Dis-Honor(s)

I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the news pertaining to Captain Owen Honors and his special “morale-boosting” videos that he made for his crew back in 2006-07. The videos are quick little vignettes designed for maximum puerility and, I guess, maximum laughs. Scattered throughout are epithets, sexual overkill, profanity, and general lewd behavior.

I get that the military is not where you go if you have the delicate sensibilities of a nun or a monk. There’s a reason why we have sayings like “She curses like a drunken sailor.” Hell, I curse like a drunken sailor sometimes. I am the granddaughter of two Navy veterans after all. And I am immensely proud of this fact.

Would I be as proud if there was video of my grandfather eating something supposedly pulled from a toilet and fashioned to look like a piece of shit? Or if my grandmother was in a segment called “Chicks in Showers”? I’m going to have to say no, not so much. Of course, my grandparents served this country during World War II, which was long before the YouTube Generation took control. It was also long before it was acceptable to behave in the ways that Captain Honors and his crew behaved in these videos. I suspect there would have been little tolerance for this kind of behavior from soldiers back then.

I also know that crews need to blow off steam, especially in times of war. This is a reality of war. You cannot ask people to be under that kind of immense stress and fear and not expect them to need some sort of irreverent release. And, for the most part, that’s what is in these videos: a ridiculously puerile level of humor designed to cull the basest of laughter.

What, then, is the problem? I don’t know, fag SWO boy, what do you think?

See, that’s the problem. Owen Honors, who was the XO of the U.S.S. Enterprise at the time these videos were made, was the second highest ranking officer on board. As such, it was his duty to set standards and tone for the 6,000 crew on board the Enterprise. And the tone he set was one of anal probes, “chicks in showers,” men lathering each other up, and unrepentant use of epithets like “fag.”

True, lack of good taste (or, for that matter, higher brain function) is not a punishable offense. At the time these videos were made, being gay in the military was. I can’t help but question what Captain Honors’ actions would have been had he found any of his crew actually in any of the “humorous” sexual situations that he posed in his videos. If he’d walked in on two men or two women sharing a shower or a bunk, would he have walked away? Turned a blind eye? Maybe gone and “saluted his little XO” as he so humorously did in the videos? Or would he have brought them before a committee, had them discharged under the order of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”? I’d love it if Captain Honors would answer that question.

More importantly, were there any homosexuals serving among that crew of 6,000? What must have gone through their minds at watching those videos, performed by their commanding officer? Hearing him sling about the epithets he used, watching him make a mockery of what they were desperately guarding, for fear that its revelation could ruin their military careers? Did any of them wish to take issue with what Honors was doing, but perhaps feared that, in doing so, the questions would have been turned back onto them? Silence does not equal consent. Subsequently, being told to “hug yourself for 20 minutes” is also not a suitable response to complaints that may have actually been levied against Honors and his performances.

The bottom line is that this was not the type of tone that a commanding officer should have been setting aboard a military vessel. Yes, letting off steam is a reasonable “unspoken law” for these men and women. Levying crude and hurtful humor at a minority you know can’t speak up? That’s just cowardly. And not funny at all.