Wash. Times' Pruden continues assault on gay men and lesbians in military

››› ››› BROOKE OBIE

In an anti-gay screed, Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden wrote that "[t]here's really not very much gay about war," but that "[y]ou might think war is endless gaiety, like Mardi Gras, from this week's coverage of" Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen's February 2 testimony on repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). This is only the most recent offense in Pruden's and the Washington Times' long history of anti-gay rhetoric and smears, including Pruden's prior statements that those who support allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military want to "make the barracks safe for sodomy," and that doing so would "render [the military] inoperable for the convenience of puffs and poofs."

Pruden's latest attack on gays and lesbians in the military: "Nothing gay about this mission"

Pruden: "There's really not very much gay about war," contrary to media's image of "endless gaiety, like Mardi Gras." In a February 5 Washington Times op-ed headlined "Nothing gay about this mission," Pruden attacked repealing DADT by asserting that "there's really not very much gay about war" and that the military is "organized for a simple ultimate mission, to kill people and break things." He also stated that Mullen "wanted to talk mostly about how he's not like the homophobes," adding: "Navies once took small boys aboard ship as cabin boys to make life pleasant for the officers, and that seemed to work out all right. So what's the big deal?" From the article:

There's really not very much gay about war, as anybody who has seen a battlefield up close and personal will tell you. The nation's Army and Navy are organized for a simple ultimate mission, to kill people and break things.

You might think war is endless gaiety, like Mardi Gras, from this week's coverage of Senate Armed Services Committee hearings about whether to repeal the law enabling homosexuals to serve in the armed forces so long as nobody asks and they don't tell.

The military services have always discriminated against a lot of people in choosing who they want for the grim tasks and brutal duties of war. Congress and the courts have always granted the services wide latitude. The old, the halt, the lame, the one-legged man and even the man with flat feet are not allowed to serve, either. It would never have occurred to the generations who won America's wars to question such common sense. Now we have pregnant sailors and routinely send mothers of small children off to do the work of men, so why not oblige men who look upon other men with lust?

[...]

Adm. Mullen wanted to talk mostly about how he's not like the homophobes who resist introducing confusion and uncertainty into the ranks. Navies once took small boys aboard ship as cabin boys to make life pleasant for the officers, and that seemed to work out all right. So what's the big deal?

Pruden's war on gay men and lesbians in the military

Editor-in-chief Pruden unleashed wave of anti-gay attacks after U.K. allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly. After the United Kingdom lifted its ban on gay men and lesbians serving in the military in response to a European court ruling, then-editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden used his January 14, 2000, Times column to unleash a barrage of anti-gay attacks, including:

  • The European Union "wants to make the barracks safe for sodomy." Pruden wrote: "The European Union, wiping away all vestiges of 'discrimination,' wants to make the barracks safe for sodomy. Britain, 'the sceptr'd isle' that has been home for centuries to a race of kings, submitted to the Europeans this week and agreed to open the barracks to men and women, gays and lesbians, known and unknown. Maybe even queens and cross-dressers, given the English taste for the royally erotic. Rule, Britannia."
  • Banning gay men and lesbians from military prevents violence against "a randy gay caballero [who] starts making eyes at a straight." Pruden wrote: "Soldiers are by definition a bit rough, if not coarse, and not always just around the edges. An instinct for violence is refined in an army, and prized as an attribute to be shaped to positive ends. ... Only someone who has never been in a barracks is unable to imagine what will happen when a randy gay caballero starts making eyes at a straight who is making eyes at that cute little gruntess in the next bunk."
  • Allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military would "render it unoperable for the convenience of puffs and poofs." Pruden wrote: "The feminist and homosexual advocates of dismantling the American military, eager to render it inoperable for the convenience of puffs and poofs, will no doubt cite the European rulings as needed guidance for the Pentagon. The New York Times, no friend of a rough, tough military, observes that the latest ruling 'brings Britain into line with almost all other NATO nations, including France, Canada and Germany,' and adds primly: 'The United States, with its 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, is at variance with that trend.' "
  • "A little gay spooning after 'lights out' isn't likely to hurt troops nobody counts on." Pruden wrote: "What most of us are too diplomatic, too polite, just too darn nice to say, is that except for the English it probably doesn't matter very much. From the record in World War II, the last real test of military prowess for the Europeans, we can reasonably conclude that European women may be better fighters than European men, anyway. A little gay spooning after 'lights out' isn't likely to hurt troops nobody counts on." [Retrieved from Nexis]

Pruden: Gay rights activist warned Clinton "if he insists on backing down on his promise to put a little gaiety in the barracks they'll hit him with their purses." In his June 25, 1993, column, Pruden commented on President Bill Clinton's attempt to repeal the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military: "One of Mr. Clinton's own best friends, David Mixner, a White House aide and a member of a group called Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality, warned the president yesterday that if he insists on backing down on his promise to put a little gaiety in the barracks they'll hit him with their purses." [Retrieved from Nexis]

Wash. Times claimed promoters of purported "gay agenda" were using military issue to force "public support of the gay lifestyle." In a March 21, 1993, editorial -- published during Pruden's tenure as editor-in-chief -- the Times argued that calls to drop the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military were just a ploy to force the public to support the "gay lifestyle": "Third, military service is not the real gay agenda. The real agenda is to use the military as a steppingstone to forced public support of the gay lifestyle. Experts agree that at least some homosexual conduct is learned. U.S. tax money should not sanction that learning process." [Retrieved from Nexis]

Wash. Times' history of anti-gay rhetoric

In addition to the paper's commentary on the prospect of gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, both Pruden himself and the Times' editorial board during his tenure as editor-in-chief frequently featured anti-gay commentary on a variety of topics.

Pruden falsely suggested AIDS hasn't killed "millions," consistently downplays HIV/AIDS. In a June 17, 2008, Washington Times column, Pruden asserted of the AIDS virus: "We were all supposed to be dead now, done in by AIDS, the gift of the gays," and subsequently downplayed the number of deaths attributable to AIDS. Contrary to his suggestion, AIDS has in fact killed millions. In his Washington Times columns stretching back at least to 1989, Pruden has repeatedly downplayed the impact of HIV/AIDS. For instance, he asserted in a 2005 column that "after all these years AIDS remains a disease almost altogether of homosexuals and drug addicts and the unfortunate women who hang out with them." [The Washington Times, 2/22/05, from Nexis]

Pruden: Federal lawyers "could argue" that "sodomy in the age of AIDS is a worldwide health hazard." In his December 10, 2002, column, Pruden wrote: "The Supreme court's new sodomy case revists settled law that the state has a legitimate interest in prohibiting unnatural sexual relations. The government's lawyers could argue, but probably won't that sodomy is a public-health issue, as sodomy in the age of AIDS is a worldwide health hazard, like smoking [but unlike smoking, highly contagious]. ... The government might lose this time; the Supreme Court could reason that government snoops have no place in anybody's bedroom, homo- or hetero-." [The Washington Times, 12/10/02, from Nexis]

Wash. Times warned of a possible gay "assault upon traditional norms and values." A July 25, 2001, Times editorial discussed whether there "is such a thing as the 'gay agenda' ":

Is there such a thing as the "gay agenda"? In other words, are efforts to enact various laws, such as those forbidding "discrimination" against homosexuals and allowing gay "marriage" simply the leading edge of an ever-broadening assault upon traditional norms and values, as conservatives have argued for years? Here's a test case to help you decide.

In Sacramento, Calif., state legislators are poised to pass a bill that would prohibit bias against -- and here we quote the report of this newspaper's Thomas D. Elias -- "Transsexuals, drag queens, effeminate men, 'butch' women and anyone else who doesn't manifest common sex traits and behavior." The bill has already passed the state Assembly and prospects appear good for eventual passage in the state Senate. Its chief sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, says her measure merely "adds gender-appearance discrimination to sex discrimination in the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act." Her bill would require, among other things, that workers notify their employers of their sexual identity -- or pending "change" -- before making any claims of sex-gender-appearance discrimination.

[...]

You'll have to decide for yourself whether that comprises an "agenda" or not. [retrieved from the Nexis database]

Wash. Times lauded Boy Scouts of America for refusal "to bend to passing fancy, i.e. the embrace of open homosexuality." In a June 17, 2001, editorial, the Times condemned the backlash the Boy Scouts of America received due to the lawsuit that James Dale brought against the organization; Dale had been rejected for an adult leadership position and fired from his position as an assistant scoutmaster after Boy Scouts of America learned that he was gay. The Times also praised the organization for refusing to "bend to passing fancy, i.e. the embrace of open homosexuality" and defended its decision to "refus[e] to permit an openly homosexual young man to continue in his capacity as a leader/role model for young boys":

The Boy Scouts have stubbornly refused to bend to passing fancy, i.e. the embrace of open homosexuality. For this, they have been viciously attacked by the forces of political correctness, branded as homophobes and bigots. They have been barred from the public school facilities they depend upon for venues to hold their monthly meetings. They have been forbidden from using public facilities -- or denied the use of facilities, such as campgrounds, that were formerly made available to them at no cost.

All of this because the Scout Law and Scout Oath represent the moral code and value system of a dying era -- one in which those things we might subsume under the term, "family values" have become inappropriate, in bad taste, even. And more precisely, because the organization refused to permit an openly homosexual young man to continue in his capacity as a leader/role model for young boys. Twenty years ago, such a decision would not have raised an eyebrow; today it is the emblem of hateful discrimination.

[...]

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott summed it up best when he said, 'I don't know quite how to react to the fact that in America now, even the Boy Scouts seem to be under attack ... are motherhood and apple pie next? Is nothing sacred anymore?'"

Unfortunately, the answer to that question appears to be that no, nothing is sacred anymore -- beyond blind adherence to whatever voguish notion the radical left decides to be the order of the day. All else is to be swept away, including an organization whose old-fashioned ideas of moral certainty no longer fit the times. [retrieved from Nexis]

Wash. Times praised Boy Scouts as "one of the last remaining bastions of American culture that has not bowed to the gay agenda." In a June 30, 2000, editorial, the Times applauded the Boy Scouts of America for being "one of the last remaining bastions of American culture that has not bowed to the gay agenda":

Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected the idea, which had been upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court, that the Boy Scouts had no fundamental right to exclude would-be members who do not subscribe to or conform with the organization's most basic tenets. In this particular instance, the Boy Scouts withdrew the membership of former Assistant Scoutmaster James Dale, an adult volunteer, after learning of his homosexual lifestyle. This, of course, put the Boy Scouts in the gunsights as one of the last remaining bastions of American culture that has not bowed to the gay agenda -- which demands not merely live-and-let live tolerance, but total acceptance -- indeed, emphatic endorsement. [retrieved from Nexis]

Wash. Times repeatedly called gay rights activists "the lavender lobby." In several editorials, the Times referred to gay rights activists as "the lavender lobby." For example:

  • "Hollywood is watching 'Brokeback Mountain,' about a couple of cowboys in hot pursuit of sodomy in Wyoming, to see whether it's the 'breakthrough' to a vast new audience that can be exploited with a rash of movies pandering to the lavender lobby." [The Washington Times, 12/29/05]
  • "The gay caballeros down South are grousing that Mr. Parrish's defense strategy makes it open season on all those of alternative lifestyles. As usual with exponents of more rights for me and fewer for you, the lavender lobby wants the federal leviathan to march in pronto." [The Washington Times, 12/13/94, from Nexis]
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Person
Wesley Pruden
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.