Peter Worthington’s stunningly homophobic, anti-Canadian rant, which appears in today’s Sudbury Star, left me shaking my head: why does the Star publish this stuff? Worthington’s intolerance of gays certainly can’t be representative of our community’s norms in 2011, can it? No way. And his view that somehow Canada’s armed forces lack enthusiasm and resolve because they allow gays to openly serve is a truly bizarre slam of all of Canada’s fine men and women who serve our country.
Today, Worthington goes off on the recent decision by the U.S. government to eliminate that nation’s archaic “don’t ask / don’t tell” (DADT) policy, which prohibited gays serving in the armed forces from expressing themselves in an honest and open way regarding a very fundamental element of their being, or else risk being removed from their positions in the armed services. With the elimination of DADT, no longer will the U.S. military prove to be an organization intolerant of non-straight sexual identity.
Worthington, though, doesn’t see this recent change in U.S. policy as any sort of victory. Given that Canada has long allowed gays to serve openly in our military, Worthington is forced to write about how the U.S. is playing catch-up, and what that really means to the performance of the military, in his opinion. His opinion seems to be that any military tainted by the presence of identifiable homosexuals amongst its ranks will prove itself to be less effective in combat. To bolster his homophobic argument that homosexuals have no place in any nations armed forces, he trots out all of the infamous “arguments” he can muster.
First, Worthington discredits LGBT soldiers currently serving in the U.S. armed forces, by indicating that gay soldiers have long used DADT as a way of being discharged from the military when it became clear that the would be sent to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not only is Worthington suggesting that DADT is open to abuse – by homosexual soldiers – he sets about questioning the dedication of gay soldiers to the military, along with their fighting ability. This all despite no evidence which suggests that LGBT soldiers performance in combat is any way inferior to straight soldiers. But Worthington has never been one to let facts get in the way of a good argument.
Next, Worthington goes on to indicate that soldiers don’t usually discuss sexuality, and like to keep their personal “idiosyncrasies” private (as if one’s sexuality can be written off as some kind of aberration). He then goes on to suggest that often off-colour sexual banter between straight soldiers isn’t an expression of orientation. How he arrives at that conclusion, we’ll never know, because in Worthington’s world, it’s ok for men to shoot the bull about sex, as long as it’s about straight sex.
Worthington then goes on to tell us that the elimination of DADT will likely make rank and file soldiers uncomfortable. I’m not sure what he’s getting at here with the term “uncomfortable”: does he mean the sort of “uncomfortable” soldiers might feel while under enemy fire, or when they are attempting to disarm militants at checkpoints? Or maybe it’s the sort of “uncomfortable” that gay soldiers have experienced day in and day out, trying to keep their sexual identities secret from their companions and from their organization.
Worthington suggests that surveys of marines and other elite forces show that 60% believe that the elimination of DADT will adversely effect the fighting ability of the armed forces. I’m not sure that a survey regarding how individuals feel in any way should replace the experiences which exist in the real world in other military organizations which have allowed openly gay soldiers to serve. To my knowledge, none have reported any decrease in combat-readiness. But I guess Worthington is in need of some ammunition here to bolster his case. More on this in a moment.
Worthington’s next point is so off-base, it’s not even funny. Worthington then goes on to suggest a link between homosexual soldiers and pedophiles, by hinting that when gay soldiers were allowed to serve in ancient Sparta, that they took children as young as 7 years old as their “mentors”, and entered into relationships which might have had “sexual overtones”.
Now, whether this happened in ancient Sparta or not, the fact of the matter is this sort of nonsense has no place in an educated discussion of DADT, and only serves to perpetuate stereotypes that gay men are a danger to our children. First, the fact that Worthington had to reach back in time approximately 2,500 years, and use an example from a militaristic society which would be, to we modern North Americans, almost completely alien, is very telling to me. Why not something a little more current, Peter?
Second, there aren’t any children currently serving in Canada’s or the United State’s armed forces who might be “at risk” from gay soldiers or anyone else for that matter. No, the “Spartan Experience” makes an appearance only to perpetuate a stereotype.
And never mind the fact that the Spartan army was one of the most feared in the ancient world.
Finally, once again despite the absence of any evidence, Worthington questions the fighting ability of western militaries which have allowed gays to openly serve in their ranks. Worthington’s invented “evidence”? He cites some NATO countries lack of “resolve” to continue the fight in Afghanistan, as if all decisions related to the Afghanistan adventure somehow hinge upon the fighting ability of homosexual soldiers. In this narrow view of the world, Stephen Harper’s decision to end Canada’s “combat” role in Afghanistan must be because gay soldiers have inundated Defence Minister Lawrence Cannon’s office with pleas to come home, or to at least relocate behind the wire in Kabul. Likely, the truth is that the Conservatives received more letters from those upset with the long form census than from gay soldiers lacking the will to carry on Canada’s mission. Score that 2-0.
No nation with gay service people is spared from Worthington’s homophobic invective. In what must have been a very difficult moment to write, Worthington even goes on to slam Israel, albeit in a back-handed way. He indicates that while no one would ever dare question the resolve or competence of the Israeli armed forces (even though gays serve openly in those forces, which is a bit of a knock to his own argument, in my opinion), Worthington is able to justify having gays in the Israeli military only because Israel is surrounded by enemies which outnumber it. I guess, in this sort of do-or-die fortress situation, it’s ok to have gay soldiers at your back.
And Worthington ends his rant on the lowest of low notes, speculating who might pay for the sex change operations of gay soldiers, as if somehow gays and lesbians are uncomfortable with being males and females.
Peter Worthington should be ashamed of himself, but this is the sort of divisive nonsense I’ve come to expect from him. The Sudbury Star, and all other Sun Media newspapers, really should be ashamed of themselves for having published Worthington’s latest homophobic rant, which both perpetuates old, anti-gay stereotypes and questions the ability of Canada’s military to perform its duty when asked to by our government.
Worthington often likes to pass himself off as a kind of Canadian Patriot. Worthington doesn’t represent my Canada, and with this latest anti-gay and anti-military rant, he’s surely no Patriot. The fine men and women who serve Canada in our armed forces should be disgusted with Worthington’s false accusations regarding the fighting spirit of our military.
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