City Desk

Weekend in Review

No wonder the Washington Post is playing up the story on its homepage. That's what happens when the paper provides compelling Sunday reading. I am talking about the feature piece in Outlook titled "I Didn't Tell. It Didn't Matter."; it's about a young man, Joseph Rocha, who served in the Navy and got abused constantly over his sexuality.

The gripping part comes when the Rocha, a dog handler, describes in extensive detail just what his superiors did to torment him:

Once, the abuse was an all-day event; a training scenario turned into an excuse to humiliate me. Normally we ran the dogs through practice situations — an earthquake, a bomb or a fight — that we might encounter in our work. That day, in a classroom at an American school in Bahrain, with posters of the Founding Fathers lining the walls, the scenario happened to be me. I was the decoy, and I had to do just what Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint ordered.

In one corner of the classroom was a long sofa, turned away from the door. When you walked into the room, it appeared that one man was sitting on it, alone. But I was there too — the chief had decided that I would be down on my hands and knees, simulating oral sex. A kennel support staff member and I were supposed to pretend that we were in our bedroom and that the dogs were catching us having sex. Over and over, with each of the 32 dogs, I was forced to enact this scenario.

Unreal. As if you needed any more evidence that don't ask, don't tell is a fiasco. And though Rocha's misery may be the most common way in which the policy's scourge manifested itself, there are others as well, as Rocha points out. He recounts how commanders who received allegations of man-on-woman sexual abuse used don't ask, don't tell to get their men out of trouble. It went this way: "'You weren't sexually assaulted by a male in my unit. I hear you're a lesbian.' After all, homosexuals have no rights in our military. You can't sexually assault someone who doesn't exist."

Humane, huh?

On other fronts, if you're going to read the Food Issue of this weekend's New York Time Magazine, try the piece on British chef and good-food evangelist Jamie Oliver, but skip about 1,000 words in, and get to the good part about his trying to bring healthier eating habits to Huntington, W. Va. Pretty good stuff. There's an eatery in town that makes a 15-pound burger.

What else? Oh yes, the retrocast, which called for glorious temperatures and just about perfect early-autumn weather here in the mid-Atlantic.

Where do you go for the latest on taxi-scandal news? Well, you're already there. Check out Loose Lips columnist Mike DeBonis's latest on the story behind the story. He's got an interview with East Coast taxi mogul Solomon Bekele, and it says quite a lot about where D.C. fits in with national cab trends. As of this writing, there are three comments on this post. Rockin'!

Apparently the Washington Times has decided that seven years marks the appropriate anniversary to do a monster look-back at the sniper shootings in the area. This undertaking runs through seven page clicks on the Times Web site, which is about seven too many for my interest in rehashing the most hashed episode in the history of Washington-region crime. Plus there's the typo that allegedly—at least according to the comments—first appeared at the top of the story: "7 Lears Later"

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  • Truth Hurts

    Rocha's tale, if true, is disgusting. Is this our country today?

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