Stand-Up Comic vs. Air Force Colonel: Who's the Real Joker?
The latest stand-up comedy "controversy" is one you probably haven't heard about yet, unless you're serving in the United States Air Force.
Earlier this month, veteran comic Mitch Fatel performed for the troops at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England.
One audience member -- Colonel Mark K. Ciero, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander -- didn't care for Fatel's raunchy jokes.
According to Stars & Stripes, Ciero's report on the show up at the Lakenheath website has "prompted Air Force officials to review procedures regarding entertainment provided to troops."
The performance comes at a time when the U.S. military is reeling from a number of sex assault scandals that have prompted top military and civilian leadership to stress a zero-tolerance policy toward such incidents.
Indeed, although it's tempting to wonder whether or not the sudden "increase" in sexual assaults is simply a rise in the number of reports filed, due perhaps to changes in the definition of "sexual assault" or any number of other factors.
Given recent history, we're well advised to proceed with caution when dealing with such alleged sexual "epidemics."
They often turn out to be fanciful "moral panics" that cause even greater harm to innocent individuals and to society as a whole.
And frankly, I find Colonel Ciero's article condemning Fatel's sexually charged comedy routine pretty darned troubling in its own right.
Here's how his report begins (and no, I'm not making this up):
Call me Darius. King Darius ruled the greatest empire the world ever knew and then was routed. In 331 BC, the Persian King, with an empire stretching from Europe to China, encountered a rogue band of conquerors led by a long-haired Mede named Alexander. Alexander assaulted, retreated and then assaulted again until he crossed the Persian lines. The oblique attack caught the king off-guard and instead of taking charge, Darius fled.
Call me Darius.
Last Saturday night I left the comedy show at our Liberty Club...
Ciero goes on to describe Fatel's "offensive" routine in euphemistic, out of context, fatally unfunny detail.
He is particularly disgusted by what he interprets to be a "date rape" joke.
(In his lengthy, thoughtful defense posted at Laughspin, Mitch Fatel insists, "You will not find a bigger fan of the United States Military than myself." I add that Fatel's flaky onstage persona is pretty obviously a character, and not "himself.")
Anyway, the colonel goes on (and again, you can read it for yourself right here):
I left the show. I could have taken charge, upheld the line of our new military culture of professionalism and respect, and interrupted the comedian.
As Airmen and leaders, we are taught to intervene - Every Airman a Sensor - Be a Good Wingman - Intervene, Act, Motivate - STOP! Make the Right Call. On all accounts, I failed to stand up and take the sword from the attacker, the microphone from the comedian. Instead, I departed and reported.
Unfortunately, just one week earlier I stood in the same room and evoked Gen. George Washington's memory as an example to our NCO-selects on how to lead our Airmen and uphold a culture of discipline and respect.
In 1778, the defeated Continental Army was encamped at Valley Forge...
I'm gonna stop there because I'm sincerely afraid you stopped believing this story was legit a while back.
Remember the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting, when General George Casey declared, "I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here"?
It certainly was news to me that "diversity" was an actual martial virtue, like bravery or even neatness.
Now I'm learning that the Air Force has not one but a crapload of politically correct programs with borderline satirical names, all aimed at
fighting jihad raising awareness about supposed sexual harassment and assault.
If such programs are truly necessary, then there is something wrong with the United States Armed Forces.
If such programs are not, in fact, necessary, then there is something wrong with the United States Armed Forces.
And don't bother googling it, by the way:
I checked, and that "sexual assault awareness raising" program really is called "Every Airman a Sensor."
Not yet, anyhow.