Feature

Video scandal fells Navy skipper

Capt. Owen P. Honors was relieved of his command of the Enterprise after revelations that he had produced lewd videos and broadcast them to sailors on the aircraft carrier's closed-circuit television.

The Navy stripped Capt. Owen P. Honors of command of the aircraft carrier Enterprise this week, after revelations that he had produced lewd videos and broadcast them to thousands of sailors on the vessel’s closed-circuit television. As the Enterprise’s second-in-command during 2006 and 2007, Honors starred in elaborate video skits that mocked homosexuals and showed officers pretending to masturbate and eat feces. He leeringly introduced one episode as “my favorite topic, something foreign to the gay kid over there: chicks in the shower.” A Facebook support group that includes former Enterprise shipmates emerged quickly to defend Honors and his “Movie Nights,” which Honors apparently considered morale-boosters. But the Navy cited the former F-14 “Top Gun” pilot for “profound lack of good judgment and professionalism” and assigned him to a desk job in Norfolk, Va.

What’s next? said Daniel Foster in National Review Online, “sensitivity training for drill sergeants?” Something’s deeply wrong when the commander of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier—“the greatest instrument of American power projection ever devised”— is “sacrificed to the PC gods” for a couple of off-color jokes. The worst part, said William Van Slyke in the New York Daily News, is the “abject hypocrisy” of television news organizations decrying the videos’ inappropriateness before returning “to their regularly scheduled, deeply inappropriate programming.” Honors’ videos are “far less offensive than any single episode of The Family Guy.

This was no “‘boys will be boys’ prank,” said Glenn McNatt in BaltimoreSun.com. A naval captain should know by now that “misogyny, sexual harassment, and gay-bashing are unacceptable.” They’ve been out of fashion since the 1991 Tailhook scandal, when naval aviators sexually assaulted women at a convention. Yet many in the Navy still “don’t get it,” said Michael S. Loescher in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. The fact that so many “see nothing wrong” in Honors’ actions is “even more appalling” than what he did. Now that his career is over, Honors could seal his “distinguished service” to the nation by explaining to his many supporters why he was wrong. That would prevent Honors’ “venial sin” from becoming the Navy’s mortal wound.

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