Sunday, July 20, 2008
More Media for Gays in the Military [Elaine Donnelly]
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, released on July 19, 2008, is typical of recent polls of civilians on this issue. Surveys such as this both reflect and help shape public opinion, as part of a relentless perception management campaign that has been going on for years.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll is less than persuasive because it includes two questions that demonstrate how misinformation and diversionary questions can affect the results of polls. Question #33 reads, “[D]o you think homosexuals who do NOT publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military or not?” (Responses: Yes, 78%, No, 18% No Opinion, 5%) Question #34: “[D]o you think homosexuals who DO publicly disclose their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the military or not?” (Responses: Yes, 75%, No, 22%, No Opinion 3%)
These two inquiries do not frame the real issue: Should the military require, as a matter of policy, forced cohabitation between heterosexuals and homosexuals in all military units, including the infantry, Special Operations Forces, and submarines? Instead, the questions use confusing double negatives, which end with the phrase “or not?” It is difficult to find a clear statement in the poll on which to state an opinion.
The questions suggest that the main issue is being “undisclosed” or “disclosed” as a homosexual in the military. On the contrary, the true key issue is eligibility to serve, not disclosure of homosexuality. Inquiries also use the permissive word “allowed,” not the more accurate term, “required,” as in “Should members of the military be required . . . ?” Instead, the poll focuses only on the desires of homosexuals who want to serve in the military. The issues of military discipline, morale, and readiness are not mentioned at all.
Survey respondents in this poll are civilians—most of whom probably know little about the military and its culture, including the essential need for discipline and morale. This is tantamount to asking Americans what they think about issues currently being debated by the Canadian Parliament. (While 71% of self-identified veterans in the poll said gay people who do not declare themselves as such should be allowed to serve, that number dropped sharply, to 50%, for those who are open about their sexuality.)
The Washington Post/ABC News poll is not an accurate reflection of what Americans think. It is another example of perception management techniques made easier by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Note: On Wednesday, July 23, at 2:00 PM, I will be testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, in support of the 1993 law stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. More information about the hearing and the Americans for the Military campaign to defend the law appears on the CMR website, www.cmrlink.org.
07/20 06:47 PMShare