Last week, I emailed the Public Affairs Office (PAO) at the United States Military Academy at West Point, asking for information on rumors that COL Matthew Moten, the chair of the History Department, had been forced to resign from his post and retire early due to sexual misconduct.
COL Moten is the father of 2LT Marshall Moten, one of 15 seniors found guilty of "unsatisfactory behavior" and other lukewarm adjectives for engaging -- over at least a year -- in official team emails full of sexual harassment, homophobia, and racism. Their punishment, handed down eight days before graduation, was significantly watered-down so they could graduate on time and head into their careers with no further penalties.
West Point PAO was graciously quick in responding to my email, which I then released as an official confirmation of the allegations, stating that sexual harassment and assault had taken place.
A few hours later, I got a call from West Point PAO about my Facebook status (apparently, they're monitoring my social media posts, though they are set to "public") regarding COL Moten.
It turns out I misinterpreted their response to my email: allegations of COL Moten's sexual harassment and "misconduct" were told to me to be substantiated. I took this to mean sexual assault ("misconduct") was committed when it actually was not.
I apologize for the misinformation. I apologize for misinterpreting the West Point PAO's statement.
You see, last time the Academy said "misconduct," it was a glossing-over and dismissal of the very definition of sexual harassment committed by the Academy's rugby team in emails.
The last time they claimed no "inappropriate" pictures were taken of female cadets and spread in these emails, it turned out they only meant no "nude" photos were taken of cadets because apparently, pictures of women taken at the Academy in public settings without their knowledge and doctored to be sexually-suggestive and spread around the Academy do not qualify as "inappropriate."
And apparently, cadets who spend years of engaging in this behavior can be "mentored" in eight days so that they're allowed to graduate on time.
Apparently, these cadets "expressing regret" and "saying sorry" actually mean they publicly and viciously harass the woman who brought their actions to light up to -- and past -- graduation, both in public and online.
Apparently, "honor" means Academy officials can lie about the circumstances of a case involving rampant sexism, harassment, homophobia, and racism.
Apparently, "effective leadership" is failing to inform a dozen women cadets filmed in a barracks shower by an Army sergeant (unknown to them, of course) until 10 months after the fact and not informing the country until a year, afterward, because the media forced their hand by reporting on it.
Apparently, "zero tolerance" means no tolerance, after the fact, of what can't be buried or swept under the rug. Apparently, it means offering the same tired PowerPoint presentations chock full of buzzwords and "objectives" that accomplish next to nothing.
So, you see, I do apologize for the misinformation. I made the mistake of taking the Academy's past statements and using that to handicap and translate what they actually mean.