28 August 2014

Toeing the Line at Naval War College

The whole Schindler debacle over at the Naval War College "blew over" when the dick-pic'd woman in question basically confessed to doing it in the spirit of revenge porn and claimed it was consensual. Now I will give the benefit of the doubt here and say that what consensual adults wish to do with their iPhones, genitals and any combinations therein is none of my business....but, it feels like there are still more issues at play here. Revenge porn is unacceptable behavior regardless of why one choses to do it, and I will say that on that topic, Schindler was the victim. Fair enough. However, the behavior that lead to someone (not his partner) having pictures of his penis and the fall-out that lead to the wide publication of those texts needs to be examined.

We do need to ask: was it really consensual and/or was she really sorry she had done it? She certainly may be, it is not my place to define or denounce her feelings on the matter. However, that choice did not happen in a bubble immune from the usual nonsense that accompanies issues of sexual assault and harassment in the DoD system. It is hard for me to separate her rescinding of the accusations from the inevitable shit-storm that she no doubt knew was headed her way if she dared challenge the sexual and professional supremacy of the middle-aged-white-male in the DoD. I certainly hope that she recanted and dropped the issue because it was the right choice for her and not because, like so many people in similar situations, she felt powerless to move forward without retaliation.

While the media immediately took the spin of "look at this poor man, his life was nearly ruined by a woman scorned" I find myself wondering why we can all gloss over his litany of other unacceptable behaviors. We can say that he is (under certain definitions of the term) an adulterer. With the disclaimer that he and his partner may, or may not, have some kind of agreement on this matter, as it stands, this could be considered cheating. Adultery is illegal and a possibly terminable offense for military members. Schindler himself may not be subject to the UCMJ, but he works for a military specific educational institution. If this would not be acceptable behavior for the military members he instructs, does the Naval War College feel OK with tacitly endorsing that behavior in its civilian employees? Apparently, yes.

Additionally, his behavior online, especially in the glaring case of sending a picture of his penis to someone via text, really makes me question his efficacy in teaching future military leaders about anything security related. Like isn't the first rule of spy-club that you don't blab non-stop about being in spy-club? Also, even 12-year-olds know not to be sexting with pictures. Sweet baby jeebus, that is like internet security preschool curriculum. Is this really the guy you want to be employing as the face of Naval War College's high level of security education? As a corollary, how seriously are any students going to be able to take this guy? While it may be unfair, I would not be able to sit in a class and assign any value to this man's guidance on the topics of security when I know about his highly un-secure online antics. Frankly, I would be pretty pissed if this clown was offered up as an important subject matter expert in exchange for my valuable education-related time and money. No thanks.

Finally, the fact that he still, independent of this issue, has behaved unprofessionally, including use of homophobic and transphobic slurs, should still make the War College question his viability as a member of the teaching staff. Regardless of the revenge porn incident, the question remains: is this the culture you want your school to represent? Do you want this guy, an unprofessional jerk who routinely makes his unprofessional jerkiness highly visible online, striding around the country as a representative of the Naval War College? I would hope the answer is no, but recent events certainly imply that the Naval War College is, as an institution, completely OK with it.

This issue serves as a perfect example of the pervasive social norms that will always make it hard for anyone who is "other" to overcome the good-old-boys-club that is the DoD. When all is said and done, as long as you are a white, relatively educated/affluent male with a position of even moderate power, you are basically living in a consequence-free dream world. So, for furthering yet one more man in the belief that his position of privileged allows him to be above the rules of basic human decency, Naval War College, we thank you.

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