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From the week of August 25, 2005

Blast Rites

Doctor no:In last week's "The Gonzo Goodbye," I was bummed out by a few points that Gig LeCarp made, and the ones he blew, concerning the good doctor. Last Saturday an American icon was blasted off into the sky. Hunter Thompson was one of the legendary, unique and brilliant writers of our time. It is amazing to think that he practiced his craft so well, considering his drug- and booze-addled brain. LeCarp carps about "his abortive assignments…the legendary blown deadlines...the staggering expense accounts." Ferchrissakes, man, I believe these attributes are called "gonzo."

RIP, dear Hunter.

Dan Chapman
Denver


Who Got Screwed?

A life sentence:I read Patricia Calhoun's "Screwed for Life," in the August 18 issue, in amazement. With all the coverage that CU has gotten over the last couple of years, I can't believe that that someone didn't bring up Kumbe Ginnane's case sooner as an example of what can happen when there is a rush to judgment. A man's life is ruined.

Students need to learn just how dangerous it is to mix alcohol and sex. And they need to take responsibility for their actions.

Jean Potter
Aurora

A sorry chapter:I have been a longtime fan of Westword, and I am writing about a childhood friend, Kumbe Ginnane.

Kumbe and I both grew up in the Park Hill neighborhood; he at 28th and Albion, me at 28th and Dahlia. We raced each other in Barrett Elementary's track and field, studied together at Gove Middle School, and marched alongside each other in Syrian Temple's drum-and-bugle corps, the 49ers. He was a handsome kid all the girls liked and all the boys wanted to be. I hated him for that. He never had need to chase them, because they just came to him.

There but for the grace of God go I, I thought, as I read Patricia Calhoun's "Screwed for Life," which relived the horror of what became of my friend.

I went to Drake University in Des Moines to study journalism the year Kumbe went to CU, mostly because I knew the rumors: They don't like black guys in Boulder. There are many things comedians and the like joke about within the African-American community, like racial profiling. In Denver, it's the notion that one wrong step at CU would land you in a world of trouble. Kumbe's story is a sad, cautionary tale of just that.

Thank you for telling his story -- not because young black men should be wary of CU or Boulder, but because, like Jim Crow laws or segregation, there are chapters to our shared history that all we Americans should examine and own up to. In Colorado, this is one chapter.

Michael M. Byrd
via the Internet

To tell the truth:Great reading "Screwed for Life" about Kumbe Ginnane and his roommate and the white girl. The truth is, they are the only ones who know what the truth really is. The most interesting comment in the piece was from Kumbe's mother, about how if you're black, never be alone in a room with a white girl. Sadly, that is the only real protection for males in general, whether the girl is white or black and regardless of the male's skin color.

Last Friday's Rocky Mountain Newshad a picture of a nineteen-year-old freshman moving into her room. Helping this pretty little blond girl were three young men. Not only were they black, but they were football players. I figure they were probably just trying to do their part to help dispel all the bad things that have been said about football players lately, but I couldn't help but think that I would like to see the look on Kumbe's mother's face if she saw that picture.

Nelson Wolfmeier
Denver

No way out:I remember telephoning every attorney in the Denver/Boulder-area Yellow Pages, seeking an answer to this question: "What happens to an innocent/falsely accused/wrongly convicted person being forced to undergo Sex Offender Therapy?" The answers were always the same: "They'll spend years in treatment, unable to comply. Once their time/money runs out, they will be revoked and end up in prison after all. As one attorney so colorfully described it, "It's death by a thousand needles."

I didn't believe it, couldn't believe what I was being told, of course. Surely they will realize a mistake was made, surely these "experts" will be able to tell an innocent person from a guilty oneŠ. How foolish of me, I realize now. False accusations never happen, innocent people are never convicted. Never. Anyone who believes otherwise is "in denial," and those "in denial" are a danger to society.

My son was offered a plea bargain in lieu of prison after two polygraphs showed him truthful when he denied the accusation, and with a complete lack of physical evidence. After he accepted the plea, he was jailed anyway, when he again passed a polygraph saying he didn't do it. He was no longer innocent, he was "in denial." The summer he turned sixteen he spent on an ankle monitor after failing the required polygraph "confessing" that he did it. He was not being forced to lie; he was "not cooperating." Three years of sex-offender treatment hadn't "broken down" my son's "denial" enough for him to pass polygraphs saying he was guilty. The therapists were recommending prison, complaining of his non-compliance. He didn't look like a sex offender. He came from a loving home, a stable family. But there was no "mistake", he was a criminal of Ted Bundy proportion!

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