Saturday, July 29, 2006

Don't Act, Don't Trill: Thespians in the Military

If you want to know why we have the best military in the world, you need look no further than the case of Sgt. Bleu Copas. Copas was a decorated Arabic language specialist in the Army stationed at the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. After receiving a number of anonymous emails alleging that Copas was gay, his superiors launched an investigation. On December 2 of last year, Army interrogators, whose skills have been honed from years of extracting valuable information from terrorists, pummeled Copas with questions. They asked him if "he understood the military's policy on homosexuals, if he had any close acquaintances who were gay" and if he had "ever engaged in homosexual activity or conduct." Of course, the fact that he wanted to learn Arabic in the first place was already highly suspect and his alleged homosexuality alone would be incompatible with military service. But these factors were not the main reason for Copas's discharge. After interrogators had worn him down, they posed the question that would finally hammer the nail in the coffin of his military career: They asked "if he was involved in community theater. He answered affirmatively." Once investigators had confirmed their suspicions of Copas's thespianism, he was discharged from the military.

I must say I was shocked to learn that community theater actors have infiltrated our armed forces. It turns out that while he was serving in the military, unbeknownst to his superiors, Bleu Copas (whose name sounds like a stage name, which should have been a clue) had acted in three community theater musical productions: Ragtime, Children of Eden, and Beauty and the Beast. And apparently he has not reformed his theatrical ways since being drummed out of the military as he has just been cast as the male lead in a production of Bye, Bye Birdie. I don't know how many of you have seen a community theater production, but I can tell you from horrifying first-hand experience that community theater is not very good at all. The thought of one of our fighting men tromping around onstage with a bunch of amateur actors in front of slapped together plywood scenery singing wretched show tunes is just too horrible to imagine. I don't know how many other soldiers are currently involved in community theater but I think the Pentagon needs to launch a full-scale investigation immediately. If it turns out that there is a cabal of thespians in the military recruiting other soldiers to perform in sad little theaters across the country, it needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible for the safety of our country.

Recently, there have been misleading reports in the liberal media that the military was so desperate for recruits that it was lowering its standards to take just about anyone. They claim that the military has been recruiting skinheads (who seem to be perfectly good soldier material to me) and placing ads on the pornographic website MySpace. But I think this case demonstrates that are certain levels the military will not stoop to. Already the military has discharged 55 Arabic language specialists for being gay (who knew that Arabic was such a gay language?). Sure, it might make it a little more difficult for us to intercept enemy radio communications in Iraq and make interrogations of enemy soldiers a tad more time-consuming, but I think it would be a lot worse if we threw all of our American values out the door for the sake of expediency. What in fact are we fighting for if not our principles and values? Besides, I think our new interrogation methods render the language barrier a non-issue.

When Colin Powell crafted the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, he said he believed "it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline to try to integrate gays and lesbians in the current military structure." Powell knew from his own experience as one of the first African-Americans to rise through the ranks of the integrated Army that there are good kinds of integration and bad kinds of integration. He knew that the most important thing for a member of the military, as it is for a member of the Bush Administration, is to fit in and be perceived as a team player. Women have been let into the military as long as they are tough enough, but not too tough, if you know what I mean. And if someone is too gay to hide their sexuality from their superiors, then clearly they aren't right for the Army. But as long as gay people stay in the closet where they belong and don't do anything that would lead someone to send anonymous emails outting them, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to serve in the military. In fact, as male grooming practices evolve with the influence of Metrosexuals and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, gay soldiers are finding it even easier to blend in.

But community theater players are different. You can spot them a mile away by the way they overemote, declaim too loudly and don't seem to know what to do with their hands. There is no way that such people can fit into our well-oiled military machine. Amateur actors are also easily prone to blackmail. All the enemy would have to do is offer one of them a lead in a local Iraqi production of Jesus Christ Superstar and he would be spilling our most guarded military secrets. I'm glad to see that the Pentagon has its priorities straight, so to speak, in keeping these bad actors out of the theater of battle.

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BenMerc said...

So, basically what you are saying is there will an undue increase in competition for lead parts in “community theatre” all across the nation.
And of course in keeping with the Administrations current protocol and methodology, we shall experience even less rational communication in our abilities to function in that “other theatre" we are engaged in...Glade to see this whole mess has been “straightened” out.

g1lgam3sh said...

Zut Alors Guy Debord.

In this society which seemingly can't wait to make a Spectacle of itself, it is gratifying, now and then, to meet an auteur oder so.

Truly you get worse, in a betterer kind of way of course.

outofcontext said...

The military is being hasty here. This could be the administration's way around this whole "Hamdan" thing. Imagine how a handful of these guys touring detention centers in The Mikado could soften up detainees for interrogation. Gilbert and Sullivan doesn't leave marks the eyes can see.

Thursday said...

Hey, now! Don't be too rough on those theatre set builders - who do you think provided the armour for the military vehicles? Cheaply, too!

On a more serious note, sexuality in the Arabic world is very different than in the west: homosexuality just doesn't have the same stigma, so it's really no surprise that some of the folks acting as arabic interpreters have had homosexual encounters.

Blogenfreude said...

To me, the line is Andrew Lloyd Webber. Community theater? Fine ... just don't dress up as a pussy.

clarke said...

"...and don't seem to know what to do with their hands."

God DAMN that's funny.

Sporty said...

Acting in synchronicity with my inner thespian, I shout, "Bravo! Bravo!" to brave Jon Swift!

The Truffle said...

Suppose a gay entertainer--say, Lance Bass--wants to perform for the troops? I mean with the USO, sillies, not the other kind of performing. Should he be allowed to make the trip or stay home?

Anonymous said...

Jon Swift, you are a fucking idiot! i could kick your fucking ass if i knew where you were from. o ya i forgot to let you know im in theater, i have performed in many shows. i also take ballet. im a wrestler as well. do yourself a favor and shut the fuck up.

thepoetryman said...

Shit! I'm gay? Oh. Well. My wife won't be too disappointed...

What a sad phobic country/woeld we live in... I've always had to question the motives of those that say this is the land of the free and then spend most of their time denying the citizenry the freedoms they say our brave are defending. Complete madness. It's King Lear!

Anonymous said...

wow I think I just read an account of a poor, poor soul from the uncivilized world. The poor fellow has the brains of a squished melon and is obviously uncultured because he has no appreciation or respect for the arts or those invovled. Tsk. Tsk. His Stupidity is heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that this is a joke. You cannot seriously think (unless you are the most naive person in the world) that being involved with community theatre in any way affects an individual's capability of military service. If you do believe your words, you are a disgrace to this nation and to its values: of EQUALITY.

don said...

Yes, I'm afraid we let that sort of thing take root in the British army, and look at the result;

Xyz said...

That was brilliant satire-- I laughed hysterically. It was a satire, right?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's a satire. He calls himself Jonathan Swift and uses the actual image of the original Swift!

Those who call him uncultured only show their own lack thereof. Swift is famous for a Modest Proposal, where he takes digs at the English for starving the Irish, but under the guise of suggesting if the Irish would only eat their babies the famine would be solved.

Our new Swift, like Colbert, pretends to agree with things he thinks are shocking in order to expose the level of ignorance of the positions he pretends to take.

Although there is something to be said for worrying about the loyalty of trouper troopers who are offered a lead in a favoured play. I'm a thespian, too, and I know some people will do anything for the lead role.

--Samantha Vimes

L said...

ha ha ha ha ha! love this one

MediaBloodhound said...

Jon, maybe if you included a warning label on each post:

sat·ire n.

1. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

CAUTION: Satire is not intended for the humorless. May cause partisan confusion. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading. People who suffer from an irony deficiency should avoid Jon Swift.

Rick Sincere said...

Mr. Swift, you may wish to point out that your article is satire -- except for the underlying news report on which it was based. The armed forces are, indeed, expelling Arab-language translators and interpreters, despite their scarcity. And Sgt. Bleu Copas was actually asked about his community-theatre experience during his interrogation.

Rev. Dan said...

Yes, it's cliche to cite dictionary definitions, but it appears that a few folks here (in the comments) have no idea what satire is:

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

> Mr. Swift, you may wish to point out that your article is satire -- except for the underlying news report on which it was based.

Mocking lunacy doesn't support lunacy.