The Joke's on Us

Letters to the Editor

Party hearty: After seeing Kenny Be's "Crusadertainment for Men," his Worst-Case Scenario in the April 28 issue, I have a Prayboy Party Joke:

Q: What is the best way to unmask the religious intolerance of the "liberal" media?

A: Take a public stand on a moral and public-policy issue and ask your faith-based friends to join you.

I admit, I cringe at the approach of some of my conservative colleagues; I am repulsed by Fred Phelps's interpretation of the Bible and his hate-filled activism. Yet I am also taken aback by the hatred and intolerance spewing from the so-called liberal camp. Why are conservative people of faith being raked over the coals for exercising their constitutional right to express their opinions?

The last I checked, this is still the way our country works: People from all sides of an issue making their rationale known, and then the American voters decide how it's going to be! To see representatives of both polarized factions express mutual respect for that process would be a welcome relief.

Mary Heathman

Bully Pulpit

The unkindest cuts: After reading Luke Turf's "Beating the Bully," in the April 28 issue, I have a solution to stopping bullying, and it doesn't require $8 million in grants, either. Instead, take that money and put it into the cultural and extra-curricular activities that schools are cutting -- the very programs that help students who might otherwise be social misfits find their place.

Harry Sanders

Behave yourself: I'd like to commend Luke Turf for raising awareness of the complex issues associated with anti-bullying programs in Colorado. Turf correctly asserts that attention to social problems is magnified after the occurrence of a public incident. Ecstasy use, violence, gangs and bullying have all received public scrutiny following high-profile events in the past decade.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that bullying and the early onset of aggressive behavior have been long recognized as important predictors of serious antisocial behavior in adults. Unchecked, bullying and early aggression can have dire consequences later in life. Recent findings from longitudinal studies indicate that effective programs are based on evidence about the causes of aggression and use rigorous research methods in program design. At the Graduate School of Social Work, we have been testing an intervention based on these principles in 26 Denver elementary schools. Our findings tell us a great deal about ways to prevent aggression and help victims deal with bullying incidents. Parallel efforts by groups such as the Colorado Trust and the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence are critical aspects of developing, testing and disseminating effective interventions.

Portraying anti-bullying efforts as an "industry" may be accurate in the context of recent community events. At the same time, it is important to recognize the complexity of behaviors like bullying and to highlight the legitimate efforts aimed at preventing its occurrence.

Jeff Jenson, professor
University of Denver

Conservative estimates: I was really enjoying Luke Turf's article until he referred to Tony Blair as the "bully's henchman." Now, were those words from Epstein? Turf hides it in such a way that it appears that it is Epstein's quote, stated as fact. This may come as a shock to Turf and Patricia Calhoun, but reasonable conservatives may like to read Westword.

Everywhere in the paper is the assumption that one couldn't possibly disagree with the constant hatred of Bush and the war. I've got news for you: In the real world, this is a controversial topic! Couldn't you just once leave your politics at the door and attempt to be journalists? It would serve us all.

Karen Lipson

Where the Columbines grow: I wanted to thank you for trying to bring to light issues that our society has deemed "okay." I am a former student of Columbine High School and, to tell the truth, the only things I do remember are the days I spent trying not to get harassed or hazed. When I was there, Mr. DeAngelis was a P.E. assistant, and frankly, I do not feel he has grown with his new position or the times. He has yet to take a bold stand regarding the attitudes and actions of his students.

I grew up in that community, which is fueled by money and stature; unfortunately, my family had neither. The kids at CHS at that time (and still today) refused to accept anything outside of their "comfort zone," meaning that if you didn't have what was current, then you were beneath them. I recall getting things thrown at the back of my head, being called names because of the clothes/glasses I wore, including "stupid," "dumbass" and "retard" -- even though I maintained a B average. Jocks ruled the hallways. They got away with low grades, skipping classes, doing cocaine and showing up unannounced to parties by pushing their way through the doors.

As time passed, the pain still remained, no matter what counseling or affirmation I received. My mother remarried and had another child whose medical problems resulted in him being in "special ed" classes. I knew one day he would be old enough to attend CHS, and tried to get my mother to enroll my brother in some other school, any other school. My argument was that if I had a hard time there, how was someone with learning disabilities going to survive? My mother was at Columbine on April 20, 1999, registering my brother for classes. Even though the events of that day were horrific, she still pursued the chance to have my brother interact with "normal" students.

I have researched "why" Columbine happened, and I feel it came from many days of being harassed by students, being called "freaks" -- like Chinese water torture that pushed Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to the brink of insanity. I truly can relate to feeling like you want everyone to "die" just because you want the pain and the names and the harassment to stop. My only wish is that Dylan and Eric would have had the strength to go to someone regarding this, instead of taking the matter into their own hands. I think if they had, we would have the answers we so desperately need now.

There have been over thirty school shootings since Columbine, and still no resolve. My heart weeps for all the little guys out there. Hopefully, through some force they will see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel of pain. Only united can we stand up against this monster called "bullying."

Lisa Marie Meyer
Columbine Class of 1985

The Trouble With Roberts

Guilty as charged: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Tom Redux," in the May 5 issue:

Michael Roberts's form of journalism is foreign to me. That's because in my work -- whether it is TV, radio or Internet writing -- I simply state my opinion and then back it up with facts. If I believe someone is a liar, cheat, rip-off or unethical in some way...I say it. Then I reveal facts.

But Roberts would rather give limited facts, then "insinuate" all sorts of devious intentions and motives. For example, he has highlighted the fact that sponsors pay me to advertise on my Referral List and that I make a lot of money at what I do. So what? Every major media personality and media outlet in Denver and around the country make a lot of money. And all of that money is derived by advertising.

In fact, KUSA-TV masquerades its advertisers as "guests" on a morning talk show. Other outlets do feature articles on big advertisers. Some sneak their products into news stories. And other media outlets forbid "negative" stories about sponsors. Not so with me. I openly disclose all terms and conditions regarding my advertising revenue.

And there is another major difference in my advertising program: I give an extra measure of safety and recourse to consumers who use my sponsors. I do extensive background checks and arbitrate problems when they arise. Does this mean that each and every consumer will be satisfied when dealing with my advertisers? No. Are all consumers happy using sponsors of Westword? Other newspapers? TV or radio?

No media outlet can guarantee that, and no media outlet offers to pay consumers "damages" for dealing with its advertisers. At least I attempt to make things right and remove all sponsors who do not resolve complaints to our satisfaction. No media outlet -- other than mine -- offers any recourse whatsoever. No media outlet does background checks. No media outlet requires advertisers to sign a code of ethics and arbitration agreement.

Even the Better Business Bureau offers no guarantees for using its members.

The point is, when a problem does arise, I deal with it. We have arbitrated around sixty complaints so far this year -- mostly in the home-improvement area. Do you know how many consumers went away disappointed? Four.

So far, Westword has highlighted two angry consumers with unresolved complaints who used my Referral List. There are actually around ten unhappy consumers every year...out of thousands of sponsors doing thousands of jobs. That is life. No system is perfect.

So, Michael, what exactly is your point? That I take advertising? That I actually have sponsors who generate complaints? That I am not perfect? Guilty as charged.

Tom Martino
via the Internet

Wittman and Wisdom

Nomad is an island: I was sad to read Juliet Wittman's "Nomad's Last Stand?" in the April 28 issue. I think the theater-going audience has changed, and what twenty years ago could be supported by a Denver/Boulder base can now only be supported by a Boulder base -- and it sounds like that base isn't there. At one time there was a Denver/Boulder audience, but people don't drive to Boulder for theater.

I am very fond of Nomad, because I learned a lot as a director there: The Rimers of Eldritch (I was still at the University of Colorado when I directed that); Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean; Vieux Carré; Ladies in Waiting (the world stage premiere of Patricia Resnik's play about waitresses); Our Town; Approaching Zanzibar; Three Hotels; Wit. We got Denver critics for all shows, and crowds seemed to follow.

I do hope Nomad finds the backers to help with its current financial status.

Terry Dodd


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