Letters to the editor

Readers defend Scouts' honor Plus: Parsing the pope's apology; how revolutionary is broadband?


Salon Staff
March 22, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

Pack of wolves
BY STEPHEN G. BLOOM
(03/20/00)

The fault lies with those leaders, not the organization. I've taken the Boy Scouts' Youth Protection Training and was impressed by the gutsy yet sensitive way the organization approaches the issue of widespread sexual abuse of youngsters. No cutting off of "peckers" was mentioned.

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Here's what else I like: Boys getting together in an accepting, fun, noncompetitive way, a mood too often missing from today's sports and athletics; boys learning and doing fun things -- building a birdhouse, visiting a wolf preserve -- that they wouldn't get to do otherwise; and the family involvement that's required for a boy to earn a badge.

Cub Scouts gives us parents a great way to slow down a bit and spend more time with our sons despite our hurry-up lives. Our sons deserve it.

-- Lee Connor

All Scout functions are supposed to be overseen by two or more leaders. This is called "two-deep leadership" and intends to avoid precisely the kinds of things that are apparently happening at Pack 202. The fact that some functions were overseen by just one person tells me a lot about the carelessness of the leadership at that pack.

No leader should be drinking before meetings, period. (However, I will freely admit that as an assistant cubmaster and cubmaster, I have occasionally wanted a drink or three after a meeting.)

All Scout functions start with the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm sorry Bloom finds it fascistic. Although I'm a little stumped how "pledging allegiance" to a "republic" could be considered fascistic. I just consider it citizenship.

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Scouting is a faith-based organization, but exists worldwide -- thereby, I think, teaching tolerance and respect for other faiths. Where I live we have a significant Muslim population, so we've had to be especially careful on this score. I think it's been good for us. But basically the only time God comes up anyway is if one of the boys decides to get his God and Me badge through his church. Although I'm sure some of the boys probably do pray before the pinewood derby and raingutter boat races.

-- Matt Roush

I read Stephen Bloom's article on Cub Scouting just a few hours after returning from a Scout overnighter with my son and a bunch of his fellow Scouts and their dads. As it has been consistently for the four years we've been at this, it was the kind of enriching experience I wish I'd had when I was a boy, and an adventure of the highest order for our sons.

My wife likes to make fun of me in my Scout leader uniform, calling me "Retro Scout" and all the rest of the barbs. But no activity could give my son and me the kind of variety, bonding, personal growth and love that Scouting does.

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Are there untoward events going on in Scouting? Sure. But I don't think a case can be proven that they happen any more often than in school, at family gatherings or in the mall. On the other hand, it provides a unique richness -- as I will feel next week, when my son and I and seven other Webelos boys and their dads head out to plant a few thousand trees. What will you be doing next weekend?

-- Tom Fitzmorris

Get involved with your son and his friends, Mr. Bloom! When only one parent out of a whole den volunteers to be a leader, the quality of such leadership is often lower than expected. When all the parents get involved, everyone has more fun and the workload is light enough for all to bear.

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One more thing: A small unit of about eight Cub Scouts is a den; when several dens get together once a month, they are called a pack. Please use the proper terminology next time you publish a story about Cub Scouts.

-- Reid Laurens

This is nothing new. I was a Boy Scout for quite a number of years and this kind of fanatical religious-political-masculine zeal has been around for as long as men have tried to mold boys into what they want them to be.

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I truly believe that the Boy Scouts, or Cub Scouts, are by their very nature prone to the environment and outcomes that were discussed in this article. People talk about them creating upstanding young men, but really they work to create reactionary and closed-minded gender drones.

-- Michael Urness

Sometimes sorry isn't good enough
BY COLMAN MCCARTHY
(03/15/00)

Colman McCarthy chastises Pope John Paul II for not renouncing the idea of a "just war," but fails to even seriously address the idea itself. He champions "pacifist" vandals who destroy government property, apparently justified in the belief that any destruction of military hardware can only be good. This argument assumes no war can be "just." What, I wonder, does McCarthy think Catholics should have done during World War II? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? Should Catholics have destroyed American government property in these instances? If so, should the pope have condoned it? (What ammunition such an approval of vandalism by Pope Pius XI would give those who charge Pius of harboring Hitler sympathies!)

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Of course not all wars are just; an idiot could tell you that. And it seems reasonable that Catholicism might have something to be sorry about in the perspective of centuries hence. But to try to foist on Catholicism the pacifism of the Quakers or the Mennonites, and to criticize the pope for failing to apologize for a belief that some wars are necessary, is a fool's errand, something I suspect McCarthy is more than familiar with.

-- Brian Gabriel

This pope is not responsible for the Crusades, the Holocaust or the many other wars that have been fought in the last 2,000 years. He is not responsible for the decisions of individual Catholics who have entered into war, either. Not if you believe in the freedom of the individual. He is a man responsible for his own sins, just as the rest of us are. Only Christ himself could ask for general absolution, since only he died for the sins of the world, not any priest or pope.
Besides, no matter what the pope says, somebody is going to find fault.

-- Deborah L. Gum

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Sorry may not be good enough but sorry is a good place to start. When all other major institutions and nations humble themselves and seek forgiveness of those they have wronged, then we can all criticize the shortcomings of the Pope's apology. For now, we would all do well to examine our consciences and follow his example.
It saddens and amazes me that the first and apparently primary reaction to such an act of humility and courage is critique. Are we now so cynical that we can no longer recognize moral courage? Are we so shallow that our conscience is not pricked?

-- Dennis Dolan


Banned in Boston?

BY KENNETH RAPOZA
(03/17/00)

The alleged banning of public displays of shamrocks in Boston housing projects is the latest, and perhaps most ridiculous, example of the bumbling bureaucratic response municipalities come out with when trying to keep the peace among a diverse racial and ethnic population. So terrified of litigation, or any other kind of controversy, they engage in a kind of preemptive cleanup campaign, so that nothing that might cause upset (i.e., nothing that actually may be representative of living, breathing people) is noticeable. That the shamrock, the emblem of a people whose centuries-old history of suffering and oppression is undeniable, would be viewed as a "symbol of hate" is the result of the overactive imaginations of a group of craven and needlessly guilty liberal civil servants.

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-- Ken Munch

If I were Tom English, who decorates his bar in jungle motif to create a feeling of warmth in the winter, I would sue his critics for defamation of character and violation of the First Amendment. If there is a statute on the books that can characterize this as a "crime," then there's something wrong with the statute.

-- Bevin Gilmore


Give my regards to broadband

BY SCOTT ROSENBERG
(03/17/00)

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Scott Rosenberg would make a great preacher or politician. He tells us what broadband is not and what it is not good for. But he fails to tell us what it is and what it is good for. I strongly disagree with his thinking on most points.

Convergence (for those of us who were talking about it four years ago) has already happened. Maybe not for TV but if you look at the marriage of phone companies, ISPs and cable companies, you get a good idea of what convergence is.

Entertainment in the form of streaming media is greatly benefited by broadband. As the founder of NetRadio, I can assure you that RealAudio over a 28.8 modem is much less impressive than it is over an ADSL line. At the recent Streaming Media West event in San Jose seven out of 10 vendors were pushing broadband entertainment. I guess they disagree with Rosenberg too.

On the media Rosenberg is wrong again. He's wrong because he is looking at the wrong media. Yeah, the conventional media might not see how to use broadband, but the emerging media -- desktop video -- will make broadband's promises useful to the masses.

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On his last point, that broadband won't solve all the Net's problems, we agree. But broadband will make the Internet a revolution in more ways than we can even predict. That is, if we don't let the cynical Internet columnists scare the public off of investing in their local cable modem or DSL provider's products.

-- Scott Bourne

president, dvGarage

Like Scott Rosenberg, I've had DSL for a while, and it's great. Overall speed is faster than at work, where I share a T-1 with the rest of the office. I get annoyed when a 50MB download takes minutes to finish, but I hardly notice the time for Web pages to show.

But streaming media still looks like a group of fuzzy rectangles. (Fortunately, I can download complete QuickTime movies quickly enough.) Even regular Web pages sometimes slow down to a 14.4-like speed -- probably due to latency out on the Net that doesn't care that my last few feet are extra-fast. DSL is remarkable and useful and I hope my next neighborhood has access as well, but it's not a revolution. Anyone out there who is betting money on cool content across big pipes better be willing to wait a while longer.

-- Patrick A. Bowman

Rejection made easy
BY STEPHEN J. LYONS
(03/17/00)

Certainly I'm not going to cry "Plagiarism!" because I'm sure that your author had no knowledge of or intention to borrow my ideas. But your recent article "Rejection Made Easy" is a mirror-like imitation of my piece, "The Rejection Slip Rejection Slip," which has been posted on the Web since 1998. I think my version is much funnier. Take a look and compare.

Nevertheless, I would sue you, except that I am certain that my lawsuit, like my literary endeavors, would be just as casually rejected.

-- Michael Pastore

Lyons' article is priceless. Those of us who can weigh our rejection folders by the pound or measure them in feet and inches applaud him.

-- Maggie Bartley


Salon Staff

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