"No man, no madness
Though their sad power may prevail
Can possess, conquer, my country's heart
They rise to fail"
- from "Chess", music by Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus, lyrics by Tim Rice
What does your sex life have to do with serving your country?
With their sheer stupidity two recent controversies illustrate with clarity exactly what America thinks one has to do with the other.
First, of course, no one can talk about anything else this week but the President and whether a young woman spit or swallowed. Here's my theory on the issue of his governing while adultering: if we don't ask Clinton about his trysts, he won't tell. The government will still work.
The other incident, less titillating, but more damning, is the case of a sailor with the unfortunate name of Timothy McVeigh. Believing the falsehood that the Internet affords one anonymity, Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy R. McVeigh put the word "gay" in his America Online profile. It was only a matter of time before both big brothers would screw him. The Navy asked, illegally, for McVeigh's user identification, and AOL, illegally, gave it to them. Needless to say, Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy R. McVeigh will be private citizen Timothy R. McVeigh with an honorable discharge after this weekend.
McVeigh, a 17-year Navy veteran stationed in Hawaii, whose AOL profile did not identify him by name or indicate that he was in the Navy, filed suit in federal court last Wednesday, charging that the Navy violated both electronic privacy law and the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays. But what about AOL, with 11 million subscribers, worried about whether their online privacy is guaranteed, even if they obey the law and adhere to the company's notoriously streng Terms of Service?
I look to the Internet as a place of freedom and community. I write this column for everyone, but mostly for the eyes of lesbian and bisexual women who don't have to come out publicly in order to gain an online companion in the gay community. No one will prosecute or fire you for just dropping by and reading my words. But can you imagine if they did? That, in effect, is what happened to this sailor. And now he's had to abandon a career of serving our country because of something he does in the privacy of his own bedroom.
Is Timothy R. McVeigh a bad sailor because he gets online and identifies himself as gay? Is Clinton a bad president because he loves to love?
Is the bedroom really going to bring down the United States of America?
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