A new leaf: Inspired by Amy Haimerl's "Civic Duty," in the June 15 issue, here's my version of "Trees" (with apologies to Joyce Kilmer):
I thought that I would never see
A park that didn't have a tree,
But Denver Parks turned down its thumbs:
These trees, they only shelter bums.
These trees provide "unprogrammed space"
For drug deals officers can't trace.
Ignore their branches full of squirrels;
We need to roust the working girls.
A concrete scab will soon replace
The cool and leafy arbors' grace.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But treeless parks are made by committee.
Remembering Russell: I had the wonderful pleasure of knowing Russell Enloe (Off Limits, June 15). My brother worked for him for many years, and through him I came to meet and know the King of Broadway, who was one of a kind! He had an amazing ability to bring together people who might never have met otherwise and to call them friends. What a circle he had!
Russ, thank you for asking what I was wearing and when I was going to leave my hubby! See you up there someday, hon. Always will love you.
Neighborhood watch: I loved Jessica Centers's article on the Herzoff fella ("Watch and Learn," June 8). He's such a victim, and you did a great job of showing it. How come you never write about the hundreds of narcotics complaints every day on Capitol Hill? Why not an article about the business owners and residents who are sick and tired of the crackheads and homeless having their way with the neighborhood? How about an article showing what the police face every day from the "poor victims" who choose to take advantage of the innocent people who are just trying to live a good life here?
No, we wouldn't want that. Let's just make everyone believe that something horrible happens when the police are not being watched and judged for everything they do. People tend to forget that law enforcement is a dirty job and that people fight, shoot, stab, try to run them over with cars -- and then want their jobs when the police fight back.
When you have a party on parole selling crack on Colfax who sees some attractive female walking through a dark alley, and he decides that he is going to do something to her, who are you going to call? CopWatch? What if it's you? Your sister? Your mom? This is by no means advocating brutality, but when the police get there and try to arrest this guy, what if he fights? Runs? Or shoots? What if the police get this guy before any of this can happen? Are you going to write an article about the great arrest the police made? Guess what? These kinds of things happen every day! Officer Morgan is a great police officer who allows most people on Capitol Hill to feel safe in their own homes.
The only people who don't like Officer Morgan are the criminals!
Last rights: Luke Turf's "Exit This Way," in the June 8 issue, was an excellent, well-rounded article. Much more of this kind of fair-handed approach to the right-to-die movement is needed, and I hope Westword will continue to pursue and report on this very important subject.
When right is wrong: There is no right way to determine what is wrong with the right-to-die debate. The issue itself is a question of who gets to decide what we do with our lives, and our deaths. The right-to-die debate is in the same boat as abortion rights and legalizing marijuana. We like to think we are sailing the boat, but it's hard to believe that when we can't even choose when our time is up on this earth.
Derek Humphry was able to make a choice. He chose the name Hemlock for the non-profit organization that started it all. Hemlock is a very powerful name for a very powerful purpose. Socrates used hemlock as a drug to help him pass away peacefully. Those in power at the time sentenced Socrates to death, and a lot like some people living with unbearable diseases today, Socrates was virtually powerless against them. It took a lot of courage for him to face his fate instead of running away from it. Just like in his teachings, there is a form of irony here.
For those of us in society who have to make that choice, the decision may seem to be out of your hands. But once your ship has sailed, you are within your rights to choose your own destiny.
Whether or not our rights are within or above the law, we have God-given rights. The fact remains that we all have the choice, whether it be right or wrong. And the day will come when politics are liberal again and people will have the right to make these choices for themselves, because life is just.
Right to life: Luke Turf's "Exit This Way" featured the fact that the hub of the right-to-die movement is here in Colorado. It is very unfortunate that this story did not detail any evaluation of how right-to-die movements have evolved in other countries where they have been implemented. In the Netherlands, we have a thirty-year history that can be evaluated with the slippery slope in full view (as we have seen in the U.S. as well). It begins with one situation in mind: allowing people who are terminally ill to commit suicide with physician assistance. Currently, physicians in the Netherlands admit they routinely euthanize people against their will (61 percent of patients, per the Remmelink Report) and for various reasons that are not limited to the original intent. Patients are offered very little counseling.
Oregon has assisted suicide legislation that in its short time period is leading to many abuses. Oregon officials find hospice care, reimbursed by Medicare at approximately $105 a day, too expensive when they can give a prescription for a lethal dose of morphine. Who administers the morphine? It may not always be the patient, but a burdened family member. Oregon also allows depressed people to be assisted in their death. There was a time in this country when people tried to comfort and support those who suffer, not encourage their self-annihilation.
Turf's article centers on Sandy, who has a terminal cancer. Suicide is catching in a society. Sandy points this out when he reports his own mother may have taken her own life and he is enthusiastically following in her footsteps. He also reports he can think about living while he has a solution for death. Why could he not focus on the time left without needing to think about death? Many in our society are misguided in believing in death with dignity. Anyone who has seen death firsthand knows there is nothing dignified about it, much less about suicide. Most people fear death, and this gives them some perceived measure of control, but no one ultimately controls death.
Ask yourselves why the disabled fear this movement. Shouldn't the strong protect the weak?
The light stuff: Thank you for the exceptional, brilliantly written article on the death and dignity movement, "Exit This Way." Luke Turf's story was journalism at its finest. What fascinated me was the way he weaved so many historical facts into a comprehensive narrative and kept the reader's rapt attention with the human-interest drama.
Although it's still an upward struggle, we feel we will have a law in California similar to that of Oregon this year. People still deny and shun the "D" word.
Luke, many thanks for giving light.
Reverend Dennis G. Kuby
The Socrates Death Acceptance Fellowship
Hard to swallow: I enjoyed your story about Sandy and Joann Bush, and the related information about Hemlock/Compassion & Choices. A couple of details were not consistent with my personal knowledge of a few things. First, I very seriously doubt the 50,000-plus membership of C&C. Many members have not renewed membership in the past two years, and I know of more than five chapters that have been dissolved.
I continue to support the entire movement that all of these organizations try to represent, and am a life member of C&C, as well as a member of the Final Exit Network and Exit International. But politics, and egos, are the same the world around (apparently), and all of these organizations support that opinion.
Thanks again for the story.
via the Internet
Pleased to assist: I would not claim to be the father of the right-to-die movement in America because that started when I was a boy, in l939. But I suppose I was the father of the "assisted suicide" movement from when I published Jean's Way in l979 and started Hemlock in l980.
On the whole, a thorough and interesting article by Luke Turf.
Junction City, Oregon
Whistling Dixie: Regarding Robert Wilonsky's June 1 Playlist piece on the Dixie Chicks:
At a paltry 28 percent approval rating (DUHbya's latest), I've finally been exonerated by 72 percent of America for wearing a "The Dixie Chicks Were Right" bumpersticker for the past three years! I'm ashamed of any radio station not playing the Chicks' new music. This is the reverse of payola. Because of lying, men and women are dying in the wrong war at the wrong timeso that Iraqis can have the freedom of speech that Americans are supposed to enjoy.
Just like groups that promote censorship on TV (even cable), all you have to do is turn the channel! I'm tired of the RWNs (right-wing nuts) holding a cross and wrapping themselves in a flag and being so hypocritical about what freedom truly is: It's only free if they say so!
You're either with us or against us. George Washington (the one who never told a lie) would be so ashamed of this America.
Smithville, West Virginia
Reviews in review: Love, love, love Jason Sheehan's reviews! I used to cook quite a bit when I had a family and loved to entertain, but now that I'm alone, I don't cook much at all, so I live vicariously through his reviews. Keep up the good work.
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The wormwood has turned: I have a couple of corrections to Jason Sheehan's June 1 "Chasing the Green Fairy." Real absinthe is made with Artemisia absinthium, also known as grand wormwood. The use of Roman wormwood without grand wormwood is an incomplete absinthe. Wormwood is not a controlled substance; it is not the wormwood itself that is not allowed, but products that use wormwood and contain the chemical thujone. This regulation extends to all of the Artemisia genus, including Roman wormwood. As real absinthe contains wormwood and a small amount of thujone, it still can't be legally sold in the U.S.