March 14, 2004

It's Usually Nice to be Wanted But...

According to this report, the US Selective Service is drawing up contingency plans for a "targetted draft" of linguists and computer experts. In military usage, "linguist" frequently means someone who knows a foreign language, not someone with expertise on clausal coordination or fear of toes, but in spite of linguists' reputation in some circles for not having a practical knowledge of languages, too many of us would be vulnerable even under this definition.

Here's a helpful hint for the armed forces: they wouldn't have such a shortage if they stopped firing the ones they have who happen to be gay. There's something incongruous about the military complaining of shortages when the headlines read: Military Gay Linguist Firings Escalate. Pentagon whining that allowing openly gay people to serve won't work is plainly nonsense. The armed forces of countries such as Australia and Canada don't discriminate and do not report any problems. The Israel Defense Force, probably the world's best on a per capita basis, has officially allowed openly gay soldiers since 1983; all restrictions (such as exclusion from intelligence positions) were removed in 1993. If the military wants to make a case for drafting people, they'd better first show that they're making full use of volunteers.

Posted by Bill Poser at March 14, 2004 06:07 PM