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A Very Volokh Valentine:

Reading a biography of Alexander the Great (Agnes Savill, Alexander the Great and His Time), I came across the following:

The famous Theban band [of male lovers] was renowned for its heroism; the lovers swore to live or die together and were invincible in war. To gain the admiration of his friend, a young man attempted deeds of valour; the praise of his companion was to him more precious than that of any relative or superior officer.

Not quite invincible, it seems. At the battle of Chaeronea on August 2, 338 B.C., the Greeks were arrayed against the forces of Philip of Macedon, Alexander's father. The Greeks' very independence was at stake, and both Theban and Athenian armies allied to defend it against Macedon. Key to the Theban military was the Theban Sacred Band, the group of 150 pairs of same-sex lovers Savill refers to above. For decades they had been considered the elite of the Theban army. Now they faced the better trained and more experienced Macedonian forces under Alexander's command. In hard-fought battle, the Sacred Band was decimated. Here Savill picks up the narrative again:

When Philip saw the bodies of the fallen lovers after the battle of Chaeronea, he exclaimed with tears: "Perish the man who suspects that these men ever did or suffered anything base."

It is an extraordinary moment: an enemy commander paying tearful tribute to the bravery of an opposing forced comprised of a group of homosexual lovers. Not for Philip, it seems, the peculiar modern American notion that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. Philip is defending the Theban Band against those — and there were such people and regions even in ancient Greece — who would condemn them as vile or disgusting for their very love. In fact, this is among the first times in recorded history that a person of Philip's stature championed the basic dignity and worth of same-sex couples. He speaks to us today, Valentine's Day, more than 2300 years later.

Annonymous coward (mail):
Decimated? Meaning 30 casualties out of a possible 300?
2.14.2006 9:36pm
Kovarsky (mail):
title of the play:

all's square in love and war
2.14.2006 9:47pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Interesting stuff.

I was thinking recently, one of the coups of the Conspiracy is to force people like me to read right wing stuff that we otherwise wouldn't, because of the very interesting and moderate posts from some of the professors (or most of them, occasionally).

Good to see that this may now be working somewhat in the other direction as well.
2.14.2006 10:09pm
anonymous22:
Beyond the maudlin sentimentality of Dale's post I suspect there are serious issues to be discussed concerning gays in the military. For example, in confinement situations men often turn to homosexuality. Imagine, now, if this were explicitly tolerated as a matter of federal policy. I think, given popular attitudes, that it would lower the prestige of the military and make young men less willing to join, because they would be worried about being perceived as a homosexual or perhaps becoming homosexual themselves. As an analogy, consider popular derision at homosexual prison relationships-- this is one of the main reasons serving time in prison is viewed as something demeaning rather than a badge of honor.
2.14.2006 10:12pm
anonymous22:
In response to Marcus's post, I don't think what Dale wrote was especially left-wing as it was sentimental and romantic. I don't read Volokh to indulge my inner romantic, and as Justice Sutherland wrote (Euclid v. Ambler Realty), "A nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place -- like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard."
2.14.2006 10:15pm
FXKLM:
I support gays in the military, but I have to disagree with this post. A single example of a culture that encouraged homosexual soldiers is very weak evidence that opposition to gays in the military is a "peculiar modern American notion." Homophobia may be wrong, but it's silly to pretend that it's historically peculiar.
2.14.2006 10:16pm
Kovarsky (mail):
anonymous,

not to point out the obvious, but if the military allowed gays to serve openly then straight members would face less, not more, suspicion that they were secretly homosexual.
2.14.2006 10:22pm
Ian (www):
Anonymous22~

You're argument seems to be:

1) Otherwise heterosexual men in confinement will inevitably find their self-will eradicated by an uncontrolable desire to have sex with each other.

2) Although their self-will is so easily eradicated, the mere presence of a regulation forbidding such behavior will be enough to return them to their senses.

3) Absent such regulation, news of the inevitable gay orgies will leak to the general populace, who will be scared to death of joining the military, because the military will obviously then be viewed as a place where only sissy-boys hang out, and they don't want to be seen as sissy-boys.

Even if I accepted that the presence of gay sex in the military would scare away potential recruits, it is nothing short of incredible to claim that the only thing allowing me to cling to heterosexuality is the presence of a law prohibiting my apparently latent homosexual urges.

I hope, for my girlfriend's sake, that no one ever tells me about Lawrence v. Texas, else I might lose my apparently tenuous grasp on heterosexuality.
2.14.2006 10:23pm
Kovarsky (mail):
great now o'reilly's going to start arguing the greek historians have a "homosexual agenda."

what does that even mean?
2.14.2006 10:28pm
anonymous22:
Ian, I don't think it is very controversial that the military is an environment where there are no women, and that in confinement situations men often turn to other men. Again, there is little empirical dispute on this point. Of course, U.S. society does not present such a confinement situation, which is why your Lawrence-girlfriend point is a straw-man (and rather silly heterosexual posturing-- I am not suggesting that heterosexuality is a tenuous thing in general).
2.14.2006 10:29pm
Mikeyes (mail):
In a letter to the Washington Post, who said: "You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight"?

Of course a real conservative (like me) wouldn't really say this, would they?
2.14.2006 10:30pm
anonymous22:
And, oh yes, I do believe that punishing men for engaging in sex with other men will generally prevent such behavior.
2.14.2006 10:30pm
Cornellian (mail):
For example, in confinement situations men often turn to homosexuality. Imagine, now, if this were explicitly tolerated as a matter of federal policy.

It is tolerated as a matter of federal policy. When was the last time you heard a federal politician express any concern for the victims of prison rape? Consensual same-sex activity is, of course, a threat to the very foundations of our civilization. Non-consensual same-sex activity is, in contrast, something to be ignored, if not laughed at.
2.14.2006 10:31pm
Perseus (mail):
This use and abuse of ancient history really frosts me.

The homosexual love in question was pederasty (which no doubt would earn the enthusiastic approval of NAMBLA).

Not surprisingly, the relationship was both highly unequal and ephemeral (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1157a1-15; 1164a2-14).

And indeed such relationships were designed to be unequal and ephemeral because they existed to serve the ends of the polis, not the oikos, which is the main focus of the peculiar concerns of the modern day bourgeois (e.g., SSM).

So I find it difficult to see precisely how Philip speaks to us today.
2.14.2006 10:32pm
anonymous22:
I don't know when the "Prison Rape Toleration Act" was passed by Congress, but Cornellian is apparently so convinced that such a policy exists that he thinks it is a devastating counter-argument to my points.
2.14.2006 10:34pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Pederasty? How old do you think Greek warriors were?
2.14.2006 10:34pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Perseus,

Yeah thank goodness older men never shacked up with younger women in, uh, history.

Also, I don't really get the implication about the pederasty? So what? Is the argument that homosexuality correlates with pederasty?

I'm guessing your resentment of the coercive trappings of the relationship doesn't necessarily align you with katherine mackinnon, though.
2.14.2006 10:39pm
Shangui (mail):
the military is an environment where there are no women

What organization was Lynndie England in, the girls scouts?


consider popular derision at homosexual prison relationships-- this is one of the main reasons serving time in prison is viewed as something demeaning rather than a badge of honor.


Well, in some circles (and quite strongly heterosexual ones as far as I can tell, such as gangs and the mafia) it is considered something of a badge of honor. The fact that it's obviously not from the point of view of the general populace might be because, say, IT'S PUNISHMENT FOR A CRIME.
2.14.2006 10:40pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
Exactly the same unit cohesion arguments were used to resist the racial integration of the military. So much for their plausibility.
2.14.2006 10:41pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Anonymous22,

It's Valentine's day. If you didn't want to hear maudlin sentimentality today, you probably should have stayed in bed.

As to pigs in parlors, you sound pretty classy yourself.
2.14.2006 10:41pm
Cornellian (mail):
A consistent refusal to do anything about a problem is a policy. It doesn't need to have a statute named after it.

Ian, I don't think it is very controversial that the military is an environment where there are no women, and that in confinement situations men often turn to other men.

Umm, you are aware that women are now allowed to serve in the military? That plenty of them mysteriously become pregnant while on active duty? That male soldiers have plenty of contact with females ones, even soldiers in male-only combat positions? In other words, the military is neither male only, nor a situation of "confinement." And if being confined with other men leads to irresistable homosexual urges (highly doubtful) how is "don't ask don't tell" going to stop that?
2.14.2006 10:44pm
Ian (www):
Anonymous22~

There are so many errors in your statement I don't know where to begin, but I'll try to address them point by point:

Ian, I don't think it is very controversial that the military is an environment where there are no women

As of 2001, 199,850 women served in the United States Armed forces. At that time, 91% of all duty assignments were open to women. Women also serve at all levels of the military, from the lowest enlisted ranks to General and Flag Officers.

and that in confinement situations men often turn to other men.

Even if this is the case, I remain unconviced that a mere regulation will supress the kind of inevitable urge you describe, but even if I were to accept that, it proves way too much. If servicemembers, against their natural urges, truly do find themselves needing sex so badly that they will have sex with the nearest available person, than wives should be very wary of allowing their husbands to enlist. By your description, the military is a grave and gathering threat to monogamy.

Again, there is little empirical dispute on this point.

I'm disputing it. Show me the evidence. Bear in mind that your assertion is that men often turn to men in confinement situtations, so a few examples will not suffice.

Of course, U.S. society does not present such a confinement situation, which is why your Lawrence-girlfriend point is a straw-man (and rather silly heterosexual posturing-- I am not suggesting that heterosexuality is a tenuous thing in general).

Ah, you don't know me very well. In my youth, I indeed spent many a day confined with none but men as companions. Yet I can think of no examples from my Boy Scout troop, my youth outings, my summer job as a camp counselor or similar experiences when otherwise heterosexual men felt the burning need to have sex with each other, even though we were often separated from the fairer sex for months at a time. I do remember two male former co-workers who had sex with one another, but that was because they were gay.

Of course I had all of these experiences prior to the Lawrence decision. Perhaps if it had not been forbidden by law, I really would have felt the uncontrolable urge to shag the nearest available piece of man-meat.
2.14.2006 10:56pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The Sacred Band wasn't a "confinement situation." It wasn't like these guys were kept on base, miles away from home.
2.14.2006 10:58pm
Perseus (mail):
How old? Boys began the transition to manhood and citizenship around the age of 12 or 13.

To quote Onasander:

"It is the part of the prudent general [to station] brothers next to brothers, friends next to friends, and erastai next to their paidika."

And why don't I toss in a Thracian song too:

Ye lads alloted grace and noble birth!
Don't begrudge to brave men
Intimacy with the charms of your youth!
For Eros, the looser of limbs, thrives
Alongside courage in the cities of the Chalcidians.
2.14.2006 10:59pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Perseus,

I don't know what that means. Would you care to make your point less pretentiously?
2.14.2006 11:04pm
Perseus (mail):
Yeah thank goodness older men never shacked up with younger women in, uh, history.

So I guess we should also be celebrating that behavior as dignfied?

Is the argument that homosexuality correlates with pederasty?

No, but it would not be an unreasonable conclusion to draw from the post by anyone familiar with the Theban Band.
2.14.2006 11:10pm
Dylanfa (mail) (www):

Not for Philip, it seems, the peculiar modern American notion that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.
Well, not for him the idea that such groups in isolation and unintegrated with the larger armed forces worked. I eagerly await your futher endorsement of his larger political philosophy.
2.14.2006 11:22pm
anonymous22:
Ian, as you know, one persons experience does not prove anything. I do think that if the Boy Scouts were gender integrated, they would not currently ban gay scoutmasters.

To my knowledge, women do not serve in front-line positions in the military and I believe most units are still gender-segregated. Even if I were to buy that women and men serve in the same units, the 9-1 gender ratio (I am sure this is even more skewed in combat units) is incredibly skewed. If the military were to become gender integrated, my argument would be weakened considerably-- but the ancient Greek military units were not gender integrated, of course. If you want to use Lyndie England as an example of how successful female integration into the military has been, you are welcome to.

And as to the unit cohesiveness argument, I believe the military would become much less cohesive if women were substantially integrated into it. You can attack this as un-PC; there is empirical support for it. If you wish to live in a politically-correct dreamworld where actions don't have consequences, go ahead.
2.14.2006 11:22pm
Kieran Jadiker-Smith (mail):
Anonymous 22 makes an argument about what might happen if homosexuality were tolerated in the military. Unfortunately, for his case, this is no longer a hypothetical question, and several nations -- including Australia, Britain, Canada, and Israel -- have experience with allowing gays to serve openly in their militaries. Can he point to concrete evidence that the chain of events he describes is common in these countries' militaries, or that they've happened at all?

A 2003 study of four other countries' experience with gays serving openly in the military was published in Parameters, a professional journal published by the US Army War College. It can be read in PDF form here.

Additionally, we now have experience with US military troops serving in multinational units with openly gay personnel from other countries. A 2004 study about this can be found here.

It's one thing to make speculative arguments about what might happen, but it seems to me these arguments are superseded by actual experience. And the actual experience hasn't generated much evidence to support dire scenarios about what might happen to the military if the ban were lifted.

Furthermore, it seems to me there is some generational misunderstanding around this. Acceptance of homosexuality is much more widespread in my generation (I'm 21 years old), even among otherwise socially conservative people, than most people from older generations realize. Even in the 13 years since the first national debate over gays in the military, it seems to me there's been a pretty seismic shift in opinion among younger people. And this is, after all, mainly a debate about how a group late teenagers and twentysomethings would respond to a change in the military's policy.
2.14.2006 11:25pm
Perseus (mail):
The erastai are the lovers (the older guys) and the paidika are the beloveds (the boy students). (That comment was in reference to the likely ages of the younger members of the Thracian Band).


Oh sure, one can cite the Theban Band to say that homosexuality is not incompatible with military service under all circumstances, but that does relatively little to answer the question of whether it's incompatible with military service in America today unless someone is proposing to turn the American military into an all gay outfit.
2.14.2006 11:26pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Boys began the transition to manhood and citizenship around the age of 12 or 13.

How does that answer the question? Greeks had 12-year-olds as heavy infantry?

"Turn the American military into an all gay outfit"?? Perseus is a counterexample to the notion that classical studies educate the mind.
2.14.2006 11:33pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Anonymous22,

I suspect you simply don't like homosexuals, and you're going to find reasons to oppose expanding their rights in any regard.

Otherwise your argument seems to be an extremely weak basis for actually discriminating against them.

Would you feel the same way if there were currently a ban on Muslims openly serving in the military? If you thought it was possible that allowing them to serve openly would lower the military's prestige?

Personally, I think the burden for classifying a group as too dangerous to serve in the military should be pretty high. Do you really think speculation about prestige should meet the burden?
2.14.2006 11:34pm
Perseus (mail):
Apparently, my facetious remark was lost on Anderson.
2.14.2006 11:44pm
Kendall:
anonymous32 - I think, given popular attitudes, that it would lower the prestige of the military and make young men less willing to join, because they would be worried about being perceived as a homosexual or perhaps becoming homosexual themselves.

couple interesting things here. How exactly does allowing openly homosexual soldiers lower the prestige of the military? do you honestly think the Iraqi people would cheer less (those that aren't throwing bombs in insurgent attacks) for a military that is open to different orientations? did they do that for the British army?

I'm also particularly concerned with your last assertion there which I bolded. I don't see how allowing open homosexuals to serve would cause that, rather I think it would more likely cause more examination of and acknowledgement of the generally accepted (by the vast majority of psychological and medical organizations) fact that homosexuality is largely a genetic reality (with some environmental factors thrown in at a young age, perhaps even pre-natally). Could you please expand on and perhaps clarify these assertions as I find them quite confusing?
2.14.2006 11:53pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Kovarsky:
Yeah thank goodness older men never shacked up with younger women in, uh, history.

Perseus:
So I guess we should also be celebrating that behavior as dignfied?


No, but I do think it's odd that you single them out for it if you concede it's somewhat of a universal trait.


Kovarsky:
Is the argument that homosexuality correlates with pederasty?


No, but it would not be an unreasonable conclusion to draw from the post by anyone familiar with the Theban Band.

Alright, Perseus, we get it. You're into classical studies. As to the substantive matter involving the "inference" of homosexual-pedophile correlation from the Theban band, I'd say that's probably an inference drawn by someone familiar with the classics and not a statistician. I mean it sounds like an intellectual thing to say (well, not really), but what leads you to believe the incidence of sex with younger boys in the Theban band was greater than the incidence of sex with younger girls outside of it? Or more importantly, what leads you to believe that the incidence of pedophilia in the Theban Band has anything to do with the incidence of pedophilia among homosexuals today, and therefore the slightest relevance to this exchange?

Can you just tell me what your point is please?

You say:

And indeed such relationships were designed to be unequal and ephemeral because they existed to serve the ends of the polis, not the oikos, which is the main focus of the peculiar concerns of the modern day bourgeois (e.g., SSM).

So I find it difficult to see precisely how Philip speaks to us today


That remark is so stupid it drools. The reason those relationships serviced the interests of the polis was precisely because they were a form of pedophiliac tutelage - not because they were homosexual. And I find your use of "bourgeois" not only obnoxious, but breathtakingly clumsy - either you don't understand the word's connotation or you are profoundly out of touch with the demographic of those "concerned" with the issue.

And when you try to respond, please refrain from referencing your freshman english and political science classes.
2.14.2006 11:54pm
David Friedman (mail) (www):
Dale writes:

"When Philip saw the bodies of the fallen lovers after the battle of Chaeronea, he exclaimed with tears: "Perish the man who suspects that these men ever did or suffered anything base."

... Philip is defending the Theban Band against those — and there were such people and regions even in ancient Greece — who would condemn them as vile or disgusting for their very love."

I think you are mistaken--misled by modern attitudes. As I read it, his comment has nothing to do with people regarding homosexuality as vile or disgusting. What he means by "anything base" is cowardice or the like--the opposite of "noble." His point is that they died like heroes.

Do you have any basis for your view? I'm going mostly by the account of the event in one of Mary Rennault's Alexander novels. It's fiction--but she knew the period very well.

Lots of people have speculated that Alexander and Hephaistion were lovers. I there anything close to a contemporary account that describes such an idea as shameful?
2.14.2006 11:59pm
johnny v. (mail):

Exactly the same unit cohesion arguments were used to resist the racial integration of the military. So much for their plausibility.


But military racial integration was just that: same physical standards, same training, same living arrangements, same (if not worse) treatment by superiors and peers. By meeting common standards blacks were able to chip away at racism's "rationale" and be seen simply as soldiers (to the point where the senior enlisted ranks are now heavily black - privates and lieutenants, both dependent in their own way on the sergeant ranks, can curb their racism, leave or just not sign up at the start).

Since then we've had gender "integration" and none of that obtains: lesser expectations, preferential treatment, and grievance groups/politicians ready to sacrifice professional soldiers for the slightest violation of p.c. orthodoxy (in today's military you don't ever say that women aren't as strong as men, even if they all just dropped out of the last hump).

This is what scares many in the military about sexual integration - no one's that worried about dropping soap in the shower, they're concerned that gay privates necessarily means a forced march through Barnie Frank's idea of equal treatment.
2.15.2006 12:10am
anonymous22:
Marcus, I suspect you simply have signed on to the culturally liberal agenda, and you're going to find reasons to support this agenda against any sort of challenge.

See how fun it is to carry on intelligent debates when you doubt the good faith of your opponent?
2.15.2006 12:10am
Kovarsky (mail):
I'm sure Dale would love to talk to you about how this is part of the left wing agenda.
2.15.2006 12:21am
anonymous22:
Kieran, I appreciate the links, but the articles don't prove your case. The article shows that only a trivial number of servicemen are willing to identify as gay, which leaves open the possibility that covert mechanisms are being employed to create a culture of intolerance of homosexuality. People who've seen "A Few Good Men" know that militaries retain effective covert intimidation mechanisms even after policy changes.

The real test would be if the military were able to maintain its prestige and attractiveness if a significant number of servicemen were openly gay (not the case in the examples cited in the article), or if the military were to allow open sexual relationships among members (cf Dronenburg v. Zech). My belief is that under these circumstances the military would not be able to maintain its prestige and attractiveness-- by that I imply no dislike of gays, but simply recognize that homosexuality is widely seen as an undesirable lifestyle and that, yes, in confinement situations (prisons, English boarding schools, etc.) men "go gay".
2.15.2006 12:24am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
First of all let me make it clear that I do support gays in the milatary. Still, I think this example does not so much detract from the argument against it but instead support it. While I ultimately think the small negative effect on unit cohesion by adding gays or women is outweighed by the negative effects of secrecy and sucpiscion by keeping gays out and the general negative effects in society there is a cohesive argument here and shouldn't only be dismissed as anti-gay rhetoric (though I think many people who believe it are so motivated not all).

In particular the argument that can be made in both the case of women and gays is the following. There is a fundamental tension between complete trust and having an extremely deep bond with someone and, if that person wishes to sleep/date you, refusing to get with them. Turning someone down, even implicitly, is a type of rejection and if you know someone wants you but you don't reciprocate it is natural to sorta hold a part of yourself back. The example of the lover-warriors simply doesn't apply because it is an example of consumated love not unconsumated love. I don't doubt that a unit of mutual lovers (or perhaps even pairwise lovers) would be particularly close and willing to sacrifice for each other.

This effect is particularly strong when there is a strong ratio present. I was listening to a female servicewoman on the radio the other day talk about the tension between fending off male advances and feeling so close to these people that she would trust them with her life. Also from personal experience I know going to a school with a very high male female ratio and hence where women were constantly fending off male advances it did create a bit more distrust between men and women, i.e., women were a bit more cautious about getting into friendships. This of course probably wouldn't be the case with gays but I think homophobia plays a similar role.

HOWEVER, despite having said this I just don't think the effect is significant enough to be a real problem. Though where I went to school the girls were slightly more cautious about friendships it wasn't like they weren't common. Even though I've known straight guys who were the subject of unrequited gay interest it doesn't need to ruin a friendship.

Besides I think the underlying assumption, that we want an army unit to be bonded in this very close very male sorta way, is questionable. We certainly want them to trust each other *as far as their job is concerned* but it might be a benefit if the presence of sexual interests on the job made people treat it a bit more professionally (in the long run not the short run). Also everyone now knows there are gays in the milatary so it isn't like there aren't going to be sucpiscions anyway with possibly worse effects. I suspect by allowing gays to openly serve the fear/prejudice would gradually disappear and it would become not such a big issue. If the effect is ultimately too bad the military could just totally ban sexual relations in war zones (maybe they already do).

Just wanted to play the devils advocate and point out that a unit composed of homosexual lovers (or lovers in general) is a lot different than a unit composed of individuals sexually attracted to each other but not in nice pairs and with s.o.s back at home even if I don't believe it is a compelling objection.
2.15.2006 12:24am
Kovarsky (mail):
God forbid the image of the US military be tarnished.
2.15.2006 12:34am
Jamesaust (mail):
"in confinement situations (prisons, English boarding schools, etc.) men "go gay"

Surely the most absurd comment made here in a long time.

The only people I find in today's military opposing such congruency with public life are the (a) elderly, and (b) homophobes. I do not find that other have a problem with this.

Some commenters seem to have a overly prurient interest in 'what might happen if...'
2.15.2006 12:39am
WB:
The Thebans were a segregated unit of the military though, no?
2.15.2006 12:42am
Kendall:
anonymous22 - My belief is that under these circumstances the military would not be able to maintain its prestige and attractiveness-- by that I imply no dislike of gays, but simply recognize that homosexuality is widely seen as an undesirable lifestyle and that, yes, in confinement situations (prisons, English boarding schools, etc.) men "go gay".

Does that mean Israel is superior to the US because its allowed openly homosexual men and women to serve? Is the British army superior to the US? Why won't you define "prestige"? that's a word that gets thrown around a lot but no one seems to be able to state cogently why openly homosexual men would disrupt anything if it didn't in Britain or Israel which I would THINK typically would be more homophobic/uncomfortable with open homosexuals in the military.

I believe the best of the United States army, and I believe the army is better than you give it credit for.
2.15.2006 12:45am
Kovarsky (mail):
I have to agree with A22 on one thing, although I'm confident we draw dramatically different inferences from it:

There is no meaningul data on this subject. Given the don't ask don't tell policy in the military, there is simply no reliable information about what attitudes in the military are.

The "go gay" comment is truly bizarre. I mean, do men in confinement "go gay" more than men and women in confinement "go straight." Or is there something with the "going gay" that's worse than "going straight."
2.15.2006 1:04am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
For example, in confinement situations men often turn to homosexuality.

While my personal experience is limited, I do have clients who have been in the former state. Their consensus is that in that situation it's a power struggle among, well, sociopaths, not a matter of real sexual orientation changing under, well, enforced horniness.
2.15.2006 1:05am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
great now o'reilly's going to start arguing the greek historians have a "homosexual agenda."

what does that even mean?


Well, Herodotus *was* a little funny, if you know what I mean.
2.15.2006 1:07am
Kovarsky (mail):
Their consensus is that in that situation it's a power struggle among, well, sociopaths, not a matter of real sexual orientation changing under, well, enforced horniness.

Most astute remark on the thread yet.
2.15.2006 1:12am
Perseus (mail):
Kovarksy: Here's what I was getting at. Substitute homosexual pederasts for homosexual lovers in the last paragraph:

It is an extraordinary moment: an enemy commander paying tearful tribute to the bravery of an opposing forced comprised of a group of homosexual lovers [homosexual pederasts]. Not for Philip, it seems, the peculiar modern American notion that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. Philip is defending the Theban Band against those — and there were such people and regions even in ancient Greece — who would condemn them as vile or disgusting for their very love [homosexual pederasty]. In fact, this is among the first times in recorded history that a person of Philip's stature championed the basic dignity and worth of same-sex couples [homosexual pederasts].

Does Dale Carpenter really want to draw a parallel between the relationships of Theban pederasts and modern gay couples?


You may find my use of bourgeois to be obnoxious (and I used it in the spirit of Rousseau), but I did so to emphasize the world of difference between the concerns and attitudes of a citizen of an ancient Greek polis and those of a (gay) citizen of a modern liberal democracy.
2.15.2006 1:14am
anonymous22:

Their consensus is that in that situation it's a power struggle among, well, sociopaths, not a matter of real sexual orientation changing under, well, enforced horniness.


That's not astute; it misses the point. There are sociopaths in jail, but there is actually a culture of prison rape, and rape does have a strong sexual component. I think it is easy for my fellow posters to laugh off the possibility that they would ever turn to homosexuality because the posters, as wealthy adults here simply cannot imagine themselves in such a situation. There is also this tendency to assert, I'm so straight that I can support gay rights without feeling threatened at all. Bottom line: from prison to the Royal Navy, it happens.
2.15.2006 1:32am
Kovarsky (mail):
Perseus,

I appreciate the clarity of that response. My point to you is that I think it's odd that you are focusing on the soldier-pederast connection and the undesirability of analogizing to it when, for example, several of the philosophers you cite above likewise took younger lovers. Nobody suggests that invoking these thinkers is undesirable because of that attribute.

And the "attitudes of a citizen of an acient greek polis" tolerated these homosexual-pederast relationships for their pederasty, not for their homosexuality. It ws an institution of apprenticeship that was important to them, and women simply weren't in the equation. So their "polis-centric" celebrations of those relationships actually says nothing about their attitudes towards homosexuality per se.
2.15.2006 1:38am
Kovarsky (mail):
A22, I am really trying to understand what you are saying. What does this mean?

I think it is easy for my fellow posters to laugh off the possibility that they would ever turn to homosexuality because the posters, as wealthy adults here simply cannot imagine themselves in such a situation.

I mean, what?
2.15.2006 1:41am
Kendall:
Anonymous22- I think it is easy for my fellow posters to laugh off the possibility that they would ever turn to homosexuality because the posters, as wealthy adults here simply cannot imagine themselves in such a situation.

I think a lot of posters here would have trouble caring. What difference does the emotional/sexual attraction of an individual make? you're making it sound like you believe being gay would be a negative thing when I'd submit that homosexuality is morally neutral. Its a sexual orientation which a majority of experts believe based on a # of studies to be largely genetic with a view variable components.

The other issue of course is homosexual SEX, or a relationship with a person of the same sex. Nothing in sex requires an attraction to a person. Nothing particularly suggests that a person having gay sex is gay. Actually, that's precisely the argument the lawyer for the state of Texas used in Lawrence (Howard Bashman of How Appealing had a link to the transcript of the oral argument posted at one time but I'm not going to dig it up at this time of night)in trying to establish that the state's sodomy laws were not discriminatory. Sex does not equal orientation.

There is also this tendency to assert, I'm so straight that I can support gay rights without feeling threatened at all. Bottom line: from prison to the Royal Navy, it happens.

Yes, it does happen. People have sex. Separately, some people are gay. Gay people sometimes have sex with gay people. Straight people have sex sometimes with gay people. None of that makes them gay. A gay person can have vaginal intercourse with a person of the opposite sex and it will not make them straight. Sexuality works by largely predetermined factors. I don't get your point.
2.15.2006 2:08am
Perseus (mail):
David Friedman makes an excellent point (this site sure has an impressive readership). Could we get the original source for that quote?
2.15.2006 2:12am
Kovarsky (mail):
Arguing about gays in the military on volokh conspiracy, i wish i could quit you.
2.15.2006 2:13am
JB:
How sure are we that the base conduct Phillip was talking about was homosexuality? From the quote in the post it seems equally likely that he was backhandedly praising their courage by praising their character.
2.15.2006 2:17am
Noah Klein (mail):
"Does Dale Carpenter really want to draw a parallel between the relationships of Theban pederasts and modern gay couples?"

I don't know about you, but I have always thought putting twelve-year-olds on the front line in a war is a bad thing. These weren't pederasts. The relationships were between young men and young boys, but between warriors of around the same age. Were pederasts in the military and was this a part of Greek city-states? Yes (Sparta comes to mind). Yet this is not the situation as presented by Dale Carpenter. These are gay men who love each and fight together and thus compel each other to great martial accomplishments. It's not a pederastry type of relationship. This is obvious, because these people are fighting and twelve-year-olds don't fight, because they wouldn't be able to accomplish much.

"How sure are we that the base conduct Phillip was talking about was homosexuality? From the quote in the post it seems equally likely that he was backhandedly praising their courage by praising their character."

Of course, Philiip is talking about their courage and not their sexual relationships. They were not having sex on the field of battle. Yet by praising their courage, Phillip is able to dispel a notion that I think is prevalent today that homosexual men would not courageously battle for their country.

Noah
2.15.2006 5:28am
Kieran Jadiker-Smith (mail):
Anonymous22: On the contrary, I think the examples of other militaries show that it's a self-enforcing mechanism. I don't think a very significant fraction of the military will identify as gay until the culture of the military has shifted to the point where it's No Big Deal, at which point it's, uh, No Big Deal, and potential recruits probably won't care. So long as militaries with no ban on gays in the military have no problem with gays in the military, it's silly to have a ban.

If, at some future date, your scenario of a military rendered ineffective because it has a reputation as a den of homosexuality, driving away straight recruits, the policy could be revisited. But clinging to a ban in the face of extensive experience showing that lifting the ban leads to precisely nothing bad happening, just because of a hypothetical scenario supported by zero evidence, is irrational in the extreme.

On the other hand, we know the ban is exacting very real costs on the military, like the discharge of Arabic and Farsi translators. This is a real, not hypothetical cost, and the real loss of talented gay and lesbian servicemembers concerns me far more than a fanciful scenario backed only by a series of highly questionable assumptions about how young men might react to a change in policy.

Given the choice between a very real, demonstrable cost, and an entirely hypothetical cost based only on several degrees of unsupported speculation, I know which one I'll worry about more.
2.15.2006 6:45am
Appellate Attorney:
Not for Philip, it seems, the peculiar modern American notion that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.

ROTFL. This is probably the most historically ignorant statement I've ever seen on the Volokh Conspiracy. Or at least the most illogical statement I've seen on this site. If a culture disaproves of homosexuality generally, then it nearly always disapproves of it in the military as well.

So, for the most part, all that is necessary to identify a culture's view of homosexuality in the military is to identify that culture's view of homosexuality generally.

To supply just one example, historic Hebrew culture: Leviticus 18:22 states, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." (ESV)

Given the fact that the biblical punishment for breaking this command is either exile or execution, even the most creative reinterpreter should be able to admit that the Hebrews also thought homosexuality was incompatible with military service.

The view that homosexual behavior is incompatible with cultural norms, including effective military defense, has been the dominant one in nearly all cultures throughout history. It's hardly a "peculiar" American view.
2.15.2006 6:53am
Raw_Data (mail):
Anonymous22.

Do you realize that this blog is a fairly sophistiacted place and that use of cant such as "...culturally liberal agenda..." as a term of opprobrium will only make people laugh?

We like specifics not vague abstract generalities. (Being factually accurate -- e.g. your odd comment about women in US military, heh! doesn't help you.)
2.15.2006 8:46am
Kovarsky (mail):
Appellate Attorney,

Did you really just deride something as the most ignorant thing you've ever read on Volokh Conspiracy and then respond with a quote from the old testament? Read about two sentences down,

In fact, this is among the first times in recorded history that a person of Philip's stature championed the basic dignity and worth of same-sex couples.

That hardly sounds like someone claiming that the modern American view is historically unporecedented. To be honest, I think you've mixed up the connotations of "peculiar," which just means unusual, and "peculiarly," which is closer to the meaning of "without equivalent" that you mistakenly attribute to it.

On my first, second, and third readings of the passage I didn't read Dale to be making the claim that the modern American view is historically unprecedented. I read it the first time, as I read it now, as a claim about how unusual it is for a modern, industrialized, liberal country to adhere to these rather atavistic ideas of military cohesion.

And for the record, gays can serve openly in modern "Hebrew culture." Here's a list:

allow gays in the military
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Belgium
Canada
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Ireland
Israel
Lithuania
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom


bans on gays in the military
Argentina
Belarus
Brazil
Croatia
Greece
Hungary
Luxembourg
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Turkey
Venezuela
2.15.2006 9:02am
nk (mail) (www):
The evidence for the nature of the Theban Sacred Band is questionable. I have seen the Greek word "philos" (friend) mistranslated many times as lover. (The Greek word for lover was "erastes" so that in ancient Greek child molesters are pederasts not pedophiles.) Phillip's statement has been commonly accepted to mean that he did not believe that the soldiers of the Sacred Band were homosexual and its language lends itself better to that interpretation. As for them being a separate elite unit --the evidence is more in favor of segregation. Three hundred men could not form a phalanx with sufficient frontage and depth to prevent them from either being outflanked or their formation broken. They may very well have been a punitive battalion/suicide squad (cf. "The Dirty Dozen"). The name "Sacred Band" ... well, the Greeks invented euphemism.

Socrates's exchange with Callicles in "Gorgias" is probably more instructive about attitudes towards homosexuality among Greeks. (Considered a subject so shameful that Callicles chides Socrates for mentioning it in their debate). The "record", such as it is, is further muddled by the fact the Greeks practiced chattel slavery. Some may have exercised their "property rights" on their slaves, young and old, in a way that their equals could not forbid but did not necessarily approve or tolerate on free citizens. (E.g., in "The Anabasis", Xenophon describes one of his non-coms contemptuously as a "boy-lover" but does nothing to help the soldier's young slave.)

It's all pretty irrelevant in any event. We are nothing like the people of 2,400 hundred years ago.
2.15.2006 9:03am
Perseus (mail):
Pardon my pedantry, but in Xenophon's Symposium, Socrates recounts Pausanias saying that it was the policy of Thebes and Elis that "although they [the lovers] slept with their favorites [beloveds], they nevertheless had them posted by their sides in battle" (8.32-36).

The boys were basically apprentices of their lovers from ages roughly 12 or 13 until 16 or 17, at which point the lover would confer on the beloved the full hoplite panoply and fight as a pair in the ranks. I just don't see how one can deny that pederasty played a crucial part in creating the bond between lover and beloved in the Theban Band.
2.15.2006 9:06am
JT Barrie (mail) (www):
The problem with homosexual orientation - especially for males lies in the fact that many feel compelled to coerce others of heterosexual orientation into sexual relations. It works both ways! I've been hit on by more gay men than most women my age so I know from personal experience. That's part of the reason you get the response "I hate when they flaunt their homosexuality". Sexuality should be private and intimate. Many others and myself are similarly revulsed with the sexual braggadacio of heterosexual men.

What set this group apart was that the political leaders grasped the merit of segregating openly gay couples in units. I'm certain that the greater Greek culture stigmatized homosexual behavior and the military leaders knew that the gay couples - denied respect elsewhere - would be especially motivated in battle. The rest is history.

Can you imagine what a homosexual unit in our military would do? Imagine how the muslim insurgency would react if an openly gay/lesbian unit was operating in their homeland? Guess who would get a disproportionate share of casualties? Do you suppose the religious reich would approve of such a cynical strategy?
2.15.2006 9:17am
go vols (mail):
The comparison between racial and gender integration is instructive. The latter raises very difficult questions about promoting equality given real physical inequality--i.e. women are generally less strong, run slower, etc. than men. Extending this reasoning to homosexuals, though, as jonny v. does, seems foolish to me. Gay men are no less likely to possess the mental or physical traits needed to succeed as soldiers (particular given the self-selection that must take place). Arguing that the inclusion of homosexuals raises similar problems to gender integration is foolish. References to Barney Frank as a pejorative or the presumed foppishness of men who would volunteer to serve their country is insulting, and suggests that the poster does not, in fact, know many gay people (or gay soldiers).

I am also amused by the use of the term "coercion" when applied to gay solicitation. Arguing that hitting on someone is "coercion" sounds like the worst sort of argument one might find in radical feminism.
2.15.2006 9:35am
McARISTOTLE (mail):
Ok. You convinced me. Gays should be allowed to serve as suicide troops.

No offence. If the US army adoptions active sexual relations as a team-building method - it might have to raise the recruiting age.

Until the sub-cultures you recruit from are gay tolerant, you'd have to the gains from gay recruting and retention have to outweigh the losses.
2.15.2006 9:58am
Zubon (mail):
I will concur that "being hit on" and "coerced into sexual relations" are rather different things, and I might go further to say that there is a larger problem with heterosexual men coercing women of any sort into sexual relations.

I am also intrigued by the notion of "flaunting homosexuality." I openly admit to having a heterosexual marriage. Many of my co-workers have pictures of their spouses on their desks, bring wives and husbands to social events, or even ask when people are getting married or having children. I have rarely considered this to be "flaunting heterosexuality." Would a man who brings his boyfriend to a social event be flaunting something? I have seen men and women hold hands on the street or even kiss in public, with no cries of outrage; would two women doing the same thing be violating standards of public displays of affection?
2.15.2006 10:09am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The basic issue is unit effectiveness.
Whether the argument was made regarding black soldiers or not is irrelevant.
Are there cases of unit effectiveness being degraded by having women in the unit? As one poster said, it's worth an officer's career to admit it no matter how obvious.
There was recently an example of a young naval officer saying something like being a bridge officer on a combat ship gave him a woody. A nearby female officer complained, a female admiral began to take action, and the investigation eventually fizzled out. The point now is that this female officer is invincible. The establishment will hammer anybody she can accused of being mean in a sexual way, and even if the investigation fizzles out, the supposed perp is ruined. This woman's mere presence will be a drag on effectiveness.

After the Tailhook incident--which caused liberals and feminists to drool--the Navy was so spooked that the first two women to graduate from F14 flight school had grades that should have disqualfied them. Men with those grades failed.

There is no reason to conclude the same thing won't happen with gays.

There were hearings on this subject some years ago. Among other things, the Israeli Army's practice was mentioned. In fact, according to the Israelis who don't have time or combat space to play these stupid games, their gays are not in line units. They are in administrative jobs where they can live off base and show up at eight in the morning to work. The Israelis reduced the number of women close to combat units. They have to be practical. One result of the treatment of gays is that, without unit command time, they don't get promoted very rapidly. That would qualify as discrimination in our military, and be a reason to integrate them into a line unit.

In America, our combat power is so great that we can afford some inefficiencies, since they're only dead guys out in redstate land and who ever, ever, gave a rodent's patootie about them?

In fact, there are stories of unit difficulties resulting from the presence of gays. The stories will never qualify as "evidence" since they will never be written down as official. It is not that they don't happen. It's that they cannot be acknowledged.
Anybody want to have faced Pat Schroeder across a hearing room with a true tale of unit efficiency degraded by having women in the unit? Didn't think so.

Having said this, there is room for women. Unfortunately, the combat roles to which they are being propelled are accelerated by their gallant and effective responses in convoy security duties. Standing to your gun in a Humvee turret under heavy fire is not the same as carrying eighty pounds up and down the street, kicking in doors, jumping walls, or hauling the maximum load a human mule can carry into vicious combat.

In this issue, facts are required to take a hike.
2.15.2006 10:22am
Anderson (mail) (www):
I think you are mistaken--misled by modern attitudes. As I read it, his comment has nothing to do with people regarding homosexuality as vile or disgusting. What he means by "anything base" is cowardice or the like--the opposite of "noble." His point is that they died like heroes.

Hm. Disagree. The "did OR SUFFERED" is significant. Being penetrated, "suffering" penetration in the archaic usage of the word, was generally held to be disgraceful for a man. Otherwise it's difficult to infer what Philip has in mind about the Band's "suffering" anything base.

So it's quite possible that Philip was indeed denying that the Band were homosexual lovers.

Recall that Philip was Macedonian, not echt Greek. I don't know how Macedonians felt about gays, but I could well believe that they would take a less "civilized" view than did, say, Athenians. To the Greeks, Macedonians were rednecks from the hills, has been my impression. (Perseus?)
2.15.2006 10:30am
nk (mail) (www):
Anderson:

Let's not take it too far. "Suffered", in more archaic English could also mean "tolerated" in our modern sense of "tolerate" or "allow". (E.g., "Suffer the children to come unto me"). The problem is not of just one mistranslation but a whole series of mistranslation because from Attic to koine to classical Latin and then again back to Attic or koine to Vulgate Latin to French to Elizabethan English to Victorian English, etc.. I doubt very much that the oldest known record of Phillip's statement predates the 14th century A.D..
2.15.2006 10:44am
Anderson (mail) (www):
True enough, nk, but whether "suffered" or "allowed," it's a curious sentiment for Philip to express.
2.15.2006 11:12am
Gordo:
If they were so great, how come they didn't win? :)
2.15.2006 12:30pm
Gordo:
Interesting that some commentors would bring up the fact that Greek homosexuality was also pederasty/pedophilia/child abuse.

An interesting interpretation of St. Paul's condemnations of homosexuality in his letters is that he was condemning not homosexuality per se, but rather the Greek version of it that resulted in the seduction of underage males. At least that's the argument Episcopalian Bishop Robinson makes to counter his fundamentalist critics.
2.15.2006 12:33pm
luagha:
I must say, though, that perhaps the only thing better than a Muslim terrorist getting beat up by a woman would be a Muslim terrorist getting beat up by a queer.
2.15.2006 12:38pm
luagha:
And just because we have to bring Star Wars into this:

Since 'padawan' is obviously related to 'paidika' and Anakin was Obi-Wan's padawan from the age of about 10-17.. I think it's quite a good fit. The Jedi being the 'small number of mystic elite troops' of their time.
Puts the movies in a whole different light.

Yoda and Count Dooku, though. That's hot.
2.15.2006 12:46pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Anonymous,

I wasn't doubting your good faith. I was simply suggesting that your reason strikes me as intuitively quite weak. As in, you have a point, yes, (whether or not it's accurate) but I can't quite imagine how you get from there to actually justifying discrimination.

Do you really think, though, that I must have signed on to some liberal agenda in order to think that banning gays from the military doesn't make sense? Again, I'm not questioning your good faith, but I don't think you believe that. I'm sure you're aware that there is a very plausible case for why banning gays from the military is actually a bad policy.
2.15.2006 2:09pm
James Dillon (mail):
Annonymous [sic] coward,

Per dictionary.com:


Decimate:[1]To destroy or kill a large part of (a group).
[2] To inflict great destruction or damage on...
[3] To reduce markedly in amount...
[4]To select by lot and kill one in every ten of.


I suspect that Professor Carpenter was using the first, rather than the fourth, definition.
2.15.2006 3:33pm
Steve P. (mail):
David Friedman, Perseus --

I'm guessing the original quote would be in Greek, from the 'Life of Pelopidas' by Mestrius Plutarchus. I don't have access to the book, nor do I speak Greek, but I found another translation that has it quoted as, "Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly."

It appears to me that Prof. Carpenter's original point is intact. It's possible that the age difference was referenced, but adult men coupled with adolescent girls have been accepted by many cultures throughout time, sometimes being the common practice. Excellent quote and good history lesson, Professor.
2.15.2006 5:22pm
anonymous22:
I was not saying that Marcus has signed onto the liberal agenda. I just wanted to show that "poisoning the well" is a game two can play. You accuse me of homophobic without any grounds, and I'll accuse you of being a culturally effete slave to liberalism.
2.16.2006 1:28pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Anonymous,

Based on your comments, I wasn't sure whether you actually oppose removing the ban. You suggested a reason not to, but I don't believe you said whether you thought it was ultimately persuasive.

I've explained exactly why I raised the point, which was not to "poison the well," but rather to see how persuasive you really considered your argument to be.

Latent homophobia is actually quite central to this discussion, though. In fact, it seems overt homophobia is the very basis for your argument, that people are so afraid of gays or turning gay, that allowing them into the military could be an insurmountable problem. But that's a side issue. The point is that when someone is arguing that a particular group of people shouldn't be allowed to do something, it is quite relevant to inquire whether the person advocating such a position simply doesn't like the group of people. Motives are sometimes relevant, no?

Incidentally, I wasn't sure how you'd respond. You might have said "Yes, well, I'm not necessarily against it, but was simply suggesting one problem that exists." You might have said "Yes, I do have a problem with gays, just like the rest of the country, which is the whole problem here." Or you might have said, "No, it has nothing to do with my feeling about gays; I simply think it's impossible to allow them to serve openly and maintain an effective military."

I suppose another track is simply to perceive it as a personal attack and fire insults back at me. I have to say, though, by questioning my masculinity, it doesn't exactly dispel my original suspicion.
2.16.2006 9:54pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Anonymous,

I was just struck by an interview I read by Hugh Hewitt of Helen Thomas, available at this link: http://www.radioblogger.com/#001391

Hewitt spends what appears to be close to 10 minutes badgering her about whether or not she likes Dick Cheney. She doesn't want to tell him, but he says it is important to ask.

Was that appropriate of him? Or should she just have responded by calling him a little girl? Note, I only inquired once into your potential homophobia.
2.16.2006 11:26pm