Wednesday, December 20, 2006

No room for political correctness on fires?

"There was little room for political correctness in the Stillwater Pavilion on Tuesday as a packed crowd grilled agency representatives about the handling of August's Derby Mountain fire."

So begins a telling article that touches on the frustrations of fighting wildfires in Montana this past summer.

Apparently, a private helicopter that had been dumping water on the fire was called off by the Forest Service.

"We never, ever intended to run that guy out," said Jeff Stockwell of the Custer National Forest. "We were only trying to establish communications with that private helicopter."

Whatever was intended, Stockwell should probably lose his job for good.

We all know, after all, that it really doesn't matter if he explains himself or apologizes, there is no forgiveness for anyone who says the wrong thing to a firefighter.

Conrad Burns let his frustration get the better of him this past summer while his base, rural Montana, was going up in flames amidst bureaucratic inefficiencies caused by long-distance management. He did what many human beings do -- he took out his momentary frustrations on someone standing close to him.

One would have thought that that also was a moment with "little room for political correctness." But not when trying to gain control of a U.S. Senate seat for the Democrat party. In that case, political correctness reigns supreme in much of the Montana media, including the Gazette.