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Better things to do

Ms. Evelyn Fenlon, shame on you! As a taxpaying member of our community you should call the police to report the "nasty" you witnessed, as reported in last week's Public Eye column by Cara DeGette. Get your money's worth from our paid employees! And, if you knew the students, why didn't you call their parents? Nowhere do I read about the role of parents in this event.

The fact that certain members of the D-11 board so quickly responded to Ms. Fenlon's e-mail might suggest that these members are quick to make two plus two equal 85! It's clear what the agenda of some of the board members is, and to fuel their fire in this manner is a "shame on you, Ms. Fenlon." Board members have no authority to arrest and hold accountable the individuals in the park.

Schools have long been given the role of parent, guardian, moral teacher, caregiver, emotional healer, hygienist and you name it! Parents, in general, seem to give over their children to the schools to "make something of them." I always thought this was the parents' role, yet in all of this "discussion" regarding inappropriate behavior by two young adults, parents are not mentioned.

"In parentis locus" does not extend to community parks, does it? Does it extend to making sure your children are home at a decent hour, do their homework, are ready for learning, have the social skills to adapt to a learning environment, are dressed for the occasion? I think not! Yet, more and more, many parents are asking, no, requiring, that the schools take over! Doherty Principal Jill Martin has better things to do than supervise the sex lives of students off school grounds. The Board of Education ought to have better things to do than nitpick the Planned Parenthood issue.

Now, to unsupervised computer and television use -- try to top these two in the influence they have on our young people! Planned Parenthood and sex in the park pale in comparison!

-- Sally Miller

Doherty Librarian, Retired

Fountain

The issue at hand

While viewing some of the ads in the Independent for "sexy local ladies" Hooters and others, it made me very sad to think of the immense pressure that females in this society are put under to be "attractive" to the opposite sex. I know, it's all been said before, but in the long run, these images have a much larger impact than we will ever know.

The safe sex versus abstinence debate has gone on long enough with, what seems to me, no resolution to the real issue at hand. Adolescents are especially subject to their peers and largely to the images that they absorb through the media. Because it's fairly safe to say that "sexy local ladies" ad or the Hooters chain will never disappear, it's important that we find other ways to let young people know that their importance as individuals does not equal their importance as sex symbols and to give them confidence to make their own decisions.

-- Mandy Schinkel

Colorado Springs

Keeping women down

I am appalled to learn that a single state is allowed to set its own rules about abortion polices. In "Welcome to Mississippi" (Cover story, Jan. 27) not only does this state not have the ability to separate church and state by placing crosses on the capital lawn, but they blatantly violate the rights of women by denying them the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness. Is the state content in keeping the women of Mississippi who are in poverty, to raise even more unwanted children destined to a life of even more poverty?

Disgustingly, there is only one clinic in the whole state that will even offer women with a choice for an abortion! Should women have to choose a place that is considered unsafe in order to protect their own life? How would the governor or the legislators feel if their own daughters were raped and conception occurred? I am sure that they would go to any extreme measure to ensure proper medical help was supplied.

One of the major problems to overcome is the lack of contraceptive protection offered to the men and women of this state. Does the government of Mississippi not know what causes the increase of their population? Education is the best tool!

Why do these people believe that they can play God with the lives of so many women? Even though I personally do not believe in abortion, there is definitely a need for it, as in rape, incest and medical complications. Every woman has the right to choose what is best for her life!

-- Sandra VanTassel

Colorado Springs

The least he can do

Accolades to Rich Tosches for his Feb. 24 column on the hubbub over Gov. Bill Owens vs. CU Professor Ward Churchill. As always, Tosches is on the mark. Churchill admittedly used language about the 9/11 attacks that was bombastic and over the top. But Churchill was essentially correct in his analysis of the motives behind the raids on New York and Washington. Owens wants him fired for his remarks.

Maybe Gov. Owens will be good enough to publish from his office a list of topics, language and political positions that professors -- and all other state government employees -- are prohibited from expressing. If state employees are going to be investigated and fired for their stated views, at least they should be warned what Owens deems acceptable and what will doom their careers. It's the least an "Education Governor" can do.

Voltaire said, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Owens says, I disagree with what you say, and you're fired.

-- Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

Advertising babies

"Adoption not Abortion." You've no doubt seen these billboard ads around town. It makes me wonder how many members of the sponsoring Right to Life organization have adopted babies? Do they have an internal program to promote and/or assist adoption by members? Or are they just telling the rest of us what they think we should do?

-- Scott Larrick

Green Mountain Falls

Getting the chaff

As a former Full Gospel Pentecostal Nebraska farm boy who spent many long, hot, itchy August days doing just this, I wanted to point out to Mrs. Richard William in her letter to the editor last week the biblical phrase is "separate the 'chaff' from the wheat," not the "shaft."

-- Warren Morgan

Colorado Springs

Words of wisdom

In response to last week's memorial to Hunter S. Thompson:

In his autobiography, Palm Sunday, Kurt Vonnegut dealt with the suicides of a family member and much-loved professor by stating that they didn't want to exist any more, so he wouldn't mention them any more than necessary. Sounds like a pretty severe response from someone left with the aftermath of a suicide, but altogether good advice that I wish the media would follow.

I'm the same age as the Fear and Loathing guy who recently fulfilled his desire not to exist, and am damned weather-beaten by age and life experiences. But out of respect for my family and friends, I would never off myself to escape some pretty hard going.

-- Barbara Vickroy

Escondido, Calif.

Hold them accountable

The empirical research discussed in "Exposed," the article on sex offenders that appeared on Feb. 17, failed to differentiate what has been learned from studies of offenders' self-reports of past sex crimes and research based on information available from official records.

When offenders are promised anonymity in the course of research, they typically reveal committing sex crimes for 15 years prior to their first arrest. Over two-thirds report sexually assaulting both children and adults, and nearly all report committing scores of hands-on sex crimes. Since only 10 to 15 percent of rape victims report the crime, most offenders are never apprehended.

Official records -- upon which all recidivism studies are based -- require that the crime was reported, that the perpetrator was then arrested, and that the arrest was properly documented so that researchers like me can later access the information. Nationally, 40 percent of those arrested for sex crimes are prosecuted. In Colorado, approximately 70 percent of offenders prosecuted for sex crimes are convicted.

The Canadian study referenced in the article that showed recidivism rates between 13 and 18 percent followed offenders for only four and five years, and required the case to be convicted before it was counted. This study has been criticized for "truncating" the risk, and so the same researchers have recently re-estimated the figures to take into account lifelong risk. The new estimates -- which are still based on new conviction, not actual offending -- are that 35 to 55 percent re-offend with a sex crime. From a public safety point of view, these rates are dismal and frightening.

The Colorado Sex Offender Management Board has prioritized victim and community safety. A close look and better understanding of the research in this area would help educate the public about efforts underway to protect the community while, at the same time, holding offenders accountable.

-- Kim English

Research Director Colorado Division of Criminal Justice

Denver

Shop wisely

Last week, the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming went into effect, marking the first time the world (with the notable exception of the United States) united to address the greatest natural disaster since the last glacial period. The Treaty reduces global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that trap the sun's heat, melting the glaciers and flooding coastal cities throughout the world.

This week, U.S. government scientists confirmed a definite rise in the temperature of ocean waters, the driving force behind global climate changes.

Despite our administration's boycott of the treaty, each of us should do our share to minimize emissions of these gases by limiting the use of fossil fuels in our cars, our homes and our diets.

Yes, our diets. According to Cornell University Professor David Pimentel, production of animal-based foods accounts for 8 percent of the national consumption of fossil fuels -- nearly as much as driving our cars. It requires nearly 10 times as much fuel as production of plant-based foods. The additional fuel is used to grow animal feed, to operate factory farms and slaughterhouses, and to process and refrigerate meat/dairy products.

We can show our support for the Kyoto Treaty and planetary survival each time we visit our supermarket.

-- Caleb Caldwell

Colorado Springs

In praise of taxes

I saw the response in the Independent made to my open letter to Scott Graves made by Patrick Lilly, as well as the letter from Arthur Roberts (Letters, Feb. 24,) and I had to respond. They totally misunderstood me. I believe that we have a group of people in this county who feel that taxation is always punishment. It isn't. It is supposed to support the country that pays for the firemen, policemen and soldiers that keep your neighborhood from collapsing in chaos.

If you want to see what a country is like that has no taxes to support the government, all you have to do is look at Somalia, or Iraq for much of the year after George Bush declared war. No taxes means you have people pushing wheelbarrows full of television sets down the street, while all the records of the previous government go up in flames, because the firemen and policemen are not getting paid and are afraid of getting robbed or killed if they try and do their duty.

-- Donald Pelton

Colorado Springs

Roads are for cars

The Share the Road policy with bicyclists is outrageous. Roads were designed for automobiles and drivers need licenses, insurance and registration in order to legally be on the road. Bicyclists have no accountability. They clog up the right lane when they ride in packs and force motorists to make unnecessary lane changes. Basically they can cause an accident and not be at fault. That is clearly not fair. Bicyclists should have to pay too if they want to share the roads, and stop acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.

-- Mark Ratikan

Colorado Springs

Correction:

In last week's Personal Space feature, the Independent misreported the distance that fishing boats were found washed inland in Indonesia. They were found 5 kilometers inland, not 500 kilometers. The Independent regrets the error.

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