Posted on January 26, 2006
This is probably not going to be a popular opinion among the military men of my, em…
But I’m frankly not at all surprised at the crucifixion court martial of LT Bryan Black, who found it somehow necessary to not only tell a female midshipman that battleships made him feel a little funny in the drawers, but also attribute a different potential reaction to herself.
She took offense, he apologized, end of story.
Except that it wasn’t. Someone else took offense too, another officer who worked with Black. Was there bad blood between them? Who can tell.
Did he, through “conduct unbecoming an officer” open himself up to whatever else followed? Most certainly.
Because potty humor isn’t what we’re paying him for. We’re paying him to mentor his charges and execute the Naval Academy’s mission:
To develop midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to provide graduates who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
Don’t see leadership by sexual innuendo anywhere inside there. Potty humor? Some can make it work, with others it is unfunny, with all of us it’s a risk, calculated or otherwise.
I’m not saying that had I been the Supe I’d have made the same call myself. What I’m saying is that the lieutenant put himself in a position of vulnerability by boorish behavior to a junior. He wouldn’t have said what he said to a female admiral, because he would have had to know that there would be consequences. In saying what he said to a subordinate midshipman, he tried to take advantage of his statutory position. And he also took a high risk/low return professional gamble. I qualify that as stupid. Was it criminally stupid?
Guess we’ll see.
“We don’t hang men for stealing horses. We hang men so that horses might not be stolen.”
– Edward Halifax