The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
Lewd videos - Navy Captain Owen Honors of USS Enterprise must be relieved of duty
Monday, January 3rd, 2011
The commanding officer of the USS Enterprise (a nuclear aircraft carrier) is finally being investigated for offensive videos he made and aired in 2006 and 2007. At the time, he was the Executive Officer (2nd in command), but since the incident he was promoted to the Commanding Officer.
The Virginian-Pilot newspaper posted an edited version of the video in which the officer uses foul language, makes fun of gays and calls them fags, shows same-sex couples taking showers together, cross-dressing, and scenes simulating masturbation. While some argue that the videos were just done for entertainment purposes, this officer crossed several lines of conduct and he must be disciplined accordingly. So what is the big deal? I look at two things: First, is the content of the video, and second, is his duty as an officer to lead by example.
As a former sailor, I know what life is like on a ship and there are a lot of pranks and joking that takes place in an effort to relieve stress. It isn't the content of the video that offends me, but more the context of it. The video content can be considered a form of sexual harassment and many sailors were offended by it. The making of the video onboard the ship was bad enough, but then this officer aired it through the ship's television system which is fed throughout the ship. Not only did he know this was the wrong thing to do - the comments he made surrounding the incident are why it is imperative that he be immediately relieved from duty.
The officers on a ship are responsible for setting a good example for the rest of the crew. Captain Owen knew he was doing something out of line because in his introduction to the video he says, "Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate material during these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels." Several of the crew members reported the incident, but they were "brushed off" by the officers in command. All of those officers who failed to take action should also be disciplined. It was the officers who were "gutless" - not the sailors who reported it. Even with his acknowledgement of several complaints about the video, he still chose to air it throughout the ship. With poor judgement like that, he NEVER needs to be in a leadership position in ANY organization.
I am glad the Navy is finally conducting an investigation and I hope they will hold responsible all of those involved. A Navy spokesman said it best: "The Navy does not endorse or condone these kinds of actions. Those in command are charged to lead by example and are held accountable for setting the proper tone and upholding the standards of honor, courage, and commitment that we expect sailors to exemplify."
Tonight NBC reported that Captain Honors will be temporarily relieved of his command while the Navy conducts a formal investigation. Considering the content of the video and the comments he made on the video, it should be a pretty quick investigation.
-- Gary Wright II
UPDATE: The day after this blog entry, Captain Honors was relieved from duty as commanding officer of the USS Enterprise.