Murder, Ink
Westword, I'm very impressed. Karen Bowers's stories on two Colorado death-penalty cases ("A Trust Betrayed," February 27, and "A Fight to the Death," March 6) were excellent pieces of reporting and writing. While Bowers's descriptions of the murders of Ashley Gray and Lorraine Martelli were as chilling as the best crime novel, her analyses of the legal issues were equally compelling. Great work.

H.T. Stern
via the Internet

Editor's note: To read Bowers's articles--or any Westword stories published since July 1, 1996--check out our archives at archives/index.html

Preachers First
Regarding Ward Harkavy's "Focus Pocus," in the March 6 issue:
Thanks for alerting us to the political threat from Focus on the Family. It just staggers the imagination to learn that James Dobson is on 3,400 radio stations, receives 10,000 letters a day and pulls in $125 million a year. Why, that's more than the Buddhists gave Al Gore!

Religion mixed with politics is a volatile combination, which is why it is strictly regulated in some countries.

Think of the trouble these people have caused in America: In 1775 the Reverend Jonathan Boucher of Virginia took loaded pistols into his pulpit to preach revolution, and we all know what happened the following year. In the 1850s Reverend Owen Lovejoy incited the Illinois abolitionists, leading to a terrible civil war. In the 1960s I myself was so beguiled by the Reverend M.L. King Jr. and the Reverend William Sloan Coffin that I was arrested for political acts.

Please make the Dobson expose the first of a series. I suggest the Reverend Jesse Jackson as the next subject.

Ron Vertrees

Classical Gas
In Stuart Steers's "Readin', Writin' and Rabble-Rousin'," in the February 20 issue, both Stephanie Hult and Valerie Murphy make a flawed argument for the return to education that they foolishly assume existed in the Fifties. While calling for a return to the teaching of the classics, an art form that reached its supposed pinnacle in the mid-1800s, they then insist that educational theory reached its height in the mid-1900s. Why not a call for the education that led to the development of English literature and the great poetic classics? Or even better, why not a return to the education of the Renaissance or the Greek classical period?

Like many people with just enough education to be dangerous, these two believe that by reverting to the past, we can ignore the underlying issue of the increasingly rapid pace of change that is taking place in the world. All human institutions are beset with problems related to this pace, including education. It is ridiculous to compare the education in America--with its extremely egalitarian ideals--with the education in different countries, or even with different times.

The many attempts at reform in the past few years, even when they failed, were well-meaning attempts to address the variety of ills that every country faces. I have traveled throughout the world studying educational systems and have never found a single model to rival American education when discussing equal learning for all.

A deeper reading of the classics will lead the ladies to a more open-minded interpretation of what learning is for and why, when we face the inevitable problems with educating an entire population equally, we do so with the understanding that it is the historic philosophy of this country. While it is important to educate everyone to their highest level, we are not, and I hope we never will be, a country for the elite.

"Retrogression is oft times equated with progress."--Thoreau
Thomas E. Thompson

As a parent in the Boulder Valley School District, I can only hope that Ms. McCullough (Letters, March 6) isn't responsible for teaching any science courses. She states, "What I've learned is that employers are not looking for students who have memorized the periodic table; rather, they are looking for people who can communicate. They are also looking for employees who can work cooperatively with each other in a spirit of teamwork and support--skills Ms. Hult seems to be lacking."

Maybe we should all pull our kids out of school and send them to the Army, where they will all learn plenty about teamwork and cooperation. Who cares if they can't read or write, do math or understand chemistry, as long as they can all get together and communicate about their feelings of inadequacy? I'm sure my employer values good communication and cooperation from his employees, but ultimately it is their individual skills and knowledge that gets them hired and keeps them here, not the fact that they are able to B.S. their way through a conversation. Not that I would expect Ms. McCullough or her union to understand any of that. They obviously have more important things in mind.