Letters to the Editor
The New Format
I have been a Westword reader ever since I rolled into the Mile High City eight and a half years ago. I have watched your paper change and evolve, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. I'm not a complainer or a whiner by nature, and though there were times when your paper annoyed me and even grated on my nerves, the positive outweighed the negative, so I kept my mouth shut.
When I picked up your paper last week, as I dutifully do every Thursday, something seemed wrong. I opened it up to read, looking forward to the weekly amusement that I have come to know -- and frankly, couldn't bear what I saw. Your new format is boring. It's unattractive, unimaginative and just plain terrible, and don't forget boring. Even Adam Cayton-Holland, Dan Savage and Jason Sheehan seemed boring, and I didn't think that was possible.
I suspect that the new size and use of space is more economical and more environmentally friendly (less paper, less trees, yadda, yadda). Great! I'm all for that, but please consider that a layout helps generate interest in the content. Please say that this was just a test to see how it panned out and that other options are open. I love your paper, Westword, but if I want boring and uncreative, I have two other Denver papers that fill that bill in abundance.
I love Westword's new look! It's much more sophisticated, and I won't miss those stupid, kindergarten-level graphics that were a blight on your review pages.
"On Call," Patricia Calhoun, November 9
If I ever become gay, I'm going to join a new-Christian church and butt-fuck my way to heaven and smoke meth along the way.
P.S.: I'll also join the Republican Party.
In "On Call," Patricia Calhoun mentions Ted Haggard's appearance in the film Jesus Camp and his comment that "We don't have to debate about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible." The truth is, there is quite a bit of debate over what the Bible says about homosexual activity. Several books, such as The Church and the Homosexual and The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence of Same-Sex Relationships, question the assertion that gay intimacy is a sin. The condemnation of gays and the effort to deny them rights has little to do with the word of God, but quite a bit to do with oppressive political agendas.
In a book that was burned by the Nazis, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Wilhelm Reich wrote, "The goal of sexual repression is that of producing an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation." Fear of a "gay agenda" in Nazi Germany led to thousands of homosexuals being sent to concentration camps. Instead of a gold star, gays were branded with a pink triangle, which has since become a symbol of gay pride and solidarity.
Despite the setbacks in Colorado's election, other parts of the world are moving to extend rights and respect for homosexuals. Mexico City recently passed a resolution to legalize same-sex civil unions, and a South African panel has paved the way for a similar measure. Meanwhile, media efforts like PlanetOut.com create community and provide vital news for LGBT people across the globe, while briskly selling DVDs of Six Feet Under and other popular programs instill a greater compassion for gays in a world where James Dobson's media empire disseminates bigotry cloaked as piety.
Hopefully, more Christians will focus on the parts of the Bible that call for social justice or join the growing "Creation Care" movement among evangelicals who are concerned about the environment. To quote Reverend Haggard, "There is no doubt about it in my mind that climate change is happening, and there is no doubt about it that it would be wise for us to stop doing the foolish things we're doing that could potentially be causing this."
I just finished reading Patricia Calhoun's story about "poor Mr. Haggard." I had to write to say bravo! It's great. She never disappoints me. Keep up the great work.
"Into the Scrum," Jessica Centers, November 2
I cannot begin to describe how disappointed I was to read Jessica Centers's article about Glendale and its rugby program. Stuffed with factual inaccuracies, poorly written and reveling in long-outdated stereotypes, this piece is among the worst your paper has published in some time. Clearly, there was no attempt made to confirm or verify with a third party any of the assertions made, and indeed, some are highly offensive to members of the Denver Highlanders in particular. As a longtime member of the rugby community, I am aware of numerous ways in which individual members of clubs like the Highlanders and the Barbarians and the clubs themselves contribute to society. The tired emphasis on beer, violence and strip bars is an unfortunate cliche that through shoddy journalism you have chosen to perpetuate.
"Into the Scrum" was a great article! I have been playing rugby since college; it's a great game for those guys who cannot give up playing contact sports. I felt I wasn't big enough to play football in college, so rugby was a great alternative. It's a very social sport and deserves to grow. It's popular in Europe, and I hope it catches on in the States.
Thanks for the coverage.
"From Russia, Without Love," Jared Jacang Maher, NOVEMBER 2
The article about the rape porn that is being channeled through University of Colorado at Denver computer systems describes a scene in which a victim is portrayed as bloody, beaten or dead. If this originated from any of the Eastern European countries that Jared Jacang Maher listed -- such as Russia, Ukraine or Bulgaria -- then the victim was more than likely bloody, beaten and dead. This scene described a "snuff film."
This particular material is not legal in the United States, and is more than likely used as instructional videos in the country of origin against victims who are being sold off into the sex-slave industry: If they don't comply, they will in effect meet the fate that is portrayed. For confirmation, read Victor Malarek's The Natashas. When a Eastern European hacker identified himself to local, state and federal law-enforcement officials in 2002 and warned of possible gateways being opened for such activities and other clandestine security threats, their attitude was at best passive. How dare an outsider conduct better detective work than the respective agents holding a badge?
Don't you think that listing the links to these rape-porn sites perpetuates the sickness? I believe in freedom of speech, and I think that we, as readers, should have all the facts, but don't you think there should be a line drawn somewhere when it comes to this kind of evil? Don't you, as the media, feel some moral responsibility? Just curious.
"All Grown Up," Jessica Centers, October 19
Reading "All Grown Up" (which included my life story), I was disappointed. When interviewed, I was told the article's focus would be solely on Bridging the Gap and the Chafee program. However, it appears that Jessica Centers's intent was instead to focus on our personal life stories. I feel that some of the information included was unnecessary and excessive. I believe I was lied to about the final intent of the article. Rather than a positive advertisement for these programs, the article turned into a salacious and at times untrue documentary of our lives. I am saddened that something I thought was going to be positive turned out to be negative.
I am an avid Westword reader and one of the youth from the article "All Grown Up." I just wanted to give you guys an update of what is going on with me. I was the homeless youth sleeping on the Denver City and County Building heating grates, and I am happy to say that I am no longer homeless. Bridging the Gap has helped me get my own apartment by matching my rent for a deposit. I am completely grateful for this program and am glad that it exists. Thanks, Bridging the Gap. And thanks to you, Westword, for your awesome newspaper (and tell Dan Savage he's my favorite). Please have a nice day.
"Dizzying Heights," Tuyet Nguyen, November 2
Tuyet Nguyen's article regarding the legal issues of Hawthorne Heights and its less-than-scrupulous record label was great. Several rumors have circulated about Victory Records president Tony Brummel and his lack of business ethics; one is that he supposedly licensed several songs by Victory bands to a porn company for use as sexin' soundtracks. Calling him the "Suge Knight of Hardcore," however, might not be a good metaphor. I mean, Suge Knight dangled Vanilla Ice off the roof of a hotel until he agreed to sign away half of his "Ice Ice Baby" publishing rights. Suge Knight also punked Dr. Dre out of the ownership of the masters of 1992's "The Chronic," along with any ownership in Death Row Records at all. Suge Knight is a serious intimidator. Tony Brummel, while no doubt being a music-industry sponge, might be better compared to a Morris Levy type of record executive -- one whose accounting is a bit creative given his less-than-savvy artists.
It's good to hear about these types of legal issues among the lesser parts of the music industry, though. So much of what's available out there on the business focuses on the major labels and their multimillion-dollar lawsuits. It's more tangible when reading about the "independents" and their smaller artists and smaller incomes.