A ship by any other name…


A multitude of watercraft ply the rivers and seas of the earth.  Some of those vessels have names, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

For our immediate purposes, I’m going to deal with only two categories of craft and how they are named.

The first is the naval warship.  These noble craft typically are named after a state, city, heroic character or word that might strike fear in the hearts of enemies.  These are names a sailor likely could relate to and utter with a bit of pride or attitude.  USS Abraham Lincoln.  USS Avenger.  USS Galaxy.  USS Phantom.  USS Thrasher.  USS Viper.

The second category is the pleasure craft.  In most cases these are boats rather than ships.  And they have names given by their owners that suggest that the owner is, well, having fun.  The names are clever and raise a chuckle:  Lobster Mobster.  The Grateful Dad.  Idiots Delight.  Beeracuda.  Reel Busy.  Diesel Dude.

It is vital, when naming a craft, not to confuse these two categories.  You wouldn’t want to face the Russian Navy in a ship called Mr. Tip-sea.  And you wouldn’t want to go out fishing with your friends in a 20-foot boat called USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Unfortunately, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus seems to have become a bit confused on how to appropriately name a Navy ship and has decided to name one of our fleet after Harvey Milk.

Milk was a well-know gay activist in San Francisco.  He was known to stretch the truth and to have a tendency to being overly affectionate with boys.  Much of his iconic status in the gay community resulted from his murder by Dan White, a fellow member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  (At least in Chicago our aldermen don’t shoot each other – they just bribe each other.)

I’ll admit that Milk attained a certain notoriety.  I just can’t fathom his name on a ship full of sailors.  Maybe on a bath house or alternative school of some sort.

I suggest the Navy Secretary go to the Pentagon’s record center and get a list of seafaring souls who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  Name the ship after one of them.  Any would be a better choice the Milk.

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