UPDATE (2-16-07) — Manhart has been stripped of her rank (busted down from E-5 to E-4), and stripped of her active duty status.
Staff Sgt. Michelle Manhart is a drill sergeant in the US Airforce at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Manhart, 30, who is married with two children, has been relieved of her duties pending an investigation, according to Lackland AFB spokesman Oscar Balladares.
“This staff sergeant’s alleged action does not meet the high standards we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force’s core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do. It is not representative of the many thousands of outstanding airmen who serve in the U.S. Air Force today,” Balladares said, reading a statement.
When you join the military, you agree to a code of standards and of conduct that is significantly more stringent than those of the rest of society. Posing for nude pictures in Playboy violates that code.
The pictorial’s accompanying article mentioned the possibility of trouble for the brunette drill instructor. But when asked in the article whether it might get her in “hot water with Uncle Sam,” Manhart replied: “I’ve been serving for 13 years, fighting for everyone’s rights. Why wouldn’t I be able to stand up for my own rights and participate in the freedoms that make this country what it is?”
You’re a Staff Sergeant, Michelle, so you know as well as anybody that you relinquished some of your individual rights and freedoms when you enlisted in the Air Force. You didn’t sign up to “participate” in these particular types of freedoms. You signed-up to protect them.
If Ssgt Manhart didn’t think she’d get in trouble over this, then why did she do it without permission from her commanding officers and the Air Force? Simple answer is that this NCO knew that what she was doing was not permitted according to Air Force regulations.
If SSgt Manhart wants to stay in the military, I hope that she is allowed to without too severe of punishment for her actions. But I do think that she should be punished. At the very least, I don’t think she should be allowed to continue her current assignment as a drill instructor.
Why she couldn’t have just finished out her current term of service and then done this, I don’t know.
Oh wait, yes I do: Because then Playboy wouldn’t have been particularly interested in her. They made it clear, I’m guessing, that the whole pictorial depended on her being an AF sergeant at the time of the shoot; she had to either violate the AF’s code or forgo the offer entirely.
Which would mean that Playboy is civilly liable, if the government wanted to push it, for tortious interference with a contract, but of course no one would.
The Air Force loses an NCO, a woman loses a career, and Playboy, which no one ever even jokes about anymore, gets a little press, but I guess they were the most desperate of the three.
And Say Anything:
What’s sort of sad is that I get the idea that Playboy probably used all this for publicity. She’s a good-looking girl, but she’s not exactly Playboy caliber if you know what I mean. I’m thinking the folks at the magazine probably ran her in it more because she’s an officer in our military rather than despite it knowing full well that the resulting controversy would be good for their copy sales.
Yep to that too. Say Anything also has copies of the actual Playboy pictures in his latest update.