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Letters to the Editor

From the week of April 11, 2002

Snap Judgments

Film at ten:It was a tough chore to pick the most intestine-twisting bit in Patricia Calhoun's March 28 "Secret Agents" piece on Columbine. Was it the fact that the 3-D cartoons that make up the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department now have a network of stellar reps leaking sealed Columbine crime-scene photos? Was it the news that bottom-dwellers like the National Enquirer and friends are drooling down their double chins at the prospect of buying and disseminating said photos? Or maybe it was the anecdote about Calhoun witnessing some of her own fine colleagues "casually" passing around photos of a deceased Dylan Klebold like they were Garbage Pail Kids or really rare Topps cards. (But of course, that's okay as long as they're photos that will humiliate one of the "bad guys" and his family, and not one of the "good" victims, right?)

Anyone with a brain the size of Jeffco's last sad dollop of integrity knows that the sheriff's crew has a boatload of skeletons that badly need to come out of the closet. But photos showing anything about dead kids and a dead teacher have no business anywhere in the light of day. There are no rocks slimy enough for whoever's leaking the pictures -- and whoever's doing their damnedest to get them to the panting masses -- to crawl back under.

So a final message to the leakers, the tabloid scum and tap-dancing lawyers trying to buy and sell images of sickening death, the morbid gawkers and conspiracy freaks who no doubt are getting their rocks off at the thought of getting even a glimpse, and the upstanding Westword acquaintances nonchalantly circulating the Klebold family's worst nightmares: Think, really think, about the prospect of it being yourkid in the photos. Or your sister. Your grandma. Your oldest, best buddy in the whole wide world.

Think about what a shitty thing it is to treat those pictures like everyone's entitled property. Like Exhibit A on The Jerry Springer Show. And yes, all defensive "the public has the right to see it all" hot air aside, you know how shitty it really is.

Joe Shell
via the Internet

Moving on: I am happy that so far, the Colorado Legislature is servicing the majority of the Columbine community and not members of the minority who continue to take their grief out on something that will never have "their" answers. It doesn't seem that we ever get a break when there is daily Columbine news. I have stopped reading those stories. As hard as it is, it is long past time to move on. I am getting on with my life with my family. Perhaps they will want to put their energies on electing a different sheriff.

Sue Cole
Littleton

Heart of Stone: As the sheriff of Jefferson County waits for the court's decision over Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's "basement tapes," the expressed worry is about copycats. Will these sealed tapes entice, upon their release, other children to copy Eric and Dylan?

With the violent video games that many children have instant access to, I have trouble believing that impressionable children will find these basement tapes very interesting. "Childish and pathetic" would better describe them. I have seen the tapes. They are upsetting, but they do not make heroes out of the killers. They show them as cowardly and immature. There is nothing to copy, admire or emulate in these tapes.

I do agree that we should be worried about copycats -- but copycats of a different kind.

We should worry that other sheriffs will copy Sheriff Stone's shameful and embarrassing behavior. We should worry that other counties will conceal information from the public. We should worry that other district attorneys will hide from the truth and refuse to investigate criminal charges. We should worry that other principals will deny the existence of drugs and bullies at their schools. We should worry that other school districts will follow Jefferson County's example and selectively hide the truth from the public. We should worry that other legislators will copy the behavior of the legislators who voted 7-2 to deny an investigation. We should worry that other governors will stand by and watch while a great injustice such as this goes without a champion. We should worry that our children will copy the apathetic response of those citizens of Jefferson County and Colorado who failed to get involved in the fight for the truth.

And we can hope. We can hope that our children will copy the behaviors and courage and dignity of people like Brian Rohrbough, Dawn Anna, Mrs. Fleming, Mrs. Velasquez and the other brave families. People who have withstood the pain and lies and loss with such courage are worth copying.

Your children are not uninformed. They are painfully aware of the world around them. They learn by examining the world and the people they see, the cowardly and the courageous. Let's hope that they observed the pain and the horror that the two cowards named Eric and Dylan caused. Let's hope that they learned that this is never the path to follow.

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