The sexual scandal that has hit the military is not new; its public nature is, however. There have always been stories of high ups in the military that were given over to extra-marital affairs. George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower come to mind. Even so, there has been a strict code of conduct among military personnel. Now that code is being reviewed:
“According to a statement released by the Department of Defense, [Leon] Panetta believes that while the ‘vast majority’ of U.S. general officers continue to abide by traditional ethical standards, he has nonetheless become concerned about the spike in alleged misbehavior among a rising number of flag officers spanning the Army, Navy and Marines.
“‘Over the past several months, the Secretary has spoken with the service secretaries, service chiefs, and combatant commanders about those instances when senior officers have not lived up to the standards expected of them. This has been an ongoing discussion reflecting shared concerns,’ the DOD release said. ‘This week, the Secretary directed General Dempsey to work with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review how to better foster a culture of stewardship among our most senior military officers. This process is intended to reinforce and strengthen the standards that keep us a well led and disciplined military.’”
Why the uptick in sexual indiscretion? Has something changed in the military? I believe it has: Homosexuality was put on a moral and rational par with heterosexuality.
I’ve always believed that the reason homosexuality is supported in greater numbers today is because its legitimacy makes lesser sexual encounters seem to be equally morally acceptable, maybe even more so.
If the unnatural and once-thought-of immoral practice of homosexuality is now normalized for the military, then why should once prohibited immoral heterosexual practices be outlawed for military personnel?
The late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan described this phenomenon in a 1993 paper as “Defining Deviancy Down,” defined by Suzanne Fields as “lowering the bar for what was once considered deviant behavior, giving a pass to things society once scorned.”
Moynihan started from Emile Durkheim’s proposition that there is a limit to the amount of deviant behavior any community can “‘afford to recognize’ and that, accordingly, we have been re-defining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, and also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard. This redefining has evoked fierce resistance from defenders of ‘old’ standards, and accounts for much of the present ‘cultural war. . . .’”
As the amount of deviancy increases, the community adjusts its standards so that conduct once thought deviant is no longer considered so. What seems like a trivial accommodation today devolves over time into extravagant ways generationally.
The military no longer has a moral compass. Some of it may have to do with the wars they are called on to fight with no moral justification and the destruction they leave in their wake and the tragedies they bring home with them.