Reporters should ask Coffman why he thinks soldiers can tell who’s gay and why Coffman thinks this matters

Now that Rep. Mike Coffman’s congressional district is widely regarded as more competitive, reporters should take another look at Coffman’s media appearances over the past years, and ask questions where none were asked before.

Of course, the low-hanging fruit is on local talk radio, where questions about Coffman pile up in your head so quickly you start forgetting good ones unless you write them down.

So I’m going to roll out a series of these interviews over the holiday season, to lay out some questions that linger about him.

Coffman has made no secret of his opposition to repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, for example, at least for combat troops, who are, as he puts it, “at the tip of the spear.”

He’s argued:

“Interjecting sexuality into a ground combat team potentially creates an emotional divide between Marines that undermines confidence and prevents that interdependent bond from forming, ultimately compromising the combat effectiveness of the unit.”

That may sound extreme, but on the radio, mostly with, you-go-dude style enthusiasm from hosts, Coffman has gone further, arguing that combat troops can “just tell” when a fellow fighter is gay.

He dumps the qualifiers, like gays could “potentially” create problems, and goes straight to declarative assertions about the destructive impact of putting gay men in combat situations.

Below, former Bob Beauprez, subbing on the Caplis and Silverman show Dec. 21, 2009, got into the topic with Coffman:

Beauprez: You brought up something that I think is often forgotten. Outward displays of sexuality, however we want to, I guess, let our mind figure out what that really means, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual, they create a problem on the battlefield.

Coffman: Well they really do. And I think it’s hard for people to understand that. But it’s young people. And it’s not you punch out and go home at 5 o’clock. And even if it is no overt sexuality, there is an emotional tension there where people can tell.

Beauprez: Yeah, and that is not a good place for emotional tension.

Coffman: No it’s not.

Beauprez: You have enough of that going on.

I wish I could send one of those WTF Jon Stewart faces out of this blog, because reporters should ask Coffman how combat troops know who’s gay and who isn’t.

And if they think they do, how is that any different from them believing something else about a fellow soldier, like his race, class, or what have you? I mean, soldiers could suspect anything and everything, positive or negative, about  fellow soldiers, and either they’d get over it or they’d get disciplined, end of story.

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