On the subject of DADT

It seems that Lt. Dan Choi has demonstrated one of the problems that come with associating a cause too strongly with an individual.

What if that individual can't hack it?

From the Dish:

A message from [Choi's] iPhone to Rex Wockner and Pam Spaulding:

I wanted you to know because you are important to me and I think you can explain my situation best to those in our community who may be still interested. I was involuntarily committed to the Brockton MA Veterans Hospital Physchiatric Ward on Friday Morning after experiencing a breakdown and anxiety attack. ...


My breakdown was a result of a cumulative array of stressors but there is no doubt that the composite betrayals felt on Thursday, by elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name for their marketing purposes, have added to the result. I am certain my experience is not an isolated incident within the gay veteran community. [emphasis mine, in both cases]

Sully expresses more sympathy in his post than I am inclined to express in mine. He writes:

I feel for Dan because the intensity of his struggle and his passion for justice was clearly burning him alive. I recognize this syndrome, having dealt with it to a lesser degree most of my time in the gay activist world. The work is emotionally draining at every level - because your life and soul are on the line - and only when you put your life and soul on the line do you convince others of the rightness of your cause. And that is why you have to learn to step away at times, to retain balance, to seek nurture and support - or the individual bit in the collective drill is worn down to nothing but a spiritual nub.

I'm feeling a bit more cagey. First of all, Choi chose to make himself a vocal and visible spokesperson for this cause. He's chained himself to the White House fence. He's gotten confrontational with Harry Reid. He's been notably unapologetic about his tactics and his sex life. I don't have a particular problem with any of these things, but they are not the actions of a man who shunned the spotlight. I have no more sympathy for him than I do for Sarah Palin when she complains about all the media scrutiny her family gets... while a reality TV crew is trailing her. You asked for it, and now you got it. Deal.

Also, Choi was involuntarily committed. In order for someone to be committed against his will, there's a pretty high bar that the admitting physician has to hit. The patient has to be considered an active threat to his own safety or that of someone else. Choi must have been in some dire straights to get admitted without his consent.

Finally, I don't know that there is "no doubt" about what role last Thursday's vote played in Choi's breakdown. The Village Voice piece I linked to above sketches a picture of a man who is gleefully abrasive and lives a chaotic life. One could legitimately question both his advantages as a media figure and his personal stability. If an adverse political outcome makes you suicidal, then you're probably the wrong person to be heading the charge.

I'll close with a quote from that Voice piece. Sensitive readers are advised that he uses naughty language, but we're all grown-ups here.
Everyone, he says, is "happy to send out e-mails when a good court case comes out, but no one is willing to take a risk for fear of taking blame. If people want to blame me for being the reason 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' isn't repealed, I say fine. Bring it on, motherfuckers."
Perhaps he should reconsider such a boastful stance in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment