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ADF: perhaps the worst written letter ever

Timothy Kincaid

February 19th, 2010

The Alliance Defense Fund has released a copy of a letter which they claim was sent to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and in which they oppose the proposed change to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Supporters of ADF should hope they are bluffing and never sent the letter. Not only is their argument irrational, but the letter itself would get a failing mark in a sixth grade English class.

Here at Box Turtle Bulletin we occasionally make mistakes. Sometimes we misspell a word, get a reference wrong, or flub grammar (and are subjected to the resulting scorn). But we aren’t writing to the White House, and we don’t have paid proof-readers. However, ADF is supposed to be comprised of lawyers, with staff to review, so there’s just no excuse for the ADF’s laughably amateur letter.

So as to help them avoid future mockery, let me share a few tips on letter writing to ADF:

1. When writing to try and influence a powerful person, try to get their name right.

  • The Secretary of the Air Force is not “Michael B. Donnelly”; his last name is Donley. Perhaps you have him confused with anti-gay activist Elaine Donnelly, but I doubt that he appreciates the comparison.
  • The Secretary of the Navy is Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. If you are going to include his middle name, then for heaven’s sake include his suffix.
  • Yes, Admiral Mike Mullen is an admiral in the Navy. But generally, “Navy” is not part of his name.

2. If you want mail to arrive, address it properly – even the “cc’s”

  • The office of the House Republican Leader is at “H-204 The Capitol” not at “H0204 The Capitol”.
  • The Secretary of the Navy is at “1000 Navy Pentagon”, not at “100 Nay Pentagon”.
  • The office of the Secretary of the Army is not exactly at “1400 Defense Pentagon”. That is the address of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

I mean, really guys, it’s right there on the Department of Defense website. You can cut and paste it.

And while we’re at it, you only need to put “cc:” on the letter one time. Adding it in front of one name halfway down the list isn’t necessary.

3. Try and present your arguments in a consistent pattern

If you are numerating several points, use wording consistently. Don’t use “Whether chaplains could” three times but select “Whether chaplains can be allowed to” when there is no difference in meaning to be distinguished by different wording.

4. Try to avoid nonsensical and grammatically flawed language.

For example, the following sentence purports to introduce a “consequence”, but instead asks a question (which was not punctuated with a question mark):

That is a Constitutional offense that carries a very pragmatic consequence: just what will happen to recruiting efforts if Christians become second-class soldiers, sailors, airmen, or Marines.

And this sentence makes no sense whatsoever:

We urge you to reconsider your decision and avoid this collision with America’s most cherished and fundamental freedom of religious liberty.

What is “America’s most cherished and fundamental freedom of religious liberty?” It is the freedom to keep gays from the Military? Is it the freedom of chaplains to preach against “homosexual behavior?”

Or perhaps they were trying to say “American’s most cherished and fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.”

We’ll never know.

5. And finally, try not to introduce off-subject and irrelevant matters into your conclusion.

After four pages of discussion about chaplains and “homosexual behavior”, ADF provided this, their second to last paragraph:

In fact, it is more than plausible that forcing the military to affirm homosexual behavior will prove unwise. Recently, hundreds of religious leaders in civil life—including many from the faith communities that supply many military chaplains—declared their reasoned and conscientious opposition to the normalization of homosexual behavior through the artifice of same-sex “marriage.” This opposition is deeply rooted in the theology of the faith communities represented by the signatories, and such conscientious opposition will come to a sharp head within a military that compels affirmation of homosexual behavior.


How, exactly, does (sect specific) religious opposition to civil marriage relate to gay personnel in the military? ADF never tells us, other than to suggest that it has something to do being “unwise”. Or perhaps ADF is assuming that anything gay relates to everything gay, though polls on marriage and military service certainly show otherwise.


Who wrote this thing? And why on earth would they actually consider sending it?

I guess that we can all just be glad that when it comes to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, our opposition is addicted to appearing like blithering idiots.



Evan Hurst
February 19th, 2010 | LINK


It shows how bad the wingnut welfare is at conservative law schools too, because lawyers sort of have a reputation for being rhetorical geniuses.

February 19th, 2010 | LINK

“Supporters of AFD should hope they are bluffing and never sent the letter.”

I think that should be ADF, not AFD. Sorry if that comes across as scornful :-D

Timothy Kincaid
February 19th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks, Alex.


Brody Levesque
February 19th, 2010 | LINK

Dear Tim,

That was one of the funniest letters I have read in quite a while.
You’re correct in stating that a classroom of 6th grade students would be able to execute a more cohesive train of thought coupled with better skills in the form of written English.
As a journalist, I am subject to Editor’s and their sharp eyes to keep my written prose sharp. I therefore really appreciated your ‘editing’ & corrections.

Thank you for brightening up my day with that rather deplorable example of dreck & drivel from those Christiban activists as it was vastly amusing.


Brody Levesque

February 20th, 2010 | LINK

There’s something vaguely comforting about that list of errors. With idiots like the ADF opposing us, how can we lose?

Oh, and Brody – I think you meant “editors” not “editor’s” ;-)

February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Maybe they were trying to write at a level their fellow rabid anti-Gay activists might be able to understand?

February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Not to mention that Mitch McConnell isn’t “Republican Senate Majority Leader,” he would be Republican Senate Minority Leader…perhaps someone should tell them that Republicans, as much as they wish, aren’t in control.

Brody Levesque
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Dear tavdy79,

Hahahaha! I left out the word ‘pens’ & given the late hour I entered that comment, I am amazed that I even had a coherent train of thought.

Cheers for the ‘edit’ catch eh?


Brody Levesque

February 20th, 2010 | LINK

The ADF argues that Chaplains must obey DOD regulations and “abide by applicable laws, and all applicable regulations, directives, and instructions of the Department of Defense…”( DODI 6.4.2).

If DADT is repealed, the ADF complains that Chaplains will still have to obey DOD regulations.

A Chaplain already makes a compromise to voluntarily work for the DOD and chooses to obey the rules of man not, primarily, God. Now the compromise bothers the ADF? Now it’s a deal with the devil?

I guess the potential resignation of Chaplains over a repeal of DADT is “a very pragmatic consequence”.

February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Has the ADF considered the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” might possibly come from a chaplain’s mouth? Wouldn’t THAT be contrary to military policy?

Ben in Oakland
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Stupid is as stupid does. If their arguments are all batsh!t wingnuterama, why should their spelling and syntax suddenly be dictated by the God of Good Grammar?

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