Alex Blaze

Two things about Pace's comments

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 15, 2007 9:40 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, morality, peter pace

One thing: After reading all those editorials yesterday morning about Pace's anti-gay comments, I noticed a recurring phrase that I had also read in some blogs. The Washington Post said: "He's entitled to his opinions, of course." The Chicago Tribune said: "It was his personal viewpoint, expressed with conviction, and the general is certainly entitled to his opinion." I've always seen the raison d'etre of writing, from blogs to newspapers to theater to fiction to SOTU addresses, to provide a perspective for the audience, whether it be a new spin on an old idea or an application of that idea to a different topic or a new voice on an old message or something totally new, for the purposes of entertaining, informing, or persuading. (Wow, I sound textbook.) But using fancy-speak for "The First Amendment exists" doesn't seem to accomplish any of those goals. It just seems like a re-hash of the old "That's just his/her opinion" statement that always seems to come out when talking about gay rights with people who are heterosexual supremacists.

Seriously, have you ever noticed how many times they use that phrase? They're entitled to their opinion, we all know that, but if someone disagrees with them, the former is accused of silencing the latter, victimizing him/her somehow. The entire anti-gay movement is stuck on the idea that they're the real victims, no matter how material the oppression of queer people is, so that they can obscure the real subject of the conversation whenever anyone disagrees with them.

Isn't that why Pace brought up his "upbringing" right in the Chicago Tribune interview that started it all - to put his opinion in the realm of personal morality, and, therefore, for some reason, beyond reproach? Do we really need to have editorials reinforcing that? Especially since it's so obvious and so false at the same time - yes, he's entitled to his personal beliefs, and, yes, there's no legal means of changing someone's personal beliefs - but, no, when they influence policy people have a right to try to change them or change the person in that position, and, no, disagreeing with Pace's statements on public policy does not even remotely make him a victim. The shield of labeling something as personal morality stops when the object of that morality is exclusively others.

The other thing, after the jump.

As promised before the jump, here's the other thing: What sort of morality was Pace referring to? Here's the quotation again:

I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts.
Robert Farley on The American Prospect's blog, TAPPED, said:
It's so much more refreshing to hear this argument than the more nebulous "gays reduce unit cohesion" argument that's been in vogue for the last fifteen years or so.[...] Much better for Pace to simply make clear that he finds homosexuals icky.
I've read various permutations of this sentiment (I've been home sick for three days, painfully can't-get-dressed-properly-and-leave-the-house sick, but I'm much better now, thanks for asking), and even I gave Pace a couple of points for honesty because "morality" is closer than "unit cohesion" to "ick".

But it's not quite there. There is a difference between him saying that gays are icky and talking about morality. I've always thought of morality as being basically entrenched in logic, study, and reality, and ick is a basic emotion. He didn't say that his morality was Biblical, but even if it was, Bible-based morality can have quite a large philosophical framework to go with it, concerning the cultural contexts in which a moral pronouncement is made in the Bible, its relationship to central themes of salvation, justice, and equality, and its location in the Bible (like Levitican law and its relationship to the New Covenant). Pace's "morality" has no such basis, though. Him saying that it's immoral to be gay is like saying it's immoral to be near-sighted; since no one made that choice in the first place, it's not really a moral decision. Not that I have to repeat that to anyone who crossed over the jump.

I guess my point here on thing #2 is that I'm still waiting for someone to be completely honest within the military on the reason we have DADT.

And I don't like people saying something is about morality when they apparently don't understand what the word "morality" means. But I guess Peter Pace isn't a true Rennaissance man... oh, wait, should I have preceded that by saying that he's entitled to not be one?

You know, just in case anyone needed to be reminded that a straight, rich, white man is entitled to things.


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"Today Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) circulated a letter in support of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace: 'The question is whether personal moral beliefs should disqualify an individual from positions of leadership in the U.S. military? We think not. General Pace?s recent remarks do not deserve the criticism they have received. In fact, we applaud General Pace for maintaining a personal commitment to moral principles.'"

So, senator, I suppose then that my "moral beliefs", such as those involving my homosexuality, should also not disqualify *me* from positions of leadership in the U.S. military, yes? And if you applaud Pace for speaking openly about his beliefs while serving in the armed forces, you must certainly appreciate any gay member of the military that wishes to serve openly.

Unless you're a lying, foul-mouthed hypocrite, of course. But I'm sure that's not the case, is it senator?

That's what I'm thinking, Nuvie - they're applauding him for stating his opinion and saying that he's entitled to it because it's personal, even though that opinion's substance says that queer people don't have entitlement to personal morality, opinions, or lives.

Marla R. Stevens | March 15, 2007 5:58 PM

Absolutely.

It's also why I get pissed off at people who say, "I feel" when what they really are saying is "I think" -- they're using that they've couched their opinions as feelings as a way of trying to avoid having to logically defend them.