By lex, on July 16th, 2011
Navy shoots itself in the foot in a patently ridiculous Facebook posting on the very real issue of sexual assault:
A controversial posting on the U.S. Navy’s Facebook page meant to raise awareness on sexual assault prevention has followers asking, “Is this some kind of joke?”
The Navy says it’s for real.
A wall posting from June 22 shows a poster with 10 “sexual assault prevention tips.” Some of them include:
“1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.”
“2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!”
“3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!”
“5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!”
“8. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!”
Facebook followers seemed stunned and at times offended by the obvious nature of the tips. The comment page is overflowing with followers who have harsh words for the Navy, many questioning its judgment.
Faced with a backlash that the posting at once seemed to trivialize sexual assault and broadly impugn the character of servicemen based on the bad actions of a relative few, Navy re-loaded and fired again:
“The intention of posting this poster was to encourage discussion on a serious issue,” Garas said. “It is a crime that will not be tolerated … and the Navy will continue to explore ways to reach our sailors on this serious issue.”
Within 20 minutes of the original post the Navy replied on the comment section saying in part it’s critical to remind the public of these basic ideas.
“As sad as it is, you’d be surprised how many people need to be told these seemingly basic things,” the comment reads.
While I’ll concede up front that Navy does not have the latitude to recruit exclusively from the ranks of the Vienna Boy’s Choir, the notion that a Facebook post asking potential miscreants not to assault their elevator partners might actually make them reconsider that course of action would by risible, if not for the stakes in play. The idea that some future assailant would say to himself, “I was going to sexually assault that person with car trouble and then I remembered that Facebook post so I didn’t” doesn’t seem to me to be a very reasonable expectation.
And “reminding the public of these basic ideas” serves no practical purpose at all, except to make leadership look woefully out of touch, and merely serves to reinforce stupidity. The target audience is not the public – unless hair-shirting has once again become fashionable – but the sailors. That’s not to say that we should hide our dirty laundry, but waving it about in front of the teeming millions via new media doesn’t make any kind of sense that I can see. You tackle this kind of problem – which is a really a reflection on broader society – at the recruiting station, at MEPS, in boot camp and at ships, squadrons and shore stations. And coming soon, aboard submarines. Local leadership turns the tide on this, to the extent that it can, at the CPO, division officer and commanding officer level. Not Facebook.
The poster’s provenance was also, shall we say, questionable:
The poster was not actually the brainchild of the Navy, but of a feminist blog called TumblinFeminist, whose most recent entry states, “I honestly feel as though you can not by definition be a feminist and be a Christian, unless you are a bad Christian- or a bad feminist. Christianity is inherently and undeniably sexist among countless other things.”
I’m pretty sure that CNO didn’t get a look at this poster before it was put up on Navy’s Facebook page. Or at least, I hope he didn’t. The problem is that, once this particular sword has been lifted, it’s a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t weapon to put back down again: We’ve so tied ourselves up in knots worshiping at the diversity altar, that we find ourselves in the absurd position of standing behind a brain-dead idea provided by a “Tumbin Feminist” because to back away would only further the irrefutable charge of “not getting it.”
Pity the day.