Blast Rites

Letters to the Editor

Doctor no: In last week's "The Gonzo Goodbye," I was bummed out by a few points that Gig LeCarp made, and the ones he blew, concerning the good doctor. Last Saturday an American icon was blasted off into the sky. Hunter Thompson was one of the legendary, unique and brilliant writers of our time. It is amazing to think that he practiced his craft so well, considering his drug- and booze-addled brain. LeCarp carps about "his abortive assignmentsthe legendary blown deadlines...the staggering expense accounts." Ferchrissakes, man, I believe these attributes are called "gonzo."

RIP, dear Hunter.

Dan Chapman

Who Got Screwed?

A life sentence: I read Patricia Calhoun's "Screwed for Life," in the August 18 issue, in amazement. With all the coverage that CU has gotten over the last couple of years, I can't believe that that someone didn't bring up Kumbe Ginnane's case sooner as an example of what can happen when there is a rush to judgment. A man's life is ruined.

Students need to learn just how dangerous it is to mix alcohol and sex. And they need to take responsibility for their actions.

Jean Potter

A sorry chapter: I have been a longtime fan of Westword, and I am writing about a childhood friend, Kumbe Ginnane.

Kumbe and I both grew up in the Park Hill neighborhood; he at 28th and Albion, me at 28th and Dahlia. We raced each other in Barrett Elementary's track and field, studied together at Gove Middle School, and marched alongside each other in Syrian Temple's drum-and-bugle corps, the 49ers. He was a handsome kid all the girls liked and all the boys wanted to be. I hated him for that. He never had need to chase them, because they just came to him.

There but for the grace of God go I, I thought, as I read Patricia Calhoun's "Screwed for Life," which relived the horror of what became of my friend.

I went to Drake University in Des Moines to study journalism the year Kumbe went to CU, mostly because I knew the rumors: They don't like black guys in Boulder. There are many things comedians and the like joke about within the African-American community, like racial profiling. In Denver, it's the notion that one wrong step at CU would land you in a world of trouble. Kumbe's story is a sad, cautionary tale of just that.

Thank you for telling his story -- not because young black men should be wary of CU or Boulder, but because, like Jim Crow laws or segregation, there are chapters to our shared history that all we Americans should examine and own up to. In Colorado, this is one chapter.

Michael M. Byrd
via the Internet

To tell the truth: Great reading "Screwed for Life" about Kumbe Ginnane and his roommate and the white girl. The truth is, they are the only ones who know what the truth really is. The most interesting comment in the piece was from Kumbe's mother, about how if you're black, never be alone in a room with a white girl. Sadly, that is the only real protection for males in general, whether the girl is white or black and regardless of the male's skin color.

Last Friday's Rocky Mountain News had a picture of a nineteen-year-old freshman moving into her room. Helping this pretty little blond girl were three young men. Not only were they black, but they were football players. I figure they were probably just trying to do their part to help dispel all the bad things that have been said about football players lately, but I couldn't help but think that I would like to see the look on Kumbe's mother's face if she saw that picture.

Nelson Wolfmeier

No way out: I remember telephoning every attorney in the Denver/Boulder-area Yellow Pages, seeking an answer to this question: "What happens to an innocent/falsely accused/wrongly convicted person being forced to undergo Sex Offender Therapy?" The answers were always the same: "They'll spend years in treatment, unable to comply. Once their time/money runs out, they will be revoked and end up in prison after all. As one attorney so colorfully described it, "It's death by a thousand needles."

I didn't believe it, couldn't believe what I was being told, of course. Surely they will realize a mistake was made, surely these "experts" will be able to tell an innocent person from a guilty oneŠ. How foolish of me, I realize now. False accusations never happen, innocent people are never convicted. Never. Anyone who believes otherwise is "in denial," and those "in denial" are a danger to society.

My son was offered a plea bargain in lieu of prison after two polygraphs showed him truthful when he denied the accusation, and with a complete lack of physical evidence. After he accepted the plea, he was jailed anyway, when he again passed a polygraph saying he didn't do it. He was no longer innocent, he was "in denial." The summer he turned sixteen he spent on an ankle monitor after failing the required polygraph "confessing" that he did it. He was not being forced to lie; he was "not cooperating." Three years of sex-offender treatment hadn't "broken down" my son's "denial" enough for him to pass polygraphs saying he was guilty. The therapists were recommending prison, complaining of his non-compliance. He didn't look like a sex offender. He came from a loving home, a stable family. But there was no "mistake", he was a criminal of Ted Bundy proportion!

I well remember picking up the newspaper and reading about Mr. Ginnane being sentenced to prison after years of "treatment." and falling to the floor in sheer terror -- the woman who "evaluated" him and recommended prison was at that very moment "evaluating" my son. I read about his mother's agonized cries for an end to this torment. How many times I thought about putting a gun to my head -- or to my son's -- just to see an end to this never-ending nightmare.

I hope Mr. Ginnane, like my son, has the strength and fortitude to rise above these circumstances. To live well. To forgive, and not allow himself to become bitter or defeated. It's the only way "out."

Name withheld on request

True lies: I, too, was accused of a sex crime that never happened. I was a physician in my residency at the time. I was attending a conference out of town and met a young woman who claimed she was a local college student. I later learned that she was not. This woman stole money from my belongings and, with the help of an accomplice, made claims of rape. It nearly ruined my life. The charges against me were later dismissed, but after a two-year battle, and although the prosecutor knew the stories were fabricated, neither this girl nor her accomplice were ever charged.

My heart goes out to this young man. I wish him well.

Name withheld on request

Just ask: The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) is deeply disappointed in the lack of facts in "Screwed for Life," specifically in regard to false allegations. We understand that everyone has a perspective and a point of view, but we wanted to present real statistics when it comes to false reporting. Only 2 percent of rape claims are false allegations, which is no different from any other violent crime. The myth of women lying about being raped when the sex was consensual has exploded since the development of DNA evidence. Before DNA evidence was on the scene, the common argument was that the sex never happened. Now that DNA can link the criminal to the crime, the excuse is that the sex was consensual. The sad truth behind rape in our country is that only 6 percent of rapists -- one out of sixteen -- will ever spend a day in jail. Therefore, fifteen out of sixteen rapists, reported and unreported, will walk free.

CCASA definitely believes that the link between race and rape is an all-too-often-overlooked issue. We as a society do not focus on the intersections of oppression until it is too late, and we are actively involved in a current case. We should not wait to examine how race and oppression factor in, because that then produces an environment where inevitably one party will feel discounted. The sad American fact is that when it comes to race and racism, black men convicted of rape receive stiffer sentences then their white-male counterparts. In addition, a study conducted in 1990 showed that a man convicted of raping a black woman received one-fifth of the sentence that a man convicted of raping a white woman received. This sentence underwent an even further reduction if the person convicted of raping the black woman was a white man

After decades of our society representing a rapist as a young black man lurking in the bushes, we have failed to protect women in our society from rape -- because you are most likely to be raped by someone you know and who is of your same race. Even though we have inherent injustices in our system, it does not negate the need for consent. Nor does it allow us to discount the charge of rape because the parties involved were of different races. Rape is color-blind. No one is free from its demoralization, its shameful grasp.

The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault believes that communication and conversation between partners who may engage in sexual activities needs to be promoted so there is no question about consent. We need to teach our young people to have personal accountability and to ask for consent. It couldn't hurt -- so why not ask?

Tamika D. Payne, executive director

Flack to the Future

California scheming: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Failure to Communicate," in the August 18 issue:

Kudos to Hank Brown for seeing the obvious uselessness of highly paid PR flacks running the show at CU. Who are these jokers? I read Mr. Gomez's "strategic plan" for improving CU's public image four times, and I never did discern a concrete proposal or goal. Seems that the best image these guys were selling was the mirage of their own usefulness. But what can you expect of a "trade" born and raised in good old California? Good riddance to Mr. Gomez. Go back to the Golden State where your PR "doublespeak" is more welcome. Strategic vision, indeed.

S. Kreider

Beating a dead horse: Since when did printing summaries of stories from months, nay, years ago qualify as a feature? Westword, that last bastion of in-depth reporting, of all that can be good about journalism, has succumbed to the inevitable: dredging, muckraking and tediousness. Not to mention beating the thrice-dead horse that is the CU "scandal."

I'm afraid that Michael Roberts saw an easy way to get in his 2,000 words (or whatever if may be) -- or it was a very, very slow week indeed. How about a top ten list next week? Or perhaps a detailed account of his night with a drug dealer or weird cabbie? Those are all great ways to get to your word count. Recounting old CU stories is destroying the Post's and News's readership (five people on my block dropped subscriptions because of the coverage, as did I). Don't let Westword stoop to the same level.

Allen Ross
Castle Rock

CU in court: While CU richly warrants most of the ridicule thrown its way by Michael Roberts, I write to defend the university's poor, overworked lawyers (well, overworked, at any rate) on one point.

Roberts charges CU with insensitivity towards women and engaging in "bullying tactics" for many justifiable reasons: Betsy Hoffman's bizarre attempt to rehabilitate the "C-word," Gary Barnett's childish disparagement of Katie Hnida, CU's punitive efforts to publicize Lisa Simpson's identity, and other shameful and silly episodes. But then Roberts throws in this weird charge: "While administrators did their damnedest to portray the university as sensitive to the plights of women, their efforts were shown to be nothing more than lip service when CU's attorneys forced Simpson's case into federal court...."

"Forced"? Oh, for crying out loud. Roberts seems to be spinning CU's legitimate and wholly routine transfer of Simpson's case to federal court as almost a second round of victimization of the coed: First she's forced to engage in sex, and then she's "forced" to appear -- the horror! -- before a federal, rather than state, judge. I'm bothered by Roberts's melodramatic use of the word "forced," not only because it trivializes by comparison the real abuse that Simpson may have faced at the hands of others, but even more because it makes one wonder whether Roberts is gullible or disingenuous.

Many plaintiffs with federal civil-rights claims file suit in federal court right from the start. However, when plaintiffs like Simpson choose to sue in state court on claims based in part on federal law, it is fairly routine for defense lawyers to "remove" such cases to federal court. All it typically takes is filing a standard form called a "Notice of Removal" and -- poof! -- the case gets transferred, just like that. It's simply not that big a deal. One has to wonder whether Roberts was either fed a line by Simpson's lawyers -- if so, one that he apparently swallowed without a second thought -- about their heroic efforts to oppose such dastardly tactics by CU's lawyers, or worse, whether Roberts just concocted this bit of drama on his own merely to add a little more spice to his story. Whatever the reason, the result detracts from Roberts's otherwise solid and entertaining reporting.

Plus, the last thing lawyers need are unfair attacks: We get enough well-deserved vilification as it is.

Rolf Asphaug

Out in Left Field

Sticks and stones: In the August 11 On the Record, it is astounding, preposterous and breathtakingly hypocritical that Michael Huttner claims not to know who Ward Churchill is! What? Has he been living under a rock? No, he refuses to hold Churchill to the same standard for similar but infinitely more offensive rhetoric actually designed to incite real violence. This is proof positive that Huttner's rantings and selective outrage is purely for his political gain and his radical far-left agenda. (Few journalistic outlets are willing to call it what it is but love to suggest that every conservative who doesn't have faith in more government laws and restrictions is of the James Dobson ilk.)

Now if only the minions that jerk their knees to Huttner's political hyperbole would hold him accountable for his hypocrisy!

Karen Lipson

On Track

He auto know better: Your man Bill Gallo referred to motorsport fans as "gearheads" in the August 11 "Grinding Gears," so one must assume he is a sportswriter of the stick-and-ball variety, for they tend to lump all racing enthusiasts into that borderline prejudicial "greaseball" category. Whereas he reiterated the scandalous tales of the warring race-sanctioning bodies, there was not one sentence concerning the discipline, technique or art of race driving. The implication was that NASCAR is winning the battle.

The truth is that most NASCAR fans could not care less about open-wheeled racing of any kind. Likewise, fans of Formula One, Champ Car and/or Indy Car have little interest in NASCAR. The appeal of NASCAR is that the cars look like passenger cars; the racing is close, thanks to the many yellow flags; there's lots of banging into each other; and the drivers are good old boys. The open-wheel draw is single-purpose, high-tech race cars that must be driven precisely, as wheel-banging can be perilous.

The first United States Grand Prix at Indy was in 2000 -- my son and I drove there from Colorado for the event -- not 2001. And, yes, this year's Formula One at Indy was a terrible farce. But, Formula One is nothing if not an historical institution, and people will someday be bragging over the fact that they were there on that fateful day!

So, will Gallo's dire premonitions come to pass? Doubtful. No unification of IRL and Champ Car is on the horizon, and stock cars won't replace either. Denver has how many pro football, baseball and hockey games every year? We have one major race: the Champ Car Grand Prix of Denver. It has turned into one of the best races of the fourteen-race series for the Vanderbilt Cup, which originated in 1904.

Dean Thompson

No Kidding

What about Bob? Whenever I read Westword, I say to myself, "Are you kidding me? Now, these are some sick fucks." Well, now I realize that I myself am the sick fuck. It's eleven o'clock on Saturday night and I am writing a letter to the editor -- of Westword, no less. Oh, well, I got laid last night. In any event, I must get to a matter of even less importance.

I was looking forward to attending the Bob Saget show at Comedy Works, which had been written up by Adam Cayton-Holland ("Dirty Danny Tanner," August 11). Naturally, I grew up watching Full House and became intrigued when I saw that sumbitch smoking weed and doin' sluts on HBO. So I'm thinking, "Great, there's my Saturday night. I'll pick up my stoner best friend, we'll smoke two joints, eat some shit, smoke two more, then go see whatshisface."

So there I was, maple-syrup blunt in hand, eating some Wing Stop, when I was informed that Comedy Works is a 21-and-up club. I am nineteen years old. Fuckers. Why am I unable to go see Bob Fuckin' Saget? I saw his ass on HBO. He smokes weed and likes sluts -- I smoke weed and like sluts. I can drive a car and go to war and get five years in prison for beating the shit out of my old baseball coach (trial pending), but I can't watch him talk about drugs and jerking off? Are you fucking kidding me? Because it is not funny. Bob Fuckin' Saget might be funny at a live show. Not that I'll ever find out. By the time I am 21, Bob Fuckin' Saget may dead or in prison. Or maybe he will become more prominent, so he doesn't have to perform at bullshit clubs like Comedy Works.

If the club were to explain its reasoning in a statement, it would go something like this: "We are roody-poo candy asses." That is all.

P.J. Hernandez

Boys Will Be Boys

Beating his drum: In Nathan Dinsdale's August 18 piece on Freekbass, he made the statement, "There's only one person stupid or shrewd enough to make the bass guitar the star of the show -- yes, we're talking about Freekbass." By the use of the conjunction "we're," I am to believe that more than one person at your "newspaper" has forgotten about many popular bands that have had lead men controlling the rhythm section. The two giants that come to mind are Rush and Primus, two of the greatest bands ever to grace my ears. Before you make generalized statements such as "only one person," you may want to have your boss or your mom or somebody proofread your little letters.

M-kay, pumpkin? Now run along and leave the music scene to the professionals.

Matthew Bowman

The other side of the 'street: Oh, how mistaken Sam Chennault is in his August 18 review of Backstreet Boys. Clearly, this guy must have had some kind of traumatic experience with a boy band as a child in order to harbor such malice! The truth of the matter is that the Backstreet Boys brought positive music back to the world in the '90s, when it was otherwise filled with depressing grunge. They made a huge impact on the music world, breaking records and hearts all over the map.

After their taking a well-deserved break, no one expected a return of the mass hysteria that once followed them, including them! They have no delusions of grandeur, and humbly viewed the new album and tour as starting over. And though Never Gone has not broken any sales records, if someone else achieved its numbers, would you call it a failure? In the last year they have completed a stadium tour in Asia, a club tour in the U.S., and are in the middle of a world tour now, all of which were nearly if not sold-out. They may not be the biggest thing out there anymore, but clearly they have been successful with this new album, and that's all they were hoping for.

As for the mass hysteria that they once drew -- has he been to one of their concerts? Believe me, the love is still there as strong as ever. Sam needs to stop generalizing and pigeonholing. Maybe he should go to a show, too -- sounds like he could use a little fun to lighten his cynical mood!

Heather McCulty
Mission Viejo, California

Feel the love: Well, do you think Sam Chennault could have been any meaner or rude? It seems very obvious that he doesn't like the Backstreet Boys, but there are plenty of fans still around who do. The band knew when it took four and a half years between its last album and this one that it would be "starting over," and it doesn't seem to care that the album sales are not as monumental as they once were. The band loves what it is doing, the fans love what it is doing, so back off!

Debra Perry
Wichita, Kansas

Red Alert

Peer review: I just read Jason Heller's August 11 writeup on Red Sparrowes, " Well Red," with equal parts amazement and delight. Not because of the writing itself (sorry, Jason), but due to the fact that I feel a shared sense of history with the band. What, I must ask, are the goddamn odds that a non-musician like myself would not only have worked with two of the band's members in the past (Clifford at Boulder Wax Trax, Graham at Tower Tempe), in two different states, but as an added bonus, I worked with the fellow who wrote the damn article at the Denver Trax? Not to mention working with a guy in a band whom Clifford cited as a favorite from the past in Cavity. Music has oft been accused of catering to certain feelings of nostalgia, but this is absurd.

Needless to say, I'm quite pleased for the success of everyone involved. Who said a lifetime of working in record stores doesn't have its (minor) rewards?

J.D. Geddes
via the Internet


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