Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Honesty, Adultery and Lt. Flinn

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Honesty, Adultery and Lt. Flinn

Article excerpt

It's easy to sympathize with Lt. Kelly Flinn's mistakes of the heart. It's harder to overlook her mistakes of the mind - her lies to commanders and her disobedience of direct orders.

For its part, the Air Force has been remarkably consistent in flubbing the case. Lt. Flinn and the Air Force would have been better off if a commander had given Lt. Flinn a nonjudicial punishment away from the public eye, the way many adultery cases are handled in the military.

By the time Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall made her decision on Thursday, her compromise may have been the best solution - a general discharge, which avoids a court-martial and the appearance of giving Lt. Flinn favored treatment. The charges against the nation's first female B-52 pilot grew out of her adulterous relationship with Marc Zigo, husband of an airman at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. It presented a clash between old and new mores about adultery and old and new roles for women in the military. In the civilian society of the 1990s, adultery doesn't carry the shame it once did. Many states, including Missouri, have written adultery out of their criminal codes. Illinois still has it on the books but doesn't enforce it. In the military, adultery has been punishable for two c enturies, but mostly winked at. The brothels near U.S. bases testify to that sordid fact. Now, however, as the number of women in the military has increased, so has the number of adultery cases. In 1996, 60 men and 7 women were court-martialed on charges involving adultery; a decade ago the number was 16. One thing that seemed unfair about Lt. Flinn's case is that her serious relationship with Mr. Zigo got more scrutiny than a married service man's 10 minutes with a prostitute. There was an institutional reason, however. Mr. Zigo was married to Airman Gayla A. Zigo. Affairs between officers and the spouses of airmen are especially bad for morale. Politicians from all sides - from conservative Sens. Trent Lott and Slade Gorton to liberal Sen. …

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