The light stuff: Regarding Amy Haimerl's "Religious Rite," in the December 9 issue:
The neon horseshoe spits in the faces of those low-income families who have only the utilities on their sides begging the rest of us for help heating their homes. Lotsa luck! Why not give the cost of lighting the lights (a project that also goes begging for public financial support) to warm those same people who lie next to the City and County Building for a little radiant heat? Too Christian? Too Saturnalian? Too heartwarming? I imagine all the gods and satellites have seen our Vegas glow-show from space for light years by now. In the spirit of the season, whatever the hell that means, we might try Holy Sacred Cow!, sacrificing that extra-fancy religious habit of lights. Instead, we could light fires in our hearts and offer something real to those who really need it.
All together now: "A way to bring our community together"? Amy Haimerl mentioned that quote more than once. If that was one of the purposes of "Religious Rite," she failed. Her article is biased toward those who do not want the display, which is clearly apparent with comments that are mostly negative. How does this help in bringing us together?
The New Yorker "was speechless, equally bemused and horrified." Why? Is New York a better place for not having something like this? Why horrified? Are we here in Denver a bunch of dolts and unsophisticated cowhands? Do her comments bring us together?
Let us move on to the comments of Bob Tiernan, who states: "The mayor caved in to these fanatic right-wing Christians." Does name-calling help bring us together? Did the mayor cave, or did he listen to the will of the people and make a compromise that reflects Denver's diversity? In addition, when does taking the Lord's name in vain help to bring us together?
Moreover, for Westword's friends at the Anti-Defamation League who would prefer no public expression, I will never give up my right to express my faith and religion in public. Our ability to express publicly our faith is both freedom of speech and religion -- true American values. How does the ADL's "no public display" stance bring us closer together?
In the end, the problem is extremists. They want it their way and only their way. The great thing about Denver's display is that diversity is as quirky and campy as it may be. Rather than trying to limit our expressions and beliefs, maybe we need to learn how to tolerate each other's beliefs. Sadly, it appears that Bob and others like him clearly miss the joy, hope and peace of this season. They have chosen the negative; let us chose the positive. I am thinking of a small shiny statue of Buddha, a sign with the words "Assalaam Alaikum" (i.e., "Peace be on you all"), a Kwanzaa candleholder, even a microscope with a snowflake might be nice additions, if some of my fellow Denverites would want them. Let us share this season of peace and joy, for there is room for all of us.
The power of depress: Derf's December 9 The City wasn't funny -- more like malignantly depressed. The Grinch Who Stole Falluja was a vacuous, callous attempt to shock; humor at the expense of those who have already given all. I suppose an apology would be too politically incorrect for you.
Don't forget the folks at home: I understand that Westword is a liberal publication, but even though I don't agree with all of the points of view presented, I continue to read the paper due to the sharp, contemporary, talented writers. But with the December 2 cover story, Helen Thorpe's "Head of the Class," you might as well rename your publication Immigrants Deserve More.
Now, I agree that Mexican immigrants deserve a chance at a comfortable life in a comfortable neighborhood, but why are relentless efforts being made to reward them with more opportunities than afforded the average American? It is easy for an upper-class American whose parents went to college and then had his way through college paid completely -- the lucky Americans, if you will -- to say "equal opportunity." But there is a middle class of Americans who do not bathe in luxury, wealth and opportunity just because they were born American.
I am white, born and raised in America. I am twenty years old. My family has been renting my whole life. My dad has supported this family with over ten jobs in three states in my life span. We have been through so much just trying to survive comfortably. The deep wrinkles in my father's face prove it. Like Pablo, I have never been to Europe. My family cannot afford to put me through my dream college to pursue my dream career. Instead, I strive to work the best job I can find for a person with no college education to pay off rent, car payments, etc. (without resorting to prostitution, which seems to be more "socially acceptable" with every article I read in your publication). I am currently applying for a Pell Grant to attend a community college, where I can possibly move my way up. But it is a long, tedious process for which you have to be severely underprivileged.
These people have not taken the steps to achieve U.S citizenship. They face the same dilemmas that average Americans face because they were not born with money in the family. The bottom line, you ask? Pablo has lived a full, comfortable, free life. He has lifelong friends, family and teachers who love him very much and will do whatever they can to make his life easier. Which is more than can be said for me and over half of all Americans. Defeating poverty is one thing, but defeating not having papers when you have lived a better life than the average American doesn't seem quite as crucial.
Hannah E. Bracken
State of despair: Helen Thorpe's article on Pablo made me so frustrated I could cry. When are our governmental "leaders" -- i.e., John Andrews and Tom Tancredo -- going to understand that not only are they keeping these bright and individual achievers at the dreaming level, but they are keeping the entire state from moving ahead in the realm of kids of color going on to college? And if those "leaders" think all the undocumented kids who dream of going on to college and creating a prosperous life for themselves are going to have some financial fairy godmother come down from the heavens and pay for an outrageous "international" student tuition, they have no business representing the people of this state.
Laurie L. Maves
Crime doesn't pay: Pablo, the young man featured in "Head of the Class," sounds like a wonderful student and a really motivated person. It is truly a shame that he does not qualify for scholarships and grants, but the bottom line is that he and his parents are committing a crime by living here illegally. I don't believe that criminals should be rewarded with social programs, health care and free education. Most of the people I know think that illegal immigration is a slap in the face to all those who go through the long, arduous process of legal immigration. It is very unfair to allow illegal aliens to utilize the programs earmarked for legal immigrants. I think Pablo should go back to his own country, Mexico, and make it a better place to live.
Start the resolution: Great article. I work with College Summit and had an opportunity to work with Pablo this summer. What an amazing kid! It breaks my heart to read about his circumstances and the problems regarding access to college. He is a very bright, articulate person who deserves nothing but the best because of his hard work and determination. Thank you for "Head of the Class" and for pointing out issues that need to be resolved.
Mexican standoff: While I admit that Pablo is an example of an upstanding American, the fact remains that he is not. Being of a military mindset, I'm sure he understands that we must all follow rules, whether we like them or not. To reward people who have broken the rules, even indirectly as a result of their parents' actions, is unjust to all the other people who did follow the rules. I do sympathize with his family's motivation for coming here, but from a logistical point of view, the United States cannot continue to solve the problems of other countries when we are neglecting our own problems.
Not to sound flippant, but since Pablo is extremely intelligent and has acquired leadership skills via a free American education, why can't he be an intelligent, honest doctor and leader/patriot in Mexico? That country could sure use people of Pablo's caliber to help solve its problems.
Perry P. Martinez
A family affair: I truly enjoyed "Head of the Class" and can't help but sit here crying, feeling Pablo's frustration. My husband and I have been together for the last two years and are raising my five-year-old niece. We recently tried to see what we would have to do to get him residency here in the U.S., and it turns out there is nothing for us to do but prepare to go back to Mexico. I thought, well, if we have to leave for Mexico, I could adjust, but with the custody agreement I made when I received full legal custody of my niece, I cannot leave the state of Colorado with her. So what do I do? Do I stay separated from my husband, or do I give up my niece, who I love as my daughter?
They are my family, they are my life -- and I cannot sacrifice either of them. So we pray for protection and thank God at night that we got through another day. I hope that you will continue to get the word out there. I spend many hours going through immigration laws hoping for something. I will keep Pablo in my prayers.
Maria Perez de Leon
Citizen's arrest: In Helen Thorpe's "Head of the Class," she defines certain individuals and/or groups as "anti-immigrant." This is a very broad brushstroke that is unfair, inaccurate and worthy of further definition. I have been a law-abiding citizen all of my life (even of the laws with which I disagree), and I am definitely pro-immigration. Or should I say, pro-legal immigration. I realize that there are those individuals, groups and political crusaders out there who choose to include a benevolence and compassion element in the immigration equation -- painting me and my law-abiding ilk as cold, heartless and uncompassionate. And that's just not true. However, I don't believe that circumventing the law, or choosing to adhere only to those laws I like, is an option for me. If the citizens of this state and country are unhappy with certain laws, there are legislative components in place to change those laws.
But just because I play by the rules, check that bleeding heart at the door, and don't call me anti-immigrant. Call me what I am: a law-abiding, pro-legal-immigrant United States citizen.
Editor's note: Since we published Helen Thorpe's "Head of the Class" in our December 2 issue, we've heard from many readers who want to know what they can do for children of illegal immigrants. Padres Unidos is a community-based organization working for equality in many areas, including education; call 303-458-6545. State representative Val Vigil plans to introduce legislation in the next session of the Colorado General Assembly; you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How time lies: Regarding David Holthouse's "Pepper Jacked," in the December 2 issue:
Officer Tom McKibben and the rest of his crew have been knocking otherwise harmless people around for years. Police-oversight committees like the one Mayor Hickenlooper has pushed for hardly cause these thugs a restless night's sleep. They lie in their reports, they lie in court, and they are above the law. That is why this white-collar, Audi-driving yuppie from the country club is more likely to make a contribution to NWA than the FOP.
Name withheld on request
Copping a plea: I'm responding in horror to "Pepper Jacked." The world is beginning to remind me more and more of George Orwell's 1984. I'm actually a little apprehensive of any kind of repercussions I may reap for showing support of any kind for opposition to our "beloved" police force. Of course, I'd like to blame this entirely on a certain other George, of 2004, but I realize that this shit has been going on for eons and eons and eons.
Anyway, I would like to commend David Holthouse for excellent reporting on what is really going on, and also this hero Quincy Shannon, who seems like a real stand-up individual. As I read the story, I actually had tears of gratitude for both for speaking out -- even as my stomach acids were ripping a hole the size of Texas in my innards.
By the way, while walking down 17th Street in downtown Denver, I happened to notice a flier for something called "Streets United" -- an organization working to end racial profiling. There is apparently a new law that requires all police officers to hand a card with their name, badge number and precinct phone number to all minorities who are stopped and released without a ticket.
Name withheld on request
Editor's note: For more information on the state law that requires police officers to hand over business cards on request, see Jared Jacang Maher's "Catch and Release," originally published in the September 16 issue and still available at www.westword.com.
Machine dreams: I really enjoyed Eric Dexheimer's "Fat Chance," in the December 2 issue. I can never believe that people will fall for the idea that some gimmick will make them suddenly look gorgeous -- until I look at my not-gorgeous body and suddenly wonder if I should give one a try.
Thanks for the reminder that there's no easy way out.
Globalization: I used to live in Denver, miss a lot of it and really don't miss other things. Just as an FYI, the AbBusters product is being heavily promoted here in Israel on their equivalent of the Home Shopping Network. One can pay in shekels, dollars and euros. It also seems a lot of what was/is being sold in the U.S. ends up in this part of the world, and India as well.
via the Internet
Puzzle me this: Some years ago, Denver's consumer "Troubleshooter" did a study of diet pills in which the then-chubby -- and believable -- Tom Martino acted as a guinea pig and determined that none of them were worth the sawdust they were made from. The same would seem to apply to other weight-loss/muscle-building miracles like laughable ab-crunchers pushed by has-been Hollywoodistas, electro-magico gadgets peddled on late-night infomercials, and a flood of salves, creams, ointments and oils guaranteed to make you as skinny as the snake they came from. I still recall that long-ago version of Martino reasonably -- but obviously -- concluding that if you want to lose or maintain weight, you should "eat less and exercise more." Duh.
Fast-forward a few years and the now much wealthier, botoxed, buffed and nipped and tucked "Troubleshooter" is endorsing a miracle diet pill guaranteed to melt the pounds off, fast 'n easy! Hmmm. I imagine it's been a matter of professional courtesy that's kept Denver's erstwhile corps of investigative journalists from busting the belligerent and litigious Martino's ethically questionable but svelte balls.
Free gift! Thanks again this year for making Westword available to us -- free. Seldom do we get factual, far-sighted, humorous accounts of newsworthy issues. And yet, shame on all of us who haven't taken a nanosecond to jot our thanks to you for bringing those stories to us so faithfully.
Fox in the pen house: In response to a letter in the December 2 issue, not only does Westword have a mostly liberal readership, but unlike everyone's favorite conservative "news" station, Westword doesn't claim to be fair and balanced. In fact, legally, it can't: Fox trademarked the slogan in 1998. Westword prints stories the so-called liberal media (e.g., the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News) won't touch and publishes liberal political cartoons and makes no apologies for it.
So if you don't like Westword, no one required you to pick up a copy. Just like (thankfully) no one requires the raging Republicans from Fox to show up on my TV screen.
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Who would Jesus be? In a letter in the December 2 issue on Amy Haimerl's "Cornering the Market," S.P. Williams asks, "Who was that guy who said the poor shall always be among us? Somebody should investigate whether he was drunk or mentally ill or scamming."
The answer: That man was Jesus Christ. Look it up in your Bible, if you have one.