Something is misfiring somewhere. Nowhere has this become more evident than the revelation of a sex scandal in our armed forces. Last year, according to Pentagon estimates, about 6 percent of women and 1 percent of men on active duty were “sexually assaulted” from within their ranks.
And if that weren’t bad enough, one lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, a sexual-assault prevention officer, recently was arrested for sexual battery after allegedly attacking a woman and “grabbing her buttocks and breasts.” Plus, an Army sergeant at Fort Hood, Texas, also assigned to sexual-assault prevention duty, is being investigated for pimping out and sexually abusing his subordinates.
Of course, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has expressed “outrage and disgust” at all of this. As if something new has appeared under the sun.
But apparently Chuck missed the memo about the infamous Tailhook scandal at the Las Vegas Hilton, in 1991 — where reportedly more than 100 attendees at a convention of Navy and Marine aviators sexually assaulted 83 women and seven men in an outrageous orgiastic melee. Allegedly, one of those assaulted was a 17-year-old girl. She had accidentally wandered into this debauchery, whereupon, according to a media account, she was “immediately pounced upon by aviators who removed her jeans and panties while others photographed the incident.”
When news of this molest-fest hit the media, the Navy at first downplayed it as “little more than a fraternity party that got out of hand.” After witnesses came forward to testify, though, eventually the shit hit the fan. As a result, according to the TV show Frontline, the careers of many naval officers were “scuttled or damaged.”
But that was then, 1991. This is now, 2013. And those who forget past transgressions are condemned to repeat them. The 6 percent of allegedly sexually assaulted women in our military today translates to about 12,100 personnel. This, after many female soldiers have served with honor in Afghanistan and Iraq, or served in other roles to keep the world safe for democracy.
Evidently our elected officials didn’t send the memo to our military leaders that we’re living in the 21st century now.
For educators such as me this becomes morally problematic. Traditionally, and for good reasons, we have allowed ROTC programs into our public schools. They teach students discipline and the military arts. And, yes, they help recruit young adults into the armed forces. However, if these latest, brutal statistics from the Pentagon reflect reality, this practice of using schools as junior breeding grounds for future sexual misconduct in the military probably needs to be abolished. Why? Because the first rule of teaching is to let no harm come to your students.
That said, if we can’t rid schools of these now questionable programs which, arguably, are grooming unwary future sex victims, perhaps we can update military recruitment slogans so kids will know what to expect:
• Join the Navy and see the pussy.
• It’s not a job. It’s an orgy. In today’s action Army.
• The few. The proud. The raped. The Marines.
And this Memorial Day, instead of actual flags, maybe we should drape flag-colored condoms over our dead veterans’ tombstones as a tribute to their service. Especially dead female veterans.
God bless America.
CHIP MOSHER is a simple classroom teacher.