Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Anti-Gay: Lose Your Job


Last week, two well-known people lost their jobs because they made anti-gay comments. One of them is an actor and one of them is a military leader. I’m talking about both because although this is an entertainment blog (which would make talking about the actor the reason), I find it interesting that it can cause another high-profile individual to lose his job during the same week.

Those two individuals are Isaiah Washington of Grey’s Anatomy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace. Let me begin with Isaiah Washington.

I have never seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and in this case, that is a good thing. I am not judging Isaiah Washington as an actor. Whether he stays on Grey’s Anatomy will have no personal effect on me, since I do know like or hate the show. Earlier this year, Isaiah Washington referred to a co-star of Grey’s Anatomy as a “faggot.” Whether you work on a television show or in a private business, calling someone a slur can get you fired. Let’s say that Isaiah Washington feels that being gay is a sin. He could have kept his views to himself. But when you speak out against a group with such a hateful epithet, then you put yourself at risk for losing your job. Isaiah Washington let his hatred be well-known. Last week, the producers of Grey’s Anatomy decided not to renew Mr. Washington’s contract. Television shows go by a contract system, not automatic employment. Not renewing his contract is basically their way of firing him. I think that Isaiah Washington got what he deserved. It’s unfortunate that slurs against gays are not treated the same way as slurs against other minorities.

General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been in the military for his entire career, since the 1960s. Through hard work he has moved up in rank over decades. To clarify how much dedication this takes, he has been working to move up in the military since Lyndon Johnson was the President.

General Peter Pace earlier this year said that he believes that homosexuality is immoral. There are two kinds of people who are against gays. The first one, Isaiah Washington, hates gays. The second one, General Peter Pace, does not believe that it is moral to be gay. While I believe that Isaiah Washington hates gays, I do not know if Gen. Pace hates them. He may come from the view of “Hate the sin. Love the sinner” or he may actually have stronger views against them.

But the problem for him is the fact that he made comments that could come back to hurt him. He made those comments in 2007, after the Democrats have won both the House and the Senate. This would cause a battle if he was renominated for the same position. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has decided not to renominate Gen. Pace because it would be a difficult to gain approval.

General Peter Pace should have known that his comments, while not hateful, were political. One thing I know about the military in general is that it is not supposed to be a political institution. I have had some friends serve in the Iraq War. I will not ask them their views on the war, because they are not in a position to speak freely while serving in the military. A number of Generals have spoken out against the Iraq War after leaving office, because they can speak freely after leaving office. I think that Peter Pace forgot that his opinions can put his career, a very long career, in jeopardy. I actually feel bad for him because he spent decades in the military. But this is what happens when you say things that can hurt yourself later. Did he think that those comments couldn’t hurt him if he was renominated? I think that he just wasn’t thinking.

Both men just did not think of the consequences of their actions. Last week they both paid the price for their comments. With all of their accomplishments, both men will always be known for their anti-gay comments.

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