Off Limits

Oh, the heartbreak! For all these years, we thought we'd been buying Girl Scout cookies in support of the organization's efforts to build character in young girls and help them do good deeds (and because we have no self-control when it comes to Tagalongs). But as it turns out, our purchases may instead have subsidized bra-burning parties and beads for braided underarm hair. According to the January issue of Citizen, a monthly public-policy magazine produced by Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, the Girl Scouts provide a training ground for radical left-wing feminists and lesbians. "The Girl Scouts' leaders hope to make their youthful charges the shock troops of an ongoing feminist revolution," writes Kathryn Jean Lopez (an associate editor for the National Review) in an article titled 'The Cookie Crumbles." After all, she points out, the "2.7 million liberal feminists-in-training" in the Girl Scouts "welcome lesbians and made 'loyalty' and God optional long ago," having surrendered "to the same cultural forces the Boy Scouts are resisting."

And in fact, last year the Boy Scouts won the right to discriminate against homosexuals from the U.S. Supreme Court, earning hearty congratulations from Focus founder James Dobson. The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, have been on Dobson's hit list since 1994, when the group's leaders decided to allow any Scout to choose how she'd recite a particular portion of the Girl Scout Promise that had read, in part, "to do my duty to God and my country." Today Scouts are welcome to substitute another word for "God."

The Girl Scout Law, a separate oath, reads: "I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout." No doubt Dobson and Lopez see the reference to "sister" in this do-gooder creed as a code word for lesbianism.

Like Focus's previous attacks on the Girl Scouts, the current one is "silly," says Sherry Goldston, public-relations manager for the Wagon Wheel Council, which oversees Girl Scout troops from the Kansas border to Cripple Creek. "I think that's about the nicest word you could use for it."

Focus published its anti-Scout diatribe just when the cookie season was starting to cook -- maybe one of those naughty Scouts had knocked on Mr. Dobson's door. "We definitely have had some people refer to it when girls have gone to the door," Goldston says, adding that those people have used the Focus article as a reason to refuse to buy cookies. But even so, she notes, cookie sales in the area are up about 2 percent over this time last year.

Revenge is sweet.

Unabrownnosers: Budding journalists learn early how to cajole hesitant interview subjects into spilling their guts by finding something in common with their target: an alma mater, an affinity for dogs or booze, a similar viewpoint. But what could a journalist have in common with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski?

Plenty, according to a batch of letters posted on muckraking Web site The notes, most of them from 1998 and 1999, were written by journalists hoping to convince Kaczynski -- whose seventeen-year letter-bombing campaign left three people dead and 23 injured -- into having heart-to-heart discussions.

Dan Dahler, national correspondent for Good Morning America, claimed he was "uniquely equipped" to tell Ted's tale because "I was born not far from where you live and have a cabin in the woods west of Colorado Springs that has no electricity or running water." It was a good pitch -- Kaczynski was, and still is, cooling his heels at the Supermax facility in Florence and had been living in a Montana cabin the size of a toolshed before he was caught -- and it might have worked, if only Dahler hadn't misspelled Kaczynski's name as "Kaczynsky" not once, but twice.

Betcha that kind of thing makes Ted want to explode.

The Denver Post's Kit Miniclier took a similarly folksy tack. After introducing himself and describing his experience as a reporter, he pointed out that "I've canoed several summers on the Boundary Water Wilderness Area along Minnesota's border with Canada -- from my uncle's one-room log cabin on East Bearskin Lake." Miniclier was even bold enough to suggest that the two chat "on a Thursday or Friday in late November" of 1999, roughly a month from the date of his letter, because by then he'd be done with another assignment. And why not? It wasn't as if Kaczynski was going to schedule a conflicting vacation. Still, Miniclier's attempt bombed, too.


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