Army Discharges Arabic-Speaking Soldier for Being Gay

Sonja Hokanson sonja.hokanson at
Tue Aug 8 01:10:54 UTC 2006

ABC News has left out important parts of this story, presenting only Copas'
(very edited) half-information, half-invention, and not checking validity with
the Staff Judge Advocate's office, or anyone else. 

If this listserv is going to continue to be of interest to language
researchers and linguists, then it should report only research which has been
checked for accuracy, which means not publishing what ABC News provides
until/UNLESS verified. Distributing hearsay and opinionated, one-sided
political ranting does nobody a service, and particularly not the supposed
"victim", reinforcing as it does victimhood rather than the taking of
responsibility for the genuine acts of one's life.

A concerned researcher,
Sonja G. Hokanson, Ph.D.

------ Original Message ------
Received: 04:20 AM PDT, 08/07/2006
From: "Harold F. Schiffman" <haroldfs at>
To: Language Policy-List <lgpolicy-list at>
Subject: Army  Discharges Arabic-Speaking Soldier for Being Gay

> 8/6/06
> Army Discharges Arabic-Speaking Soldier for Being Gay
> Growing up in Johnson City, Tenn., Bleu Copas was inspired by stories from
> his father's military days. Inspired to serve his country after the 9/11
> terrorist attacks, Copas enlisted in the Army, and before long, began
> studying Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in California, after
> which he began working in military intelligence.  "It is indisputable that
> the work that my specific job does is one of the most important jobs of
> the military," said the 26-year-old Copas. "It is very difficult to keep
> tabs on all the different enemies."
> There was just one problem: Copas is gay. His sexuality led to his
> discharge in December 2005, despite his being one of the military's
> relatively few Arabic speakers. He's now pursuing a Masters degree in
> counseling at East Tennessee State University. The policy against gays
> serving openly in the military, known as "don't ask, don't tell," was
> signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. A 2004 study by the
> Government Accountability Office found that of the 9,488 service members
> discharged from the military for gay and lesbian conduct, approximately
> 757 - or 8 percent - "held critical occupations," meaning the kinds of
> jobs for which the Pentagon offers selective reenlistment bonuses. That
> number included 322 with "skills in an important language such as Arabic,
> Farsi, or Korean." That GAO report can be read HERE.
> While 67 percent of the American people think gays and lesbians should be
> able to serve openly, according to a study done by the Annenberg Public
> Policy, 50 percent of those in the military think they should not. The
> military says the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is needed for unit
> cohesion. Copas was well aware of the policy, and said he did just what
> they require. He said he did not tell anyone at work he was gay, and
> assumed no one there would ever have reason to ask him about it. "I was
> not able to tell anyone, and I had to maintain my privacy and maintain
> professionalism in the workplace," Copas said.
> So how was Copas outed?  Copas said that last year, someone got into his
> personal e-mail account and sent e-mails indicating he's gay to his
> commanders, noting that the e-mails belonged to someone in the 82nd
> Airborne Division's All American Chorus. "So the leaders of the chorus
> brought us into the hallway," Copas said, "and asked us, or let us know,
> 'We know one of you is gay, who is it?'" Copas didn't admit he was the
> one, but soon they were all asked about those e-mails.
> "[They asked], 'Do I know of anyone who thinks I am homosexual, or do I
> associate with others who are homosexual, and am I involved in the
> community theatre?' " Copas said. The question about community theater
> came up because of content in the e-mails, he explained. "There were some
> questions that I declined to answer, that I didn't think would help in
> finding the informant," Copas said. "Later, that ended up hurting me."
> In a written statement, Copas's commanding officer, Lt Col. James Zellmer
> said: "When the allegations of Sgt. Copas' homosexual conduct came to my
> attention, I appointed an impartial officer to conduct an investigation.
> .. The evidence clearly indicated that Sgt. Copas had engaged in
> homosexual acts and made statements in a public forum indicating a
> propensity and intent to engage in homosexual acts." Last December, Copas
> was notified that he would be honorably discharged because he was gay, and
> all because of that anonymous e-mailer. He said he still has no idea who
> it was.
> "I have wracked my brains for months, a year now, trying to find out who
> this is," he said. Copas said "don't ask, don't tell" may have made sense
> 11 years ago, but it does not today. "I think, especially now of all
> times, the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy hurts the war on terror," he
> said. Copas said even though he thinks the military violated its own
> policy by asking when he wasn't telling, he was discharged with full
> benefits, so he has no intention to sue. He hopes to be a voice for those
> in the military who aren't able to serve "honestly," and to tell Congress
> that the military is ready to begin accepting gays and lesbians to serve
> openly.
> Source: ABC News


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