Letters to the Editor

Between a Rocky and a Hard Place

The minor league: Patricia Calhoun's May 2 column, "The Usual Suspects" was right on target. Only two quibbles:

She neglected to mention all the hype and hysteria over The Lion King, which certainly proved her point.

She also neglected to mention that in a town short of star power, even editors of free weekly newspapers become minor celebrities. I'd rank Calhoun somewhere between Rocky the Leprechaun and Officer O'Dell from Rocky's Autos.

Gerry Howell

Having a ball, wish you were here: Enjoyed "The Usual Suspects." Having visited Denver several times, I suggest washing down those deep-fried testicles and Rocky Mountain oysters with Southern Comfort.

Just a suggestion.

Richard Straughn
via the Internet

Trick and Treat

Westword ho! I just finished David Holthouse's exceptionally well-written article, "Tricks of the Trade," in the May 9 issue.

I lived in Denver (in Capitol Hill) from 1997 to 2000, and your article brought to light what I saw on Colfax whenever I drove toward Aurora at night.

For your information, I have been a newspaper writer and photographer for about thirty years and have won numerous awards for my photography and a couple for my not quite deathless prose. If I would have been handed the assignment to write on the prostitution on Colfax, I would have been proud as hell of myself if I did the job half as good as you did.

You're lucky. In Orlando we have only one weekly paper, and it doesn't come close to sponsoring the journalistic excellence Westword is famous for. I wish it did.

Larry Singer
Orlando, Florida

Law and ardor: How can we get the streetwalkers off Colfax and provide them with a safe, legal way of making a living? How can we protect them from violence? How can we protect East Colfax residents from front-porch blow jobs? How can we put Kid Rock out of business?

Legalize prostitution. That's how.

Or we can just keep on pretending that we can stop the World's Oldest Profession with fines and jail time.

Erik Swanson
via the Internet

Trunk show: If what David Holthouse wrote in "Tricks of the Trade" is at least factual, then why hasn't he been arrested as an accomplice in the investigation of the kidnapping and assault of "Asia"? He graphically describes her abduction, kidnapping and assault by Kid Rock, and his writing more than implies that he was present during her abduction and assault.

I don't get it. I work with an agency -- the Empowerment Program -- that has provided a variety of services for women who work as prostitutes. We know from our experience that this issue is not one that will be solved with a broom or restrictive sentences. There are a number of issues that place women into prostitution and keep them there. Instead of sentencing prostitutes to prison, the State of Colorado and the City and County of Denver might consider providing mental-health and substance-abuse treatment. The majority of prostitutes are living with untreated sexual abuse and trauma. Although some recent prostitution activities have upset inner-city neighborhoods, maybe these incidents have provided people with the opportunity to see what life is like for some women.

Carol Lease, executive director
The Empowerment Program

Ticket to ride: Way impressive article. Westword is lucky to have David Holthouse on the staff. I always look forward to reading anything with his name on it; this one was especially worth it.

Truly, I can't imagine riding around in "objective" mode with a character such as this and a chick stuffed in the trunk. Bet that was a strange situation.

Anyway, he's a gem. Rock on.

Theresa Cassidy
Crawford, Nebraska

Shelter from the norm: I read David Holthouse's article on prostitution on Cold Facts -- excellent! A painful reminder of yet another aspect of life that most of us are too sheltered from. Thanks for the skillful reporting and artful writing. Awesome piece.

Paul Morley
via the Internet

Get the hook: Outrage. Yes, that is the vituperative descriptive I have chosen to describe how I felt as I read "Tricks of the Trade." David Holthouse's journalistic integrity seems to be nonexistent. Prostitution in and of itself is not necessarily the social evil that the Bible-thumping, hypocritical, Puritan-ethic crowd would have you believe; take Amsterdam as an example.

What really burns my grits is the repeated reference to Denver being somehow lax on pimping. The reporter didn't do his homework. A quick perusal of, searching for "pimping" through the Colorado primary materials section, will get you a neat display of all of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Pimping -- CRS 18-7-206 (living off of the earnings derived from prostitution) -- is a Class 3 felony in Colorado. Let me clue you in: That's eight to sixteen years in prison. Pandering -- CRS 18-7-203 (simply offering one to engage in prostitution) -- is a Class 5 felony, and that's two to four years in prison.

The way the prosecutors do it, pandering is a lesser offense included within the charge of pimping. If the defendant didn't cut a deal with the prosecutor, that would give the defendant two strikes.

Then we need to look at the federal crimes. The most-assuredly illiterate individual who was the pimp in the story, responsible for enticing the young lady from Phoenix to move to Denver to engage in prostitution, seriously violated the Mann Act, 18 USC 2421, which carries from ten to fifteen years. And since the state crimes are aggravated felonies, for federal purposes, this would allow the federal judge to move upward from the recommended sentencing guidelines by at least another few years. Then, of course, there are the federal and state, criminal and civil sanctions for tax evasion and other violations of the RICO (Racketeering, Influence and Corrupt Organizations) Act.

I don't agree with government legislating morality; it's an archaic concept that's a remnant of the unenlightened age when religion ruled the world. However, since we have the statutes; byzantine, jackbooted, fascist thugs in the police; and overzealous, incompetent prosecutors willing to ruin people's lives over something as stupid as marijuana, I'll just say that we have more than enough of a criminal-justice (I'm laughing here) system in place to prosecute this parasite on society.

Maybe when enough people have been convicted of all of these stupid crimes and the "felons" are in the majority, they'll get around to voting these dumbass old geezers out of the legislatures and institute a more progressive legal system.

David Burnham-Leigh

Mean streets: I am a fifty-year-old man who has known East Colfax intimately. From 1983 to 1985 and beyond, I was the only young man in Denver trusted to go to nearly every hooker-front location in town. My mission was to sell the girls condoms, perfumes and assorted sundries. The girls were good to me, and many became friendly acquaintances, a few actual friends. I was never a trick and never treated as one. I did not accept sexual favors as payment. I avoided sex for reasons of business and preference. But I got along good with a lot of girls.

Society's treatment of prostitution is massively hypocritical. The girls I knew were hardly criminal. Although some had abusive boyfriends -- thus causing them to want to blow their wad before getting home -- most of these girls did not have pimps, because they were off-street. Laws against prostitution are precisely what makes pimping profitable. No woman selling her body feels safe to call the police for anything, and thus such women are routinely abused and ripped off. Laws against prostitution are what draws crime to prostitution. The proposal to make repeat prostitution a felony is merely an extremely arrogant furtherance of the massive alienation these girls already know in their daily lives. If anything, a pimp like Kid Rock should be facing severe felony time for kidnapping as a result of the "trunking" of Asia, as reported in David Holthouse's article.

On the one hand, I am very happy to see hookers working on East Colfax, because it represents a form of defiance against laws and moral gestapo tactics that oppress everyone's human right to sell their sexual services. On the other hand, prostitution saddens me, because it is the primary exchange mechanism for sexual diseases that are rampant in Denver's crossroads population. It is absolutely immoral to criminalize prostitution. Instead of having police out trying to identify and arrest curbside hookers, police should be protecting them. They should focus instead on porch trespassers and pimps who kidnap and extort money in their system of glorified slavery. Instead of using police power to suppress a natural and humanly legitimate form of commerce, our local government should send out an army of undercover health professionals and concerned observers to encourage good health habits among hookers, many of whom begin this profession as desperate teenage runaways. There should be a civil system to protect these women from slavery, from extortion, from physical abuse and from the drug addiction that makes it all filthy. There should be shelters specifically for such women -- to network, to get off the streets, to learn the identities of violent predators and robbing tricks, and to get help and more direct access to economic resources.

Hookers are not inherently criminals. They are targets of social hatred. They are pawns of class antagonism between property values and human values. Every hooker is a human being who should, if she must, ply her trade freely without ever spending a night in jail unless she commits a real crime. The real crime here is our inhumanity toward this desperate creature surviving in the gutter.

Incidentally, your article is quite commendable.

Vincent B. Rain

Fee-Market Economy

Musical monopoly: After reading Michael Roberts's Message about the fee crisis facing Internet radio ("Digital Dilemma," May 2), you have to wonder about the type of capitalism we have. Does it support the continued expansion of markets, so that entities large and small can thrive or fail? Or is it a system controlled by a few entities bent on monopoly? This society has lived through the pain of the latter, and our ancestors already had this discussion (and resolution). One hundred years ago, Republican Teddy Roosevelt led the charge to break up monopolies. (Imagine what would have happened to an entity like Clear Channel if it had been around then.)

There is one thing I cannot fathom in the efforts to control musical content: Why are record companies coming down so hard on upstart Webcasters who are far more likely to expand the variety, reach and profitability of a music company's portfolio? A goose laying golden eggs is being gored by an industry that stands to benefit the most. Oh, brother, where art thou sanity?

Pete Simon

The copyright stuff: I was pleasantly surprised by two articles in the May 2 issue that addressed royalty issues for artists. While I agree that Webcasting does not seem to hold much profit for musicians/ composers/artists at this time, the U.S. Copyright Office is right to be looking into the issue, as Michael Roberts reported.

Otherwise, the industry could wind up with the same conundrum that now affects classical music and other, older works, as Marty Jones outlined in "Bitter Suite."

Interesting reading. Thank you.

R.J. Steinberg
via the Internet

Storm Warning

That's entertainment? Michael Roberts's April 25 "Weather or Not" was an interesting article comparing and contrasting Denver's weathercasts and weathercasters. However, he gives way too much credit to Channel 9. They have shown how important they feel the weather is and how much their viewers deserve when they have Kirk Montgomery doing the weather. According to his station bio, Montgomery's only qualification is that he "likes the weather." At best, he is a marginal entertainment reporter, and now we are stuck with him doing the weather? Heaven help us as we enter the season of severe storms.

We have come to expect more from "Colorado's News Leader," and we certainly deserve more.

Name withheld on request

Under Covers Investigation

It's stacked! The Denver Public Library system is clearly one of the most interesting and valuable of the city's many institutions ("Check It Out," May 2).

It has one of the finest collections of books and videotapes by educator and philosopher J. Krishnamurti (DCTV-Channel 58, Sundays at 1 p.m. and Thursdays at 10 p.m.); social and political activist Michael Parenti (DCTV-Channel 57, Saturdays at 3 p.m.); and Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel on how to create a participatory economic system (DCTV-Channel 57, Mondays at 10 p.m.).

The library has access to the Prospector Computer Catalogue, which makes it possible to check out books and publications from numerous college and other Colorado county libraries. Looking for books or videotapes by Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn, Cornell West, David Barsamian or Z magazine? The library has it. Need video- or audiotapes for the progressive/liberal in your family? Type "What's left?" into the computer.

For hikers and backpackers, there's an enormous topographical map collection on the fourth floor of the central library.

Convert Colorado's Ocean Journey into another library!

John Cassella

Shooting Starbucks

Average joes: I read with great interest Stuart Steers's "Bean There, Done That," his April 25 article about Starbucks moving into the Golden market. It's so sad the way Starbucks does business, and also the way in which the general public supports its invasive practices.

The thing I find the most ironic, though, is that Starbucks has the words "embrace diversity" very clearly emblazoned in its mission statement. How hypocritical, when its mission truly is to stamp out diversity wherever it can be found.

Linus Moke

Last But Not Least

Diamond in the rough: To answer David Hill's (perhaps) rhetorical question in the May 2 Playlist, the reason that Neil Diamond performed at the Band's Last Waltz is that Robbie Robertson had produced Diamond's 1976 LP Beautiful Noise.

One of my favorite Dylan stories is that when Diamond came off the stage at the Last Waltz, he walked up to Dylan and said, "Well, you're going to have go some ways to top that." To which Dylan replied, "What'll I have to do -- go on stage and fall asleep?"

Randy Roark
via the Internet

Prepare to Meat Your Maker

Intestinal fortitude: PETA's billboard "Beef: It's What's Rotting in Your Colon" may be churning stomachs, but it's obviously turning heads (Off Limits, May 2). PETA wants diners to know that fatty, cholesterol-ridden corpses, decomposing in people's intestines, likely cause colon cancer.

Colorado Beef Council spokesperson Heather Buckmaster's remark that there is "no research" to support claims that beef is "harmful" is laughable. Countless studies have proven the link between animal products and colon cancer. For example, a 1999 study by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention found "considerable evidence that a high intake of red meat increases risk of colon cancer among both men and women." Likewise, the American Cancer Society states that "a diet mostly from animal sources" is a risk factor for colo-rectal (colon and rectal) cancer.

Meat consumption clearly wreaks havoc on human health, but let's not forget what the animals go through. Cattle raised for beef are castrated, dehorned and branded without anesthetics. During transport to slaughter, they are crowded into metal trucks, where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes and lack of food, water and veterinary care. At the slaughterhouse, they are often dismembered while still conscious.

Heather Moore, correspondent
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Virginia

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