Letters to the Editor

The Hating Game

Time marches on: How timely that you printed Julie Jargon's "P.S.: I Hate You" in the August 10 issue, at the same time that Senator Joseph Lieberman was chosen by Al Gore and/or his "strategists." Salzman's plight sounds exhausting and quite burdensome, but I credit her courage. For indeed, courage and the commitment to courage is a survival skill for all, regardless of the circumstances. As with her Polish family, my Hungarian family was annihilated by the Nazis, and I was disturbed to learn from this story that many of my family members were likely murdered the evening of Rosh Hashanah. That adds to the horrific events of the past. They must not be repeated upon us, nor any other race, religion, creed, sect or gender.

The generic media question (ad nauseam since the selection) "Is the country ready for a Jew...?" speaks of implicit prejudice and anti-Semitism that is revolting and disturbing. But courage will prevail, and we, as people of goodwill, high achievement, fine values and great "chutzpah" ("balls," for those not acquainted with the term), will go on with or without Lieberman. Had the country been "ready" sixty years ago, maybe the Holocaust would have been eradicated much sooner, and millions of innocent lives, as well as the sad and tragic memories of hundreds of millions more, would have been spared.

Jonathan M. Dietz
via the Internet

Use your common sense: Although it is an awful thing that Mrs. Salzman had to go through on the Internet, I still question her common sense. I have received some ugly e-mails, etc., and I would not go where I was not wanted, or at least where I am being bullied. I'm sure most Jewish people would agree that they are not regulars at the Tuesday-night white-supremacy rallies. This is what Mrs. Salzman was doing: logging on just to see and get upset. Salzman was getting off on it all. I would recommend getting a life, or at least finding other Web sites to visit. Doesn't she know how vast the Web is? There are probably ten more sites just like the one she frequented.

Justin Melton
via the Internet

Caught in the Net: A good news/bad news sidebar to Julie (great name) Jargon's "P.S.: I Hate You" piece is the info on the advancement in using the Internet by hate-mongers of all stripes, of fascist practices by justice-system agencies for the involuntary registration of all known Web trashers. Its database is not limited to anti-Semites. Its net is cast to gather in the names, mug shots (when possible), medical and financial histories and site-specific addresses (by satellite) of all trash-talkers, foreign and domestic, perceived and real (to include, even, activists for animal, vegetable and human rights), who go public or semi-public with their messages. The technology used to collect data is backed up by both digital and analog stealth technologies, on the ground and by satellite, to ensure a clean, inclusive sweep of "the usual suspects," whether or not future conditions require it. Even as Netscape, for one, redesigns its browser to no longer collect the Web habits of online shoppers, the surveillance technology to ensure the national security rushes in to fill the gap with a catch-all net so efficient as to nab not only fish the feds can nosh on, but trash food sharks, tuck-in-your-head turtles and playful dolphins as well.

Alfredo de la Rosa
via the Internet

Let's See What Develops

Golden opportunities: Stuart Steers's "Forbidden Fruit," in the August 10 issue, was extremely informative. As a Golden resident, I have wondered why Arvada Mayor Ken Fellman has been such proponent of building a west C-470 loop along highway 93 when his neighbors -- Golden, Westminster, Boulder -- have all agreed that it is unnecessary and have opposed it. It is clear that Arvada (with support from the Colorado Department of Transportation's Tom Norton) wishes to build this road to attract major corporations to its proposed Vauxmont development. This "build it and they will come" mentality is based on greed, not need, and it gives no thought to the consequences to their neighbors. This project is inappropriate for this contaminated area, will lead to unwanted sprawl, and should be fought by all citizens in the northwest metro quadrant.

Stephen Johnson

One hot market: Great article on Arvada wanting to build on Rocky Flats. We have been involved with fighting the growth problem for years and haven't had any luck on even slowing it down. The entire Rocky Flats series, starting with Eileen Welsome's "From Cold War to Hot Property," has been great. Keep up the good work. This is stuff that everyone needs to know.

Chuck St. John

The cold shoulder: I was very disappointed in the "From Cold War to Hot Property" series by Eileen Welsome, which concluded in the August 3 issue. There are very serious issues, both technically and politically, but these issues were not addressed correctly, nor was there any suggestion for remedies. I found her knowledge of the subject very spotty at best and her physics knowledge less than that. Example: If the ground around Rocky Flats has 200 times the normal amount of plutonium in Colorado, then why did we make it when we could have just mined it? A nanocurie is a billionth of a curie, not a gram.

Enough of pickiness: I feel she has a vendetta against not only the Flats, but anyone who might disagree with her. We do not need doomsday, but rather workable, reasonable and effective ideas. If there are problems or perceived problems, maybe through a rational exchange of ideas, we could come up with solutions to these problems.

Doug Cramer
Rio Rancho, NM

Little radioactive house on the prairie: I am a rock climber who spends the majority of his free time in Eldorado Canyon (northwest of Rocky Flats). I also spend time climbing in the Lookout Mountain area. These areas are my escape from the daily Denver doldrums. Before reading the recent Westword articles, I was researching the purchase of a home in one of these places. Now I think it is safer to live near Chernobyl.

As I type this, spread before me is a topographical map of the Front Range. Because of the articles on both Rocky Flats and Lookout Mountain, I have circled sixteen residential areas to be eliminated from my list of possible residences. Some of them are entire towns.


1) How can the Colorado community learn more about the potential health threats surrounding both Rocky Flats and Lookout Mountain? Will it be objective information?

2) How can concerned citizens rally against these supposed atrocities?

3) Where on the Front Range can I purchase a home with relatively quick access to rock climbing, social gatherings and business centers and not die of tumors!?

Thank you to Eileen Welsome for her well-researched articles on the radioactive quagmire known as Rocky Flats. I would also like to thank Paula Elofson-Gardine, the Executive Director of the Environmental Information Network, for her research and opinions.

John P. Dubrawski

They're Outta This World

Space case: Maybe dental challenges and curlers are considered sexy on Beta Rituculi 7 (Karen Bowers's "The Truth Is Almost Out Here," August 3). If the walleyed little gray guys from out there only contact drunks jacklighting deer, homeless psychotics off their meds and toothless fat ladies in muumuus, it could be because they find these people more interesting than retired aerospace engineers and "state directors." I do, and I'm not even collecting specimens. Who is Mike Curta, state director of the Colorado Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, to be throwing stones at the fashion choices of "experiencers"?

You have the same chance of convincing a true believer in the flying disk, the Gray and the Holy Whitley of the speciousness of their beliefs as you do of convincing adherents to other faiths that that spot on the tortilla, regardless of its uncanny likeness to the plastic Holy Mother on their dashboard, is just a bit of burned dough. Still, Curta and his co-host, John Schuessler, toss out some issues regarding their "scientific investigation" (religion) that require, I dunno, a more objective approach.

First, why is it they're asking us to assume that because a guy has designed "life-support systems" on spaceships, he's also an expert on aerial phenomena? It's sort of like expecting your local astronomer to naturally be able to jury-rig a life-support system. Going to Mr. Schuessler's scientific credibility, shouldn't he have pointed that out himself? Second, has anyone over at the Mutual UFO Network ever considered why it is people set the biggest ball of twine in the world out on Route 27, or why the thing has been sucking in suckers for fifty years? Could be they do it for the same reason folks in the San Luis Valley have hot and cold running UFOs and the cattle mutilation du jour. Just because we here in Denver are dot-comming our way to financial orgasm, it doesn't mean that they're doing the same in the San Luis Valley, where cows, onions and potatoes outnumber both people and aliens, and farming is still hard and almost never as profitable as selling city folks fantasies. Finally, when Curta calls himself a "skeptic and cynic," he essentially verifies that he doesn't have a clue in hell what a skeptic is. Pick up a copy of Skeptical Inquirer or Skeptic, Mr. Curta. The first thing you will see in every issue are definitions of these terms, as well as the great pains to which the publishers go to point out that they are not interchangeable.

I note that along with all the Play-Doh alien sculptures and crayon drawings of genuine aliens they plan to display in their "museum," one diarama they forgot to mention would be the one skeptics have been demanding for years: Sagan's alien cocktail-napkin proof. The question I would pose to Curta, Schuessler and other believers is this: With explosive advances in the technology and imploding prices of personal imaging devices, why is it that the photygraphs of the little gray guys' ships just keep getting a-fuzzier 'n fuzzier?

J.M. Schell

Cherokee People

Don't it make my brown eyes blue: Inevitably, whenever I meet someone -- and I'm talking specifically about Anglos -- and they ask about my ancestry (which, incidentally, is Jicarilla Apache), the response I receive is: "Oh, I'm (fill in the percentage) Cherokee!"

After reading Vaishalee Mishra's "Class Dismissed," in the August 3 issue, here's a clue for the Dawn Everharts of the world: Come up with a different, fictitious tribal ancestry if you really want to avoid arousing suspicion. Otherwise, you'll always remain the tired and transparent joke that you are.

With all the light-skinned, blue-eyed Cherokee descendents running around, it's a wonder we ever lost this country.

Name withheld on request

The Flight Stuff

Fly the fiendly skies: I am an employee of United Airlines now working in Florida. I used to work for United in Denver. I have been with the company for a good amount of years and am very ready to leave. They have destroyed my morale, and I am appalled at how they take care of the customer. The management is terrible and blames everyone except itself for what has gone wrong. The word "care" doesn't exist here; they really don't care about their employees. I know I am just a number. I hope to be gone from United in two or three years.

As for the customers, I wish I could change it for them. For those families and single people who will have a nightmare start or end to a much-anticipated summer vacation, I feel bad for you. I hope Westword's contest, "What United Did to My Summer Vacation," was a wake-up call for United, though I doubt it. There are a few airlines that actually care about their employees and customers and do a good-to-excellent job. That is good for the customers who have future travel plans.

Thanks for the great contest.

Name withheld on request

You bet your wife: Your hatchet job on UAL employees in your all-too-brief August 10 cover story, "United We Strand," was really mean-spirited. The chubby caricature of a UAL gate agent filing her fingernails while ignoring a weary traveler really took the cake!

The current turmoil at DIA and elsewhere is the same as similar turmoils that Northwest, Continental and American have previously gone through when massive reorganizations collided with union recontracting fights. The wars of attrition between management and pilots and management and mechanics, as well as administration people from the merged airlines, all inevitably created this current mess. I am married to a UAL gate agent at DIA who regularly gets mandatory overtime, sometimes with twelve- to fourteen-hour shifts. She will load up a 747 with 400 passengers, watch it sit two to three hours past the departure time, and, finally, see it canceled by pilots who find themselves too tired for another consecutive sixteen-hour shift.

When the passengers exit the plane, guess who they direct their venom and frustration toward?

My wife has to take it for the sake of the mortgage, health insurance and daycare benefits she works for. Her colleagues also deal with this nonstop frustration and turmoil as best they can, hoping, like soldiers in a war, that it will soon be resolved and their lives can return to some form of normalcy.

Max Winkler

Air sick: I was unaware of last week's deadline for the "What United Did to My Summer Vacation Contest" and was ineligible, anyway, as I burned my ticket. In July, I flew United from Denver to Newark. Aware of United's difficulties, I booked a three-hour layover in Newark for my connecting flight on Air France. As anticipated, my flight experienced delays on the ground as well as further delays on the tarmac -- just two hours.

The real horror began in the air. Lunch consisted of a lukewarm hamburger last heated at the terminal, and when I opened the wrapper, a pint of grease poured onto the tray. I have seen better food in county lockup. Anyway, the woman next to me and her five-year-old daughter, after eating lunch, began to convulse and vomit in the air bags. Replaying the scene from Airplane was not funny this time.

With flight attendants standing five feet away, I began to request the airbags from fellow passengers, as all the bags in our area had been used and were piling up. When I requested assistance from the attendant next to my seat to help dispose of the full bags, she told me to sit down and shut up. She also said she could not touch the bags as she was a safety attendant, not a nurse; I should just place them under my seat and the rest under the seats of other passengers, and the help would get them when they cleaned the plane. Halfway through the flight, the smell was unbearable in the rear of the plane. Other passengers were shouting and screaming for them to do something, and they finally did respond: They went to the galley in back and pulled the curtain and refused to come out for the rest of the flight.

I made my connecting flight by fifteen minutes.

Bill Wilhoit

Hire and higher: I think it is all a lot of fun for people to jump on the bandwagon to trash a business that is in the news for some reason or another. Traveling is not always a fun experience. I should know: I have worked for United Airlines for over fifteen years. I am a Lead Flight Simulator Technician and am getting concerned and disgusted with a lot of the things I hear said about us in the media.

The truth of the matter is that UAL was notified well over a year ago of a large shortage of pilots and has chosen to fly the current schedule expecting pilots to cover it with overtime. Well, guess what: The pilots' contract expired, and they are now flying "by the book." Don't blame the employees for these problems; blame the current management. We went through a six-year ESOP and just recently snapped back to 1994 wages, and both the pilots and the mechanics are expecting the industry-leading contracts that we were promised at the end of this ESOP. But management has dragged its feet and deflected the blame, mainly to the pilots and weather, when it should be pointing fingers at itself. Add to this mess the airline wanting to buy USAir with the money it made from our wage cuts and adding thousands of higher-seniority employees that will knock us all down a notch, and it amounts to a real slap in the face.

We are very unhappy people and are very upset about our customers paying the price. This is plain old labor unrest, and UAL upper management has the ability to end these problems very quickly if it wanted to. Please don't blame the employees. Management has had more than enough opportunity to address these new contracts before they expired. Six years is a long time to wait for a raise! We all want to get through this as soon as possible!

Chris Minor


Down in the dumps: In his August 3 "Dump and Grind," Harrison Fletcher refers to Mr. Fox being hit with "a slap suit." What Fletch should have written is "SLAPP" suit. The acronym stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, and it was coined by professors Rock Pring of the University of Denver College of Law and Penelope Canan of DU. The term refers to suits filed against those who have spoken out to the government about issues. While camouflaged as claims for slander, interference with business, etc., SLAPPs are filed to harass, punish or prevent the target from speaking out on a particular issue. SLAPPs have a chilling effect on our First Amendment right to petition the government. I wish Mr. Fox luck in getting this lawsuit dismissed.

Ellen Buckley
via the Internet

The Gang's All Cheer

Bah rah: I'm writing in response to David Ehrenstein's review of But I'm a Cheerleader. According to an interview she did with the L.A. Times, Jamie Babbit decided to make this movie after reading the true story of a young girl who came out to her mother, then was kidnapped and sent to Rivendell Psychiatric Hospital in Utah, where doctors tried to force her to change her sexual orientation. Her treatment included heavy doses of psychiatric medication, being locked in a seclusion room (yes, it was painted Pepto-Bismol pink!) and being forced to smell ammonia while shown pornographic pictures of lesbian sex.

I know these things are true, because I am the girl whose story inspired Jamie Babbit's movie. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't comment on the idea of one of the most devastating experiences of my life being portrayed as a campy gay comedy. But I can comment on David Ehrenstein's review. Contrary to his reporting, treatment programs such as Rivendell are not, and never have been, associated with Exodus International (a Christian organization that has ministries for people who want to change their sexual orientation). Rivendell was not a Christian program, my doctors there were not Christians, I was not a Christian, and my mother was not a Christian.

By using what is essentially my story (and the story of hundreds of other young people like me) as just another opportunity to bash evangelical Christians, David Ehrenstein takes the legitimacy away from our demand that programs like Rivendell refrain from coercing/forcing people into therapy and using abusive and unethical methods of treating patients. This is not an issue of "churches versus the rest of the world"; this is an issue of young people being treated abusively by profit-motivated medical establishments that use damaging methods of therapy.

Can gays change? Absolutely. On a talk show a number of years ago, I was pitted against John Paulk, the current chairperson of the board of Exodus. He was absolutely gay before, and he's absolutely heterosexual now. I don't understand why David Ehrenstein did not take the risky and scary step of actually addressing this question. Instead, he just used his review as an opportunity to preach to the choir -- while flinging mud and propaganda. And to top it off, he made a number of factual errors, including his statement that two founders of Exodus "fell in love and abandoned the organization they helped found in order to fight it." This is simply not true. If you're going to bash people, at least get your facts right.

David Ehrenstein's knee-jerk response to this movie is an unacceptable excuse for journalism and does a real disservice to young people who are fighting for their right to self-determination.

Lyn Duff
San Francisco, CA

David Ehrenstein replies: Rivendell Psychiatric Hospital was not discussed in my review, as it was not mentioned in the film by name. Consequently, my remarks did not specifically relate Rivendell to Exodus, which is the flagship of Reparative Therapy ministries. The record on so-called reparative therapy, whether it specifically calls itself Christian or not, is well-known and has been covered extensively. Suffice it to say that Ms. Duff's declaration "Can gays change? Absolutely" is a lie, and that electroshock and other forms of "brainwashing" are extensively used by all of them. Two of the founders of Exodus International did indeed fall in love and come out as gay; their story is recounted in the 1993 documentary One Nation Under God, by Teodoro Maniaci and Francine Rzeznik.

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