Fuelish Behavior

Letters to the Editor

Do you need a hug? I generally flip through Westword to see how much it can annoy me. The need for bad puns in 80 percent of the headlines and the uncanny and self-serving ability to stretch minimally interesting topics into novelette lengths (topics that often could be covered in a column) usually do a pretty good job of getting on my nerves enough for me to keep reading, but never before to write.

The August 29 Worst-Case Scenario, however, inspired me to take pen to paper, or rather keyboard to screen. Kenny Be's cartoon is typically liberal drivel, but the sarcasm is at least generally based on some level of reality. "Prix for All," however, approaches irresponsibility. For the record, I am not particularly a car-racing fan and did not go to the Grand Prix. That said, the assumptions behind the sarcasm of the cartoon are completely off-base. First off, the demographic of open-wheel racing is conspicuously upper middle class, unlike NASCAR, which draws more of the overweight, tube-top-wearing beer drinkers depicted in the strip. More important, the IRL and CART cars run on methane-based fuel, a clean-burning fuel readily available domestically. So when your artist drives to Boulder to his "arms are for hugging" meeting, he is having a greater impact on our overseas petroleum dependencies than all the cars in the Denver Grand Prix combined.

Finally, the connection between the sponsors of the cars and the president's position on Iraq is beyond any reasonable reader, and typical of Kenny's feeble attempts to tie Bush to any and all issues he has a distaste for.

Chris Hotz
Greenwood Village

An Unhealthy Situation

Sick transit gloria: How sick is the media in this town when the only intelligent look at Bill Owens's new running mate comes in a cartoon?

Kenny Be's August 22 Worst-Case Scenario, "The Ironic Woman," did an impressive job of connecting the dots between the Republican Party's favorite donor, Trish Nagel, and her work picking Jane Norton as director of the state health department, a position responsible for overseeing Nagel's own nursing homes (as Westword has pointed out before).

I hope Owens isn't planning on making health care an important part of his platform.

Jay Simons
via the Internet

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Just saw a photo of Democratic congresswoman Diana DeGette, and oh, girl, do you need a makeover! Quick! Call an Emergency Color Technician and rescue poor Di from all that beige! And what is with that Pat Schroeder hair? Hello? 1972 is over. Find a Great Clips, hon!

I'm really not trying to give the young, feminist, liberal Westword intern who first opened this letter a coronary. I'm making the point here that it's standard operating procedure in the media to attack conservative women for their looks rather than the merits of their positions or even the content of their character, and here's the creative Kenny Be, mooing right along with the herd in "The Ironic Woman." His nasty shots at the physical appearance of Governor Owens's pick for a running mate would be funny if he were slamming Jane Norton for her sociopolitical stances, or for some peccadillo, or for anything of any substance. But no, the biggest thing Kenny can find to bang on this woman for is her looks?

All over Denver and the Web, liberals and feminists who'd sooner shear their Susan Faludi fright wigs with a Weedwacker than slam a liberal woman for anything (see Clinton, Hillary, whitewashed) are rolling on the floors of their foundation and university offices at Be's mean-spirited denigration. Curiously, it's okay for lefties and feminists to engage in this sort of sickening sexism while hissing out of the other sides of their mouths that it's conservatives who are guilty of the ugliness of attacking people for how they look (see King, Dr. Martin Luther, Jr.).

But we know the truth. As the liberal Kenny Be has so aptly, uh, illustrated.

JM Schell

Parent Trapped

Child's prey: I just wanted to let you know how great Julie Jargon's August 22 "Alienation Nation" was. My childhood was spent being dragged through a ten-year bitter divorce between my parents, and they constantly used me as a weapon against each other. I'm not sure how I survived it all, but I know my future children will never be treated like that, and hopefully, my husband and I will never see that side of the world. To this day, my father cannot handle me in his life, even after my mother has passed away. His bitterness toward her is still prevalent, and it is truly pathetic for a seventy-year-old man to not "get over it."

I was happy to hear of more "mediators" getting involved with families. In bitter divorces, it's a sad fact that the parents become the children and the children become the adults.

S. Gahn
via the Internet

Condemned to hard time: I cried when I read Julie Jargon's "Alienation Nation." I want to thank you for it, just in terms of bringing this into public awareness. It is too late for my daughter and me; I gave her up for adoption two years ago. Much of the problem is the professionals who deal in this: the lawyers, therapists, counselors, etc. They are making a killing in this "industry." I had to find out the hard way.

For your future reference, the two sources that helped me the most, even though for me it ended in failure because of logistical circumstances, were a few visits with Mitchell Baris (Carla Garrity's writing partner) and a book titled Joint Custody With a Jerk, by Ross and Corcoran. They were the ones who finally helped me let her go, as she was being destroyed in this process. They were the ones who helped me understand that we essentially never had a chance. My ex had ended the marriage in 1993 when my daughter was one and a half and quickly moved her boyfriend in. Then came the alienation. It went on for six years before I finally got myself educated in it. By then it was too late.

I hope you get some credit for your work, as our culture is not ready to deal with this issue at all.

Name withheld on request

Attorney privilege: I read Julie Jargon's parental-alienation syndrome article with much interest. My own 1988 divorce and custody issues utilized a few of the "experts" mentioned in "Alienation Nation." It is painful to think that the "system" -- aware of such issues at that time -- has not improved at all. Fortunately, we learned from our mistakes rather than let the system provide us help.

The lack of appropriate solutions, as well as a significant part of the "parental alienation" problem, is fueled by and capitalized on by Denver's litigious/combat-oriented divorce lawyers. Lawyers just write more letters to opposing counsel justifying their clients' alienating behavior; they write more letters to experts trying to find an opinion like their own; they cause more useless reports to be written and reviewed (that's lots of bucks) --with no attention to the body count, nor the best interest of the child.

What the system needs as well is a mandated provision for "behavior" counselors for attorneys involved in alienation/highly contested cases.

Christine A. Gavlick
via the Internet

Standards-bearer: Managed care came out of a belief that there was a need to rein in the medical profession, including the mental-health practitioners, and become more results-oriented and cost-effective. Authors of the book Working With High-Conflict Families of Divorce report that they started experimenting with the parent-coordinator role when the managed-care money for mental-health providers was disappearing. Managed care found unsubstantiated outcomes for clients of mental-health providers.

A system of checks and balances is sorely lacking for Colorado's "child advocate" roles. The special-advocate role is in statute and serves much the same purpose as the parent-coordinator role discussed in Julie Jargon's article. Why not address the confusion, lack of oversight and lack of accountability for the special-advocate role with legislation rather than create yet another "child advocate" role?

Policy groups developing guidelines and plans are espousing increased flexibility and multifaceted responsibilities for "child advocates," such as parent coordinators and special advocates. Policies, plans and guidelines, while well-intentioned, are not measurable or enforceable and do not guarantee a consistent standard of practice. What is needed is a clear set of rules and standards for all persons practicing in these "child advocate" roles.

Working With High-Conflict Families of Divorce has many sensible suggestions that could be used to operationalize and define measures of effective practices for the special advocate. Without built-in measures for program evaluation and continual monitoring of the process, the parent-coordinator role is yet another ill-conceived and potentially harmful "child advocate" role for family courts.

Name withheld on request

Divorced from reality: I just finished reading Julie Jargon's article in Westword, and I am bowled over with emotion and anger. I have not seen my son, who is now twelve, for three and a half years. This time has been one of extreme suffering for me, and I have thought of taking my life many times.

The thought of not seeing your own child that you bore and love is unbearable. I was in an emotional and unbelievably mentally abusive marriage. My ex started sleeping with our son when he was two -- as soon as he came out of the crib. We lived in a small town in Colorado; my husband was related to most of the townfolk. My family lived back in the eastern U.S.

I divorced when our son was old enough to use the telephone and the abuse had become unbearable. I was full of so much fear at leaving my husband that I could hardly breathe. I got a restraining order against him and lived in a "safehouse" for several months. I had a court-ordered child-custody eval that stated I should have full custody and that the father needed psych help and every-other-weekend visitation. My ex hired a $15,000 custody eval that said the exact opposite. I was broke and had nothing to fight the system with, financially or emotionally. He kept me in court at every opportunity, and my son testified that he "feared" me and wanted to be only with his father and their family.

Well, a lot of time has passed. My mother sends cards to my son at Christmas and on his birthday with checks that never get cashed. My sister and her family pass through Colorado every year or two; my ex screens all phone calls, and my sister and her family are excluded from my son's life. I am nonexistent, and my name and/or presence is not allowed physically or mentally in my son's life.

I am glad that I have your article. I thought I was in a very small minority and had not heard of this "alienation" concept, but I live and know it well. I only hope and pray to see my son's beautiful sunshine face someday soon! I never thought this kind of suffering and injustice could happen to me.

Name withheld on request

Hunt for the Truth

Oh, deer: George Seldes said, "Right or wrong, the present writer holds to his belief that in a nation and in a world where the means of mass communication are honest and free, when they function for the general welfare instead of private profits, there will be progress, because nothing will stop the march of an informed people!" Now we have a problem between two alternative papers in Colorado, specifically, which has added the most to "the march of an informed people." You see, while Westword was running Eric Dexheimer's August 29 column titled "Scattershot Logic," northern Colorado's Rocky Mountain Bullhorn was running an article titled "Who's to Blame for Mad Deer?"

I have a request of Westword editor Patricia Calhoun! Here is the URL of the Bullhorn article on the subject: www.rockymountainbullhorn.com/cover.html. She, of course, knows the URL of the article Westword posted -- oddly enough in the Sports section instead of under Business, where it seems to belong, since it seems to be the total logic of Governor Bill Owens's agriculture department. Been out dating agricultural interests lately, Patty?

I hope Westword will post the two URLs so that readers can ascertain which independent rag has contributed better to "the march of an informed people" on this very important subject.

Donald L. Ferry

Shut your trap: I was visiting from Germany for a few days and happened on Eric Dexheimer's "Scattershot Logic." He is so right: Killing game farm animals has nothing to do with hunting. Anyone who claims that it does is either stupid or has an agenda and is using game farming as an argument against hunting.

I don't know about Colorado, but Germany, where I have been living and hunting for thirty years, has very specific rules how game animals that are kept in enclosures to be raised for food are dispatched into the next life. It is strictly forbidden to take them to a slaughterhouse or to even manhandle them in any way. If they have to be moved, they must first be sedated. The only legal way to kill them is by rifle in their normal habitat -- that is, the enclosure where they have lived all or most of their life. Anything else is considered unnecessary cruelty. The shooter is not a hunter; he takes the place of the butcher. That's all. However, the shooter also must have a hunting license, because he is killing animals that fall under the hunting laws. The lawmaker hasn't yet caught up with reality!

Opponents of hunting have a case when they campaign against hunting farms, where trophy animals are raised to be shot as if they are on a rifle range; that kind of hunting is an abomination and deserves to be criticized. I don't just mean bison, wapiti and various African species, but also pen-raised pheasants that have to be tickled in order to fly so that they can be shot.

Reinhard Schumann
via the Internet


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