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Harassment Hysteria Threatens Military Morale
September 6, 2006
by Carey Roberts

Last year Naval Academy instructor Lt. Bryan Black made a sexually-tinged remark to a female midshipman. It was not a case of rape or sexual assault. It was not even "I'll trade you a better grade for certain sexual favors." Rather, the comment was a vulgar remark - much like something you might hear during a Sex in the City re-run.

But Cupcake got offended and filed a complaint. The complaint eventually made its way to the Naval Academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt. All of sudden, Black found himself the target of a criminal investigation.

A criminal charge for salty language? What's going on here?

Tailhook, that's what.

In 1991 a group of Navy aviators touched down in Las Vegas for their Tailhook Convention, an annual round of carousing, imbibing, and other bacchanalian indulgences.

Gloss over the fact that most female personnel in attendance were repeat attendees who knew exactly what was coming. Ignore the libidinous ladies who lined up to engage in activities like "pleasuring the rhino." Pretend that the gals didn't engage in their own high-flying debauchery, including "package checks" of male genitalia and topless bartending.

And forget that Ensign Beth Warnick accused three male aviators of gang-raping her, only to later admit that she had lied so her boyfriend wouldn't learn the truth of her extra-curricular activities.

The fact was, after they sorted through all the tawdry tales, only three of the reported incidents of "sexual assault" could be considered criminal in nature.

No matter, the media began to compare Tailhook to the rape of Nanking. And feminists seized on the episode as proof of a warrior culture that needed to be brought to heel.

A full-throated -- and well-orchestrated -- hysteria over sexual harassment in the Armed Forces was about to begin. And elected officials who desired to curry favor with the feminist lobby began to call for a non-stop series of hearings, investigations, and task forces.

In 1994 the General Accounting Office did a survey on sexual harassment in the military. The GAO found that "unwanted sexual advances" ranked dead last on the list. One of the most common types of harassment, though, consisted of comments that the presence of women had lowered military standards.

That's right, men, stop griping because women can't drag a firehose across the flight deck or give the heave-ho to a 100-pound anchor. Don't you realize that such remarks are creating a hostile environment?

What has become clear from all the surveys, though, is that a crisis of false allegations now overshadows the problem of actual physical abuse.

Earlier this year the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office (SAPRO) reported on an analysis of 848 investigations. Among those alleged sexual offenses, 641 were found to be unsubstantiated, unfounded, or involved insufficient evidence. So three-quarters of the complaints were deemed unworthy of disciplinary action.

In May the Naval Academy Board of Trustees was informed that among 40 cases of alleged sexual harassment, 72% were found to be unsubstantiated or invalid.

Last year Joseph Schmitz, Inspector General of the Department of Defense, released a report on sexual harassment at the service academies. This survey featured a new twist -- it also asked about false allegations.

Among men, 72% reported that fraudulent allegations are a problem. Likewise 73% of women said false claims were cause for concern. The gals realized that frivolous allegations do nothing to enhance their standing and respect among their male peers.

So why did it take over a decade of taxpayer-funded investigations to come to that common-sense conclusion?

Recently Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness concluded, "these polls embarrass the academies, demoralize the cadets, and make the case for more lucrative contracts for 'victim advocates' . . . Feminist pork needs to be trimmed from the DoD budget, not expanded even more."

Meanwhile back in Annapolis, last January superintendent Rempt invited the Navy cadets to attend a performance of Sex Signals. Given that the play contained far more sexual innuendo and X-rated language than Lt. Black could have indulged in with Cupcake a few months before, maybe the play should have been called "Mixed Signals."

And exactly why did Vice Adm. Rempt decide to lower the boom on Bryan Black? Because Rempt had just launched a "zero-tolerance" policy on sexual harassment.

Of course, we live in a flawed world with imperfect people. So in practice, "zero-tolerance" becomes the basis for ramping up the penalties for an offense that no one can define, and abolishing due process protections for an allegation that no person can ever hope to refute.

Carey Roberts has been published frequently in the Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com, ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media Alliance.

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