Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 28, 2006

It strikes me as a stretch to claim that the Naval Academy denied Frank Shannon a commission and diploma "because he failed a running test by 20 seconds" ("For ex-mid, academy saga `doesn't add up'," Nov. 23), especially when the article notes that Mr. Shannon accumulated a record of 12 failures in 18 attempts to pass his physical fitness test.

I couldn't agree more with the Shannons that the football steroid saga has a nasty smell to it, as does any suspicion of a college putting its athletes' achievements before society's standards.

It's also fishy that the Navy secretary's office has no record of Mr. Shannon's certified letter appealing his expulsion reaching the office.

But lost in all this is one basic point: Anyone joining the service knows that physical readiness is a commitment made by all sailors, active or reserve, in all professional areas and all age groups.

Valuable, qualified sailors fail the fitness test every cycle. So what makes this case news?

The value of the test in its current form as a measure of actual fitness for action is questionable at best.

Where it is important is as an exercise in self-discipline, personal responsibility and accountability for the outcome of one's own efforts and decisions.

If anyone can name more desirable character traits in a naval officer, I'm all ears.

Tim Marshallsay

Baltimore

Academy is guilty of double standard

Some things don't change, and it seems the preferential treatment given to athletes at college is one of them. However, I would have thought that an institution as prestigious as our Naval Academy would have been the exception rather than the rule.

Frank Shannon was denied a diploma and kicked out of the academy six weeks before he was scheduled to graduate because he failed a running test by 20 seconds ("For ex-Mid, academy saga `doesn't add up'," Nov. 23).

In light of the fact that seven Navy football players, who admitted to using steroids, were restricted to their dorms for several weeks ("Academy admits to delay in drug tests," Nov. 18), Mr. Shannon's treatment is beyond outrageous.

The football players were, in effect, grounded. Big deal.

Mr. Shannon was punished for his efforts and the players were forgiven for cheating.

I would think moral integrity would play an integral role in molding young officers. But apparently those in charge at the academy think a good football team is paramount.

And according to The Sun's account, any attempts on Mr. Shannon's part to appeal his expulsion or the order to repay the academy $127,000 for his education has been ignored by the Pentagon. How tragic for this young man.

And how sad for the rest of us that the Navy is not just part of the problem of this continual lionizing of athletes but has taken it to a new level.

Barbara Blumberg

Baltimore

Presence of troops not protecting Iraqis

Perhaps the best way to judge what to do in Iraq is to assess which action would result in the least number of Iraqis being killed ("Top lawmakers urge Bush to push Iraqis toward peace," Nov. 27). And I can't see how the U.S. troops in Iraq are shielding anyone from the horrors of civil war.

Maybe we should offer the Iraqis reparations for shooting up their country and starting this mess in the first place.

Phyllis Sachs

Baltimore

Showing intolerance to abstinence backer

Wednesday's Sun reported that Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and 13 other Democratic senators asked that the Bush administration dismiss Dr. Eric Keroack from his appointment to a family planning job because he is a proponent of abstinence as a means of birth control ("Ouster of abstinence advocate sought," Nov. 22).

They cited the appointment as "another example of the Administration allowing ideology to trump science."

Aside from showing that these senators have no tolerance for anyone with an opinion differing from their own, this also shows their ignorance about science.

Without getting into the pros and cons of various birth control methods, I believe I can prove with scientific certainty that any woman who abstains from sex will not get pregnant.

K.P. Heinemeyer

Essex

Back-in parking will create real mess

Is this the best solution the Baltimore Parking Authority can come up with -- having drivers back into angle parking spaces in Hampden ("Facing parking problems backward," Nov 22)?

Many drivers have a hard enough time pulling forward into a parking space, let alone doing it in reverse.

One only has to go to an area shopping mall parking lot to see cars, trucks and SUVs pulled in crooked or so close to another automobile that you can barely get in or out of your own doors.

The holiday lights on 34th Street in Hampden are usually the big attraction this time of the year. But watching drivers adapt to the new reverse parking spaces might be more entertaining.

C. Rudolf

Abingdon

The experiment with back-in angle parking in Hampden is stupid.

It will require much more time to park and cause many more accidents, damaging to both the vehicles being parked and adjacent vehicles.

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