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Letters to the Editor

Of Mice and Men

Lock 'em up: Julie Jargon's article on sex offenders ("Arrested Development," December 5) was well-written and very informative. Nice job! Now let me get to the part of this letter that might offend some people by stating bluntly:

Sex offenders, take notice! Fair treatment and understanding are two things you do not deserve! There is no rehab for you, and you deserve any and all criticism and prejudice that you receive. To me, the idea of letting multiple offenders live under the same roof seems like conspiracy to commit. In addition, this "association" is a violation of the law.

This letter is being written by a "convict." I served two years in prison for burglary and escape, and I can tell you firsthand why sex offenders don't want to be in prison: They are not accepted, and they are richly deserving victims of assaults and sometimes, God willing, murder! Most of the time they are kept in protective custody or in the medical unit because someone got to them. I am in favor of locking these people away forever. And for those who say these people suffer from a disease, then prison is the cure. Sex offenders deserve the worst society has to offer and should not receive a break until they are systematically disposed of the same way you would any cockroach or rat!

Brent Rouse
via the Internet

Erection fraud: I was intrigued by the description of sex offenders in Julie Jargon's "Arrested Development." How T.H.E doesn't have Amnesty International beating down the door is beyond me. The penile plethysmograph is one of the silliest pieces of monitoring technology in "law enforcement." Do they have to explain all of the erections? Imagine having to describe what, exactly, aroused you in the office during the job interview. Or when you were in the grocery store and walked by the newsstand on the way to the produce aisle. T.H.E. might claim that forcing shame is a good thing, but is placing shame on all sexuality really a good idea?

Treatment of sex offenders is something complex and difficult, but when T.H.E. forces negative attitudes about sexuality, are they taking a step in the right direction? It seems that none of these programs work on giving clients a "normal" sex life, and that could be why recidivism is high. If someone were arrested for public urination, would the court program discourage offenders from peeing altogether? Sex is a natural, biological desire and something that would prevent sex offenders from falling back into old habits. Why aren't more programs exploring rehabilitation instead of A Clockwork Orange-style programming?

Ian Derk
Fort Collins

The plague: Sex offenders are a plague on the entire planet with their ability to manipulate, lie, deceive and otherwise ruin their victims' lives. Does Julie Jargon honestly feel she adequately told us the complete story and, more important, helped with making all of us more aware of the importance of controlling this environmental scourge we currently live with?

As a notable former ACLU lawyer stated at the library town meeting regarding the massive sex-offender problem and the devastation sex offenders cause: "The issue of sexual abuse will be one of the horrors of the new millennium, and we'll be shamed by it; and what we do about it will be a measure of how good we're going to feel about ourselves."

This is an enormous, overwhelming public problem. If you're truly interested in learning and understanding the complete story and reporting these facts, for a follow-up story, may I suggest spending time with and talking to a few of the legions of victims these "graduates" have perpetrated upon with their incurable deviate needs?

You truly missed the mark with this convoluted, looking-for-the-bad-guy story. It doesn't even qualify for mediocre sensationalism.

Rich Raney
Denver

The crime of their lives: Greig Veeder's belief that "once a sex offender, always a sex offender" is simply untrue. The majority of the offenders in state-approved treatment programs are incest offenders -- they've molested a child in their family or immediate environment. Although probation is revoked for one reason or another for some 75 percent of these offenders, less than 10 percent have actually committed another sex crime. The exact number might be much lower, but the state will not release the figure. For other types of sex offenders, the recidivism rate rarely rises above 25 percent.

Use of the polygraph (lie detector) to identify child-molesting behavior is inaccurate and, in my opinion, a gross violation of the spirit, if not the actual protection provided to us in the Constitution. If every adult who had a sexual thought about a child was in jail, few of us would be left on the streets. And in professional circles, it is well-known that the polygraph measures anxiety and fear generated by sensitive issues. Sometimes the respondent lies, and sometimes he tells the truth. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been shown that polygraph scores are accurate enough to identify sex offenders and eliminate innocent responders in a useful manner.

 

Programs that rely upon intimidation and masquerade as therapy may or may not reduce recidivism. The fact that all or nearly all of Veeder's clients have been revoked does not increase confidence in the effectiveness of his program.

James Selkin, Ph.D.
Denver

Remember the victims: In Julie Jargon's article, I am described as a "victim's advocate." With that exception, there was no mention of the plight of the victims of sexual abusers. Violated girls and sodomized boys left terrified, confused, a positive image of themselves torn away, probably never to return. Brutally raped women left fearful, often feeling dirty and unworthy, and frequently deprived of the ability to ever love someone. These people pay, for their lifetimes, the penalty resulting from a moment of thrill or control on the part of the sexual predator.

The 7,776 registered Colorado sex offenders cited in the article have ravaged the lives of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. I had hoped to read about some of these victims' lives, but instead I was treated to page after page about a man named Rosberg, a prime practitioner of "victim speak." In an incredible run of bad luck, he was victimized time and again by young boys who "came on" to him, law enforcement officials who treated him unfairly, a treatment-and-control program that failed to understand his unique innocence and four polygraph tests that he failed because he was "angry at being asked the same questions." As if this weren't enough, he's now having trouble calling his sister in Texas.

Even a little taste of the trail of wrecked lives left behind by these perpetrators would have made readers understand the necessity of holding them strictly accountable while largely ignoring their innumerable assertions of victimhood. I have been involved with the victims for over 35 years, and they are not the perpetrators in your article.

Gerald W. Moore
Denver

Editor's note: In "The Inner Sanctum," a story accompanying "Arrested Development," Julie Jargon referred to a family center located in the same building as the Teaching Humane Existence office. That center is now known as the Glendale Family Resource Center, and while the Cherry Creek School District was once its fiscal agent -- and the center is still listed as The Family Center, Cherry Creek School District #5 on the building's directory -- there is no connection between the organizations. Our apologies for any confusion.


The Kids Are All Right

Balancing act: Harrison Fletcher's article regarding Doyle Robinson's work with the "The Misfits" was simply top notch ("The Misfits," November 28). In a day and age when most people get caught up in the rat race of life and lie awake in bed wondering what their legacy will be when they die, Mr. Robinson has no such problems. To have balanced family, work and his passion to help these kids for so long is the true medal of honor for this man.

I work downtown and see many of the kids in the Skyline Park area, always wondering why that was where they gathered. Now it all makes sense. You go where you are wanted, where you are loved, and where you are needed.

Doyle Robinson, for what you do and how you do it, I salute you. You are truly one of the good souls!

Jason P. Bise
Castle Rock


Where There's Smoke, There's Ire

Pack journalism: Regarding Jason Sheehan's "Smoke Free or Die," in the December 5 issue:

Unlike the "do-gooding troops" of Smoke-Free Denver, I'm less concerned with trying to protect the health of restaurant and bar employees than I am with protecting my own health and satisfying my own self-interest -- just like the smokers who can't go an hour without the fix that ends up being shared with me as I try to eat a sandwich in the slightly less-smoking section.

I couldn't care less if Jason Sheehan and his fellow addicts want to smoke in their own homes, either -- just so long as that crap doesn't seep through the walls of my little Capitol Hill condo. Just as I don't want to have to listen to his music blaring and he shouldn't have to listen to mine. And I don't care what you put into your own body, but the thing that makes cigarettes different from a rare tenderloin is that when you're enjoying a smoke in a public house, I end up smelling like your full ashtray (oh, wait, ashtrays don't get full, because most smokers flick their butts all over the place) -- but I don't taste your steak, and it can't make me sick, like secondhand smoke.

 

Freedom to make choices? Where has my freedom been to enjoy a meal or a pint without having to hack in the shower and do laundry as soon as I get home from happy hour? If the logic is that Denver smokers will head for the 'burbs, wouldn't it follow that suburban non-smoking diners would bring some of their business to Denver? Sorry, I don't think you can have just one side of that argument.

Sure, I can go to one of the two or so joints I've seen that don't allow smoking. Or I can say screw it and vote for whatever ordinance will give me more fresh air. Right now, the only people proposing anything are the troops "marching in lockstep" (oooh, they're worse than Hitler was, right, Jason?) at Smoke-Free Denver. Why isn't the Colorado Restaurant Association heading this off by saying, "Okay, we'll go for a scenario where restaurants and bars must install real smoking sections, with real ventilation, and they're all going to have to raise the price of burgers and pints by about 25 cents to recoup their remodeling costs in a year..."?

Funny restaurant reviews, though.

Andy Rittgers
Denver

Puff piece: I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Jason Sheehan is the best damn thing to hit Denver journalism ever! I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, but I totally support freedom of choice to do so. I truly hope Denver policy-setters won't be foolish enough to go for this crap.

Dave Maxon
via the Internet

Monkey see, monkey do: Jason Sheehan's state of denial that smoking in restaurants is actually an invasion of non-smokers' right to clean air (not vice versa) skips along hand in hand with his apparent state of denial that smoking kills the palate. He writes well, but I have to ask: Now that we have a food critic who smokes, how about an art critic with a blindfold or a music critic who wears earplugs? They could wear monkey suits and stand in a row with their hands over the portion of their anatomy they refuse to use. Sign me "Wake Up and Smell the Fresh-Baked Bread."

Susan Williams
via the Internet

Ban on the run: Bravo! I read Westword online weekly as I prepare to emigrate to Denver, and I thoroughly enjoy Jason Sheehan's columns for their witty, articulate humor. Well, that and the fact that food is one of my great loves. Anyhow, kudos for the fantastic piece on the attempted smoking ban in Denver. I am actually a non-smoker, but I concur that a blanket ban on smoking would be devastating economically to a community, especially small businesses. And frankly, since I truly value my ability to make choices for myself (good and bad), I have the right to not go to a smoking-friendly establishment if I really have an issue with secondhand smoke. However, I want to be able to make that decision for myself, not have it forced upon me by fanatics who assume they know what is best for me.

Thanks to Jason for writing such a smart, frank and sensible article. I'm glad sane people have a voice, too!

Erin R. Van De Hey
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Sob story: After 48 years on this planet, I find myself writing my first letter to the editor. Perhaps it was simply time to do so; perhaps it was because I was so moved by reading Jason Sheehan's "Smoke Free or Die." I'd like to paraphrase the main points of his article: "Wah! Wah! Wah! Wah! Everybody hates me because I'm a drug addict. Boo hoo hoo! I have the God-given right to make everyone around me sick because I need to feed my nicotine jones, and anyone who doesn't agree with me is a Communist, or a Nazi, or something evil. Boo hoo hoo!!!"

Yeah, that just about sums up his article. What Jason Sheehan and his fellow drug addicts don't get is that they are just that: drug addicts. In fact, there are only two differences between cigarette smokers and heroin addicts. First, at present, cigarettes are legal and heroin is not. (Keep in mind that heroin was legal in this country until 1924.) Second, at least heroin addicts have the good manners to feed their jones in private and don't force innocent bystanders to share their drug, unlike cigarette smokers. I guess that puts heroin addicts one rung above cigarette smokers in the social order.

 

Bill Babcock
via the Internet

Cheap shrills: Jason Sheehan must have some balls...

Anti-smokers are one of the shrillest factions of the already overbearingly shrill "freedom-from" crowd. Multiply them by the number of foodies who get indignant over his use of the F-word, and he'll probably get more hate mail in his in-box than I get penis-enlarger spam.

So keep up the good fight. And to all y'all in Smoke-Free Denver, go the fuck back to Boulder!

Dave Kawamoto
via the Internet

Table for one: It's your right to smoke, mate. In your house or your car, but not in my dinner.

Steve Read
via the Internet

Butt out! Jason Sheehan has pegged the "anti's" perfectly. The only thing they really want is for all of us to quit smoking, and they will say whatever they think will work to bring that about. And if you don't smoke and don't care, just know that when they finish with smoking, they will start in on something else. Are you obese, don't exercise, eat wrong, etc.? Watch out: You're next.

Zealots, by their very nature, want to tell you what to do or not do.

Frank Haskett
Centennial

Blowing smoke up his: What topic could Jason Sheehan pick that would provoke more comment?

The bottom line is, if my sinuses get stopped up within minutes of breathing secondhand smoke, and if my wife is affected adversely because she had cancer and chemo drugs scarred her lungs, leaving her with half lung capacity, and she has trouble breathing where there is cigarette smoke, where is that fucking right that the cigarette smoker has -- and that I don't (to breathe clean air)? It is not a right to smoke cigarettes. It is a bad habit, an addiction literally comparable to cocaine addiction. Not as deleterious as cocaine, but as hard to stop.

Do you not feel sympathetic when you see a car with the windows rolled up with two adults smoking, and there are children in there? You can see the smoke filling the car -- where are the rights of those children?

The brain works on oxygen, and Sheehan's rationale is as symptomatic of deprivation of logic as the addled brain of a person who has trouble comprehending due to the replacement of oxygen with the pollutants in cigarette smoke.

When a person asks me if I mind if they smoke, I want to ask them if they mind if I fart in their face. Whatever you choose to eat will not affect my health or well-being. Cigarette smoke, not to mention cigar nausea, does. It is not my fault that I am sensitive to smoke, and I am hostile and adamant about my right to a smoke-free environment. Not one of my friends smokes cigarettes. There are probably more people who will not hang out with smokers than you realize. Smokers are being discriminated against -- and absolutely, justifiably so. It's a disgusting, filthy, nasty habit.

What a waste of Sheehan's life, defending smoking in any way, shape or form. And a waste of mine. I believe cigarette smokers are too defensive to be realistic about where they really are in relationship to non-smokers. Instead of feeling guilty, you guys purport to want your "freedom," your "right." But all of your justification and reason is like whipped cream on shit.

Richard Hart
Denver

A matter of choice: I am a 23-year-old who goes out to local establishments quite often. I can also count the number of cigarettes I have smoked in my lifetime on one hand. When I come home from these places, I am always covered with the foul odor of cigarette smoke. It is quite annoying to have to wash my clothes after going out just one time.

I can tell you of something far more annoying: It is not having choice in a so-called free society. There are so many other problems in Denver that are more important than this.

I would love to see the statistics that this Bob Doyle is inventing. I realize that nicotine is one of the worst drugs plaguing our society...for the people who are smoking. I believe the verdict is still out concerning the health implications of secondhand smoke. I really doubt that secondhand smoke is much of a hazard at all. Mr. Doyle, please don't tell me that those working in the bar and club industries look at you as a savior. I see the people behind the bar constantly downing shots of the hard stuff. As for servers at local 24-hour diners, a lot of them are doing crystal to get through the night. I don't see many of them doing cardio with a mouthful of spinach.

 

The fact of the matter is, instead of dealing with it, these smoke-free people are attempting to eliminate one more choice from our lives. As Jason Sheehan stated, this isn't about smoking as much as it is about choice in general. When I was in Salt Lake City recently, I was amazed by the absolute beauty of the city. I was also amazed that there was a law banning smoking in all public establishments. What's next? Well, we are already forced to wear seat belts. A place without freedom to choose without truly hurting someone else isn't a place worth living at all.

On the day that this proposal fails, I promise you that I will do something that I have never done. Something that makes me ill. I will smoke a cigarette in a public establishment. I understand that big-government people like most Democrats and all Republicans will always make the argument that these ridiculous laws are in place to protect taxpayers. Well, I will gladly pay one-tenth of a cent each year for every freedom that I get to keep.

Augustus Johnston
Denver

Location, location, location: The proposed ban on smoking in public places doesn't tell people they can't smoke; instead, it tells them where they can't. While Jason Sheehan and the Colorado Restaurant Association are framing this as a rights issue or an attempt to legislate morality, it is neither. This is a public-health issue. Ask yourself, "Is smoking bad for you?" Sure it is. And it'll probably kill you. Given the documented and significant increases in allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, it's responsible to eliminate smoking in public places.

As a non-smoker, I also enjoy "butter, liquor, foie gras and artisan cheese." You can also add wine, beer and all types of foods. Jason Sheehan's assertions seem to be "Only smokers really know how to live!" He's wrong.

The CRA's assertion that the regulation of smoking in public places must be decided by state action is ridiculous. The citizens of Denver have the right to pass laws. The CRA would rather push it off on the state so that such regulation is put off or watered down.

Finally, questioning the legitimacy of the research reported by the Denver Tobacco Intervention Project is pointless. Yes, these people and their funders really do have an evil agenda: trying to help prevent and help others stop smoking. Man, watch out for those do-gooders. Perhaps you can call Tom Tancredo and find out how these do-gooders are involved in the left-wing conspiracy to flood America with illegal aliens (who do great $60,000 media-room projects) and bring gay pedophiles into Big Brother/Sisters. Now, that would be a story!

P.S. Thanks for Sheehan's great restaurant reviews.

Ben Fiedler
via the Internet


Incoming!

Duck and cover: Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Dodge This, Dave Ringo!" in the December 5 issue:

In the Denver elementary school where I dodged balls, they didn't call it "dodgeball" or "murderball" or "slaughterball."

We called it "bombardment."

Lew Cady
Central City

Smells like team spirit: I was the lonely "chipmunk" Dexheimer mentioned. Too funny! But what's this? His ringer came late and was allowed to play? I think that his team cheated! Our arms/legs were so sore, and he brought in a fresh guy! Give up your sweatshirts, Weltics!

Jen Huston
Boulder


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