Navy Investigating Slur-Filled Anti-Gay Videos Made by Executive Officer

The U.S. Navy has launched an investigation into a series of videos filled with anti-gay slurs and sexual innuendo that were created in 2006 and 2007 by the then-executive officer of the Enterprise aircraft carrier.

Obtained recently by the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, the videos were created by Capt. Owen Honors, now the commander of the Enterprise, and were shown weekly on closed-circuit television to the ship's nearly 6,000 Marines and sailors.

In one scene, two female Navy sailors stand in a shower stall aboard the aircraft carrier, pretending to wash each other. They joke about how they should get six minutes under the water instead of the mandated three.

In other skits, sailors parade in drag, use anti-gay slurs, and simulate masturbation and a rectal exam. Another scene implies that an officer is having sex in his stateroom with a donkey.

The videos got plenty of attention -- both positive and negative. While some sailors thought the content was funny, others were offended.

A female sailor who was assigned to the Enterprise at the time said she and a number of other women on board were offended by the videos. She said some crew members complained about them, and in fact, Honors acknowledged it on camera. In one movie, he says, "Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate materials in these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels."

He adds, "This evening, all of you bleeding hearts... why don't just go ahead and hug yourself for the next 20 minutes or so, because there's a really good chance you're gonna be offended."

Enterprise sailors told the Virginian-Pilotthat "it's hard to believe that Honors' superiors on board weren't aware of the videos as soon as he began showing them in 2006, given that they were routinely broadcast for the entire crew."

The investigation represents something of an about-face for the Navy, which said in an initial statement that the videos were "not created with the intent to offend anyone. The videos were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew's attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc." Soon after that statement was released, Adm. John Harvey, the four-star head of the Navy's Fleet Forces Command, ordered that the matter be looked into. A second statement noted that "production of videos, like the ones produced four to five years ago on USS Enterprise and now being written about in the Virginian-Pilot, were not acceptable then and are still not acceptable in today's Navy. The Navy does not endorse or condone these kinds of actions."

Adam Weinstein at Mother Jonesagrees that the videos are deplorable, but puts them into cultural context:

Honors represents an old guard of senior officers who came up through the ranks in, ahem, "simpler" times. He's Annapolis class of '83, the first class to attend a fully male-female integrated Naval Academy (legend has it that his campus predecessors, the all-male class of 1979, wanted "last class with balls" inscribed on their class rings). While Honors was busy proving himself a talented combat aviator and test pilot, women were still struggling for the right to serve on warships and fly fighter jets—rights they didn't win until 1993. (The rancorous debate over women in wardrooms and cockpits led many conservatives to dig their heels in on gay service, producing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell compromise that same year.)

By the time all of those stabs at institutional equality had been worked out, Honors was mid-career—probably set in traditional ways and senior enough that no subordinate was willing to tell him, "Sir, that's a bad idea."

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at January 3, 2011, 4:00am

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