Letters to the Editor

From the week of November 29, 2001

Drug Bust

Praisin' Kane: Regarding federal judge John Kane (Stuart Steers's "Disorder in the Court," November 22), I have three words for this man:

God bless him.

It amazes me that so few in his position see what is painfully obvious: The "War on Drugs" is a colossal waste of money and manpower; hypocritical (as long as booze is legal), unconstitutional (see "pursuit of happiness"), and used by law enforcement as a license to steal (oh -- sorry -- the word the cops use is "seize") and freely vent their hostilities on what are essentially the modern-day witches, with a zeal not seen since the dawn of the civil-rights movement.

Kudos to Judge Kane for having the balls to speak out against the perpetuation of this mass injustice. More power to him.

Melinda Brindley
Denver

The needle and the damage done: As one of the growing minority of law-enforcement professionals who see the present system as clearly not working, I can adamantly state that Judge Kane is basically right on target. In fact, the USA is straddling the middle between the two poles of effective drug control and interdiction. If you examine the policies of Western European nations (such as England, Holland, Switzerland and Sweden) that deal with drug abuse as a medical-sciences criteria, the problem is more controllable. The massive pyramid scheme of users and addicts bringing in more users and addicts by their self-sustaining sales is economically halted. Treatment is the primary criteria, and criminal prosecution is the last possible resort.

In Asia, treatment is also available and intensive. Heroin addicts using five to six times the potency of American addicts are weaned with acupuncture and intensive "re-orientation." The most prominent key to their version of the War on Drugs, however, is severe and brutal retribution to the traffickers. Executions or long sentences to horrible prisons (by American standards) are common and mandatory. When you get off the plane in these countries, they will start off with pictographs of your execution if they catch you bringing drugs into their countries.

Both of these formats work more effectively than the USA's vacillating nonsense, but as the USA is not prepared to emulate Malaysia or Singapore with massive executions, the European methods may be more applicable.

Judge Kane is also clearly correct in his assessment of the prejudicial nature of the "war." African-Americans account for 13 percent of the population, 12 percent of all cocaine usage and in excess of 80 percent of all arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations. The upper-middle-class white kid from southeast Denver caught with a couple of grams of cocaine will get deferred prosecution or judgment and "treatment programming"; the black kid from northeast Denver caught with a couple of rocks will likely get Cañon City. The key is the undercover narcs who deal with it all: It's just so much easier to catch the black kids involved than the white kids.

But what Judge Kane may be missing, or at least not describing in this interview, is the massive economic stake in the perpetuation of the "war." This is not just the fabulous fortunes available in any kind of prohibition and illegalization to any "entrepreneur"; it is also the massive perpetuation of new businesses and power bases that are created in the process. These include everything from the contracts of urine-testing labs to mandatory drug treatment programs for unwilling and unready users; from SWAT and police paraphernalia manufacturers to prison and jail architects and construction companies. The job security of lawyers, law-enforcement agents (myself included), criminal-justice professionals, government bureaucrats and politicians all attests to the real addiction to drugs in terms of the response we call the War on Drugs.

Max Winkler
Englewood

The evil that men do: Thank you, thank you for your article on Judge John Kane. He is a gentleman who knows what he is talking about. Drug prohibition makes no constitutional sense at all. Almost all of the ills that our countrymen blame on drugs are caused not by the drugs themselves, but by our stupid drug laws. Drugs are chemicals; many are prevalent in nature and are neutral. They are not evil, nor are they the source of evil. Only man can be evil.

Evil is a judgment call made by the superstitious and the abysmally ignorant. Marijuana is not a drug to fear, nor is heroin. Heroin is the treatment of choice to maintain those addicted to it, and marijuana is 100 percent harmless.

The idea that the government should or will ever control the flow of drugs in our society by prohibition is nonsense. Prohibition is a fascist concept and has no place in our democracy. We, the people, will always have our drugs, and nothing will change that.

I am as old as Judge Kane's father, and I can still remember what the sweet air of freedom was like before 1937. Judge Kane, the "people" are with you!

Joseph E. Hopwood
Quantico, MD

The fix is in: I applaud Judge John Kane for his honesty concerning this dark chapter in American history and our ill-fated experiment with drug prohibition. Unfortunately, all Americans suffer the consequences for the mistakes of a very few, and the War on Drugs is probably the clearest example of this type of policy. There's little question that American drug laws are not so much an attempt to control illegal drugs as they are a way to support two thriving industries, forever: The anti-drug bureaucracy and the illegal drug manufacturers and importers reap hundreds of billions of dollars of profit from their symbiotic relationship.

On one side, the moral entrepreneurs preach abstinence and promote laws that wreck the lives of countless Americans while using the courts and these same dictates to destroy every vestige of our legacy as a free and free-thinking people. They want to know what goes on in your home, where and how you spend your money, and what you do with your body and your time. In the form of drug testing, they now attempt to see inside your body, for God's sake. What could be more un-American?

I have little doubt that were America's founders alive today, they would cringe at what we've let their wonderful idea become. King George would blush at the tactics we allow our government employees to use in pursuit of those who consume illegal drugs.

On the other side of the drug war are those who provide illegal drugs, an industry of massive proportions that attempts to satisfy the world's lust for the products it produces. The United Nations estimates that in 1997, worldwide trade in illicit drugs amounted to $400 billion per year, or 8 percent of the global economy. Law enforcement acknowledges that it only intercepts a minute fraction of illegal drugs that are sold around the globe, but we continue the fight undeterred, as though somehow, through some miracle, these insane policies someday just may succeed, even though we're no closer to a solution after throwing over a trillion dollars at this disaster.

Although there are other ways of controlling these substances, Americans are rarely allowed to hear the ideas true drug-policy professionals propose. Instead, we must let generals, bureaucrats, political appointees and legislators -- who, more often than not, know very little concerning the substances they attempt to control -- direct the War on Drugs. If that's not enough, the vast majority of "educators" we pay to teach our people about these drugs probably know less than that. That basically defines U.S. drug policy: the blind leading the blind.

Fresh ideas have no place within our current system. Why? Money, and lots of it, on both sides of the issue -- for those who fight drugs and those who supply these illegal substances, with the taxpayer's wallet caught dead in the middle.

Denise Plylar
Kremmling


A Group Thug

In for life: On November 8, Westword published David Holthouse's story about me, "This Thug's Life." I wasn't too happy with the responses the story got back. This interview was to get the attention of younger kids who look up to gangs. But some of you dumb-ass idiots can't read too well.

I am taking full responsibility for my actions, and I made my own choice, which happened to be a fucked-up choice. I am not seeking sympathy from others, so get that straight. Hopefully kids will realize that this is not the route to go. I'm trying to let them know the reality and the outcome of being down for a gang.

Oh, and for the record, I never wanted to be an NSM, 'cause I am already a BAP, and I'm not no buster.

Frank Lontine, aka "Race"
Denver County Jail

End of the line: Just as there is no happy beginning to this story, there will be no happy ending, either. By no means am I ignorant to Frank's lifestyle. I sat in on family sessions at Jefferson Hills (a youth-detention facility); I did try to use my past experiences to show Frank the sorrow, pain and wasted youth. No one really knows the personal defeat that I feel. I saw where he was headed and I did everything I could to try and show him the positive ways of life.

What happened to Brandy DuVall was a senseless tragedy that may have been done by a certain gang. This rape/murder shocked everyone, including other street gangs. Frank and Andrew both knew Brandy from breakdancing; they still keep her memory alive. There is a world on the streets that most people wouldn't believe exists. We didn't ask for this world, but we do our best to survive. Some get out -- some get deeper.

If anyone has a niece, nephew, neighbor or your very own child that you suspect might be on the wrong road, please do whatever it takes to save them. I've cried a river over Frank. I know that he could've chosen a better life.

Augusta Vigil
Frank's friend

Paying the price: In response to the letters in Westword: First of all, Frank is not a thug. He is one of the nicest persons you have the good luck to meet and very trusting with others. You people that condemn him, I want you to reflect on this: "There but by the grace of God go I." Because it can happen to you or yours. We never thought this would ever happen, either.

Don't throw the first stone 'cause it might come back and hit you in the face. Frank made a big mistake and he knows that, but he can't go back and erase it, as much as he wishes. He is paying dearly -- by the cowards that ran over him with their car and almost killed him. He is left disabled for life. You see, what goes around comes around. It can happen to anyone. Chill.

Loubbie Lontine
Frank's grandmother


The Sorrow and the PETA

Giving them the bird: The story about the two turkeys that were slaughtered for Thanksgiving dinner (Marty Jones's "Dead Bird Walking," November 22) saddened me. It reminded me of the millions of turkeys slaughtered yearly. I didn't eat a turkey on Thanksgiving. I fed a turkey instead! I celebrated Thanksgiving with all my cherished friends at a farm animal sanctuary. We had only vegan food, which was absolutely delicious.

One doesn't have to "feast" on a dead bird to capture the holiday spirit. I am not only feeling better physically, but spiritually as well.

Nicole Huntley
Denver


The Late State

Shop early, shop often: Just when every kid in America wants to grow up to be a fireman or a Stealth bomber pilot, Westword publishes a story about a kid who wants to grow up to be another damn lawyer! This East Coast-bound Andrew Herm punk makes a valid point, however. The Denver curfew law is unfairly discriminating against the Summit County Factory Outlet Business Association! While hundreds of less-than-eighteen-year-olds plod the streets of Denver each night on their way to and from the shopping malls of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, in-state commerce -- especially in the Silverthorne area -- is being substantially hindered by this damned curfew! It is simply illegal for our youth to openly hoof it across the Denver area after 11 p.m. to shop in-state.

And now, with the demise of the I-70 Corridor Monorail, the plight of our mountain factory outlets should come more sharply into focus, as Colorado-based, American-flag-waving businesses become increasingly dependent on walk-in traffic.

Paul Berry
Salida


What a Card!

Making the grade: Alan Prendergast's report card ("The Berating Game," November 8) is brilliant but limited. He barely begins defining the number and kind of accountability categories. How about rating an entire district? After all, they are still run by elected school boards -- at least until Roy Romer finds time in his busy "Saving America, One School District at a Time" schedule to return to Denver and complete his CDM Site-Based Management revolution.

For Denver Public Schools, how about:

1) Number of studies linking CDMs to improved student achievement: 0

2) Number of citizens who have the right to attend a CDM meeting at any DPS school: 0 (According to DPS policy, CDM meetings are not subject to Colorado's Open Meetings law.)

3) Number of DPS boardmembers who sat on a CDM for a school that was subsequently rated "Unsatisfactory": 1 (Mejia, at Castro Elementary)

4) Number of DPS boardmembers who have promoted CDMs forever, sat on the board that held the charter for the "Unsatisfactory" Pioneer School and were then re-elected overwhelmingly: 2 (Berman and Woodward)

5) Number of DPS boardmembers who didn't know all children don't have access to music programs because of CDM-system decisions: 1 (Guzman)

6) Number of students who flunked because they did not have textbooks because their CDMs spent the book money on something else: This data is not available.

7) Number of students who were political pawns and educational guinea pigs and will now be available for cannon fodder: Incalculable.

Joanne Roll
Denver


Boulder and Wiser

Live and let live: Every time I start getting fed up with the way things are done in Boulder (Patricia Calhoun's "How's It Hanging?" November 15), I do a quick mental inventory of the people who are regularly pissed off by this town and realize I wouldn't live anywhere else.

Earl Noe
Boulder

Male call: Boulder Public Library officials claim to be surprised at public outcry over their art exhibit that was supposed to draw public attention to domestic violence. One piece in particular, titled "Hanging 'em Out to Dry" and featuring 21 ceramic penises strung together on a clothesline, has everyone from talk-show hosts to community members buzzing over what exactly qualifies for display in a taxpayer-owned building.

This so-called art perpetuates the myth that only men are perpetrators of domestic violence. In fact, extensive research concludes that both men and women initiate domestic violence, almost equally. The 1998 Justice Department report "Intimate Partner Violence" indicates that males are 13 percent less likely to report being a victim of intimate partner violence. The reason? Many male victims fear being ignored or ridiculed by a system that seems to recognize only women as victims of abuse at the hands of a spouse or lover. The Boulder Public Library doesn't have a problem presenting a one-sided approach to intimate partner violence and encouraging hatred against men. Make no mistake about it: Displaying male sex organs strung up like trout caught on a fishing trip encourages people to view all men as angry wife-beaters.

We believe that the real purpose of this obscenity is to further inflame the gender wars and ensure continued federal funding for the local women's shelter. In fact, Safehouse provided this object d'art to the library. This comes at a time when the national media reports that domestic-violence shelters are being used less after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Consider this: The only difference between sexism and racism is who is on the receiving end of the abuse. This display qualifies as a hate crime against men. What would happen if the Boulder library put up an "art show" consisting of images of Arabs strung up as a statement about September 11? Or what if an "art show" displayed female sex organs strung on a line? The American Civil Liberties Union would crush the City of Boulder under a pile of lawsuits.

The taxpayers of Boulder have every right to expect more than radical feminist obscenity for their tax dollars. The Boulder library should not end up a vehicle for a minority's agenda of hate. It should serve as a center for all of those who live in the community. To that end, we must expect erudite thought to prevail over exclusionary and sexist works.

Dianna Thompson, executive director
American Coalition for Fathers and Children


Is Nothing Sacred?

Muddling the water: In her November 8 letter, Reverend Patty Allread of the Church of Scientology stated: "What is needed is a tolerance and understanding of others and a deep respect for all religions." Her statement muddles the significant distinction between respect for persons and respect for their beliefs.

I hold with the ethical spirit of our nation's Constitution, which assumes an inherent equality of worth of every citizen. However, I'm not morally compelled to respect another's religious ideas or belief systems. While they have an inalienable right to hold and express them, I've the same right to declare them untrue or even dangerous. Jerry Falwell's life is as valuable as mine, but his fundamentalist puritanazi religion of frankenchrist threatens our society's sacred yet secular truths and liberties.

Ken Blake
Denver


Uh-Oy

Our deli dread: For someone who is "all complaint...after three difficult meals" at the East Side Kosher Deli, Kyle Wagner should stick to McDonald's ("Oy Vey!" November 15).

I am a regular at the East Side Kosher Deli, and I unequivocally recommend it. The restaurant has an old-world ambience, personable service and excellent American, Eastern European Jewish, and Mexican cuisines. Typical of her journalistic diligence, Wagner characterizes Michael and Marcy Schreiber as "new owners" after several years at the helm and gives their family name as Shriver.

Jack Henry Kunin
Denver

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: I howled reading Kyle Wagner's review of White Fence Farm ("Ranch Dressing," November 8). It was all too true. My family, unfortunately, sometimes insists on dragging the whole tribe there for Mother's Day, etc. My nickname for the place is "White Trash Farm."

Lisa Laine
via the Internet


The Wainwright Stuff

Rufus and ready: Hi! My name is Adrienne, and I am the young lady that Michael Roberts refers to often in his November 1 "Raise the Rufus."

I was amazed to go online, check my e-mail and find myself the subject of a Rufus article! Thank you very much for including me and for letting others know about the amazing musician behind the ivories! Did Rufus actually comment on the things that I wrote? I've met him twice before and am truly grateful to have had the chance to speak with him. It's great to see that people are finally recognizing talent and displacing the idea that popular music needs to be based on pure sex appeal and not musical skill.

Adrienne Lowik
via the Internet

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