Don’t ask for consistency


by Jackie Alfonso | June 30, 2009 • Don’t it always seem to go… I sat down to write about the joys of red currants, the beauty of the berries, the wonderful elemental shapes of the plants, the nutritional importance in a climate like Minnesota. All of this was a result of the last two days spent picking this year’s crop, ready to make jelly tonight in the cool. But then I was overtaken by a different thing entirely.

Lemonade Chronicles is a blog written by Jackie Alfonso, a local writer who is deeply concerned about food … and other issues.

A sad part of my years of study in philosophy, ethics, etc. was discovering, or having reinforced for me, the utter inability of Americans (and maybe others) to aim for consistency in their beliefs. Personally, I have little trouble with others having all sorts of beliefs that seem to me ridiculous, if only those beliefs are internally consistent.

Yesterday, President Obama was discussing in public his strong intention to eliminate from the U.S. military behavior what has become known as the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. High time.

However, in the commentary that followed, one “military spokesman” argued that this was a bad thing to do. His reason: “Absence of the policy would be a burden for those in the military who hold a religious belief that homosexuality is evil.” How helpful it is to have this very clear expression of the situation.

Clearly the sympathies of this spokesman do not require the military to protect the belief systems of those who do not hold that particular belief, nor does he see the inconsistency in holding that the military is the proper vehicle for supporting a particular religious understanding: Removing an onerous and ineffective policy does not require that all non-homosexual members of the military change their religious beliefs.

Nor does this spokesman appear to have any sense of the very practical and long-held understanding in many military contexts that it is not a good idea to insist on policies that are unenforceable.

I get very curious about just who it is who has appointed this spokesman, and why anyone should think that he represents a constituency of some sort. Not that I disbelieve in bigots – they are most certainly among us and often noisy. But the noise level ought not deter careful thinking.

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