Beat It
Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "Beat Cop," in the July 19 issue:
Malicious. If this wasn't a perfect example of the type of borderline-libelous and creatively sensational writing that gives journalists a bad rap, I don't know what is. Simply put, it was completely one-sided, vicious and damaging. If the court had already convicted and sentenced Alex Woods, why did Westword decide to defame him professionally? Was this a newsworthy story simply because the convicted offender wears a badge?

A neatly arranged feature story about a beaten woman who never went for medical treatment, who appeared to have been a little provocative and antagonistic and who kept going back for more has just too many holes to provoke my complete sympathy. However, it does pique my interest.

I have to wonder why Mary Taylor did not get a restraining order against this "molester," especially since she feared for her life. Still, what a shame Taylor had to endure this torment. Perhaps telling her side of the story will help her get past her apparent bitterness and move on.

Alex Woods does need to be rehabilitated, and he acknowledged the worthiness of his sentence and his intent to comply, yet Chotzinoff felt obligated to speculate that he really didn't seem sincere enough. Objectivity was once a component of good journalism.

Perhaps Taylor ought to consider rehabilitation as well; after all, her own taped (and published) conversation with Woods suggests that she, too, was physically abusive during their three-year relationship. Of course, that was minimized and put toward the end of the story, certainly so as to not take away from the purpose of the article... to disgrace Alex Woods.

The artistic arrangement of Chotzinoff's words slants the story to make it spectacular, at least in her mind. The media has an obligation to tell an objective, well-rounded and newsworthy story; it does not hold a license to destroy a man's emotions, reputation, career, friendships and family relations, not to mention his prospects of getting a date anytime soon.

As a woman who has been a participant in an unhealthy and volatile relationship myself, I do not condone Officer Woods's behavior by any means. However, he was convicted and sentenced, and he will pay the price for his mistake. Since when is it a journalist's duty to go a step further and pulverize every aspect of a person's life? Chotzinoff's words and the sketches accompany- ing the article expose Woods to public hatred, shame, disgrace and ridicule while they induce an ill opinion of him.

All I can say is shame on you, Chotzinoff. I think they need your services at the National Enquirer. Hurry, before the O.J. trial is over!

J. Featherstone

Bard Games
It is worth my time to address M.S. Mason's incomprehensible diatribe on the subject of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival ("The Grating Outdoors," July 19). I am not interested in defending the artistic merit, the integrity or the value of the festival to the state or to the community. The festival doesn't need defending. It is what it is: a 38-year tradition, an outdoor Shakespeare festival operating (as theater does) on a tight budget, bringing Shakespeare's work to whoever wants to come see it. As is true in all live theater, there are good and bad productions at CSF, good and bad actors, good and bad concepts, good and bad nights. As is true in all outdoor events, there is good and bad weather with which to contend. Someone who does not like the idea of sitting outdoors for the duration of a play should perhaps not attend an outdoor play.

To call the Mary Rippon a "royal ripoff" is almost comical, given that Mason probably received free press tickets to the shows. Who is ripped off? The picnickers who arrive early to the show and are treated to an hour's worth of free entertainment on the green? The playgoers who pay an entrance fee to an event that delivers exactly what it promises? A ripoff implies that someone is being misled, bilked, robbed. How are audience members at CSF robbed?

Mason's actual review of the productions, when she gets around to it, might contain many an honest assessment, but her evident anger (at what?) undermines her credibility. She does not simply critique performances but rather takes cheap shots at the actors.

Again, my position is not one of opposition to criticism of the CSF. Literate, well-thought-out criticism is invaluable, and many critics deliver theirs--positive and negative--with grace, acuity and insight. Such educated opinions are useful and well-received by artists, producers and directors. Some of Mason's observations about difficulties of acting well in a windstorm, for example, are true; I have seen much nuance of character sacrificed to the gusty skies of Boulder, although they're not often all that gusty. And it is true that Shakespeare benefits from more subtle interpretations than are often possible at CSF, due to both the youth of the company (most CSF actors are graduate students) and to the acoustics of the theater. However, with regard to the issue of comprehension, one final word to Mason and to all who read her piece:

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