It might have been unwise for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, to inject his personal religious views into a discussion of military policy. But what Duncan Hunter said in his defense of Pace, was even more outrageous:
“I think the American people have some insight and have some wisdom on this subject. And I think that they certainly look at what‘s happened to the Catholic church, and they look at their young men and women going into the U.S military. And I think they want to see those young men and women protected… I think that‘s what Marines go to war and fight for, the freedom to have morals, and to have principles and have values.”
Pace based his support for the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, on his view that homosexual acts are immoral. Hunter, on the other hand, made a bizarre analogy between homosexuality and the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Adding insult to injury, he said we needed the policy in order to “protect” our military personnel.
This erroneous equivalence shows an alarming lack of understanding of that scandal. It also shows an inability - or unwillingness - to distinguish between committed, consensual relationships, and anti-social, criminal behavior. It was almost comical to hear him follow up with the assertion that, somehow, “the ability to have morals” was what we were fighting for. If that’s the case, then we really should join the side of the Taliban - after all, they are fighting for the right to incorporate their own brand of religion into law and international politics. (And whatever happened to weapons of mass destruction, liberating the Iraqi people, or all the other rationalizations for the Iraq occupation?)
Hunter’s analogy was flawed on many fronts:
First, pedophilia is considered by the psychiatric profession, to be a psychiatric disorder. Homosexuality is not. Obviously, sexual crimes against children occur on an opposite sex, as well as a same sex basis. Therefore, the idea that the disorder stems from a particular sexual orientation is ridiculous. Many cases of abuse of girls by men have recently gained much media attention - they have not caused us to mistrust all heterosexuals or all men.
Second, it is interesting that Duncan Hunter couched his comments in terms of what happened “to” the Catholic Church. Given the voluminous evidence of a vigorous cover-up by the Church, many would say that the Church enabled the perpetrators of these crimes against the true victims. It is also interesting to note that this enabling of abuse came from an institution that virulently opposes homosexuality. Clearly, the scandal was neither a secret plot by the Catholic Church to promote homosexuality, nor a scheme by gay activists to infiltrate the Church.Third, while a clinical argument is difficult to prove, and I am no psychiatrist, one could just as easily argue - as Robert Scheer in The Nation does - that the repression of sexual orientation might lead to an anti-social sexual disorder, rather than a particular sexual orientation itself.
Hunter’s outrageous analogy has been overshadowed by Pace’s revelation. His cynical distortion and exploitation of the tragedy of child sex abuse, is despicable.