Reader Joe reports finding that what looked like a lemon was in fact a dish of lemon sorbet:
Kevin Drum thought he found some bad news the other day. Apparently, only 22% of military officers who are field-grade or higher believe that the US should allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
Bad news? Not at all, when you look at the cross-tabs provided by Foreign Policy magazine, which ran the poll. Indeed, it is very good news indeed. The last question on the survey: “What is your age?” The breakdown:
38% 71+ years
34% 61-70 years
17% 51-60 years
6% 41-50 years
6% 31-40 years
.03% 25-30 years
Attitudes toward gay and lesbian folk are intensely generational, with homophobia increasing with age. Also, most officers retire in their early 50’s. Put these two facts together with the age distribution, and what do you get? Most active serving officers probably think that open service by gays and lesbians is a good idea! The poll is skewed by the retired blimps, who probably had more time on their hands, and were more likely to fill out the survey. Furthermore, the survey does not claim to be random.
It would be nice if Foreign Policy magazine could release the detailed cross-tabs showing attitude by age. But from what I see, our active military — especially those senior officers who will be serving in the Obama administration — support openly gay and lesbian troops.
There are two morals to this story. First, our military is far less troglodytic than some of its civilian boosters would have you think. Second, polls aren’t very useful if you don’t look at the cross-tabs.
Let me only add that this is consistent with what I heard from a junior officer who recently served a tour in Iraq: there’s still resistance to gays in the military among older colonels and generals, but everyone else thinks it’s a non-issue. It’s also consistent with the finding that discharges under “Don’t ask, don’t tell” have been 40% lower since 9/11 than they were before it.