[Marxism] The Turkish Army’s Gay Porn Archive

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 9 11:30:12 MST 2012

Counterpunch Weekend Edition March 9-11, 2012

Shaft the Draft!
The Turkish Army’s Gay Porn Archive

In the immortal words of Frank Zappa, from his ode ‘If Only She 

    “You got a letter today…
   Life And love
   Has left you shafted
   And on top of that
   You just got drafted”

Words to strike a chill in many a good-hearted American who can 
remember the Vietnam War and the forced recruitment of young men 
to serve as trained killers for the War Machine, or perhaps a 
grateful sigh of relief that there is no longer mandatory 
conscription since the United States discontinued the draft in 
1973. At present it maintains it collossal military force with an 
all-volunteer personnel. Unemployment helps.

Not so democratic in some other countries around the world, where 
regardless of unemployment figures, young males are still legally 
forced to serve time in the military. One such country is Turkey.

Compulsory military service in Turkey applies to all male citizens 
from twenty to forty-one years of age. The duration is up to 
fifteen months, when, apart from training as soldiers, conscripts 
are forced to work for officers’ private needs, including driving, 
cooking and serving meals in officers’ clubs.

Most young male Turks accept their obligatory call-up with a 
resigned shrug. It’s the way things are. Besides, refusing 
military service due to conscientious objection is illegal, and 
speaking publicly against the army or conscription rates as 
“undermining Turkish people’s zeal towards military” and 
“insulting the spirit of the Armed Forces”, both punishable 
offenses. Better to bear the term in military hell than face 
censure and perhaps prison.

Or what about another way out? For example, homosexuality is 
perceived as an illness by the Turkish military, and gays and 
bisexuals are barred from serving. Why not just claim to be gay, 
and get away? Well, it’s not quite as easy as that. Apart from the 
social stigma of being openly gay in macho-minded Turkey, the top 
brass want evidence.

All you have to do to get out of doing your military service is to 
present photographic or video evidence of your participation in 
homosexal acts with others. Get shafted and you won’t get drafted! 
You might get some friends to help out. Then after intimate 
questioning by army officers and perhaps an anal check-up, if 
they’re convinced you’re gay you’ll be barred from the military. 
Yippee! No more “You’re in the Army now!” But at what a cost! And 
what happened to those sordid pictures the inspecting officers 
were poring over? They will be kept in your confidential file in 
Ankara Military Hospital, which has been described as ‘the biggest 
state owned gay porn archive in the world.’ Yes, many unfortunate 
gay brothers have been forced to degrade themselves in such a way 
rather than endure time in the army.

A recent Turkish film, “Zenne,” movingly depicts one such case. 
The man who came out rather than face military service was shot 
and killed by his conservative father.

Mehmet Tahan, an anti-war protestor, who, although gay, refused to 
recognize his sexuality as an illness or an excuse to escape 
service, spent several months as a conscientious objector in 
prison, where he was tortured and threatened. In a statement 
before his arrest Mehmet Tahan said:

   “I condemn every kind of violence and believe that joining or 
condoning violence will only result in new violence and everyone 
will be responsible for the consequences. I think that wars caused 
by power-mongering states are first and foremost a violation of 
the right to life. The violation of the right to life is a crime 
against humanity and no international convention or law can 
justify this crime, regardless of any rationale. I therefore 
declare that I won’t be an agent of such crime under any 
circumstances. I will not serve any military apparatus.”

Well said! Go shaft your draft!

Michael Dickinson lives in Istanbul. He can be contacted at 
michaelyabanji at gmail.com

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