semi-hilarious inappropriateness lotteryTo return to a topic just discussed a few days ago, it's somehow terribly inappropriate for retired general officers to criticize wartime political leadership...but it's not, apparently, at all inappropriate for Gen. Peter Pace, a serving general officer, to publicly state his position on potential changes in military law -- which, astoundingly, he couched in terms of a general discussion of the types of sexual behavior he chooses to regard as socially appropriate (emphasis added):
"As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," he said, according to the audio and a transcript released by his staff.If you click on the link, up there, note the nature of the criticism: No one quoted in the story suggests that it's inappropriate for a uniformed officer to publicly indicate what kind of policy he wishes for his superiors to establish; rather, they criticize Pace for being insensitive and insulting. Which he was, sure, but that strikes me as the second point.
If the military is subordinate to civilian authority, why is Peter Pace announcing to us all what kind of sexual behavior he regards as morally acceptable, and indicating in a public forum what policies he wants to execute?
Change the middle of the sentence to anything else you want, and test for appropriateness as a public statement by a flag officer on active duty: "As an individual, I would not want (hostility to Iran) to be our policy..." or ""As an individual, I would not want (the continued service of Secretary Gates) to be our policy..."
What would the reaction be?
The emerging reality is that general officers are free to speak publicly about politically loaded issues -- see also the distribution of Pentagon talking points to retired officers who appear on television -- as long as they sound like socially conservative pro-war Republicans, which is coded as politically neutral speech.
In my examples of other things that Pace could have said using the same formulation, I missed the hella-obvious hypothetical alternative: "As an individual, I want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy...
What would the response be to that?