Since Westword published David Holthouse's "Stalking the Bogeyman," in our May 13 issue, we've been inundated with letters about the story -- and all too many of those letters have come from readers who, like David, were sexually assaulted when they were children. On Monday, when news of Holthouse's arrest in Broomfield, Colorado, on charges of stalking and harassment -- charges we plan to fight -- hit the national news, the floodgates opened even further. What follows is just a sampling of the recent correspondence we've received. Still to come in a future issue: the rest of Holthouse's story. -- Patricia Calhoun
The best revenge: Three cheers to Westword for running "Stalking the Bogeyman," David Holthouse's brutal piece about revenge and reality. And a Pulitzer to Holthouse for putting his anger, adulthood and career to good use in telling a simple and tragic story on the taboo topic of child rape. Who among us can claim not to have wanted -- in all seriousness and even if only for a moment -- to kill someone who has visited egregious harm upon our person? Courage and honor are so rare in our world; long and loud kudos to your paper for publishing the piece and standing behind the writer now. I'm sure you've gotten a thousand letters just like this one, but I wanted to add my voice. Well done.
Future shock: I just wanted to say I am totally shocked that David Holthouse was arrested. Well, maybe not shocked -- not in this weird-ass world -- but I am pissed. Is there any wonder why rape is the most under-reported crime? I just want to say I totally support David and will be watching his case closely. Right now I am completely disgusted with the Broomfield police. I am sure they got their orders, which they must follow, and so did the other good Germans. Whoever is pressing these charges must be inhuman.
via the Internet
Trick or treatment: I just wanted to add myself to the list of grateful and admiring readers David Holthouse's recent article has garnered. How disappointing to learn that he was arrested this weekend as a result of sharing his story. Absurd. I hope the attention and pressure now placed on his attacker forces him to leave the area, the state.
I used to work in a treatment facility serving adjudicated adolescent male sex offenders. Their treatment focused on them trying to understand what motivated them to offend, identifying thinking errors used to justify the offense, learning to have empathy for their victims and others, and learning about their cycle of abuse and relapse prevention techniques. This treatment would generally take about thirteen or fourteen months. When they reached the graduate level, they had to write letters to those they victimized, accepting responsibility for hurting them. I listened to them read these letters during group therapy. Rarely did they convey heartfelt remorse, guilt or shame for their crimes. It was impossible to tell who "graduated" from the program really having internalized the treatment. I doubt any of these offenders imagine they have scarred the ones they victimized so badly, that they, too, may be the subject of a similar revenge plot.
Hopefully, David's article can be used for discussion in group therapy; it is such real and powerful victim-impact testimony.
via the Internet
Profile in courage: David Holthouse, thank you for the article you wrote about confronting the man who raped you. I endured a prolonged time of sexual harassment from a clergyman, and my reactions were very similar to what you reported. I wanted to tie him to the ground by his hands and feet and cut his guts out, then kill him. Fortunately, I fear God, and so I didn't do this terrible thing. I called the head of his church body, who got him out of ministry and out of the state where I live. Your article helped me realize how normal my reaction was to what happened to me. I'm so glad your parents backed you on this and didn't deny what happened or blame you. Thank you for your extraordinary courage in writing this article.
Plots and pans: David Holthouse, I honestly believe that you yourself are a sick and twisted man. How could you sit there and talk about how this man hurt you so badly and yet plot his death? That seems a bit hypocritical to me. I know that man, and he is decent! One of the best guys I know, and I would trust him with my life, and I hate you for bashing him and trying to ruin his life. You talk about how he ruined yours; well, what kind of person are you that you would turn around and do the same to him? You are an evil man, and I'm glad you got arrested. You deserved it, you sick freak!
Stand by your man: I am so glad that David Holthouse did what he did! I have dreamed of doing the same to the man who had his way with me when I was eight! Thanks for putting that kind of story out there for those sick fuckers to read. I know that everyone who had the same experience feels the way that David does and stands behind him 100 percent.
Name withheld on request
The truth will set you free: David Holthouse, there is nothing more powerful than telling the truth. The power of your story and the good that will come from it outstrips any satisfaction that could have come from any harm you could have done to that man. Thank God you resisted that great temptation in order to be able to connect with us, your audience. May the God of the words you quoted in Romans give you peace. As another verse in Philippians 4 says, "May the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus."
Breaking the silence: I was sexually abused by my father from the age of seven until I was fourteen, when I learned to avoid him. I had hundreds of fistfights. I lost one fight. I was married and divorced twice, my anger a huge part of the breakups. When my son, now eight, was born, I cried incessantly. I realized I was crying because of how precious my son was to me -- and thus, my father didn't love me. I scared my ex badly. Incredibly bad fights with the woman I love led me to see a wonderful psychiatrist. She says I became a lawyer so no one could hurt me again. I read a wonderful book called Victims No Longer, by Mike Lew (the only support I have found for men, although there are hundreds for women), before I sought counseling and realized there were other men like me -- same nightmares, same terrible symptoms, same self-abuse. I read it now with a different insight due to counseling.
I wanted at times to kill him. But the irony is that I have to find true forgiveness for the sake of my son, those I love and those I have harmed with my anger. Or I will continue to be angry. I do know I would go insane and kill anyone who harmed my son. I practice family law and care about those children immensely. I do not judge those who have withheld their names, but I didn't do one damn thing, nor did I ask for any of it. I am not ashamed anymore, and I won't stay silent.
via the Internet
To tell the truth: I am from Denver but live in Anchorage, coincidentally. David Holthouse's article will be (and has been) a gift to many who have gone through what he did. As a person who has worked in the mental-health field for over twenty years, and with kids who have been sexually assaulted, I hope and pray that stories like this will encourage talking away the secrecy. Kids have to learn that they can tell and still be protected.
Prisoner of pain: I read today about David Holthouse being arrested for "stalking" the man who raped him when he was seven. (I can't believe he actually got arrested for that -- even after they knew what he had done to him! How absurd!) Then I went to www.westword.com to read "Stalking the Bogeyman." I must say, I read it and cried. I mean, really cried. I cannot believe that David went through that and was able to talk about it, much less meet and talk to the man who did that to him. I just wanted to say that I commend what David has done.
I don't blame David for wanting to kill that scumbag, but I am so glad that he chose to confront him. I truly believe that the guilt will ruin the rest of his life. I don't know David at all, and probably never will. But I just wanted him to know how I felt. His story was as wonderful as it was horrific. He should take care and continue to grow from his pain.
Close to closure: David Holthouse, your story was very moving. I feel for everything you went through. You kept an awful secret for a long time, too large of a burden for anyone, let alone a small child. But I was impressed with the way you handled things. Not many find the strength to confront their attackers. I hope you've found the closure you need.
via the Internet
Still hurting: I have just finished reading about David Holthouse's arrest. Please pass along my support to him. There is no normal human being on this earth who hasn't imagined hurting someone who has hurt us in such a dramatic way. Hell, I imagine having the powers to instantly give other drivers explosive diarrhea when I'm aggravated driving down I-25; I can't imagine how much more anger I'd have if I were victimized like Mr. Holthouse was. In short, wanting revenge is a very human emotion (example: the war we're in right now!). Anyone who judges Mr. Holthouse for this is a huge hypocrite.
I hope his legal problems go away very quickly. And I hope all of the scummy rapists and child molesters out there who read his story will now think twice before harming anyone in the future.
A moving experience: Rarely am I moved to respond to an author of something that I have read. I have not lived in Colorado for four years, but I occasionally read Westword online. I was speechless after I read David Holthouse's article. Thankfully, I have never been the victim of sexual abuse. The whole time I was reading his piece, I had only two thoughts in my mind. The first was that if anyone ever touched my child... I am sure that you can finish that sentence. Also, I cried for David, for what he went through, for the pain that he felt throughout his life, and for the pain that his parents went through. As a mother, I could not imagine the rage that I would feel if anyone were to do this to my child -- to anyone's child, for that matter. David is very strong and brave to have written about his ordeal. He, of all people, should not be punished for mere words.
I hope that in sharing what he has gone through, David will somehow be brought a little peace. I also hope that other people who are survivors of such horrible ordeals will somehow find the strength to break the cycle. David has prevailed -- and for that, he is a better person than many I know. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience with the public. David's article is one that I will carry with me throughout my life.
Dianna T. Slade
formerly of Aurora
The road to recovery: David Holthouse: What you wrote took bravery; I'm shaking from just reading it. I'm not the type who shakes easily, either, or writes to people he doesn't know. I had to write you, though, to let you know that there are a lot of guys out there like you.
Like you, I've planned the death of my molester, and the fact that I never followed through with it haunts me. I worry about becoming a father. I've made similar suicidal pacts with myself. And like you, I don't think I'll sleep well tonight knowing that the sicko that messed with me is out there harming hundreds of others -- but I really don't know what I can do about it. I just wish I could get this out of my head and go on with my life. Just writing that makes me realize what I've been doing all these years: covering up and repressing the horrible things that happened to me. This probably explains my violent temper and inability to find joy in my life. I'm not going to blame this, though; I'd just be a bigger victim. Maybe it's time to find a way to fix myself.
I mean this without sarcasm: Thanks for bringing this to the surface. I thought I dealt with what I went through, but that was just a sham.
Name withheld on request
Speak up: I want to applaud David Holthouse. Having never been raped or molested myself, his article still touched me deeply. Yes, I've seen movies of the week and after-school specials that have dealt with this subject, but none came close to the visceral reaction created by his words. I can only begin to imagine the strength and courage this piece could provide (or is providing) for those who have gone through an ordeal like David's. How many times do we get a chance to confront those who have torn away pieces of our soul? How often are we humane enough to be able to forgive? This work is powerful on so many levels, and I'm so glad that David had the strength, the heart and the will to write it -- even if he is suffering as a result of it now.
David, please don't stop doing what you're doing. You're a phenomenal writer. Continue to speak to us.
Help is at hand: David Holthouse, thank you for your article and your courage. In describing the anger you felt at your assault, you spoke for a lot of people who haven't been able to find their own words. I don't think you'll ever know how many people you've helped.
via the Internet
Pray as you go: First, I want to say how sorry I am that David Holthouse experienced something so horrible at such a young age. I'm lucky in that I never had anything traumatic happen to me as a child. But that story really got to me. I guess I can identify with David as I'm 32, I was a newspaper reporter in the area, and while nothing violent ever happened to me, when I was 21, my father was murdered.
It's apples and oranges, for sure. But for a long time I did have to live with a lot of anger and, to a certain extent, shame, as the incident happened around Christmas and was the lead story locally for a few days. For me, there was nothing worse than watching my life unravel on 9News. Needless to say, I had a hard time with it, and as a result, I spent about the next two years getting wasted at bars in Fort Collins and trying to pick fights I knew I'd lose. I was really angry for five years or so, until I went to talk to a priest because I was angry at God and I couldn't take it anymore. (I did a tour of duty of twelve years in Catholic schools and didn't go to church after my father's funeral.) I told the priest what happened to my father, that it was a robbery attempt and that the guy was a habitual criminal on parole, and on and on and on. At the end of my confession, he told me the one thing I never thought about. God gets a bad rap, he said. When people die, no matter what, people will say it was God's will. They don't realize that bad things happen outside of God's grace. That helped.
Then, for my penance, he told me I had to pray to God for the soul of the man who killed my father -- pray for his conversion and his salvation.
I really thought I was going to go to hell for punching a priest. But I didn't, because I knew he was right. I don't go to church, but I pray often. When I think of it, I pray as the priest instructed. I hope some day I'm a good enough person to actually mean it with all my heart. For now I mean it a little more every time, and I'm a lot less angry. The quote from Romans is correct. Revenge is not our job; life is not The Sopranos. But when I read stories like the one David wrote, I can't help but get wrapped up in it. Just for a moment, vicarious revenge is satisfying to me -- but then I remember.
It sounds like David learned to forgive, and for that, I'm glad for him.
Great job. Excellent story. Better character.
via the Internet
Straighten up and fly right: Julie Jargon's "It Won't Fly," in the May 27 issue, does a grave disservice to the members of the Class of 2004 who graduated on June 2. Yes, the Air Force Academy has garnered national headlines the past year. But the reason the academy's problems with sexual assault and honor capture the headlines is that the American people expect perfection from the men and women at their service academies. And they have every right to do so. The academy is in the business of building leaders of character for our nation and producing the best second lieutenants for the Air Force.
The overwhelming majority of the young cadets at the academy are men and women of exceptional character who have chosen a special calling -- one that may require them to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend those values that all Americans cherish. Many of them may be in Iraq or Afghanistan in less than a year, and those who go to pilot training will be there in a few years. Regardless of the timing, these young graduates will be fighting the War on Terrorism, which promises to be a long and difficult struggle. These cadets were sophomores when 9/11 occurred. Two graduates lost their lives that day, and two more have died overseas in the War on Terrorism. At that time, the cadets of 2004 could have left the academy without a service commitment, but over 900 opted to stay out of a sense of duty and desire to serve their nation in time of war.
These are the men and women who took "the road less traveled" and who walked proudly across the stage to join the Long Blue Line of graduates who have honorably served in all of this country's conflicts since Vietnam. They will become members in the world's greatest air and space force. Some Memorial Day, you may be thanking them for making the supreme sacrifice so that we can enjoy the right to a free press.
Richard S. Rauschkolb, '70
USAFA Academy Association of Graduates
A duty to dial: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Dial Another Day," in the May 27 issue:
I have enjoyed many of Michael Roberts's media columns over the years, and I thought that I would enjoy his cover story last week, but I did not. I realize that Michael's job is to rant from time to time, and I have no qualms about his views concerning radio in Denver, as I share his viewpoint, but I am surprised that Westword would make it a featured article, so little substance did it provide. The whole piece had a hasty quality to it, as though another writer had missed his deadline and this was an emergency assignment.
Amazing feats of endurance can sometimes provide great insights for those who experience them and for those who read about them, but I would remind Michael that Jesus already died for the sins of others. Michael's martyrdom added little of substance for the pain that he endured.
Radio daze: I think that the old proverb "The nail that sticks up is the first to be hammered down" applies nicely to the current state of radio here in Denver. It is all the same boring, bland rubbish. Why it is that way, however, is the one thing Michael Roberts failed to address in his article.
Denver has never been a cutting-edge city. It is a city consisting more of urban expansion than city living. It is a city content with cookie-cutter houses, secondhand trends and the unending desire to "you know, like, get away to the mountains." Any time the arts are involved here, there is a small community that supports what is happening, but anything "different" attempted on a larger scale is met with deafening silence from the masses. For example, 92X, any college-radio station, or, for that matter, any local station that tries to be different and eventually falls back into its old habits; half-empty concert venues for "alternative" bands; a small yet uninspiring local music scene -- all of these leave the door open for insipid, mass radio-station conglomerates to preach to the lowest common denominator, the attention-deficit-enabled youth of today who are taught to only have the attention span of a goldfish.
When it comes right down to it, I would be willing to bet that the majority of the people who would read a weekly like Westword don't even listen to the radio, but would rather listen to a CD. Honestly, if all of the radio stations just up and went off the air, would anyone care other than the three companies that own all of them? Ho hum.
Flipping the switch: Wonder if anyone else noticed that of the 52 station changes Michael Roberts wrote about, actual music being played (good or bad) was listed eighteen times? I did. Switched to Sirius last November and haven't listened since.
Teacher's fret: While reading Laura Bond's "Buttoned Up," in the May 20 issue, I was reminded of my high school English teacher, Mr. Basler. Like Mike Corey, Mr. Basler was an unconventional educator who challenged his students to expand their horizons, especially those enrolled in his advanced creative writing class. For Mr. Basler, the problem started when he discussed such topics as fairies, witchcraft and pyramid power. His philosophy was that students should know about different belief systems, because other people did believe in them, and those beliefs had influenced and inspired a variety of literature.
Unfortunately, just as in Mr. Corey's case, a student took offense at his comments. She subsequently misrepresented his discussions to her parents and the school authorities as preaching Devil worship. Without talking to any other current or former students, the school district moved Mr. Basler to the classroom across the hall from the principal's office. They also required that all his lesson plans be reviewed. Rather than submit to the dumbing-down of his curriculum, Mr. Basler elected to leave and started working full-time making pottery for a local art gallery.
While I'm heartened by my experience with Mr. Basler and by Mr. Corey's obvious influence on his students, I'm deeply depressed by the fact that things haven't changed in the past twenty years. Students are still being deprived of high-quality teachers, and society as a whole is made poorer when non-traditional viewpoints are quashed in the name of political correctness.
Silenced at South: I want to commend Laura Bond on her excellent article. I am a friend of Michael Corey's and have known him since he started teaching at South High School. This has been a very trying couple of months, not only for his students, colleagues and friends, but also for his family in New York. It is very disturbing to me the way teachers are being persecuted and silenced today. I wonder how many more teachers are in the same situation. What a waste of taxpayers' money!
High fives to the students who supported him -- which goes to show the impact he has on students.
Taught and taunts: It's easy for ideologues masquerading as public school teachers to find disconnected outsider kids upon whom they might prey. What suspended South High teacher Mike Corey did with students Andrew McDonald and Joey Miller amounts to psycho-social pedophilia.
Corey's "What if Jesus had been gay?" taunt lacks merit in rational discourse. Like a thirteen-year-old mean girl, his sole intent with his blasphemous red herring was to ostracize a student he knew to be a faithful Christian. Rather than churn out his quota of sloganeering leftist robots, Corey should teach. Perhaps he'd assumed that this late in the year, all his students were so thoroughly inculcated in left-think that his inflammatory statement would cause them to hoist him upon their shoulders with a throaty "Hurrah for Comrade Corey!" Instead, he's been hoisted on his own petard.
This means war: Wow...Alan Prendergast's "The Maverick," in the May 20 issue, blew me away, and I am e-mailing it to everyone in my address book. This is the kind of stuff that Americans need to be hearing about on the nightly news. A change in drug policy would cure the financial woes of our fine country. It has indeed become a war on people, and the madness must stop. Thanks to Westword for having the courage to publish material like this. I know you have probably taken lots of heat for it, but remember that there are many folks who are stealth supporters. We are hanging out under the radar lest our own careers be in jeopardy.
Insanity defense: Alan Prendergast's article is so on the money. The "war on drugs" has always been a war on the African, native and Latino communities. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Insanity is having the same people at the table who created this mess. Insanity is believing the aboveground economy can compete with the underground economy when, through the strategy of drug prohibition and the war on drugs, we have made these drugs worth more than gold. Insanity is AmeriKKKa's war on drugs.
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Talking the talk: Thanks for your story on Sheriff Bill Masters and his outspoken criticism of America's war on (some) drugs. His comment about how other members of law enforcement often agree with his position on the topic but then fail to join him publicly was most telling.
Readers should know that Masters also serves on the advisory board for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. LEAP was formed two years ago for the purpose of giving a voice to police, judges and other members of the criminal-justice system who disagree with some or all of the policies related to 21st-century prohibition. We now have over a thousand members, with fifty-plus who can speak publicly across the U.S., Canada and in several other countries. As a non-profit organization, we rely on individuals in the community to help us arrange speaking events at civic clubs, school groups (college or high school), church groups, etc.