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From the week of February 24. 2005

Douglas Quirmbach
Warrensburg, Missouri

Strike one: Any person who would condone the striking of a thirteen-year-old child -- any child for any reason -- with "a kind of cat-o'-nine-tails with leather straps" should be set adrift on a raft in the middle of the Pacific. This woman has zero credibility, and has no business having anything to do with children -- her own or anyone else's.

Joel Hailey
Denver

Power to the people: Suzanne Shell is not attracted to child-protective-services cases; the parental victims are attracted to her because out of all of those against them, no one is left to care but an advocate. The lawyers admit that the best way to get out of CPS cases is to not fight the quicksand. Doesn't that clearly show that CPS has unlimited power? And how dare Ms. Shell challenge that power?

Has it occurred to anyone that the cases Shell is involved with lose because the courts and CPS are adamant about showing parents everywhere that they will never win, especially if they seek outside help -- so stay clear of those interested in helping you (outside or inside) of the courtroom? There have to be parental legal advocates! It needs to be law. Lawyers are intimidated that parental advocates will help families for little or no money and do far more work than attorneys will waste their own time on.

I see the inside of Suzanne Shell's movement. I know what she is fighting, so I feel compelled to tell it like it is, as unbelievable as it is to the average family not touched by CPS -- yet.

Susan Harrison
Fallon, Nevada

Case closed: Thank you for taking an interest in Suzanne's crusade. Although I was introduced to her after our case was closed with Arapahoe County, she has always been a great source of support as we try to heal from the damages done by the system. Legislators fail to substantially correct the faults in the law that would protect children, and people like Suzanne are needed.

It is a shame that our college students do not aggressively pursue these injustices and the misappropriation of funds as they do Mr. Churchill's essays.

Julia Morgan
Denver


From Free Speech to Smoke-Free

Don't be an ash:Two columns in your February 3 issue -- Dave Herrera's Beatdown and Jason Sheehan's Bite Me -- make light of the effects of smoking in public places in Denver. Both authors take a cavalier and adolescent tone as they scoff at the idea that Denver, like many of its sister cities in Europe, California, New York and even Colorado, will soon be "smoke-free."

Sheehan himself points out that while the Minturn Saloon is betting on a "smoking and drinking crowd," longtime restaurateurs, such as the owners of Racines, know better. Even the Buckhorn Exchange has gone smoke-free. These proprietors must take to heart the facts that prove secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country, killing 53,000 non-smokers in the U.S. each year. These are restaurant owners who count on their dollars, as well as the well-being of their patrons and workers.

Herrera cites the owner of Rock Island, David Clamage, a non-smoker but a "businessman" who is fearful of the impact that smoke-free Denver would have on his business. Surely, Clamage has seen the statistics from all over the country that show sales receipts in restaurants and bars have increased after the enactment of a smoking ban. My bet would be that Rock Island will rock on through the years in a smoke-free environment. As a businessman in the entertainment industry, Clamage might be surprised to hear from the entertainers themselves who would prefer to play in a smoke-free venue.

Craig Steinmetz
Denver


Take a Letter

Critic's choice: I was very disappointed to read Richard Bom's letter in the February 10 issue bashing Jason Heller for his review of Ani DiFranco's Knuckle Down. Although I like the little I have heard from the new record -- yes, Richard, thanks to XM Radio, Ani does enjoy fairly regular rotation on the satellite these days --Jason is certainly entitled to his opinion. Mr. Bom should know that reviewers unavoidably bring their personal tastes to any critique. Over time, any intelligent reader should be able to discern whether or not a particular critic's views hold water for that reader. Any art form is subjective by its very nature.

Of course, Mr. Bom's response was not particularly surprising, as Ani's fans tend toward the fanatic --hanging on every lyric, every slap of the guitar, speculating on all aspects of her life, from her sexual orientation to the length of her armpit hair (true story!).

What was surprising, however, and wholly inappropriate in my opinion, was Bom's lampooning of "you music critics, people who lack any creative ability...." I do not know Jason personally, but I did happen to bump into him once. His band, Red Cloud, was recording in the studio next door to my session. The verycreative and hauntingly honest music coming out of their room compelled me to come over and see who was responsible and pay my compliments.

In the future, I would hope that Mr. Bom would be content to enjoy Ani DiFranco's music without the need for validation from every music critic out there, and that he might refrain from slinging insults at those who do not share his enthusiasm.

Everett Moran
Denver

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