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From the week of April 26, 2001

State of Siege

The answer man: Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Chronology of a Big Fat Lie," in the April 19 issue: Now that CBS News and 60 Minutes have given us cause to reflect, once again, on the events at Columbine High two years ago, perhaps a modest proposal is in order.

I propose that Sheriff John Stone be locked up in his house, unarmed. Two killers carrying assault rifles and pipe bombs will enter his house and begin shooting at him. An impartial panel of witnesses, composed of Columbine parents and students, will observe the events from a safe distance to time the response of the sheriff's own department in attempting to save him. Should his deputies effect a rescue in anything less than four hours, after first "securing the perimeter," we will have a fair indication of whether the lives of cops in Jefferson County are rated as more important than the lives of defenseless children. Rules of engagement shall specify that no officer shall be permitted to enter the home if a sign appears in Stone's bedroom window pleading for help. After all, it might be a "trap." We can safely assume that no cop will violate this rule, as cops do what they are told, not what is right. After all, they have their jobs to consider.

As for the other burning question regarding Columbine -- what would drive two teenage boys to the kind of desperate and reckless violence that was committed on April 20 two years ago? -- I don't hold out much hope for an answer in my lifetime. After all, the answer to that question might require that we examine our own behaviors, past and present, toward children who "don't quite fit in." And the answer probably wouldn't be pleasant.

Paul Roasberry
via the Internet


State of Disbelief

City slickers: I just don't believe what goes on in this state. (I'm not a native -- thank G-d.) Reading Stuart Steers's "How the West Was One," in the April 12 issue, I see that another corporation gets taxpayer money (aka corporate welfare). So Qwest wants to bring urban Internet service to the rural folks. Why doesn't the state help Nordstorm build stores in rural Colorado so that rural folk can dress like city folk? How about helping Auto Nation sell cars in rural Colorado, since those folks are paying too much for their cars? And don't forget Kaufman & Broad and Centex, since those rural people need economical tract housing as well.

Come to think of it, the Colorado Legislature is already providing "corporate welfare" for land developers. It's called urban sprawl -- excuse me, "growth."

F. Titus
Denver


Paper Tigers

From JOA to DOA: Michael Roberts must be thankful that Westword doesn't have a random testing policy, because he is obviously on drugs. I don't expect objective reporting from Westword, but Mr. Roberts's April 19 "Tilting at Windmills" was off the edge. Obviously in the JOA camp, Mr. Roberts seemingly received his training in free enterprise from the Lenin School of Economics. News flash, Mikael: Competition is good. And the JOA is bad. Didn't your college buds figure that out in 1989? Or were you still in diapers when free enterprise won? You and the other Westword liberals would rail against a JOA between AT&T, Sprint and MCI that resulted in a tripling of our long- distance phone rates -- but then, that would not drive advertisers to Westword as the JOA has, would it?

A central premise of economics is that all relevant product and pricing information is known to the consumer. Advertising plays a key role in making that premise a reality. Though you would never know it from Mikael's reporting, Ryan Ross was absolutely correct. Less advertising makes the market less efficient. Look it up, comrade.

Gary W. Vick
Evergreen

View from a broadsheet:Regarding Roberts's "What We've Lost," in the April 12 issue, I completely agree with advertisers such as Jake Jabs who are unhappy with the JOA between the Denver Postand the Rocky Mountain News. But I am also concerned that we, the actual readers of the papers, get heard and considered regarding the changes that have occurred -- especially with the weekend editions.

First, if I wanted to read the Sunday Post, I would have subscribed years ago. I didn't, primarily because of the broadsheet format. Now I finally saw a typical Sunday Post, and it sucks (or some more printable adjective). But I'll apply an even more denigrating, appropriate adjective to the Saturday edition of the News. The News really got suckered in this agreement, didn't it? Not only do we now have a broadsheet classified section all the time, but we got this disgrace called the "weekend edition."

I find it very ironic that I've seen an ad (full page for a DSL service) in the Rocky in recent weeks that says something like "What if it took this page so many minutes and seconds to download?" Well, now that we're given no choice but a broadsheet on weekends, it does actually take a whole lot of time to "download" a page. With a tabloid, I simply prop the paper on my table and, without putting down my coffee cup, flip from page to page with complete ease. With a broadsheet, I have to put down my coffee, drop my fork, pick up the paper with two hands, swivel in my chair, drop the page from its folded position, shake loose the page and raise and drop my head to scan the next page with bifocals -- while the coffee gets colder and the eggs go uneaten. Then I have to scan each page for something worthwhile to read, shake the paper like a map while trying to refold the pages (which is significantly harder if you're the second or third person in the house to read that section), and then replace the whole thing in a readable position on the table.

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