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Friday, November 26, 2010

Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard leaves in disgrace over affair

By Rossi DiManno, Toronto Star, Novemerb 26, 2010
Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard allegedly made love to a woman in uniform — or, presumably, out of uniform — and some people are tossing around the prospect of rotting behind bars: consecutive maximum sentences that could, theoretically, add up to 40 years before the mast, hoisted by his own petard....

It’s preposterous, of course....
Although the no-nookie directive is not mentioned in the Defence Act, what exists is a policy forbidding romance or sex between deployed soldiers — even married personnel — when posted overseas....

From my own nocturnal meanderings around KAF, the huge military base outside Kandahar city, I can emphatically report that this is not a policy directive being followed to the letter — at least not judging from the amorous sounds filtering out of tents and Quonset huts.

Let’s get realistic here: Far from home, living in close quarters, physically fit men and women coping with boredom punctuated by the occasional sharp up-tick of adrenalin and the very real threat of danger, it is entirely human nature to seek out comforts of the flesh.
Proscriptions against physical intimacy may be intended to safeguard morale — or so the tall forehead brass claim — but the opposite is true in practice; a good fraternizing snog can do wonders for esprit de corps. Further, because the ban has never been tested in court, it’s entirely possible the no-sex rule could run afoul of freedom of association rights in the Canadian charter.
Menard’s sin, the reason they’re throwing the book at him, clearly derives from the ├╝ber-offence of shagging down — the general and the master-corporal, with its implicit aye-aye-sir power dynamics.
Ms DiManno's perspective, while "spot-on," will not prevent the rising star of the Canadian military from formally departing from further service in the forces.
There is something very foul in the whole affair.
  • That it was so publicized, even through a Candian Forces Press Release;
  • That the Kandahar base, according to DiManno, is full of conjugal relationships, presumably of the peer-to-peer and the higher rank-lower rank variety, with both genders involved;
  • That the matter of sexual relations is a matter for criminal code inclusion at all, except in non-consenting situations when it surely does belong
  • That someone had to be "anxious" to bring the affair to the attention of the "brass" for whatever reasons that will remain a closed file;
  • And, if further investigation were ever to be permitted, one might find a different kind of motive...one just perhaps of jealousy or revenge.
There is a cultural tradition in the military's stereotypical position. It comes from the church's long-standing contempt for intimacy outside of the boundaries of marriage.
And this contempt is not restricted to the church's view of morality. It has been brought in all its RED-LETTER glory into several other hierarchical organizations. And the last twenty-five or thirty years of feminism, linked to the hierarchical nature of many pyramidal structures, casts a spurious eye on anything close to intimacy between members of those structures. In many cases, since men were in positions of "power" they were considered, by many feminists, to be "taking advantage of their "lower-ranking" female partners, when both parties could and in many cases were, fully consenting adults.
The real consequences of this "prohibition" like those of all other prohibitions of natural human behaviour, is that those seeking to engage in prohibited liaisons will do so, under both the risk of being discovered and the punishment(s) that flow from that discovery, even if both parties were adult and consenting.
Both the culture and the institutions that believe they are charged with the burden of representing the highest standards in any culture would do well to review the observations of Lionel Tiger, anthropologist from Rutgers University in his book, The Manufacture of Evil.
It is possible that we have been systematically misled about our morality from the very beginning. Why should God have interfered with Eden as he did, evidently for the dual offences of sexual awareness (sexual anxiety again!) and empirical scepticism, that forbidden fruit? And why blame poor Adam, whom after all God made? And why was what happened in Eden the "Fall"? And why were Adam and Eve so harshly and disproportionately ridiculed for their sexual frisson? Were not those perplexingly pleasureable nerve endings in their genitalia there for a purpose? Was orgasm an accidental spasm, which happened to be so mightily pleasing that (later on when churches got going) its occurrence or not could be held up as a measure of obedience to God?

This is mad. No wonder practitioners of the morality trades have so enthusiastially separated man from animal, culture from nature, devotion from innocence. If morality is natural, then you don't need priests as much as you're likely to enjoy being informed by scientists. If morality is a biological phenomenon, then it is merely insulting to harass mankind for its current condition because of an historic Fall in the past and a putative Heaven in the future. When spirituality became a special flavour and ceased being fun, when mystical congregation and speculation became instead a matter of bare knees on cold stone and varying renunciations; when involvement with the seasons and the other subtle rhythms of nature became formalized into arbitrary rituals governed by functionaries, then the classical impulse for moral affiliation became translated into something else: into a calculation of ethical profit and loss supervised by an accountant Church and a demanding God. A new tax was born. The tithe. Ten percent for the first agents.(p.32-33)

One has to wonder if the theologians, and the brass of the Canadian military establishment, and the leaders of the churches have thought about what Tiger is writing. Perhaps some have, and have not taken the matter further because to do so would be to bring contempt from the rafters of the hierarchical establishment.
Unless and until the natural and the moral are respectfully linked in their own unique intimacy all "establishments" will suffer continuing ignominy from their prosecution of 'affairs of the heart' that do not fit their definition of obedience, loyalty and trust.
And more men and women of high calibre will quietly leave their callings, thereby removing considerable talent, energy, imagination and service from the ranks of those bureaucracies.

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