Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Just Sayin'

The opinions stated in this post do not reflect the opinion of the Kinda Big Fire Protection District, The Kinda Big Firefighter's Association or the management of either organization. They are the sole position of the author. 


There has been a tremendous amount of media attention focused on the U.S. Navy over the last few days, the overwhelming majority of it regarding some videos that were produced on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise. These videos were produced under the direction of the Enterprise's Executive Officer Captain Owen Honors, by all accounts an exemplary naval command officer. Honors was held in such high regard, that he was promoted to Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise since the videos were made.

According to media accounts, the videos were produced on board the Enterprise and were shown on the ship's CCTV network. At least some of the videos were intended to be humorous or satirical in nature and poked fun at some of the odd living situations that arise on board the ship.

It appears that some of the videos offended someone, who leaked at least three videos to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, who in turn published an article about the footage and posted them on their website. The news networks picked up the story and the rest (as is Capt. Honors as it turns out) is history.

I watched the three videos that the Virginian-Pilot has up on their website. They are crude in places, vulgar in a few others. They contain a lot of "inside" humor that few outside of the navy or perhaps even the U.S.S. Enterprise will "get". There is profanity, including the "Queen Mother of  All Bad Words", poopie humor, and insinuated sexual situations including bestiality and homosexual activities. Other than the profanity, everything that I saw could be viewed on network television after 10 PM.

My mother and my pastor would be terribly offended. I thought most of it was humorous, though silly is a few places.Get a few beers in me and I would be rolling on the floor in laughter, maybe even peeing myself.

What does offend me is the self righteous indignation that the media has displayed while reporting this story and the lack of fortitude on behalf of the Navy in their response. The hypocrisy of bombarding the masses with crude humor on television for the sole purpose of selling ad space, then going after Capt. Honors for his videos is ridiculous. In the era of shock-jocks, an un-censored internet and Jerry Springer, a puritanical warrior class is impractical, if not absurd. Outtakes of newsroom audio, city desk rants and the poor behavior of many media icons further highlights the hypocrisy involved with this story.

That a few sailors may have been offended by these videos is of some concern, although almost any activity can be found offensive by somebody. Plenty of things offend me, I just don't expect anybody to provide relief to my indignation.

My primary concerns for a naval captain, is that he protects to the best of ability, his ship, his sailors and the fleet from harm; that he delivers ordinance on the proper target at tge proper time and that he kills as many of the enemy that is required to fulfill his assigned mission. The ancillary components to support the primary mission are important as well. According to most accounts, Honors fulfilled all of these missions.

Would I have produced these videos were I in Honor's position? Likely no. I say likely because I really don't have any knowledge of the naval aviator culture or the shipboard culture. I suspect there are some similarities between firehouse culture and shipboard culture, but I really don't know. I do know that the Chief of the KBFPD would not see the humor of these videos and would not condone their production.

There is much speculation as to whether Honor's superiors knew of the videos and their content. As they appeared to be produced over several years, I believe they did. I also believe that Honor's superiors didn't have a major issue with them, as they promoted him long after they were produced and broadcast. 

Some will respond to this posting and argue that the issue isn't about humor but about judgment. I agree, but again, I don't care about Honor's judgment in regards to humor or taste, I care about his judgment in regards to warfare. That is what we pay him to do, the rest is just bullshit, as was his firing.

I'm just sayin'.

Thanks for reading,


  1. I agree with you. The video's were meant for the ship and only the ship. If it does what it takes to relieve the stress of 6 months at sea then I would say that he was looking out for his men and provided an outlet.

    From personal experience of an incident on a call, the news tends to blow things out of proportion or skew information for ratings/shock factor. Yes, it should have been kept inhouse and from what I have seen was. Sadly, when the S@#t hits the fan everyone tends to scatter and you are left holding the bag.

  2. I read the news article first, then this blog, then watched the video. I was expecting some truly shocking stuff. On balance it's nothing worse than an American Pie movie. The 'gay' jokes are clearly in reference to an obvious rivalry between the two jobs. The shower scene isn't demeaning. I think it's also fairly obvious only officially did the captain and the admiral not know about the movies.

    On balance maybe it is a bit inappropriate coming from the XO, it is 'college' humour. But really is no worse than an American Pie movie. Discipline him but don't sack him!

  3. Lisa - Good point, it was an "in house" project, not meant to be viewed by the public. A little naive on Honor's behalf perhaps and he is left holding the bag. What happens to his superiors will totally depend on whether the media is satisfied with Honor's head.

    Rob - I agree, but the Navy feels that a head must roll,so far it is Honors who feels the scythe. I'll bet he doesn't do that again!

    Thanks for the comments !

  4. love the blog.

    you're wrong on this one though. in a country where sexism and homophobia is still rampant, in the military where even being able to admit you are homosexual is still controversial, any leader who doesn't *at least* respect that sensitivity is someone who doesn't deserve to be called a leader. those people are there to set an example, his example was a really, really bad one.

    your reference to television is misplaced. he isn't a comedian. he isn't a script writer. he is a naval officer who took an oath "I will abide by an uncompromising code of integrity [and will] conduct myself in the highest ethical manner in relationships with seniors, peers and subordinates."

    in this instance he spectacularly failed to live up to that.

    i mean, really, he starts off the video saying something along the lines of "i've done this before, i've gotten complaints, turn off the tv and go hug yourself or you're going to be offended again".

    this is a man who knew what he was doing was built to offend and didn't care.

    does this mean he couldn't command a ship during a fight. nope. i think it suggests he has bad judgement and *perhaps* that bad judgement would also lead to kids getting killed. but it doesn't necessarily mean that.

    but lets assume for a moment that he's a brilliant commander and a cad. should he keep his job?

    nope. there are plenty of people capable of being brilliant commanders and *not* being a cad. one of them should get the job instead. honors made it quite clear he doesn't care what other people think of him.

    and if he finds that offensive. well, he can turn off his tv and go hug himself. that road runs both ways, sir.

  5. rw2 - I'm glad you enjoy my blog and I appreciate your comment.

    I can accept your position regarding the Captain's responsibility to follow a higher standard than the societal norm. I must admit that I had never read the oath given by naval officers and depending on the context of your statement, it appears that he felt short of his oath.

    Having said that, the focus of my post was more about the media's reaction to the event, the intensity of their reporting of it and the Navy's willingness to throw Honors to the wolves once the media got ahold of it.

    I maintain that it is very unlikely the Captain of the Enterprise and the Fleet staff did not know about the videos. With a complement as large as the Enterprise's they had to have gotten off ship. If so, why did they not become an issue and why was Honors promoted?

    Those questions suggest two possibilities:

    1 - The superiors did not have an issue with them because the did not deem them outside the cultural norm of an officer in Honors position and took action only due to media reaction.

    2 - The Navy is an institutionally sexist and homophobic organization that deliberately strives to make women and homosexuals targets of organized harassment.

    I find both scenarios reprehensible, though for different reasons. My objection to the first scenario would be from the standpoint that the actions of the Navy were predicated upon media pressure. My disgust for the second scenario is second because it's morally wrong. I choose to think the first scenario is the more likely one, but I really don't know.

    Either way, the Navy caved and tossed Honors aside due to media pressure, not moral righteousness. I find that offensive.

    Thanks for the comment RW2. I was going to hit the rack early, but I felt the need to reply to your comment.

  6. Cap,

    Lots of talk on this over at and Most would agree with you, as do I.

    The videos were done 3-4 years ago. At a certain point, he was told by his superiors to stop doing them, as they felt they were in poor taste. Yet he was promoted, and so were his superiors who knew about the videos. While this may have rated a verbal or written reprimand, his removal from command just prior to deployment is not only wrong, it is detrimental to the readiness of the USS Enterprise and the Navy.

    It should be noted that the videos were made at a time when his ship, the oldest carrier in the fleet, was involved in extensive combat operations that required intense effort and long days by the crew. Keeping those old reactors in repair and launching and recovering that many aircraft had to be stressful, and the videos were meant to pass the word, inject some humor, and maintain the morale of the crew.

    Many believe this is payback from the left for the relief and cashiering of a female captain. She was known as a tyrant to her crews, yet was promoted and given plum assignments until her actions got media attention. The timing of the release and the editing of the videos does lend some credence to a witch hunt. I'm not sure about that, but this whole incident reeks of Tailhook all over again.

  7. I think I can capture the gap between some of us here in a couple sentences.

    There is a group who thinks it's bad that Honor's was thrown to the wolves once the media got hold of the story.

    There is another group who thinks it's bad that it took media exposure to get the Navy to do the right thing.