Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell--Paige Onstad

As I have been reading the newspapers looking for articles that discuss discrimination in some form one issue has caught my attention. The United States government is taking another look at the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and whether or not it should be abolished or kept as is. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the law that states a person serving in the military that is gay or lesbian does not have to tell anyone of their sexual orientation and no one is to ask. Adm. Mike Mullen, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff set forth his opinion that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”[1] As I read more about this issue I began to wonder what people not employed in the government or military thought so I turned to the letters to the editor section.

The issue of whether or not repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would have negative affects on the military was brought up in two opposing letters. One man gives his opinion that repealing the law would be “catastrophic for both the military and the nation — especially in a time of war.”[2] He didn’t go on to give any reasons for his thinking; he simply left it at that. Another man wrote in to say that he thought the repeal would help the military to become more unified and more effective. This man went on to tell a story of how a teammate of his had been slipping in performance and confided in the writer that it was because he was hiding his sexuality from the team and felt as if he was trying to live as another person. Once the teammate came out to his team his performance began to improve and the writer feels that the same could possibly be true for the military. Both of these are great examples of the opposing sides and the differing opinions of people living in the United States. After all of the discussion we have had in class about discrimination I wish I could know more about why the first man thinks the repeal will have negative effects. I’m not going to try and speculate about what his reasoning may be because he has had different life experiences than I have that have shaped his way of thinking and also his prejudices. As I thought more about why he didn’t give more information it made me realize that I also should think about the prejudices I have and then try to figure out why I hold those views. Are there specific reasons? Were there experiences that happened in my life to shape my opinions?

An activity we did during class called Four Corners also made me take a look inside myself and ask hard questions. The four topics posed to us were; a time you experienced discrimination, a time you discriminated against someone, a time you interrupted discrimination, and a time you witnessed discrimination, but didn’t intervene. The topic of a time I discriminated against someone is the one I find applicable to this blog because it’s not only about recognizing a time I did, but also why I discriminated against that person or group. I think that is a question people should ask themselves when they find themselves holding prejudices or acting in a discriminatory manner. Some may have a solid reason, but what about the views that don’t? After writing this blog and looking back on Four Corners I am going to try and ask myself that question.



1 comment:

  1. Hi Paige! This is Anne from Cuernavaca responding to your blog entry.

    I thought it was very thought-provoking and it certainly connects well to many of the issues that our group has been talking about down here. The first weekend that we were here, our group went on a retreat to an ex-hacienda where we discussed various facets of identity and discrimination. We focused especially on the reverse discrimination, or white privilege, that we have experienced during these first weeks in Mexico.

    Because we are easily identifiable as white Americans, we are frequently privileged with invitations to go into bars without cover, skip to the front of lines or participate in other forms of discrimination against the local Mexican population. We have talked a lot about participating in socially responsible nightlife and understanding the racism behind the invitations. Because of all this discussion and reflection, your writings on the Four Corners activity resonates strongly with me. Understanding discrimination and prejudice is a difficult thing to do, but after being here, I agree with you that it is vitally important to reflect on various ways discrimination impacts our life to further our self-awareness as social workers. Thanks for the blog!