Diana West
Recommend this article

That was fast. Sunday, the Virginian-Pilot posted a montage of lewd, "morale-boosting" videos that Capt. Owen P. Honors starred in, directed and broadcast to the crew of the USS Enterprise dating back to 2006-2007 when he was the ship's executive (number two) officer. Tuesday, the Navy fired Honors, now captain of the ship, citing a "profound lack of good judgment and professionalism."

Not, take note, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. So, now what? With the Navy, the Washington Post reports, set on a "broader investigation into whether senior Navy officials knew about the 4-year-old videos, and why they failed to take disciplinary action against Honors," we once again seem to be embarking, rudderless, into the dangerous waters of the hydra-headed purge, gathering, sharpening, steeling, lusting for suspects. But of what crime? Not the one I would charge the unfortunately named Capt. Honors with.

The post-Tailhook Navy fetish, of course, remains sexually oriented -- or, more accurate, sexual-orientationally oriented. (In the guise of an aviator persona, Honors lets fly some homosexual putdowns in the video, and later encounters same-sex couples in the shower.) As one retired vice admiral put it to the Post, "What bothers me is that Capt. Honors' behavior set a standard that allowed for sexual innuendo."

Funny. What bothers me is that Capt. Honors' behavior didn't set any standard at all.

This should come as little surprise. Perhaps the greatest triumph of the Left in the last 25 years has been the junking of military standards regarding the sexes, a set of traditional attitudes that was slow to dismantle itself in the wake of the 1960s sexual revolution. Indeed, the military could be, and was, seen as a bulwark against the social changes wrought by a metastasizing feminism in the civilian world that would go on to kill, among other things, such concepts as "mixed company" and its prohibitions on "bad language" and other social shields. These had allowed for the existence of now-lost refuges such as reticence and discretion, which, in turn, provided shelter for a kind of privacy and intimacy that is all but unimaginable in our over-exposed world of TMI (too much information).

Which is more than sad. I think it has driven people a little berserk. Indeed, there is something quite possibly certifiable in the behavior of an aircraft carrier executive officer simulating masturbation on a "movie night" video to boost his crew's morale.

"It's nothing worse than `Saturday Night Live,'" one defender of Capt. Honors commented online. That's true and not unrelated. As sex roles were rewritten to check male dominance and expand the female role, and as women, in effect, were used to destroy the ideal of "officer and gentlemen," other lines were crossed and blurred. The entire culture became increasingly conditioned to break any and all of the old molds, adopting an "irreverence toward uptight, oppressive, hypocritical, old-fashioned norms of social propriety," writes Brian Mitchell, in his history-jeremiad against and titled "Women in the Military: Flirting with Disaster." By now, this means that putative defenders of "old-fashioned norms," such as 49-year-old Capt. Honors, are unwilling, ill-equipped and even unaware as to how to do so. Indeed, the powers that promoted Honors to the captain's bridge would punish anyone who did.

Discussing the Tailhook investigation, Mitchell writes: "No one seriously expected them to be officers and gentlemen anymore." And, institutionally, no one expected more or better of the brave, new women, either. Indeed, after no raunchy female misconduct at the infamous 1991 Tailhook convention was prosecuted, after even some exonerated men continued to be punished, the true object of that historic purge became all too clear: not to check "Animal House"-in-uniform across the board, but instead to target and eradicate traditional attitudes as the basis for criminal behavior -- "sexism" -- in violation of Pentagon policy. In large part, this prefigured approval for open homosexuals in the military.

Now, consequences emerge. A society that rejects officers and gentlemen, it seems, is going to get crude clowns helming its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. And who is left in command who can figure out how that happened?

Recommend this article

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).