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Operation Enduring Sawdust: We can all breath a collective sigh of relief. Our freedoms are being protected by the brave men and women of the local 279th Engineers Battalion, from which 55 of Missoula’s finest soldiers in the U.S. Army Reserves were deployed in the middle of January to make…tent frames.

Initially sent to Bagram, Afghanistan, the Reserve soldiers were given the task of building 60 wooden frames and floors for general purpose medium tents (That’s “GP mediums” in army jargon.) Once that rigorous duty was completed, part of the company was shipped off to Camp Stronghold Freedom in Uzbekistan to do more of the same. Hey, every little bit helps…even if the wood wasn’t cut here in Montana.

In letters home, soldiers have complained about filthy, sweaty work and very long hours. A standard day runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, the soldiers work under desperately hot conditions, sometimes leading to heat exhaustion and other hyperthermic casualties.

Dehydration shouldn’t be too much of a concern right now, as the troops have recently been given some rest and relaxation (R&R) in Germany. However, with plenty of Deutschland bier so near at hand, our brave service men and women may have to watch out for dehydration of a different kind.

The Missoula-based soldiers could be deployed for as long as a year, according to their orders, but there is talk that they will be home as early as the end of August. However, the Army Reserve cautions family and friends that, given the current “international situation,” they shouldn’t get their hopes up just yet. Make us proud, engineers!

File this story under “missing the point:” A Spokane, Wash.-based radio station—98.1 KISC-FM, owned by Clear Channel Communications —recently announced that it has canceled all advertising for the critically acclaimed show, The Vagina Monologues because, according to station managers, they received about a dozen complaints from listeners who objected to use of the word “vagina.” Radio spots for the show, which is being performed at the Spokane Opera House July 23–28, were yanked only two days after they began airing.

The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler, had its humble beginnings as a small off-Broadway play in New York City, and went on to become an international sensation. The show has since been performed in more than 40 countries around the world and translated into 35 different languages. Currently, two North American touring companies are booked in more than 140 cities throughout the United States and Canada. Advertisements for The Vagina Monologues have appeared in literally hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers (including this one), magazines, billboards, as well as television and radio spots in such “liberal” hotbeds as Salt Lake City, Utah; Norfolk, Va.; Bloomington, Ind.; and Baton Rouge, La.

More importantly, the show has raised more than $5 million to end violence against women and girls, and in 1998 sparked the creation of V-Day, a nonprofit organization that funds grassroots groups working to stop violence against women. According to Stone Productions, which is coordinating the two North American productions, V-Day expects to give away nearly $8 million this year alone, thanks in part to matching grants from major corporations. Nonetheless, KISC apparently refuses to acknowledge that “vagina” is not a dirty word but simply a part of a woman’s anatomy.

So…Will the real obscenity please stand up?

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