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Clement Punishment

August 16, 1992

Cmdr. Robert Clement wants to know how he can explain to his 9-year-old daughter why the Navy has relieved him of his command after 17 years as a pilot "Backers of Fired Miramar Pilot Call Him a Scapegoat" (Aug. 5). He is certain that he did nothing wrong when he allowed his gallant aviators to wave banners suggesting a proclivity for oral copulation and a desire for a sex change on the part of a congresswoman, and in fact he believes he exhibited "leadership qualities" and defended the Constitution when he encouraged this behavior. No doubt he expected a promotion and was shocked to find demerits instead of praises in his jacket.

As an ex-naval line officer, father of three daughters and one who has devoted his entire adult life to teaching those less fortunately endowed with gray matter, I have no difficulty in advising Clement exactly what he should say to his daughter.

"Lauren," he should explain, "I have been asked to step down from my command so that a very important new code of behavior can be added to naval regulations. In the future, it will be possible for all young girls such as yourself to walk down hotel corridors where naval officers are gathered for purposes of male bonding, without having various portions of their anatomy groped, fondled, clutched and exposed, while being embarrassed and frightened by a feeding frenzy of good old boys."

"Furthermore," he might add, "though I personally have been totally correct in all my actions, the admirals may feel that I am somewhat like another kind of officer who stood in silence while a man was almost clubbed to death by policemen in the streets. At my advanced age of 44, I am clearly too old to learn new ways such as the courtesies that civilians sometimes expect when young women are around. So I am out of that wild blue yonder, but if it keeps you, my child, from having someday to endure similar indignities, then my fade-out will not have been a total loss."

And so might Clement's daughter observe a man finally doing the best thing he has ever done.

HARMON CRAIG, La Jolla

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