BY ALLEN WEST
How many of you remember that movie “Full Metal Jacket?” Of course what made the movie famous was the true portrayal of a Marine Drill Instructor by Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey (USMC. Ret). My older brother was a Vietnam-era Marine and I recall his stories about Marine Boot Camp.
But now, it appears that harassment is about to get a new definition in our U.S. Armed Forces.
As reported by CNS News, “The U.S. Defense Department on Thursday released what a spokesman called “a comprehensive policy to prevent and respond to all forms of harassment in our military.” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said the policy is just the beginning — a “framework for the military services to address unacceptable behaviors such as offensive jokes, stereotyping, violence and discrimination.”
Offensive jokes? Who determines what is offensive? a reporter asked White. “Is there going to be like a list of what constitutes offensive words, like George Carlin’s magic words in the ’70s?”
The military’s memo (DoD Instruction 1020.03) laying out the “Harassment Prevention and Response” first defines harassment, then lists six specific types covered by the policy — discriminatory, sexual, bullying, hazing, retaliation and reprisal.
The military defines harassment as “behavior that is unwelcome or offensive to a reasonable person.” It can be spoken, written or physical, but if the behavior creates an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment,” it is proscribed.
“Harassment may include offensive jokes, epithets, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, displays of offensive objects or imagery, stereotyping, intimidating acts, veiled threats of violence, threatening or provoking remarks, racial or other slurs, derogatory remarks about a person’s accent, or displays of racially offensive symbols,” the policy says.
But — “activities or actions undertaken for a proper military or governmental purpose, such as combat survival training, are not considered harassment.”
The military’s ban on “discriminatory harassment” includes “gender identity” and sexual orientation.”
Hmm, I remember those days when Drill Sergeants referred to us cadets, in 1982 at Ft. Lewis Washington, as being “stuck on stupid.” Yep, that’s when I was introduced to the phrase — does that now constitute harassment? Now, don’t get me wrong, we need to ensure no one feels harassed and any incidents should be reduced, reported, and rectified.
But if there’s anything I didn’t like during my time in the military, it was nebulous, open-ended for interpretation, one size fits all bureaucratic reactions. Heck, y’all remember the days of playing “the dozens” back on the streets, or even the absolutely hilarious “yo mama” jokes? Now, are we to believe all this is verboten, off limits?
And of course y’all know my sentiments about the gender dysphoria issue in our military. Why are we allowing individuals with a mental condition in our Armed Services? So, if a troop were to say to someone suffering from gender dysphoria, “you’re crazy,” can that be taken as a form of harassment?
This is what happens when the social engineering pukes — darn, that’s harassment isn’t it — get a hold of our military and spend more time on what troops say to each other than their mission readiness and training. In the Clinton administration years, it was “consideration of others” training that was mandated from on high, especially since LTG Claudia Kennedy said we had to eradicate the “warrior culture” in our military. Yep, we called it COO training — it was not intended to be an affectionate moniker — and platoon-sized elements, monthly, had to go over vignettes that discussed their feelings and sentiments with other Soldiers.
I was the 18th Field Artillery Brigade (Airborne), Ft. Bragg, operations officer (S3), at the time and remember when our Brigade Equal Opportunity (EO) representative…yes, we had an EO representative — came in and briefed our Brigade Commander on this new top down initiative. Well, our commander, the incredible COL Denny R. Lewis just blew a gasket. I cannot repeat the words he used.
This new harassment policy reminds me of the same. Harassment is unacceptable, but it needs to be defined in very narrow, specific terms. Darn, I cannot begin to tell ya how many times I was, or saw another, be insulted or put-down. It was not meant to denigrate the individual, but rather to get your attention. And having a superior officer tell you that he will kill you if you do something that stupid again does indeed get your attention. And what’s this about “derogatory remarks about a person’s accent?” Doggone, folks have been making fun of rascals with a southern accent for years; now that’s harassment? And we all love to joke about those New England accents — “paaaak da caaa, in da yaaard.” Dang it, I just harassed you folks. My apologies.
So now, during football season, when troops are in a combat zone, must they watch how they articulate their dislike of the opposing team, lest it be viewed as harassment? Or how about doing a training event, or even in combat, if a troop tells another to “stop your bullsh***ing?” Does that constitute harassment?
Just gotta tell ya, there were plenty of times I used expletives in my military years…what about now? And consider the “intimidation” of having a Drill Sergeant put that Smokey the Bear hat brim up against your forehead yelling and screaming…guess that can’t happen anymore?
My point is this, none of us want to see any type of abuse or harassment, but c’mon DoD, define it better. The last thing we need is to have some emotionally unbalanced military shielded from any harsh words or criticisms. That has not worked well in civilian society. We don’t need “snowflakes” in a combat zone acting like slack-jawed punks — dang it, there I go again. Heck, Sergeant Carter from “Gomer Pyle USMC” would be brought up on charges for using the term “knuckleheads.”
The last thing we need is this continued drive to align our military with civilian culture, and thereby promoting the “wussification” of our Armed Forces.
Can I even say the word “wussy?”
Editor’s Note: This column previously appeared at AllenBWest.com. Used with the permission of the author.
Lt. Col. Allen B. West is the former U.S. Congressman representing Florida’s 22nd District, a Fox News Contributor, a contributing columnist for Townhall.com, the former Executive Director of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas Texas, and the author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom. Col. West is the third of four generations of military servicemen in his family. During his 22 year career in the United States Army, he was awarded the Bronze Star, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals (1 with Valor device), and a Valorous Unit Award. In 1993 he was named the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year. Col. West believes it will be principled constitutional conservative policies, not politics, which will secure a sound economic future for Americans.