Military Discipline

     I have a confession to make: I never served in the military.
     I know that’s shocking, considering the heroic and valorous image you have of me, but I don’t have a military sort of personality.
     I can’t grasp the concept of obeying orders.
     Why wouldn’t I question authority?
     Wouldn’t someone in charge benefit from being informed that he or she is an idiot?
     Oddly, despite the valuable service I provide in pointing this sort of thing out, I’ve been fired from just about every job I’ve ever held. Imagine how I would have fared in an armed service. (I’m imagining a firing squad.)
     So I guess that explains why I was so dumbfounded last week when I read a ruling from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims called Williams v. United States , in which a Marine officer who served almost 20 years appealed a ruling cutting him off from retirement benefits.
     What horrible thing had this man done to be no-thank-you’d for his service in this manner?
     He “engaged in an affair with a fellow officer,” who happened to be married to another officer, and then lied about it.
     This happened in 2004 and they’re still litigating.
     You may be thinking that this officer must have done something else, and you’re right – he’d twice in the previous five years been cited for using government-issued computers to view pornography.
     In five years!
     How does a sex maniac like that get into the military?
     The combination of these three offenses was enough to convince an outraged Board of Inquiry to dump the guy three days before his retirement benefits would kick in.
     It may be that someone like me doesn’t get the military, and that this makes perfect sense.
     It may be that if we let something like this go, we’d end up with an army making love, not war.
     Still, this doesn’t seem like the best way to attract new recruits.
     Which slogan do you find more enticing?
     “Join the Marines and learn to live like a Puritan!” or “Free porn while off duty!”
     “Be a hero and keep your hands to yourself!” or “Don’t ask, don’t tell about anything.”
     I might have considered the second choice.
     Who do you trust? Money talks, but it doesn’t necessarily mean what it says.
     As we all know by now, spending money is the equivalent of speaking. But what about writing about something on money?
     Is that super communication?
     You’d think so, but apparently not. A group of atheists and secular humanists sued the federal government over the inscription of “In God We Trust” on money because they said it was an unconstitutional promotion of religion that, among other things, “forces them to proselytize.”
     Money does have a way of changing points of view. Just ask any politician.
     And saying you trust God – while communicating with money – does seem like a religious statement, especially to someone who doesn’t trust God.
     But, no, the Second Circuit last week, in Newdow v. Peterson , ruled that “In God We Trust” isn’t religious – it’s just a historical reference to the country’s religious heritage, and that you’re not being forced to give up religious principles by putting money in your pocket or spending it.
     Advice to atheists and humanists: All you need to do is edit.
     Take out a pen and cross out stuff you don’t like.
     The pen is mightier than the lawsuit.

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