Ministry of Funny Talks

Letters to the Editor

Terms of endearment: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Obscene and not heard" item in the June 24 Message:

Rather than "President" Elizabeth Hoffman," why not use the Chaucerian, endearing "Grande C---" Hoffman? Chancellor Byyny could be the endearing "Underc--- " Byyny. Olde English would be appropriate, because I think that Monty Python and His Flying Circus are running the place, anyway.

This imbroglio would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Earl J. Carstensen

Friendly persuasion: Michael Roberts made me laugh unintentionally at the suggestion that 9News is "family-friendly." Maybe if your family is the Manson family. Channel 9 and its parent company, Gannett Corp., make no effort to hide their support, defense, justification and condoning of adultery and abortion; their practice of hiring and promoting homosexuals over heterosexuals; their defense of immorality and illicit drug use; their anti-American platform that they promote almost daily; their justification of racism, bigotry, prejudice and discrimination; and other questionable behaviors and activities.

If Channel 9 is "family-friendly," I don't want to know what constitutes an anti-family stance.

James C. Hess
Fort Collins

Whine Tasting

What the heckle? Regarding Michael Roberts's "David vs. Goliath," in the June 24 issue:

Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi should grow thicker skin or find a new calling. Opinion columns generate reactions. Columnists who use humor to drive their points home will often hear from cranky readers, especially if they think the lampoon is directed at them. Heckle your readers; they heckle back. Harsanyi can do one of two things: keep writing or whine.

Besides, what he considers a personal attack, others might view as jesting. The Montanan who reacted to Harsanyi's lupine roadkill remark by saying he wanted to put Harsanyi's head on his wall was undoubtedly joking. (For one thing, wouldn't it distract from his Charlie Russell prints?) I'm just as sure that if Harsanyi had written in favor of the Yellowstone wolf, he would have received bundles of crank mail from the anti-wolf crowd.

Keep writing, stop whining.

Daniel Buck
Washington, D.C.

Writers bloc: Who is this imposter, and what have you done with media critic Michael Roberts? You could've knocked me over with the combined, unbiased news content in the New York Times from the last year when I found Roberts actually reporting on the fact that one-third (!) of news journalists admit to being liberal. I thought that liberal bias in the media, demonstrated in nearly every mainstream media organ in America every day of the week, was just more evidence of nut-job conservatives' conspiratorial delusions. Never one to jerk a knee too far out of time with the liberal drumbeat, though, Roberts failed to cock a querulous, Jennings-esque brow at the Pew poll's acceptance of most reporters as self-proclaimed "moderates." This is just more left-liberal mendacity. Calling yourself a "moderate" only because your wife made you throw out that ratty old Che poster from college fails the giggle test.

Though he notes that Post conservative columnist David Harsanyi has been getting threatening letters, Roberts carefully toes the line, ignoring who it is who wants to see Harsanyi dead -- d-e-d dead -- because he doesn't want to sacrifice his kids to Gaia. Well, it's all just red meat (roadkill wolf, maybe?) to predators from the right.

JM Schell

Home-state advantage: The question is not how a conservative columnist will fare at the Denver Post. The question is why the Post is importing columnists from New York to do commentary on local Colorado issues. Aren't there any Coloradans who can write?

Joanne Marie Roll

Bush League

Loser cannon: Regarding Bill Gallo's "Less Is Moore," in the June 24 issue:

Sigh. Gallo is sorely mistaken. Michael Moore never "borrowed" his title Fahrenheit 9/11 from Ray Bradbury; "borrow" implies permission was given. He stole it. How it must pain any intelligent reader with integrity to see those two names in the same sentence. I also wonder if there was any original thought invested in the creation of the movie, or if it is but a propaganda machine recycling the same tired attacks on right-wing sentiment. I'm still waiting on the documentary of how Moore deceived the teenagers who appeared in his movie Bowling for Columbine, and how much wealth he has enjoyed at the expense of exploiting our community. If the proverb "History is written by winners" is true, thank God anyone with an iota of true independent thought knows Moore is such a loser.

Erin McNamara

Foul bawl: As a veteran media journalist who's also worked as a film critic, I want to respond on three points to those condemning Fahrenheit 9/11.

First, I notice that those who cannot refute the truth of Michael Moore's film are resorting to personal attacks on the filmmaker. If the tables were reversed, however, if they were personally attacked, they would howl "foul" in the loudest voices possible.

Second, artistically, while there are a few ragged spots in the production, overall Fahrenheit 9/11 is Moore's best work to date. From the laughter at Bush's antics on the golf course to the guffaws at congressmen running away when asked to enlist their own children in the military, from the shock of seeing the uncensored footage of war wounds among the underpaid soldiers from low-income communities to the heartbreak from a mother's wail of pain at the loss of her son when she's standing before the White House, the film moves audiences deeply. That's a sure sign of effective filmmaking.

Third, consider the fact that Fahrenheit 9/11 was number one among all films in its opening weekend. Consider that the film has broken all box-office records for any documentary. This proves the public's eagerness for such messages. Perhaps Moore is preaching to the choir, but with films like this one and the president's own blunders in Iraq, the chorus of voices wanting to sing the exit song of George W. Bush keeps growing every day.

Ken Freed

From Penthouse to doghouse: I wanted to say bravo to Bill Gallo's review of Propaganda 9/11: He managed to get in every nut-job "black helicopter" theory regarding the War on Terror (although he is going to lose his Moonbat-card membership for leaving out the "Neocons"). I love how he said there are no ties to Saddam and Osama bin Laden when Bill Clinton's administration in a 1998 indictment of bin Laden linked Saddam and al-Qaeda. He also left out that media darling Richard Clarke in a January 23, 1999, article in the Washington Post said the Clinton administration was "sure" that Iraqi weapons teams helped produce VX substances in Sudan for al-Qaeda in factories the administration later destroyed. There are several similar claims by the Clinton team in the late 1990s, and don't forget the link of Zarqawi between Saddam and bin Laden.

Don't forget that vast right-wing-conspiracy card-holder National Geographic said three weeks ago that between 5 million and 7 million people vanished under Saddam in the last twenty years. Three thousand children a month starved to death during the Oil-for-Food scandal. Also, the latest U.N. resolution gives full sovereignty of oil to Iraq. Did we go to Kosovo or other Clinton stops because of Halliburton? Cheney cut his ties to them once he got on board, and Clinton used them, too. I could go on, but I don't want to waste your time, since you clearly have your pompoms out for Jabba the Nut Moore. I haven't seen an author get as worked up as Gallo did since the last time I read Penthouse Forum.

Paul Bagwell

Shame is the name of the game: I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Friday night and walked out feeling uncomfortably better informed about what we have done by invading Iraq and why our government chose to do it.

I am ashamed to admit that I don't usually react strongly to reports of civilian casualties. I suppose I buy into the "collateral damage" euphemism, and that keeps my patriotic conscience comfortable. In the movie, a bewildered Iraqi woman screams, "What did they do?" -- standing in front of the rubble of a house where several of her family were killed by Coalition bombs. Next, Vice President Cheney praises the accuracy of our bombs, going so outrageously far as to praise the "humanity" of our bombing. Shame on you, Mr. Cheney.

I initially supported the war in Iraq on the grounds that Hussein flouted international law and possessed WMDs. But there aren't any WMDs in Iraq. Further, we are now the ones frequently flouting the U.N. and the Geneva Convention and committing war crimes -- for which I'm sure we will evade prosecution -- in pursuit of an agenda that I can no longer state clearly.

My emotion leaving the theater was a heavy sadness. I call that patriotism. I am generally proud of my country, but right now I am dismayed, with a desire to speak directly to President Bush and demand a moral accounting for his role in our world. Moore's movie makes clear that members of the administration have avoided examination of their actions. But if they have acted rightly, then surely President Bush and his supporters would meet criticism with confidence, no?

Elliott C. Davis

Bowling for dolours: Bill Gallo says that even Michael Moore's "army of enemies must acknowledge his offenses against the greedy, the corrupt and the willfully blind." But it's Moore who is greedy, corrupt and willfully blind. His film Bowling for Columbine is fiction. It makes its points by deceiving and by misleading the viewer. Speeches shown on screen are heavily edited, so that sentences are assembled in the speaker's voice, but are not the sentences the speaker uttered. Via Bowling, Moore uses deception as a primary tool of persuasion and effect. A film that does this may be a commercial success. It may be entertaining. But it is not a documentary. One need only consult Rule 12 of the rules for the Academy Awards: A documentary is a non-fictional movie.

A major theme in Bowling is that the NRA is callous toward slayings. In order to make this theme fit the facts, Bowling repeatedly distorts the evidence. Simply put, Bowling is an overabundance of falsity. I request that when viewing Fahrenheit, you watch for quick cuts and edits, sound quality, point of view and reverse shots. See if you notice anything fishy or that could have been cleverly edited, manipulated or staged (in Fahrenheit or any of Moore's other films).

PFC Richard Slemaker
Fort Jackson, South Carolina

True or false: Is Fahrenheit 9/11 left-wing propaganda?

Moore's film is a dramatic and unrelenting criticism of the Bush administration. It is based on well-known facts that I have yet to see challenged. If it is such blatant propaganda, then it should be easy for Republicans to poke holes in it. But the naysayers are only attacking Moore, not the content of the movie.

The failure of many right-wing critics to do so makes it clear that they're more interested in playing politics than engaging in a genuine debate about the issues the film raises. I challenge right-wing critics who insist the movie is propaganda to find the falsities in the movie. I think it will become apparent that this is a debate you will lose (Moore is all you will have left to attack).

Conclusion: Not propaganda.

Douglys Wesley Scott

An Age-Old Problem

Let the punishment fit the crime: Congratulations on Eric Dexheimer's great article on sexual offenders, "Age Inappropriate," in the June 17 issue. A friend of mine is a registered offender, and although he deserved punishment, his punishment is far out of line with his actual offense (in my opinion, as well as the opinions of our friends -- men and women), despite having had one of the best lawyers he could get. He served no jail time but is on probation for about six years. He is well-educated, and has said that questioning the system is punished and that the only way to get out of the system is to regurgitate their teachings. I find it sad to see that after two years in the system, he has become less of an analytical thinker and is being slowly brainwashed into someone that he was not, and should not be.

Three big problems that I have with his situation: A lot of the basis of the laws, punishment and probation seem to be grounded in semi-scientific studies, or simply someone's opinion; it's in the best interest of the private companies that take care of the counseling to keep people in the system; and sex in general seems to be vilified in the program. I can't imagine the harm that six years of more of this repression could do to self-esteem, sexual desire and other aspects of a person.

I wish that Dexheimer's article had addressed these issues in more depth. I realize that it was a newspaper article and not a study, and was very in-depth as it was. I also wish that there were something that I could do about it.

Rad Anzulovic

One size doesn't fit all: "Age Inappropriate" highlighted the flaws in the one-size-fits-all-sex-offender policies adopted in this state. As a former prosecutor, defense attorney and, most recently, child-protection prosecutor, I have seen the inequities that result from a failure to take into account the differences in various offenses and offenders.

Some years ago, I represented a twelve-year-old boy whose entire "offense" involved teasing a girl in the school lunch line. At some point during the incident, the girl alleged that the boy had pinched her breast. Astonishingly, a prosecutor decided that the contact was "for sexual gratification" and charged the boy with third-degree sexual assault against a child. If convicted, he would have had to register as a sex offender against a child (even though the girl was actually older), undergo a sex-offender evaluation and potentially spend two years in a juvenile detention facility. Fortunately, a jury injected some common sense into the scenario and acquitted the boy -- or his life would have been drastically and permanently changed.

Anyone who has seen or dealt with true, dedicated pedophiles understands the danger they present. However, by refusing to individualize treatment or consider the facts of each case, the treatment providers and the courts simply clog an overburdened system. The result is that some harmless persons go to prison simply for failing to "cooperate," while truly dangerous persons who are simply smart enough to say what the provider wants to hear are still walking the streets.

Brad Geiger
Highlands Ranch

Prey as you go: "Age Inappropriate" was horrifying, both in the poor quality of journalism and the moral tone. The journalism was poor because it reported only the criminals' side of the story. Frankly, self-pity and a sense of victimhood is common among criminals; they justify their depredations by telling themselves (and anyone dumb enough to listen) that they're only taking what they deserve. It's hard for this reader, at least, to feel much sympathy for a guy who provides a child with drugs and alcohol, has sex with her and then refuses to participate in treatment seriously, or even admit that what he did was wrong. Obviously, he is turned on by children; he had sex with one. The police and social workers are prohibited by law from revealing details of a case, which means that it takes more work than this journalist, at least, was willing to put into it to dig up the whole story.

In fact, it was Eric Dexheimer's attitude that disturbed me the most. The story was permeated with the attitude that there's nothing particularly wrong with having sex with fourteen-year-olds, and that it was just on a legal technicality that these people were prosecuted at all. The journalist's apparent belief that there's nothing wrong with going after easy prey is depraved, and I am thankful that it is not a belief shared by society at large.

James West

We ID: Thanks for the article about the age of consent. I had thought the age was fifteen in Colorado, but I learned something. We all view this crime of child sexual abuse through different glasses, different eyes. It is easy for me to want to believe implicitly in the rape victim's story and forget that there are indeed those who would make such allegations falsely. They despoil, in a special way, those who make such charges truthfully. Making such charges truthfully is no picnic, and living with a forever-split family is also no fun. Most child sexual abuse is caused by a relative; 90 percent of the child sexual-abuse cases prosecuted in Denver involve a relative as the perpetrator.

Thanks for devoting another good story to this discussion. I hope it helps people doing lots of drugs with young people to wake up and go do something less dangerous, like actually helping make something good for someone. Maybe your story will help them remember to ask for ID?

Paula Hook

Questionable practices: I have been researching treatment for juvenile sex offenders and children with sexual behavior problems, and have found many disturbing practices that even some sex-offender therapists are beginning to question. They are similar to the practices described in "Arrested Development" but are used on teenagers and sometimes even prepubescent children. I have documented these practices, their harmful effects and what researchers, therapists and journalists have said about them on my website,

Geoffrey Birky
Denton, Maryland

Justify your love: I am writing to voice my concern about "Age Inappropriate." Though the article does present valid facts regarding laws/guidelines that manage Colorado's sex offenders, it primarily painted its subjects as victims of the system, which I feel is very "inappropriate." Let me give you a little background here. I, too, am a sex offender: I had sex (on two occasions) with a fifteen-year-old girl who has a low IQ. From these encounters, I got her pregnant. I also manipulated other females of multiple ages for sexual gratification. I was sentenced on two counts of attempted sexual assault on a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I also have to participate in a sex-offender treatment program, as well as register quarterly as a sex offender with my local police department. I have also placed myself in a position where I violated the conditions of my treatment. But this is where the similarities stop.

Like me, the subjects of this article had sexual contact with a minor. They made a choice to have this contact and were not forced or coerced into having the sexual contact. Said Tina, "I decided to go with him because it was safe." Curtis and Tina tried to "justify" their actions as well. Curtis said his victim "planned it, setting up the tryst close to Valentine's Day to make it seem more romantic." According to Tina, "Timothy started it." Trust me: I have been in their shoes and minimized and justified my offense, too.

The reality here is that we all chose to have a sex with a minor...a child. In the State of Colorado, when one chooses to have sex with a minor, whether it be supposedly consensual or not, it is a crime. Adults caught after having sex with minors need to accept the consequences of their inappropriate actions, and most of the time this includes sex-offender treatment and sex-offender registration. Offenders can whine and complain about how brutal and torturous this treatment is, but we would not be in it if we had made a positive choice and intervened before going over the line. I feel that by making Curtis, Tina and others look like victims of a system, you not only are slapping other offenders in the face (for making progress in their treatment), but you are also furthering victimizing all victims of sex crimes. Remember that victims range from the actual victim of the crime to the family/friends of the victim.

Shame on you, for you did not tell the whole story. Why don't you get the reflections of sex offenders who are not only working at bettering themselves, but also using tools to keep society safe? Do not make a victim out of someone who should not be a victim. Look at ways to help out people that sex offenders like me have hurt.

Name withheld on request

Banished and vanished: Eric Dexheimer's "Age Inappropriate" presents some sympathetic cases of non-violent, non-predatory defendants who were branded for life as being sexual offenders. However, he failed to mention the group that is punished even worse: non-citizens. If any of the offenders described in the story had been a non-U.S. citizen, she or he would face deportation and essentially lifetime banishment from the U.S. Under the 1996 changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act, any conviction of rape or sexual abuse of a minor, however consensual or non-violent the actual act was, is an "aggravated felony," the most serious type of crime under immigration laws. As aggravated felons, these individuals would have virtually no defense to deportation (except for the very few who may be able to show they would be tortured back in their home countries). Further, the statute bars them from ever returning to the U.S.

Such non-citizens are being deported (now called "removed") on a regular basis. They may be returned to a country where they have no family left and do not speak the language. They may leave behind elderly parents who need care, or children who need support. The laws give immigration judges no discretion to make exceptions. As Dexheimer's article mentioned, their offenses, such as consensual sex with a fifteen-year-old, may not be a crime in their culture, so they have no idea they may face lifetime banishment.

Although the aggravated-felony classification for sexual-abuse cases has been in place since 1996, enforcement has increased in the past year. The Department of Homeland Security has stepped up efforts to deport such offenders through its highly publicized "Operation Predator," announced July 9, 2003. This "operation" targets a great range of offenders, many of whom indeed victimize children: pornographers, child-prostitution rings, Internet predators, alien smugglers and human traffickers. However, non-violent, non-predatory offenders with otherwise clean records who made a simple mistake in not checking IDs before going too far are being caught up in this net.

Patricia Medige

Sex education: Eric Dexheimer: I read "Age Inappropriate" at My God, man! You are so clued to your subject matter that I was wondering...have you ever thought of leading a campaign against T.H.E.? It is a very important issue. I've read the T.H.E. website, and those people are Nazis. Hitler's Germany used Jews in the same way that, through organizations like T.H.E., the United States of America will be able to use sex offenders. First comes permanent internment, then comes the mass execution of the innocents, and all the while, the public will have been brainwashed into complicity or active participation.

Daniel Thorlby
via the Internet

Everyone's a Smart Asp

Boa to run: The ophiophobiac (one who has a fear of snakes) that Westword quoted several times in the June 24 Off Limits must also have a morbid fear of the truth.

Josh Pool says he was treated as a second-class citizen at Dixons -- but didn't stick around long enough to see the snake owner being asked to leave (with $40 in lunch, compliments of Dixons). Upon seeing the snake, Mr. Pool grabbed and shook one of our servers, pitched a fit and ran across the street to call the owner, who was several miles away running a busy brunch at Racines and had no possible opportunity to solve the problem. His disappointment at Dixons for allowing the snake to "walk through the restaurant" is also unfounded. The snake was sneaked onto the patio by its owner through one of the patio's sidewalk gates after her dining companion was seated by the hostess.

And speaking of the snake...we realize size shouldn't matter here, but Mr. Pool's attempt at creating a monster to justify his phobic reaction seems excessive. According to all reports, the snake in question was about a foot long, slightly less threatening than his pythonesque portrayal.

We're disappointed that Westword didn't even bother to check with the Dixons staffers who were on the scene that fateful Saturday morning. We're proud of the food and service at Dixons and think the snake tale might have slithered in a slightly different direction if all the facts were known.

Lee Goodfriend, co-owner

A Dread Letter Day

Custer's last burrito stand: I would like to take a moment to say how appalled I was by Mr. Garcia's letter in the last issue about the June 10 "A Chipotle Off the Old Block" story. I cannot believe you would publish such an inflammatory letter. I realize that Mr. Garcia is entitled to his own opinions, but to compare the owner of a company to Cortez or Custer is not only ignorant, but offensive as well. Clearly, Mr. Garcia has no real sense of history or current times.

Part of what makes Westword such a great publication is the fact that you frequently publish letters containing both praise and complaints for your articles. However, I could have done without reading that letter. I really hope I never have to read anything that derogatory again.

J. Bosier


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