“The full policy is ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell. Don’t pursue, don’t harass. Unfortunately, the only thing that is strictly enforced is the don’t tell part.”
– Alex Nicholson, former Human Intelligent Collector, U.S. Army.
Ask Not is a new documentary by Johnny Symons which examines the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy adopted by the military during the Clinton administration. The documentary explores the inplementation of that policy and actual affect it has on gays and lesbians serving in our armed forces through three distinct perspectives.
The Call to Duty Tour was organized by Alex Nicholson, a former multi-lingual, Army human intelligence collector who was discharged 6 months after 9/11 because he was gay. Along with fellow former U.S. Army serviceman Jarrod Chlapowski and retired Rear Admiral Alan Steinman, the highest ranking openly gay serviceman in the armed forces, the tour of college campuses was organized to promote discussions and try to bring to light that DADT is different from the racial integration issue because DADT is in fact legalized discrimination.
Johnny Symons has crafted a smart, balanced, provocative documentary that is as informative as it is emotionally charged. The blend of testimonial and archival news footage, ironically, does lend credibility to both aides of the issue. Andrew Gersh’s editing of masterfully executed.
Regardless of which side of the issue you might find yourself, this documentary is particularly poignant for one basic reason: the statistics of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ” policy are undisputed. Fact: Gay and lesbian servicemen and women do not enjoy the same privilege of confidentiality from their doctors or their chaplains that their straight counterparts do. Fact: In order to reach enrollment goals, armed forces agencies are lowering their standards of admission to accept convicted felons and individuals of questionable psychological health. Fact: 6,500 servicemen and women were discharged under the DADT policy; some of which were highly trained personnel whose skillset is sorely needed in the current war overseas.
Serviceman Fred Fox, a member of the Call to Duty Tour stood before a university class and made this statement. “I’m a soldier. And a soldier follows orders… If I’m asked to stand post for 4 hours, I’ll hold it for twenty. If I’m told to serve beside a gay soldier, then that is what I will do. Because a soldier follows orders.”
Shouldn’t it be that simple?
Ask Not is schedule to broadcast on PBS in 2009.