challenged the recruiter, this student decided to run with it. He has to remain anonymous, however, because he is not gay and people know that.

This is simply despicable behavior, not merely immature as I claimed earlier. And it is offensive to people of every sexual inclination. I won't repeat the student's name, as I don't think it's my place to do so, but I hope he comes clean.


Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think it's a shame more straight students aren't willing to stick their necks out like that to stand up for the rights of minorities. The whole policy of don't ask don't tell is absurd in the extreme (Clinton should be slapped hard across the face for implementing it!), and I have absolutely no problem with someone pointing that fact out via any legal means necessary.

A goo Martin Luther King quote comes to mind (and I apologize in advnace for butchering this badly):

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evel is for men of good conscience to sit and do nothing."

I certainly can't fault this student for taking that to heart any more than I can fault right wing bloggers for not sitting back and taking the Rather memos without fighting back and exposing them. Any time you witness an injustice, it is your obligation to stand up and fight it.

My only reservation in this case is directed at the staff of the paper, who should have investigated the matter better - the real story was far more interesting and meaningful than the one they told.

Sean Robertson

RFTR said...

I have to disagree.

I agree that straight students should stick their necks out for the rights of gay students more often, and I agree that the paper is mistaken in not having investigated this.

But I also think that there's difference between sticking one's neck out, and misrepresenting onesself. It's all well and good if he had challenged the recruiter (in theory -- in reality this guy is just doing his job as assigned to him by the military) on the unwillingness to recruit openly gay students. But he crossed a line when he lied and said that he is gay. He crossed another line when he told the paper that the reason he won't admit his name is because he is not openly gay yet.

This guy is an insult to homosexual gay rights activists.

Tanstaafl said...

Actually, the quote is "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" and it's Edmund Burke, not Martin Luther King Jr.

Me said...

I agree with Brian. There are a lot of ways that straight students can be allies for LGBT causes. I would know because I do this sort of thing at school every day, working educate students about diversity issues through a program at my university. People assume that all of us in this program are gay and while it is true for some, it is not true for all of us. I don't walk around proclaiming to be gay simply to call attention to the issues. That isn't acceptable. Most of the LGBT issues today are about being able to be yourself and be an individual. If anything, gays would appreciate if you could be yourself and they could be themselves...that's what they're fighting for, isn't it? To be able to be who they are without judgement? I think it was good of this person to stand up for gay issues, but they went about it the wrong way.