The Apes of WrathRegarding Juliet Wittman's "Origin of the Specious," in the February 10 issue:

The misguided A Natural History of Rape is similar to the books published years ago that attempted to use "biology" to explain racial differences. The racists then championing their theories behind the guise of "scientific data" were frighteningly similar to the people who now applaud this book, which is really the latest attempt to blame bad male behavior on genes, the environment, the way women dress, where women go -- everything except the perpetrators themselves. We've heard these theories before; they are unoriginal and full of the same faulty logic, but wrapped in slightly different packaging. The authors make the mistake of confusing a chosen behavior -- rape -- with a biological imperative to reproduce. In their weak hypothesis, they noticeably disregard all of the empirical data on the violence associated with rape, as well as the high prevalence of rape against men, children, pregnant women and post-reproductive women. The errors in their logic are obvious. Current crime statistics estimate 22 percent of rape victims are under the age of twelve -- not really prime mothering material.

The book also downplays the amount of physical violence accompanying rape, despite all evidence to the contrary. If the goal for the rapists is solely to impregnate a woman and ensure continuation of his genes, the method of rape seems very ineffective. The authors themselves admit that of the very few women who become pregnant as a result of rape, only 25 percent carry the baby to term. Many of these women place the child up for adoption, and for those who don't, raising a child that is a result of a rape, possibly as a single mother, and overcoming all the emotional issues that rape victims struggle with for a lifetime, hardly seems conducive to successful rearing of offspring.

The authors' suggestions for preventing rape are just as far-fetched and ill-informed. For boys, they suggest formal training (to be provided while getting their driver's licenses), teaching them to resist their "natural" impulse to rape. Isn't this message confusing and potentially damaging to young boys? (In the Washington Post, Susan Brownmiller was quoted as saying sarcastically, "What about the boys who don't drive?")

As for girls, the authors feel we should teach them that because rape is all about sex, they need to keep that in mind when getting dressed and going out to parties. (Apparently, the thousands of women and children raped in Bosnia were dressed in low-cut tops and miniskirts.) The book greatly demeans and disempowers men by underestimating their ability to control supposed impulses to rape and impregnate every available woman they come across, and suggests that we live in a society so unenlightened that the only solution to preventing rape is covering up the female body. (Muslim women apparently are never raped, as they have always kept a conservative dress code).

Perpetuating the myth that a woman's appearance and social interaction provoke rape is a dangerous road, and this book is a step backward in combating violence against women. These same misconceptions about rape were found preposterous years ago, and serious readers should not waste their time on this tired and archaic book.

Laura Hartley

via the Internet

To rape or not to rape?

That is the question. Juliet Wittman's excellent article illustrates just how potentially dangerous such material can be. The danger of A Natural History of Rape is not the debate about rape being biologically inherited or a product of conditioning; it is what happens whenever any such material dealing with the human condition is made public. Whenever any scientist publishes anything that may have valuable insights, the first thing that happens is that the gang on Madison Avenue gloms on to said material and begins to incorporate it into their advertising campaigns to entice us into buying anything from beer and bagels to toothpaste and tampons -- all on a subliminal level. Hence it must be clearly understood that this form of conditioning is by far the greatest danger set forth by said publication, simply because it reaches the children as well as adults.

It is going to be interesting to see what kind of value judgments the next generation will harbor.

Arthur Kerndt

via the Internet

The opening image of Juliet Wittman's "Origin of the Specious" takes the authors' message out of context, and in turn perpetuates the complete ignorance surrounding this issue.

This article simply describes another bunch of people talking about something they know nothing about or haven't spent a lot of time thinking about. If that's not the case, then they are taking the book's content entirely out of context and adding emotional and moral ideals to something that was meant to reflect a purely scientific idea. The people quoted in this story have read this book (some of them, anyway) and then jumped in with the hordes of others to beat it down without really thinking about it because rape is such an awful event.  

I doubt the authors intended the book to be a sympathetic theory to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy about rape. I haven't even read the book (I don't mind admitting that), but I can already tell that Thornhill and Palmer are not making excuses for rape and are not discussing anything but the science of it all. I applaud them for at least having the balls to go public with something that they felt was true and important and not hiding it for fear of what people would think.

Science is not to be concerned with morality. That's what government and religion are for. Get it straight: Science finds the answers; government and religion tell us if it's okay to believe that science is correct. And I don't think the authors were taking a sociopolitical stance by essentially saying that all those out-of-control feminists (who, I might add, likely don't even know what a feminist is) are so damned concerned with denying everything but the fact that rape is wrong and that men are oppressors and should be banished from the face of the earth! Sorry, sisters, we have a while before that technology is approved. Hell, ask a lesbian what she thinks of the book, and she'll tell you it sucked because it was written by men. She won't even need to read it.

According to Sauther, non-human primate studies don't bear out the authors' thesis regarding humans. In fact, she says, rape is rare in animals and far from ubiquitous in human societies. Most primate males live their entire lives without siring offspring, she points out, "so why don't we see more rape among non-human primates?" Um, well, for starters, I have one thing to ask about the ignorance of this statement: What does a male butterfly look like when it is raping a female?

Get a clue, people. Having a theory and trying to figure out some basics to human behavior is not a crime. Get over your morals and feelings. Save those for your twelve-step programs. Open your eyes and admit that science isn't here to make us feel good about life and paint a pretty picture for us. We need to utilize it and stop denying its capabilities.

Mike Donley


I am writing in response to the cover story of your latest issue. First, let me explain what I am not. I am not a social biologist. I am not an evolutionary scientist. I am not an evolutionary biologist. I am not a newspaper columnist. I am not a researching and teaching professor influencing the minds of America and potentially the world.

I am, however, a rape survivor. It is time that I tried, in some small way, to influence as well. The words that follow are my simple story, my responses to the arguments of the authors of A Natural History of Rape.

I am out for the evening with a "friend." We are dancing and having fun, like typical college students. At the end of the night, my friend walks me to my dorm, like usual. I say "goodnight," but he doesn't say "goodnight" at the main door, as usual. He follows me into the building and up the elevator to my floor. I say "goodnight" again at the elevator. He follows me down the hall to my room. I say "goodnight." I start to unlock my dorm room, and I don't remember much after that moment.

I do remember pounding on the wall and screaming, thinking my best friend, who lives next door, will hear me. He puts his hand in my mouth. I reach up to grab his face. He holds my wrists to the mattress of my roommate's bed. I struggle, twist, writhe, kick, scream until my strength is gone. Just as fast as it began, it is over. There wasn't a knife, a gun, a rope or tape involved in the event. Yet I was bound by the sheer terror of the moment and the dominance of the person.

Eleven years pass. The years are okay, but my sense of living is actually dulled by a gnawing at my gut, the same gnawing that I ignored much earlier in my life. During those eleven years, I don't speak about the rape, yet it never leaves my presence. I spend years justifying and rationalizing his behavior. All of the paradoxes wear me out -- I should have listened to my gut instinct and been forceful about his departure when I noticed he wasn't doing things "like usual." But where is the trust and belief in humankind in that? I should have known better than to think a guy really wanted to be my friend. But where is the hope for harmony and acceptance in that? I should have been more suspicious of his intentions. But where is the respect for honesty and integrity in that? Finally, I wake up from the nightmare. Enough processing. Enough thinking. Enough taking responsibility for others' behavior. I was raped. It was violent. I didn't ask for it, cause it or deserve it. It has, however, shaped the rest of my life.  

The authors of this book argue that rape is an evolutionary sexual act and that this act is part of "selecting for success." I understand evolution to include the advancement and socialization of the brain. This means that our brains are capable of making choices based on all the information available to us. We know, respect and can act on the meaning of words like "no," "no, thank you," "goodnight" and "goodbye." This ability for two-way communication, understanding and reasoning are what I believe evolution is about. It is pre-Neanderthal to argue that we still operate under selecting for success and that we are incapable of restraining our animal instincts for the sake of survival.

I am amazed at the suggestion that our highly sophisticated society chose the "politically correct" path in our analysis of rape. Have the authors reviewed the police case files of the millions of women and girls who are raped, raped and murdered, and noticed the physical evidence of terror and violence? Have they been privy to the psychotherapy files of the women and girls who actually get help for the emotional terror and violence of rape? No, because those files would be patient- and case-confidential. Have they interviewed thousands of rapists to determine their motives for rape? There is no amount of data, regardless of quality, that will ever convince me that rape is anything other than a violent act of power, dominance and control. (Nor should it convince anyone else that five young men take turns raping and beating a young University of Colorado student because of their need to procreate.)

Rape survivors need to speak. Their voices and stories must be heard, their terror embraced. Society must listen so that rape is made real and understood as the violent crime that it is. When it is out in the open and our children (and their children) learn from our experiences, perhaps we can drastically reduce the incidence of rape.

Let me close by telling you what I am. I am an entrepreneur. I am a daughter. I am a mother. I am an athlete. I am a music lover. I am a friend. I am a coach. I am an adventurer. I am a lifelong learner. I am a spiritual person. I am a survivor of a violent crime -- rape. My spirit is not broken, my passion for living and belief in humankind is not diminished.

Name withheld on request

Pros and ConRegarding Julie Jargon's "Take the Money and Run," in the February 3 issue:

You really took the prize with the Jay Schlaks story. I've been a friend of Jay's for the last five months in this jail and must tell you that your one-sided story is less than accurate. Why are you tooting the prosecutor's horn? Did he contact you? The Colorado attorney general has more blood on his face than Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The real truth is that due to his errors and psychic-hotline mentality, you, the people of Denver, along with the innocent (?) victims, are the real losers. Just how much cash went into this witch hunt? Our spies tell us close to three million bucks...

As for a couple of facts: If Schlaks was such a con artist, as your story describes, why did he not have a previous felony (or misdemeanor) record? His "conviction" for fraud was giving a false reference to purchase a copy machine in New Mexico. (The copier was paid in full.) Justice? Prosecutorial misconduct, fraud, perjury, slander and innuendo all come to mind. And Jay Schlaks's wife (they also have two school-aged girls) is trapped in New Zealand with nowhere to go. You guys are heartless. What did Schlaks's wife and little kids do? They need to be back in the United States. Mr. Prosecutor, you are a ruthless, uncaring media attention-grabber. I think that even if Denver forgave you for your pursuit of your career and all the crimes you purported, I don't see how any middle-class white group could even condone you for your victory (not by trial) against two little girls and a mother who have no passports to leave. You're my hero, and when I get out (in two weeks) for a DUI conviction, I plan to take this to Channel 7, 9 and all the papers, so you can sit back with your buddy the judge and reap all the media publicity for your treatment and actions in regard to the Schlaks family.  

Anyone for a recall? Let's see what side Mayor Webb jumps to. I am sure we'll have to wait for the polls to come back before he decides.

Tim Evans

Denver County Jail

I found Julie Jargon's article very thorough and accurate, save for one detail. Jay Schlaks didn't buy an $8,000 layette for his newborn son, but for his newborn daughter. I know this because I am his only son, and the oldest of his children. Needless to say, a man such as Jay Schlaks is a con artist all the way -- leaving behind a trail of deceit, betrayal and fraud that is as nauseating as it is embarrassing. While he lived the high life spending others' hard-earned money, he never bothered to pay my mother the minimal child support ordered by a New York judge -- not once in eighteen years. Jay Schlaks is the kind of man who will never stop being a crook, hurting whoever gets near him. He is, unfortunately, a sociopath, and once he is released, he will start again. No less, it is a pleasure to know there is some justice in this world, thanks to dedicated officials like Phil Feigin.

Maximilian Schlaks

via the Internet

Trap DoorRegarding Eric Dexheimer's "Trap Sheet," in the February 3 issue:

The people have spoken! We do not accept trapping as a "way of life" or "in blood or heritage." Most of us have come a long way since my father's day, and especially my grandfather's day. To treat animals, land, etc., the same way we treated it forty or sixty years ago would be proof that we had not evolved or learned at all! Wild places are no longer as wild, wildlife is not as plentiful, and humans are reproducing at a very fast rate. The world has changed, but not everyone's behavior has changed. For those opposed to the ban on trapping, please remember that the outdoors and animals can be admired with a camera. Why can't you feel anything when you see something suffering? That is just one of those mysteries distinguishing you from me.

Brad Smith

via the Internet

We "rabid" vegetarians wish to thank Stephen Anthony for his February 10 letter, with its biology lesson and the brilliant revelation that all life comes from death. However, it is Mr. Anthony who is in deep denial if he can equate the inadvertent stepping on a worm while planting a garden with the deliberate abuse, torture and slaughter of billions of animals each year to feed this country's need for flesh and other animal by-products.

These are the types of ill-conceived arguments that people like Mr. Anthony espouse in lieu of sensible and rational thought on the subject of animal cruelty. It allows them to continue to blindly live without guilt or remorse in a society bent on the childish notion that "I am man, lord of my domain, and I shall trap, shoot, beat, stomp, torture and kill anything that stands in my way...or, hell, jes 'cause it's so darned fun!"

Pat Bruno


I have just finished reading Eric Dexheimer's article about fur trapping. Thank you for showing the other side of the issue. I live in suburban Arvada and have never trapped an animal, nor have I ever shot an animal. I do have relatives who live in the "boonies" who have shot animals, and my parents were farmers in Kansas and have seen the carnage coyotes have wrought on their farms. I am sick and tired of people like Mr. Angell, who feel that since they don't like hunting and trapping, no one should. Who does he think he is? Our society is so politically correct nowadays, but we have absolutely no tolerance for anyone who does not think like we do.

Trappers are not hurting me. They do not trap in city limits. They do not try to force you to trap animals. All they want to do is be able to trap on their own land without interference. They don't tell us how to live, so why should we tell them how to live? I say live and let live, and as long as you don't bother me, I won't bother you. Get over yourself, Mr. Angell and all you little PETA fanatics who feel justified in sticking your nose where it doesn't belong. This is Colorado, not New York or California. We do have rural life here, and it runs a lot differently than the city does, so butt out. How would you like Mr. Mountain Man telling you how to run the city? Not bloody likely! There is room in this state for all of us to exist, so fight for important issues pertaining to city life, Mr. Angell, and leave the rural community alone.  

Connie M. Heath

via the Internet

Just a couple of thoughts regarding Stephen Anthony's reponse to "Trap Sheet." First of all, to lump Bob Angell, a former biology professor, with "bleeding-heart animal-rights activists" who allegedly can't grasp the idea that "life comes from death," is laughable. I seem to remember they covered that concept in biology. And by the way, it takes more than one person to "impose their views" via ballot initiative.

Mr. Anthony seems to want it both ways with regard to human empathy for animal suffering. He uses it to his advantage with his story of the cow being attacked by coyotes (quickly afterward switching focus to the cow's monetary value -- don't want people having too much sympathy for cows!) and then mocks these same humane impulses in those who vote/ shop/eat to minimize animal suffering. He even trots out a variation of the tired "screaming amoebae" argument. Surely it was not just the economic ramifications of the coyote attack that so upset the woman who witnessed it. Her concern for the cow's suffering is recognized and validated, so shouldn't it be scorned and derided like the concerns of those who empathize with the suffering of trapped animals? I guess a little "Bambi-itis" is okay, depending on the economic value of the animal in question.

So if the only value here is economic, let's talk business. Over half the state voted for Amendment 14, and we're not all vegetarians. Before you city slickers who stand accused of not knowing where beef comes from start feeling guilty about imposing your defective moral sense on outnumbered ranchers (who nonetheless have a stranglehold on wildlife policy in this state), consider that you are the reason they are in business. You are the ultimate purchasers of their "products," and if you want those products produced in a way that respects the wildlife that was here first and without the use of medieval torture devices like the leghold trap, you have every right to vote that way.

They have a lot of gall to tell you otherwise -- and to insult your intelligence, to boot.

Andrea Metzger


See You LatteI don't normally respond to articles in the paper, especially in Westword. However, I had to make an exception for Kyle Wagner's February 3 Mouthing Off item about the Newsstand Cafe.

As a believer in small business, I constantly avoid the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all commerce that we have here in the States. I don't shop at the Home Depots of the world, and I constantly try to spend my dollar with the independent risk-taker. Since my girlfriend lives in the vicinity of the Newsstand Cafe, I tried to make it a regular stop for my hard-to-break habit of caffeine consumption, both on weekdays and on weekends.

When I saw the item criticizing the "attitude" of employees at the Newsstand Cafe, I had to respond. The truth is, every time I have been in the establishment, I have experienced poor quality and, even more unnerving, poor service. Screw the small business if you cannot at least compete with an attitude similar to that of the baristas at the big bad "S" chain. At least there they act sincere and appreciative of my daily dose to the bottom line.

F. Watson

via the Internet

Editor's note: For more news about the Newsstand Cafe, see Mouthing Off, page 61.

Suits Him to a TeaI am writing in response to Justin Berton's recent hatchet job with respect to Mike Dunafon ("Glendale T&A Party," January 20), a candidate for mayor of the city of Glendale, co-founder of the Tea Party and a personal friend of mine. The article was clearly intended to eviscerate Mike with no evidence that the reporter had made any attempt to learn about the person before taking hatchet in hand.

The interesting thing about all the bad press the Tea Party has been getting is that none of the press mentions the campaign issues. Nowhere is there any discussion or reference to the fact that we intend to hold the incumbents who are running for another term -- as well as a previous councilmember who is running again -- accountable for their records in office. Among other things, their records include perjury in affidavits attesting to no known environmental hazards on the site where they built a preschool, all the time knowing that the land was essentially a toxic dump; support of HB 1305 two years ago, which would have given to Denver approximately 11 percent of our tax base; and numerous other questionable if not illegal acts.  

The simple fact of the matter is that Glendale literally cannot afford another term for the Rice administration. Mike Dunafon is running to prevent our city from being bankrupted and absorbed by Denver.

Mike Barrett


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:

Westword Letters

P.O. Box 5970

Denver, CO 80217

or e-mail to:

Missed a story? The editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >