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LETTERS

Black to the Future
Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Fade to Black," in the September 20 issue:
Are we supposed to care what Lauren Watson is doing these days? Judging from Eric Dexheimer's story, he is cutting his lawn and living off the government. How the mighty do fall...and we wind up paying the price.

Sherry Fowler
Denver

Thank you very much for Eric Dexheimer's update on Lauren Watson. It was an interesting slice of history, and I thought the section on his sons was very revealing. They have learned their lessons well. It looks like the future might be in good hands.

J.T. Washington
Aurora

We Came, We Thaw
After reading Robin Chotzinoff's "We're Loaded for Bear," in the September 13 issue, and the letters about that story printed last week, I had to write my first letter to the editor. Here is my earth-shattering message:

Will everyone please get a life? Klondike and Snow are bears, just bears, and deserve neither the ridiculous outpouring of public support they have received nor the space Westword allotted them.

Ice crap, indeed.
Johna Paulson
Denver

I am shocked and dismayed at the profane language used in the article's subtitle: "Enough of this polar ice crap." Also, the disparaging remarks about the Zoo Two: Save Our Bears Foundation. The foundation also has the best interests of the bears--Klondike and Snow--at heart. If the Denver Zoo had had the bears' interests at heart when they were born, they would have worked cooperatively and collaboratively with groups such as the Save Our Bears Foundation to work out a way to keep our bears in Denver.

I am not sure if your article was meant to be serious or humorous. Either way, I do not appreciate it or the hurtful cartoon about the bears on the cover of your newspaper.

Carol A. Tyson
Denver

With all the issues that could have and should have been addressed concerning the Denver Zoo, or zoos in general, I have to wonder about a front-page story that also dedicates four more pages of the paper to complaining about Klondike and Snow (this time filled with whining about whining) and then positive propaganda for the zoo in general.

Robin Chotzinoff, the author, complains about the attention that Klondike and Snow have received. The complaint is valid--Klondike and Snow have their own spot on the zoo's answering machine, polar bear paraphernalia is matched in quantity only by Disney-movie paraphernalia, and perhaps no other zoo animals have had the kind of name recognition these bears have. However, the animals that Robin pleas for are still the cute and cuddly ones. What about the birds, lizards, rodents and fish that the zoo keeps on display? These animals not only do not have name recognition or T-shirts, but they barely even have species recognition! Who cries for them? Who worries about hiding their food so that they have to exercise their minds and don't go crazy? And what of Ulu's head swinging, as described in this article? Angela Baier of the zoo brushes this behavior off with a comment that it might not be Ulu, anyway. Well, who cares if it is Ulu or not?! That kind of stereotypic behavior is associated with animals, both human and otherwise, who are going crazy. Does anyone write an article about the big cats and the absurdly tiny boxes with painted-on scenes of mountains that they must live within? What of the hyenas in these cells who run in circles and jump against their walls, twisting their heads wildly, driven mad by boredom? Or the tiny rodents in these houses who run in incessant circles?

So, indeed, no one is noticing any of the other animals besides Klondike and Snow, but the sad thing is that no one noticed them before Klondike and Snow, either. The zoo hides behind a cloak of lies and is a very powerful institution that seems almost above the law, especially the moral law. They claim to exist to protect animals, to be in the business of propagating endangered species. Well, I say if that is true, then release these stir-crazy animals back to the wild. In fact, release Klondike and Snow. Sea World is not the answer; the Arctic is. Free Klondike and Snow! Experts across the country work with captive-animal rehabilitation every day. The zoo claims these animals are too acclimated to people to survive. Well, whose fault is that? Captive-animal release is possible--much more so than the zoo would like the public to believe. After all, if they actually started restoring animal populations and protecting species and their habitats, as the zoo is supposedly in the business of doing, then they would go out of business. And, of course, that is not at all a profitable venture for a money-making corporation such as a zoo. Zoos are not in the business of protection; they are in the business of profit.

The zoo is a prostitution house that is supported by our taxes. Think about it. The zoo has to answer to the public, and so do Westword and its writers. When will the cloak surrounding the zoo and its policies finally disintegrate?

Anne Stevens
Boulder

The Art of the Deal
I'm a starving artist who hasn't had the lucky break of breaking the law and getting to exhibit his art as a juvenile offender (Karen Bowers's "A Brush With the Law," September 20).

If I promise to continue not breaking the law, can I cut the same deal? (Please withhold my last name to protect the innocent.)

Joey S.
Denver

Editor's note: By the time Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter connected with Westword regarding budget figures about ARTT (Acquiring Restitution Through Talent), the paper had already gone to press. For the record: ARTT, a program designed to aid non-violent, first-time juvenile offenders, was established in 1994; by the end of next summer, it will have cost the city approximately $27,500, a price tag that includes start-up costs and salaries. ARTT's goal is to have participants raise money for their restitution by making and selling their own paintings, sculptures and crafts. Thus far, participants have earned about $5,000.

The cost of the program, Ritter says, is small in relation to the good it does. And if it can save one youth from a life of crime, he maintains, it's worth every penny.

Gavel-to-Gavel Coverage
Regarding Michelle Dally Johnston's "Judgment Daze," in the September 20 issue:
What a shit-eating grin I wore while reading your article regarding Linda Donnelly and her "less than stellar" courtroom acumen prior to joining the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel. Every attorney in this state who has ever been on the receiving end of one of the counsel's witch hunts has always known that their cabal is staffed by attorneys who couldn't cut the mustard in the outside world.

Contrary to popular belief, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel enjoys turning mountains out of molehills and is staffed exclusively by self-righteous hacks who found the warm discomfort of the public tit more appealing than trying to hustle a real living. It must be a bitch telling attorneys, all day long, how to behave perfectly. Apparently, one of their sanctimonious lovelies is not so perfect after all.

Name withheld on request

Linda Donnelly would do well to keep in mind that old adage: Let he--or she--who is without guilt cast the first stone.

Terry Smith

Denver Paint the Town Read
I want to express my appreciation and support for your appointment of Michael Paglia as arts writer and for a greater allocation of focus in terms of writing space. The arts are now given as much or more space than movies and cafe reviews.

Coming at a time when the powers that be are making inroads in their ability to further squelch and castrate the real arts and artists of this country, to find an important voice such as Paglia's actually gaining more opportunity to express his views to a greater readership is really a sight for sore eyes like mine.

Thanks much to Westword and to Mr. Paglia. At least this artist is smiling with a much-welcomed feeling of encouragement and the sense that, given the quality of the arts scene of the Front Range, we have gained a stronger voice to address its concerns and champion its worth.

Jeff Wenzel
Denver

The Name Game
A September 6 follow-up letter to Michelle Dally Johnston's August 2 "Do You See What I See?" from "Name withheld on request" stated that he/she was please that I was still accused. I wonder if it feels good to be the author? In the same issue, Dr. Andrew Sirotnak at DGH wrote: "There is no `industry' of such professionals who profit..." I beg to differ, doctor, there is a small cadre of professionals who are responsible for the majority of these cases. Using confidentiality to hide systematic mistakes, theirs is nothing more than the age-old cry of the oppressor. It's amazing how quickly the "best interest of the child" becomes cover your ass and error on the side of the child!

The system devastated us and we will never be the same. God bless Westword for reporting!

James Plunkett
Denver


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