A clean, well-lit place to vent
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I am appalled at how naive so many are. I work for the VA with trauma survivors and have many women who reported rape and got blown off by their commanding officers. Most cases were covered up, with no satisfaction for the victim or punishment for the perpetrator. The women get discharged and the perpetrators get transferred, on average, according to the personal accounts from women military rape victims. I like the representation in Doonesbury because it is after all a comic strip with exagerated representations of real life.
It's a shame that those who passionately defend the military justice system can't see past their own experiences to acknowledge the truth of the different experiences of thousands of female (and male!) survivors of sexual assault and rape in the military. These surviving servicemembers aren't liars, and it does them and the military a terrible disservice to dismiss their reports as wrong just because the narrative doesn't jive with what others saw or wanted to see.
As your comic on Sunday had no context and reference to the material which you are trying to refer to, I found the subject matter completely inappropriate and disgraceful. Rape is not a satirical element, and for you to use it in one of your cartoons is nothing less than bad taste. I have read the comic for over 30 years and as of today you lost a fan and you gained an adversary.
Thank you for showing us the other side of the Red Rascal -- teaching math to girls and bringing books to the illiterate in Afghanistan. I work on digital textbook projects, including math, for children there and in dozens of other countries in conjunction with One Laptop Per Child, and would like to invite him to one of our events. Oh wait. Was that also just another of his fantasies?
Wow, today's "No one had ever seen a book before" really nailed it. According to Wikipedia, Afghanistan in 2000 had one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world: only three in ten people over the age of 15 could read and write; among women, only one in eight.
I received the Sunday paper with your comic strip about a female in the military approaching her commander, reporting a rape that happened to her. He dismisses the case and she says, "Welcome to the military, ladies." This should have never made it into the newspaper. This is not funny. I know hundreds of military men and women -- some of them my relatives, including my dad. This was mean!
Sunday's strip is but one installment in a long-running narrative. GBT has been writing about OIF veteran Melissa Wheeler and her experience with MST (Military Sexual Trauma) since March of 2007, when she walked into a VA center seeking counseling. The early strips from the series are here. For more on GBT's take on the issue, you can read this OpEd he and Gen. Loree Sutton wrote for the Washington Post: "Breaking the Cycle of Sexual Assault in the Military." And there is a Forbes interview with GBT on the subject here.
A former army brat (non U.S.) and concerned mother, I recently met Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii, served two deployments to M.E.) and asked her what I should say to my daughter when she is looking at careers. The Congresswoman gave me the best answer she could give, under the circumstances, which mingled the right sentiments about patriotism and service to the country with being a strong woman and watching out for predators. All I could do was request her to put the right laws in place before my girl comes of age so that I can tell her "Yes -- the military is a great career." I hope good sense and the rule of law prevails even over the army.
After reading comments from well-meaning military officers that Sunday's portrayal of reporting rape is inaccurate and unfair, I have to comment. Sexual harassment or rape is such appalling and unimaginable behavior to the officers in my own military family that they are blind to that behavior and can't imagine that any discovered predator wouldn't be immediately severely punished. The facts however, say the problem of harassment and rape in the military is very real. This doesn't negate the honorable people in the military, but I must point out their blindness to the predators among them.
Why is Trudeau's understanding of rape in the military so inaccurate? Twenty minutes of online research can fix that. A Soldier raped by a Field Grade Officer doesn't go to him -- she reports it to the MPs and it goes straight to the General Officer above him. The best case scenario for that officer is his (or her) career -- 20 to 30 years of hard work -- is toast. And that's if they're highly decorated and the chain of command thinks they walk on water. More likely, either because of a need for justice or to sop to the PC crowd, that officer will get hung out to dry. They'll get demoted, go to jail, lose their pension, and become as welcome as a turd in a punchbowl amongst their peers. Indeed, the most sinister thing about it is that any Darwin Award-type individual who complains to their superior about that officer's own criminal behavior opens themselves to more criminal behavior.
I thought your strip of 12/8 very timely ,and wish the military higher-ups would read it, especially with the "Supporting your daughters in the Army" TV ads. Keep up the wonderful work.
Perhaps all those lambasting Sunday's strip about sexual abuse in the military ought to ask themselves why, if the reporting process through command channels is so open, available, non-discriminatory, and just, Gillibrand's amendment was so threatening that the DOD lobbied as hard as it could and, ultimately, succeeded in having it quashed. The thought of taking the reporting process out of the hands of the good-old-boy network must have been truly terrifying.
It's true that there are other ways to make the initial report of a rape in the military. But all of them lead right to the Senior Commander, who has the authority to dismiss the case, and can easily pursue retribution. Per the Military Rape Crisis Center: "In addition to any current existing channels of notification, within 24 hours of Service Member Smith’s Unrestricted report, the SARC [Sexual Assault Response Coordinator] will inform the Senior Commander that an assault has occurred, and provide the Commander with the details of the assault." Further, from the same page, "A MRCC study has shown that 92% of those reporting a sexual assault are discharged." That isn't anything like the worst that happens.
I have been appreciating Doonesbury since the 70s (and now I appreciate the video of the day feature, too.) Thank you for all you do to raise awareness and amuse. I'm glad you're back.
Today's rape cartoon broke my heart. I am a retired Colonel. One of my jobs was to dig into sexual assaults at a monthly base-wide meeting. I took this role very seriously, and we put a lot of people in Leavenworth. But based on the cartoon, the average reader might think I was just another part of the problem, somebody who swept rapes under the rug. This cartoon doesn't know me, doesn't know what I did, doesn't know my ethics. From the look of this cartoon, I clearly failed my country. These are the slights and indignities that cultivate my regrets. My thoughts that I didn't do enough to stop rape, substance abuse, suicide, racism. The cartoon makes me ashamed of my service, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. If you know me and others like me, you know it's wrong.
You ought to blow up today's Melissa Wheeler strip onto posterboard and send it to every member of Congress who has opposed or even balked on allowing service members to report crimes directly to the authorities. Bravo. Applause.
I usually enjoy Doonesbury, but as an active duty officer, today's strip left me ill. Mr. Trudeau should know full well that the command channel is not the only one available to report a crime. These multiple reporting channels are in place to preclude just such an event as the strip portrays.
I live at "ground zero" for this shameful behavior (rape in the military). I'm glad to see that some of the shameless perps are being prosecuted and sent to Leavenworth.
Today's strip involving a female military placing a complaint with her superior was wrong on many levels. The reporting process is much more than a single-level process. You have taken our military justice system to a level of non-care. You should be ashamed for portraying a cartoon colonel as representing how our military deals with the injustice of female abuse.
Today's strip shows why Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is pressing an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, which would move sexual assault and other crimes out of the military chain of command. The old-boy officer network hasn't done a particularly good job of policing themselves.