School daze: Is it really a wonder? In regard to Alan Prendergast's "Back to School," the shockingly tragic, but stunningly true, article on the Columbine massacre published in the October 25 issue, I have but a few things to say.
I may be young, but I hardly consider myself too naive to realize that in this day and age, the most unlikely of things that happen aren't impossible in the least. America's problem is its false sense of security. That could partly explain the looks and feelings of total amazement reverberating throughout our nation every time a tragedy such as Columbine, or the more recent NYC bombings, occurs. The statement "Who'da thought?" seems to be flying from the lips of those who live in a state of utter bliss, denying the thought that America does indeed have a sore spot. I hate to say it, but if we haven't awakened ourselves enough to see it coming, we're doomed.
Columbine was indeed a tragedy, a horrendous one. What else can you expect from a group of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing? The "officials" were far from prepared, and the basic instinct to cover your ass and hide what will eventually prove you heinously guilty is all too strong to ignore. Unfortunately, I feel mistakes are becoming more and more habitual for America's authorities. Take, for instance, the type of evidence that should have directed American intelligence's focus to what would ultimately happen almost two months prior to today, on September 11.
Is it really a wonder that America continues, time and time again, to reel in shock and pain? Prendergast's article is a case synopsis, as far as I'm concerned. How long will it take before the people we trust with our safety can lay down the truth?
Autumn St. Martin
Ghost of a chance: As a former Denver resident, touched like everyone in the area by the Columbine tragedy, I read with interest Alan Prendergast's latest piece on the story. I must say, I was put off by the unnecessary hyperbole of the article, however. It seemed that Alan's main agenda was to shake up a community that has already been through quite enough. To address the discrepancies and distortions I personally noted:
1. The terrible events of April 20, 1999, were not orchestrated by preternatural instruments of evil. They were orchestrated by two sick children in need of help -- children who chose a gruesomely horrible way of expressing their pain, but children anyway. To compare them or their motivations in any serious manner to the terrorists responsible for the September 11 disaster is ludicrous.
2. The small handful of Columbine victims' parents who continue to publicly "demand answers" are not being told to "get over it" because anyone wishes to deny them their grief or their right to understand what happened to their children. Rather, they are being viewed in a decreasingly sympathetic light because of the growing mean-spiritedness and rabidity evident in their pile of lawsuits and nasty accusations, targeting everyone from video-game manufacturers to the gunmen's beleaguered parents to the makers of the antidepressant that Eric Harris happened to be taking at the time of the rampage. No amount of public vengeance and pocket money is going to bring back their children, nor are their tactics going to cause anything besides further pain and suffering.
3. There is a difference between forgetting an event like Columbine and moving on. The more we stoop to half-baked conspiracy theories and smear campaigns, the more we poke and prod at the ashes of a terrible tragedy, and the more we reinflict wounds that are slowly starting to heal.
If Alan Prendergast or anyone else affected by Columbine honestly wants to make a difference and ensure that those children did not die in vain, here are some suggestions: Be more active in your community. Support the Colorado Anti-Bullying Program or start one in your area. Mentor a troubled teen. Be a better educator. Be a better parent. Be a better friend.
Concentrate on bringing about positive change, not stirring up ghosts in the grave through overly dramatic revisitation of an incident that none of us will ever really understand...no matter how much we continue to dwell on it.
William David Erwein
On the home front: Thanks for another great article in your series on the Columbine murders. I have no argument with Prendergast's conclusions, but I do question the lack of critical attention that has been pointed at Harris's and Klebold's parents. Is there a particular reason that this has generally been the case, regardless of the media outlet? This is not intended to be a criticism, but a question.
Lies and whispers: In the October 25 issue, you feature yet another article ranting about the coverups and misinformation fed to the media/public following Columbine. Yet you blatantly ignore the primary coverup and the reason for all the later attempts at deception: the fact that there were at least four gunmen involved.
This is not paranoid B.S. It is covered completely and thoughtfully in the new publication, You Are Being Lied To, edited by Russ Kick and available from disinfo.com. The essay on Columbine is called "Anatomy of a School Shooting," by David McGowan. I suggest you check it out before contemplating further Columbine articles.
Editor's note: You're being lied to, all right. Despite armchair speculation and kooky conspiracy theories generated by conflicting eyewitness accounts, there is no physical evidence that anyone other than Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold participated in the attack on Columbine. Call us crazy, but we don't think the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has managed to cover up a third (let alone a fourth) gunman.
Belly up: Sorry, but I am one person who won't be disappointed if Colorado's Ocean Journey goes belly up (Julie Jargon's "A Daunted House," October 25). They have killed thousands of fish while stealing them from the ocean and have had several die because of poor treatment. They think it's okay to remove sea life from its natural habitat so that they can put it on display in an artificial environment and make a buck. I hope they go broke.
via the Internet
High hopes: It seems to me that the main reason Ocean Journey has failed is that it is strictly a moneymaking proposition, not an aquarium that exists for education and research purposes, as the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago does. When you try to be a Disneyland-type facility, you fail on many counts. And, as my husband who is a marine biologist, noted when Ocean Journey's opening was imminent, "Ocean fish at altitude -- what a concept!"
Conform follows function: I would not live in Highlands Ranch. I am not at ease in such places. But I marveled at the vitriolic attacks in the November 1 issue written by several readers in response to James Hibberd's October 18 article, "Clone Sweet Clone." At worst, the attacks might be classified as hate speech under an anti-hate law; at best, they would be politically incorrect if leveled at a "protected" group.
What your letter writers fail to grasp is how essential to their own mental health are Highlands Ranch and its ilk. Without them, how could those complainers measure the magnitude of their nonconformity and maintain their sense of superiority?
My experience is that self-proclaimed nonconformists tend to be as conforming in their own way as are those against whom they rail. True nonconformists tend not to be aware they are not conforming, because the matter is not relevant to them.
A public service: Michael Roberts's October 18 Message about payola, "Playola," was very interesting indeed. One grave omission on his part, though: public radio. Listener-supported radio offers the choices that no other commercial radio station does or can. There is no big company pushing any music. In fact, many local bands across the nation get airplay on their local listener-sponsored radio stations. For ten years, I programmed a blues show on public radio, and not once did any company, or anyone, ever try to tell me what to play. That rang true for the jazz- and album-oriented time slots as well.
You owe your readers the service of exposing them to the option, if they don't know of it already.
via the Internet
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Quiet in church: In your October 18 issue, a misinformed letter-writer attributed a misleading statement about starting a religion to L. Ron Hubbard. This statement was actually made by George Orwell in 1938. You can read this in a 1968 collection of Orwell's work called An Age Like This, 1920-1940. It's understandable that this is an obscure, though true, reference.
It is not so understandable that you would print such outrageous rumors about L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. At a time when most are realizing that we must work together to recover from the severe shock of terrorist attacks, you are using false statements that promote religious intolerance. The Chuch of Scientology has been in the forefront of recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Hundreds of volunteer ministers have been deployed to New York since September 11. They have been working side by side with government and civil relief agencies providing practical assistance to people who suffered from stress, loss of a loved one and pain.
Your attempt to create controversy and intolerance in the midst of this tragedy is unacceptable. There are thousands of people of good will united to alleviate suffering and confusion. What is needed is tolerance and understanding of others and a deep respect for all religions.
Reverend Patty Allread
Church of Scientology of Colorado