Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Moral Lecture

OK. I know I keep coming back to this topic, but today I was coaching one of the historians where I work about a public presentation she is giving in a couple of weeks. I used the following talk as an example of why it is so important to know your audience.

So in Oklahoma the married people got an extra moral lecture on adultery after we already had several general lectures on no sex, no drugs, no booze. The lecturer was a 25-year-old lieutenant who was not married himself, but did have a steady girlfriend. He let us know he was loyal to his girlfriend and planned to continue to be loyal throughout the upcoming deployment. He was not engaged. He had made no public commitment we knew of and was free to end this relationship at a whim if he chose.

He was an officer. His audience was married enlisted men and women. Among his audience were at least a half-dozen soldiers with very strong, orthodox religious beliefs. This lecture got loud and included threats of what the officer would do if any of us were caught having an adulterous relationship. He even threatened at one point to call our spouses.

Now if I had been asked to coach this guy, I would have suggested that early on he should acknowledge that several members of his audience hold very high personal standards on sex and marriage. In fact, to those soldiers, the lecturer was a fornicator whether he happened to be committed to his girlfriend at that moment or not.

But the LT continued with no mention that his own situation was one that several members of his audience thought immoral.

As far as I know, none of the soldiers he lectured ever violated the rules, but by the end of the deployment, the LT himself was known as one of the bigger flirts in the DFACs.

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