Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mister Roberts

Does Captain Owen Honors, the commander of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Enterprise (also of Star Trek fame), sound like someone who would make lurid videos, which, according to the Times ("Navy Captain Is Investigated Over Videos," NYT, 1/4/11), included "…scenes of simulated masturbation, simulated eating of feces and two men as well as two women showering together…" and show them " entertainment to some 6,000 sailors and Marines…"? Captain Honors, who was relieved of his duties for "profound lack of good judgment" just as the Enterprise was being deployed to Afghanistan ("Aircraft Carrier Captain Is Removed Over His Role in Coarse Videos," NYT, 1/5/11), received over 11,000 supportive comments on Facebook, according to the Times. Plainly this is progress from Tailhook, the scandal that shook the Navy back in 1992. Tailhook occurred primarily in hotel corridors, but it gets lonely and boring for sailors out at sea, and the search for suitable entertainment is always a challenge. When it comes down to it, Honors’ videos, however inappropriate, were a victimless crime that may inadvertently have provided a realistic picture of life on a gigantic carrier, where the food tastes like shit and where masturbation is the only kind of outlet possible in cramped quarters. Instead of showing his videos aboard the vessel during 2006 and 2007, as the Navy alleges, Captain Honors should have sent them to Sundance, where they might have been treated like Mister Roberts—another film that portrayed the lives of American sailors on a ship. The videos also included "…a scene that suggests an officer is engaged in sex with a donkey…" but as anyone who has been under fire knows, both men and women react to danger in a wide variety of ways.

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