Everyone loves a honeymoon, even when there are early warnings that it can't go on forever.
Upon its arrival, the Indy immediately connected with readers who'd been alienated by the local daily's right-wing editorials, and left cold by talk of Colorado Springs as capital of the "Hate State." For the first three months, letters to the editor almost unanimously congratulated and welcomed the paper as a long-overdue alternative to mainstream media: "Thank you for improving my life," "Please keep up the fight and don't back down," "Keep at it, you're needed," and so on.
Though the presence of an altweekly didn't please everyone, the letters-to-the-editor section was a pretty friendly place for a while. In fact, the closest thing to criticism in those early months was one cautionary remark in an otherwise glowing submission: "It's refreshing to have a local publication that will print some dissent," it read in part. "However, I sincerely hope the Independent doesn't become merely an ideologically leftist, politically correct weekly. What we don't need is another college-level paper that serves mainly as a mouthpiece for frustrated liberals in a conservative town."
Hey, it was good while it lasted.
By early '94, the backlash had begun, as the Indy 1) increased its distribution and began reaching a more culturally and politically diverse demographic, and 2) was granted fewer mulligans by regular readers. In the two decades since, the paper has drawn its fair share of hate mail. So as a 21st birthday present to us all, we've gathered excerpts from some of the most scathing and/or hilarious. — Bill Forman
Feb. 16, 1994: I am writing to you about your gross insensitivity about asking for suggestions concerning "God versus Satan." You do not realize that such spiritual topics should not be handled frivolously or played with. I am a mystic of the first degree, and I have had major experiences with Angels and God in the most physical way possible ... You should not play around with such things you have no real knowledge of or understanding of. If you play with matches, you'll be burned.
April 6, 1994: I took the advice of your letter writers and have started to line my bird's cage with your paper. It's amazing how in such a short time he has been acting like the rest of my liberal friends. It seems that by favoring the "left wing," he can only fly in circles, thus becoming dizzy and disoriented.
May 25, 1994: We find that you have totally misrepresented the difference in men's and women's [hair] cuts ... We were totally disappointed in the article and have come to the conclusion that there is no truth in journalism, just sensationalism.
Jan. 18, 1995: In a recent edition you had a hate article about Rush Limbaugh. It seems that when you can't refute what he says, you merely attack him personally. ... I haven't heard or seen any apologies.
Sept. 2, 1998: I have read your weekly for years and have finally stopped because I have found no good news.
Oct. 7, 1998: As a Christian libertarian, I relish reading The Independent each week for comic relief from the day-to-day, humdrum realities of life.
Oct. 14, 1998: I recently applied to The Independent for a job. Now I'm thankful that I was, apparently, too good for your publication.
Sept. 2, 1999: Peter Jacoby's article "Room Full of Zombies" (Aug. 26, Bars and Clubs Issue) is one of the most aggravating, unresearched articles I have come across lately. ... And the fact that there wasn't porno playing on the big screen should have made it real clear that you were there on the wrong night.
Oct. 7, 1999: Congrats on the decision to shorten Amy Alkon's "Ask the Advice Goddess" column in the Sept. 30 issue of the Independent. Perhaps next week, you could cut off another inch, the next week two, and so on and so forth until Ms. Alkon has subtly disappeared.
Nov. 4, 1999: For too long I've been silently regarding John Hazlehurst's The Outsider. I can't remember a worthwhile comment in Mr. Hazlehurst's column since his November 1997 praise of that year's Rolling Stones performance in Albuquerque.
Aug. 10, 2000: I have not seen such a display of media ignorance or lack of research as shown by Kathryn Eastburn's review of X-Men in a very long time.
Sept. 14, 2000: Anybody who wonders why many readers don't like or trust journalists need look no further than the "Public Eye" column — the land that truth forgot.
March 8, 2001: What a completely irresponsible story ("Cops Thrash Men After Hot Tub Party Gets Noisy," March 1). ... I've known and been around police officers my entire life, have been on numerous ride-alongs, and I have never seen an officer take advantage of another person.
Sept. 20, 2001: [Cara] DeGette wanders aimlessly through the Independent's now predictable litany of relativism, justification, blaming the U.S. for all the strife in the world, and ominous warnings that our leaders are drooling over the opportunity to use these [Sept. 11] attacks to impose martial law. Do you guys have a checklist you go through (Chomsky reference ... check!), or is it now so deeply ingrained that it comes without thinking?
June 13, 2002: I suggest if the Independent ever wants to be considered anything in this community other than an entertainment rag for Colorado College students and left-wing activists that they try to actually write some news. Minus that, at least rate your articles in advance with a barf alert warning label.
Oct. 7, 2004: Rich Tosches' Sept. 23-29 column "Discrimination in every form" again confirms a rampant liberal lunacy. His article should have been titled, "I Hate Those Who Hate" or perhaps "I'm Intolerant of Intolerance" ...
Feb. 10, 2005: I was reading your paper today and had an idea for your IQ section. You could ask people, "Should Doug Bruce be burned at the stake?" After all, you seem to have some sort of bug up your collective butts about the man, so why not.
April 7, 2005: I picked up your little newspaper the other day and was amused to see that you are much the same as you were a couple of years ago when I last ventured to look at your pages: an unashamedly agenda-driven diatribe of cynicism, bigotry and intolerance against all who do not agree with you.
June 15, 2006: Once again, the Independent reveals its phantasmagorically myopic view of musical life in Colorado Springs, marginalizing both the Independent and all local musicians who do anything other than "bang and strum."
Aug. 3, 2006: If Bob Campbell ever interviews me on the street about some social issue and doesn't respect me enough to put my full photo along with my comment, I'll blast the hell out of him (or his sidekick, if Campbell is not the Indy photographer).
Aug. 10, 2006: What I see every week ... is a restaurant full of smug liberals reading your paper and masturbating to their self-righteousness.
Oct. 26, 2006: As I was reading your last issue, and reading your entertainment section, I was struck by the condescending tone that your writers use. As a teenager, I am no stranger to rudeness, but does it have a place in straight journalism?
Jan. 18, 2007: I thought it was great that on page 11 of the Jan. 11 issue, there is an ad for the Suicide Prevention Partnership that says, "When it hurts to live ... it helps to talk." To the right of that ad is a gun permit ad.
March 1, 2007: Your Feb. 22 issue promoting alcoholism ("Drinkathlon") was a new low for local journalism. You have brought bad karma to your newspaper.
July 5, 2007: I know the Independent's substandard reporters are grasping for some easy-to-type stories that involve as little real work as possible, but this obsession with the Gazette's secret restaurant reviewer is getting silly. What's the matter, nothing interesting in People magazine to plagiarize?
Dec. 3, 2009: Why in the world is there a local picture of a local chick in front of a local diner in my town's local weekly rag, but the photo was taken of a locale 80 miles due north? ... Ladies and sirs, I call foul! Shame on you and your paper, local paper my arse.
March 4, 2010: I have been a faithful reader of your newspaper since I moved to the Springs area, despite the fact that I often find your Advice Goddess column to be offensive, sexist drivel.
March 18, 2010: I'm more than a little disappointed in Pam Zubeck's article on Sheriff Terry Maketa ("Star treatment," cover story, March 11). It was about as far from fair and balanced as you can get. After seven years on the job, there are bound to be some incidents that will be targets, but nothing at all was said about the good that he has done for this community.
June 24, 2010: Regarding your cover photo of June 24 ("Last Chance Motel"), I've worked with and fed the homeless for many years, but I've never seen a less sympathetic picture than the cover of that issue. ... Who took these pictures? Did your print shop get hijacked by the Gazette?
Dec. 2, 2010: Last February, researchers identified specific genes that cause stuttering in 9 percent of cases. ... Your use of the term "personal hang-up" is insensitive to people who stutter.
Dec. 9, 2010: To Ralph Routon: After reading your Independent article from Dec. 2 ("Some lawmakers out to lunch," Between the Lines), it is evident that it is you who is "out to lunch."
Feb. 24, 2011: On Feb. 17, for the first time in the 10 years I've been reading your paper, I was able not only to get through, but also to enjoy, Seven Days to Live.
May 19, 2011: With Douglas Bruce and his minions reduced to irrelevance, you should be thankful that Steve Bach won the election because you now have a new target for your biased commentary.
June 16, 2011: What a sad spectacle it has been, watching the Indy decay from a truly independent leftist publication to the bastion of mushy, Obama-style, support-the-troops liberalism it is today. ... Why is it so hard to acknowledge that the fundamentalists are your enemies?
June 16, 2011: What have you been feeding John Hazlehurst? For three weeks, his City Sage columns have been lucid, well thought out, and have shown logical thinking.
Jan. 12, 2012: There was absolutely no reason for this article to be written. ... What does the public care what ["Fat Old Naked Guys"] do at the gym? Talk about stimulating perverts, sex offenders and rapists, which seem to be rampant now everywhere.
July 18, 2012: Your tabloid is way off base to the area you serve. ... Regardless how you vote, if you believe in democracy and fairness your published letters should be 70/30 on right-thinking editorials.
Dec. 26, 2012: Santa in a gas mask. Really? How could you be so insensitive to print that as your Xmas cover (Dec. 19), after the most horrific shooting in United States history?
Jan. 16, 2013: Wow. The Indy must really be hard up for stories to give the front page to someone as deluded and narcissistic as Craig Brittain ("The face of revenge," cover story, Jan 9). Revenge porn? Jesus H. Christ.
Jan. 16, 2013: As far as I can tell, Mr. Tosches has never been in the U.S. Army, nor was he ever a USDA Forest Ranger or a National Park Service Ranger. Mr. Tosches using the title Ranger is quite disrespectful to the U.S. Army, the USDA and the NPS.
Feb. 13, 2013: Dear Ralph, are you fucking nuts?
March 27, 2013: Where in the hell are the Indy's editors? Bryce Crawford's insensitive and callous remarks in his review of Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery should never have made it to print. ... Diabetes is not fodder for pompous food critics.
Nov. 6, 2013: Re: Ranger Rich: Is this guy supposed to be funny? ... Does he write the column drunk?
April 9, 2014: Where the heck is Rich Tosches? An edition of the Indy without his column is good for lining the bird cage, wrapping fish entrails, starting a fire in the fireplace or use in the outhouse.
Aug. 16, 2014: Instead of treating [County Commissioner Peggy] Littleton with the dignity I believe she has earned, your artist paints her up like a made-up clown in a Photoshop-doctored portrait that would insult a prostitute.
Nov. 19, 2014: I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with the Independent.