Letters to the Editor

The Purrfect Crime

Where there's smoke, there's ire: I've got a great idea. Let's get a gallon of gasoline (we'll all pitch in) and some matches, and let's light Kenny Be on fire. We'll call it the Kenny Be-B-Q. Westword thought that burning a cat was so funny, let's watch Kenny's dopey face while he's screaming, running around on fire. Then we can make up some funny cartoons about the little burnt-up burnout.

I must admit, jokes about abused animals sure are funny! So I can't blame Kenny for "A Full Line of Blazing Westy Souvenirs," his Worst-Case Scenario in the June 7 issue. But I can see his resentment for that poor cat, because when a kitten gets lit on fire, Denver cares. If Kenny Be got lit on fire, no one would give a shit.

William Rankine

The fur's flying: Kenny Be! Your June 7 cartoon is most tasteless and insensitive. I wonder if you had something to do with this horrible crime? Shame on Westword for publishing this! Shame on my friends who admire your work. I hope that one day you will experience the pain that Westy suffered and still is suffering.

Kenny, your mother should have used more effective birth control and spared us from your low-grade attempts at creativity.

This is the last Westword for me. Hopefully, others will also boycott this publication. Kenny Be gone!

Name withheld on request

Make fun of the crime, do the time: It's extremely offensive that Westword printed the Worst-Case Scenario cartoon featuring Westy, the cat who suffered such an egregious act of sadistic cruelty. You may claim that your publication has the right to freedom of expression, but that should be balanced with responsible journalism. How could you possibly make light of such a heinous crime and the horrendous suffering of an innocent animal?

Even those who aren't animal lovers should be concerned with your flippancy. Mental-health professionals, crime researchers and law-enforcement officials have proven that people who abuse animals are likely to be violent toward other people. Therefore, how can there be any humor at all associated with this case?

Hopefully, the teens who have been charged with the crime of setting Westy on fire and throwing him from a moving vehicle will be found guilty and punished appropriately. In the meantime, Westword can help prevent future acts of animal abuse by not trivializing unacceptable acts (and therefore, condoning them) and printing cartoons like this one.

Bob Rohde, president
Denver Dumb Friends League

Kitty litter: Satire is always good unless it hurts innocent people or animals. Thomas Nast did many cartoons of big business, Oscar Wilde satirized our manners and religious beliefs. Even Bill Buckley would poke fun at political figures and trade verbal barbs with Gore Vidal. However, Kenny G has gone too far in his cartoons of the burning of a cat.

This humor is more sick than the MAD of the '50s. Who profits when we make fun of an animal being tortured? Are we to make no moral distinction between right and wrong? To promote this moral agnosticism on the torture of animals, I suggest Westword run cartoons on the rapes of women in Boulder, or the shooting of high-school students, or the Sudan slave trade. We could hae all sorts of sick cartoons about these and other unfortunate incidents.

Mayor Webb came out against apartheid as a violation of human rights; when he went to China with dollar signs in his eyes this spring, he didn't mention the cultural genocide of the Tibetans, the killing and torture of these gentle people. Why doesn't Westword go after a bigger issue instead of returning us to the late 1890s of William Randolph (Rosebud) Hearst and yellow journalism?

P.S.: My cat uses the commode when he pees; my cartoon "The Revenge of the Friends of Westy" shows good ol' boy Kenny G lying in the commode with the cat on top. Will you publish it? Do you dare?

David Hester

Editor's note: Okay, okay, we get the picture. (Actually, David Hester's cartoon/photograph wouldn't fit on this page; to see it, you'll have to visit our Web site at Even a cursory reading of Kenny's cartoon, however, would reveal that he's not endorsing pet-burnings, but rather commenting on the cottage industry of causes that grows out of such an incident. And a closer reading would reveal that Westword's cartoonist is Kenny Be, not Kenny G -- although perhaps Mr. Hester wants to consign the lite-jazz musician to the commode, too.

A Duty to Die

Extradition, not execution: Regarding Steve Jackson's "Penalty Zone series," which began with "Murderers' Row" in the June 7 issue:

Few issues divide the public as stringently as does capital punishment. Many argue that it is "ineffective as a deterrent to criminal activity" and that it's "administered inequitably along lines of race." These concerns hardly merit the discourse they often receive. For example, a deterrent is a personal psychological condition where one weighs the risk of a choice against the impact to one's values, then opts to perform in a manner that minimizes punishment. It is not an inherent aspect of an event or thing universally capable of discouraging undesirable behavior. What this boils down to is that nothing is truly a deterrent unless you deem it so based on what you value. As far as the death penalty being inequitable race-wise, it's more inequitable economic-wise.

In order to unify society on this issue, capital punishment must be redefined. Let's consider capital punishment a form of extradition instead of execution. By doing this, we remove the immoral factor that serves to divide and relegate the act of executing a murderer to a status more palatable to our social mores.

Extradition is defined as the act of surrendering an alleged criminal to another power having jurisdiction to try the charge. Since so many people in this society believe we are transients of this physical realm and our true and original domicile is in the ethereal, then capital punishment should be considered an act of returning the soul to its original jurisdiction where the appropriate powers can expedite the charge.

Therefore, now that we have dispatched McVeigh's soul back to Hell (brimstone pit number 35H), from where it escaped so adroitly, we can be assured our actions are in compliance with the universal laws of creation (an eye for an eye), man's laws regarding jurisprudence (atonement), and also the postal process (return to sender).

Marcus H. Bland
via the Internet

A run-on sentence: The death penalty. Nothing new, been around for the ages and will be argued about for the rest of the ages. Would executing any of the older convicts on death row -- Rodriguez, White, Dunlap, Harlan -- mean anything now? Doubtful, because they are most likely very different men than when they committed their crimes.

The death-penalty debate would be far better if the court had the courage of its conviction, no pun intended. If death meant death -- and right after the trial, not in seventeen years, like the Rodriguez sentence. Gary Davis met his maker; Rodriguez, Harlan, Dunlap and White should now meet theirs. Where is the dignity in keeping a man in a cage while the lawyers go on lawyering and the whole mess gets sadder for everyone involved, especially for the families of the victims? Sadder still, these people are the forgotten ones in all of this.

The death penalty is nothing more than revenge: Some people in Colorado deserve theirs. Thank you for the story.

Keith Andrew
via the Internet

The lunar bin: In response to Steve Jackson's finely written historical and factual presentation regarding the death penalty in Colorado, and as a consequence of the capital murder of Tim McVeigh Monday morning, I can only say that all "aggravators" and/or "mitigators" do not change the heinous, barbaric and uncivilized response of the government in taking an additional life. Violence obviously begets violence, and this is very sad, yet not indelible.

When man landed on the moon thirty-some years ago, I remember thinking to myself what a wonderful venue for our socially "unfit." It was and remains remote, stark, difficult to get access to and from, and, once colonized by those with the bare essentials, would be a potential breeding ground for a new generation of more "fit" citizens for this world. If we had thought this way several decades ago or now rethink what appears to be an absurd approach, a more civilized, intelligent, possibly fiscally sound and more conscionable approach to dealing with murderers could be achieved.

J. Matthew Dietz

Death-defying: I read Steve Jackson's "Murderers' Row" and found it very balanced and very informative. I testified at a number of the trials of people he wrote about, and I visited some of them at the former death row and at the current CSP death row. I was jail/prison chaplain for fourteen years, so I met them early in their long road to life or death. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

P.S.: Ray Powers and I were not exactly drinking buddies.

Jim Sunderland

You Must Remember Diss

Cracker jock: Art Biggs is a fool to diss Derf's The City in his May 31 letter.

I'll bet Biggs is one of those "white suburban males" who drives his SUV and lives for hockey only when his team is winning. Suck it up, cracker; "white suburban males" are always going to be the butt of jokes.

The City's artwork is awesome, and I look forward to laughing at Derf each issue.

Rusty Belicek
via the Internet

Gender Bender

Tales from the front: Thanks for publishing "Life's a Drag," Nancy Wadsworth's great piece in the May 24 issue on the drag-king phenomenon. We here in New York City were glad to hear what's happening on this front out West.

Cindy Greenberg
Brooklyn, NY

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