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Alternative is prison

In response to the anonymous person who signed their March 31 letter to the editor "Responsible Adult" and taking substance abusers to task for a lack of self-control, I would like to touch on a few points he or she has overlooked.

First, the economical reality of treatment is prison. Prison costs considerably more -- $30,000-plus yearly per prisoner -- to the taxpayers than any of the alternatives. Former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey put it simply in 1999 when he said, "We have failed social policy and it has to be re-evaluated. Otherwise we are going to bankrupt ourselves because we can't incarcerate our way out of this problem."

Second, the majority of people who indulge in drugs and alcohol on occasion are not hopeless addicts and also honor your "Step System." They work, pay taxes, vote and raise children. At least until "Prohibition" prevents them from doing so. Maybe you recall Sigmund Freud. He used cocaine. Dr. Stuart Halstead, the father of modern surgery, was addicted to morphine. He founded John Hopkins. At least two ex-presidents were known to smoke pot.

I'll put my money on treatment. It's a better investment.

-- Sharon Pichon

Colorado Springs

Homosexuality no choice

This is in response to last week's interview with the Rev. Mel White about his upcoming May 1 visit to Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs: People like James Dobson will always believe that homosexuality is a choice. People like me never will. The difference is, I believe in science and common sense; Dobson believes in the Bible, and we all know one has to die to find out if the Bible is true (betcha it isn't).

For me it's simple. No man or woman would deliberately choose to have a social or sexual relationship with one of the same gender unless their genes told them to. Case closed.

Further, as the Rev. White explains, sexuality is on a scale. There are genuine, authentic, chest-thumping heterosexuals just as there are bona fide, naturalistic, true-to-their-cause homosexuals. In between, there are near-heteros, near-homos, bisexuals and those with a tad of each. So, when the Dobsons of America proclaim they have cured a homosexual or a lesbian of their "mental disorder," you can bet your tax return that the person who was "cured" possessed more hetero genes than someone who, to people like Dobson, possessed genes that are far more raging, sinful and sick.

A question the Dobson folks might ask is, why would anyone subject themselves to the hateful, tragic, demonizing attacks that homosexuals endure, especially from so-called religious people?

Finally, White brings up a good point in reminding Dobson that if he truly believes the Bible's position on homosexuality, then he should urge that all homosexuals be killed. The thing about that is, if the evangelicals like Dobson get control of the judiciary like they have the Legislature and the White House, we might just see the Bible's words come true. Seems farfetched, but who would have thought America would ever be run by evangelicals like Tom DeLay and George Bush?

-- Phil Kenny

Colorado Springs

Catastrophe of humanity

So Mel White and his not-very-well-known gay activist group called Soulforce are coming to town to give James Dobson and Focus On The Family what-for.

What for?

Well, to read the interview with him, he's coming because he wants to make it clear that his interpretation of Scripture on sexuality is absolutely correct, while Dobson's view, along with 4,000 years of traditional interpretation, is wrong. No, actually it isn't just wrong: it's lying.

White wants to make sure we understand that his experience of homosexuality -- and his failure to be "cured" of it -- trumps the many experiences of those homosexuals who have actually walked away from the lifestyle.

He wants to show how Dobson's rhetoric against homosexuality is extreme because the good doctor uses worst-case situations to stir up panic amongst poor, ignorant heterosexuals. We could certainly learn from White, who says very reasonable things like: the evangelical Christian's "long-term agenda is to make sure we have no rights" and "they will take away our children and prohibit adoption or foster care or even co-parenting" and "they will want to censor the media so that we don't have programs anymore that honor us or even show us in any positive light" and "they will try to use the power of the government to close down public areas for us" and "we will have absolutely no voice in church and state alike." No worst-case scenarios for Mr. White. No, sir. No panic-stirring there.

He wants us to understand that the rhetoric of Dobson and his kind leads to the death of homosexuals at the hands of extremists. How many in a given year, I wonder? As opposed to White's advocacy of the homosexual lifestyle, which spreads HIV/AIDS and kills millions of people every day. It is a catastrophe of humanity that Mr. White seems willing to ignore in order to fulfill himself.

I can't wait for his arrival. I've so much to learn from him.

-- Paul McCusker

Colorado Springs

Where's the love?

As I watched a neighbor steal my newspaper this morning, I felt compelled to write this letter. A second incident gave me the extra inspiration I needed.

I was walking along the Sinton Trail when six bike riders zipped past and stopped about 25 yards beyond me. Since I was obviously less important than they were, they blocked the trail, and I had to walk around them. As I got about 20 feet ahead of them, one of them asked if I knew the name of the street they just passed. I walked back to them, answered the question and asked where they wanted to go, because I wanted to help. They didn't answer my question and continued to converse amongst themselves as if I wasn't there. I walked away without even being thanked for my efforts.

I was rather perturbed by their rudeness but not surprised. Maybe it's the lack of oxygen at this altitude, but there seems to be an enormous amount of selfish, inconsiderate behavior and downright hatred infecting the people of this city. I have lived in several communities across the nation, including large cities like Chicago and St. Louis, and have never seen such a high level of "it's all about me" attitudes and outright disrespect and hatred among people as I have in Colorado Springs. All we have to do is look at our local news stories for examples.

We have "Christians" hating gays, conservatives hating liberals, liberals hating everyone who doesn't think the way they do, James Dobson hating SpongeBob SquarePants, motorists hating bicyclists, Bishop Michael Sheridan hating free-thinking Catholics, columnists hating civic leaders and Willie Breazell saying hateful and racist things about middle-class teachers and poor parents. WOW!

Perhaps this is a trend affecting communities across the world, but I think all this negativity is having a devastating effect on us. Where's the love? Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? It sure seems that we all can benefit from making an effort to treat each other better.

-- Michael J. Pach

Colorado Springs

History of abuse

In the Indy's April 7 article about Coco the cat that was found horribly abused in Fountain, Dana Rosenfeld, an assistant professor of sociology at Colorado College, stated there is no statistical evidence directly linking animal abuse and rape or murder.

Ms. Rosenfeld may not have been aware of The Link' programs and data supporting the link between animal cruelty and human violence. There are volumes of data on the subject. Following is just a sample of that information.

A 1997 study by the MSPCA and Northwestern University found that 70 percent of animal abusers had committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40 percent had committed violent crimes against people.

A 1986 study reported that 48 percent of convicted rapists and 30 percent of convicted child molesters admitted perpetrating acts of animal cruelty in their childhood or adolescence.

A history of animal abuse was found in 25 percent of aggressive male criminals, 30 percent of convicted child molesters, 36 percent of those who assaulted women and 46 percent of those convicted of sexual homicide.

In addition, researchers in the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have documented the link between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic violence, serial killings and other crimes of violence.

Those who work in the animal cruelty investigation field and animal rescue know that Coco's case is not isolated. They encounter many cases of cruelty to animals and work to help the animals and prevent further abuse.

The perpetrator(s) of this crime need help. This is especially important if children are involved. Anyone who has information regarding this crime knows reporting this is the right thing to do.

I appreciate your article; animal abuse is a communitywide problem that can only be addressed by the community working together.

-- Star Jorgensen


Word of the day

"OK, like with dyslexia, you're probably not going to get a parent from Adams or Hunt (elementary schools) to come here to talk about dyslexia. They probably don't know what the word means. They don't have a clue."

To think that a school board member, a person in a position of responsibility within a school district, could make such an unthinking statement about the parents of that district, the people he was elected to serve, is appalling. Mr. Breazell, it's time to turn the page on your Word-A-Day calendar; today's word is bigot: "one who holds blindly and intolerantly to an opinion."

-- Donna Drialo

Colorado Springs

Inflammatory oxymoron

Dan Wilcock begins his April 14 news article "Schoolyard Brawl" by noting "The possibility of converting public schools into private charter schools." My problem is with Mr. Wilcock's inflammatory oxymoron "private charter schools." As he learned from school board member Mary Wierman, District 11 "already contains six charter schools."

If contained within a public school district, these charter schools -- like all charter schools -- are obviously not "private." So either Mr. Wilcock failed to understand his own article or his opening sentence was an intentional exercise in sophistry.

-- Scott A. Foreman

Colorado Springs

Cruel and barbaric

I would like to thank the Independent for featuring an article that exposes the cruelty of steer roping ("Cruel or usual?" News, April 14). I also applaud Steve Hindi, president of SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) for his activism in giving a voice to those creatures among us who do not have one.

As someone who is totally opposed to rodeos, I have had lengthy conversations about steer roping with a friend of mine who also happens to be a former rodeo performer. Even he (still an avid rodeo fan) completely agrees that the practice is cruel and barbaric.

Shame on the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, including spokeswoman Ann Bleiker, for continuing and defending this abusive behavior by issuing the following absurd statement: "It is recognized by all those involved in sport that participants may become injured whether they are animal or human."

Really? I'm interested in hearing about the process by which they go about informing the steers of what's going to happen to them. Do the steers go through the same volunteer process as cowboys? Are they sat down and informed of their rights and their role as participants? Do steers then, being fully aware of the likelihood of injury and death, say "What the hell? I'm in!" Of course not.

How dare those at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame issue such a statement; one that not only condones animal abuse but also assumes the public is too stupid to know the difference between the respective awareness of animals and people.

-- Jessica McDorman

Colorado Springs

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