October 11, 2001: In a photograph transmitted by the Associated Press, an unidentified sailor on the USS Enterprise, stationed in the Arabian Sea during the bombing of Afghanistan, inscribes a bomb with the graffito "HIGH JACK THIS FAGS".

It seems the photographer, one Jockel Finck, was not an English speaker, and the AP only released the picture due to an administrative cock-up, so to speak.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a media watchdog group, was not amused. Cathy Renna, its New York spokesperson, said "It gets to something we need to discuss, which is that it's okay to be in the Navy and to write 'fag' on a bomb and drop it on a terrorist. That word is still okay with some people, and these are the kinds of things you might see if you happened to be gay and were serving in the military. It exemplifies every single reason why our work is as relevant as it was on September 10."

According to Navy Rear Admiral Stephen Pietropaoli, this was an isolated incident: usually the sailors write nice, heartwarming things like "FDNY" or "I (Heart) NY" on their weapons. Talk about bad luck. The one time they write something nasty there happens to be a foreign photographer around. What are the odds?

The irony of this whole fiasco, of course, is that the gay community is traditionally pacifist, and some rubbish scrawled on a bomb should be the least of their concerns. Besides which, the news that the US military contains illiterate bigots is hardly the scoop of the millennium.

One hopes that they've learned their lesson now, and in future won't be so thoughtless when they're blowing people up.

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