A Touching Story
Regarding Karen Bowers's "A Wealth of Trouble," in the March 15 issue:
Barbara Huttner's story was extremely poignant to me. I know her pain, her anger and frustration, because I endured the same. For four years I suffered through the supervised visits with my every move being scrutinized (should I hug my child?), the lame bullshit of Arapahoe County Social Services and the Englewood Police Department, over $27,000 in legal expenses, three different attorneys, constant, intense and overwhelming pressure to plead guilty to a crime I did not commit, a bankruptcy, vandalism to my home and my car, hate mail/ notes and false innuendos from people who never met me, alienation of friends and family that will never be repaired, professional and social ostracism...

I know her pain.
All this, and where did it end? What ultimately transpired? All charges were dismissed. (Now, your Honor, where do I go to get my dignity back?)

I have a successful but extremely guarded relationship with the children's mother, but I'll never again trust her. Make no mistake---I do love my children! For it was through them and them alone that I found the strength to get up in the morning and somehow get through one more day of the travesty.

Recently I was asked what was it like. I thought about it, then said that it was like attempting to defend yourself in a room with no light. Imagine not knowing when you were going to get hit next, what direction it was coming from or how hard it was going to be.

My solace and my peace come from my current relationship with my kids and a belief in divine retribution. My best advice to Ms. Huttner is to forget justice---it is not only blind in these matters but deaf and dumb as well. Forget the Constitution--as far as the law (and anyone else, for that matter) is concerned, you are guilty until proven innocent. Never speak to authorities without your lawyer being present (none are on "your side"--they all want to nail your hide to the wall!), trust no one, watch everything that you say and everything you do. After all is said and done, even if you are declared innocent, you will never, ever be truly vindicated. Regardless of the outcome, your name will be on a list of pedophiles and child molesters for the rest of your life (no one I've ever talked to has successfully had his name deleted).

May God bless and keep you, Ms. Huttner. May He smile upon you and give you strength in this, your time of need.

My heart, indeed, every fiber of my being, aches for you.
Name withheld on request

Flats, Busted
Thank you, Westword and Richard Fleming, for your March 15 story "Glowing Reports." Even with the cynicism of our age, much of the public is still unaware of the web of PR firms, attorneys and consultants that influence almost every aspect of our daily lives.

It's not limited to "happy news" about plutonium and silencing citizen activists. "Hired guns" like MGA/Thompson are active at every level of our government and society. They hijack our democratic process while promoting and protecting those who profit from poisoning our families and neighborhoods. MGA/Thompson's credentials reflect their values. ASARCO, Martin Marietta and Shell are companies that have profited from polluting our communities--and MGA/ Thompson seems to ignore even common table manners when feeding from that trough.

Please keep 'em coming, Westword. We won't be able to reclaim our country or protect the lives and health of our loved ones until the message hits home.

Brian Andreja
Sierra Club/Rocky Mountain Chapter

Editor's note: Due to a copy-editing error, "Glowing Reports" misstated the risk of getting cancer from plutonium exposure for residents living within a few miles of Rocky Flats for half of their lifetimes. The correct figure, as reported in the state health department study, is 1 in 100,000.

99 Percent Puerile
He's back! He's bad! He's Michael Paglia!
Thank you, Westword, for hiring this terrific reviewer who makes art so alive, interesting and informative.

Margaret Neumann

Michael Paglia's article describing the $7 million in public art at DIA ("A Site for Sore Eyes," March 8) proves that art criticism can too be coherent. I thank him.

I have to quibble, though, with his complaint that political hacks made the selections. It's a valid point, but experts with "credentials" are usually hacks in service to an out-of-state iconoclasm that has dominated the intellectual scene for three generations. The Wilma Webbs of politics have the same philosophical impulse as the literati of art. (Actually, both have more of impulse than of philosophy--both rely on odd scraps of metaphysics to prop up their enthusiasm of the moment.) The major flaw of public art is that it exists at all, not who selects it.

To be useful to the general reader, criticism should point out when art affirms a common vision that preserves society and when it expresses nihilism that attacks it. We live in a time when poets compose by random selection of words from flash cards, painters hang blank canvases and children are conditioned to believe that all points of view have equal worth. Many of those children are now thirty years old, and it's time they learned to discriminate. Discrimination is the essence of criticism and refined taste. The art world has learned that calling it censorship or yahooism can put the critic on trial.

What is needed now--as urgently as Mencken was ever needed to tell off the booboisie--are critics not afraid to identify the puerility, degeneracy and lack of craftsmanship that characterize all of the arts.

Norman Ely

Is Nothing Sacred?
Upon reading Steve Jackson's "Taking His Medicine," in the March 8 issue, I was very upset to see a sacred ceremony and names being printed in such a disrespectful way. Printing sacred names is very inappropriate.

I have known Kayla Moonwatcher for three years, and I have witnessed her commitment to a sacred way of living according to her birthright as part Lakota and Cherokee. Her whole life is dedicated to helping people to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. Her answering machine will greet anyone interested and inform them of her classes in Reiki, polarity therapy and journey apprenticeships. She does not announce her prayer circles and sacred ceremonies. The Lakota way teaches that all people are one. Wouldn't it be nice if we could respect each other and stop attacking one another with our wounded hearts?

Lenore Anderson

The Fur's Still Flying
Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "So Fur, So Good," in the March 1 issue:
Why would Westword continue to promote an industry that involves pain, misery, execution and environmental degradation? While the readers file through these human-interest stories, they read nothing about the suffering experienced by the fur trade's victims. People like Mable Mauser would rather not discuss the very dark side of their business.

Three types of traps are in current use. With leghold traps, strong springs snap the trap's jaws shut on anything that trips the platen trigger. Think of the jaw forces required to hold (for example) a full-grown coyote from escape. Imagine the intense pain felt by having a device clamped so tightly around a limb that you cannot escape, no matter how hard you twist and pull. These cruel devices also do not discriminate among species. As a former trapper, I can vouch for the fact that housecats, dogs, birds, skunks and other nontarget animals (called trash by trappers) are caught in traps. Sixty-five countries have banned the leghold trap.

Kill traps (e.g., conibear) often do not succeed in performing their task. Undersized traps may only entrap an animal in painful strangle or midsection holds. Oversized traps may "only" snag a muzzle or tail. Snare traps, while less common, are cruel by design--a thin wire noose tightens about an animal's throat, midsection or leg. Trappers often kill fur-bearers by clubbing or strangling them (bullet holes reduce pelt value). "Trash" animals are shot or stomped to death.

Then there are "fur farms," where wild creatures that have evolved to range over miles in a day spend their entire lives in tiny wire mesh cages with barely enough room to turn around. "Living" in this way, isolated from family and habitat, these animals become psychotic, circling their heads and bodies in futile attempts to escape or move about. Despite the false claims of the fur industry, these animals have not been domesticated. Killing methods vary from farm to farm and include anal or genital electrocution, suffocation, drowning and strangulation. Keep in mind that these killing methods are designed to maximize profit by leaving the pelts intact.

The editors at Westword should open their eyes and see that the promotion of fur masks the bloody truth behind its production. One might ask of Ms. Mauser how she can support such a brutal industry and then reach down to lovingly pet her dog. Fortunately, fur is on its way out. Conscientious shoppers, no longer ignorant about fur production or fooled by its facade of glamour, are refusing to buy and wear fur. The fur industry, and not more fur-bearing animals, will be dead soon.

Scott Keating, Technical Advisor
Rocky Mountain Animal Defense