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Doing It By The Book

By Barbara Ehrenreich


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(TIME, June 23) -- We have received numerous inquiries on the proper methods of detecting adultery and how best to handle this growing menace to our military preparedness. A number of the officers who have written for clarification even seem uncertain as to what constitutes "adultery" and whether the DOD has a consistent policy that applies equally to women and men, generals with four stars and those with only three, friends of the Secretary of Defense and those who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting him. Herewith, then, the protocol for adultery detection and punishment, to be posted immediately at all bases and implemented without regard to the suspected adulterer's sex, rank or likelihood of being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

1. The DOD recognizes four (4) degrees of adultery, categorized as "getting to first base," "getting to second base," etc. Since this terminology will be familiar to most military personnel from their secondary-school educational experiences, there is no need for graphic descriptions. The recommended disciplinary action for getting to any base numbered higher than two (2) is 50 push-ups followed by a cold shower, except when the bases were achieved on military property, as in the backseat of a humvee, in which case 100 sit-ups will be thrown in. In general, the location of the adulterous act must be factored into the punishment: getting to third base off base is, for example, a lesser crime than getting to second base on base.

2. There are, however, certain mitigating geographical factors. Adulterous acts performed on the campus of a duly designated "war college" may be overlooked if they were performed for no purpose other than maintaining the adulterer's testosterone levels at combat-ready levels. This exception obviously does not apply to those congenitally testosterone-deficient personnel (e.g., females) who may have been party to the adulterous act(s).

3. It is important to note that the Sex Crimes Division's jurisdiction has recently been extended to include venues formerly off limits to it, e.g., "Tailhook parties." Prior to forcibly mauling, undressing or fondling female partygoers, military personnel should first ascertain whether said females are legally married and whether the alleged marriages appear to be stable ones. There will be no penalty for forcible sex acts committed on women who are married but estranged from their husbands, who have recently quarreled with their husbands or who are happily married yet appear to be "asking for it." (The Commander in Chief's personal attorney, Robert Bennett, is available to determine whether the plaintiff's hairstyle, skirt length, etc., constituted a criminal provocation.)

4. Sex acts committed by unmarried persons of different sexes are not yet a crime, unless the seduction was accomplished through the use of witchcraft or "black magic," in which case the female party will be burned at the stake, as regulations require. Sex acts between people of the same sex are, of course, anatomically impossible.

5. None of the above is to be construed as in any way applying to the Commander in Chief, his friends, Cabinet appointees or immediate advisers.

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