Letters to the Editor
Waste-watchers: Douglas Bruce is my hero! He should run for governor of Colorado. Alan Prendergast's "Vendetta," in the May 16 issue, was a perfect example of useless, blood-sucking government bureaucrats (about half of the government's employees), so-called public servants who really have nothing better to do than waste taxpayer money.
The story also pointed out something many Coloradans already know, which is that only the worst lawyers become judges in this state. Shit floats, especially when it comes to law enforcement and our judicial system.
Playing by the rules: Property-rights absolutists like Douglas Bruce have a tendency to test the limits of civil society. If their rights to do anything (or in Bruce's case, nothing) on their property are inviolable, then the neighbors usually pay the price. Libertarian ideologues who contend their freedoms to be absolute need to understand just how fragile a construct civilization is. Tolerance for anything ultimately results in intolerable cities. When the rules are clear and explainable, we all benefit.
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Writing wrongs: I've met Douglas Bruce. He is an asshole -- but that is not unlawful. His story sounds true to me: The city and public employees did him wrong. Thanks for the exposé, but I'll bet nothing changes.
Advocacy journalism: Thanks for "Speak and Be Heard," Julie Jargon's article in the May 9 issue about special-needs students and advocacy.
Our family has been dealing with this issue of advocacy for our son for almost ten years. As Jargon's article presented, it is very difficult to implement self-advocacy, especially when administrators and teachers don't follow the legal paperwork, IEP or 504 plan to begin with. Our teachers are familiar with the needs of our son, but on a daily basis, someone neglects to follow his plan. I have indicated to teachers that my son cannot design or dictate curriculum. If they followed the "law," there would be less need for conversation about it. To remain successful, stay on grade level and maintain a shred of self-esteem, a student needs someone to advocate with him -- and that usually means the parent(s).
Information, please: Inform us! As an educator, I need as much information as possible to assess the needs of individual students. The L.E.A.D. concept is interesting; I think a lot of us attempt some forms of this approach.
I have a master's in bilingual special education, have been working with "at-risk" students through a suspension and expulsion program, and needed to look at some of the factors as to why students were being referred for suspension. Students with behavior problems are well-represented by special ed; my approach is to help them understand what is causing this and help them work with their teachers in developing a workable plan.
Thanks for the information. I hope to see a followup sometime!
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Shutting down the marketplace: I'm writing because numerous events of late -- the departures under pressure of reporter Holger Jensen and talk-show host Reggie Rivers (Michael Roberts's "Three the Hard Way," May 16); the theft of that sophomoric piece of art from the Boulder Public Library; the replacement of Rivers with a DJ who has apparently been carefully instructed not to address any meaningful controversy; hate mail to mosques and vandalism of other religious institutions; picketing neighborhoods of doctors who perform abortions; the increasing use of the dismissive phrase "You just don't get it" in place of meaningful debate -- all seem part of a disturbing trend to bypass the "marketplace of ideas" and instead viciously attack the reputation, livelihood, family and community of any person daring to voice opinions with which we disagree.
I didn't agree with some of Jensen's positions and conclusions; in particular, I thought he was sometimes totally wrong and way too harsh on Israel. Likewise, I sometimes found Reggie Rivers to be infuriating -- almost as much so in his own way as Rush Limbaugh, who infuriates me for completely different reasons. But if I'd felt strongly enough about it, I could have written a letter or article rebutting Jensen, or I could have called Reggie or Rush to argue against their positions. That would have been the fair and honorable thing to do. What Jensen's and Rivers's opponents did -- and how their employers responded -- was just plain cowardly.
For anyone who believes in free speech and is truly confident about his or her own beliefs and opinions, the obvious way to respond to articles and statements that we think are wrong is to respond with articles and statements of our own, not to pull strings behind the scenes to get someone fired, not to vandalize their homes or houses of worship, not to steal their artwork on display, not to harass their neighbors, and not to try to shut them up through personal intimidation or insults. Remember what the Nazis, Stalin and Mao and the Taliban did to anyone with differing opinions? For God's sake, let's get ahold of ourselves before we stoop all the way to their level and lose our most cherished possession: our freedom.
It's a shame that those who felt that Jensen's "facts were not accurate" didn't simply write their own articles in which, presumably, they could easily have exposed his mistakes. It's an even bigger shame that when they went behind Jensen's back to try to get him fired, Rocky Mountain News publisher John Temple apparently didn't have the guts and integrity to tell them to do so. Instead, feeble protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, it's obvious that Temple bowed to pressure and forced or enticed Jensen into "resigning." As a result, Denver has lost its best local writer by far on international affairs. Will the News fill his post with the print version of Scott Redmond? (Chuck Green, maybe?)
The only reason I'm asking Westword to withhold my name from this letter is that given these current intolerant trends, I don't want my wife and child to pay for me expressing my personal opinions. I don't want to be given hateful labels by people who don't know the slightest thing about me. (Don't you dare call me an anti-Semite: My grandfather nearly died in a Nazi prison camp after helping Jewish families escape from occupied territory in World War II.) If you disagree with my opinions, don't be a cowardly bully: Don't egg my house, scream at me, frighten my family or complain to my boss. Instead, have the courage of your convictions, use our hard-earned freedoms, and write your own damned letter to Westword.
Name withheld on request
No freedom of the press: Thank you for printing more information on what happened to Mr. Holger Jensen of the Rocky Mountain News. Being a Tibetan refugee and growing up in Kathmandu, Nepal, I always like news of the world instead of the sports and gossip found in the Denver papers. Coming from oppression, I can understand the oppression of the Palestinian people and why they had suicide bombers to fight against the American F-16, tanks and missiles. It is sad that on both sides, innocent people were killed.
I thought in America you had freedom of the press, but in reality you do not, for powerful forces control the press, radio and TV.
It is sad that the American people cannot hear both sides of an issue, but the news is very biased. In Nepal, the Mao communists are really the good guys, as they will get rid of the evil government. Never mind that no tourists come and the economy is very bad and people are starving. In China, they took over Tibet in 1959, and the Tibetans are shown as happy with their new rulers. Never mind those who risk death to escape over the Himalayan mountains at 17,000 feet in the cold, in tennis shoes, and the many who freeze and die; the Chinese government is our friend and can do no wrong. Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton talked of human rights, but the message was lost in a glass of Scotch.
Yes, I will miss Holger Jensen and his objectivity on events in the Middle East, but I'm more concerned by the lack of freedom of the press in the Denver newspapers. I am most sorry that the editor, John Temple, compromised his integrity and dismissed Mr. Jensen. A sad day for objective news in Denver and the U.S.A.
Palden Yangtso Hester
The sorrow and the PETA: After reading Heather Moore's letter in the May 9 Westword, which was filled with PETA rhetoric and her idealistic viewpoint regarding animals, I was left with a nagging question: What planet is she from? I thought about it for a while and then it hit me. The Disney planet!
Maybe she could catch an intergalactic taxicab home. Maybe Barney and Mickey and Goofy could ride along. They could sing songs...
Name that tune! Robin Chotzinoff talked about one of my favorite subjects in her May 9 "Muzak to My Ears." I can still vividly remember being in the Loveland Safeway about eleven years ago and hearing "Wild, Wild Life," by the Talking Heads, followed by a wonderful rendition of "Superstition," by Stevie Wonder (missing the classic synth-bass intro, of course -- wouldn't want to get a shopper's blood moving). I almost waited to see if they'd co-opted Elvis Costello's "Radio, Radio," too.
That was then; it is nice to be able hear real live tunes now. Just last week in King Soopers, I heard "I know what happens/I read the book/I believe I just got the goodbye look..." (Donald Fagen writes the best songs based on upcoming violent deaths.) While a catchy tune, I wonder if anyone actually listens to the lyrics.
And just yesterday, shopping with my wife and daughter at the Gap, I was amazed at how loud and how indistinctively bad the background music was -- although not as bad as the fake French pop at the Limited Express (which has probably shortened my teeth by almost an eighth of an inch because of the gnashing and grinding it caused). It was refreshing to end up at the Great Harvest bread store and hear "Wang Dang Doodle" being belted out by Koko Taylor. (My wife and I had just finished discussing how bad the music we had to listen to at the stores had been.) I couldn't remember who did the song, so I asked. I was hoping it was a collection to prime people for the upcoming Blues & Bones Festival, but no. They got the CD sampler corporate sends to play there and let me see it: good collection, wish I had it.
Anyhow, enough. Chotzinoff should just keep writing slice-of-life columns. I really enjoy them.
Cut! Regarding Michael Roberts's "Dead Lines," in the April 18 issue:
I wrote my obituary today.
No, I'm not facing a life-threatening illness, nor am I a Type A, always planning ahead.
It's the most recent exhibition of greed by the Post/News and their lack of understanding of what their readers consider newsworthy that has precipitated this exercise.
As a reader of first, the front page; next, the letters to the editor; third, the obituaries (no doubt thanks to my Irish heritage); and, finally, the rest of the paper, I saw their April 2 announcement about charging for death notices and wondered, "How much will my obituary cost my family? And am I worth it?"
So I drafted a bare-bones version of my life and then figured the approximate cost. It came to $416, no doubt plus tax. (And is that $416 per Denver newspaper?) Too costly, must trim.
Okay, let's get started. "Born October 17, 1943." Shorten that one: "1943." Ah, that's better. I can feel the savings.
It would be nice to include my birth name or the given names of my parents, seeing as they had something to do with my existence. But, no, too expensive. Ax Mom and Dad.
Schools attended. Can't do both. Luckily, Avila College is only two words, while Michigan State University is three. The catch? Hardly anyone has heard of Avila, absolutely no one knows it's in Kansas City, and of course no one remembers that Kansas City is in Missouri. Oh, my, the meter is ticking. Forget my education.
Go on to what I've done with my life. Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; Sexual Assault Information Network of Michigan; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Denver Chapter. I see a pattern here. Subconsciously, I've been drawn to organization with long names. No Qwest for me.
Next, marriage. Well, finally, a break! My husband is still alive, so no need for "He preceded her in death" and all the charges those words entail. Children next. Downside: four of them, each in a different city. Upside: short first names and sons with same last name. (Note to daughter: Yet another reason you should have kept your maiden name.)
Grandchildren? Yes, two, but each has a seven-letter first name and different last names.
Let's see, what else? Other survivors? Far too many siblings to list, especially as they live in separate places.
But here's an unexpected plus. I didn't die at a hospital -- the HMO denied coverage -- so good savings there. No church, funeral home or cemetery for me, either. Just burn me up and use me for compost.
Tally results. Life summary that gives a feel for who I was and how I spent my years -- out of my league financially. Condensed, affordable version, as follows: "Judy Trompeter, 1943-2002."
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