Thursday, June 3, 2010

More about the military ... click, click

To follow up on my post the other day about the "scandal" hitting the Canadian military -- okay, I get it folks.   Sexual harassment and preferential treatment are always big issues in any place of employ, certainly in a theatre of war.   That being said, I listened yesterday to CBC Radio One's The Current with a bit of disgust about how far the armed services go to bury an all too common truth.   Sex happens.

I think it was Scott Taylor, the editor of Esprit de Corps magazine and a technical consultant to the hit radio soap opera Afghanada which in part deals with battlefield "relations" who noted on the show that Canada had the highest rate of STD occurrences during the Korean War -- a matter of pride with those who fought at the time.   But when the Canadian War Museum wanted to make note of this fact, there were protests from veterans' groups who said that this "besmirched" the reputation of those who fought, and the reference was removed -- another cave-in by the CWM which also sanitized references to Bomber Command and the possibility that the "dehousing" air raid campaign was far too excessive.

Another reporter -- Matthew LePlante of the Salt Lake Tribune -- said his reportage on Iraq got almost no comment until he got to the issue of battlefield sex -- and the Pentagon only then went ballistic and tried to censor him, without too much success of course.

Let's face it -- where there's the opportunity, men will leer at their female counterparts' "racks".   Women will try to see if the bulge on the man they're targeting is larger than normal.   And at mess halls, those of the opposite sex -- and even the same sex -- will try to sit as close as possible as the rules allow or can be possibly bent.   It's human nature, and no military code of justice will stop that.

If this is a simple matter of friendly "relations" it's hard to see how it's going to get much traction among the court of opinion of civilians.  It may be a crime under military law, certainly -- and courts martial operate with a much lesser burden of proof than civilian courts.    If this was put forward as an administrative case in the "public service" no jury in the world would convict unless the sex was coerced or happened as an expectation of continued employment or promotion -- known as quid pro quo harassment.   If that happened here, then there's no question in my mind -- the general should be turfed out of the forces all together.

It's where it creates a "hostile work environment" that it becomes less certain.    In such cases where there is proof, of course, it should be dealt with just as firmly as a qpq.     But the "reasonable person" standard -- that is, if a reasonable person looking inside would view it as harassment if it happened to him or her -- is extremely subjective.    Especially so, I think, in the military court system where JAG is both prosecutor and judge.

The only other possibility I can think of is that the guy had an affair with someone other than his wife.   Just plain stupidity -- and whatever consequences derive from that should be dealt with where it properly belongs, in family court.   Just the image of an unfaithful starred officer should be enough to end his career.

Of course, we need to let the process take its course -- but civilian police are blabbermouths compared to the extremely secretive JAG.   We need some more light on this.   Open disclosure of the facts need not affect the General's right to a fair trial.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.

1 comment:

The Rat said...

I think you need to look at this phrase you used:

"hostile work environment"

And think that through to its conclusion in a combat situation. It's one thing to have an office full of gossip, jealousy, and intrigue and quite another when the guy next to you has a couple of grenades and an automatic rifle.

You can try to make the military act like you seem to want it to, but the fact is no "reasonable person" in civilian life has such easy access to killing devices and a social situation where either action or inaction can lead to death. To compare the two is dangerously ignorant.