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Letters to the Editor

The Enemy Within

The battle of the sexes: Regarding Julie Jargon's "The War Within," in the January 30 issue:

The sex-related problems that have surfaced ever since the mixed-gender experiment began in the service academies over two decades ago, like the reckless sexual behavior elsewhere in the military, should not surprise anyone. They were predictable to any of us who have graduated from those institutions, and they are part of human nature.

It doesn't matter what cadets and midshipmen are trained to do or how disciplined they are. The fact is that Mother Nature simply does not take orders very well. One cannot stop response to sexual urges any more than he can stop response to hunger.

Of course, it is worth asking what cadets were doing at a party where alcohol was served to begin with, and why they have not been dismissed.

The dumbing-down of physical requirements to accommodate the proverbial weaker sex, the flagrant fraternization, the deterioration of our ships at sea to floating whorehouses, and officers too pregnant to fly after a million dollars have been invested in their training should be lessons to us.

And yet Congress and our senior military leadership march on in denial of the inescapable conclusion that this experiment was designed to fail.

Even SERE training, an essential test of character, has had to be curtailed because it was too tough in the mixed-gender environment. I wonder if they think that a POW camp is going to be some sort of picnic. Sorry, girls, they are going to be playing for keeps, and you are going to be the toys.

War is hell, and it is about time we went back to staffing our armed forces accordingly.

Michael Cohen
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Class dismissed: "The War Within" was a very tragic news story that broke my heart. (My daughter is a cadet, class of 2005.) This animalistic behavior possessed by the aggressor and compounded by the weakness of the victim's situation has continuously repeated itself as bad history. I liken this to cancer that is waiting for the ideal environment to occur and will surely rear its ugly head despite all present measures taken by the Academy. This despicable and uncontrollable sexual behavior displayed by the aggressor has to be strongly addressed.

It is a biological fact that some young males possess potent sexual needs that render them physically powerless to control their strong sexual desires and urges. The strictest environment will either strengthen or weaken their constitution. No one can try to continously walk on water. What will work is for the Academy to have a continuous, formal group (a class) and/or informal small group (all-male guided get-together) to share, instruct and address individual sexual feelings and problems in a friendly environment.

As the Academy grooms them to be future leaders, emphasis must be placed on balancing their spiritual, physical and emotional needs till they reach their senior year. Maturity is a process whose twin is discipline. It is time for the Academy to assume accountability for all areas of the cadet's life, because his/her future lies in the Academy's hands.

Vivian Green
via the Internet

Safety first: Bullshit. That sums up Julie Jargon's "The War Within" pretty well. Female cadets are much safer at the Academy than females of equal age at a civilian institution. Some people are here who shouldn't be, but it's impossible to determine that they would do this sort of thing beforehand. A victim of assault at the Academy has much more support than their civilian counterpart. You also make it seem as if this is some sort of problem only females face. Again, bullshit. Males face the threat of sexual assault just as women do. And, yes, sometimes the assaulter is even female.

Nicholas Ringo
via the Internet

War and remembrance: Thank you to Westword and to Julie Jargon for her article about sexual assaults at military academies. As the author of For Love of Country: Confronting Rape and Sexual Harassment in the U.S. Military, my research and clinical work with military and academy rape victims is consistent with the experiences reported in this article. It is not uncommon when a rape victim in the military seeks help that she/he experiences barriers and repercussions for reporting the crime. These soldiers and cadets just want to serve their country honorably. In the end, they are often the ones who are discharged, punished or belittled -- not the sexual offender.

It is time for the military services and the academies to recognize that there is no honor, nor integrity, in committing a sexual offense. These service members and cadets are a discredit to the military and the true values that the military represents. In this time of world crisis and threat of war, it is especially important to know who the enemies are (especially if they wear the same uniform). The perpetrators (and anyone who acquiesces to their behaviors) should be held accountable. It is truly sad when those who serve with honor are not believed.

Thank you again for bringing this issue to the public's attention.

T.S. Nelson
via the Internet


House Arrest

Just say no: Patricia Calhoun's "House Calls," in the January 30 issue, ended with a very disturbing question. "For two decades, the legislature has passed bills responding to assorted insurance crises. Have any resulted in lower premiums?"

I hope Ms. Calhoun will continue to ask difficult questions. Our legislators are giving this state away, piece by piece.

Dorothy Randolph
via the Internet

First, let's chill all the lawyers: I want to thank you for the attention your publication is giving HB 1161, and I thought the perspective of one who has been on both sides of the fence might be informative. I am a builder here in the Denver area, and for the sake of full disclosure am a member of the homebuilders' association. I have been a builder since 1977 and have not been involved as a defendant in a defects lawsuit; my experience on the "other side of the fence" has been as an expert witness for plaintiffs in their defects lawsuits. I've worked on five such suits for two different law firms. This, I believe, gave me a reliable sampling of what goes on in these types of events.

After two years of this, it became clear that the plaintiffs' lawyers were not interested in any common-sense, practical and simple solutions to the defects alleged; indeed, I was admonished several times by plaintiffs' lawyers for even bringing such ideas up in client discussions. Instead, their focus came to be more on exaggerating problems with the purpose of obfuscating simple issues, with the sole motivation being to get as much money as possible rather than bringing equitable justice to the table; indeed, I was told by one plaintiff's lawyer that they weren't inclined to use me anymore unless I "better understood" their purpose.

While the current bill is under legislative negotiations and will no doubt end up more equitable for all, it is clear that some means of controlling the greedy and avaricious lawyers who are distorting the current system more to their advantage than that of equitable justice have to be reined in.

Stephen Holben
Holben Building Corp.


Sexism in the City

Blonde ambition: Congratulations on your January 23 cover story, "The Light Stuff," and what amounts to a thousand-word free advertisement for Coors beer.

It wasn't enough that you featured the infamously well-endowed Coors Light twins on the cover of your latest issue, but you had to include another three photos of the buxom blondes inside? Shame on you, Patty Calhoun. A well-respected weekly publication edited by a woman prints a story written by a woman that does nothing if not degrade women -- and, in fact, goes a very long way toward the continued objectification of women that is already prevalent in mass media today. In the process, author Julie Dunn makes only passing reference to the extremely distasteful decision by Coors to sell beer while promoting male idiocy in the form of misogyny, irresponsible drinking and, of course, the socially inept act of high-fiving while wearing backwards ball caps.

Is it safe to assume that you, too, are targeting the coveted 21- to 25-year-old male demographic? If so, why bother with articles at all? It will save enormously on printing costs if we could just flip from scantily clad ladies in the form of "hard-hitting investigative news" in the front of your paper to the scantily clad ladies in the form of escort-service advertising that already adorns the rear.

Kevin Keenan
via the Internet

A no-twin situation: I have formed a coping strategy for dealing with the "Here's to twins" Coors Light billboards that loom over our city. As I pass the glaring advertisements, in my mind, I change "twins" to "sexism," and read "Here's to sexism."

Cheers, Coors, for polluting our urban landscape with a bland ad campaign that feeds off of and perpetuates stereotypes.

E. Hudson
via the Internet

A passing degrade: I have just read the many letters in the January 30 issue about the Coors commercials and how degrading they are to women. Well, maybe if they had two beefy twin males, the girls might be happy. Coors sales have gone up since the campaign started, which says something for these "shameless bozos at Coors" and their "pathetic marketing campaign."

These letter writers have not studied marketing, or they would realize that the campaign is working. It's a fun campaign -- and to be fun, sometimes you have let go of intellectualism. As for this being degrading to women...how? Women work very hard at attracting men, but the moment someone tries to use that to sell beer, it's degrading. Sorry, girls, but guys are visually stimulated -- better get used to it. "Beer. It's what's for dinner."

Name withheld on request


Everybody Must Get Stones

No satisfaction: Excuse me for being dreadfully un-hip and obviously not in your target market, but I was appalled by the January 30 issue's total lack of even a mention of the fact that the "World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band," the Rolling Stones, would be in Denver on February 1. The Stones are not busty twins or politically incorrect members of local government, and may not be as gripping to read as Savage Love anecdotes, but I will venture to say that they were the most exciting event in town last week.

As Denver's self-proclaimed "news and arts weekly," you did yourself a great disservice. Would it have killed you to give the Stones a little ink?

Julie Gatseos Englewood

Editor's note: What, that two-line listing in the Concert Calendar didn't satisfy you? For Laura Bond's response, see Backwash, page 85.


Sick at Heart

My eyes filled with tears of pain and anger as I read Michael Roberts's January 30 "Give and Take" column, about Oscar Hernandez. My sorrow and frustration are for my own 24-year-old daughter and her one-year-old baby.

Last April, my beautiful blond baby grandson was admitted to Children's Hospital and diagnosed with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. After extensive testing by several U.S. medical labs, the AIDS virus was eliminated and a cause was found. The baby was diagnosed with X-linked Hyper-IgM Syndrome. Hyper-IgM Syndrome is an extremely rare genetic primary immunodeficiency disorder that makes kids susceptible to recurrent bacterial and opportunistic infections. Think "Bubble Boy," and you will understand why my daughter and her husband have a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces most of the time. At this time in medical science, 70 percent of Hyper-IgM kids die by the age of twenty. Imagine if you had to live with that figure in your head.

The last nine months have been filled with infusions of immune globulin, numerous emergency-room visits, almost weekly pediatrician visits, immune specialists, gastroenterologists, prescriptions, etc., etc., etc. The nightmare continues on an almost daily basis. Like Oscar Hernandez, the near future may hold a bone-marrow or stem-cell transplant for my grandson. Unlike Oscar, my daughter did have insurance -- an individual plan through an HMO that is costing my daughter $500 a month. As with any individual plan, the co-pays are high and the emergency-room visits cost from $100 to $500. Due to the baby's disease and the uncertain future of my son-in-law's career, the risk of switching the baby to an employer-paid insurance plan is too high.

Unlike Oscar Hernandez, my daughter has not been able to get any financial help, nor can we get any foundation to take an interest. Unable to work a normal job because the baby cannot be in daycare, my daughter has been scrambling to find a part-time weekend and night office job without success. Employers don't hire people with seriously ill children who have to take time off with little notice.

I cry with frustration at least once a week watching my daughter and her husband inch closer and closer to bankruptcy. Their February apartment rent will have to be put on a credit card, as we are out of money. I do wish the Hernandez family well, but I am becoming bitter about all of this. I am at a loss as to how to get the same help for my daughter's family. How does one get help for a Colorado-native baby and his family? I wish someone could tell me.

Barbara Cosio
Aurora

Editor's note: See the Message, page 22, for the latest on Oscar Hernandez.