To the Editor:

I find David Bookstaber’s letter labeling the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy a “red herring” (“Dont ask, don’t tell is red herring in ROTC debate,” 1/31) to be not only offensive but troubling as well. It should be obvious to anyone that a line of reasoning that seeks to make light of discrimination, as Bookstaber does, is specious at best.

Bookstaber claims that even “the most flamboyant” of gays could join the military if he (or she for that matter) were willing to abstain from “homosexual behavior,” but he never defines what exactly he means by this term. Is he referring to on the job homosexual intercourse or something as innocuous as a mention of a homosexual partner? If it is the latter (which I suspect it is, as such a statement would probably fall under the category of “telling”) then why should heterosexual members of ROTC be allowed to talk about their significant others back home? Surely ROTC’s policy is not such that no one, straight or gay, is allowed a picture from a wife or girlfriend back home.

This discrepancy is the main problem with Bookstaber’s argument; it does not cover everyone who serves in the armed forces. He states that the military is “special” because of the demands it makes on its officers, but “don’t ask, don’t tell” does not make these demands on every single person. The responsibility to avoid discrimination is placed on the shoulders of those the policy supposedly “protects.”

Yes, Mr. Bookstaber is correct when he says that homosexuals can participate in ROTC, as long as they are extremely careful and conceal their homosexual behavior (or, better yet, overcome it as one might a disease or condition, in keeping with Bookstaber’s horribly offensive comparison of homosexuality with obesity). After all, he cites two gay friends who actually managed to make it through ROTC doing just that. So yes, I concede that suppressing an innate part of yourself for military duty is possible, but perhaps Mr. Bookstaber should have asked his two gay friends if they liked it.

Bradley Bailey ’05

Jan. 31, 2005

The writer is a former scene columnist for the News.