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Lesser Evils 

The peck of pickles prickly Peter picked

Before we get to Gen. Peter Pace and his concerns about homosexuality, I must offer a few apologies. I haven't been myself lately. I have been overwhelmed by events. If you'll excuse the melodrama ... I have been so Katrina-ized by the Category Five convergence of crud coming off the super-heated Gulf of Governance that I have been feeling like a rootless refugee, wandering through the muddy aftermath, unable to find solid enough footing to erect an opinion. It happens to me now and then, usually when there is so much to write about that I can't come up with any one thing to write about.

And as a result, I've leaned far too heavily on Badger Bob to perform my writing chores of late. So heavily that he had to resort to subcontracting a column out to a fellow named Beagle Billy. Obviously, by imposing on old Bob two weeks in a row, I put too much pressure on him. Bob, I'm so sorry. You get some rest now, y' hear?

I also apologize to the staff at Boise Weekly. As you may recall, three weeks ago, I called them all drunkards and sluts. Whether or not you remember, I'm sure they do. It was wrong of me. Oh so wrong. I only said it because, well ... I wanted to hurt them. They changed something I wrote, and I do not take editing well. I just hate to have anyone screw with my stuff. It makes me sooooo angry, I feel like I want to ... to ... uh, it's probably best if you don't know what it makes me feel like doing. Suffice it to say, I'm working on it. I'm trying to get better. The BW staff has nothing to worry about. Not from me, anyway. And they are not--I emphasize, not--drunkards and sluts, and I'm sorry I said they were.

And lastly, I must apologize to you, my readers. I have been shirking my responsibilities. It is not Badger Bob's or Beagle Billy's job to write this column. It's mine. And I know how disappointed most of you must be when you open up your BW, expecting 1,100 words straight from the Cope's mouth, only to find Badger Bob is filling in. Not that there's anything wrong with Badger's writing. My, no. That guy was cranking out superlative opinions when I was boogalooing around in bell-bottoms and paisley-print dashikis. He's the only person I trust to substitute for me.

Still, it's wrong to shuck my duties off on somebody else, simply because I have the power to do so. Not just wrong ... dare I say ... it's immoral. In fact, that is precisely my definition of "immorality"... to use one's influence, to whatever extent it may exist, to exploit someone weaker. A rapist, for example, uses his physical advantage to take what he wants from his victim. An armed robber, a murderer, a con man, an avaricious CEO, a dishonest national leader ... they all, in their own ways, use whatever advantages they possess to take something important from less powerful people, be it life, time, a good name, wealth or trust. That's what's immoral in my book--no empathy for others.

And look at me. I took away Bob's time, the BW employees' reputations, and your trust, all without any consideration for my victims. I ought be ashamed of myself. And I am.

OK ... on to why Peter Pace ought to be ashamed of himself.

As you know, Gen. Pace stirred up quite a stink a couple of weeks ago by declaring that he preferred the U.S. military stick with the "don't ask ... don't tell" attitude regarding gays because he considers homosexuality to be "immoral" and does not believe we should sanction or condone such behavior by allowing gays to serve openly.

I, for one, was not surprised that a Marine Corps officer, currently holding the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would say such a thing. I've come to expect that certain circles of people, operating within certain environments, will have certain preferences on just about everything. For instance, when I see a fella in straight-leg Wranglers and a black Stetson pulling his Dodge Hemi into a parking spot outside a Meridian pool hall, I hardly expect to hear hip-hop on his radio when he rolls down the window.

Get what I mean? All but the rarest of individuals come in pre-stocked packages, and I would not expect sympathy for homosexuals to be a standard option on Marine Corps generals.

It's what Gen. Pace went on to say in the same press conference that put a hitch in my get-along. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it's OK to be immoral in any way."

My, that covers a lot of ground ... "Immoral in any way "... especially coming from a man who has made a career of war.

Now--and hopefully without contradicting what I said a few paragraphs back--I regard immorality much as I do hypocrisy, in that it's damn near impossible to not find some traces of either condition in everyone. I don't necessarily mean felony-grade immorality, or even misdemeanor-grade immorality. But in the Great Book of Who's Done Something Hurtful, I'm confident that all but the very youngest among us have a page of our own.

And surely, we must all believe that the full scope of immorality goes far beyond the boundaries of sexual behavior, yes? Even the Ten Commandments only give sexual matters a passing mention, at most one-tenth of the full gamut of Thou-Shalt-Nots. And even if we concede--for the sake of argument, alone--that homosexuality is immoral to one degree or another, surely it doesn't rank at the top of the list of immoralities. Can it?

For instance, which is more immoral: two gay men having sex or national leaders who use young soldiers as little more than propaganda tools for the vicious rape of an entire country, then ignore the needs of those same soldiers when their bodies and/or minds are no longer capable of carrying on?

Which is more immoral: two gay men having sex or Carl Rove and Alberto Gonzales using our Department of Justice like their own fixed game of Texas Hold 'Em, stacking the political deck so deeply with their symps and lackeys that, eventually, all opposition to their cheating ways would be criminal?

And which is more immoral: two gay men having sex or using one's power and position to judge others for their sexual orientation, especially when it's a means to divert attention away from the wholesale immorality that this administration has made its legacy?

No, I say if the good general is truly concerned about immorality in any way, perhaps he's in the wrong job, carrying water for the wrong people.

Note to BW staff: edit the above at your own risk.

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