Isn’t it ironic … don’t you think?
Your cover story on the trends following the sale of Sun Publications to a national newspaper giant is a bit ironic, isn’t it (“Total Eclipse of the Sun,” April 20-26)? I can’t help but wonder if that’s why you ran it, or whether it was an effort to flex your editorial muscle with the suits over at New Times. Or both. I’ll never believe it was accidental.

The story makes excellent points about the struggles that can ensue when a strong local publication falls into the hands of money-grubbing corporate types who don’t give a rat’s ass about the market the publication circulates in. Hmmmm.

In any case, good work. — William Peck

Kansas City, Mo.

Pro-ROTC and here’s what I say
This letter is in response to the students’ petitioning against Shawnee Mission North’s ROTC program (“Opponents of ROTC Up in Arms About Military Presence in Schools,” April 13-19). I’d like to start off by stating how sick I am of politically correct, whining assholes. Their lives are so full of misunderstanding and anguish, they make the lives of others more difficult.

I am also a junior at Shawnee Mission North. This act on the ROTC program is completely stupid and not very well thought out. The points Emiliano Huet-Vaughn makes are nothing more than opinions, with little or no facts concerning safety.

Huet-Vaughn claims that his concern is not about all of the kids in the program, just the ones that might not respect the teaching of responsibility. If that is so, should we get rid of shop classes? There are people I wouldn’t trust with a rotary saw. The idea is just absurd.

He mentioned that the ROTC has many faults: discrimination, censorship, antidemocratic message, the child-soldier issue, etc. First of all, discrimination against what? In no way is anybody deprived of any position or activity due to race, nationality, religion, or creed. Then there is censorship. What the hell is he talking about? Let’s ban television for not allowing swear words or nudity! An antidemocratic message? Again, an opinion on personal politics. And the child-soldier issue. This issue is in reference to using children in combat. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure that the ROTC cadets aren’t being shipped overseas to fight the enemy with nuclear warheads.

Huet-Vaughn claims that, due to school regulations, if he were to enter the school with a water gun, he would be immediately suspended. Bullshit! I’ve seen water guns in the school, and no one got suspended. The guns got taken away because they disturbed the learning environment. He also said that guns are for killing, whereas pencils are for writing, excluding the popular #2 pencils for a weapon. Yeah, well, knives are for cutting. Cutting is a threat for all people. Let’s ban plastic knives at school

I have seen this guy protesting for peace in the Middle East — this isn’t his first act of aggression. This also means that this issue isn’t necessarily that bad. All it means is that the only way for Huet-Vaughn to deal with his disagreements is to seek and destroy. Seek the source of disagreement and destroy the program involved. A popular formula used by all p.c. advocates.

My advice for Emiliano Huet-Vaughn and his followers: Suck it up! You don’t like something — deal with it. I hate my math courses, but you don’t see me finding a national issue to exploit about it. If an ROTC cadet has a shooting spree at school tomorrow, it’s not because he was trained to kill. It’s far beyond that. Maybe he/she is crazy, or disturbed, or whatever, but don’t you even THINK the school is at fault. We blame the media, music, school, parents. Whatever happened to the crazy people? Aren’t people just plain crazy any more? NO! They are ALWAYS “victims of society.” Screw that! The only victims of society are the people who listen to the thoughtless rage of people like Emiliano Huet-Vaughn. — Tyson Fisher

Roeland Park, Kan.

I took the NJROTC (Naval Junior ROTC) class while I attended SMN more than 10 years ago. After high school, I joined the Navy for two years but never realized the importance of the program until after I joined the Army. I was a Light Infantry Ranger for about nine years. I owe my success in the military to my instructors and the teachings of NJROTC. I learned the phonetic alphabet, military time, chain of command, wear and care of the military uniform, and drill and ceremony. By learning these things before I entered basic training, I had a step up on the other recruits in my company.

In 1995, I was selected by the Department of the Army to be a drill sergeant. I found that the privates that had been through some sort of JROTC program knew what to expect from basic training. These recruits on average scored higher on tests and had higher morale and better discipline.

A few other points I would like to make are not as nice as the previous paragraphs.

First of all, the article said that Emiliano Huet-Vaughn is the child of Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, who was jailed for desertion after refusing to serve in the Gulf war. One of my main concerns would be that Emiliano’s prejudiced view of the military has come from the experiences and bias of his mother. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn raised her right hand and SWORE to protect and defend the Unites States against all enemies foreign and domestic. The fact that she would not follow through on that solemn vow should show the credibility or lack thereof of her son’s accusations and opinions.

Second of all, the rifle team does NOT teach students to kill. However, it does teach attention to detail and esprit de corps (teamwork). These students are not taught just how to effectively fire a weapon. They also learn safety and how to inspect and clean their rifles. And KNOWLEDGE IS SAFETY!

If you were to get rid of the rifle team due to these objections, then you would also need to get rid of the football, baseball, and basketball teams as well as any other sports activity at Shawnee Mission North High School. Also at no time are live weapons in students’ hands on school property. And at the range where students do use live weapons, they are ALWAYS closely supervised by trained supervisors.

Protecting the United States is the sole duty of the military and yes, that does call for killing at times. Whether you are infantry, a cook, or the general’s driver, you may at any time be called upon to kill another person to protect yourself. It is not glamorous, but it is a fact of war. In the military, you may be called upon to do things that you do not feel are right, but you carry out the orders anyway because someone in the chain of command knows more about the mission than you do. That is the basis of leadership. And the basis of the military. If you do not like this fact, don’t go into the military. If you do not like or approve of the Navy’s curriculum of leadership in JROTC, then do not take the course. After all, it is an elective and not a requirement.

As far as the drill team is concerned, it also follows the same values as the rifle team. The dummy weapons that are carried for the students to practice with are rubber and are not a threat to anyone. Also, the weapons that are used for drill in competition have a solid lead-filled barrel and are not a threat to anyone, as they cannot be fired. When I attended SMN, the drill team was the best in the Midwest and had been for many years before that.

As a Ranger in the United States Army, I take great offense to anyone’s trying to say that the military or any classes pertaining to the military are — pardon my language — bullshit. The military and NJROTC have opened many doors of opportunity in my life and I am sure in the lives of thousands of others — not just military opportunities but civilian as well.

In high school, I did not have many friends. I was not in a clique, but I looked forward to ROTC class every day because of the camaraderie and teamwork. In that class, no cliques or stereotypes existed. Everyone belonged. Also, Lt. Commander Anderson is a great friend and role model to the students. I was personally able to talk to him about problems that I was unable to go to my parents or school administrators with. So that in itself shows what a fantastic and well-trained leader can do.

If the school board decides to drop ROTC from the curriculum, its members will be doing much more harm than good to the future classes of Shawnee Mission North. Now that I know of the possibility of the program’s being closed, I will personally do anything within my power to keep it open. Not just for the good of SMN, or the students, but for the community and the nation.

RANGERS LEAD THE WAY. — Name withheld on request

Independence, Mo.

In regards to your article concerning opposition to the presence of NJROTC in the high schools of the Shawnee Mission School District, my reaction to Emiliano Huet-Vaughn’s views on this issue was a combination of bitter nostalgia combined with abject frustration.

The bitter nostalgia was due to Mr. Huet-Vaughn’s making some of the same arguments about NJROTC that I heard back in 1970 when I was a member of the unit at Shawnee Mission West. I appreciate Mr. Huet-Vaughn’s not using the terms “killers,” “fascist pigs,” and “lifers” — as my counterparts did in 1970 — but in my opinion, Mr. Huet-Vaughn’s basic message is the same: 1) somehow the elimination of weapons will make us a more peaceful society; 2) the only purpose of the armed forces is to make wars and kill people; 3) service in the armed forces turns you into a person devoid of any ability to think; and 4) the armed forces of the United States are hostile to democratic values.

My abject frustration is that after 30 years of having NJROTC in the Shawnee Mission School District, I do not see any evidence validating Mr. Huet Vaughn’s arguments.

First, I challenge Mr. Huet-Vaughn to show the direct evidence, either anecdotal or scientific, that the presence of old, inoperable rifles and pellet guns maintained by the NJROTC has increased or promoted violence in the Shawnee Mission schools over the past 30 years.

Second, I challenge Mr. Huet-Vaughn’s assertion that the military “constantly” uses weapons “to kill,” which I assume he means ordnance is exploded or a bullet is fired. In my opinion, the armed forces use weapons to pursue foreign policy objectives that may or may not result in combat. For example, when I was in the Navy, I was trained to “use” nuclear weapons. However, the United States managed to defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War without ever having to “constantly use” weapons, as I assume is envisioned by Mr. Huet-Vaughn.

In another example, one of my NJROTC instructors was a naval aviator who fought the Japanese in World War II but was recalled to active duty in 1948 to fly humanitarian supplies in military aircraft into Berlin during the Soviet Union’s blockade of that city. Again, in this case aircraft normally used to transport military supplies was used to maintain our foreign policy objective to stay in Berlin without expending ordnance, which would result in the start of a general war.

Third, I challenge Mr. Huet-Vaughn to show how service in the armed forces turns you into a person who cannot think. The following shows two of the topics for papers I was required to write when I attended the Naval War College: “How did the French Republic employ ideology in pursuit of the National Interest?” and “Why were the World War II allies unable to operate within the collective security environment envisaged in the UN Charter?” I found I had to think when trying to answer those intellectually challenging questions.

Fourth, I challenge Mr. Huet-Vaughn’s assertion that the armed forces teaches hostility towards democratic values. My father was a student at Mr. Huet-Vaughn’s school in the early 1930s, when there was no NJROTC. My father served in World War II and eventually retired a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. After the war, he was a community leader, a businessman, and an elected official. I do not conclude that to be an example of someone who has contempt for democratic values.

I attended Shawnee Mission West from 1969 to 1970 and was a member of the NJROTC Unit. After serving in submarines while on active duty, I eventually retired as a commander in the Naval Reserve. I never felt compelled to use armed force to effect a change in our government during my service. I do not believe that demonstrates contempt for democratic values. One may say that those are two isolated examples; however, eight of the past nine presidents of the United States have served in the armed forces. They assumed their office through democratic processes.

No matter what one’s opinion may be concerning the presidents’ conduct in office, all left office on their own volition, respecting the will of the people and constitutional guidelines. I do not believe that demonstrates contempt for democratic values.

I have one final comment: I have a hard time understanding the behavior of those who are so against anything related to, and have no personal connection with, the military, as opposed to those more closely associated with the armed forces and who suffer great personal hardships. Back in 1970, Brad Plumb, another member of the Shawnee Mission West NJROTC Unit, had a brother, Charlie, who was a POW in North Vietnam. It was suspected that Charlie was being tortured and mistreated despite the guidelines set forth in international agreements concerning the treatment of POWs. But Brad just did his “thing” as any other normal high school student with little mention of a serious family situation. When war protesters appeared at the annual spring parade of the Shawnee Mission District NJROTC Units, Brad said nothing despite hearing their obnoxious insults and open admiration for the North Vietnamese government, which was mistreating his brother. I wish Brad Plumb had received as much publicity concerning Charlie’s situation as Mr. Huet-Vaughn has concerning his opposition to NJROTC in the past month. Perhaps Charlie might have been released sooner. — Jay R. Jennings II

Mission, Kan.

Taxation without representation
Another excellent in-depth article by Patrick Dobson in your March 30-April 5 issue (“The Cost of the Game”)!

It has always been my opinion that taxpayers should not subsidize professional sports. If the fans wish to purchase tickets to support their teams, so be it. Professional sports franchises should be self-supporting. If the taxpayers are forced to build expensive stadiums for the teams, the teams should be charged rent to play in them, and those rental amounts should cover not only the original costs but maintenance and eventual replacement costs as well. If the Chiefs’ owners want more amenities to draw more fans, the owners should pay for those enhancements. It is the sports franchises that benefit, not the local taxpayers. As Dobson’s research points out, over 90 percent of the money spent at these ballparks are local dollars, so local taxpayers are not beneficiaries of additional revenues. Those dollars would have been spent locally anyway.

If the Chiefs, Royals, Blades, and Wizards don’t like the rent, let them move to another city and save the rest of us from spending our income in the form of taxation that benefits only a few owners. Eventually, they’ll run out of cities willing to subsidize their multimillionaire lifestyles. What isn’t withheld from our paychecks in the form of taxes will be spent locally at our discretion, not at the discretion of the taxmongers. — John Goethe

Harrisonville, Mo.

The insider
BRAVO for Patrick Dobson! Finally, someone was brave enough to interview someone on the inside of AWG (“Former AWG Manager Says Union ‘Bent Over Backward,'” April 20-26). AWG, being a corporate giant, has millions of dollars to spend on advertising to poison people’s minds with FEAR (False Evidence Against Reality) against the workers who literally helped build that company, while the workers can afford to only handbill the people going to the stores to get the truth out.

Thank you for having the guts to put your interview out where others can finally see it. Not one newspaper or TV station has had the guts to do REAL investigative reporting — probably because AWG buys advertising from them.

Again, thank you for being direct and going for the WHOLE story. — Jeanne Taylor

Springfield, Mo.

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