Letters to the Editor

From the week of July 1, 2004

The failure of many right-wing critics to do so makes it clear that they're more interested in playing politics than engaging in a genuine debate about the issues the film raises. I challenge right-wing critics who insist the movie is propaganda to find the falsities in the movie. I think it will become apparent that this is a debate you will lose (Moore is all you will have left to attack).

Conclusion: Not propaganda.

Douglys Wesley Scott
Boulder


An Age-Old Problem

Let the punishment fit the crime:Congratulations on Eric Dexheimer's great article on sexual offenders, "Age Inappropriate," in the June 17 issue. A friend of mine is a registered offender, and although he deserved punishment, his punishment is far out of line with his actual offense (in my opinion, as well as the opinions of our friends -- men and women), despite having had one of the best lawyers he could get. He served no jail time but is on probation for about six years. He is well-educated, and has said that questioning the system is punished and that the only way to get out of the system is to regurgitate their teachings. I find it sad to see that after two years in the system, he has become less of an analytical thinker and is being slowly brainwashed into someone that he was not, and should not be.

Three big problems that I have with his situation: A lot of the basis of the laws, punishment and probation seem to be grounded in semi-scientific studies, or simply someone's opinion; it's in the best interest of the private companies that take care of the counseling to keep people in the system; and sex in general seems to be vilified in the program. I can't imagine the harm that six years of more of this repression could do to self-esteem, sexual desire and other aspects of a person.

I wish that Dexheimer's article had addressed these issues in more depth. I realize that it was a newspaper article and not a study, and was very in-depth as it was. I also wish that there were something that I could do about it.

Rad Anzulovic
Denver

One size doesn't fit all: "Age Inappropriate" highlighted the flaws in the one-size-fits-all-sex-offender policies adopted in this state. As a former prosecutor, defense attorney and, most recently, child-protection prosecutor, I have seen the inequities that result from a failure to take into account the differences in various offenses and offenders.

Some years ago, I represented a twelve-year-old boy whose entire "offense" involved teasing a girl in the school lunch line. At some point during the incident, the girl alleged that the boy had pinched her breast. Astonishingly, a prosecutor decided that the contact was "for sexual gratification" and charged the boy with third-degree sexual assault against a child. If convicted, he would have had to register as a sex offender against a child (even though the girl was actually older), undergo a sex-offender evaluation and potentially spend two years in a juvenile detention facility. Fortunately, a jury injected some common sense into the scenario and acquitted the boy -- or his life would have been drastically and permanently changed.

Anyone who has seen or dealt with true, dedicated pedophiles understands the danger they present. However, by refusing to individualize treatment or consider the facts of each case, the treatment providers and the courts simply clog an overburdened system. The result is that some harmless persons go to prison simply for failing to "cooperate," while truly dangerous persons who are simply smart enough to say what the provider wants to hear are still walking the streets.

Brad Geiger
Highlands Ranch

Prey as you go:"Age Inappropriate" was horrifying, both in the poor quality of journalism and the moral tone. The journalism was poor because it reported only the criminals' side of the story. Frankly, self-pity and a sense of victimhood is common among criminals; they justify their depredations by telling themselves (and anyone dumb enough to listen) that they're only taking what they deserve. It's hard for this reader, at least, to feel much sympathy for a guy who provides a child with drugs and alcohol, has sex with her and then refuses to participate in treatment seriously, or even admit that what he did was wrong. Obviously, he isturned on by children; he had sex with one. The police and social workers are prohibited by law from revealing details of a case, which means that it takes more work than this journalist, at least, was willing to put into it to dig up the whole story.

In fact, it was Eric Dexheimer's attitude that disturbed me the most. The story was permeated with the attitude that there's nothing particularly wrong with having sex with fourteen-year-olds, and that it was just on a legal technicality that these people were prosecuted at all. The journalist's apparent belief that there's nothing wrong with going after easy prey is depraved, and I am thankful that it is not a belief shared by society at large.

James West
Aurora

We ID: Thanks for the article about the age of consent. I had thought the age was fifteen in Colorado, but I learned something. We all view this crime of child sexual abuse through different glasses, different eyes. It is easy for me to want to believe implicitly in the rape victim's story and forget that there are indeed those who would make such allegations falsely. They despoil, in a special way, those who make such charges truthfully. Making such charges truthfully is no picnic, and living with a forever-split family is also no fun. Most child sexual abuse is caused by a relative; 90 percent of the child sexual-abuse cases prosecuted in Denver involve a relative as the perpetrator.

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