The Fur's Flying
Kudos to Eric Dexheimer for his February 3 "Trap Sheet," an informative and unbiased report on trapping.
Wildlife management is difficult enough for trained professional biologists. Our politically correct society has been duped into assuming that wildlife issues should be voted upon by the general populace. This ties the hands of wildlife officials whose job is to manage variable and vulnerable populations in the midst of unchecked urban/suburban development. It turns over control to voters who are easily swayed by emotional "Bambi-itis," as I like to call it. It is based on the Disneyfication of wildlife. Allowing bleeding-heart animal-rights activists like Robert Angell to abuse the political system and impose their belief systems upon society in general and rural landowners in particular is ludicrous.
For the record, I have never trapped, nor have I ever shot coyotes or other varmints. I have friends who are ranchers and farmers who do shoot and trap. And yes, they do it with just cause. It is part and parcel of maintaining balance in an agrarian culture. This is a culture that, very sadly, has become completely foreign to the majority of our citizenry.
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I will never forget visiting ranching friends near Fort Morgan. It was late February or early March, calving season. The rancher's grown daughter had just ridden in from checking on her cows, making sure that the birthing was going as nature intends. This is the time of year when no one sleeps much; eighteen- to twenty-hour work days are not unusual. The daughter dismounted in tears and told us the following story: While checking on her cattle, she came upon a pack of coyotes harassing a birthing cow. Two of them were nipping at the brood cow's face while a third was ripping the newborn calf from the cow's uterus. Once the newborn was torn free, the coyotes had their feast. Subsequently, the cow had to be destroyed because of injuries incurred in the attack. The rancher lost a money-making brood cow and a marketable calf. This is reality, not The Lion King!
Dave Croonquist of the Division of Wildlife made a very good point: "'Cruel' is a relative term...What people tend to forget is that there is life outside Saran-wrapped beef in King Soopers." I would add this to his comment: All life comes from death. The most rabid vegetarian is in deep denial if he/she believes otherwise. Their beloved beans and rice are cultivated in fields where plows and combines murder literally billions of invertebrates. The most dedicated organic farmer destroys nests and wild animal habitat every day. Is this cruel? I don't think so. It is the dance of life and death.
I applaud Paul Jensen and all of the farmers and ranchers like him who are finally standing up and speaking out. I find a kind of poetic justice in that they are using the self-same tactics that animal-rights activists have used to attempt to deny them their livelihood. Bravo!
I have just finished reading "Trap Sheet," regarding trapping as it relates to Amendment 14. I have several questions.
First, I thought all wildlife belonged to the State of Colorado. If this wildlife did harm to a landowner, then the state had to compensate him. For example, if a coyote killed your sheep, then the state paid you for the sheep. A rancher is not totally in the red when he loses sheep to coyotes. Eric Dexheimer's article makes it sound like the rancher cannot recoup any money from sheep lost to coyotes.
Second, when homes of people are built in the homes of beavers, who is invading whom? Who was there first? What do you expect when you build a home in the middle of beaver territory? Maybe we should wake up and start respecting the rights of wildlife to live in wild places. Maybe we should start allowing wildness to be a part of our culture and stop invading it.
Third, there are many reasons for the decline in the deer population. I think it is too easy to blame coyotes. What about our invading the homes of deer by building people's homes, building more roads and using ATVs? We may be too quick to blame coyotes when the real reason may be our own behavior. God forbid we should be to blame. If you talk about the declining deer population, I think it is best to mention all the possibilities.
Fourth, I think part of what we are dealing with here is the Western ideal of conquest. We are still trying to conquer everything. One way to do this is by trapping.
These comments are made by a person who grew up in Colorado and whose father was born in Grand Junction. I am not totally against trapping. I just think we need to seriously consider alternatives. If the people of this state want a ban on trapping, then we need to figure out how to control wildlife problems without trapping. There are alternatives, other options. We just need to sit down and figure out what they are. If this requires a change in the Western mindset, then so be it.
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Light Makes Right
Regarding Jonathan Shikes's "Get a Job!" in the January 27 issue:
I think it is important to keep the "light guv" position an elected one. Governors and candidates for the position should not be allowed to pick and choose their number twos. By having the position an elected one, it can only serve to complement the governor's role. I would not want a "yes man" or "yes woman" in the position, and you are less likely to have this happen if the position is an elected one. Debate over a difference of opinion can shed light and open the door to an open-minded governor. The lieutenant governor could be a wonderful sounding board for a governor.
I do agree that it is not appropriate for lieutenant governors to "air dirty laundry" in the media. However, there are occasions when it would be appropriate to bring a disagreement to a public venue. That is the beauty of a democracy.
In both business and politics, it is vital to have a person who is in a role to hold a co-worker, superior or elected official accountable. If the governor could easily fire someone for a difference of opinion, a lieutenant governor would not be as likely to voice his or her opinion. This would be a great disservice to the governor's office.
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The Seeds of Discontent
I read with interest Marty Jones's "Hemp Takes a Hit," in the January 27 issue: What the DEA agent failed to mention was that every time someone tries to pass a law regarding industrial hemp, the DEA will fire its volley of half-truths and outright lies and scare the lawmakers into not passing such a law.
If the DEA had been around during the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (which were printed on hemp paper) would have been seized by them as contraband.
The law needs to change, and the politicians need to realize that the law needs changing. Economically speaking, many small businesses and family farmers would benefit from legal industrial hemp. The only people who would be unhappy with industrial hemp would be the DEA and other hypocrisy-mongers. Vote for industrial hemp!
Jeri D. Shepherd
As an American, I find it embarrassing that drug-war hysteria has led to a ban on sterilized hemp seed from Canada. Do the "experts" really believe that kids are getting high off the seeds? I realize that people like drug czar Barry McCaffrey are completely out of touch with the drug culture. After all, he is paid to believe and repeat all the reefer-madness lies. While he may not be able to recognize the parallels between the USA's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition and the failed drug war, I cannot believe that he is clueless enough to think that people are getting high off hemp seeds. Even seeds from potent marijuana will not get a person high. Sterilized industrial hemp seeds are equally useless for purposes of intoxication.
It is obvious to me that the USA is trying to sabotage Canada's profitable hemp industry. Support for industrial hemp is growing among struggling American farmers, in large part due to claims of Canadian hemp profits. By destroying the livelihoods of Canadian hemp farmers, American drug warriors are hoping to kill domestic interest in industrial hemp. I'm thoroughly disgusted with the insane drug war that America forces upon the world. The McCaffreyism has gone too far.
I am very sympathetic to the plight of industrial hemp growers and those using the by-products of this wonderful plant. Our DEA is acting in typical drug-warrior style by irrationally banning sterile hemp seeds, a product accepted at our borders without dispute until quite recently. No rationale has been offered, and none will be. Our drug war is simply flexing its muscle, seeing who else it can destroy in this insane exercise of power.
What is most telling about the entire situation is that no official is willing to stand up and defend these practices in public. Eventually, enough voters will understand how this fraud perpetuates itself, and the tide will turn. All those who support the drug war do so out of greed or ignorance, for every informed person knows how counterproductive our current policies are.
Santa Cruz, California
I fully realize that the hemp industry may not be advocates of drugs, and I completely acknowledge and respect that. The purpose of my message is to point out that the enemies of hemp reform and the enemies of cannabis reform are the same, and the "me no marijuana" position means less than nothing to them. It is because I have the greatest respect for the hemp movement and a greater resolve to further the cause of both of our movements that I send my message to you.
We share common enemies. They are many, and some are well-concealed. Their motives are among the most evil and sinister imaginable. Sensible alternatives are not an option to them. Not only do they not give a tinker's damn about hemp, but they think nothing of letting thousands of sick and dying people linger in pain and misery or incarcerating 700,000 people per year -- mostly for simple possession -- while they lie, cheat and steal in order to maintain the propaganda and profits of prohibition. They care nothing about environmental benefits or groundwater pollution or THC content, much less about suffering and death. The alternative to prohibition -- legalization -- will not be as profitable to them as the present corruption-, bribery- and forfeiture-ridden policies are. And that includes hemp...like it or not.
Our causes have more in common than meets the eye. We share more similarities than differences. (For more information, go to www.marijuananews.com.) Maybe the politicians are required to adhere to the party line of prohibition because law enforcement, Customs, the prison industrial complex, the drug-testing industry, the INS, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA and the politicians themselves can't live without the budget justification. The drug war also promotes, justifies and perpetuates racist enforcement policies and is diminishing many freedoms and liberties that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Myron Von Hollingsworth
Fort Worth, Texas
Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Lessons From the Third Grade," in the January 27 issue:
I am a former DPS first/second-grade teacher. I taught for four years, three of those at Swansea. Swansea was very similar to Ashley; in fact, it was almost "blown up" in 1997, at the same time that Ashley was reorganized.
I left teaching this year due to increased stress from behavior problems and paperwork, lack of parental support and disappointment in the amount of true teaching/learning time. I have had mixed feelings about leaving teaching. I identified strongly with the experiences of Gayla Tracey. The article validates my experiences. Unfortunately, there are many talented, professional, caring teachers who do not get the support they need to continue to dedicate the endless energy demanded of them. Thanks for the insightful article.
Name withheld on request
The Rest in Peace
I am extremely upset that you have allowed such a tortuous argument to continue on like this, with all the letters in response to Steve Jackson's January 13 "Blood In, Blood Out." How would you like salt rubbed into your fresh wounds? You sit back and watch our family defenselessly uphold my cousin's identity of how we knew him. Can you actually sleep at night knowing that several families suffer from the cold words in the letters that you have actually had the nerve to publish? Do you not realize that these words fall into the ears of his mother, father, sister, brother, wife and daughter, who have had everything unimaginable except a peaceful moment since this horrible ordeal began? Danny's loved ones deal with the reality of never being able to love and hold him again. They also live in fear every day of losing their wrongly accused relative to the justice system.
Now, Westword, please let this be the last letter you publish on behalf of my cousin and our family. Let us mourn in peace without negativity. You have done nothing but print an inaccurate version of D-Ray's story and you have allowed unnecessary and cruel words to be published, which have only prolonged our healing and grief. Our family has never expected sympathy from anybody, nor did we expect to be judged by anyone who felt they were self-righteous enough to do so. We only wish that our loved one can now rest in peace and that we may go on to deal with our pain and come to some kind of closure. Danny Lopez did the crime, and now he has paid the price with his own life. Please put an end to all of this negativity. Let my family deal with our tragic loss in peace.
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Word Without EndThe letters about Harrison Fletcher's January 13 "The Mouth That Roared" and Leonard Carlo's use of the words "fuck" and "fucking" all missed the point. The point is this: Sometimes no other adjective will do.
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This is in response to that dumbass, J. Ryan, whose letter about Leonard Carlo appeared in the January 27 issue. Mr. Ryan may think himself a hotshot superman, but may I remind him that we live in a country of laws and rights?
Try this on: People with self-respect and self-esteem can take language in stride, because words can only destroy those who have no self-esteem. Would your "black belt who spent half of his life on the streets" respond to words with physical violence? If so, you don't seem to have self-esteem -- you're more the bully, temper-tantrum type, besides having a blatant disregard for the ancient arts and philosophies.
The point of Fletcher's article was to show a man, in his own establishment, being violated of his rights to speak freely and to not have his possessions dragged out of his place of business without due process. We're talking First Amendment rights and due process here, not egos.
Would you like it if some law official broke into your house and stole all of your self-portraits and your mirrors to save the rest of us from your conceit? Aren't you glad you can call Leonard names without being punished? We all use these rights. Remember, it was the first person who threw a word instead of his fist who created civilization.
Women in Chains
In her January 6 letter regarding the ongoing coverage of Joe Paolino and the Department of Corrections (most recently in Off Limits, February 3), Susan Church is correct: Bad though it might be for female co-workers, the abuse of female inmates is the most significant cultural manifestation of these abuses. I work on Chinese and Asian human-rights desks for a Christian charity, and it would be a mistake to presume that the former two were in any respect more pervasive than the American abuses. The United States sexually abuses more female inmates than any other country on the face of this earth. Having lots of electricity and automobiles does not paradise make, nor does it make women prisoners safer. Rather, it's the reverse. The U.S. has state-sanctioned sex abuse. That is the sad truth. It is a rogue nation with respect to female incarceration. It is a "dirty little secret" that has been going on for decades -- in my honest opinion, from the beginning.
The following is a good reference for co-worker harassment: In "The Sexualized Work Environment: A Look at Women Jail Officers" (Prison Journal 77:41-57), co-authors Mark R. Pogrebin and Eric D. Poole describe a "sexualized work environment" in jails and detention facilities in which female deputy sheriffs are forced to endure sexually humiliating and degrading behavior from their male colleagues. Inmates, of course, get it a lot worse.
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Raising the Roof
First of all, I would like to say thank you for being the one paper in the state whose number-one goal does seem to be to find the truth and report it. Second, I must question both the staff and many of the readers of Westword on their anti-Christian slant.
The letter that specifically inspired this note was by John Ottem and was published in the January 13 issue. Mr. Ottem bases his entire letter on what I would believe is a bad experience at a "mega" church, or maybe a bad experience with someone from a "mega" church. I am a youth pastor at a church in Mr. Ottem's own community, Thornton. Our building is worth about $250,000. Mr. Ottem, we have no stained-glass windows, but we do have a couple of cracked ones. Choir loft -- nope! Our preacher being paid $100K -- nope! What we do have is a building that we love and utilize as often as possible. That means we have educational classes and a worship service on Sunday mornings, as well as a Sunday-evening Bible study; we also allow the Disciples of Thunder (Christian "biker" organization) to use the building for their meetings and have free self-defense classes by certified trainers, a weekly ladies' prayer rally, midweek classes, a Thursday-night assembly for high-school-age students and countless other activities. I appreciate Mr. Ottem's idea that we could do more if we sold our building and met at a gymnasium; however, as a staff member of a church that did that for years, I must object. When renting a gymnasium, you do not get educational space, and you can't use the facility for any of the other assemblies I mentioned earlier in this paragraph. Nor could a food bank be run out of a gymnasium, or premarital counseling offered. And what of grief counseling, funerals and weddings?
In Mr. Ottem's final analysis, he asserted that Christianity is about "big money" and that Christianity sees itself as the "only way." Is Christianity about big money? Yeah! So are professional sports, Microsoft, the United States government, US West and Doc Marten shoes. Christians didn't make the world, but we have to live in it. That means we have to live by the same rules that everyone else does. That means we have to also have an "equal" base from which to work. Sure, there are some rotten and crooked churches out there, but to lump us all into the same category is like saying all Democrats are lying, cheating, drug-using scoundrels just because a few in the White House have displayed those behaviors. Also, I grow weary of hearing people attack Christianity for its "exclusionist slant." Islam also believes it is the only way, Jehovah's Witnesses assert that only 144,000 souls will enter heaven, and most branches of Hinduism and Buddhism believe that you must be attuned to their beliefs and practices to reach enlightenment. So are we asserting anything that most of the major belief systems don't believe? No.
Mr. Ottem and other Westword readers/staff, I invite you to Vision Fellowship Assembly any Sunday or Wednesday. Please come see what Christianity is really about!
Wife Goes On
Regarding C.J. Janovy's "Take My Wife, Please," in the January 13 issue:
Apparently there are two different films with the title I Can't Believe I Married a Lesbian. The film Janovy described in her article could not possibly be the same one I watched. I thought the filmmaker's handling of this most difficult and personal subject was tasteful and well-balanced. He allowed his subjects to steal many scenes and let the film follow its natural course.
Janovy's comment that it seems "suspiciously like a personals ad" is right out of left field. Why do you think this -- because he's showing he's successful and trying to move on with his life? If you go by that argument, any and all films, books, songs, etc., pertaining to a failed relationship could be relegated to simple personals ads. Perkin even admits in his second ending that he's now trying to be more honest. Give the guy a break.
This film is painful to watch because of its raw honesty. Is that what bothered Janovy so much? Perhaps there is something in it that touched a nerve? That's the only thing I can think of to explain such a biased and skewed review of a fine film. Perhaps she should begin her own journey of self-discovery!
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I appreciate your publication and really want to express my appreciation of Laura Bond's review of a great new band, mamaSutra, in "Please Release Me," in the January 27 issue. I have seen this gang a few times now and must say that I think Bond is right: Their music is soon to be on all of the KBCOs across America. I would love to think this letter might make it into your publication, 'cause I want to encourage everyone who read the review to take a shot at seeing this band live. The studio CD is great, without question, but not even close to the pure funk and booty-shakin' (there, I said it) grooves that you are in for when you see these guys go at it live. I think Bond called it "damn sexy" in her review, and there is no argument there. Although I contest that live, the hip-hop gets a lot further than "lighter than a fat-free potato chip" and "harmless," I don't want to make Bond mad and risk a bad review in the future for these guys. I know she did give them plenty of props, too, so I just want to encourage all of the readers to check them out live.
I am not on the payroll for mamaSutra, I promise. I just love their style. Thanks for listening.
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