US Army "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" instructional comic on gays in military

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82 Responses to “US Army "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" instructional comic on gays in military”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This could be ended tomorrow with an Executive Order in the name of increasing troop retention during a war. Why has it not been done? I see three options.

    A- Obama’s afraid of public backlash that might hurt Democratic candidates. Um, he seem utterly oblivious to public backlash on all the other things he’s done, why should this be any different?

    B- Obama’s listening to his military advisors and takes them seriously. Same as above…he doesn’t like the military and doesn’t respect it. If it were only the military not wanting the change, he’d have done it already just to make his supporters happy.

    C- He doesn’t like the idea of gays serving in the military. Well, he said he was against gay marriage too, and has done virtually nothing to convince anyone he plays up to the gays for any reason other than votes.

    I think C is the winner.

    • Xopher says:

      Well, not addressing C, but your B is impossible. The military brass in general doesn’t like DADT. They hate the time, effort, and money the investigations take; they’ve mostly served with people they know are gay, and who are fine soldiers/sailors/marines/airmen; and they REALLY hate losing good soldiers for something so stupid.

      The exceptions make the news a lot. But I don’t think they’re among Obama’s military advisors.

  2. Brainspore says:

    To me the back cover says “regardless of creed, race, color or sexual orientation, we are united in our desire to play with little plastic army toys.”

  3. Cefeida says:

    Ughhhh.

    Like Anon #70, I don’t see why they don’t want gays in the army. Even if we listen to the claim that it’s a dangerous distraction, there’s already women serving so that’s no argument!

    They’re saying gays are fine, except they’re inferior to heterosexuals in a way that prevents them from doing a soldier’s duty. How exactly? Oh, best not go into details, that wouldn’t be PC.

    Load of rubbish >:(

  4. m2key says:

    When I was a crew-chief on a Ch-47 the favorite reading material for the mechanics was a comic-book – complete with bosomy, smiley cartoon characters – that had the latest tech tips and mil-info…. infotainment for the “great unwashed”. Everything/Nothing changes.

  5. donniebnyc says:

    Why don’t you tell me what they saw. Slowly. Very, very slowly…

  6. Anonymous says:

    “Gotta” minute?
    and
    “An Other Unit”?
    Who wrote this, a 5th grader?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious. Wait . . . What? What?! You say this law is still in effect? . . . Damn.

  8. Church says:

    Why don’t you demonstrate what they saw?

  9. Xopher says:

    I meant “B is implausible,” not impossible.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What I most liked about the comic was how it emphasised that any race/skin colour could achieved a position of command, as could women. “Join the army! We don’t discriminate against anyone EXCEPT gays!”

  11. Anonymous says:

    There’s something terribly wrong with the facial geometry in the comic.

  12. flashdadi says:

    Comics have been used for military training for decades. And many were good examples of talented artists doing good work.

    PS magazine was illustrated by such comic book notables as:

    Will Eisner, Murphy Anderson, Mike Ploog,Don Perlin, Dan Spiegle etc.

    http://dig.library.vcu.edu/cdm4/index_psm.php?CISOROOT=/psm

    • Bevatron Repairman says:

      Without getting into the underlying policy (absurd and self-defeating and wrong-headed as it is), I’d be curious if there were any studies about comics-as-training manuals, whether adults or kids. I recall learning most of my lessons in water conservation in the 1977-79 drought from East Bay MUD’s “Captain Hydro” comics, which were pretty awesome.

  13. jasongnc says:

    So here is what I’ve learned: If you want to be openly gay, all you have to do is be vocal about wanting to get out of the military.

  14. Anonymous says:

    m2key ahh.. yes PS the preventive maintenance monthly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS,_The_Preventive_Maintenance_Monthly Any magazine that has anthropamorphized radios and machine guns is pretty fun, even if the actual information is pretty dry. “Make sure you use the correct NSN when ordering batteries, the PRC-711 series will thank you!”

  15. Jelf says:

    I like the part where the trial defence attorney is describing the
    “potential discharges you could receive is you were involved in homosexual conduct”
    *fnar fnar*

  16. Felton says:

    These guys appear to be a little fuzzy on the whole “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Weird little policy quirk: homosexuals per se aren’t banned, homosexual acts are. The “don’t ask/don’t tell” means if the subject of orientation doesn’t come up, then there’s no need to determine if there are homosexual acts being committed. A simple loophole the military has used to avoid changing official policy.

      So bizarrely, the two guys this guy witnesses could be straight and (curious, drunk, lost a bet, dosed with experimental CIA drug, removing snake venom), but are still in trouble. Meanwhile, the guy doing the investigation could be in the closet, but celibate, and in no jeopardy.

      Thus the very careful phrases “homosexual conduct” and “homosexual act”

      • elk says:

        excellent point / key detail to raise. hetero acts can also earn you big trouble conversely.

      • hershmire says:

        Thus the ensuing investigation would find that out. The whole point of this comic. There’s a chain of command, procedures are followed (one hopes), and appropriate actions are taken in view of the law.

        Don’t like the law? Lobby your congress(wo)man.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      @8: Exactly what I was thinking. Is there some part of telling that isn’t telling?

  17. Anonymous says:

    this is very sad :( i love gay people they are amazing :) GAY POWER YEAH

  18. Antinous / Moderator says:

    So….the military mostly spends its time making gossipy phone calls. That would explain why we’re still in Afghanistan.

  19. Felton says:

    Or maybe this part of the comic is a PSA against office gossip.

  20. elk says:

    I think you have a way of jumping to conclusions, Brainspore. I’m in support of gays and made that obvious, so you can get your panties in a bunch all you like. Where you ever in the military, sir? I’m guessing the answer is no.

    The option to come out doesn’t make a service-person worse off but that doesn’t account for the “asking” part of DADT. I think gays should be able to openly serve, but that’s not going to get you from A to B easily, nor does it account for a litany of known factors, and certainly not for unexpected ones that completely out of touch policy-makers will invariably overlook or f-up. Not having some kind of graduated approach (I don’t know off hand what that might be) could potentially suck immensely for many gays in the military. Personally, I wouldn’t trust the military with much of anything, much less protect my rights as a gay person (if I was). I’m not arguing for keeping DATD, just contributing (hopefully) some key points re: gay welfare within the military.

  21. bornonbord says:

    The Homosexualist has some ideas on how to ease the transition when DADT is repealed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4dgGl05CqE

  22. jacques45 says:

    “Why don’t you show me explicit hidden-camera video from multiple angles, pausing the feed for the good parts?”

    I went to school with a kid who later joined the army who looks just like the kid in panel 4.

  23. bazzargh says:

    Sir, I have something important to tell you. In the second panel, the door switches sides, and appears to hinge from the right instead of the left.

    Is it ok in this man’s army for a door to swing both ways?

  24. mrmule says:

    the artwork kinda reminds me of those creepy murals in Denver Airport:

    http://www.thetruthishere.com/denvermurals.html

  25. Xopher says:

    Wow, the policy is worse than I thought.

    My other thought was “Yeah, I bet cases are handled just like that. Never.” Especially the “make sure they don’t harass him” and “he’s still one of our soldiers” bits. Yeah, RIGHT.

    *fumes*

  26. Johnny Justice says:

    Are those shrinking telephones available to the public?

  27. Lab Monkey says:

    PFC Howard is hot.

  28. jacques45 says:

    Also, “1SG, make sure nobody gives PFC Howard a hard time” *wink*

    Amazing and disgusting that in a time of war and with the military hurting for experienced translators, soldiers, etc, that this policy is still in place.

    • Willie McBride says:

      Amazing and disgusting that in a time of war and with the military hurting for experienced translators, soldiers, etc, that this policy is still in place.

      Amazing and disgusting that this policy is still in place at all.

      What does it matter that someone is homosexual as long as he/she can do his/her work properly?

      All the spying, reporting, inquiring in that comics is detrimental to unit cohesion, not a gay soldier.

  29. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I thought it didn’t count if the soldiers said “no homo” afterwards?

  30. Xopher says:

    Only the soldier is forbidden to tell. Everyone else is encouraged to tell ON other people. Ratting is fine, it’s just admission or getting caught that counts as telling.

    • Felton says:

      Ah, so it’s “don’t ask the soldier; others will rat him out,” and “don’t tell; just wait to be told on.” Got it.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      That increadibly fucked up policy needs to be repealed immediately. No good can come from a climate of snitching.

  31. Mitch says:

    “No, were not homosexual, but we are willing to learn!”
    Harold Ramis, Stripes, 1981

  32. psychicpilot says:

    This, and many other comics put out by various governments, is available as a pdf download from the University of Nebraska Libraries: http://comics.unl.edu

  33. hipdadiddy says:

    Hehheh. He said “unit”.

  34. robulus says:

    Wow, I never really understood DODT before, but after seeing it laid out in simplified comic book form, clearly delineating the process and obligations of all parties involved, it really is very obvious that it’s totally unworkable.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I prefer the Ricky Gervais conduct manual:

    “don’t leave your dildoes lying about”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iT8gDysZm0

  36. Anonyman says:

    elk, I have a lot of bones to pick with your posts, and it seems to be because:

    A) Your point wanders every time you try to defend your posts, which is great if you love to argue without actually contributing to the conversation. e.g. “I honestly think gays are foolish for actually desiring a repeal of DADT.”(patronizing comment). Then “I’m not arguing for keeping DATD[sic]” What is it then elk? You support us in our “foolish” endeavor? How magnanimous of you. And, to ice the cake we have “Where you ever in the military, sir? I’m guessing the answer is no.” Nice ad hominem attack there. You know what? I’m gay and active duty Air Force and I endorse Brainspore’s opinion wholeheartedly, where does that leave you?

    Ah, that’s right, “For the vast majority, it’s already a difficult struggle to endure the military experience.” ‘Endure?’ really? It’s not prison, it’s a career. It’s not that bad. That my be just my opinion, but I don’t get the impression from the people I work with that they’re ‘enduring’ anything.

    B)Your writing is either very ambiguous/misleading, or you are, in my opinion greatly mistaken.

    “[T]he “asking” part of DADT,.” There’s actually a pretty good point buried there under all those posts, and if you had postulated simply in the first post that not removing the “don’t ask” part might be a good idea, we wouldn’t still be arguing 12 paragraphs later. I think your heart is in the right place, elk, but if someone is misunderstanding you, belittling them isn’t going to help.

  37. proletariat says:

    This post now featured on The Rachel Maddow Show!

  38. rrh says:

    I’ve worked on training material. Their faces might be bowls of mush and their phones mysteriously shrink, but you can bet their insignia is correctly positioned down to a quarter of an inch.

  39. SamSam says:

    You know, while I obviously think DADT is a terrible policy, I thought the comic itself was very clear and informative. I haven’t seen any other army comics of this kind before, so I don’t know if there are many like this. But in terms of getting the message across, and repeating it several times, I thought it was very clear.

    Also, while working within the confines of that horrible law, I think that the comic took great pains to stress, several times, that it wasn’t the orientation itself that was the issue but the conduct. Given that the law exists, I don’t think they could have produced a manual that was more neutral on the whole issue of whether or not gays should serve. I appreciate that they made that effort.

    As for the rule itself and the required tattle-telling, obviously it needs to be repealed as soon as possible.

  40. Anonymous says:

    the same government that protects me in the civil work place against discrimination, discriminates against their own in the military. so hipocritical…typical U.S. bullshit!

  41. TNGMug says:

    I can’t believe that one of the comics was “The Marijuanna Mystery with Alpha the Robot”, and the gay soldier comic gets the front page!

  42. elk says:

    ‘Gays might actually be careful what they ask for’ was the idea I tried to support. Foolish was probably the wrong word, but I’m hoping folks that carefully read into what I was saying got it.

    Interesting lecture on attacks and attitude (with same) BTW.

  43. elk says:

    ‘Gays might actually be careful what they ask for’ was the point I tried to support (imperfectly). Foolish was probably the wrong word, but I’m hoping folks that carefully read into what I was saying got it.

    Interesting lecture on attitude (with same) BTW.

    Sorry this is off topic, but can anyone share a link to a post that outlines what the gay community would actually like to replace DADT with? Thanks.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Sorry this is off topic, but can anyone share a link to a post that outlines what the gay community would actually like to replace DADT with?

      We’d like to replace it with nothing. Just plain nothing. We’d like the instructions for military personnel finding out that someone in their unit is gay to be exactly the same as it is for finding out that someone in their unit is a sci-fi fan or plays hockey or gets a stomach ache from eating raw onions.

      • BadIdeaSociety says:

        “We’d like the instructions for military personnel finding out that someone in their unit is gay to be exactly the same as it is for finding out that someone in their unit is a sci-fi fan or plays hockey or gets a stomach ache from eating raw onions.”

        So, you want the military personnel to call you a geek, a Canadian or wimp?

        I’m just kidding, but I do think that the fraternal nature of the US military has to be taken into consideration when instating policies. This comic was commissioned to explain the policy and to recommended procedures in handling it, not commissioned to justify the practice.

        Policies need to be dumbed-down in order to guarantee that those most likely to misunderstand them are easily able to understand.

        I hope that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is repealed. With it will likely be a comic book outlining that even in squads where the troops bust each other’s balls all hours of the day with insults calling the homosexual guy “gay” is not to be tolerated.

        • Anonymous says:

          “With it will likely be a comic book outlining that even in squads where the troops bust each other’s balls all hours of the day with insults calling the homosexual guy “gay” is not to be tolerated.”

          My husband has been an USAF cop for almost 22 years, and he busts anyone’s balls who uses “gay” as a derogatory term.

  44. Osno says:

    I think most of the panels should be photoshoped, and also the soldier in the first story is clearly gay, with the dreamy eyes and all… but what I love the most is that the guy is discharged for acting gay (not for *being* gay, we’re absolutely fine with that, but please don’t wear that pink shirt!!) and in the second story the reader is asked if *talking* to a group that was clearly invading another soldier’s privacy was “excessive”. This is the most politically-correct homophobia I have ever seen.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Man, does this comic beg for a gay porn parody. Sgt. “Why don’t you tell me what you saw?” “Oh, wow, that is making me hot! Is it making you hot too 1sg?” “Yes sir it is” “Well then why don’t you come over here.”

  46. weatherman says:

    What I get from reading that comic is that the DADT policy has basically caused our entire military to waste an incredible amount of resources in pursuing gays in the military, as well as discharging otherwise fine soldiers for no good reason at all, wasting all their training and expertise as a consequence.

  47. martin0641 says:

    I remember reading that when I was in the Army, it always amazed me how diverse groups of people could overcome their differences in order to unite and terrorize another group of slightly different people.

    Thats why I think humanity needs a good old fashioned alien invasion to bring us all together.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Why create a new booklet? Tom of Finland was and is superior in every way. More military, more homosexual, better message.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I’d hate to be a Howard in the military right now, cause they sure are gonna get it teasing wise.

  50. Brainspore says:

    …can anyone share a link to a post that outlines what the gay community would actually like to replace DADT with? Thanks.

    I believe it can be summarized as “don’t care because it’s completely irrelevant to one’s ability to serve.” You know, the same guidelines that pretty much any other employer in the U.S. already has to follow.

  51. elk says:

    I honestly think gays are foolish for actually desiring a repeal of DADT…right now. It’s going to invite lots and lots of trouble for them. For the vast majority, it’s already a difficult struggle to endure the military experience, gay or straight. I know the military very well, and that culture is like a severely inbred wild animal that optimists think can be “domesticated”. It doesn’t compare to fighting racial segregation at all IMO, for those who make that argument. If they want to take that step, I hope they’re prepared for what they’re in for. It’s going to be miss-handled and horribly executed and managed by the military machine for a long time, if not indefinitely.

    • Brainspore says:

      I honestly think gays are foolish for actually desiring a repeal of DADT…right now.

      How on earth could a repeal possibly leave gays worse off than they are now? It’s not like they’d be forced to out themselves any more than they already are, it would just give them the option to do so.

      It doesn’t compare to fighting racial segregation at all IMO, for those who make that argument.

      Why not, exactly?

      • elk says:

        Brainspore, I think a repeal will change things in subtle but perhaps significant ways, for instance it would be allowable to single out who’s who by those who fear homosexuality. This might work against a gay person who is more comfortable keeping their sexuality to themselves b/c that’s their personal approach to maintaining professionalism. There are gays in the military that work along side people that they know don’t understand that way and prefer to hate it and fear it (and there will always be those people in the military so long as it favors less-educated, more sheltered enlistees).

        RE: not quite the same as segregation, (I think, personally) it’s not quite the same b/c when it came to “blacks”, there was an element of fear of the unknown, vs gays, where you have fear of the known (very known) that being gay sex, particularly gay male, which is unfortunately the convenient common denominator reached for. Perhaps that too could be overcome…I just have a hard time seeing that as a realistic possibility. Whatever happens, I don’t want trouble for gays in the service b/c they can perform like anyone else.

        • Brainspore says:

          You still haven’t explained why having the option of coming out of the closet could ever make a gay soldier worse off than they are under current policy. Do you think that it should also be illegal for Muslim soldiers to practice their faith openly because many others hate or fear their religion?

          Your rationale for why this is a bigger problem to overcome than racial segregation doesn’t really fly either. At the time that the military ended that practice there were still people around who had lived under slavery, for crying out loud. You really think our collective attitude toward gays today is worse than race relations were in the 1940s?

          All your points boil down to “keep ‘em in the closet for their own good.” That’s not only discriminatory, it’s patronizing.

    • turingcub says:

      I agree that there are steps that are going to be mis-handled when/if DADT is repealed. It would be grossly out of character for the U.S. military not to F something like that up.

      However, you’re the foolish one. Your infantile fear of us serving is all too plain – try to logic your way out of it all you want. There’s no logic. You’re just afraid.

      • elk says:

        What an unfortunate reaction. You probably missed the whole point of what I was trying to communicate (not to mention my attitude towards gays).

        • Brainspore says:

          Maybe you could try explaining your point more clearly, because all I see is a halfhearted “we’re forcing them into the closet for their own good” rationalization.

  52. romulusnr says:

    It’s 404ing now.

  53. elk says:

    BTW, it looks to me that in this particular instance, you could replace wherever is says homosexual with heterosexual and it would be an accurate reflection of existing policy (including asking the question “what did you see”).

  54. inkelephant says:

    The site looks like it’s crashed from the traffic spike.

  55. jennybean42 says:

    It seems to have been taken down. Disappointing, because I wanted to read it.

  56. Anonymous says:

    It’s 404-ing, but user psychicpilot’s fantastic link above has it available, under “Dig&Resp”.

    It’s certainly going to be tough, but it’s the soldier’s choice, and at the very least, when it isn’t, they are penalized for it.

    +DADT repeal.

  57. Razzabeth says:

    I totally support DADT because of the “college loophole” previously reported here on BoingBoing. Join the army, have them pay for your college, graduate, come out of the closet. Woohoo!

  58. Anonymous says:

    You folks know that the military is only doing what Congrss and the President have directed be done, right?

    I love all you folks who think the military just decides to do things like this for the heck of it. They follow orders-if you want their order changed, pressure elected officials, and make sure they keep the promises they make. (Unlike our current fearless leader, who only remembers LGBT folks when he wants to make sure they’ll turn out to vote for the Dems. It’s an election year, so he starts talking about repealing DADT….after a long drawn out process that a) will not be done until after the election and b) plays to homopobia.

    • Anonymous says:

      According to Wikipedia, the DADT policy was created by Democratic President Bill Clinton in response to congressional opposition to gays in the military championed by Democratic Senator Sam Nunn.

      The recent “repeal bill” was sponsored by the representative from Likud, Independent Senator Joe Lieberman. Five Republicans voted for it.

      Since most Americans support repeal, I think it’s safe to say a good many representatives simply did their jobs, and voted as their constituency wished. No great moral courage was required or demonstrated. Nonetheless, the Democratic party has been sending out mass-mailings trumpeting their triumph over the evil Republican homo-haters, and people are lapping it up. I’ve had several emails forwarded to me, including one from a church, characterizing DADT as a “Republican” policy, and the Democrats as our valiant gay-friendly heroes stalwartly opposing it.

      Personally, I’m not convinced that serving in the US military is the best course for anyone, but I’ll always applaud any small step towards equality under law.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Can I just ask one simple question?
    What problem does the US military have with gays serving openly?
    Are they afraid gays will affect their work? Compromise missions? Jump you in the shower?
    Well, rest asured US Army! Nothing like that happened in countries that do allow openly gay persons to serve. E.g. all members of the EU (except for Greece…), 22 of the 26 members of the NATO (and suprise, suprise, one of those four is the USA). And in Germany you are even allowed to marry your same sex partner, which means *gasp* that a married homosexual is allowed to serve in the Army (or Bundeswehr).

    • AnthonyC says:

      Oh, most of us know it’s rubbish. Even the military knows it’s ubbish. At least, plenty of high-level brass said so recently (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/us/politics/03military.html).

      There are just enough backwards-thinking idiots and idiot politicians in this country to stay congress’ hand on the matter. Same as many of the other problems government refuses to take reasonable action onin this country.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Spoiler alert. The next page does not go into what they saw.

  61. Xeni Jardin says:

    In before Antinous.

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