Strike While the Irony is Hot
Patricia Calhoun's October 10 column, "The Road to Ruin," hit just the right note. Central City has only itself to blame for its precarious position. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

Jane Sidwell

I am one of the "pigeons" that frequently has no trouble at all in flying that extra mile up the road to the casinos of Central City. Bullwhackers and other casinos on the hill have provided me with many hours of entertainment.

I can't help but wonder how the city council members of Central City can retain a per-machine gaming tax that is higher than that of Black Hawk. According to reports in the Colorado Gambler publication, this tax, when added to the egregious tax rate levied by the State of Colorado, combine to form the highest gaming tax in the world!

High taxes mean less profits for casino operators, which translates into lower payouts for players. Which equals less action, which equals less players. Simple.

I don't see how a new road will change that situation.
Walter Furstenau

Calhoun's "The Road to Ruin" paints a pretty vivid picture of the kind of inter- and intra-community relations gambling produces. As someone who works every day in Trinidad, the largest city within a hundred miles of my home, I am dismayed that I will not get to participate in a local vote should Amendment 18 be approved by the people of Colorado. Only the people living within the city limits of Trinidad will vote, even though all of the growth is occurring in the county. It also dismays me that the battle over this amendment is between the casino and the casino wannabes. The voices of the people who live here are pretty much drowned out. Proponents say we can have our say after the amendment becomes a permanent part of the Colorado Constitution.

Doug Holdread
via the Internet

Attachment Under Attack
Karen Bowers's aptly titled October 10 article, "Whipping Boy," was a chilling account that brought back memories of my own beatings. My mother once beat me so hard with a wooden spoon that she broke it, and I have carried those scars all my life. My parents were upstanding religious citizens who went to Mass on Sunday and beat me the rest of the week. I believe the attachment disorder that all of these Christian people are using as an excuse to further inhumane treatment of children is actually caused by them.

God intended for these people to be childless for good reason! These people are control freaks and are determined to raise little soldiers by any means allowable. And they have all kinds of support in our churches and schools: "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Children need to be held, hugged, understood and loved--not prayed over like they were the devil's spawn. If this kind of treatment of our precious gifts from God is allowed to continue, we will surely continue to have adults who are cold, angry and without morals. Everyone who recommended and supported the cruel "therapy" used on David should be held accountable, and Renee should be thrown to the lions.

Donna Krieger

The lengths to which we as a society will go to ignore and minimize child abuse never fail to sicken me. Two-year-olds aren't "crazy," and even if they are, it's the responsibility of their parents to help them--not to beat them to death and then try to hide behind the dead child's corpse and some lame psychobabble. The only person with an attachment disorder in this story is Renee Polreis, who apparently could not muster the human decency to spare a two-year-old child his life. Shame on her for blaming a toddler for her own sickness, and on anyone who supports that terrible lie.

Name withheld on request

After reading Karen Bowers's article, I was literally sick to my stomach. I cannot begin to describe the disgusted feeling I got. This woman, Renee Polreis, is clearly a disturbed woman with severe prejudice problems. In the article, her friend Kathy Brown stated that Polreis is a very religious person. Brown also stated that Polreis didn't like Russians because they are "atheists" and that Polreis "didn't want to step foot in a country filled with non-believers." I pose the question: "Why did a woman that has prejudices against a nationality adopt a child from that same nation?" This woman is full of garbage.

Another friend of Polreis's, Julie Haralson, stated that Polreis was "already insane" by the time she returned to the United States. If Polreis had so many complaints about David (her adopted son), why did she continue to keep custody of that child? Let me remind you that we are talking about a grown adult who runs her own business. I think Renee Polreis is full of crap, and she only used the excuse of this "attachment disorder" to commit cold-blooded, premeditated murder.

Holly Malin

After reading Karen Bowers's article, and being a Christian mother, I feel outrage. Renee Polreis deserves only torture and (legal) death. How long before she murders her other child? Ms. Haralson needs a lobotomy or a straitjacket or both. Little David never had a prayer.

God bless the child that suffers.
Robin Reagan

Upon reading the article about Renee Polreis and her claim that her child suffered from "attachment disorder" and was "violent," I immediately ran to grab the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the "bible" of psychiatric/psychological clinical diagnoses. Oddly, I did not find reference to a specific "attachment disorder." But, given that my manual is the older DSM-III-R and not the newly revised DSM-IV, I realized that I could not judge based on the book alone. I quickly jumped on to my computer and began to search on Medline and PsychInfo, two databases containing up-to-date literature on various disorders and techniques for treating them.

In PsychInfo, I found reference not to "attachment disorders" specifically, but rather to attachment "behaviors." Searching on that, I found one article wherein the author focused on the lack of use of "recent findings in developmental psychology" regarding attachment disorders and noted that neither the DSM-IV nor the ICD-9 make reference to attachment disorder. I would well imagine that the reason "attachment disorder" is not recognized in either book is because the research to date is not conclusive.

What really struck me, though, were comments made by Renee Polreis and her supporters that the child David was "violent" and that children who suffer from attachment disorder can "inflict injury upon themselves." A search of the recent literature turned up no less than (hence, no more than) fifteen articles (of thousands of possible combinations) about attachment behaviors and anger, most of which indicated that a poorly attached child would act out in a preschool setting and none of which indicated violence toward parents.

Another search revealed fifteen (again, out of thousands of possible combinations) articles about attachment behaviors and violence, most of which centered on the relationship between an abuser and the victim's attachment to the abuser, not about an inappropriate attachment between a child and parents.

A final search of the literature revealed no articles about attachment behaviors and self-mutilation. In general, it appears as though there is little, if any, scholarly work supporting the claims of these people about a specific "attachment disorder."

While I do not doubt and in fact do agree that there are problems associated with children who have formed poor attachments early in life, there does not appear to be much conclusive evidence for (or against) a specific "attachment disorder."

Regardless of whether there is such a thing as attachment disorder, the question remains: "Did the punishment fit the crime?" The answer here is an emphatic "NO!" Maybe David Polreis did have an "attachment disorder" (whatever that may mean or entail), and maybe he really did scream, cry, hit and bite. But that by no means gave Renee Polreis the right to beat the child to death. And as for her supporters? All I can say is, wake up and smell the damn coffee! Last time I checked, there was no excuse, moral or otherwise, for hurting a child to the degree that this woman did.

M. Ely
via the Internet

Are We Having Phone Yet?
Regarding Stuart Steers's "Hide and Seek," in the October 3 issue:
I've lived in San Francisco and Austin, and now I've moved to Denver. Before I moved here, friends in Denver warned me that having my phone installed would be hellish. I thought they were being paranoid; unfortunately, they weren't.

It is eight days after my phone service was initially installed. The installer showed up eight hours late, and if I hadn't called US West three times on that day, I doubt anyone would have shown up. One customer-service rep suggested that I have business service installed so that my installation would be treated as a priority!

Since then, there have been two additional trucks sent to my house to correct problems, and today the voicemail stopped working. In all, I figure that I've called US West no fewer than fifteen times. I've spent about two hours on the phone with US West people.

Monopolies such as US West shouldn't be rewarded for poor service performance with rate increases. All of their customer-service performance should be made available to their customers and the regulators who decide their rates. It will be a great day in Colorado when US West has to compete with others for our business.

Ben Fiedler

Blow Hard
Ward Harkavy's treatise on Paul Cameron ("Slay It With a Smile," October 3) was well-done but just misses the mark.

Mr. Cameron is a slick, educated con man who has found a way to sell hatred for profit. He is devoid of decency, honesty and compassion. Only a morally corrupt individual could do what he does. He is a corn-belt Hitler who has found the ideal scapegoat: homosexuals. Cameron has set himself up as an authority, but he is on the outside looking in.

We (homosexuals) are just beginning to find ourselves. We are just starting to record and express our very rich and diverse gay culture in this country. Legitimate scientific studies have emerged. Gay and lesbian writers are securing a place in history. We are claiming our enormous contributions to American society.

Mr. Cameron is trying to rob us of our true identity by ignoring the truth.
What of the organizations that contract to use the garbage that Cameron packs so neatly? The true activities and motives of these so-called religious nonprofits are known to the men who pull the strings. These men (Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Lou Shelton, et al.) control a myriad of stealth organizations dedicated to undermining and twisting the laws of our country. They are using Cameron as a lightning rod. He is well compensated for taking the heat.

When those on the radical religious right speak of a "homosexual agenda," they hide their own agenda.

The fact that these devious people are conducting business in our state and enjoying tax-exempt status makes me wonder how long Coloradans are going to tolerate subsidizing hate. Not only do they not pay taxes, they are costing taxpayers money by creating lawsuits (such as the Amendment 2 battle) that must be defended at the expense of the state!

I can't think of a better reason for Coloradans to vote for the amendment ending tax exemptions for property owned by churches and nonprofit organizations (such as Focus on the Family) that will be on the November 5 ballot.

Anthony Palange Jr.

This is to Paul Cameron: Wow. What a shame to have lived your life propagating hatred. You obviously have much passion for your cause, but what a bad place for it to go. That waste of time and energy in your life could actually have been spent productively, doing things that might have helped humanity rather than hurt it. Just think: You could have used that energy to teach history, or art, or science, bringing the light of intelligence and experience to young children or adults. You could have used that passion to be an artist who created some great sculpture in a public park or made a tremendous, bright painting for a gallery. Maybe you could have been a lover of peace, instead of serving hatred, and led movements against war and prejudice. Maybe you could have gone so far as to have researched and even discovered a cure for AIDS instead of wagging your finger and running off your mouth.

But I really do encourage you to keep talking, because what you are ultimately doing is calling attention to homosexuality instead of keeping it in the closet (which is what you want, anyway), and this attention is exactly what it needs. The more you talk about it, the more you agitate those who are repulsed by your brand of hate and who in turn set out to educate people about the truth: that it is not a disease but a difference--one of many--among people, and that is all.

Blab away, loser.
Nicole Elmer

Recent research has been conducted that separated men into two groups. The participants had not had sexual experiences with men before. One group contained men who were not homophobic and the other group contained men who were homophobic. Both groups were shown gay pornographic videos. The non-homophobic group had no sexual reaction to the videos. However, the men in the homophobic group experienced erections.

With Mr. Cameron's continued obsession against gays and lesbians, one cannot help but wonder just how hard his pee-pee gets when he sees other men. Sounds like a personal problem.

John R. Selig
Dallas, TX

There is some uncareful writing in the Paul Cameron article. To wit: "...descriptions of sexual practices and diseases, warned, in essence, that Colorado was about to be overrun by an army of anus-lickers and child molesters, ignoring the fact that many heterosexuals also do such things..."

This passage says, in effect, that all homosexuals are child molesters and that many heterosexuals are also child molesters. I am guessing that it was not the intent of the author to portray homosexuals as child molesters. It is unfortunate that the wording of this passage forces a simple thought so horribly afoul of the facts. While some child molesters are homosexuals, the vast majority are not, and the percentage of child molesters that are homosexual is in fact smaller than the percentage of Americans that are homosexual.

Please be careful. No press is in such danger of losing credibility as the alternative press.

Jon Plummer
via the Internet

If I believed in such a concept, I would consider Mr. Cameron to be one of the most spectacular examples of evil incarnate alive today. His vendetta against us has absolutely no basis in fact, and it represents the worldview of a narrow-minded, mean-spirited bigot.

Particularly offensive to me are his remarks about people with AIDS and his characterization that "most gays are veritable Typhoid Marys, pursuing and being pursued by others as biologically lethal as themselves and having sex in settings unrivaled for stupidity and squalor." Most gay men I know--and I think Mr. Cameron is talking about gay men, as he probably doesn't believe we dykes really exist--are very aware of the chances they take by having unprotected sex with strangers, and squalid settings are not their first or even second or third choice for sexual encounters. Of course, there are men who are addicted to sex in both the hetero and homosexual populations, and yes, these men do seek multiple sexual encounters, many times without regard to the health and cleanliness of their partners. But these are the exceptions and not the rule. Among my friends, some of the most stable relationships are between gay men. One such relationship is now in its fortieth year!

I have cared for, and mourned the deaths of, friends who were dying of AIDS and who have been artists, writers, musicians and, yes, even some lawyers, doctors, stockbrokers and psychologists. Talented, loving, caring, beautiful human beings reduced to 89-pound skeletons, covered with Kaposi's sarcoma, blind from CMV retinitis, accepting death with equanimity, dignity, spiritual integrity and sometimes even humor--all dead, from infection by a virus that is an equal-opportunity killer. It has no preferences for sexual orientation or gender or social class. It is just as voracious in the body of a suburban housewife as it is in the body of an urban gay.

I don't think Mr. Cameron's hateful commentary should be encouraged by your or any other news service. Giving him a forum is tacit to sanctioning his behavior and his viewpoint. I agree with Professor James Cole, who says that Cameron is without "moral inhibition," and I think that is evidence of a serious behavioral disorder.

Sarah J. Chambers
Oakland, CA

As a socially conscious and productive member of the gay and lesbian community, I am outraged by the cover story regarding radical right, anti-gay zealot Paul Cameron. Although Ward Harkavy appears to try to diffuse Mr. Cameron's perverse and unscientific opinions about the gay community by allowing his vulgar proliferation to speak for itself, the article is negligent in its omission of factual information.

I find it incredible that a paper with your longevity and liberal reputation would devote a cover story to a man who ultimately calls for the extermination of all homosexuals. Not only is this shock journalism insulting to the intelligence of any sane, compassionate reader, but it gives a voice to ideas that should be reprehensible by today's consciousness without the benefit of countering them with scientific data. Mr. Cameron clearly has no business having any kind of public forum if he can "laugh" about the hundreds of thousands of gay men who have died from AIDS in this country. If Mr. Harkavy had written his article on a neo-Nazi skinhead who displayed a similar reaction to the Holocaust, I am sure the magnitude of this irresponsibility toward a viable segment of the community would have been realized.

Do Mr. Cameron and Westword not realize that AIDS is a worldwide epidemic with 60 percent of all known HIV infections transmitted through heterosexual contact? Why were this man's ill-formed observations allowed to stand without any facts to the contrary? In the interest of journalism, perhaps Westword should do a better job of informing its readers whether what they're reading is truth or cheap, dime-store fiction. In this case, Mr. Cameron's unchecked philosophy is too chillingly reminiscent of the propaganda of one Adolph Hitler.

Laney McVicker

Bolder Boulder
In response to the courageous (and ubiquitous) Name Withheld on Request who wrote the October 3 letter about Alan Prendergast's September 19 "Shut Up and Deal" and asked, regarding Boulder County's aggressive desire to preserve open space, "Is Boulder's abuse of power any better than that of other cities and counties that allow rampant development to occur on every square foot?" Yes.

E.F. Hart

More Monkey Business
My hat's off to Westword for allowing the public to take a peek into the secret and sardonic world of animal experimentation in Tony Perez-Giese's September 26 article, "Going Ape."

I fail to see how a bunch of monkeys in a CU lab can provide scientific information about the stress a child goes through when absent from its mother. The truth is probably just as Dr. Cohen describes when he says that the "good old boy" network at the NIH allows people like Laudenslager to hoard tax money for their own selfish purposes. Besides, hasn't anyone ever wondered why, after one hundred years of animal experiments, we have not cured one disease? Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of chemistry and biology knows that the data from other species cannot be transferred to humans. For example, aspirin can kill a cat; arsenic kills humans but is harmless to guinea pigs, chickens and monkeys; chloroform, used successfully for decades in human surgery, is poisonous to dogs; digitalis raises blood pressure in dogs but lowers it in humans. The list goes on and on.

When will the American people finally wake up and realize that the biomedical community has no interest in curing disease? But why would they, since there's so much money in "treating" it?

Bernadette Sonfeld

I applaud Westword for having the guts to write about the controversial subject of animal experimentation. Ten years ago I read a book on this subject and was shocked to learn what I did. It's amazing how millions are spent to do the most hideous things to animals behind closed doors, things that if done by a private citizen would be labeled "cruelty."

This subject needs to be brought out into the open and become the focus of robust and healthy debate. The "scientists" should not have so much power to be able to perform such atrocities with impunity.

If it is wrong to leave a dog tied up in a backyard all day, it is also wrong to take an infant monkey from its mother. There are alternatives to these barbaric practices, and in many cases the experiments are so ludicrous that they don't require an alternative, they just simply need to be abandoned. This is clearly the case with Laudenslager's maternal-deprivation studies. Animals and humans suffer because of this gross misuse of public funds.

Amy Domaniski

Thank you for the article on Laudenslager's macaques. Studies on orphans in Romania and elsewhere tell us enough about maternally and socially deprived orphans. I would like to see the NIH take the generous funding it allocates to this useless primate research and put it where it would do the most good--to care for the human orphans of the world.

If medical researchers really want to "reduce, refine and replace," they will pioneer in the area of non-animal research. Researchers probably don't care about the means to the end so long as the funding is there; they have to make a living, too. I can't imagine all of them are sadistic enough to enjoy damaging the minds and bodies of the animals they deal with every day. What I don't understand is why they don't confront the NIH and insist that things change. I can't believe that as technologically advanced as we are, a substitute for animal testing can't be found.

What can be a more horrible line of work to be involved in than animal research? Slaughtering in a meatpacking plant, maybe.

Also, thank you for Robin Chotzinoff's August 29 article, "Shaft's Big Score," with Ted Nugent's theory that shooting arrows into animals can somehow keep us off drugs. It's important for us to be reminded from time to time that dinosaur brains are still among us. The likes of Nugent make it clear that as a species, we are still in a state of spiritual poverty.

Mary Rios

It is perhaps overkill to call Mark Laudenslager a Himmler running an Auschwitz for monkeys in his lab at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. After all, he doesn't kill the baby monkeys. They may go crazy or die of heartbreak, but that's just the animal-research business. Shit happens.

On the other hand, Mark is guilty of a little overkill himself. Wouldn't you think that after twelve years of watching and taking notes as the little monkeys go through the ordeal of "mother deprivation," he might know everything there is to know about the mechanisms of grief and despair and other symptoms of a broken heart? At first there is the "protest" phase with its "increased vocalization" and "active searching behaviors." You and I might use different words to describe what happens when a four-month-old discovers its mother has suddenly and mysteriously vanished. We might say it cries a lot and looks everywhere for her. Then, when the protests and the searching are over, the infant enters the "despair" phase, retiring to the corner of the cage to sit whimpering and staring at nothing. Sometimes it mutilates itself.

Yes, after twelve years and $3 million in tax money, Laudenslager should be ready to move on to the next stage of his experiment. It might be called "mother's desperation." But he probably knows all about that, too. He has seen enough.

Laudenslager is no Himmler, I think we can agree. He is just a simple soldier of science following the orders of his conscience to serve society--at great expense to society. But it seems safe to say he is no Albert Schweitzer, either, and he's not running any Primate Panorama. It's sad to think that the monkeys in his CU lab sit out their lives--fifteen or twenty years--in a basement cage, while their cousins a few blocks north at the zoo swing in the trees of a new seven-acre, $14 million primate habitat. But that's the luck of the draw if you are a monkey in America.

Nolan Nix

Mark Laudenslager's October 3 response to Perez-Giese's article includes criticism of "animal rights" as an "emotional issue" that prevents appreciation of "immediate impact" of animal studies on health, defense of NIH-granting policy, explanation of protective guidelines for animals in laboratories and justification of his monkey maternal-deprivation studies.

In many areas of government supervision, paper regulations do not necessarily reflect actual operations. The Animal Welfare Act contains guidelines (albeit inadequate) to protect animals in laboratories. Nevertheless, laboratories have been closed by animal activists after passing government inspection--most recently the Ronald Wood monkey experiments at New York University. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is insufficiently funded to provide the requisite inspectors to regularly enforce these guidelines.

The NIH peer-review funding system is inherently flawed and almost guarantees non-innovative research. (Nobel laureate Rosalyn Yalow has said, "The truly imaginative are not being judged by their peers. They have none.") The NIH leadership prejudicially favors animal research as the "gold standard." The "panels of experts" are too often composed of myopic animal experimenters apprehensive about the funding of their own animal-research projects. Finally, once funded, a grant is easily renewed by changing a few inconsequential variables. A truly discriminating system would result in rare rather than commonplace experiments that are repetitive, duplicative and irrelevant.

Dr. Laudenslager's experiments are quite peripheral to AIDS. Psychoneuroimmunology does inform that separation-induced immunosuppression alters disease, but the stress experienced by HIV-positive teenagers (i.e., substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, chronic illness, physical trauma and markedly disordered family life with possible emotional, physical and sexual abuse) is hardly related to two weeks of separation from Mother.

My critique of Dr. Laudenslager's research is an objective, scientific evaluation, not an "emotional, animal-rights" opinion. However, laypersons with common sense are perfectly capable of spotting inconsequential research and need not be "emotionless" members of the scientist fraternity. Researchers often demand the public overlook the absence of "immediate impact" of their results and blindly accept that "someday" the results will apply. All too often, what appears irrelevant in the short run proves to be irrelevant in the long run.

Murry J. Cohen, M.D., co-chair
Medical Research Modernization Committee
Annandale, VA

Big Deal
I enjoyed Bill Gallo's review of Big Night ("The Good, the Bad and the Brilliant," October 3) and plan to see the movie, but I cannot believe that Gallo didn't mention Babette's Feast when looking at the film's predecessors. What happened? Didn't he like it or see it?

Oh, well, keep up the good work. Gallo's the main reason I read the paper.
Bob Mathews
via the Internet

Amazing Stories
Regarding Marty Jones's "Amazing Feet," in the September 19 issue:
Thanks for doing fantastic life stories such as this one! The lessons we all can learn from someone with such strength in his spirit is amazing. The article mixed with the powerful photos of Jeffrey Marshall brought forth an empowering feeling that anything can be possible and that the human spirit is something very precious.

Tim Fields
via the Internet

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