Americans confused about what 'homosexual' means, poll shows
Nathanial Frank/Huffington Post/Feb 12, 2010Um, what did they think it meant to serve openly in the last question they just answered affirmatively? (Many Americans seem to believe that "openly" gay service does not just mean that gays could speak honestly about their lives just like straight people, but that they would be allowed to sashay through Camp Pendleton in a pink boa, exempt from wearing a military uniform; perhaps a better phrase than "openly gay service" would be "service with equal honesty."
In a recent report from Huffington Post's Nathaniel Frank, it is reported that respondents in the latest New York Times/CBS poll regarding gays in the military and the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy are confused about what 'homosexuality' means as opposed to 'gay'.
Frank notes wryly that 20 years of a thriving gay rights movement has apparently failed to make clear this distinction ( albeit a non-existent one).
Even worse, it is noted that many Americans responding to the poll did not understand what "gays serving openly in the military" meant, and assumed that even with the repeal of DADT, there would still be restraint and secrecy.
Problems with language, syntax, and meaning have been noted for the past decade in even college-eduacted Americans. To be unable to make distinctions between concepts may be the disability fueling much of the current political climate.
Remember the poll taken of enlisted personnel asking them if they felt like invading Iraq? The one that political leaders and military brass used to decide if they should pull the trigger or not? No, because there wasn't one. Sure, the military takes the temperature of its troops to help ensure that whatever action its top-down command structure orders is carried out as effectively as possible. But only when it comes to the equal treatment of gays and lesbians does our country see fit to dole out rights to an oppressed minority by asking permission of the oppressing majority.Now comes word that, after nearly two generations of a vibrant gay rights movement, Americans are somehow confused about what a "homosexual" is, throwing already shaky polling data into disarray just at the time when the military prepares to poll its members about how they feel about gay people. Respondents in a New York Times/CBS News poll expressed significantly less support for lifting "don't ask, don't tell" when asked if "homosexuals" should be allowed to serve openly than when asked (on the same poll) if "gay men and lesbians" should be allowed to serve openly. Um, what did they think they were saying on the last question which asked the exact same thing but using a different word?
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