Snap Judgments

Letters to the Editor

Film at ten: It was a tough chore to pick the most intestine-twisting bit in Patricia Calhoun's March 28 "Secret Agents" piece on Columbine. Was it the fact that the 3-D cartoons that make up the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department now have a network of stellar reps leaking sealed Columbine crime-scene photos? Was it the news that bottom-dwellers like the National Enquirer and friends are drooling down their double chins at the prospect of buying and disseminating said photos? Or maybe it was the anecdote about Calhoun witnessing some of her own fine colleagues "casually" passing around photos of a deceased Dylan Klebold like they were Garbage Pail Kids or really rare Topps cards. (But of course, that's okay as long as they're photos that will humiliate one of the "bad guys" and his family, and not one of the "good" victims, right?)

Anyone with a brain the size of Jeffco's last sad dollop of integrity knows that the sheriff's crew has a boatload of skeletons that badly need to come out of the closet. But photos showing anything about dead kids and a dead teacher have no business anywhere in the light of day. There are no rocks slimy enough for whoever's leaking the pictures -- and whoever's doing their damnedest to get them to the panting masses -- to crawl back under.

So a final message to the leakers, the tabloid scum and tap-dancing lawyers trying to buy and sell images of sickening death, the morbid gawkers and conspiracy freaks who no doubt are getting their rocks off at the thought of getting even a glimpse, and the upstanding Westword acquaintances nonchalantly circulating the Klebold family's worst nightmares: Think, really think, about the prospect of it being your kid in the photos. Or your sister. Your grandma. Your oldest, best buddy in the whole wide world.

Think about what a shitty thing it is to treat those pictures like everyone's entitled property. Like Exhibit A on The Jerry Springer Show. And yes, all defensive "the public has the right to see it all" hot air aside, you know how shitty it really is.

Joe Shell
via the Internet

Moving on: I am happy that so far, the Colorado Legislature is servicing the majority of the Columbine community and not members of the minority who continue to take their grief out on something that will never have "their" answers. It doesn't seem that we ever get a break when there is daily Columbine news. I have stopped reading those stories. As hard as it is, it is long past time to move on. I am getting on with my life with my family. Perhaps they will want to put their energies on electing a different sheriff.

Sue Cole

Heart of Stone: As the sheriff of Jefferson County waits for the court's decision over Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's "basement tapes," the expressed worry is about copycats. Will these sealed tapes entice, upon their release, other children to copy Eric and Dylan?

With the violent video games that many children have instant access to, I have trouble believing that impressionable children will find these basement tapes very interesting. "Childish and pathetic" would better describe them. I have seen the tapes. They are upsetting, but they do not make heroes out of the killers. They show them as cowardly and immature. There is nothing to copy, admire or emulate in these tapes.

I do agree that we should be worried about copycats -- but copycats of a different kind.

We should worry that other sheriffs will copy Sheriff Stone's shameful and embarrassing behavior. We should worry that other counties will conceal information from the public. We should worry that other district attorneys will hide from the truth and refuse to investigate criminal charges. We should worry that other principals will deny the existence of drugs and bullies at their schools. We should worry that other school districts will follow Jefferson County's example and selectively hide the truth from the public. We should worry that other legislators will copy the behavior of the legislators who voted 7-2 to deny an investigation. We should worry that other governors will stand by and watch while a great injustice such as this goes without a champion. We should worry that our children will copy the apathetic response of those citizens of Jefferson County and Colorado who failed to get involved in the fight for the truth.

And we can hope. We can hope that our children will copy the behaviors and courage and dignity of people like Brian Rohrbough, Dawn Anna, Mrs. Fleming, Mrs. Velasquez and the other brave families. People who have withstood the pain and lies and loss with such courage are worth copying.

Your children are not uninformed. They are painfully aware of the world around them. They learn by examining the world and the people they see, the cowardly and the courageous. Let's hope that they observed the pain and the horror that the two cowards named Eric and Dylan caused. Let's hope that they learned that this is never the path to follow.

Let's also hope that they learned, from the victims' families, about courage and strength in the face of corruption and cowardice. Let's hope they copy the courage they have seen from these families.

Randy Brown

What's My Byline?

The ball's in her court: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Journey's End," his March 28 Message:

I'd rather have a racquetball up my butt than a corncob, like Paula Woodward does. I think she's taking herself a little too seriously. The story didn't even deserve coverage. Is she going to start hanging out at the fraternities in Boulder looking out for vulgar behavior?

David Roos

Think Big

Billy, don't be a hero: First, let me say hats off to David Holthouse for the superb job he did with the story on John O'Brien and Billy Bob's Riverfront Saloon ("Charbroiled," March 21). John O'Brien is truly a "Big Ass," and he is long overdue to be kicked. The Arapahoe County probation department, DA James Wheeler and Judge Christopher Cross are long overdue for a good old-fashioned kicking as well, because all concerned have been made aware of John O'Brien's open warrants out of Riverside, California...and yet the Arapahoe County probation department, DA Wheeler and Judge Cross continue to allow John O'Brien to travel back and forth to California and have failed to alert that state's probation department of his presence there.

This says to me that Arapahoe County doesn't get it. Drunk drivers kill people! I get it because I've lost loved ones to these murdering menaces of society. David Holthouse gets it and is not afraid to use his bold, professional journalistic skills to take a stand against drunk drivers. Since the probation department, district attorney and judge still don't get it, maybe all you drunk drivers should go drive around in their neighborhoods. Perhaps you all can meet "by accident."

L. Harris

Heaven Can Wait

The same old song: I wish to share my thoughts regarding Almost Heaven: Songs and Stories of John Denver, at the Denver Center Theatre Company, and the continuation of Denver's legacy, which Jonathan Shikes featured in his March 21 Off Limits.

First, I commend Hall Thau for sharing Denver's life with us. Because of Thau's involvement with the Almost Heaven production and other activities he has done on behalf of Denver's legacy, many more people are becoming aware of the music and the message. I am grateful to see someone who knew John for many years deciding to continue to promote the music -- as well as share issues Denver was concerned about -- in such a creative manner that will reach so many.

Second, it is good to see so many worldwide with the interest to travel to Denver to view this play. As Shikes wrote, there is worldwide interest in the music and message of John Denver. As the author of the internationally popular book A Mountain in the Wind -- An Exploration of the Spirituality of John Denver, and as manager of the annual John Denver celebration held each October in Salida, attended by persons across America and worldwide (, I have been blessed to have individuals share with me incredible stories of how Denver's music touched their lives. Some communications are from parents who have lost a child, others from those who were suicidal, others from individuals suffering from cancer and other illnesses, and others who feel his example was responsible for choices they made in their lives to serve humanity...the common denominator being that it is John Denver's music that gave them strength and hope to carry on in the midst of sorrow and adversity, and to pursue their dreams.

I am so happy to see John Denver being remembered and honored as he deserves in his adopted home state of Colorado. His is a legacy that will endure through his music -- and through those who understood his message, that it is up to each of us to consciously choose to make this world a better place by the way we live our lives daily.

Christine Smith

Peak Performance

Sermon on the mount: Kyle Wagner's review of the one-of-a-kind restaurant in elevation 400 feet from Tennessee Pass, not far from the Camp Hale site of the Tenth Mountain Division, was articulate and interesting ("Stars Trek," March 21). The eatery seems to be one for gourmet patrons as well as those with broken-in snowshoes.

As always, Kyle's specific and detailed appraisal of the individual dishes and their presentation, along with her responses to them, was most absorbing, particularly to the average sedentary restaurant-goer who parks as close as possible to the front door. She described the components of this restaurant experience with embellishments and asides that make it irresistible.

Equally impressive in the above-mentioned review is her knowledge of Doug Scott's ordeal to survive on the Ogre so many years ago. Few, if any, gourmands know about it; even some old salty mountaineers are unaware of his superhuman efforts in crawling back to civilization and reality.

Keep up the surprises.

Tom Jenkins


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