It’s the right thing to do…and now we have data!

Today’s the day we can celebrate the first anniversary of the demise of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy that pushed 13,000 homosexual soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out of the armed forces of our country and forced untold thousands of others to lie about their sexual orientation in order to continue to serve.  How has the republic fared?

You’ll recall that some opponents of the repeal warned of dire consequences should we choose to stop discriminating against homosexuals who wanted to serve their country; well OK, let’s assess the fallout now, a year removed from the heat of the moment.  Nathaniel Frank today in Slate:

During the debate over “don’t ask, don’t tell”—which ended one year ago this week—Sen. John McCain insisted that ending the gay ban would do “great damage” to the military, and the commandant of the Marine Corps said it could “cost Marines’ lives.” One think-tanker agreed that we’d be taking “a risk with our lives, property and freedom.” Another declared breathlessly that, “ultimately all of civilian life will be affected.” Then there was the dire prediction that one-quarter of the military, or 500,000 troops, might quit in protest.


A new UCLA study, which I co-authored with other academics including military professors from all four U.S. military service academies, has assessed whether ending the gay ban has indeed harmed the armed forces. It hasn’t. Our conclusion is that ending the policy “has had no negative impact on overall military readiness or its component parts: unit cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.”


But we found we could go beyond that: We can also report that after the military ended the gay ban, the institution itself improved, and not just for gay people but for the overall force. Lifting the ban, we found, improved the ability of the military to do its job by removing needless barriers to peer bonding, effective leadership and discipline.

Surprised?  I’m not.  I did then and do now have confidence in the Pentagon’s ability to carry out its orders; I did then and do now have faith that most American men and women, in and out of the armed forces, believe in the American values of equality, fairness and tolerance; I did then and do now believe that the remaining barriers of prejudice are best overcome by exposure to the unknown.

And I believe that ending policies and practices that discriminate against homosexuals will have the same effect in other areas of life as it’s had for the military, because I believe most American men and women, despite the teachings of some religions to the contrary, know in their hearts that it’s the right thing to do.

Mark your civil rights calendar: the gay marriage issue could get to the Supreme Court before the end of the current term.

The man says media bias isn’t a problem, it’s a solution; thoughts?

Are you like me, do you just love the press criticism?  (Of course you are; of course you do.)  Well, I correspond today with news of the new location for Jack Shafer, who was laid off last month by Slate, where as editor at large he wrote the Press Box column (and other things).  In fact, Shafer’s first column at Reuters is dated one week ago so I’m a couple of days late to the party, but there’s not as much to catch up on if you start right away.

If you’re new to Shafer’s brand of criticism, jump in with a look at the latest column: he’s arguing against self-described centrist journalism.

If not for media bias, I’m certain that my news diet would taste so strongly of sawdust and talc that I would abandon news consumption completely. As long as I’m eating news, give me the saffron smoothness of New York Times liberalism and the hallelujah hot sauce excitement of Fox News Channel conservatism. Anything but a menu of balance, moderation, and fairness!

Read the column—he’s not against “balance, moderation and fairness,” he’s against bland; he’s against lazy news consumers who are insufficiently critical of what they read, see and hear, and recommends we all expand our menu of news providers.

The recommendation comes from my prejudice that liberals are better at sniffing out corporate corruption and national security shenanigans and conservatives better at blowing the whistle on waste and overreach by governments. Centrist news outlets, or at least self-defined centrist journalists, don’t strike me as possessed or deranged enough to battle their way to the end of a good investigation.

I also call upon readers to learn how to hit both lefties and righties—and whatever ambidextrous centrist journalists take the mound. Media bias isn’t a journalistic problem. It’s a solution.

Shafer’s new spot at Reuters is now on my blogroll over there, for your future reference.