There are no NASA scientists in this picture (from here)
Because if NASA scientists do science, the terrorists win. Or something.
Over at Culture Kitchen, there’s a good series of posts about the new NASA security procedures that apply to all NASA employees. Parts one and two are worth reading, but the categories of offenses that are part of the “Suitability Matrix.” Here’s the description of the lowest level of offenses, Class A (italics mine):
Infrequent use or possession of marijuana. Abusive language (Hey…we live in NYC here!). Unlawful assembly (which some protests we have participated in might qualify as!). Attitude (in an employment context). Personality conflict in an employment context. Loitering. Traffic violation.
I suspect we all would have several severity A “offenses.” And looking at the form I don’t know how many severity A offenses it takes to be debarred. And how would they know if you used abusive language or had a bad attitude at work? Exactly what kind of “personality conflict” are they talking about? Again, note that some of this does not seem to have a legal offense associated with it. What law is there against having a bad attitude at work?
Abusive language? Uh oh….
Then there are the much more serious, Class C offenses (italics mine):
Carnal knowledge. (Yes…carnal knowledge. To most of us this is simply an archaic term for sex. So having sex is a severity C offense? And how do they determine if you have carnal knowledge?) Sodomy. (Remember that in some states anal sex of any sort as well as homosexuality of any sort is legally defined as sodomy…and the US military still enforces a sodomy law as anti-homosexual…more on that in a moment).
All kidding aside, let’s look at “Carnal Knowledge” and “Sodomy” legally. Those who find sex disturbing may want to skip this section.
Carnal Knowledge is, in common usage, nothing more than a euphemism for doing the dirty deed, hiding the sausage, sexual intercourse, or, as the Japanese would say, “having morning coffee.” According to a study done by the Research Division of the Guttmacher Institute in New York, more than 90% of Americans have premarital sex. Does this “carnal knowledge” mean that 90% of Americans would have a Severity C offense and hence may be debarred from government work? And, in case you didn’t realize this, ALL of our parents have had carnal knowledge as common usage defines it. That’s how conception occurs. And how do they determine if we have “carnal knowledge?”
In legal terms, there are many meanings for “Carnal Knowledge.” In some states, the term means “seduction”, which is technically illegal in some states. Some states limit the definition of “Carnal Knowledge” to the specific act of sex with someone under 16 with consent. This may be the context in Federal usage, though with some confusion associated with it. Some states use it to mean oral or anal sex…other states specifically exclude such acts. There is no point in the “Suitability Matrix” that defines what is meant by this extremely vague legal term. However, perhaps we should assume they are simply using the Federal law meaning, in which case it means sex with a willing minor. But I will note that if we assume this, their inclusion of sodomy becomes a concern.
The meaning of “Sodomy” has generally been left up to the states rather than Federal law, though the US military have ruled “all acts of sodomy” illegal. In general, laws do not enumerate what sodomy really means, though traditionally it means any sexual act that cannot lead to procreation. Hmmm…
…Are they debarring homosexuals? Are they debarring people who engage in anal or oral sex? And how do they propose to find out if you have engaged in such acts?
I never thought being a NASA scientist could be so…interesting. Having some DHS bureaucrat decide whether or not you can do your job based on whether you once thought your boss was an asshole or if you engage in consensual sexual acts with other adults sounds like the Nanny State to me…
One other thing: At least one senior staffer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab has resigned over this policy.