Letters to the Editor

From the week of March 28, 2002

Willow Bradner

Suffer the children: You are to be congratulated for bringing the case of John Dicke to public scrutiny. Alas, he is but one of a number of bad actors in Colorado's current psychotherapy scene among whom child abuse seems to be acceptable if the child is "bad enough."

I observed portions of the videotapes described in the article at a seminar by Dicke himself, at a national "attachment disorder" conference in South Carolina last October. I can confirm the truth of much of what was in your reporting about these tapes, though this seminar apparently didn't show the worst of it. Yet what was shown clearly troubled even the presumptively like-minded attendees at this conference: After a mid-session break, I was the only one of the audience to return to the seminar -- and if I hadn't been there for investigative reasons, I wouldn't have returned, either. I felt more than a little sullied just by watching it.

Perhaps the disciplinary action against Dicke signals an improvement in regulatory enforcement in Colorado, which would be good, but responsible officials also need to look into how and why government caseworkers are actually referring troubled children to such abusive quacks, as you reported was the case with "Dallas." And if taxpayer money is paying for such treatment, we are all in the uncomfortable position of being enablers of the abuse. One does not want to believe that quacks who abuse children in the name of therapy, like Dicke, are common in Colorado, but the evidence suggests that they are. You could almost say that Colorado has home grown a whole cottage industry of child-abuse-as-psychotherapy.

Dicke, unfortunately, is exceptional only for his high profile, but otherwise is representative. Alongside his foray into dildo didactics, he has been a leading defender and practitioner of "holding" therapy. His public defense of Connell Watkins, who tortured and killed ten-year-old Candace Newmaker with that therapy, was rife with rhetoric betraying the same child-loathing attitudes that underlie the "cutting-edge treatment" practices of a host of "attachment" therapists in Colorado and around the country.

The most bone-chilling aspect of all this, dramatically shown in the Dicke affair, is the apparent absence of boundaries dictated by ethics and humanity. Why didn't Dicke recognize on his own that using dildos with a five-year-old is just plain wrong -- regardless of the circumstances? Why didn't Dicke's professional training warn him that letting a kid prance around naked in the office, tossing sex toys in the air and worse, would further "sexualize" an "oversexualized" personality? Why didn't he hesitate to experiment on a small child who was there only for evaluation and possible treatment? Having listened in person to the man and others like him, I'm afraid the answer may be the same as it was with Watkins when she asphyxiated Candace: He saw the child as an object to be used toward the ends of himself and others, and not as a full human being with rights to sovereignty, dignity and humane treatment.

As the cases of Dicke and Watkins attest, therapists of this ilk just do not know when to stop or where not to go. Apparently they have to be told by the rest of us. Since they do not understand the limits of common decency, the people have to act, legislatively and regulatorily, to keep such therapists' hands off Colorado's children.

Larry Sarner

Listen Harder

Tapping your 'Fone: John La Briola's been had. In "Hold the 'Fone," his March 21 interview with Califone's Tim Rutili, Rutili borrows a line from the greatest rockumockmentary ever made: "If I wasn't making music, maybe I could work in a hat shop. Like, 'Does that fit? How 'bout that one?' Yeah, I could do that." (See http://us.imdb.com/Quotes?0088258.)

Looks like La Briola's one listener who didn't "pick up" on the sounds Rutili was making.

Kevin Keenan

Kitty litter: Melanie Haupt has done it again! She was proven wrong when she called Radio 1190 "snooty." Now, in the March 14 "Meow Mix," she says that it puts women in a box and only gives grrrl rock a designated time slot.

I just wish Ms. Haupt would tune in to Radio 1190 before she writes another incorrect story. Radio 1190 plays grrrl rock all the time during rotation hours. You can catch not only Le Tigre, but also the Butchies, V is for Vendetta, Sleater Kinney and many more. Radio 1190 cannot be categorized, and Radio 1190 does not categorize. Please, Ms. Haupt, at least listen to the station or call before you write another article on Radio 1190 that shows you have no idea what you are talking about. Your readers would appreciate it!

Julie Simpson
via the Internet

Laura Bond responds: The hat tricks never stop. Tim Rutili's heady quip alludes to a bit of dialogue delivered by Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest) in 1984's This Is Spinal Tap. According to John La Briola, the Tap joke plays on a line offered by Ringo Starr in Love Me Do nearly twenty years earlier: When asked about his life's ambition, the mop-topped drummer replied, "Well, I've always wanted to open a posh ladies' hairdresser's. Perhaps a chain of them."

As for Boulder resident Melanie Haupt, she's a Radio 1190 fan and supporter. Her point that "grrrl rock" gets the most play during the weekly Testosterone Detox is sustained by the station's playlist.

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