mcd001 wrote:Sorry, but the more I ponder this, the more I'm convinced that Senator Boxer was on an ego trip. Everyone in that hearing room knew she was a senator, but by making a point of it she only made herself appear petty and egotistical.
It is definitely different when you are correcting a misunderstanding of meaning, rather than going from one correct title to another. For instance, if you accidentally address a woman as "sir", it would be entirely normal and appropriate for her to correct that, you give a brief sorry, etc, and then you both continue on. Happens.
So having said this, I realize that I have not yet responded to the original topic: Was Senator Boxer’s request that she be addressed as 'Senator' disrespectful to General Walsh, or an attempt to publicly shame him?
I think, not knowing any history between the two, merely disrespectful. A title correction does not rise to the level of shaming. Also, a general is expected to be able to handle a certain degree of hostility without blinking. Comes with the job. Had he taken offense instead of responding as he did, surely that would also raise eyebrows.
Tyndmyr wrote:This isn't about if it becomes a military post or not, but if military behavior changes because you are off base. In this instance(as in many), it does not. However, reporting to civilian oversight is a normal part of the military environment at that rank. He did so entirely appropriately.
Except, as previously noted
, 'Senator' was the appropriate
Plus, no matter your mental gymnastics, no the Capitol building during a Senate hearing is not a military environment. It is the very definition of civilian oversight
. Otherwise, all places a solider could be while acting in a manner compliant with regulation or while undertaking his duties would be a military environment. Not only would the rest of the world be really intrigued by this occupation, it would entirely negate the distinction between civilian and military environments.
Sir/Ma'am is utterly normal, and is socially damned universally accepted and has been for ages, website be damned. Senator isn't *wrong*, but Sir/Ma'am is not only also correct, it would be the expected response in a military context. Additionally, the army guide lists sir, ma'am AND senator as proper forms of address. Senator was AN appropriate response, not THE appropriate response.
Also, you're getting off track on the "environment" thing. This isn't an issue of legitimate targeting or something, this is a question of formalities. Environment should be taken only to mean "the soldier is expected to behave in a military fashion, and is performing a military function". The absurdisms you're bringing up are irrelevant.
Azrael wrote:The color guard at a memorial service does not make the memorial service a military environment.
And yet, the color guard at a memorial service is subject to quite stringent military rules as to precisely how they should behave, and nobody thinks this should be "corrected", and it would be more than a little silly for civilians to tell them to relax while they are standing at attention. They are there representing the military, and you should expect them to behave as such.
"Sir" and "Ma'am" are general-use honorifics that, honestly, can be applied to absolutely any member of society when one wishes to show them an appearance of formal respect. There is no formal protocol for the use of "sir" or "ma'am" as a whole, although some places (e.g. the Military) might have their use encoded somewhere (such as "Address a superior officer as..._")... but that use isn't exclusive.
This is of course also true. The military context simply makes it much more pervasive. Use of "sir" or "ma'am" in a civilian context is generally entirely fine and respectful.
To be clear, I think General Walsh is a courteous and professional person who made a small mistake of etiquette.
Tyndmyr wrote:In the military, you do not correct people on the use of sir/ma'am in most circumstances(notable exception: If, as an NCO, you believe they have mistaken you for an officer.
Is this correction instantly or in private? Or to make it more like the events in the senate, if somebody addressed a superior officer as an inferior would that stand until the superior could correct it in private or right away?
Superior/inferior would be corrected right away. Note that this example is NOT what was happening her. Had he referred to her by some title indicating that she was inferior to him, that would be quite rude, and would normally call for immediate correction. This is not what we are talking about here, however.
You are representing the military, and are expected to behave in an appropriate fashion. Wearing the uniform(correctly), etc. Such expectations are made most clear if you're in the military. This is not an assumption, this is how things are done.
So your not allowed to consider what's appropriate for the context? If you're in Japan, are you allowed to speak Japanese with Japanese honorifics? Is it considered "appropriate" to imply everyone is a elderly beggar if that's hat closest matches military custom?
Well...considering that this isn't how Japan works, I'm having trouble understanding your example. Obviously, if you're speaking a different language, you're using that language and titles within it, but...that's not really applicable here.
And it's not as if foreign languages lack equivalents to "sir". Generic titles of respect are *extremely* common.
Also, your logic would seem to imply he should have kept addressing her as ma'am, even after the correction or if she threatened to hold him in contempt of congress.
No. That would be stupid, both politically and practically. He used a perfectly correct, valid title. She was somewhat rude in "correcting" to another title(which is still an accurate one). Simply getting on with things is the wise course for him there. But that doesn't mean he was being rude initially.
No. None of those matter.
They matter to whether she was being a pompous ass or disrespectful. By saying is military custom is the only relevant thing you're either saying the senator is beholden to unwritten military custom or nothing about the senator at all.
Those would, at most, explain why the senator was being disrespectful, or perhaps shine light on her motivations. They would not change the fact that she was being disrespectful. If I see you randomly on a street and address you by an epithet, that would be most rude, yes? Surely, there are reasons behind it. There always are. Learning of them may or may not be interesting or illuminating, but it's still rude to yell names at strangers on the street.
Sir/Ma'am is not exceptional, even in the senate, to a senator. Using it is not a faux paux. This is entirely seperate from the military connotation. But, the military connotation makes it exceedingly clear that the general intended it respectfully. I dare say that sir/ma'am is usually spoken a lot more respectfully than senator is.