Dial Mutt for Murder

Letters to the editor

The paws that refreshes: Patricia Calhoun's "Barking Up the Wrong Tree," in the June 8 issue, was absolutely the best damn Ramsey article I have read over the past three and a half years. I am from West Virginia (no joke), and I have followed this from its beginning. Way to go. I'm still laughing.
Mary Pushel
Fairmont, West Virginia

Pup talk: At last, a media person who has the guts to say what she thinks about the child murderers in Colorado! You go, girl. And thanks for the link to Fuckthemedia.com. What a hoot!
Connie Alsip
via the Internet

Dogging their trail: Send a copy of Calhoun's column to Lin Wood. Maybe he'll sue you and we can get Patsy and John on the stand. Keep the heat on these two mental messes!
Donna Colley
via the Internet

The details were sketchy: If I were a schnauzer, I'd sue.
Joe Buersmeyer
via the Internet

Gas 'n' Go

Pumping the worker well dry: I'd like to say that I can't believe what happened at the Bradley stations, as shown in Julie Jargon's "Pay at the Pump," in the June 1 issue. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Here we have a classic case of a company owner profiting off of the hard work and dedication of extremely underpaid employees. And the a**hole involved in the destruction of an elderly man's health lives in a $700,000 mansion in Cherry Hills? Call this student a communist if you will, but it doesn't take an idealist to know that this regular practice isn't right.
Name withheld on request

Don't just sit there fuming: I worked for a boss man and his relatives in another industry (TV broadcasting) who had the same attitude toward employees as your article reports about Bradley Calkins. It was an unpleasant learning experience, so I quit. Two weeks later they asked me to come back, but I refused. Buttheads like Calkins are kept in business by wimp employees. They need to get some backbone and walk. Work environment now is such that good jobs are going begging. Just a heads-up to the Bradley Petroleum clan: I filled up at a Bradley station on Federal north of I-70 once, and it was so dirty that I've never bought gas from them again. Now that I know that Sav-O-Mat is part of this chain, I'll never buy there, either.
Chuck Gallup
Castle Rock

Straight Shooting

It's what's up front that counts: This is in response to Matt Urschel's June 8 letter. He wrote: "If Ms. Calhoun and others like her would lay down their NRA protest banners and burning bras..." Gee, Matt, is that your misogynist slip I see showing?
Jody Conn

All fired up: Hey, Matt Urschel, you groovy gun guy! Just had to set aside my smoldering bra long enough to write and let you know that -- at least in my obviously addled liberal point of view -- your overwrought and silly prose simply blows away any persuasive argument you might possibly have about the wonderfulness of guns. But it's okay, I already know the cliche: PEOPLE kill people. I'll remember that the next time there's a multiple knifing at a school, restaurant or office.

In the meantime, gotta run and toss some more skivs on the fire. Right arm, man!
Meridy Migchelbrink

Just the facts, man: Since Patricia Calhoun's May 11 "Fire Away," the past three issues of Westword have been filled with letters from pro-gun advocates denouncing the editor and the paper for suggesting that more gun control might not be a bad idea. I write not to support any particular piece of legislation or bill -- many of which will do little or nothing to stop gun violence -- but rather to counter the battery of misinformation. Many of these letters claimed that people who owned a gun were safer than people who did not own a gun. Unfortunately, the statistics from police reports and emergency rooms across the country say the exact opposite. In fact, people living in households with guns are three times as likely to be killed, and twelve times as likely to be injured, as their neighbors who do not have a gun in the house. Of the roughly 32,000 deaths attributable to gun violence every year, fewer than 200 of these deaths are attributable to self-defense. Over half are suicides, made convenient by the presence of a gun, while the rest are either accidents ("Oops! I didn't know it was loaded!") or homicides. And most of these homicides are a product of domestic violence, not robbers breaking into houses. When you compare the number of children killed by guns every year in America to other countries that have stricter gun control, the statistics are even more sobering.

After reading this, I am sure that many of you would assume that I am for a whole lot more gun control. On the contrary, I am quite sure that many of the 20,000 gun-control laws on the books will do nothing to prevent gun violence.

Although there are a lot of gun-control laws that are a waste of paper and time, this is not the case with all such laws. The Brady Bill, for instance, has prevented over 500,000 gun purchases by criminals trying to get a gun. At the same time, these same background checks have prevented zero gun owners without a criminal record from purchasing a gun for self-defense. If you use a gun to attack or threaten your fellow citizens, it is only proper that you lose your Second Amendment rights, just like you lose your right to liberty when you commit a crime and go to jail. There is no reasonable justification for allowing felons easy access to firearms. These background checks are defensible and effective laws that should be extended to private purchases at gun shows. However, at the same time that we create new laws, we should make sure we repeal all of the silly gun laws that do nothing to protect anyone and make gun owners paranoid that their guns will be the next ones confiscated.

There are millions of gun owners who use firearms safely and responsibly in this country. However, this fact does not justify allowing convicted criminals or the mentally ill to easily access firearms. The statistics I cite clearly demonstrate that we have a serious problem with gun irresponsibility in the U.S. Instead of denying that a problem exists, maybe we should figure out some solutions that prevent gun violence while protecting Second Amendment rights.
Scott Kelley

Beside the point: Since my copy of Point Blank is currently out on loan, I can't verify what it says about the Second Amendment, if it says anything at all about it. However, author Gary Kleck is a professor at Florida State University's School of Criminology, not an English professor, as Kent Colins stated in his June 8 letter. This would explain why Kleck's book was deemed to be the "most outstanding contribution to criminology" by the American Society of Criminology, and not honored by any English literature group.

For anyone interested, Point Blank was updated and revised for a more general audience in 1997 as Targeting Guns.
Robert Racansky
via the Internet

Drive, He Said

Road warrior: Interesting, indeed, Michael Roberts's "A Sporting Chance," his June 1 story on SUVs. It seems to hold the view that drivers somehow have a right to be stupid and act like assholes with regard to those around them. Throughout the story, the point is repeatedly pushed that people don't know how to drive or refuse to learn how! It doesn't matter if you're driving a Geo Metro or a Ford Explorer. The responsibility to drive safely does not define the type of vehicle you're in, but that point seems to be lost on the dangerous motoring public. The four-wheel drive monsters do keep people alive, and because of that, I try to own and drive the biggest, heaviest road tanks I can find. I once owned a Chevette, and that little sardine-can death trap came close to as dangerous a vehicle as I've ever seen. Now, I've been a licensed driver for 35 years, and in that time I've been cited but once as the cause of an accident, a case still under litigation in Larimer County.

Of course, bigger and heavier against smaller and lighter will come out the winner every time. Sure, the tiny pillbox cars are pollution-free and oh, so energy-efficient, but what good is that if you're dead?

I've proudly held a Colorado driver's license for ten years, and I'm proud of my safety record in the countless thousands of miles I've piloted a bus, loaded weight of 44,000 pounds, carrying up to fifty passengers, without a citation or a scratch! If this country had a national driving-license exam instead of state-by-state testing and the qualifications were as stringent as those for a commercial license, we'd have maybe 50 percent fewer drivers on the road and 10 percent of the fatal accidents we see and read about every day. I can't repeat enough how drivers' egotistical stupidity is the primary cause of all these accidents -- like "road rage," or talking on the phone while they should be paying attention -- and what makes every road, every trip, a potential demolition-derby, death-defying experience.
Gary Olszewski

Just the tax, ma'am: I first want to thank you for writing the truth about SUVs. I am a Colorado native and have seen many changes to our state, most of which are due to the enormous population growth. One of my major concerns is SUVs. I disagree that Coloradans love their SUVs; most SUV drivers I know are transplants from warmer climates. These people are a dangerous threat on Colorado roads; they don't know their vehicle or how to drive in extreme weather.

Although I appreciate the extensive information Michael Roberts provided about accidents, he missed another big problem with SUVs: They are an ecological hazard to our beautiful state. Not only do they require an extra 1,000 pounds of metal to make, but they cost more to transport, they use two times the amount of gas that a car does, and they tear up roads, creating more construction equaling more waste. We need to tax SUV drivers more because they cost the state of Colorado more!
Nicole Kubly
via the Internet

Global warning: I've lived in many places around the world. I came to America (by a long and painful route) because I desperately needed to live where people displayed sense and initiative and took responsibility for themselves -- or, as your John Wayne would say, showed some grit. But when I finally got to America, I found the same whining, the same naw'chash found in all the backwater countries: It's not my fault, I'm not to blame, I'm not responsible.

Grow up, you Americans. You were the place for opportunity and responsibility, but now you're no better than the morally bereft and intellectually malformed I left behind in some very bad parts of the world. SUVs do not kill people. The idiots operating those SUVs (and every other conveyance) kill people. People kill people. Please try to get this through your sophomoric haze: Inanimate objects do not kill. Inanimate objects do not maim. Inanimate objects do not threaten. Idiots threaten, maim and kill. I know: I've lived with death outside my door from snipers and land mines since I was a child. Your mewling is childish and inappropriate.

Your article on SUVs is so far off the mark it takes my breath away that a newspaper with a local reputation for digging at the dominant paradigm could fall into such sophistry. This is no more than pandering to herd-think Pavlovian behavioralism: SUV is bad...SUV is bad...SUV is bad...SUV is bad. The Big Lie told often enough becomes imbedded as truth...in a Nazi regime. Again, I know. I've been there, lived through it and am disgusted to see it being fondled anew in this once-great country that we of the rest of the world looked to as a standard.

Grow up.
Avi Yazul

Rush to judgment: I have often thought the initials SUV should be changed to SAV: Suburban Assault Vehicle. All too often, I see an SUV riding on my tail, changing two or three lanes at once at light speed, or blazing past me at ten to thirty miles an hour over the limit. Is it hard to drive these things slow? Do they have lead gas pedals?

SUV drivers: What's the rush? Michael: Thanks!
Gary Shunk

No safety in numbers: While I understand Michael Roberts's concerns regarding automobile accidents, I don't understand how or why he is singling out SUVs. While I am sure the figures are correct, he seems to be missing the big picture. His statement that "in 1996, approximately 2,000 people killed when their car slammed into an SUV would have survived if the collision had involved a standard passenger car -- meaning that about 5 percent of the 40,000 folks who perished in U.S. auto accidents that year might still be walking around if SUVs didn't exist" was particularly amusing. If those 2,000 people were driving safer cars (i.e., an SUV) might they not still be alive? On the other hand, if there were no cars, 40,000 people would still be alive today. More children die in swimming pools than in auto accidents. Would you remove pools from everyone's backyards? Maybe we should outlaw children from being passengers in any type of motorized vehicle until the age of eighteen or, better yet, until the legal drinking age of 21.

If that fifteen-year-old Brazilian national was driving a Volkswagen Bug, he may very well have still killed that student. The question in this particular case should have been: "What was a fifteen-year-old doing behind the wheel of any car?"

As long as people drive cars, there will be accidents resulting in death. The media seems to forget that driving is a privilege, not a right. Why are SUV operators being singled out? I think the media would better serve this country if it concentrated on the education system, political system, drugs, violence and language on TV, or a host of other, more important concerns. This is still America; we should not be dictated to by the media regarding the type of vehicle we drive.
Milly Reed

Road hogs: Thank you for the safety information on the SUVs. It's not that there were any surprises in your story; it is just good to see a media source keeping the spotlight on such socially reprehensible machinery. And the owners and defenders of SUVs? I find their logic convoluted. They are the problem, choosing instead to ignore the solution.

Yet another one of the sad components of the SUV fad is that they are marketed to the eco-friendly-thinking families as a means of reconnecting with the great outdoors, when the obvious facts contradict their compatibility with life on earth. They require more natural resources to build and maintain, and they will consume that much more. So these eco-minded parents are in fact leaving a legacy of accelerated wastefulness for their children, and grandchildren, to deal with. All of the indicators lead me to equate SUV ownership with narcissism.
Kerry H. Neuville
Highlands Ranch

The accidental tourist: I was moved by the tragic story of the accident that killed Janet Majikas, but I have to ask what this tragedy tells us about the safety of SUVs?

The cause of the accident was Amy Johnson trying the boneheaded maneuver of passing in a no-passing zone and then clipping Majikas's car as she tried to get back into her lane. There are no facts in the vignette to show that the final result would have been any different if the two other drivers had been in sedans as opposed to SUVs. Odds are Johnson would have still acted like an idiot, she still would have clipped Majikas's car, that car still would have spun out of control and, at those speeds, the resulting impact would have had the same result. (I also notice that despite high-speed maneuvers and impacts, there's no mention of the infamous rollover tendency of SUVs. Curious.) Except for Amy Majikas's statement, there's nothing to show that SUV-induced confidence caused Johnson to make her mistake. Indeed, having been cut off and tailgated by everything from Excursions to motorcycles, I can attest that "overconfidence" in one's driving is not confined to the SUV crowd.

Whenever a writer picks an inapposite example to illustrate the problem he's telling us about, it makes me suspicious of the whole story -- makes me suspect that there's smoke, but no fire.
Jeff King
Houston, TX

Heavy metal: Here's some more interesting information that most SUV drivers probably don't know about their vehicles and unfortunately probably won't care about once they do: The desecration of the Brazilian rainforest, plus the oppression of Brazilian "charcoal people," is directly related to SUVs. The process begins with the harvesting of original growth trees in the Brazilian forest. Two tractors with a chain stretched between them literally tear the trees from the ground; these trees then undergo a controlled-burn process in a kiln by the charcoal people.

The charcoal people, who are illiterate and receive no pension or other benefits from the Brazilian government, produce charcoal that is combined with iron ore to produce pig iron. This Brazilian pig iron is used to produce those super-strong frames Roberts alluded to in his article. There are an estimated 60,000 charcoal people. They usually begin working at their trade at the age of seven or eight, helping their parents, and remain in this trade until their death. Their pay is terrible, as are the conditions under which they work. Here is an example of a very fine line between slavery and freedom in this, the 21st century.

So, let us recap: 1) SUVs are dangerous to drivers of other, smaller vehicles; 2) SUVs are a danger to our environment because of their excessive use of fossil fuels and their current exemption from emission standards; 3) SUVs are produced in part by people working under near-slavery conditions; 4) SUV production greatly contributes to the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest.

Who, with the exception of a very few drivers, can honestly justify the need to drive such a vehicle?
Carolyne Janssen
via the Internet


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