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    February 15, 2010

    Rum, buggery and the lash

    Posted by: Chris

    British army 1960s
    Winston Churchill famously said, "The real traditions of the British Navy are rum, buggery and the lash." The same was apparently true for the Army as well.

    The most remarkable part of John Crawford's story isn't the 70-year-old's ongoing legal responsibility to report to potential employers his 1959 conviction for "buggery" (a.k.a. sodomy) or even the many jobs he lost and humiliation he endured for admitting to consensual sex as a 19-year-old with his 22-year-old boyfriend.

    It's the "enhanced interrogation tactics" the British military and civilian police used to extract the young soldier's confession:

    His ordeal began after being posted to Aldershot barracks in Hampshire for military service.

    When a gay friend at the barracks went absent without leave, military police turned their attention to Crawford. "They obviously knew he was gay, but they hadn't got anything on him – other than being camp. But they had got me. And if I knew him, then I must be one as well."

    Crawford was held in a cell for three weeks, during which he was deprived of sleep by being forced to sit on a chair at night. "They badgered me and badgered me to admit I was a 'fucking queer', and I wouldn't." Then they decided to call in the civilian police.

    These officers, he said, started a daily beating that involved wrapping him in blankets while was kicked and punched on the floor. He said he was then placed in a yard each day. Overlooking the yard, he recalled, there was a grassy embankment where hundreds of cadets would sit twice a day to drink tea.

    "Can you imagine in the 50s? Oh look there's the 'fucking queer'. I had this from hundreds of people twice a day. I had to sit in this yard. I couldn't go anywhere."

    Finally he relented to the pressure and confessed to being gay. Under duress, he told them about Derek, his 22-year-old partner who, months later, found himself with Crawford in the dock at Winchester crown court where both were convicted.

    How ironic that all these years later, a leading American conservative like Dick Cheney could throw his support behind allowing gays to serve openly in the military, while in the same interview endorse yet again the same sort of torture that Crawford's tormenters used to beat his confession out of him more than a half-century ago.

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    Comments

    1. Lucrece on Feb 15, 2010 3:19:14 PM:

      His support for repeal is purely self-involved-- he's got a gay daughter. He's the type of garbage that would not support a repeal if he had no personal cost in DADT implementation.

      It will take quite a revolution in the make-up of the GOP to move past the Religious Right and Cheney type of Republicans. They're doing so much damage long-term to the party's image, and to the American public at large.

    1. Chris on Feb 15, 2010 6:47:41 PM:

      @Lucrece: My guess is that's true on marriage, but Dick Cheney (as distinguished from his wife) has never been a social conservative, and I think he sees that cultural shifts have rendered Don't Ask Don't Tell "a bit of an old chestnut," as he called the policy way back in the '90s when he was George H.W. Bush's defense secretary.

    1. Lucrece on Feb 16, 2010 12:57:21 AM:

      Oh, yeah, I separated him from the Religious Right category for that reason.

      To me he even seems, worse, because his position is not born out of bigotry; he's the worst example of the cynical politician. I put him on the same category as McCain.

    1. Chris on Feb 16, 2010 12:20:30 PM:

      There is no comparison between Dick Cheney, who supports not just DADT repeal but gay marriage itself, and John McCain, who opposes every single conceivable gay rights protection -- every single one. There are non-bigoted reasons to oppose ENDA (private sector libertarianism), hate crimes (thought police) and even DADT repeal (unit cohesion). McCain's willingness to play both sides of most of these issues does, as you say, point him out to be a cynical hypocrite of Mitt Romney proportions. Cheney's record doesn't justify that level of criticism. If you want to give McCain and Romney some company, throw George W. Bush into the same pit.

    1. Lucrece on Feb 16, 2010 7:34:54 PM:

      Yes, but his political record extends beyond his positions on LGBT issues. The "enhanced techniques" moment ranks at the top of cynical political actions.

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      I like all Winston Churchill said, he was a very intelligent person, he was right when he said all about the British Navy, the British navy have many traditions that other navy do not have.

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    1. Danny on Oct 24, 2011 4:59:55 AM:

      Oh, yeah, I separated him from the Religious Right category for that reason.

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    1. Claude Giroux Jersey on Dec 19, 2011 7:46:13 PM:

      It is one thing to try to give balance, and look for unintended consequences, but you are right, the New York Times seems to be trying to push an agenda against the change.

    1. Daniel Carcillo Jersey on Dec 19, 2011 7:47:19 PM:

      There is no comparison between Dick Cheney, who supports not just DADT repeal but gay marriage itself, and John McCain, who opposes every single conceivable gay rights protection -- every single one.

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