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Tom Toles fires letter back to Joint Chief

Last year in February, Tom Toles received a rare and public letter signed by six Joint Chiefs of staff members criticizing him for a cartoon that he did depicting a multiple amputee soldier and a callous Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. With the latest flap over General Peter Pace’s recent comments calling homosexuality immoral, Tom has written a letter back condemning the Marine general.

The cartoon/letter says:

To Peter Pace, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

I was extremely disappointed to hear you question the morality of some of the men and women who serve this country in uniform, many of whom have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds. I find it beyond tasteless.

These are brave men and women with a sense of purpose and self-commitment from the cities and farmlands of this great nation. I believe you have done a disservice to your institution and your reputation by using such a callous description of those who volunteered to defend this nation

Your pen pal,

Tom Toles

Hat tip: Mike Rhodes ComicsDC

Community Comments

#1 Helos
March/16/2007
@ 8:10 am

This sounds like a rather juvenile “back atcha'” letter. So what does Mr. Toles object to – enforcing Federal law embodied by the Uniform Code of Military Justice? Punishing military personnel for adultery when it involves another military person’s spouse? Enforcing regulations on fraternization? Enforcing regulations on homosexual conduct (that’s “conduct” – not “what a person is”)?

His personal views on “morality” were pretty much consistent with the result of law passed by Congress (no criticism of all the Congresspersons who voted for the laws?).

He never said anything against people for what they are – tall, short, heterosexual, homosexual, sex, color. Even so, if he’d have said “current policy based upon current law” instead of “my opinion” the discussion would have remained on revision of “don’t ask, don’t tell” instead of “payback to the general.”

#2 Mikhaela
March/16/2007
@ 8:28 am

Helos, you are completely off base–Gen. Pace made a horribly derogatory comment about gay and lesbian military members, calling them “immoral”, and it’s silly to try to say he was only calling gay acts immoral. Tom makes a good point with his letter, skewering Pace’s hypocrisy.

#3 Helos
March/16/2007
@ 8:41 am

I did not read his remarks that way. He began by describing adultery. Then he commented on homosexual “acts.” I did not recall hearing him say, nor was I able to find citation in a transcript, where he said “homosexuals are immoral.” I thought he was pretty careful to distinguish between “people” and “acts.” But again, he found out the danger of interjecting personal views into Public Law debates.

If you can provide a citation (not an editorial or a description in a wire service) where he called a class of serving military “immoral” I’d like to see it – I’d be happy to change my mind.

#4 D T
March/16/2007
@ 10:02 am

I think you are both a bit off-base. General Pace’s comments, given as they were as a representative of the military, were unfortunately a mixed bag. Where he spoke of policy, I believe he was spot on. When he brought his personal judgement in, I believe he erred.

He erred not because he is not entitled to his own personal feelings, nor did he err because there is no moral issue involved. But, he erred as a government representative who had the opportunity to explain the situation in a pure policy context and he failed to do so. And in so doing, he opened himself to the self-righteous criticism of those who do not believe in codes of personal conduct or right and wrong – after all, right and wrong are “relative” terms to those moral relativists. I believe the psychological term is “rationalism”.

Mr Toles hardly conceiled his contempt for the General by not addressing him by his rank. A very petty gesture. Sad.

#5 Helos
March/16/2007
@ 10:36 am

DT – well put. Thanks. I’ve read through parts of the Uniform Code of Militry Justice – most is based on law. Military have a lot of restrictions different from the rest of us – they can be prosecuted (as in felony trial) for making disparaging comments about their own Congressmen. They can go to prison for having sex with a subordinate. So it’s a whole different world they volunteer for. The way to change is to work through Congress – not to demean an honorable person.

#6 AJ
March/16/2007
@ 12:21 pm

Peter Pace is despicable and should be removed from duty for making such remarks about people he knows are part of an organization he commands, and where his duty is to treat soldiers equally as they risk their lives to defend strangers.

He should also be removed from duty for the military incompetence demonstrated through his actions and statements in regard to the Iraq war.

#7 SR
March/16/2007
@ 12:40 pm

DT
of course your comment is a perfect example of how to be a relative moralist.
To call Tom Toles a man without a moral code of right and wrong – when clearly by his “letter” he does, says more about you than him.

#8 DT
March/16/2007
@ 1:29 pm

Re: SR’s comments

…and there it is, ladies and gentlemen. Not once did I refer to Tom Toles as a “man without a moral code of right and wrong”…what I said was that General Pace opened himself to be criticised by those who do not believe in codes of conduct and right and wrong…not the same thing…

besides, even if that were what I said, how, pray tell me, is that an example of how to be a “relative moralist”. If you are going to try to make a point, please, at least try to make a cohesive one.

#9 Rich
March/16/2007
@ 1:46 pm

Well said DT and Helos.

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