Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Court Decision on Military Uniforms in Porn Picks Away at Order and Discipline

** Originally Published at Big Peace on December 07, 2011 **

A few weeks ago I wrote about McClatchy’s “Suits & Sentences” publishing a post called “Court case a reminder to Marines not to wear full uniforms during porn shoot.” I mentioned how the story made it seem like the court opinion in United States of America v. Matthew W. Simmons said it was okay for currently serving Servicemembers (a Marine in this particular case) to wear parts of their uniforms while performing in pornography productions and being paid to do so.

I looked into this further by contacting two Navy public affairs officers. Both officers were courteous and promptly answered my questions. They acknowledged that they were not legal specialists and offered to provide me with further assistance if I wanted a more in depth explanation of the opinion. I declined. Any errors I make in my analysis of it (or use of terminology) are my own.

I read the court opinion and confirmed with the Navy public affairs officials that it didn’t completely vacate the original ruling. Nor does it say that it is okay to wear a partial uniform while producing pornography.

However, although the opinion doesn’t state that it is okay to wear a partial uniform while producing pornography, it does seem to be another incremental strike at the Armed Forces and their ability to use the uniform to keep order and discipline within their ranks.

For instance, as was mentioned in the “Suits & Sentences” blog, the opinion states:
We are also not satisfied, on the basis of this record, that the appellant’s statements or wear of uniform items may create an inference of service endorsement of the activities depicted. The appellant never wore a complete ‘uniform,’ so the general public could never receive ‘visual evidence of the authority and responsibility vested in the individual by the United States Government.’ He did not voice any Marine support for what he was doing or any service views on the propriety or impropriety of his conduct.
Such language muddies the waters and now puts into question everything any Serviceman has ever thought he knew about wear and appearance of the uniform. After all, for the Army, AR 670-1 (the manual governing the wear and appearance of the uniform in the Army) explicitly states (on Page 1, Adobe Page 24):
… Further, soldiers are not authorized to wear distinctive uniforms or uniform items of the U.S. Army or of other U.S. Services with, or on civilian clothes, except as provided in chapters 27 through 30 of this regulation.
I can find no exception to this regulation for Soldiers who are producing pornography. I’m assuming the other branches of the Armed Forces have similar regulations.

And while the opinion of the military court in United States of America v. Matthew W. Simmons doesn’t expressly contradict the Army regulation, it does what leftism does well: it creates doubt and uncertainty; it challenges common knowledge and order. I’ve previously argued that the repeal of the misnamed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” wouldn’t be the end of things—only the beginning—and this small but important attack on the uniform is just one example of what I meant. More attacks are yet to come.

One final thing: in case anyone thinks I am stretching my analysis of how this court opinion will affect things in the future, consider what has already happened in California when a corrections officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) decided he wanted to wear his work uniform to a gay pride parade even as official regulations prohibited it. OneNewsNow reported the following during June of this year*:
CDCR officials caved after Andrew Johnson, a correctional officer at the California Institution for Women in Chino, said he would file a discrimination lawsuit against the state of California for prohibiting him from attending the West Hollywood parade in his uniform. The Department decided the operation manual, which they now deem “outdated” and “ambiguous” concerning matters like this, requires revision. Currently, the regulation bars wearing a uniform in settings that could “discredit” the Department, including bars, gambling halls, nightclubs, political protests, and picket lines.
So even though California has (or had) actual, written policy that prohibited anyone from wearing the CDCR uniform in certain situations, because a  gay employee didn’t like it, he was able to unilaterally abolish it by saying that it was discriminatory and declaring he would sue if he didn’t get his way, and the state of California bowed to his wishes. It’s only a matter of time before the U.S. Armed Forces follows the same path.

* The official blog of the CDCR confirms this report.

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