Letters: Don't Ask Don't Tell, Scams, Thanksgiving

Talk of the Nation listeners weigh in on the military's controversial "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy and telephone scam artists. Also, they'll explain who is missing from this year from their Thanksgiving tables.

NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, the day we read from your emails and blog comments. Greg in Kansas City wrote in about our conversation with Retired Rear Admiral James Barnett, one of the 104 retired military leaders who signed a statement calling for the repeal of the military, 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. I was leaving the military when the policy was implemented, Greg wrote, and I thought it was an insult to the gays and lesbians serving. Being a gay man, I joined at the time when my sexuality was prohibited, and I had to lie to join the Air Force. The fact is that most gays and lesbians would chose to serve in their own silence. The repeal of the policy is important so that all can chose to serve with no threat of retribution for being who they are.

Our program about scams prompted this note of caution. One group I have yet to hear about that has joined the ranks of the scammable is the deaf community. With the development of such Internet technologies as videophones and networking websites scam artist have a new way to reach a group of people that have had little exposure to the evils of telephones scams, the media, or other red flags that would seemed obvious to those in the hearing world. Many unsuspecting deaf people have lost everything. That email comes from video sign language interpreter who asked that we not use his name and here's why.

One of the hardest parts for me is actually being a part of these conversations. Our strict code of ethics prohibits us from advising the caller of the scam, so I have witnessed deaf people panning out their personal information including credit card numbers, bank account numbers and even Social Security numbers to people they don't know. I hope if any of your listeners have deaf friends or family, they will emphasize the importance of privacy especially with strangers calling on the video phone.

And finally, last day on Thanksgiving we ask who's not at the table this year? And we got this note from Sam Blackman. Last year he wrote, you had an email that I sent regarding how my wife and I were without our daughter Anika. We were in the middle of (unintelligible) for Kazakhstan and had to return to the U.S.A. without her for four weeks as the process concluded. And so Thanksgiving 2007 was spent with her in the orphanage 8,000 miles away and us in Boston, a picture in her place. What a difference a year makes. Today she is here with us about to celebrate her first ever Thanksgiving. I relish watching her toddler appetite being sated on Turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin cake. As you can imagine, we are extremely, extremely, extremely thankful this year.

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