Letters to the Editor
"Rock Bottom," Patricia Calhoun, October 11
Thank you for the column about getting rid of Dinger, the Disgrace of Denver. Seriously, we got rid of Jake the Mistake; we need to keep this good trend going.
I originally moved to Denver at the same time the Rockies arrived. First I was a little surprised that they named the baseball team after the old NHL club (which had a better logo than the current baseball club, in my opinion). But then there was the unveiling of Dinger, and I was very surprised at the blatant ripoff of a children's-show character — particularly one from the pit.
The kicker of the whole thing is that all of the "native" Coloradans I have met are very proud of the fact they were "born here," unlike most of the rest of us, who migrated this direction. And then the baseball team uses a triceratops as its mascot. The triceratops is the official dinosaur of Wyoming (http://www.statefossils.com/wy/wydino.html), while the official (and first) state fossil of Colorado is the stegosaurus (http://www.statefossils.com/co/co.html). If the Rockies were going to use a dinosaur, you'd think they might have chosen the official one from their own state, not their neighbor to the north.
How can you be so cruel to Dinger? Children love him! And aren't sports violent enough? I, for one, like it that the Rockies have a kind, cuddly mascot.
Patricia Calhoun, thank you for saying what everyone was thinking but was too afraid to come right out and say.
"Super Fine," Michael Paglia, October 11
As usual, I agree with everything Michael Paglia writes, in this case about the architecture and the current exhibits at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. It is quite an experience, and I couldn't help thinking how it puts the Denver Art Museum to shame, both architecturally and curatorially. Fortunately, Colorado Springs is not afflicted with bigcityitis like Denver, and the new museum, like the beautiful one in Kansas City, reflects both a sense of place and a sense of grace and stability — virtues sadly devalued in much postmodern design.
"Getting an 'F'," Michael Roberts, October 4
David McSwane got his fifteen minutes of fame in Westword, including the coveted front page. He must be pleased and proud. I'll bet he has shown it to everyone (except his mother) and has posted it on his bulletin board in his office.
But what an obvious ploy on his part to get attention! And you gave it to him.
It's also obvious that his use of the popular four-letter verb on the front page of the Colorado State University student newspaper he edits is not about President Bush. If McSwane wanted to decry the Bush presidency, there are ways to do so. He didn't do that. He drew attention only to himself. The commonly used vulgarity — spoken everywhere the best slobs, cretins and insecure souls meet to eat — must be a revered word in McSwane's vocabulary, since it served his purpose so well.
If he is an aspiring journalist, he's not showing it — or are the 700 signatures collected by Kris Hite representative of the larger CSU student body, and is he giving them what they want? I doubt it.
Your heading, "Getting an 'F'," was a great one. A nice pun, too. And your intro heading, "The media's coverage of a college newspaper's profane two-word editorial deserves more than a few curse words," made me laugh.
But McSwane didn't.
Michael Roberts's article covered the McSwane story the best of any I saw or read by any other Colorado journalist. I live in Fort Collins and went to the first hearing. I felt that the mainstream media's coverage was pathetic. The ten o'clock newscasts made it seem that most people at the hearing were for having David McSwane fired, when clearly it was the other way around.
Alternative news is the future, because the hogwash the "gatekeepers" dish out is weak.
After reading "Getting An 'F'" and online postings from both the Westword and Denver Post sites, I'm fuckin' pissed.
As reported by the Post, the CSU Board of Student Communications "admonish[ed]" McSwane "for 'writing' the offending words." As I see it, the board is encouraging journalists to not offend people, which is clearly the opposite of the point McSwane was trying to make: a zealous defense of free speech underscored by a perfect example of it (i.e., an extremely offensive yet fully protected political statement).
More important, why is the use of the word "fuck" even offensive in the first place? A google search of the word "Fuck" reveals 69,800,000 hits. Adding "Fucker," "Fucking," "Fucked" and "Fucko" totals up 149,914,200 hits. My answer: The word "fuck" retains its offensive value only because of stupid fucks who continue to make a scene when the word "fuck" is used in public discourse (e.g., Larry Penley, James Landers and the entire CSU board). If those stupid fucks would just chill the fuck out, the fucking word would cease to be used in such context because its intended effect would be completely fucking lost. So, seriously, get a fucking clue.
Equally important, however, is that many ideas throughout history have been deemed offensive: equal rights for women, African descendants not being property, Jesus being (or not being) the Messiah, the world not being flat, etc. Nonetheless, without the freedom to express an idea as one chooses, the idea itself cannot truly be examined — and at that point, education and progress cease to flourish.
So here's a toast: to McSwane, the Real American Hero, the true patriot — not for his political views, but because he encouraged people to formulate an opinion and then make it known to the world. I hope he continues on his journalistic path. As for the advertisers who pulled their support from the Collegian, I think the Collegian should run an article listing those fuckers, so people like me can refuse to purchase their goods and services.
Oh, and speaking of political views, yeah, FUCK BUSH.
Jesse D. Hall
It's a relief to know that there are still journalists out there willing to do that thing called research, and who make the effort to get the whole story. I'm Dave's roommate, which gave me the "fly on the wall" privilege of letting me see the side of the staff, the students and everyone else who wanted to get a word in edgewise. I really started to hate the media for their portrayal, because I knew the whole story. So many of the big organizations were talking about Dave wanting to be in the spotlight, then misquoting him so they could be in a light of another color: lime.
Thank you for seeking the truth. I know it's harder.
Westword, kindly watch your mouth. It's highly doubtful your writers or editors would casually use pejorative, bigoted language in regard to African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, gays or any number of other social groups. Yet in your otherwise fine coverage of the "Fuck Bush" story, I've now twice heard Westword refer to "pot-smoking dropouts": Editor Patricia Calhoun used the phrase on a recent KBDI program; Michael Roberts used it in his October 4 Message.
Who says pot smokers are "dropouts"? It's a stereotype that for decades has been directed at hippie types; it parallels perfectly racial/ethnic stereotypes of unproductive, parasitical others — in particular, "welfare bum." A Westword editor spouting off about "lazy ___ (insert plural epithet of choice)" would get canned, but when the same kind of glib bigotry is directed toward hippies, hey, no problem.
Now, the phrase may have originated in the story of the CSU editor's attempt years back to get an Army recruiter to accept him as a "lowlife" (my term). But notice the bigoted assumptions behind that story, and, more to the point, if that story is why Westword is parroting this term, then its writers and editors should be using "pot-smoking dropout" in quotations in both speech and print. If you don't clearly indicate it's someone else's language, then it becomes your language, and it's the language of prejudice.
Ironically, I would guess that many at Westword are themselves countercultural; after all, most alternative weeklies in America have their roots in hippie culture. In fact, probably about 10 percent of America is now countercultural — post-'60s hippie. How society deals with that minority is crucial; the ability of the far right to create viable scapegoats paves the road to fascism. Then again, we can treat hippie-Americans respectfully and head in a more humane direction. Avoiding disrespectful language would be a good place for Westword to start.
"Dead Reckoning," Juliet Wittman, October 4
A thousand thanks I send to you for this magnificent review of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. Sensitive, forceful, quite compelling. I am a Presbyterian pastor here and working with Sabeel in Colorado. Rachel inspires me to remember that daily the Palestinians she stood with face the same, even more institutionalized terror from the Israeli policies and practices of taking the land without the people who have lived there since time immemorial.
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