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From the week of May 23, 2002

This Property Is Condemned

Waste-watchers:Douglas Bruce is my hero! He should run for governor of Colorado. Alan Prendergast's "Vendetta," in the May 16 issue, was a perfect example of useless, blood-sucking government bureaucrats (about half of the government's employees), so-called public servants who really have nothing better to do than waste taxpayer money.

The story also pointed out something many Coloradans already know, which is that only the worst lawyers become judges in this state. Shit floats, especially when it comes to law enforcement and our judicial system.

Dan Whitney
Englewood

Playing by the rules: Property-rights absolutists like Douglas Bruce have a tendency to test the limits of civil society. If their rights to do anything (or in Bruce's case, nothing) on their property are inviolable, then the neighbors usually pay the price. Libertarian ideologues who contend their freedoms to be absolute need to understand just how fragile a construct civilization is. Tolerance for anything ultimately results in intolerable cities. When the rules are clear and explainable, we all benefit.

Walter Hall
via the Internet

Writing wrongs:I've met Douglas Bruce. He is an asshole -- but that is not unlawful. His story sounds true to me: The city and public employees did him wrong. Thanks for the exposé, but I'll bet nothing changes.

Nick Werle
Colorado Springs


Isn't That Special?

Advocacy journalism:Thanks for "Speak and Be Heard," Julie Jargon's article in the May 9 issue about special-needs students and advocacy.

Our family has been dealing with this issue of advocacy for our son for almost ten years. As Jargon's article presented, it is very difficult to implement self-advocacy, especially when administrators and teachers don't follow the legal paperwork, IEP or 504 plan to begin with. Our teachers are familiar with the needs of our son, but on a daily basis, someone neglects to follow his plan. I have indicated to teachers that my son cannot design or dictate curriculum. If they followed the "law," there would be less need for conversation about it. To remain successful, stay on grade level and maintain a shred of self-esteem, a student needs someone to advocate with him -- and that usually means the parent(s).

Beth Long
Grand Junction

Information, please:Inform us! As an educator, I need as much information as possible to assess the needs of individual students. The L.E.A.D. concept is interesting; I think a lot of us attempt some forms of this approach.

I have a master's in bilingual special education, have been working with "at-risk" students through a suspension and expulsion program, and needed to look at some of the factors as to why students were being referred for suspension. Students with behavior problems are well-represented by special ed; my approach is to help them understand what is causing this and help them work with their teachers in developing a workable plan.

Thanks for the information. I hope to see a followup sometime!

Ron Gallardo
via the Internet


Get the Idea?

Shutting down the marketplace: I'm writing because numerous events of late -- the departures under pressure of reporter Holger Jensen and talk-show host Reggie Rivers (Michael Roberts's "Three the Hard Way," May 16); the theft of that sophomoric piece of art from the Boulder Public Library; the replacement of Rivers with a DJ who has apparently been carefully instructed not to address any meaningful controversy; hate mail to mosques and vandalism of other religious institutions; picketing neighborhoods of doctors who perform abortions; the increasing use of the dismissive phrase "You just don't get it" in place of meaningful debate -- all seem part of a disturbing trend to bypass the "marketplace of ideas" and instead viciously attack the reputation, livelihood, family and community of any person daring to voice opinions with which we disagree.

I didn't agree with some of Jensen's positions and conclusions; in particular, I thought he was sometimes totally wrong and way too harsh on Israel. Likewise, I sometimes found Reggie Rivers to be infuriating -- almost as much so in his own way as Rush Limbaugh, who infuriates me for completely different reasons. But if I'd felt strongly enough about it, I could have written a letter or article rebutting Jensen, or I could have called Reggie or Rush to argue against their positions. That would have been the fair and honorable thing to do. What Jensen's and Rivers's opponents did -- and how their employers responded -- was just plain cowardly.

For anyone who believes in free speech and is truly confident about his or her own beliefs and opinions, the obvious way to respond to articles and statements that we think are wrong is to respond with articles and statements of our own, not to pull strings behind the scenes to get someone fired, not to vandalize their homes or houses of worship, not to steal their artwork on display, not to harass their neighbors, and not to try to shut them up through personal intimidation or insults. Remember what the Nazis, Stalin and Mao and the Taliban did to anyone with differing opinions? For God's sake, let's get ahold of ourselves before we stoop all the way to their level and lose our most cherished possession: our freedom.

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