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'Public' means everybody
Coy Mathis is in the news, a transgender girl in Fountain who is being denied the right to use the girls' restroom at her school. It's black-letter law in Colorado that transgender people have the right to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, the same as anyone else.
One way to address this issue is through a Colorado Civil Rights Division complaint, but that takes a very long time, and the damage to the girl will be irreparable. I suggest a lesser-known option, which I have pursued successfully here in the Springs to protect my rights as a transgender person.
Lobby your local police to press CRS 24-34-602(2), which makes it a misdemeanor to deny full and equal access to a place of public accommodation because of discriminatory reasons. Schools are specifically listed as places of public accommodation.
Here in the Springs, it is written police policy how to deal with this situation. To quote General Order 580: "A violation of 24-34-602(2) is an unclassified misdemeanor and therefore should be investigated like any other criminal complaint." The principal of that school, and anybody who ordered him to do it, have committed a crime. Not just once, but every single time the girl needs to use the restroom.
That girl is singled out for school-endorsed humiliation every time she has to use the restroom. The district may be content to kick this can down the road for a year and half before the state makes them follow the law, but I don't think that principal is going to be willing to face a thousand misdemeanor charges.
I'm not even going to go into what it teaches a school full of children when the school itself knowingly and deliberately breaks a law that is as clear as the First Amendment.
— Gina Douglas
Joel Dyer's article "The new era of conspiracy thinking" (cover story, Feb. 27) misses some relevant information.
First there is the document produced by Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D. of the National Institute of Justice in January of this year, which states, "Fatalities from mass shootings account on average for 35 fatalities per year." Also in the document it states, "assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime."
If this is not enough to make you start looking for a conspiracy, you see the FBI data that states that all rifles, which would include hunting and semi-auto rifles, account for 323 murders a year. While 496 people are killed with hammers a year.
After reviewing this data, people start thinking the stated goal of making us safer with gun control does not make sense. Hence they look for the real reason, which some call a conspiracy.
— Jill Coleman
Editor's note: For added perspective, 2011 FBI figures show firearms of all kinds were used in 8,583 murders; all other weapons and methods combined accounted for 4,081.
We're not hillbillies
It's disappointing that Mr. Rich Tosches chose to profile all gun owners as backwoods hillbillies with poor dental hygiene and a propensity for shooting at anything within eyesight ("Magpul's next move," Ranger Rich, Feb. 27). I've owned a gun since before I joined the Navy in 1974. I've never shot a sign, or an abandoned car, or a propane tank, or a tree for that matter.
I'm also not the uneducated redneck Mr. Tosches seems to think I am, having been a computer programmer for over 30 years. I don't drink, I don't watch NASCAR, and my wife and I both earn a very respectable wage, pay our taxes, and participate in the community.
It's disappointing that he refers to 30-round magazines for the AR-15 as "high-capacity," when in fact they are considered standard-capacity magazines for that weapon. It would be more accurate to refer to the double-wide 60-round and 100-round drum magazines as high-capacity.
More to the point, though, is that our right to keep and bear arms does not hinge on the acts of a few lunatics. I maintain a small inventory of guns to serve the purpose stated within the Second Amendment — "being necessary to the security of a free state." This means that even though I don't agree with Mr. Tosches' outlook regarding guns and the Second Amendment, I will damn sure stand in the door and defend his right to express those opinions with appropriate force (and deadly force if necessary), and to the best of my ability. He doesn't have to thank me, but I'd appreciate a bit more respect than he has shown to date.
Finally, I refuse to be held accountable for the actions of some lunatic in Connecticut, or anywhere else for that matter, simply because I own a gun.
— John Simmons
San Antonio, Texas
Rich Tosches doesn't like the popularly elected officials in El Paso county. Too bad we can't have a referendum on his column.
Oh wait, it is a free forum.
Thank you, Rich Tosches, for speaking the truth to the insanity of the gun lobby, Magpul and our county commissioners. I am sure that you are getting lots of nasty mail and threats. After all, is anyone really surprised that the man threatening Rep. Rhonda Fields is from Colorado Springs?
Any company that thinks its profits from "unfair advantage" are more important than the lives that are lost is a company that Colorado does not need. Does a gun company's policy of sales "regardless of the end user or their mission" represent the values of Colorado or even El Paso County? I would like to think not.
— Christy LeLait
The second was very enlightening, featuring Otis Taylor's latest release, on which he tells of the "erosion of the Native American world that white society continues to subjugate." The preceding article was accompanied by a picture of two white guys illustrating quite clearly what Mr. Taylor was lamenting.
The Buffalo Horn Head Dress and (thankfully fake) Eagle Feather War Bonnet worn by these two culturally insensitive wasichus were reserved only for chiefs and warriors of special repute amongst the Lakota Oyate, which I assume neither of these two are or will ever be. The guy in the sunglasses is also apparently giving the "hau" greeting.
It is especially disheartening to me to think that a progressive newspaper such as yours would not be aware of how this picture would be received by not only Native Americans who are cognizant of their history, but also by any reader aware of the cultural and religious misappropriation of everything Native Americans held close to their hearts. While I wouldn't expect you to hire an expert to vet every picture you run, perhaps a cover shot of their CD would have sufficed.
— Dennis Warren
Holy child abusers
We've now seen that our local former policeman, Mr. Joshua Carrier, has received a 70-year prison sentence, which probably will keep him behind bars for life. This is the harshest sentence there is, short of the death sentence. What he was convicted of was the fondling of the genitals of youths in local schools, during phony "physical exams."
By contrast, we have read for years stories of Catholic priests, and the clergy of other faiths, committing crimes of a hideous magnitude, so brutal and vicious that it makes Mr. Carrier seem like a small-time amateur. These holy men have forcibly raped boys and girls, with unimaginable pain and fear, often repeatedly. Did the majority of those men get 70-year sentences?
On the contrary, most were never even charged, many were afforded retirements, shifted to new jurisdictions, and some transferred to new parishes offering young, fresh victims for more rapes. Compare fondling of youths, over against repeated forced rapes of children. Compare the punishment, or lack of it, in these cases.
Rape convictions usually carry sentences of 20 years to life in most areas, as do convictions for felony child abuse. Those church administrators who, trying to cover up church crimes, transferred known rapists to new jurisdictions were guilty of obstruction of justice, often including witness tampering, plus aiding and abetting any crimes committed by clergy after being shifted to new parishes.
How many life sentences were given to any of these criminals, who were far worse than Carrier? What percentage of them were even charged?
An overarching principle, the bedrock of all laws, is the principle of "Equal treatment under the law." Without this, laws become meaningless. Either release Mr. Carrier today and transfer him to a new school district, or charge and convict the guilty clergymen and their helpers.
— Larimore Nicholl
Sequester this: 100 percent of congressional salaries!
Fiscal crisis solved!
— Don Smith
I'm not a regular reader of the Independent but the other day I happened upon one and found the letters interesting. I started to read one from Sharlene White, but only got as far as the second paragraph before I stopped reading.
When she said the Pentagon budget was more than 50 percent of the federal budget, I realized she hadn't any idea what she was talking about. Sharlene, the military budget is 17 percent of the federal budget.
If you don't do your homework, you have no credibility in your advice on how to "trim the fat."
Editor's note: There are two kinds of federal spending, mandatory (money spent in compliance with laws) and discretionary (allocations Congress adjusts annually). The military accounted for 59 percent of 2012's discretionary spending, and 19 percent of the overall federal budget. We should have edited Ms. White's letter accordingly.
Health care whenever
Re: Dr. Dlugo's letter about "Little Clinics" ("A Little problem," Feb. 27):
Dr. Dlugo, your office is only open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 8 to 5-ish. On Wednesdays and Fridays, you are only open until noon.
We go to the "Little Clinics" because we fall ill outside your minimal office hours as we work until 6 p.m. every day, Monday through Friday. Some of us work nights. Sometimes we even get sick on weekends. These "Little Clinics" offer something huge that your practice does not: they are open.
If you feel you are not making enough money because the "Little Clinics" are taking business away from you, please consider having extended hours and days, past 5 p.m., and heck, even be open full days on Wednesday and Fridays.
— Mary Gagliardi
It's the law
Regarding Ms. Jessica Hunter-Larsen's heartbreaking letter (Feb. 6), and Mr. Alan Joseph's kind reply (Feb. 13): Her 5-month-old puppy was killed by another dog that was off-leash. I doubt if she could identify or locate that dog owner. The owner could face criminal charges and her dog could be put down as a dangerous dog.
Is she still taking her dog out unleashed? She certainly won't offer to help with the vet bills.
I have two chihuahuas. Over the years, my dogs (on a leash) have been attacked many times by unleashed dogs. On one occasion, a yellow lab was clamping his teeth on my dog's neck. The owner grabbed his dog at the last minute. My dog was covered in slobber, but lucky to be alive.
On another occasion, at a local park my dogs were attacked by two large dogs. They were panicked and terrified. We were frantically trying to catch our dogs, while the other dog owner made no move to control his dogs. He was laughing. As we were leaving, his friend approached and was told, "Oh, you missed it! It was so funny. You should have seen it."
Typically, the reaction is "He's just playing," or, "My dogs are friendly." I have learned to carefully watch for unleashed dogs and I pick my dogs up and carry them. Why can't these dog owners understand why it is the law? Anything can happen, as Ms. Hunter-Larsen and Mr. Joseph stated.
In closing, my heart goes out to Ms. Hunter-Larsen. I can only hope that her heart-breaking letter got through to dog owners who are now keeping their dogs on a leash. Or, taking them to the Bear Creek Dog Park to let them run.
— Catherine Marshall