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New Pentagon policy bans offensive jokes in anti-harassment push

U.S. Soldiers participate in Afterburner, a Sexual Harassment Assault Response Program training March 25, 2013, at Howze Auditorium in Fort Hood, Texas. (Sgt. Christopher Calvert)
February 09, 2018

The Department of Defense announced Thursday a new policy combating harassment and offensive humor in the military.

The announcement comes following reports of increased sexual harassment and roughly a year since the nude photo-sharing scandal for the Marine Corps.

The Pentagon released the new policy, Department of Defense Instruction 1020.03, “Harassment Prevention and Response in the Armed Forces.”

“The policy strengthens and reaffirms the department’s position that it does not tolerate any kind of harassment by any service member, either in person or online,” according to the release.

“You have to adapt to your times,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Thursday.

“There is a rough good humor among soldiers, we all know that. But I have never seen rough good humor countenance or in any way frame something that’s disgusting, repellant, or something like that,” he added. “I don’t want to lose all sense of humor in the military, but I have never seen an ounce of belief in the military that you can denigrate someone.”

“Let me be clear: harassment has no place in our military,” Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White said Thursday. “This policy brings us one step closer to eliminating these behaviors.”

“The point of the harassment policy is to ensure we have a safe workplace,” White said. “No one should be intimidated. No one should feel as though they can’t do their job without being discriminated against, and this goes to hazing, this goes to political beliefs, this goes to religious beliefs.”

Every branch of the military will have to implement the policy into its own branch to comply with the instruction, White said.

“It’s a framework for military services to address unacceptable behaviors such as offensive jokes, stereotyping, violence and discrimination,” she said.

The military branches will have two months to draw up an implementation plan for the new policy.