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From the week of December 19, 2002

Cream of the Crap

Spot news: Great article by Michael Roberts on the difference between the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News editorial pages ("Calling All Columnists," December 12). I noticed that the Postfilled Tina Griego's spot with some lame-ass column that made the hard-hitting point that its author sure was a dumb cluck and thank goodness for his girlfriend.

Pulitzer committee, take note! Not to be a pest or anything, but wasn't there anything say, on, hmmm, Iraq on the news wires that day? Guess not.

Roberts's Message column is always entertaining and often very prescient, in that it offers concrete proof of my long-held belief that the Post is a piece of crap.

Tom Auclair
via the Internet


Striking Out

Who put the world in world series? Regarding "Our Mitts on You," in the December 12 issue:

Please give Bill Gallo a column on the opinion page, as I'm tired of turning to the sports and film pages looking for articles on -- gasp! -- sports and film only to find Bill enlightening us on the dangers of the world that he feels only he can see. And tell him to use cash next time he goes to Gart's.

Bob Roarke
Denver


It Takes Balls

Just say throw:I just got done reading Eric Dexheimer's dodgeball story ("Dodge This, Dave Ringo!," December 5). I have to admit that I nearly pissed my pants with laughter at the many memories of the Almighty Elementary School Playground Equalizer. Those who profess this to be a "bullies'" game are most likely to have been the fat kids who couldn't avoid having their juicy asses blasted with the red rubber balls.

Grow up, suckers! Dodgeball is really the only place on school grounds where all of the nerdy kids could gang up on the most popular girl and the most jocky jock to send them a scorching/searing shock of pain before the 3 p.m. bell. I played dodgeball, and I'm not anti-social in the least. If anything, dodgeball has taught me how to avoid trouble and has improved my hand-eye coordination. Dodgeball should not be banned in schools; in fact, it should be a sanctioned team sport!

Long live dodgeball!

D. Wright
via the Internet

Child's prey:Dodgeball -- public stoning re-created as a child's game.

Becky Wold
Glendale


Humane Society

Not guilty!In Julie Jargon's December 5 article on sex offenders, "Arrested Development," and in the letters that followed, there was an expressed concern for the victims of these offenders, as well as the prevailing attitude that all convicted sex offenders are deserving of nothing but spending the remainder of their existence incarcerated. What about the other innocent victims of this crime? I speak not of the victims who have been molested, but the victims of false accusation. Once someone has been labeled a sex offender, his life is ruined.

Does anyone realize that innocent men get falsely accused and wrongly convicted? It happens -- absolutely. A sexual assault is a heinous crime with long-lasting ramifications for the victims, and the perpetrators of these crimes need punishment and extensive treatment. But what about the innocent victims who get caught up in this charge and have their lives ruined? Just as DNA evidence is proving every day that innocent men sit on death row for crimes they did not commit, it is no different with sex offenders. A twenty-year-old man has sexual contact with a fifteen-year-old girl who tells him she is eighteen. Someone finds out, and the next thing he knows, he is sitting in prison, labeled a sex offender for life, his future ruined. How many teachers have been falsely accused?

Sexual offenses are the only crimes for which there is no allowance for degree of severity; the only sentence in our laws for that crime is two years to life. All other crimes are judged and sentenced on the severity of circumstances. A person who kills someone is treated far better in this society than anyone with the label of sex offender, regardless of the circumstances of the charges. It is never suggested that there should be a murderer registry.

A sexual offense is a horrible crime, but when you are deciding that everyone charged with that crime should be locked away forever and thought of as the worst kind of animal, remember that in this very imperfect system, there are some other victims, too: the falsely accused. We are reverting back to the time of the Salem witch trials: All it takes is an accusation regardless of motive, and that accusation becomes the truth. Men should be very afraid. It is such a horrible crime, and we are all so willing to believe the worst and destroy these men and their families in the process. There areinnocent men in prison, and they, too, are victims. Think how scary it is that all it takes is the word of a child and it could be you sitting in prison for the rest of your life.

Melissa Richards
Boulder

No remorse:Reading "Arrested Development," I can see many similarities between T.H.E. and halfway houses used for drug offenses. At some facilities, for example, addicts are forced to wear diapers, shave their heads and stand against a wall for hours. And anyone convicted of drug possession is placed under substantial hardship, including restrictions on how much water they may drink, because of the possiblity of diluting a urinalysis.

The difference here is that while sex offenders can hardly deny causing substantial harm to someone, many drug offenders must make up imaginary victims to gain therapeutic value from treatment. One example is where counselors claim drug dealers cause harm to users while at the same time claiming users are responsible for the acts of dealers, gangs and now terrorists. Interestingly, addicts who rob and steal for their habit are easier to treat because they have genuine remorse for their actions. Addicts who use and don't bother anyone must build themselves up as worse than they really are in order to gain any of the remorse necessary for treatment. The article also made it clear that the problem of sexual predators, while far more devastating, receives less attention. Not long ago, the Colorado Supreme Court found one class of offender exempt from mandatory parole: sex offenders.

If our society is to be safe, we must focus all of our law-enforcement resources on criminals who cause direct injury to persons and property. Attempting to regulate behavior that does not cause such injury takes away from the ability to deal with truly dangerous individuals.

Keep up the quality reporting.

David Noland
Denver

He did it his way:Clearly, Teaching Humane Existence is doing a good job for both the community and the sexual predator. By focusing the predator and us on the central issue -- sex offenders' persistent danger to the community -- T.H.E.'s program is right on. Allow the criminal to choose a "feel-good" treatment? I don't think so. Why should he have it his way? Remember, he already had his way with his victims.

Too many mental-health professionals (e.g., Tedeschi) treat sexual predators' behavior like a case of acne: Clean up the diet and the unsightly condition will go away. Give hope, remove depression, and they will stop being social deviants. Wrong!

Jargon's article states: "In July 2001, Rosberg went to his first group therapy session at T.H.E. And that, he says, is when he really started serving time." In my opinion, this is proof that T.H.E.'s program is effective. Let's hold sexual predators accountable with programs such as T.H.E. It's all about controlling and containing them.

Mary Ellen Anderson
Englewood

Worst-case scenario:Julie Jargon unfortunately has disseminated a large amount of inaccurate information. She and Westword have created a circus-type environment around a serious public-health problem by using the majority of the space in "Arrested Development" to provide a platform for a repetitive pedophile who sees himself as the victim.

A common belief is that a society can judge itself by how it treats its "worst" members, and within the minds of most individuals, sex offenders fit the description of "worst." Whether sex offenders are the "worst" or not, it is patently irresponsible to not consider them as producers of great harm. Teaching Humane Existence (T.H.E.) strives to be humane toward all involved parties, including the sex offender and the community. Our methods of treating and managing sex offenders are not only humane, but also responsible.

Rather than go through the inaccuracies within “Arrested Development” bit by bit, I will try to explain that our methods of treating and managing sex offenders are not only humane but also responsible.

While we treat a wide range of sexual offending behavior, we primarily focus on repetitive adult male sex offenders. The research supports that these abusers are the most dangerous and produce more harm on a per-person basis. Having harmed others is precisely the reason they are in treatment. Every sex offender who comes to us does so because he has been caught and/or is in some phase of being prosecuted and convicted for sexually abusing other people. The offenders are court-mandated into treatment, a place they do not want to be. What they want is to get out of treatment as soon as possible and regain control of their lives. They are ordered into treatment to stop inflicting pain on others, not for the pain they may have in their own lives. Of course, most sex offenders have personal pain, but research, state-of-the-art treatment and common sense dictates that if we are going to be able to help the sex offender, we must first focus on stopping his abusive behaviors.

Ms. Jargon took on the task of determining whether or not T.H.E. lives up to its name. When I began this work, I discovered most of my clients had not been addressing critical questions about their abusive behaviors. Essentially, the offenders were not discussing the specific details of their offending behavior, yet these details were the thoughts occupying their minds. The offender also did not want to discuss the details of their offending behavior, because they typically wanted to portray themselves as bothered by that which, in reality, they truly enjoyed. Part of what makes T.H.E.'s treatment humane is the degree to which we focus on the details of the sexual offender's deviancy and his abusive behavior, with the purpose of offering him the chance of becoming an empathetic and caring person.

One of the most humane aspects of the T.H.E. treatment approach that Ms. Jargon seems to have completely misunderstood has to do with the matter of hopelessness. Hopelessness is the state that manipulative people, like sex offenders, need to accept in order to be willing to live with outside guidance and control. They are not able to develop the necessary dependency on external help unless they first feel an overwhelming need for help. The offenders will not feel that need for help until they can achieve some meaningful hopelessness about the way they run their lives. Unfortunately, court-ordered clients are extremely resistant to embrace such vulnerability. While getting to this point in treatment may take years (or may never be achieved), it remains the most responsible and humane effort to hold the client (i.e., not graduate) until they achieve the necessary hopelessness to take in the necessary help.

One of the most humane aspects of the T.H.E. treatment approach that Ms. Jargon seems to have completely misunderstood has to do with the matter of hopelessness. Hopelessness is the state that manipulative people, like sex offenders, need to accept in order to be willing to live with outside guidance and control. They are not able to develop the necessary dependency on external help unless they first feel an overwhelming need for help. The offenders will not feel that need for help until they can achieve some meaningful hopelessness about the way they run their lives. Unfortunately, court-ordered clients are extremely resistant to embrace such vulnerability. While getting to this point in treatment may take years (or may never be achieved), it remains the most responsible and humane effort to hold the client (i.e. not graduate) until they achieve the necessary hopelessness to take in the necessary help.

Regarding the expressed concern that sex offenders will be seen as lepers by society, the reality is that it has already happened. Another feature of T.H.E. that makes us humane is that we promote holding on to and treating as many of these "lepers" in society until they become reliably safe. The fact that most repetitive adult sex offenders do not become safe enough to remove external control indicates that we are committing ourselves to working with society’s most difficult people for the rest of their lives. That, in and of itself, is quintessentially humane.

With regards to some of the specific inaccuracies within the article:

The article indicated that there is a debate concerning a cure for sex offenders. There is a wealth of data that reports there is no known cure for the deviant arousal of repetitive sex offenders. The national/international body for promoting and guiding the treatment of sex offenders (the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) states this in their standards of practice, as do the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board Practices and Guidelines. Similarly, common sense says that we do not change who we are sexually.

The article also suggests that graduation should occur; after all, other treatment programs are graduating their clients. We do provide an individualized path for graduation for each sex offender, but very few make it. Why? Because most repetitive sex offenders have a serious personality disorder, which is a requirement for enjoying the destruction of others’ lives. Now, the question is: why do some treatment programs graduate these same clients? First, many mental health professionals need to see themselves as able to restore their clients to self-sufficiency, and it is extremely difficult to look another person in the eye and say you need to be externally controlled and I will do it. Controlling people is simply not part of mental health training although, when dealing with offender populations, it should be. Second, those who are business oriented may not want to annoy their referral sources by not allowing enough sex offenders to pass through the system.

If we accept that sex offenders can not be cured to the degree that we can rely upon their own judgment to self manage, we, as a community are stuck with managing their lives for them. Thus, the role of therapists should be one of monitoring, guiding and controlling, not curing. It is a less than grand career but certainly humane and very difficult since the responsible therapist does not get to enjoy completion (or graduation) as a part of job satisfaction.

While there are graduate level interns at THE, the majority of the staff have masters degrees in psychology or social work.

Regarding adversive conditioning, the purpose is to offer the offender a way to interrupt deviant fantasies, which unfortunately occur frequently. All olfactory techniques are individually based and not health threatening. (i.e. no use of ammonia).

At T.H.E., each client has an individualized treatment plan that also includes specialized approaches to dealing with family members and other relevant individuals within their lives. Additionally, we treat a wide range of mental health issues and, frequently, include psychiatric and other professionals within a client’s individualized treatment. The only aspect of T.H.E.’s treatment approach which is consistent for all clients is the prioritization of community safety.

The penile plethysmograph (PPG) is a humane process for aiding the staff and client in understanding his deviant arousal. Research has validated the PPG with convicted sex offenders and it is only with convicted sex offenders that we utilize this procedure. Sex offenders tend to lie (often even to themselves) about what they are truly aroused to, and, while it is not a lie detector, the PPG helps us confront the difficult truth.

Regarding Mr. Rosberg’s allegation of sexual assault while visiting a Shared Living Arrangement, all appropriate legal and therapeutic steps were initiated. Mr. Rosberg also did not inform T.H.E. of his assault until months after the alleged incident occurred. Once informed, his treatment team encouraged and assisted him with filing a police report and spent individual time focusing on his thoughts and feelings surrounding the alleged incident. It should be noted that, at the time of Mr. Rosberg’s report, the alleged perpetrator had already been terminated from treatment and was incarcerated for other violations.

T.H.E.'s treatment and management of sex offenders is humane and responsible. T.H.E. is also very concerned about community safety.

Greig Veeder, LCSW
T.H.E. Executive Director

Editor's note: To read Greig Veeder's complete letter, visit westword.com.


Die another day: In general, Jason Sheehan writes adequate reviews -- although we could do without some of the verbose sentence structure.

But his "Smoke Free or Die," in the December 5 issue, was just too much. He sounds like many other addicted fools gushing on about his personal-choice right to smoke and to kill himself if he wants. He seems overly concerned about the "little" bar and cafe that will go out of business if a smoking ban is enacted. How does he know this to be a fact? And even if true, perhaps it will prolong the life of some poor "customer" who just might slow down or stop smoking if he can't do it in a bar.

Mr. Sheehan shouldn't worry about death threats -- he's got one between his fingers every time he lights up. It's okay by me if he wants to buy the ranch that way, but make him do it out where there is little chance of giving someone else the big C with secondhand smoke.

Fifteen years ago, my wife died of lung cancer. She was a light smoker -- but not light enough. We both suffered through three years of pure hell before she died. If Mr. Sheehan could experience just one week of that, I think even his nicotine-saturated brain would force him to quit.

I wonder if smoking affects his tastebuds enough to skew a review. I also wonder if he got any free cigarettes for that article.

Palmer Kimball
Arvada

The rights stuff:I enjoyed Jason Sheehan's "Smoke Free or Die" article. He said it all, and I agree with him 100 percent. Just for the record, I am a non-smoker. I think smoking is a dumb, dirty, dangerous habit. I do not understand how any thinking adult could willingly poison his or her body. Pure stupidity! I can't stand to be around smokers and would not go to any bar where smoking is allowed. However, unless the smoker is a personal friend or a relative of mine, it is none of my business if that person smokes.

The world is full of good and bad things. Who the hell are these people who think they can eliminate all the bad things through legislation? If you are a smoker, you have a right to congregate where other smokers congregate. No one is asking the non-smoker to go to the smokers' bar. What the hell is the problem? How far can the do-gooders go with this bullshit? I disdain smoking (and smokers), but they have rights like everyone else.

Les Bogunovich
via the Internet

Foul bawl: I'm sure "Smoke Free or Die" has received tons of feedback, but I'm hoping it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon. I am a "part-time" smoker -- one of those folks who lights up under the influence. While I can understand people's concerns about encroachments upon their right to smoke, I tend to be more on the side of the poor shmucks who wind up sucking in my exhaled carbon monoxide. When you smoke, you're emitting something into your general area -- kind of like breaking wind. But unlike breaking wind, most smokers feel comfortable sharing their foul-smelling problem with everyone else.

Underneath all of this hubbub is the simple issue of courtesy, which seems to be swiftly disappearing from our society as people become more focused on keeping others from taking away their rights. No one's asking smokers to give up their right to smoke; non-smokers are just asking for a little courtesy. I see courtesy disappearing more and more in other facets of day-to-day existence as well. Open the door for someone? Forget about it. Open your own damn door. Stop the brainless chatter on a cell phone in a public area? F--- you, buddy. I have a right to be an inconsiderate asshole. And that's really what all of this is about.

If this new non-smoking restaurant thing comes into effect, I'm fine with it -- even as a smoker. So I walk four feet to the outdoors to satisfy my craving. It's not going to kill me.

Erin Enwall
Denver

The vigilantes:Kudos to dining critic Jason Sheehan for standing in the path of the anti-smoking steamroller. Kudos, as well, to Westword for featuring his unconventional wisdom in the face of the latest prohibitionist tyranny to sweep society.

Having long ago seized the moral high ground on the well-documented hazards of smoking, the crusade against tobacco has since moved on to other turf. Like courtrooms -- to the considerable gain of personal-injury lawyers -- and now even barrooms. And this band of zealots isn't about to let a little nuisance like business owners' property rights stand in its way as it lobbies for a citywide smoking ban at eating and drinking establishments. Nor does consumer choice seem to matter.

Don't think the likes of Smoke-Free Denver will stop at your favorite watering hole, either. Next it'll be your car -- heaven help you if you light up at the wheel with a passenger aboard -- and then your own home. Better hope your kids don't rat you out. It's the classic tale of the vigilantes who rid the town of desperadoes only to become the townsfolk's new tormentors.

Sure, we're grateful for the surgeon general's warning labels, the ban on televised tobacco ads and, of course, all the generously funded, anti-smoking agitprop throughout our K-12 years. But, really, we got the message. Now, please, just leave us alone.

Dan Njegomir
Denver

What a drag:Mr. Sheehan and millions of others just don't seem to grasp the basic issue. Smokers choose to smoke. I was a smoker for many years and was totally ignorant of the fact that I assumed it was my right to smoke anywhere, with no regard to non-smokers whatsoever. Why do you feel you have the right to light up with the attitude of "If they don't like it, they can leave?" Why does the non-smoker have to leave? The smoker chooses to smoke: That should not dictate the issue, but it does. The smoker is the one who should be put out, because he or she choosesto smoke, and as we all know, it is more natural not to smoke, because tobacco is not a natural physical attribute we are born with.

The smoker chooses to smoke, the majority of the human race chooses not to smoke. Therefore, quite simply, democratically and fairly, majority rules.

Will Lewis
via the Internet

Stand by your man:I don't smoke. But Jason Sheehan is right: It's not my place to tell him not to. And he is right: The anti's are zealots who will not compromise.

He was right on about the statistics: I have had people admit they were cooked but were using them right the next day. A zealot believes the end justifies the means.

I stand with Jason. I'd rather stand with someone with a backbone than stand alone when they come for me.

Bill Dittenhofer
Boulder

California dreaming: I want to add yet one more voice regarding the all-important smoking-ban issue that Denver/Colorado is now facing. I recently moved here from San Francisco and so have gone through all of this before, a few years ago when California banned smoking in public places. Of course, there was the same uproar over rights and the same arguments made for both sides. (To me, it's a no-brainer: The rights of people to smoke-free air easily nullify a smoker's right to smoke inside.)

But the arguments have all died out by now in California, and the results of the ban are clearly a success, even to smokers! If you had asked ten smokers in California if they were in favor of the ban before it happened, eight out of ten would have said no. But now, just a few years later, eight out of ten smokers will have changed their minds about this. Because even the smokers have come to appreciate clean air in bars.

I have seen the difference the ban can make and, though it may be a little painful for smokers here to adjust, I'm confident that, like their cousins to the West, they will grow to appreciate that same difference.

Adam DeGraff
Denver


Speak Up

Cliffhanger:Regarding David Holthouse's "Trial and Tribulations," in the November 21 issue:

The letters regarding constitutional rights in the Amini case are justified. The general consensus in America today is self, money and pleasure at the expense of freedom, country, God and heritage. If all of the judicial, educational and media communities were honest and objective -- instead of self-serving, controlling, manipulating tyrants -- this country wouldn't be in the state of affairs it now is. Colossal lies abound on every issue.

We have to realize that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written for a society with absolute truths based on individual responsibility, mores, ethics and common sense. Our government is a reflection of our society (in general); political correctness and inclusivity are examples of colossal lies being perpetrated by the establishment behind the scenes of government.

The courts today are nothing more than cash cows. The two worthless parties that govern our country, especially those undemocratic control freaks, are leading us to destruction. An analogy for America today is a freight train racing toward a thousand-foot cliff -- and most watching are oblivious, indifferent or full of apathy.

David D. Fosca
Denver

Interpreting the news:The Colorado Association of Professional Interpreters (CAPI) offers the following information on court interpreting in response to David Holthouse's "Trial and Tribulations":

Interpreting is a largely unregulated field. However, state and federal certification for court interpreters does exist for Spanish interpreters. Colorado administers the National Consortium of State Court Interpreter Certification, which consists of a mandatory sixteen-hour orientation on protocols, ethics and court terminology, followed by a tape-recorded exam to determine competency in three modalities of interpretation: simultaneous, consecutive and sight translation. The orientation and the exam cost $285.

Although the National Consortium offers the certification test in over forty languages, in Colorado it has only been offered in Spanish. So-called exotic-language interpreters can take the exam only if they are able to incur the travel costs. Since the demand for these interpreters is often infrequent, most have other primary careers. Some suffer a net loss in income by missing their regular job to interpret, but they do so in order to give back to their community.

In 2003, CAPI will be organizing an intensive seminar on court interpreting specifically for exotic-language interpreters that will be recognized in lieu of the National Consortium's orientation. For more information, please visit CAPI's Web site at www.coloradointerpreters.org.

Julia Davis
CAPI

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