Morale: Fagmeister Fights Back

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August 16, 2010: A young U.S. Navy officer, an ensign, recently filed a complaint with the navy, claiming workplace harassment, when he was assigned a call sign that he found offensive. Newly assigned, as a non-flying administrative officer, to an F-18E outfit (Strike Fighter Squadron 136), the ensign was embarrassed by the other officers choosing a call sign for him that implied he was homosexual (he refused to discuss his sexual orientation). Among the suggested call signs for him were "Fagmeister" and "Romo's Bitch" (because the ensign was a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys, and their star player, Tony Romo). Eventually, the squadron officers selected "Romo's Bitch", and the offended ensign went to the Inspector General and filed the complaint for workplace harassment. The other officers in the squadron tried to make the ensign understand that it was all for fun. The offended ensign was not amused.

Two decades ago, only a few pilots in a squadron had call signs, but then, for morale purposes, every officer, even non-flying officers, got call signs. New officers were checked out by the squadron officers, and given a call sign. You did not get to choose. It was something of an entertainment for the officers. In the last decade, senior admirals have noted some problems with this, and quietly (and unofficially) advised officers to show some sensitivity in assigning call signs, especially to women and minority officers. But not all aviators got the memo, or committed it to memory. Aviators tend to do that, their main job being one that demands maximum insensitivity (to the enemy, which non-flying American officers can sometimes be mistaken for).

 

 

 


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