Thursday, September 17, 2009

A new breed of CPOs

Around the fleet this week, thousands of former first class petty officers have put away their crackerjacks and are wearing new sets of khakis.

Since I was in the Navy, the chief petty officer's initiation has been modified, the weeks of harassment replaced by a period of instruction. Chief-selectees study leadership, do bookwork and deliver reports.

It's a drastic change from what I went through. Frankly, though, I would have been better off if my CPO training had involved more study of leadership and less memorizing of dirty poems.

Six months after I put on my anchors, I couldn't convince a seaman to clean a urinal without getting into a shouting match, but I could recite all 16 verses of "Sandpaper Sal, the Signalman's Pal."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Concerning Discretion

Occasionally, I delete readers' comments to posts at Navy Lyres.

It's a matter of discretion. Salty language is one thing; trotting out vulgar nicknames of old bandleaders is another. Telling sea stories is a cherished tradition; publicizing long-ago events that should remain private is a tasteless offense.

While Navy Lyres is independent from the Navy Musicians Association, I consider this site a goodwill gesture toward and recruiting tool for that organization I love. At this year's reunion I met three new members who told me they found out about the NMA through Navy Lyres. What do you suppose the chances of their joining would have been if they'd visited this site and read nasty comments about themselves or their shipmates?

If you seek a community of like-minded character assassins with whom to share your resentments and disdain for authority you'll have to find another forum. Barrooms, transient barracks and Tea Parties come to mind.

Simply put, freedom of speech does not exist at Navy Lyres. That first amendment freedom, in whose defense we have served, prohibits congress from passing laws that limit expression. Nowhere does it say that Frank Mullen cannot prevent readers of Navy Lyres from listing the character defects of their old chiefs.

Someone has to decide what is or isn't appropriate at Navy Lyres, and I'm the Decider.