Letters from the week of May 4, 2000

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Letters from the week of May 4, 2000

Sky wars
Congratulations to Michelle Rubin on her fair and balanced assessment of the airborne news-gathering competition in "Let the Newscopter Wars Begin" ("Static," April 13-19). As a participant in the "games," it is nice to see the reporter leave the final judgments to the reader.

However, I would like to clarify my statement regarding the cruising speed of our aircraft. I stated the approximate "normal cruise" speed of the helicopter, while the other pilot gave you closer to the "maximum cruise" speed for his ship. The two helicopters are the identical make and model, differing only in regards to the specific electronic news-gathering equipment aboard. Therefore, without the added equipment, the two aircraft would produce nearly identical speeds in all the various cruise configurations.

However, in a drag race, as the two aircraft stand equipped, "SkyFox" would have the advantage because it can operate at a lower gross weight given the same endurance, and there is slightly less drag from the additional equipment. I will admit, though, that even the slight difference in maximum speeds would not be much of a factor when it comes to "who gets there first." The telling tale in the response game will be who makes the right call on what to respond to and when. That's when experience really will count. Stay tuned! -- Johnny Rowlands

Pilot/Reporter, Fox4's "SkyFox"

Lenexa, Kan.

ROTC defenders strike back
While reading the PitchPoints article regarding the Shawnee Mission North students protesting several aspects of the ROTC program (April 13-19), a familiar saying came to mind: "Kids, quick, get a job, find your own place, and move out of your parents' house while you still know everything." Most of the issues that Emiliano Huet-Vaughn has with the ROTC program stem from his ignorance of the way the United States Armed Forces must operate and even the very reason it exists. This is not a personal attack on Mr. Huet-Vaughn, as some who have never served in the military might have the same preconceived notions.

The Junior ROTC (JROTC) program is a VOLUNTARY program that gives high school students a brief glance into the military profession that has kept our nation free for over 200 years. With their experiences in JROTC, students may make a more informed choice on whether they wish to enter the all-volunteer armed forces immediately after high school, proceed to an ROTC program in college to become a military officer, or enter the civilian workforce.

I will concede that the school district has a hypocrisy issue on its hands with its zero-tolerance policy if the JROTC program stores the rifle team's pellet rifles on the school campus. The rifles are used at a nearby business with a shooting range, which is not a violation of the district weapons policy. However, the drill team's deactivated rifles are no more a legitimate weapon than the baseball team's bats.

The issue of teaching marksmanship is quite different. As much as a young, idealistic high school student would like to think otherwise, in order to provide a legitimate defense, the ultimate purpose of any military is to inflict damage upon the enemy by destroying his assets (ships, aircraft, tanks, and, yes, soldiers). This is accomplished by utilizing your own assets, the most basic of which (and the one that every single member of the armed forces is trained for in each of the services' basic trainings) is the foot soldier, using either a rifle or a pistol. Marksmanship (learning to shoot a target, regardless of whether it's human) is one of the cornerstones of any military. Ours is no exception, and any student interested in military service should be exposed to it.

Huet-Vaughn takes issue with the lack of democratic values being promoted by the program. I hate to break the news to him, but the military is not a democracy and could not effectively function as one. It is absurd to imagine a military where the soldiers vote to determine a course of action.

He also has a problem with the term "followership" in the leadership component of the class. For any military to function there must be leaders and followers, and most soldiers are both: following the orders that are issued by those higher in the chain of command and issuing orders of their own to be followed. Orders MUST be followed no matter whether we agree with them (a point apparently lost on his mother). It is not "highly objectionable" to follow all commands, it is highly necessary. Military discipline would vanish without followers, causing instant defeat in battle. There is a SINGLE EXCEPTION to following all orders or commands: If the order is illegal, it MUST NOT BE FOLLOWED. University ROTC programs devote months of training to military ethics that involve legal and illegal orders.

Junior ROTC is not a required program for high school students. It does, however, provide some exposure to what is required of our professional military. Those who express displeasure with the discipline and training necessary for military service (such as Huet-Vaughn) should not enroll in the JROTC program.

I appreciate the training I received through eight years in the Army Reserve and going through the ROTC program at the University of Kansas, but military service is not for everyone. The brief peek into the professional soldier's/sailor's/airman's life provided by the JROTC program should not be censored to reflect some kinder, gentler, more politically correct military. The ultimate job of our armed forces is to destroy the enemy (apparently a repulsive thought to some), and because we are good at it our country has flourished for over 200 years. -- Bill Delich

Olathe, Kan.

I found your article on the ROTC program at Shawnee Mission North quite interesting. My daughter is a senior at North and has been involved in Naval Junior ROTC (NJROTC) for the past four years.

I think it's sad that Emiliano Huet-Vaughn feels that the program desensitizes children to weapons. Frankly, I find the programs on TV more offensive and violent than anything that could be taught by the military. Practice is done at the Bullet Hole, which is where the local police also practice. Your opening paragraph makes it sound like the kids go outside a couple of blocks from the residential and business area and start firing. Those gunshots you're talking about can be heard only from inside the building, not outside. As for the rifles' being stored in individual lockers, that's not true, either. All of the rifles used in practice are kept stored in one area, with the teacher having the key to the locker. These students don't parade around the school carrying their deactivated rifles. If you're going to complain about biased articles, don't be guilty of writing the same.

The battle cry of "Guns don't kill people; people kill people" is pretty cliché, but there is a lot of truth to it. Both of my children know how to handle firearms responsibly. They don't fantasize about going out and gunning people down. That is an evil that comes from within people's hearts, not from being taught how to handle a gun. If we followed that logic, butchers would be more likely to stab a person, or a fireman would be more likely to commit arson.

Huet-Vaughn is also worried about the textbooks being used. Unfortunately, I don't know of any text that is used in a school system that addresses the downside of that particular subject. Everyone wants to present the good side, not the stuff that didn't turn out the way it was planned. If that were the case, we'd certainly have to demand that our history text be rewritten as well.

As far as the veteran situation and the number of homeless vets, it would be interesting to view the statistics. My father is a disabled vet who was injured in WWII and has gotten lots of assistance from the Veterans Administration. I would hope that other vets would take advantage of the services the VA offers.

Uniforms are a part of group identity. If Huet-Vaughn is offended that ROTC wears uniforms, is he going to demand that the marching band, drill team, football squad, and choirs not wear uniforms? The marching band does precision drills; is that to be stopped because it imitates the military?

My daughter has learned leadership skills by being in NJROTC, and her self-confidence has risen tremendously. She is proud to be a part of this program. Is she going into the military after graduation? Nope. She gets calls from Army and Navy recruiters but has no interest in a military career. I respect her choice to be a member of this program -- I hope that eventually Huet-Vaughn will too. I realize his main objective is to get weapons, deactivated or not, out of the school. I think that's a good cause, but I don't see the need to slam the entire program. I'm not denying his right to protest, but don't deny others the right to fight back for something they believe in. -- Lani Casey

Shawnee, Kan.

School daze
Thank you for an in-depth interview and report on the Kansas City, Missouri, School District ("The Savior?,"April 13-19). I believe the Pitch's freedom of expression is better than that available to reporters with The Kansas City Star.

I feel the school district is still headed for unmitigated disaster with or without the leadership of Benjamin Demps. The Kansas City, Missouri, School District and the Kansas City, Kansas, School District have proven that if you select your student population carefully, the teachers can educate the children with or without help from the federal or state government, or even the school board and school administration.

The failure of the KCMOSD to open Southwest High School is all the proof I need to say that politics still remain supreme. We have lots of potential good students living close to Southwest. The people who are buying houses in that district now opt for paying their school taxes and are often sending their children to private schools. Lincoln is just an excessive distance to take care of the students living in the area of Southwest, which should be opened either as a neighborhood school or an academy like Lincoln. The KCMOSD needs as many good students as it can recruit -- especially residents of the district. The politics of desegregation with assistance from all levels of government ruined Southwest. What a shame. The vote on opening Southwest was 4-4. This altered my opinion that Demps would stay or really make a large difference. As some were afraid that it would hurt Lincoln, I still think some do not want Southwest to excel.

In the good old days, the school boards were more like a social club of city leaders that approved the action of the administration. Seldom did they even have to search for a good administrator. We now have an elected school board with members of questionable qualifications. They can still be good school board members if they will just vote to support the administration, no matter whether they like what was presented. If the administration is doing its job with a high degree of excellence, the school board members can nap through everything and just say yes when required to vote. I still think Demps may have the capability to perform this function, but I am fearful he may give up if second-guessed very many more times. -- Bob Dalton

Overland Park, Kan.

Get the smut out
I should have written this letter sooner, but I was waiting for my anger to subside. It didn't.

I am disgusted with what the Pitch has gradually become. I would also say that it contradicts itself. For example, a few years ago, the Pitch published an article on all the "johns" in KC who were arrested. However, the Pitch has ads in the back for escort services. EVERYONE knows (those who work for escort services) are prostitutes. You promote this every week. Where in the world do all these freaks hide in KC who place the ads in the back? Most of these ads should be edited out, in my opinion. This is getting really old, and (the ads) should stay hidden.

The last straw was Dan Savage. He has crossed the line. What's up with the lobster story (March 16-22)? What was the purpose of that? That was the MOST offensive article. Don't you know that children read the Pitch? How irresponsible. Is there even an editor at the Pitch anymore?

The Pitch used to be an interesting, alternative newspaper. Now I would say it is more pornographic. I have to say ... this letter is from an ex-reader. -- Angie Scott

Kansas City, Mo.

CORRECTION:
In "Total Eclipse of the Sun" (April 20-26 ), we incorrectly noted that Sun Publications had expanded into the Northland and Lee's Summit in 1998. Sun Publications does own papers in the Northland, but not Lee's Summit. We regret the error.

In "TMC Conference Ignites C-section Debate" (April 27-May 3), quotes from Anita Woods, president of the local chapter of the International Caesarean Awareness Network, were inadvertently attributed to someone with the last name of Hill. Although several staffers read the article prior to publication, all missed it. Apparently that famous sexual harassment case of the '90s had more of an effect on us than we realized. We apologize for the error.

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