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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Navy Apologizes for 'High jack this fags
by Bob Roehr
2001-10-24

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The Pentagon responded to a photo of antigay graffiti scrawled on a bomb destine to be dropped on Afghanistan, calling it "inappropriate." Rear Admiral S. R. Pietropaoli said, "Steps were taken to prevent a recurrence of this unfortunate incident."

The comments came in an Oct. 17 letter from the Navy to the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) , as a follow up to an earlier telephone conversation.

The controversial photo showed the words "High jack this fags" written in chalk on a bomb slung under the wing of an attack jet. The photo was taken aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise as it cruised in the Arabian Sea, launching planes bound for Afghanistan. It was sent out by the Associated Press on Oct. 11 and quickly pulled when voices rose in protest.

AP has called distribution of the photo a lapse in editorial judgment by a photo editor.

It has threatened to take legal action against any publication that uses the photo once it was withdrawn.

The military has no formal policy on what may be written on bombs. However, Pietropaoli said they "expect oversight and leadership on the scene to ensure such actions are appropriate."

"The letter was a welcome clarification and we are pleased the Navy has state that this type of antigay behavior has no place in our armed forces," said HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch in a released statement. "We are appreciative they have actively taken steps to end antigay episodes such as this."

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network ( SLDN ) was more restrained in its response. "We appreciate the letter to HRC. The Navy has acknowledged, yet again, that harassment does occur" within its ranks, said spokesman Steve Ralls.

"But that response is not sufficient, we would like to see people held accountable and corrective action taken," he said. "That would be the most direct indication that they are taking this seriously."

Ralls declined to comment on what might constitute appropriate action, as that may depend upon the rank of the person who scrawled the graffiti at the center of the controversy.

SLDN is still awaiting a response to their Oct. 12 letter to the Secretary of the Navy on the issue of accountability.


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