- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 27, 2002

Fairfax's 'questioning youth' given false answers

Encouraging the placement of homosexual-themed books in Fairfax County public schools is not the only promise that School Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech has made to homosexual activists ("Gay-books sale hits opposition," Metro, Monday). In a May 31 letter, Mr. Domenech assured the local chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) that he would act upon its requests to designate a "contact person for issues concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth," distribute brochures, conduct "sensitivity training for staff" and help invite gay groups "to propose workshops and assemblies for students."

Yet, Mr. Domenech has yet to meet with ex-homosexual representatives or discuss equal access for ex-homosexual groups. No doubt he had been unduly influenced by GLSEN's policy of encouraging public schools to censor ex-homosexual materials. Who's discriminating now?


Executive director

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays

Fort Belvoir

Last fall, a petition signed by more than 1,500 voting-age citizens in Fairfax County was presented to the Fairfax County School Board requesting a standards-of-decency policy for school libraries. While these citizens have been ignored, a few homosexual teachers and advocates are being accommodated hastily.

There already are about 100 titles in Fairfax County public school libraries listed as "homosexual" subject books. Forty "homosexuality fiction" titles more than 300 total copies are in the elementary, middle and high schools. These numbers do not include the many other books with homosexual themes that are identified by other terms (gay, lesbian, etc.) or not at all.

The school system's request for homosexual book donations was driven by its proposed new policy on sexual orientation. Pedophilia, necrophilia and bestiality also are sexual orientations. Will this new policy also prevent discrimination against the illegal activities involved with these orientations?

Pedophilia and other "alternative" sexual orientations are already in some of the books that concern us members of Parents Against Bad Books in Schools (www.pabbis.org). For example, last year "The House of Spirits" by Isabelle Allende was required reading for juniors in the International Baccalaureate English program at South Lakes High School, and it is on the shelves of most high school libraries. Among the numerous sexual and violent passages is a detailed description of a man in a sexual/strangulation scene with a 6-year-old girl. Elsewhere in this book, a child watches a man kiss her sister's naked corpse (intestines already removed) on the lips, the neck, the breasts and between the legs. The school system's library catalog only identifies this book as a "love story."

The school system continues to discriminate against those offended by books illustrating graphic and gratuitous sex and violence and refuses to warn parents in advance about books with such material. Even Hollywood has movie ratings to do this. Parents shouldn't have to approve of homosexuality or the use of explicit and graphic material in order to be "acceptable" to the public schools. That is simply bias against them and intolerance on the part of the schools.


Alexandria, Va.

Take note, D.C. tourism bureau

Three weeks ago on a visit to the District, I found myself in an unfamiliar area of the city with a dead car battery. It was Sunday morning, and no help was in sight. A big guy (he must have been 6-foot-4 and weighed 275 pounds) named Lucas stopped and offered to help. In fact, he helped me get the battery out, took me to an auto store 20 minutes away and helped me install it, spending at least an hour with me. When I offered to pay him, he wouldn't take a dime, stating that it was his gift from Washington to me. With all the bad publicity your city gets, it's great to know that goodness and honesty is there, just around the corner. From a white guy in Mississippi to my new friend, Lucas, thanks.


Jackson, Miss.

Capitalism must be tempered by accountability

Tod Lindberg's latest column reads like a dispatch from another planet ("Republican role reversal," Op-Ed, Monday). He views the possibility of a stronger Securities and Exchange Commission and a separation of auditing and consulting work as first steps toward the concession to the proletariat of the means of production. However, the goal of the proposed regulations is to increase the transparency, accountability and trust that are essential to capitalism.

Excessive power corrupts, whether in the hands of government, business, the clergy, you name it. A few businessmen have discovered novel ways to deceive and defraud others; logically, enforcement must be stepped up. Conservatives must understand that the attack on capitalism that we face comes not from Arthur Levitt or Al Gore, but from Kenneth Lay and Bernard Ebbers.



Sierra Club defends environmentalist forest management

"Forestry in the Fifth Dimension" (Op-Ed, July 15) badly mischaracterizes environmentalists' position on forest management and is flawed on several levels.

First, Congress' own General Accounting Office released a report examining 1,671 USDA Forest Service projects in 2001 aimed at reducing hazardous fuels in national forest areas that are at risk of catastrophic fires. Of those projects, environmentalists appealed only 20 about 1 percent and took none to court.

Sure, two weeks ago the Forest Service responded with attacks on conservation groups by producing a claim that 48 percent of fuel-reduction projects were appealed. However, under questioning in a congressional hearing, it wasn't able to produce a list of those projects. The Forest Service still has not provided a list of the projects. The Bush administration's political attacks get reprinted, but the basic facts don't see the light of day.

Second, logging is, in fact, a major contributing factor to severe fires. Scientists have determined that the fire problems in the West stem from three problems: nearly a century of fire suppression that has removed the natural role fire plays in healthy forests, an extreme multiyear drought, and decades of commercial logging that has removed large, fire-resistant trees and created 383,000 miles of logging roads.

The first priority of the Forest Service should be to protect lives and communities. Reducing hazardous fuels around communities and restoring the natural role of fire with prescribed burning is the best use of resources and follows sound science. We need to focus federal resources on helping homeowners prepare for the fire season not on subsidizing more commercial logging.

The Forest Service's record of waste, fraud and abuse is legendary. Another GAO report, released in January, says that the agency could not "determine if the $796 million appropriated for hazardous fuels reduction in fiscal years 2001 and 2002 is targeted to the communities and other areas at highest risk of severe wildland fires" (GAO-02-259). Why is this the case? One year after the Forest Service received these funds, the GAO found "the federal effort still lacks clearly defined and effective leadership."

For more than a decade, the Sierra Club has advocated for more effective hazardous-fuel reduction projects and prescribed burning. The Forest Service needs to step into the new century and adopt these as priorities. Misleading and politically motivated accusations won't keep homes from being burned down. Responsible and far-thinking policies will.


National forest policy specialist

Sierra Club


Rep. Cox's Cuban flip-flop

I find it interesting that despite an Op-Ed column ("Crack down on Castro," Tuesday) in which he blasted those who would make reforms to the United States' outdated and failed Cuban policy, Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican, voted Thursday night in favor of lifting restrictions on travel to Cuba. Whether or not Mr. Cox's vote was a mistake, the House of Representatives made no mistake in passing this long-overdue policy change, increasing by 22 "yeas" a failed vote on a similar bill last year. Americans should have the freedom to travel wherever they choose.



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