Trace evidence: I really enjoyed Eric Dexheimer's "Without a Trace," in the November 14 issue. As I feel the pressures of the holiday season building, I think I can understand why someone like Terry Johnson might want to disappear. I wouldn't run away myself, but I think I can understand.
I know it can't be very comforting to his family and loved ones to think that he might have run away, but it has to be better than thinking he's dead.
via the Internet
You must remember this: I just read Eric Dexheimer's "Without a Trace." Has anyone considered the possibility that Terry entered what is known as a "fugue" state? This is a mental condition in which the "victim" suddenly becomes amnesic. It is like waking up in a strange place, not knowing your name, age, family, anything. Think the new series John Doe -- without the savant aspect.
Granted, you would think that they would just look at their license plate (if they remember they have a car) or their driver's license. But who's to say what one would do in that circumstance? Just a thought. (P.S.: Sorry, but I haven't seen him.)
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The great pretenders: What happened to Naim Amini is a tragic example of why public defenders should be renamed "public pretenders." They are a guaranteed conviction to anyone unable to afford private counsel. I am just happy to see that your paper chose to expose this gross miscarriage of justice. It's a public injustice!
One thing should be clear to anyone who reads David Holthouse's "Trials and Tribulations," in the November 21 issue: At trial, our public defenders are completely incapable of going the distance to acquittal. Their standard practice is to first waive the defendant's preliminary hearing and right to trial, and then convince the defendant to take a plea bargain. Regardless of guilt, innocence or outrageous constitutional violations (crimes in and of themselves), the public pretenders system compromises each and every defendant's right to a fair trial. Each assistant DA knows all too well that he or she can defeat any public defender at trial, because most have absolutely no trial experience, having copped pleas in every case on their docket.
It was Mr. Cole's job to ensure that his client had a translator fluent in both English and Dari. It was his job to cross-examine the victim as to the inconsistencies between her statements to police and trial testimony. It was his job to present some defense, including calling witnesses and properly conferring with and advising his client on whether or not to testify on his own behalf.
Mr. Cole's representation was a gross violation of Naim Amini's Sixth Amendment right to counsel. It was also the standard representation offered by the public defender's office. If one area in government is in vital need of reform, it is the sham and public embarrassment of justice known as the "public pretenders" system.
Open to interpretation: With no public understanding of the profession and no existing regulations, even the best court interpreter is left open to defamation.
Denver County Court
Fair warning: In the November 28 issue, Janice Hampton writes that "it won't be too long before all of us...are denied our right to a fair trial."
She obviously has not dealt with the courts and legal community much, or she would know that "before too long" is already here, and has been for quite a while. "Rights" are an illusion.
via the Internet
Slop talk: Excellent work on the Amini article: David Holthouse did our community a great service by exposing the matter to public scrutiny. Westword has consistently impressed me with the quality of its journalism -- a rare and greatly appreciated island of competence in a sea of otherwise ideological slop.
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Blind justice: How do we help this man and his family? This story about the Aminis tears my heart out. Justice has closed her eyes -- how do we prevent her death altogether in this instance?
David Holthouse replies: Naim Amini's fate now lies in the hands of Colorado Court of Appeals judges Dennis Graham, Jose Marquez and Charles Pierce, who heard oral arguments in Amini's appeal and questioned attorneys for both sides during a half-hour hearing on December 3. After the hearing, Paul Grant, Amini's lawyer, said he expected the appellate judges to issue their ruling sometime over the next two to six months, a standard time span. If Amini loses this first appeal, Grant added, he'll take the case to the Colorado Supreme Court and then, if necessary, into the federal court system.
What would Jesus do? Regarding Harrison Fletcher's "The Misfits," in the November 28 issue:
Doyle Robinson is absolutely right. Jesus said to minister to people in need -- including the lowest members of society, as Jesus himself did. Too bad most Christians are not Christlike. They ignore the instructions of Jesus that have to do with treating others with kindness and compassion. I am not a Christian, but you do not have to be a Christian to see the value in the words of Jesus that advocate treating others decently. Jesus said: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40; read Matthew 25:31-46). It's nice to see a Christian actually dealing with others as Jesus instructs -- with kindness and decency.
As for the fact that "one church group recently withdrew its funding because it decided Doyle's "'parishioners' weren't doing enough to support his ministry financially": What do people think -- that the church is supposed to make a profit? That's why they call them nonprofits, and that's why the citizens pay their taxes for them -- supposedly so that they can do just the kind of work that Doyle and his people are doing.
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Support Sox: Thank you for the excellent article about Sox Place. Is there an address I can send a check to, in support of Sox Place?
Jesus weekly? Christian missionaries in Skyline Park. Christian dormitories in a residential neighborhood. "Biblically correct" tours of educational and historical institutions. Christian bikers. It strikes me as curious that over recent months, there have been so many articles with Christianity playing a large part in the stories. There were two such articles in the November 28 issue: Harrison Fletcher's "The Misfits" and David Holthouse's "Houses of God." I enjoyed both pieces, but why the sudden interest in all things Christian? Perhaps you could bring back "Jesus of the Week" to satisfy the craving.
Sleaze and thank you: Has Westword suddenly found religion? For a few weeks there, the responses to David Holthouse's October 17 "Book, Chapter and Verse" made reading your Letters section like sitting through Sunday school. And then we got Julie Jargon's "Heaven on Wheels," in the November 7 issue, about religious bikers, for crissakes!
Where's the government corruption, the prostitutes on Colfax, the usual Westword fare? More sleaze, please.
Editor's note: No, Westword writers haven't become a bunch of holy rollovers. The recent spate of religion-related features is a coincidence, not a conspiracy. (But wait! Is that Jesus's face appearing on the breakfast burrito before me?) O'Ryan Martin-Renaissance can take heart in the fact that "Jesus of the Week" is alive and well (and still a frequent offender) on our Web site, www.westword.com. For Paul Merrill and others moved by Harrison Fletcher's story on Doyle Robinson, donations can be made to Sox Place, 2017 Lawrence Street, Denver, CO 80202 (303-296-3443). And finally, we're closing the book on David Holthouse's "Book, Chapter and Verse" with a trio of letters at the end of this page.
Panty raid: I find myself in the perplexing predicament of writing a letter that might actually defend (gasp!) that scoundrel Michael Roberts. His November 21 "Old at Heart" was not a particularly earth-shattering piece. (Was the pitch line that the media doesn't speak to youth? Duh. I mean, tell me something I don't know, Mikey.)
I'm not sure what Mr. Roberts said that got granny's panties in such a tightly wound wad -- but the letters that followed in the November 28 issue were unbelievably ageist, inane and frightening.
JM Schell: Are you steppin' up to me, Dad? You want a piece of me and my friends, or what? I can't figure out if Mr. Schell's comments about the younger generation's "lack of brain work," "wild abandonment" and the classic (if dated) "young and dumb and fulla cum" are due to his own sexual inadequacies, or if he is simply lashing out at his transparent fear of death. He correctly states that "Britanni and Courtni got picked up at a club" should not ever make the nightly news -- so when the young impish Bush daughters got busted with booze or the previous president got a blow job under his desk, why did every major news source find that so newsworthy? Because the mass-corporate-sponsored-government-controlled media outlets like to make everyone under thirty look bad so that Grandpa Jackoffs like JM can feel better about their youth slowly slipping away as they sell one more bottle of Just for Men? I, myself, and most of my friends prefer to get our news from the Internet or independent radio sources that have not been completely corrupted by money-hungry sponsors and marketers. But go right ahead and continue to get your spoon-fed, sugarcoated mush -- now with added fiber -- from the glossy-teethed and siliconed news teams as you continue to live your life in fear (of youth, of Al-Qaeda, of regret), Mr. Schell, while I relax on the beautiful beaches of Bali. Oh, and hey, Top Notch, who the hell do you think is going to be taking care of your ass in another ten years?
Steve Sedlmayr's letter as the self-appointed generation X/Y spokesman actually makes some good points but attacks the wrong guy (you can attack Roberts at will, but this time it's misguided). Sedlmayr states that none of the kids at the WTF protests could justify their presence. Really? That sounds like a load to me, as I would gladly guide you to entire online directories, downloadable documentaries and Internet diatribes about the subject. I saw a lot of stupid adults on TV at the Super Bowl LoDo riots, too, pal. Just because someone hits the ripe old age of thirty doesn't make him the brightest tomato on the vine.
There are many kids who are not "boring" and are "newsworthy" who are reaching out to their communities and discovering what it means to be a part of this world (and not just the U.S.A.). Being young is a fantastic time of discovering a belief system and a personal moral code -- if there is some hooch and ho thrown in there -- so what the hell's your problem? Didn't y'all do the same thing in your best years? Sounds like Roberts did.
If you're going to point the finger, please point it at the media. Demand that they represent stories that appeal to youth rather than downplay their importance as contributors to the economy and community. How about a story on the modern-art museum in Sakura Square, or the Mile High Youth Corps? How about a story on World AIDS Day? Until then, you can find me on the Internet, reading about our "real" homeland security bill, the war on terrorism (without the propaganda) and the largely news-neglected G-8 summits, from reputable media agencies that aren't just trying to snare me into spending a buck.
Swear on a stack of Bibles? I swear I didn't want to have to write you about David Holthouse's "Book, Chapter and Verse," but the letters in the November 14 issue irked me enough to speak up. Fred Williams, do your "advanced-degree scientists" who believe the "literal account of Genesis" have proof that the sun came around four days later than the earth? If so, what did the earth revolve around before that? Also, what fuel source did the plants live off of for those days without solar power? Besides that, what evidence is there of a "God" so intelligent and gifted that it could create two of every animal (cows and bulls, chickens and roosters) but so absentminded that S/He didn't have the mindset to realize that a human would need the same courtesy? "Nope," thinks this God, "I will only make a male human. What? Why is he so lonely? Well, here, let me introduce him to all the other animals I made. What? You don't want them? You want your own female? Oh, okay, here, let me break your rib off and make one from that."
I have to laugh when someone calls science a religion, because science is based on changing thought -- but religions are based on written words that they refuse to change. The Catholic Church took over 500 years to finally admit that the earth was not the center of the universe; it's not even the center of our solar system. Science starts on neutral territory and moves in the direction that the experiments point. Creation scientists start with the idea of God and try to only look at what points to that.
Using the B.C. Tours' analogy of the elephant, which one of these -- science or religion -- is going to stay chained to a tree, even though it's not chained anymore? Those who keep looking to see if they are, or those who keep believing because that's what the Bible says?
Worse comes to verse: Jeremy Reitsema's pro-Christian, anti-liberal November 14 rant was so porous, so uninformed, so full of the usual rhetorical bromides of fundamentalism, it's difficult to decide where to begin to refute it. He derides Westword's liberal leanings and its propensity to be "intolerant of religion, particularly Christianity." Being intolerant of religion is akin to being intolerant of philosophy or mathematics or history. What Reitsema really means is that Westword is intolerant of his particular brand of religion, which holds numerous myths, metaphors and symbolic references in the Bible to be literally true and all non-Christian beliefs to be evil. For that kind of intolerance, we can all be grateful.
Reitsema claims that "there is no concrete evidence to support evolution." Huh? I think that may come as a great surprise to many scientists. Look at Jerry Falwell. Look at a chimp. No family resemblance? C'mon.
Reitsema would have us believe that "churches are not supplemented by the taxpayers, while the museum and zoo are." The hell churches aren't supplemented (by which I think he means subsidized). Unless I am mistaken, churches are not subject to property tax in Denver, and they are also immune from many zoning laws that apply to businesses and residences.
I accept the possibility that a superior force/being is in charge of things. I reject the thinking of boobs like Reitsema who are convinced that among thousands of denominations on the face of the earth, which profess thousands of different answers as to the why and how of our existence, theirs is somehow the correct one.
The final chapter: I would like to point out to David Holthouse that while truth may be altered by political correctness, facts remain constant. Both Christianity and science are institutions of fallible humans. The former claims inspiration from an infallible deity. The latter claims to identify and correct the consequences of its assumed fallibility. Everybody decides for themselves which method they prefer.
I would like to point out to Fred Williams that while there may indeed be many "advanced-degreed scientists who are brave enough to admit the speciousness of the secular darling cow of evolutionary theory," he would be hard-pressed to find anyone willing and able to provide a cogent scientific argument for a literal interpretation of Genesis. I would like to point out to Kurt Cowling that he is the one who "misses the point," that "mutations" and "variations within a species" are two entirely different processes, and the combined and accumulated effects of both over time have, in fact, created new species.
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I would like to point out to Jeremy Reitsema that nobody correctly claims "we came from monkeys," but that modern humans share a common ancestor with modern apes, and his inability to understand this distinction distorts and twists all that he says on this subject.
Finally, I would like to point out to Tyson Thorne that the statements "God made the universe" and "The universe started from a Big Bang" are not mutually exclusive. While the former is an expression of faith and the latter is an expression of science, both can be true and are not inherently in conflict with each other, and any perceived conflicts are in fact a consequence of an incomplete understanding of both faith and science.