Net Gains
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Nightmare on the Net," in the March 6 issue:
I have been following the heavy-handed tactics of the Church of Scientology, in general and on the Internet, since 1993. I took Scientology courses and escaped with relatively little damage way back in 1974.

Your article seems even-handed, very well-informed and fair to all sides. I believe Mr. Prendergast has done a very good job, especially in that he did not shy away from or gloss over many of the gory details, as other media have done. The details are the ones in which the Church of Scientology is revealed to not actually be an altruistic church but a rapacious and criminal enterprise.

In the past, it has been the practice of Scientology to attack those who brought their dirt to the light of day. If they should be so foolish as to sue Westword, I hope that: 1) you are prepared; and 2) you nail the cult in a coffin with a wooden stake once and for all. Thank you for your courage in publishing this article.

Name withheld on request

Thank you for the very good feature story about the fight against Scientology! It gives me great hope that this fight actually could have a happy end, even though many people already are hurt.

Thanks for helping to serve the truth and, most important, daring to report about it.

Andreas Heldal-Lund

Everyone's a Critic
Regarding Kenny Be's Worst-Case Scenario, "Fester D. Fetus Goes to High School," in the March 6 issue:

Kenny! You make me sick. May you rot in hell for your sick, sick, makes-me-wanna-puke humor.

P.S. Whoever said you could draw?
Philip J. Spanier

A Death in the Family
Karen Bowers's article on death-row inmate Frank Rodriguez ("A Fight to the Death," March 6) brought back memories of those years when Frank, his brother Chris, David Martinez, Patricia Thomas and Margie Marquez were involved in the two death-penalty trials. I knew them all in the county jail except Thomas, and I testified in the penalty phase of Frank's and Chris's trials.

I knew of the letters before either the prosecutors or the public defenders knew Margie and Frank were communicating by note on the jail bus. And I knew of the long and vicious abuse that the brothers endured from their father as they were growing up. As jail chaplain, I listened for hours to their horror stories. In cross-examining me, Deputy District Attorney Mike Little tried to convince the jury that Frank had truly conned this gullible Jesuit priest. "Is it possible for a Jesuit to be conned?" he asked me. Pondering a while, I replied, "Yes. In fact, it has happened twice in our 450-year history."

The physical scars from the years of beatings may have disappeared from their bodies, but Chris and Frank will carry their deep inner scars to the grave.

I have always felt deep compassion for the Martelli family. What was done to Lorraine was worse than horrible. In consequence, the state wants to murder Rodriguez to show that murder is wrong. This country and this state should not be in the business of killing people.

Jim Sunderland
Colorado Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Still Railing
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "It's the Rail Thing," in the March 13 issue:
That a core group of activists can steer--or, in this case, follow--RTD's plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a project of questionable value is well understood by that segment of society intent on deciding for the rest of us where we should live, work and play so as to minimize the harm to their environment, the protection of which demands not just tribute from those who produce but also concessions from the population as a whole. Under this ethic, private property is for public use; streets are for public transportation (i.e., buses, carpools or bicycles); and corridors are for mass transit (i.e., light rail). Those who disagree are only troublemakers, malcontents and anti-environmentalists.

The cards were stacked against those Lakewood residents along the 13th Avenue right-of-way from the beginning. It's a classic case of a determined special interest subverting the general interest, the strong dominating the weak. Our congressmen may never figure out how to balance the budget, but they have learned enough of group dynamics to expect activist support for their pork-barrel programs.

Dave Bishop
Former RTD director, Aurora

The Write Stuff
It has recently become more and more apparent what effect your paper's writing style has had on Denver's daily newspapers. Witness the long article in Empire Magazine on March 9, 1997, regarding gonzoist Hunter S. Thompson--the Denver Post's willingness to publish such a wonderfully controversial author's chronicle in such a staid newspaper leads me to think you're making decent literary headway (gonzo-ly speaking) in our community. It shows. I think both the Post and the Rocky Mountain News are starting to feel the pinch from your writership by giving their writers more freedom to be witty, humorous, offbeat--damn, it's about time! How refreshing.

So I thank you, Westword, for goosing these other papers into something other than the ordinary. Indeed, I applaud you.

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