Friday, January 05, 2007

Bigot, Continued

There are times, in this line of work, when I feel a bit like Prince Mishkin in Dostoevsky's The Idiot.

Sitting in the back of the five-ton this afternoon, a debate is raging on the way to work. It starts over a copy of Stars and Stripes, and the recommendation of a former Chief of Staff that gays and lesbians be allowed to serve in the Armed Forces openly. Voices are shouting to be heard over the wind and rumbling diesel engine.

It starts off between West, her boyfriend Hetfield, and Croft initially, but the shouts and boisterous laughter quickly creep in and drown out my MP3 player. I put a pause on my Deftones and pull one of my earbuds out, cocking my head to hear the discussion. Croft, the youngest soldier here, is busy holding forth:

"...soon as he started hangin' around with those faggots, they fuckin' turned him gay, I'm tellin' ya. What was his name again? Fuckin' Larry, Laurie--"

"Laramie," says Hetfield.

"Laramie, that's it! Fuckin' a, dude, that kid was a faggot if I ever saw one. Fuck, man, I was glad that kid got kicked out. I'd'a kicked his ass."

"We all woulda." This from West, a black female specialist and the last person in our platoon to be talking discrimination.

"For what," I ask. Laramie was a soldier in our company, removed from the service for possessing gay pornography. I didn't know Laramie. West and Hetfield both look at me like I'm crazy.

"He was a fuckin' fag," exclaims Hetfield. "He shouldn't be here!"

"And why not?" I lean forward on the bench, regarding him skeptically.

"Why you think," says Croft. "We don't need that shit out on a mission! Some faggot walkin' around grabbin' errbody's ass!"

"You act like that doesn't happen every day here anyway." I cock an eyebrow. Mild laughter ensues.

"You know what I mean."

"No, I don't, sorry." I shake my head. I fix Croft with an even stare. 'Someone tell me how a person's sexuality diminishes their ability to fight?" Croft says nothing. He makes as if to retort, then looks at his feet awkwardly. He pauses.

"I just can't stand to have no faggots around me. Can't fuckin' stand it."

I snort. "Why? Afraid one might think you're pretty?"

"Hell yeah I am!" The soldiers around us laugh.

"Whatever." I smirk. "You're just afraid you might like it."

"Hey fuck you, man!"

"You ain't got weak sales resistance, do ya Croft?"

"Man, fuck that."

"Apparently so. Anyway, so what the fuck would you do if a gay guy actually hit on you, huh? What... a simple 'no, thank you,' not good enough?"

West cuts in. "Yeah, but that don't always mean they stop."

I turn my fire on her. "Bullshit it doesn't! I have never known a gay guy to persist where his advances weren't wanted. Christ, this is the Army, not prison!"

"What about that guy in Texas," she asks. "He was all on the run an' shit, and what was we doin'? RAPIN' MEN!" She puffs up a bit, as though this trumps my arguments. Cheers and shouts of assent come from the male soldiers around her.

"Yeah, West. Rapist, key word there. Gay does not mean rapist. Think about what you just said." Christ. I can feel myself growing palpably more irritable by the moment.

West switches tactics. "Doesn't matter. It's a sin, anyway. God says it's a sin."

"Religion says it's a sin. Religion. God only says it's wrong because WE think it's wrong."

"Uh uh! It don't work like that, man!"

"Prove it. For all the talk I hear of 'Ohh, I'm a Christian,' I sure don't see a lot of supposedly Christian values up in this bitch. I don't give a fuck if it IS a sin, it's not your fuckin' place to judge a person for that shit."

"We ain't gotta judge 'em," says Hetfield, "but iss still a sin. They still gotta count for that shit on the Day, yo."

"See?" I shoot back. "That's a judgement in and of itself! Christ never once said shit about anybody's sins. He ate with prostitutes and tax collector, man! Lepers and cheating wives, and you know what? He never judged. Not fuckin' once. And you know why? Because he was all about Compassion, some shit y'all motherfuckers here obviously wouldn't know a damn thing about!"

I stop talking, to realize the truck has fallen silent. Everyone is staring. I snort, and shake my head. Croft is staring at me, dumbfounded, trying to fight a laugh. I turn back on him.

"Don't use that kind of language around me again, all right? You're talking about my friends, my fuckin' family here, and I don't wanna hear it." I wait a second for his response. Croft says nothing.

I shake my head again, then reinsert my earbud. I go back to my Deftones, livid.

Prince Mishkin, I think to myself. Swear to God.


Blogger jennster said...

um., i'm trying to comment.. did it work? lol

7:32 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

okay, that one did! here we go...
are these real people?~?!! is this a real conversation or are you reading a book or something? please tell me it's not real. lol

7:32 PM  
Blogger Spc. Freeman said...

Oh, it's real. Every bit of it. You see what I get to deal with.

7:36 PM  
Blogger CawfeeGuy said...

you had me at Prince Mishkin. great entry.

fyi: if a fag actually WANTS to serve in the military, more power to him. as for the dykes, i say g'head girl. you've never seen anything scarier than a lesbian, built like john goodman, with a buzzcut and a rifle.

7:47 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

good god. that is painful. i would want to beat ass. you know though- people are ignorant when it comes to things they aren't familiar with. AND, so many "christ-like" people are SO freaking judgemental.. it's contradictory to all hell.
good for you for standing up to them.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Good on YOU, Milo! Unbelievable and unbelievably sad... keep your feet firmly planted in what you believe in and lets all hope those people are still reliving the conversation and LEARN something from it.

8:57 PM  
Blogger iamcoyote said...

Good on you, Milo, but I say "watch your back." Jeff Huber (former Navy Commander) at Dkos is saying that the shuffling of Negroponte and the commanders at CENTCOM pretty much assures an attack on Iran. In that case, you guys are gonna be in a world of shit, and if you think it's lawless now, wait until chaos falls. You won't be able to count on those guys to cover your back if they're holding a grudge against you for pointing out their bigotry. People don't like to be shown that they're wrong, believe me. And you don't want people with guns angry at you, that's for sure! But good on you, it's hard to be silent in the face of such ignorance.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

I can't imagine hanging out with people who have never had an original thought in their entire life. Guess the military doesn't give any independent thinking classes. Maybe the Commander in Grief could give a few - ha!

10:55 PM  
Blogger toadman said...

Good for you. Score another for intelligent, rational, thought. Keep it up Freeman. You can do it...change world, one ripple at a time.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Quinn said...

That guy's afraid he'll get unwanted sexual approaches all the time? Welcome to life as a woman, bastard.

2:10 AM  
Blogger OffTheFence said...

Hi Milo,

Here from L & L. Listen to iamcoyote to keep your protection. Good job on providing the education.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I had the same reaction as coyote, not about Iran not that I don't believe that couldn't go down but Bush would hear the winds of impeachment howling up his bowlegged Texas ass, but I worry you don't alienate your crew, it's a tough one, nobody should have to take that kind of hate but you ain't in a university coffee shop having it out with frat boys.

3:51 PM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

I was hopin' someone'd say what Quinn did.

I was gonna say "you got Balls, bro! Mondo Cahones!" But I believe that what you really have is something far more rare and much more necessary for a fair world: integrity and a brain you ain't afraid to engage at any given time.

Kudos, amigo.

I'd just suggest that it's more the brass than your cohorts 'round whom you may want to contain your indignations. I think there's little doubt that clowns like Boykins and Kuzlarich don't know the effects of their orders before giving them. I'd say we all want you to have that Long and Full life so we can trade you cash for some kick-ass new Lit we think you'll be creating! (Yeah, I'm a selfish bastard. So sue me! {-; )

Some regrets for stands not taken really are worth having, eh.

4:20 PM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

Arrrgh! They DO know the effects of their orders. Stay safe. Be you.


4:23 PM  
Blogger GiG said...

I've spent years around the military, first with my stepdad, then my ex hubby and I can so picture the conversation that took place...the ignorance, mentality and bigotry of so many still blows my mind.

Good for you for speaking up, hopefully it got some of them thinking.

Stay safe.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Mike Kretzler said...

Good for you for speaking up. That takes the kind of courage a gun's no help with. Take care.

9:14 PM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

What Quinn said. Jeezus. Maybe next time Croft's comin' onto a woman who isn' t interested, he'll remember this mome--nah. Probably not.

You got guts, mon ami, but I worry about you over there. Discretion. Valor. And I say that, knowing damned well I'd've shot my mouth off, too, on that subject.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

I'm with Bob and coyote -- be careful, Milo.

10:10 PM  
Blogger .25 life crisis kid said...

This post was amazing and extremely well written. What a poignant conversation. Good for you.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Seven of Six said...

Christ Milo, to think, when I was in; I hated the smelly fuckers who didn't bathe! You know, they'd give your position away in a minute. Usually, 'Top' would take care of that though!

Keep your chin up and head down, bro!

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Alice said...

It is AMAZING how much hate there is in this world. How disgusting. I could feel my blood pressure rise while reading this entry. Some ppl make me sick...

2:41 PM  
Anonymous WitchWay11 said...

Good for you for speaking up. As I said in a previous comment, I'm new and loving your writing more and more by the post. Keep it up!

6:05 PM  

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