Rage Before Duty
Regarding T.R. Witcher's "Hell on Wheels," in the December 3 issue:
The failure to properly define the term "road rage," and its all-encompassing use to define every conceivable traffic infraction, has led to even greater misunderstandings. Its misuse has diminished drunk driving by making it a version of road rage rather than the legitimate and even more dangerous social ill that it is. In addition, Captain Powell's belief that "active aggressive" drivers are more dangerous than inattentive, boneheaded passive-aggressive drivers is a sad statement. Besides the fact that "active aggressive drivers" is almost as vague a term as "road rage," I'd rather have someone tailgating me who is actually paying attention and driving "actively" than a boneheaded idiot who's blocking the fast lane, pissing everyone off and basically creating the stress leading to road rage in the first place.
via the Internet
There is a basic cause for the problem of road rage. It is a combination of ignorance and/or arrogance on the part of those who commit such acts. Ignorance regarding the basic principles of driving contained in the Driver's Handbook, and arrogance of drivers who believe that courteous driving according to the handbook applies not to them but only to others as "mere mortals" who have an obligation to stay out of the way. Any "mere mortals" who dare to drive properly in a civil manner are the subject of road rage for allegedly challenging the self-ordained status of those who deign to drive by their own rules and concepts contrary to the manual.
Part of the problem is the lack of academic software in the human mind, as an organic computer of potentially infinite capacity, to contain a database required for coming to a basic conclusion in response to data input from the senses. Add functional illiteracy problems in reading ability, reading comprehension and reading retention that exist despite fancy degrees, and there exists the potential for road rage and many accidents that common sense knowledge of the Driver's Handbook would prevent if applied while driving.
For example, the handbook specifically cautions drivers about following too closely. Despite that admonition, too many drivers still follow a car length or less at 55 mph on the Valley Highway through Denver and create the infamous multi-vehicle pileups. Common sense intelligence should indicate that reaction time and stopping distance for the vehicle mass at 55 mph is far greater than twenty feet. I have been subject to potential road rage when I have activated my hazard flashers to warn off idiots following too closely behind my vehicle, and the driver behind me flips me a single digit to brag about his or her IQ--though driving habits also are indicative of his or her mentality.
My issue concerns the way so many drivers follow so closely on the highway. If they knew anything about what happens to flesh when colliding with metal, glass and pavement at 60 mph, maybe they'd leave a little room for the car ahead of them. Generally, driving is unnatural for the human species, so natural selection will take effect. Unfortunately for many innocent passengers and drivers, they're in the wrong place at the wrong time.
James D. Neville
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I wonder whether it is safe to obey the traffic speeds posted on West Hampden, West Sixth Avenue or South Santa Fe. They are posted at 45 mph for new, improved roads of two or more lanes. If you go the legal speed limit and obey the law, you get tailgated, fingered and shouted at for going less than the prevailing speed, which seems to be 55 mph.
As with Thoreau, civil disobedience seems to be the best road--unless you want to get hit from behind or leave the road to pull over to safety while the SUVs and 4x4s speed by, trying to evade the Sheridan, Englewood and Denver police helping fill city coffers in the name of "safety."
D. W. Hester
The Hard Cell
Judging from Tony Perez-Giese's December 3 "Jail Bait," if Westword had its way, all the druggies and robbers and loonies would be out on the street. I, for one, am glad they're locked up. And I hope when the city builds a new jail, it builds it in Westword's backyard.
I would like to discuss "Jail Bait." The only reason Denver does not have a new jail facility is that the mayor and the manager of safety want to be re-elected to office, and a jail in a neighborhood does not gain votes. Look at the recent issues over the new juvenile jail: No one wants the facility in their backyard, so the Denver administration has to put the issue on hold while the old facility is dangerously overcrowded and a serious threat to the staff and the juveniles. Today the Denver County Jail is filled with Denver's worst criminals, who are packed inside like matches in a box. Unfortunately for the inmates and the staff inside this old jail, one of them will have to die or win a lawsuit before Webb will open his eyes to the situation in his Havana Street Hilton.
This is a campaign issue that is allowing Webb to put the health and well-being of inmates and sheriff's employees in harm's way. The irony is that Denver wants the image of a modern technological city but is dead last in the manner in which it handles its jail system compared to cities of comparable size and other towns in the surrounding metro area.
When and if it ever comes up, please vote for a new facility. Do not vote for Webb, as the employees and the inmates and their families who are subjected to this madness will not.
Congratulations to Tony Perez-Giese for all his work in showing the fallacies behind Wellington Webb's push for a new jail.
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Zorro strikes again! I will send off a copy of Patricia Calhoun's December 3 trash, "Crazy for You," to Tom Tancredo, so he can see for himself what kind of vicious character assassin you are. (I voted for him and Bill Owens last month, I am happy to say.)
If Tom Tancredo did indeed speak with militia persons, I'm very happy that he did. I am a militia person myself and am proud to be affiliated with the Colorado State Defense Force (Reserve) headquartered in Golden. The CSDF is not a neo-Nazi hate group, as people of all races are welcome for membership. I am also a loyal Christian and proud American who makes no apologies about my patriotism.
Thank you for your article on Tom Tancredo. It was tastefully done (not mean-spirited) and brought out something that should have been made known years ago!
Ordinarily, I don't trust politicians. They say one thing and then do another. Or, in the case of Bill Clinton, he says one thing but means another. If you ask me, you can't trust any of them. But I voted for Tom Tancredo because he's different from other politicians. Tom Tancredo doesn't want to make a career out of being in Congress. He believes that Congress should be a Citizen Congress, where regular folks get elected, serve a few terms in office and then return to private life to live under the laws they passed.
Of course, a lot of politicians will say that. In fact, they will say anything to get elected. But not Tancredo--he doesn't talk the talk unless he's willing to walk the walk. That's why he has voluntarily limited himself to three terms in Congress.
Thank you, Tom Tancredo. You have gone a long way to restoring my faith in our political leaders. Finally, someone who can be trusted.
Walter Hall's December 10 letter excoriating Tom Tancredo does not merely go way over the line, it illustrates the real mean-spiritedness and self-centered attitudes of the liberal left. Mr. Hall takes the view that if anyone articulates a dissent from the politically correct norm, he is a blowhard and crazy. Perhaps Mr. Hall is sadly nostalgic for the good old days of the Soviets, where "crazy" dissenters from what is clearly right and correct, as Mr. Hall's type see it, were properly put away in insane asylums. The free discourse of ideas and disagreements in views is also clearly an insane concept to Mr. Hall's ilk. His new form of liberal-left, politically correct fascism will deal with disagreement in the typical way he displayed it in his letter.
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Ready When You Are
First of all, I wonder why Westword is attacking a fine, outstanding Christian man such as James Dobson (Off Limits, December 10). He's following the mandate of Christ with the good news of repentance, forgiveness and God's mercy! This is available to sinners of all kinds: adulterers, thieves, drunkards, swindlers, homosexuals--see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Do you know God hates...He hates all sin!
I've never heard any Christian that I know advocating hate or violence toward homosexuals! The two creeps who killed Matthew Shepard aren't Christians, nor do they represent us or Jesus! You should be ashamed of your assault and hatred of James Dobson!
I never write to the editor, because I don't want to add yet another opinion that probably doesn't matter to anyone but me. However, I really felt gratified to read Gayle Worland's "Mall Rats" in the December 10 issue, about the high school student activists and their real sense of values about what is and is not important in life. I was a college student in the Sixties, right here in Denver, and yes, I guess we all thought we could change the world, or at least make some kind of difference for humanity. For a long time it seemed that people either thought of us as "sellouts," hippies to yuppies, or just plain naive failures. But some of us didn't sell out, and I see that all the time in the folks who still work for legal aid, battered-women's shelters, homeless coalitions, food banks, housing advocates, etc. The list goes on and on. Many of us are well into our fifties and sixties, and for a while we used to joke that we'd have to keep doing this until we died standing up because there just didn't seem to be anyone younger who was interested in taking our places. I am deeply impressed by these students who are bucking all the peer pressure to scratch beneath the surface of the hucksterism that passes for culture these days and try to find the meaning of life. I hope their message finds its way to the many who want to hear it but are just too afraid to listen.
Keep on truckin', and thank you very much.
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The federal government gives $150 billion every year to big business, with state and city governments giving away many billions more. The practice of feeding public money to private business interests has become so widespread that it is now called "corporate welfare."
The rich are clearly America's most costly welfare class. Each year, they receive billions of dollars in subsidies, grants, interest-free loans, tax credits, tax deductions, bailouts and inflated government contracts. Cities across the nation are closing hospitals and schools while they build privatized prisons and huge sports stadiums at great cost to taxpayers and great profit to already filthy-rich private owners.
That is how the rich and powerful operate. They criticize government handouts to the poor and needy while they themselves seek to expand their already enormous share of the world's wealth.
Rich people and wealthy corporations are sapping the strength of America. Their continued presence is corrupting our democracy. Their values are destroying our values. We would be better off without them!
Running for Their Lives
Castor Troy just may be the finest athlete in Colorado, as Bill Gallo writes in his December 10 "Dog Days." But he and other racing greyhounds not quite as successful are also without a doubt the only athletes who, after their prime and when they are no longer useful, will be sold as living cadavers to research facilities, shot or clubbed and buried "out back" in the Colorado soil where no one can see. This is the dark side of the sport Gallo didn't mention.
Several months ago it was found that Colorado State University had killed over 2,000 greyhounds procured from Colorado tracks after using them for research. The fact that that avenue was shut after the publicity is no great victory: It means only that greyhounds no longer capable of winning a race will be killed in some other, more secretive way. For the managers at the track, the dogs are a commodity and racing is a business: The dogs won't be fed if they can't race. As fast as they kill them when they are finished with them, the tracks are also a virtual puppy mill always looking for winners. The greyhound adoption agencies are overwhelmed and can find homes for only a small percentage of dogs.
However unethical or immoral the actions of this industry, much of this is either legal or would get the offender a slap on the wrist. That which is illegal is rarely addressed. The industry is notoriously closed and secretive. The commissioners appointed to the board overseeing racing are interested in the financial health of greyhound racing, not in the inhumane treatment of animals. They are the proverbial fox guarding the chicken coop and turn a blind eye to the extermination of thousands of greyhounds that rarely live to the age of three.
It is up to writers like Gallo to inform the public, to uncover our eyes--to put pressure on commissioners and state government and clean up this sordid mess. Both species--dogs and humans--deserve better. The answer is to address this mess from the racing, breeding and legislative end, with a little help from sportswriters who can let the public in on what happens to the Castor Troys when they stop winning.
Birds of a Feather
I only recently had an opportunity to read Gayle Worland's November 26 piece, "A Bird in the Hand," regarding the fight for the northern goshawk. As a former member of Richard Reynolds's crews and one of his field supervisors, I was glad to see Westword doing such a commendable job of bringing the issue to light. Reynolds is a top-notch scientist, one of the world's best, and as he so humbly failed to point out, many of his scientific discoveries in ornithology paved the way for better research (see his extensive publication list in major wildlife publications). I, for one, am proud of my past association with Reynolds and the knowledge I gained.
With your article, however, I am also now a former member and supporter of Kiernan Suckling's Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. At one time I believed SCBD was doing outstanding work, but I have become disgruntled and alarmed by many of Suckling's tactics of late. His work is commendable for helping the southwestern willow flycatcher and the reintroduction of Mexican wolves, both of which I have cheered ardently, despite the fact that the wolf reintroductions have pitted me against my own ranching family where the reintroductions are taking place. However, Suckling's attack on Reynolds's scientific integrity steps over the line. When I requested that the Forest Service support my own controversial graduate work on owls, Reynolds actively supported me as he has supported other students in his charge. When the Forest Service didn't like it, it was Reynolds who took the bashing. Reynolds is not a politician; he is, in the truest sense, an unbiased scientist who lets his work speak for itself.
It is time for SCBD to pick the right battles and to know its allies--and as a wildlife scientist and ardent conservationist (ethics learned from years of working with Reynolds, of course) now working on international and national endangered species, it is ever so difficult for me to continue to support organizations like SCBD when they shoot from the hip and let scientists do their scientific work. Suckling and SCBD threaten to bring the wrath of Washington politicians, ranchers and even scientists down on all of us who are also trying desperately to conserve and preserve the earth's amazing creatures.
via the Internet
Going in Cycles
Robin Chotzinoff, thanks for your article on beater bikes ("The Beater Goes On," November 26), which will hopefully open some people's eyes (i.e., Harley types) to the basic joy of being a motorcycle rider, period. As the proud owner of two classic Hondas ('75 550 Four and '80 CM400T), I truly enjoyed your article. Although my '75 (not currently running) isn't really a beater--I've had Harley guys tell me they think it's a great-looking bike for a Honda--my '80 is a true beater, but it gets me around!
Christopher R. Smith
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Forgive, Don't Forget
This is regarding the letter about Joanne Cordova, published in the December 10 issue. "Name withheld" is a perfect example of why so many pitiful and lost souls such as Joanne do not survive. The world is full of these unforgiving individuals--unable to forgive and unable to try to understand. Yes, Joanne does owe society an apology, and I believe that her willingness to put her life in jeopardy by testifying against Robert Riggan is a good beginning. She has also paid her debt in many ways not known to the general public.
To "Name withheld," may a higher power see fit to grant you compassion for your fellow man. Merry Christmas.
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Editor's note: And speaking of forgiveness, the next installment in Steve Jackson's series on Joanne Cordova and Robert Riggan, "Trial and Tribulations," did not appear in the December 10 issue, as indicated in this space last week. Our apologies. Look for it on page 14 of this issue. And if you missed the November 19 and November 26 stories, they can still be found on www.westword.com.
Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow
Regarding Michael Paglia's November 19 Art Beat and Randy Hughes's December 10 letter:
As one of the exhibiting artists on the night of the Jones/Stockman debacle and, more important, as a direct witness of the events in question, I feel the need to truly add "clarity" to the latest of the Pirate soap operas.
From what I could overhear of the argument (I was standing about ten feet away), it was clear that Jones did not want to bartend for the shift she had signed up for, and Stockman felt she had a duty to fulfill her obligation. As the argument grew more heated, Stockman did not, as Hughes claims, take her "violently by the arm and...throw her out of the building." He did touch her arm and tried to lead her away from the crowd so as not to cause a scene. There was nothing violent about it--in fact, he didn't even raise his voice. There was no need for Jones to protect herself; in truth, when she threw the beer pitcher a few seconds later, Stockman was actually several feet away from her. (And incidentally, if she intended only to "soak him with beer," she needn't have heaved the entire pitcher in his face with such force as to break it. We can all imagine how hard you'd have to hurl a thick plastic pitcher for it to break across someone's chin.) She also did not gather her things and "(almost) quietly" leave. She stormed out the door before even seeing the considerable damage she had done; her coat was still there the next morning. The exhibiting artists--who should have been enjoying the opening and talking to visitors--were left to clean up the beer and blood, find a replacement bartender, talk to the police and usher Stockman to the hospital, where he spent the remainder of the evening and received nine stitches. (And no, I don't think plastic surgery is going to be necessary.) In other words, some of us still had to act like professionals and adults.
As most of the Denver art world knows, there is a sordid history behind this little tiff, one which I think does not need to be discussed in the papers. However, assaulting another artist at a reception is highly inappropriate behavior, and it indeed marred the evening for the four artists who worked months to put our exhibits together. I doubt Jones would have appreciated the same sort of rabid display at one of her openings.
Of course, we all have our own biases--I have tried to report the facts as honestly and completely as I remember them, and I think Michael Paglia gathered the facts as honestly and objectively as he possibly could. I think accusations of favoritism are ludicrous, considering the amount of press both artists have received from Paglia in the past. And I must admit that I resent Hughes's insinuation that these exhibits were not worthy of press attention without the temper tantrum that sullied the opening. Rather than feeling that this brought attention to our shows, I feel it only sapped attention (and valuable column space) away from the real reason people were there that night: the art.
Now, can we all put this stupidity behind us and move on? I, for one, am completely sick of the subject.
Lauri Lynnxe Murphy
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