I am writing in response to Patricia Calhoun's "Where the Bodies Are Buried in Boulder," in the January 23 issue. I believe that Ms. Calhoun is a very good and realistic journalist. The public has the right to know as much as possible as long as it doesn't interfere with the case.

If the Boulder police can't do their job without worrying about payoffs for photos, than maybe they should hand it over to someone who can. I think it's ridiculous that a former officer doesn't have self-control or morality. I am a parent, and if something ever happened to my daughter, I certainly wouldn't want former deputy Sawyer on the case.

One more point, concerning Rowdy Yates's letter in the January 23 issue: If you can't appreciate truthful and realistic journalism, then maybe you should go back to Dr. Seuss.

Denise Garrett

"This case has made a stir throughout...But what is there to wonder at, what is there so peculiarly horrifying in it for us? We are accustomed to such crimes! That's what's so horrible, that such dark deeds have ceased to horrify us. What ought to horrify us is that we are so accustomed to it, and not this or that isolated crime. What are the causes of our indifference, our lukewarm attitude to such deeds, to such symptoms of the times, ominous of an unenviable future? Is it our cynicism, is it the premature exhaustion of intellect and imagination in a society that is sinking into decay, in spite of its youth? Is it that our moral principles are shattered to their foundations, or is it, perhaps, a complete lack of such principles among us? I cannot answer such questions; nevertheless, they are disturbing, and every citizen not only must, but ought to be harassed by them. Our foundling and still timid press has already done good service to the public, for without it we would never have heard of the horrors of unbridled violence and moral degradation which are continually made known...And what do we read almost daily? Of things beside which the present case grows pale and seems almost commonplace. But what is most important is that the majority of our national crimes of violence bear witness to a widespread evil, now so general among us that it is difficult to contend against it."

Sound familiar? No, it's not the Ramsey case. That's how Fyodor Dostoyevsky described a Ramsey-like case 117 years ago, in The Brothers Karamazov. As things change, so they stay the same.

Gordon Fletcher
via the Internet

Patricia Calhoun, I want to thank you for being the strongest voice of many people within this community regarding the JonBenet Ramsey case. I have found myself feeling numb this past month, ever since this innocent child's murder.

Perhaps I am projecting and judging too quickly. Perhaps. But I trust my own instincts a lot more than I trust the Boulder police or the Ramseys at this point. Maybe I just don't get it, but why hasn't the semen been tested? Oh yeah, the defendant's rights...I move that the father and every male who was in the house prior to and during the amazingly professional search have blood/semen/whatever tested: a process of elimination.

Can I hire an attorney for JonBenet? The case would be the people who want the truth vs. the Boulder police and the Ramseys. I just want the little girl to have a voice.

Chanson Williamson

Your story on JonBenet Ramsey not only illustrates the frustration the media feels over this case, but the frustration that most of Colorado feels. I am so sick of hearing nothing from the Boulder police chief. In your article, you stated that the police were worried about protecting the defendant's rights; I would like to know who protected JonBenet.

Why are there so many rumors that this little girl was either physically or sexually abused if her family was so picture-perfect? If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like one, it most likely is a damn duck! No matter how skilled a PR person is, he cannot rewrite history. Furthermore, does a grief-stricken mother hire a PR person and refuse to be interviewed?

If the parents wanted their daughter's killer caught, the only thing on their minds would be "What can I do?" As a mother, I know how I would react if something happened to my child. These people are acting like O.J. Simpson. If the police chief thinks the publicity this case has received is due to morbid curiosity, and public outrage is not his concern, then maybe he should rethink that--unemployed!

Renee Jackson-Pillow
via the Internet

The Bus Stops Here
As a concerned Manual student, I would like to tell you what I think about T.R. Witcher's "Forward to the Past," in the January 23 issue. Mandatory busing was overturned two years ago. Please give the school time to work out the kinks before you start predicting doom and gloom when nothing has taken place yet!

P.S.: As long as you're speaking of percentages, please include the handicapped students in your statistics. What happens in this school greatly affects them, too!

Jennifer Laird

I went to Manual for two years and also attended the Denver School of the Arts. Being Hispanic, I was treated differently by the white students, even though I was in the advanced classes. Sometimes I was the only Hispanic, and that made it hard on me because I felt like the white students thought they were better than me, even if I was doing better than they were in the class. I am as smart as any one of them; I passed my first year of college this year with a 3.75. In the classes, there was a lot of segregation--the white students would sit on one side of the room and the black students on the other. There weren't that many Hispanics, so they sat wherever.

And a comment about the gangs at Manual: I thought there was a gang problem there. Some guys would have their "colors" on, and you could tell they were in a gang. I was afraid to wear blue or red to school. I remember one day they wouldn't let us go outside for lunch because there had been a suspicious car driving by all morning; sure enough, during the lunch hour that day, I heard gunshots from outside while waiting to take the bus to Cole for the Denver School of the Arts.

There are many problems at Manual now, and I'm afraid they'll only get worse once the busing stops.

Name withheld on request

T.R. Witcher's Manual story is one more dreary Westword slant on the school's failure to solve all of society's crises perfectly all the time. Busing is out, neighborhood schools are back, and school populations will change. Witcher resurrects two chronically whining voices and props them up to repeat their blame-ism mantra--"forward to the past"--all over again.

Once again, Reverend Gill Ford blames low test scores of minority children on DPS teachers and administrators, saying, "Parents call me up and tell me that counselors are guiding them into lesser areas." Specify, Ford. I've heard this accusation for years, but you never back up your claim with specific names. In my twenty years of teaching at Manual, I never saw a student schedule change denied if a parent asked. Further, despite aggressive counseling, many students demanded "lesser areas" rather than academic challenge.

Former school-board member Sharon Bailey complains that "family and school have not performed. No one is accountable." Wrong. A pupil unable to read is held dreadfully accountable, only he doesn't know it yet. When a child enters kindergarten verbally deficient, he rarely catches up. Blaming a school for the first five years of a child's life in an instructional vacuum is shooting blanks.

I never met a parent who didn't want his child to succeed in school. The crucial factor is not wanting, but willing, a child to perform. Parents teach most and best. The three successful Manual students Witcher quoted come from demanding, supporting families with high expectations. Probably those parents are tired; certainly they view "comfort" as an alien concept. But they're raising champion kids.

Instead of whining, make sure your DPS superintendent enforces his laudable plan to have every third-, fifth- and seventh-grader read at grade level or attend summer school. Ask what happens when a child completes summer school and still doesn't perform at even near grade level. Don't take any wooden nickels. And don't expect any comfort, either.

Marilyn Griggs

Voices Carry
Thank you for the excellent article about Emily Herrera, "High Hopes," in the January 16 issue. I had the opportunity to hear her sing the night before I picked up that paper, and Ms. Herrera is every bit as intriguing as Steve Jackson describes her. Her voice is beautiful, and she has the stage presence every opera singer needs to succeed. To read about the many ups and downs of her life made me wish her all the more success in the future. We are lucky to have many talented young opera singers here in Colorado, and Ms. Herrera is no exception.

I'll skip New York this year, but I look forward to the Opera Colorado season when we will all have the chance to enjoy "the voice." Good luck, Emily!

Kathryn Keller

Editor's note: At the Metropolitan Opera's regional auditions on Saturday, January 18, Emily Herrera placed second. Jennifer Larson of Salt Lake City won first place and moves on to the national finals.

Killer Be
Is it just me, or does anybody remember when Kenny Be used to be funny? Does anyone remember when he used to focus on events that weren't so microscopically local that you actually knew what he was talking about? Back when you actually picked up Westword for Worst-Case Scenario? It's hard for me to remember that far back. But I don't just bitch; I praise, too. "The City"'s Derf is a riot. His cartoon is completely relevant to people anywhere in the U.S., not just north-central Thornton.

Banish Kenny Be to the Comics page and put Derf up front so your readers can stop reading Westword backward.

Mark Wilburn
via the Internet

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor
PO Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail to: editorial@westword.com


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