This Week

Issue: "Year in Review 1997," Dec. 27, 1997

Parental supervision?

The alleged mastermind behind the Satanic-inspired shootings at a rural Mississippi high school went free on Tuesday after a judge allowed him to post a $75,000 bond. Grant Boyette, 18, leader of a group known as the Kroth, is accused of convincing 16-year-old Luke Woodham to open fire on his classmates at Pearl High School. Two died and seven others were wounded in the October shooting spree. The court stipulated that Mr. Boyette must be under constant parental supervision during his release-small comfort to many, since his parents apparently never supervised the animal sacrifices and other Satanic rituals that Mr. Boyette allegedly led over the years.

What the Pentagon panel didn't address

Those who believed the military could be used as a social laboratory to achieve ends prescribed by politicians who never served have been rebuked. A Pentagon-appointed study panel, headed by former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, remains committed to "gender integration," but not until after a few weeks of segregation. "By separating men and women in their own barracks, you would have fewer disciplinary problems and a better sense of unit cohesion and team building," the panel concluded. What the panel didn't address is how training will be toughened if women again fail to meet higher standards. The objective of the gender feminists has been total equality between male and female service personnel. So what will happen when the irresistible force of politics comes up against the immovable object of military strength? Something's gotta give. The Clinton administration has been the primary impetus behind sex-integrated basic training. The results have been obvious for some time to those not blinded by politics. After touring U.S. military facilities last summer, Rep. Stephen Buyer (R-Ind.), chairman of the subcommittee on military personnel, told the Navy Times: "Wherever we were ... there was a general complaint about the product coming out of basic training.... They've weakened the standards, and we're concerned about it." How weak are they? At the Great Lakes Naval Training Center recruits are shown a video telling them that "physically, anybody can make it through boot camp," a statement that devalues the prestige associated with conquering boot camp and the toughness recruits need to develop. According to Time magazine, recruits at Great Lakes no longer drill with rifles, because the Navy (which used rifles in training until 1996) now regards them as anachronistic. And, my personal favorite, recruits are issued a "blue card" that they are encouraged to hand to their trainer whenever they feel discouraged or stressed. The Army could call its training "sneaker camp," because recruits no longer run with combat boots. The Army has substituted jogging apparel. Drill instructors have been warned not to berate their recruits verbally. And basic combat skills are receiving less emphasis. According to a 1997 report by the Army Inspector General, "There is no clearly articulated or enforced standard for soldierization skills to graduate from Initial Entry Training." Are we willing to pay the price of a weakened military so that politicians and the gender feminists can have their way in the emasculation of our armed services? Tragically, they will have failed to equip a fighting force to prevail in the next war when they are needed to defend their country and themselves. Cal Thomas, © 1997, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Speaking Freehly

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FBI Director Louis Freeh failed to get a ringing endorsement from his boss during a wide-ranging 90-minute news conference, but he says that won't intimidate him into taking an early retirement. Mr. Freeh angered the White House by urging an independent counsel to investigate alleged fundraising violations, an idea Janet Reno has adamantly opposed. At a Tuesday news conference, given the opportunity to support publicly his FBI director, President Clinton conspicuously declined to do so, saying simply, "I don't want to get into it." But Mr. Freeh, whose appointment lasts until 2003, apparently is unconcerned. He says political pressures don't bother him, and he has no plans to quit before his term is up.

Parental supervision?

The alleged mastermind behind the Satanic-inspired shootings at a rural Mississippi high school went free on Tuesday after a judge allowed him to post a $75,000 bond. Grant Boyette, 18, leader of a group known as the Kroth, is accused of convincing 16-year-old Luke Woodham to open fire on his classmates at Pearl High School. Two died and seven others were wounded in the October shooting spree. The court stipulated that Mr. Boyette must be under constant parental supervision during his release-small comfort to many, since his parents apparently never supervised the animal sacrifices and other Satanic rituals that Mr. Boyette allegedly led over the years.

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