Army Discharges Arabic-Speaking Soldier for Being Gay

Michael Erard erard at
Tue Aug 8 20:50:15 UTC 2006

Lisa Pierce writes, "However, the only thing language related in this
was that he studied Arabic."

That's wrong.

This is a language policy list. The fact that the US government, its
military and its intelligence agencies do not possess the level or
amount of foreign language expertise that is required for national
security is a topic that is relevant for this list. The shortage has
been well-documented in the press and congressional hearings and is
driving research and spending by the federal government. I'll point
you to one
turned up in a Google search that says that the US military needs
7200 Arabic linguists.

So the main issue here is the shortage of foreign language experts,
and any factors that perpetuate or reduce this shortage. Copas not
only "studied Arabic," he was an "Arabic translator," and that makes
this list a legitimate venue for disseminating news articles about
his firing. There is no opinion about homosexual rights, either in
the military or out of it, that's implied in including such articles
on this list -- in fact, the only people I see who are bringing up
the issue of gay rights are Pierce and Hokanson. So yes: if you want
to argue about gay rights, please go somewhere else.

Michael Erard
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