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.
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Editor's note: To read Bowers's articles--or any Westword stories published since July 1, 1996--check out our archives at www.westword.com/ archives/index.html
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.
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.
Not a Pretty Picture
In Steve Jackson's February 13 story, "The Fight of Their Lives," about Warren Hern and Ken Scott, I believe you painted the wrong picture. You made Warren Hern out to be a great American hero, but Ken Scott is the real hero of the story.
You showed a picture of Warren Hern with a child in the jungle. You made him look like a compassionate champion of human rights. You should have shown him as the yellow-bellied coward that he is. You should have shown him killing children, as he is best at. He is only concerned about his wallet.
Ken Scott is a very compassionate man who is not afraid to put his well-being and freedom on the line to protect the most innocent of human life. I have known Ken Scott for about six months and am proud to consider him a friend.
I am writing to express my thanks to C. Miller for his/her description of Ken Scott in the February 20 Westword. It is refreshing to know that there is another side to the man than that portrayed in Steve Jackson's article.
It is kind of Scott to treat his friends to breakfast after yelling at women on a Saturday morning. Because Scott is such a good friend to you, C. Miller, may I suggest that you return the friendship and decline his offer to pay for breakfast? Consider that he is several years in arrears in his child support and that that may eventually lead to his getting into more trouble. You might pay for his breakfast so that he can work on this debt. Another thing you might do on his behalf is not publish the fact that he invites people to breakfast while claiming to be broke; that informs everyone, including the government, that his claims of destitution are false.
McClain R. Toll
Rules of the Trade
Regarding Tony Perez-Giese's article "The Word Is Out," in the December 5, 1996, issue:
Who could blame Oklahoma City bombing trial court reporter Paul Zuckerman for marketing his most valuable trade? I might just add that the hours he will have to put in to deliver that transcript reach far beyond the hours sitting in court. I'm sure the rest of Mr. Zuckerman's life is on hold right now. He will live and breathe that case until it is over, and he deserves to be well-paid for it.
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The Plane Truth
Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Soar Winner," in the February 6 issue:
On February 28, 1997, we suffered our two-year anniversary of being held noise hostages by the City of Denver and the FAA. The noise problem has not been solved!
Fiction: DIA officials will tell you the noise problem has been fixed, since complaints are down. Fact: Hundreds have called for two years with little or no results. Do we have to call at the same rate for the next two years or beyond?
You say we don't have a problem? Then move the planes over Denver, where they belong, and then Denver residents won't have a problem, either.
Denver's politicians pushed for, and its residents voted for, the airport. The City and County of Denver must share the majority of the planes. Most people in the city are oblivious to airplanes since they already have a high background-noise level.
We worked hard to achieve our rural lifestyle. We did not get a chance to vote on the airport.
When are you going to free us, Mayor Webb? Is this fair? Reasonable? Prudent? Ethical? Responsible? You judge: I think you know how we and hundreds of families in Douglas, Albert, Adams and Boulder counties feel.
Kendall and Sharon Haag
I agree with most of Michael Roberts's review of Iris DeMent's last CD, The Way... (Playlist, November 21, 1996). But I really am not sure about some of his comments on specific tunes except for the first two, since after listening to half of the album, I called the record store and made a deal to return the CD for a full refund.
I used to listen to a lot of traditional, folk and country rock in the Seventies (note my extinct terminology), and when I discovered DeMent's first CD a few weeks ago, I was actually euphoric--what a pure and unusual talent. I even adored the somewhat high-school word "obliviously" in "Momma's Opry."
Then, not being able to get my hands on her second CD, I bought the third. I guess we are all hoping that this was a bad experiment and that Iris will go back to her earlier style. How about a solo album with guitar? I thought the Austin City Limits performance on Griffith's show was one of the most incredible performances I've ever heard--power, honesty and charm all rolled into one.
Here's hoping Iris can dump the execs at Warner's and go back home to Missouri.
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