Is Raunchy Humor an Inevitable Part of Military Culture?

Navy carrier captain suspended over improper videos

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Captain Owen Honors was relieved as commander of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise yesterday, because of raunchy videos he produced back in 2006 and 2007 while serving as the ship's Executive Officer, or "XO." The videos, which were shown to sailors on the ship during what was called "XO Movie Night," included scenes of women taking showers together, and men as well. In other skits, sailors dressed in drag and used anti-gay slurs, simulated masturbation, and a rectal exam. 

There's no denying that life on a ship where men and women spend months at a time out in the middle of the ocean is a world hard to understand and explain. Is this controversy being blown way out of proportion, because civilians just don't understand Navy life? Christina Carcelen, who is a ten-year veteran of the Navy says, "imagine being stuck in a ship for eight months, without going anywhere, working twelve, fourteen hours a day, every day. A little laughter honestly does a lot."

Michael Corgan, associate chair and an associate professor of international relations at Boston University, is a former Surface Warfare Officer for the Navy, and a former instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy. He believes the media is making the recent videos a bigger deal than it really need to be, but he also thinks that Honors should really not have been making those videos.

(the videos, edited The Virginian-Pilot to conceal most of the faces and foul language, are below)


Michael Corgan

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [2]

Is the navy an authoritarian establishment in which enlistees and others within the culture are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into and just be professional men and women?

Is the navy a place which is just like any other workplace in which, in spite of any lip service regarding "high standards," people with serious jobs have to "let loose" once in a while, thus no one is really taking their jobs seriously if they cannot just be serious at their workplaces and have fun at home?

If the navy is such an place of authority, then no one is supposed be an emotional weakling. It seems there are double standards. The captain is being an emotional weakling in disguise. For the captain to keep up the morale of others whom he is among, or in charge of, by engaging in such unbecoming behavior is showing how incapable he is of maintaining high-standards of conduct himself.

Navy veteran, "Mark Trail" sounds as if he is only making an excuese for poor behavior by saying that the captain took his job seriously . By the way, what "builds morale" for certain people will do the opposite for other people. Should the captain make things a matter of "heterosexual power"? Everyone in the military is supposed to be un-moved by such things.

"Christina Carsolen" said that civilian people are easily offended by this but it is part of military culture because military people need emotional relief.
Actually, the idea that military people need some emotional relief from a difficult solitary existance because they are away from family and home, and that civilian people cannot understand it, means that the wrong people are being kept in the fighting forces and should be released and it was proper that this captain was released.
None of this should be going on.

The real people whom deserve kudos are those whom speak against this.

Jan. 05 2011 09:38 AM
John Jennings

The argument that Capt. Honors was just trying to build morale misses the point:
The XO is responsible for the morale of everyone on the ship -- not just the macho types who enjoy teenage humor, even if that group represents 90% of the crew.

Jan. 05 2011 07:44 AM

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