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Letters to the Editor

You've Got Male!

Ice breaker: Patricia Calhoun's October 26 "Skating on Thin Ice" is the typical response I expected your "paper" would produce regarding the arrest of Patrick Roy. Ms. Calhoun recklessly lumps Roy's actions in with those of convicted abuser and former Denver Donkey Vance Johnson, as well as the husband of Sharon Garrison, who is now charged with her murder. How does she jump from an argument over in-laws to murder? You tell me.

Ms. Calhoun dedicates one whole sentence in the article to give Roy the benefit of the doubt regarding his arrest. All of your readers appreciate that objectivity!

Sure, domestic violence is a serious issue, but Roy's arrest will not stem the tide of deaths at the hands of a spouse, as Ms. Calhoun claims. That statement is an insult to all Coloradans who don't base their actions on those of a professional athlete.

Keith Martin
via the Internet

Rich man, poor man: While the recent celebrity domestic-violence arrests do much to heighten the awareness of domestic violence, it is the disparity of conviction and sentencing that separates them from the common person.

There is no "mandatory" law that says that the officer on the scene must arrest a person unless the officer determines that domestic violence has occurred. If he determines that domestic violence has taken place, though, the officer is then the judge and jury. In the less affluent sections of town, this is a death sentence for that family to survive with the bail, then fines, then the mandatory counseling that they must pay for -- and all this for a misdemeanor. In the more affluent sections of town, it is a mere inconvenience to pay the bail and get back home.

Can you possibly say that any common person arrested for a domestic-violence incident could get his trial delayed because he is sometimes working out of town, as Mr. Astacio did? How about Mr. Roy? When will his trial be set? After the season is over?

These are the things that people look at when they see a domestic-violence incident happen to celebrities and then happen to themselves. For the common person, they see that they are railroaded into a lifetime of punishment for a misdemeanor -- a traffic ticket, if you will -- while the affluent get off and resume their normal lives.

Ken Brixius
Denver

Take your best shot: Many parts of Patricia Calhoun's "Skating on Thin Ice" caught my attention. The article continuously referred to women victims of domestic violence and had overtly anti-male stances. In reality, every study that has ever been done has shown that women and men in relationships batter each other in equal numbers. In fact, it took me less than a minute to find statistics on the Internet that applied specifically to Colorado. According to the National Family Violence Surveys, domestic violence by gender has occurred at equal rates as far back as 1972, the earliest statistics I found. Where are all the shelters and task forces and "post-traumatic stress" studies for men "locked into abusive relationships"?

The "body count" of the six dead women so far this year is certainly tragic. In fact, it exactly equals the number of men murdered by their spouses last year. Why did Patricia neglect to mention them?

If she really wants a "poster child for Domestic Violence Awareness Month," maybe she could consider Deidra Lane, the wife of Indianapolis Colts running back Fred Lane, who killed her husband with two shotgun blasts when he tried to leave her. Or would that conflict with her agenda to vilify all men and portray all women as victims?

Finally, the thought of a two-bit writer for a local free paper calling one of the greatest hockey players of all time a "zero" is laughable. It only encapsulates her complete lack of grasp of reality and her inflated opinion of her place in the world.

Name withheld on request

Patricia Calhoun replies: "Name withheld" needs to spend less time on the Internet and more reading that "local free paper." The statistic I cited was six women killed in Colorado in the past month.


Maximum Bob

We've only just begun: Regarding Alan Prendergast's October 19 "A Man of Convictions":

The former Dismas boardmembers accused by Bob Sylvester of "bringing him down" receive letters daily from prisoners who are grateful that this man has been removed from society forever. He not only destroyed the psyche of a number of prisoners, but he took away any hope of other prisoners getting to Dismas or any other program like it. No such program will ever again be allowed to exist in Colorado. Sylvester proclaims his innocence, which is the only front he has left to show his small group of supporters. Not one of them sat in the courtroom when the verdicts came in -- not one. As a founding boardmember of Dismas in 1990, I've found it painful to watch the destruction of so many lives and opportunities. The program conceived was one of compassion, love, reintegration and community. No one could testify to those aspects, because they no longer existed. Sylvester had every opportunity to testify; it was his decision to do so or not. He also had over a year from the indictments to prepare his defense and loudly prove his innocence. He certainly does understand the criminal mind, for it has been housed in his body for years. He is a master at RPM: rationalize [behavior], project [blame] and minimize. He had every opportunity to clear his name, but instead he chose to perpetuate the myth of his power, control and corruption. It would have ended sooner had he not been protected by a shield of people who also refused to see the truth. Fortunately, it is a small group. If Bob Sylvester believes that getting on the bus to Cañon City will end accusations against him, he may well want to reconsider issues still to be raised by many. It has only just begun.

Sandi Izor
Denver

Editor's note: On October 23, Bob Sylvester, convicted of sexually assaulting ex-convicts under his supervision at Dismas House, was sentenced to a maximum 288-year prison sentence.


Poll Faulting

Phony baloney: Floyd Ciruli and Paul Talmey tell Mike Roberts they "line up a representative sample of respondents" for their polls ("Survey Says," October 19). Nonsense. Their methodology virtually guarantees the sample will not be representative.

First, the sample is drawn from telephone books. Everyone with an unlisted or unpublished phone number is immediately excluded. Second, millions of people today have Caller ID and decline to answer calls from people they don't recognize. Or they let calls go to their answering machines to screen them. Pollsters don't identify themselves or leave messages on answering machines. So this substantial segment of the public is excluded from the sample. Third, there is a little secret Ciruli and Talmey didn't tell Mike: About 50 percent of the people they do reach refuse to answer the questions.

At the end of this process of elimination, the only people pollsters get responses from are those who are willing to answer any phone call and tell their innermost feelings to total strangers. Are such people truly a representative sample of all Americans?

The pollsters have been fooling us long enough. When will the media report the stories behind the polls instead of just the phony numbers the polls produce?

Tom Gibson
Golden


The Sound and the Furay

Pastor point of no return: More than a few years, careers and identities ago, I was the rock writer for the Rocky Mountain News (no "Denver" preface then; we knew where we were). As it happened, I shared a rental-car ride with Michael Roberts, who was relatively new to Westword at the time, during a break in the South by Southwest music confab in Austin. Roberts told me that one of his goals as the recently anointed music poobah at Westword was to (and I quote) "be the most hated music critic in Denver." "Yeah, fuck the music," I thought. "Might as well aim high." Roberts has, of course, long since attained his lofty goal and gone on to better things. So it was with no little apprehension that I picked up his October 19 "Pickin' Up the Pieces," his former Buffalo Springfield/Poco/Souther, Hillman, Furay member Richie Furay-becomes-a-pastor piece.

Not surprising that Westword was years -- hell, decades -- late in doing the story, long after every other newspaper in Boulder and Denver had chewed it over. And I expected another classic Roberts rip job, snarky asides about "Pastor Richie's" faith coupled with jabs at the (albeit limited) commercial appeal of Springfield and Poco.

But...gosh darn, Roberts did a heckuva fine job. Played it straight. Gave Richie his due and a little more in an excellent, fairly comprehensive piece with no apparent sarcasm, put-downs or cheap shots. The cliched term "pleasantly surprised" more than applies. Thank you, Michael.

Justin Mitchell
via the Internet


Blinded by Science

The heal thing: Eileen Welsome's article on the Church of the First Born, "Born to Believe," in the October 12 issue, gives the reader a compassionate picture of this group of Christian people. The article quotes me correctly that there is a great difference between this kind of faith healing and Christian Science, an idea that is often missed in articles about Christian healing. Thank you for that.

There are a few points in the piece that may leave an incorrect impression, however. Ms. Welsome refers to a study done on child deaths over a twenty-year period. The problem with the study is that it focuses on one narrow area only -- failures -- and it completely ignores the significant 130-year record of Christian Science successes, including many healings of conditions that the medical profession had given up on. Hundreds of scientific studies today show the beneficial linkage between prayer and healing. The study assumes the following: Conventional medical treatment is the only one that anyone should ever choose; any method of treatment other than conventional medicine ensures failure; since prayer or spiritual treatment is synonymous with failure, parents who choose healing by these methods have inherently made a decision for child neglect; and the Christian Science Church makes health-care decisions for its members.

In a way, Welsome's article poses a provocative "hindsight" question for all parents who have lost a child who was undergoing treatment: Would it have been better to have used another healing method instead of the one the parent chose? I have often wondered how many parents of the thousands of children who pass away each year in hospitals -- despite being given the best treatment by caring physicians -- might have saved, or at least benefited, their children by giving them prayerful treatment?

Robert Doughtie
Christian Science Committee on Publication for Colorado