Letters to the Editor

From the week of June 14, 2001

The Purrfect Crime

Where there's smoke, there's ire: I've got a great idea. Let's get a gallon of gasoline (we'll all pitch in) and some matches, and let's light Kenny Be on fire. We'll call it the Kenny Be-B-Q. Westword thought that burning a cat was so funny, let's watch Kenny's dopey face while he's screaming, running around on fire. Then we can make up some funny cartoons about the little burnt-up burnout.

I must admit, jokes about abused animals sure are funny! So I can't blame Kenny for "A Full Line of Blazing Westy Souvenirs," his Worst-Case Scenario in the June 7 issue. But I can see his resentment for that poor cat, because when a kitten gets lit on fire, Denver cares. If Kenny Be got lit on fire, no one would give a shit.

William Rankine
Lakewood

The fur's flying:Kenny Be! Your June 7 cartoon is most tasteless and insensitive. I wonder if you had something to do with this horrible crime? Shame on Westwordfor publishing this! Shame on my friends who admire your work. I hope that one day you will experience the pain that Westy suffered and still is suffering.

Kenny, your mother should have used more effective birth control and spared us from your low-grade attempts at creativity.

This is the last Westwordfor me. Hopefully, others will also boycott this publication. Kenny Be gone!

Name withheld on request

Make fun of the crime, do the time: It's extremely offensive that Westword printed the Worst-Case Scenario cartoon featuring Westy, the cat who suffered such an egregious act of sadistic cruelty. You may claim that your publication has the right to freedom of expression, but that should be balanced with responsible journalism. How could you possibly make light of such a heinous crime and the horrendous suffering of an innocent animal?

Even those who aren't animal lovers should be concerned with your flippancy. Mental-health professionals, crime researchers and law-enforcement officials have proven that people who abuse animals are likely to be violent toward other people. Therefore, how can there be any humor at all associated with this case?

Hopefully, the teens who have been charged with the crime of setting Westy on fire and throwing him from a moving vehicle will be found guilty and punished appropriately. In the meantime, Westword can help prevent future acts of animal abuse by not trivializing unacceptable acts (and therefore, condoning them) and printing cartoons like this one.

Bob Rohde, president
Denver Dumb Friends League

Kitty litter:Satire is always good unless it hurts innocent people or animals. Thomas Nast did many cartoons of big business, Oscar Wilde satirized our manners and religious beliefs. Even Bill Buckley would poke fun at political figures and trade verbal barbs with Gore Vidal. However, Kenny G has gone too far in his cartoons of the burning of a cat.

This humor is more sick than the MADof the '50s. Who profits when we make fun of an animal being tortured? Are we to make no moral distinction between right and wrong? To promote this moral agnosticism on the torture of animals, I suggest Westword run cartoons on the rapes of women in Boulder, or the shooting of high-school students, or the Sudan slave trade. We could hae all sorts of sick cartoons about these and other unfortunate incidents.

Mayor Webb came out against apartheid as a violation of human rights; when he went to China with dollar signs in his eyes this spring, he didn't mention the cultural genocide of the Tibetans, the killing and torture of these gentle people. Why doesn't Westword go after a bigger issue instead of returning us to the late 1890s of William Randolph (Rosebud) Hearst and yellow journalism?

P.S.: My cat uses the commode when he pees; my cartoon "The Revenge of the Friends of Westy" shows good ol' boy Kenny G lying in the commode with the cat on top. Will you publish it? Do you dare?

David Hester
Littleton

Editor's note: Okay, okay, we get the picture. (Actually, David Hester's cartoon/photograph wouldn't fit on this page; to see it, you'll have to visit our Web site at westword.com.) Even a cursory reading of Kenny's cartoon, however, would reveal that he's not endorsing pet-burnings, but rather commenting on the cottage industry of causes that grows out of such an incident. And a closer reading would reveal thatWestword's cartoonist is Kenny Be, not Kenny G -- although perhaps Mr. Hester wants to consign the lite-jazz musician to the commode, too.


A Duty to Die

Extradition, not execution: Regarding Steve Jackson's "Penalty Zone series," which began with "Murderers' Row" in the June 7 issue:

Few issues divide the public as stringently as does capital punishment. Many argue that it is "ineffective as a deterrent to criminal activity" and that it's "administered inequitably along lines of race." These concerns hardly merit the discourse they often receive. For example, a deterrent is a personal psychological condition where one weighs the risk of a choice against the impact to one's values, then opts to perform in a manner that minimizes punishment. It is not an inherent aspect of an event or thing universally capable of discouraging undesirable behavior. What this boils down to is that nothing is truly a deterrent unless you deem it so based on what you value. As far as the death penalty being inequitable race-wise, it's more inequitable economic-wise.

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