In response to the letter submitted by Charles E. Aaskov (“Boy Scouts shouldn’t alter stance on gay troop leaders,” Aug. 21):

Currently, there is no controlling legal basis to compel a private organization to alter its membership policies. As established in the 2000 Supreme Court decision Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, private organizations, through the freedom of expressive association, reserve the ability to determine membership qualifications.

The nostalgic reference to the good old days of the 1940s and 1950s, however, deserves closer examination.

Doubtless, it was during the 1940s that this country emerged from the Great Depression through the unity of national purpose needed to defeat fascism during World War II. The Greatest Generation demonstrated exemplary self-sacrifice and a steadfast resolve that was fortified by faith.

But during that era and the subsequent decade, division and repression were the norms. It was a period of Jim Crow, severely limited opportunities for women, and accusations of disloyalty for those who expressed nonconforming opinions. Back then, violations of civil liberties were often defended as following God’s will.

At 56 years of age, ever more frequently I emit an exasperated “What next?” Like Mr. Aaskov, I do not recognize the country I grew up in.

But, then again, I’m not supposed to.

Every American generation is supposed to have this disorienting experience. In a truly dynamic, free society, institutions and norms must gradually and steadily transform.

Often, this is wrenching and convulsing. The sickness of cynicism only aggravates the process. But this upset is the unavoidable cost of adhering to the indelible principles of inclusion, equality and fairness on which the country was founded.

We can only hope, and pray to God, that inevitable change will come in the form of progress and social justice for all of our foundational institutions, public and private.

Joe Wagner


Once again, I feel compelled to write all you dedicated readers of a thorn that constantly aggravated the Scouting program. It has been very costly and detrimental to our Boy and Girl Scout programs.

Just think what the cost has been in the courts to try to persuade the program to change its core beliefs. What those costly fees would mean if they were channeled to youngsters without monetary means in living the open road of Scouting, to see a beautiful sunset and a glistening waterfall!

We have read of the many abuses in many programs and the heartbreaks the abused have carried throughout their lives. It is so sad to have the uninformed people who haven’t recognized the importance of a program that raises the stature of human existence. The Scout creed calls on each Scout “to keep myself mentally alert and morally straight.”

As I sit here and contemplate, I recall what I feel are two outstanding quotes of our time. One comes from the Scriptures: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” In the Scout manual, it states: “Do a good turn daily.”

Having been associated with the Scouting program for more than 72 years, I can point to many events that gave me self-esteem to propelled me to accomplish many personal efforts for the betterment of mankind.

Those scouters who feel that turning in their medals and awards will turn the heads of those who promote the Scout programs are hurting the overall program. (There is one good point to observe – the knowledge these scouters learned will always serve them well.)

One hundred years of Scouting have proven that Scouting lifts the well-being of our youths as well as those who lead them.

Let us, as a people, keep our sights on the target that represents a bull’s-eye for our youths.

Fred Collins

ex-Marine and longtime scouter


Educator’s use of jargon makes message a mystery

It is not encouraging to read an opening statement about Portland schools by the newly appointed superintendent, Emmanuel Caulk (Maine Voices, “Classroom success depends on more than just teachers,” Aug. 23).

Of course, it may not be fair to judge by one example, but Caulk declares himself to be “excited to become part of this ‘vibrant city.’ “

He is, he writes, “committed to fostering an organizational culture that puts students first.”

I haven’t the foggiest idea what that means.

What is an “organizational culture”? Is it to be “fostered”? If so, what does that mean? It sounds like a booster for West Nile virus.

This is really quite tricky stuff, for it sounds impressive.

“Organizational culture” sounds as though it were identifying an important academic entity, one that had fluttered down from the higher realms of human thought intending to point our way to salvation.

If Caulk had written of an organized culture, we would, at least, have a hard crust to bite on because a culture is exactly that which is not organized, unless you want to point to a totalitarian regime, which usually leaves all of the cultured outside.

No. There is no way to redeem “organizational culture.”

It is a phrase meant to bamboozle, to confuse, to intimidate. It is a phrase with no “sound and fury,” but it does signify “nothing.”

Caulk’s language is infinitely more dangerous than anything Gov. Le-Page has blasted us with.

L. Morrill Burke

Long Island

Printing SEAL’s real name is a violation of principle

Regardless of what other sources have done, I am disappointed in your decision to publish the name of the Navy SEAL who wrote the book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

I believe principle should override the justification that others have done it. Yes, my attitude may be seen as only symbolic, but principle is principle.

Mary Quirk


Lovers of classical music will miss full-time station

It’s difficult to believe that a city as culturally attuned as Portland will soon be without a full-time classical music station. Because WBACH was a commercial station, listeners had to put up with a lot of second-rate on-air advertising, which I found bearable because there was a steady stream of classical music.

I’ve had access to full-time radio broadcasting of classical music my entire adult life, even in Des Moines, Iowa, so this is a significant loss. I know many others will feel the same way.

Barbara Doughty