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This little priggy ...

Thanks, Indy, for your early warning on Kyle Fisk, the Republican candidate who hopes to take down the successful Democrat Mike Merrifield ("GOP targets Merrifield again," News, June 1). It was inevitable that one or more underlings of local religionists Ted Haggard or James Dobson would actually run for office, as their mentors continue to try to run city and national politics and social policy from behind their pulpits.

Mr. Fisk seems to be a really, really nice man.So have him over for a game of checkers or canasta over Pepsi. But don't let him get any political power.

He is against abortion, understandably, since he can't get pregnant. He is against gays and lesbians (getting married, at least) since he doesn't want to marry one. And, of course, he is for school vouchers to help folks pay for religious private schools. No surprises there.

A note of wonderment: He favors lowering taxes and simultaneously putting more police and firemen on the streets, but takes no note of the fact that after his tax cuts, there will be no tax revenues to pay for those extra brave police and firefighters. Fisk reminds me of the politicians of old who said, "Let's take the tax burden off the shoulders of the people, and put it where it belongs."

Most eye-popping was Fisk's claim that New Life Church prayers got Saddam's sons killed. He says "prayer changes things." I wish we could believe him. If that were true, we could have easily prayed and saved all the folks over the centuries who died miserably from plague, cancer, smallpox, etc.

As our city's religious prigs continue to try to control the lives of people they do not understand and do not like, we must always remember this: "Hate the priggishness, not the prig." We can love Mr. Fisk and Pastor Haggard and Dr. Dobson, and hate their priggishness. And let us remember always that there are retraining programs for all prigs worldwide. They are called liberal arts and sciences colleges like Colorado College. All the other colleges and universities, too. Prigs can be retrained. We owe it to them.

Larimore Nicholl, Colorado Springs

Feathered foes

Thank you for your coverage of the D-11 art fiasco ("Artless," cover story, May 25). Shame on the "selection committee" for yet again bowing to the specter of an evangelical juggernaut looking to avoid reality, and maintaining a vanilla version of life.

Art is controversy. It is meant to inspire conversations, even and especially about "difficult" topics that has long been one of its primary and celebrated purposes. It is not to be hushed, tempered or banned for fear of ruffling a few fundamentalist feathers. Why don't they just call next year's show "Renderings of White, Middle-Class, Heterosexual, Able-Bodied, Non-Smoking, Fully Clothed, Evangelical Males"? Would that please their evil benefactors?

Kimberly A. Holcomb, Colorado Springs

Slippery when threat

I just finished reading your cover story on the youth arts show in Colorado Springs D-11. While I realize that our public schools, by nature of their funding, must toe the line, we as taxpayers who find their choices objectionable do not have the same obligation. I am stunned no, outraged that this sort of censorship is acceptable to us as citizens.

While I have lived in Colorado Springs for over 20 years and am well aware that my open-minded viewpoint is far from being shared by many, I am appalled that we as a society would think that a work of art by any person should be interpreted as acceptable only if it fits in a narrow scope. It scares me to think what kind of message this sends to our students, and how stifling that may be to developing minds. But that just may be the purpose.

Darn right, censorship is a slippery slope. We need to wake up to the fact that being told how to think and how to portray those thoughts is very limiting.

What if someone in France in the 1800s had thought that the cleft in a lily pad in one of the many water-lilies portraits that Monet was so fond of (and did so well, many times) was reminiscent of human female genitalia? And what if there was such rigidity in gender issues in the Renaissance that da Vinci didn't paint the "Mona Lisa," which some art scholars now think may have been a self-portrait?

Am I the only one who thinks that maybe the young man could have borrowed the truck with the rainbow sticker? Or maybe he just stopped in front of it? Not that I have any problem with the rainbow sticker or any of the other reasons that the rejected pieces were deemed unacceptable. And it is for those very reasons that I am raising my children to know that it is OK not to automatically accept an opinion just because it is set forth, and that questioning authority is not a bad thing as long as it is done respectfully.

My job as a parent is to teach them to think critically, not to have a small-minded section of society do it for them.

Thanks, Indy, for bringing this to my attention.

Cathy Reilly

Colorado Springs

Bright flight

Seems your area is populated by artless fools. Do you ever wonder why the kids go elsewhere to expand?

Bob Squiers

Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.

Shame blame

What is art? It is self-expression by the artist to show the world how the artist views the world. If that expression depicts a topic that is offensive to a small vocal minority, then the best way to show the artwork is to avoid the narrow-minded bigots and go elsewhere. That is what I heartily recommend for all schools that have participated in the D-11 art show in the past.

If a so-called "judging panel" cannot even see the meaning of what an artist is trying to achieve, but instead they judge the artwork by a restrictive set of rules that can be interpreted in any way they want, then there is no value in displaying artwork before them. Who drew up the rules, and why did they include such stupid criteria? Someone must ask these questions and then decide whether the kids should even consider participating, if they are to be judged so stupidly.

I feel sorry for the kids. They are being told that it is not "politically correct" to express their ideas freely. They must adhere to the small-minded judgments of a group of people who have no idea what they are looking at.

For shame! Bush is to blame. Ever since he came to power, the United States has slipped backward into a fundamentalist state so fast it is breathtaking. What's next?

Marc Holt

Bangkok, Thailand

Recall the firing squad

Last week, the D-11 school board voted to begin instituting site-based management so that principals and teachers can have a greater voice in the decision-making process. The next day, principals and teachers (along with ex-board members, parents and students) came out in strong, unequivocal support of D-11 superintendent Dr. Sharon Thomas, but four members of the Board of Education fired her anyway.

So much for listening to principals and teachers!

Willie Breazell actually stumbled upon a nugget of truth on his way to casting the fourth and deciding vote to terminate Thomas' contract. He declared, "The administration of D-11 is too much for her [Thomas] to handle. ... She is not capable of moving this district forward."

As usual, Willie, you saw the truth, but got ittwisted. The results of that June 1 meetingshowed the public that the administration of D-11 is too much foryou four board members to handle, asyou fourare not capable of moving this district forward.

The solution is simple: recall Eric Christen, Craig Cox, Sandy Shakes and Willie Breazell before they can do any further harm to District 11.

Larry Seaver

Colorado Springs

Suck it up

As an antiwar, pro-civil rights teen in the '60s, my love for Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn meant that I had to put aside my own politics and swallow hard when I listened to their music around my friends. But I did, because like the greats of blues, folk and jazz, these were amazing talents whose music had an edge and a truth that cut through my own hypocrisies and the popular music of that time.

Later, in order to enjoy the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker and Lynyrd Skynyrd, I had to ignore the rebel flag-waving, cracker antics of their fans, and occasionally cringe through a right-wing anthem. But I did, and was better for it.

So I say "Suck it up" to you Dixie Chick-hating country fans and your radio stations. These are not your usual country TV stars. They can't pass your litmus test. Like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jerry Jeff Walker once were, these are Texas outlaws, except they are free of drugs and alcohol, have real families and even have babies between albums. But, like the country greats before them, they sing of the wide-open spaces, the people and culture they love, and most importantly, they sing what they believe.

Jonathan H. Reilly

Colorado Springs

Reviving Marshall

With all the discussion of immigration lately, it seems as if no one has put forth the idea of a"Marshall Plan" for the Americas,particularly for Mexico and Central America.

After the second World War, the United States invested heavily in rebuilding the industrial and social base of the defeated European nations, with great success. Why not such a plan for our neighbors to the south? Of course, the huge outlays of money now being spent in Iraqwill affect our efforts to do so more reason to bring this "war" to a swift end.

We shouldn't be sending American jobs south of the border because of "cheaper" labor. Rather, we should be helping people there to develop and grow their industries and economies, establish a living wage, and increase their ownsocial services and national wealth. Doing so would help not only them, but the United States in the long term.

I firmly believe that people who have hope and jobswon't really want to leave their own countries and families forsome elusive "better life" elsewhere.Walls and laws won't stop a person with little or no hope from wanting to immigrate to the United States, whether legally or illegally, and acting on this desire.

Let's create this new "Marshall Plan" for all the peoples of our hemisphere. The time is now. We simply need the will to do so.

Bob Armintor

Colorado Springs

Not the same

Yes, it's been several weeks since Domestic Bliss has been published in the Independent, but I still miss the column.

For years, I opened the Independent every week and went right to Kathryn Eastburn's wonderful words, provoking great images and heartfelt messages. I so enjoyedreading all about her childhood magical moments and the continued magic of her life here in the Springs.

The paper just isn't the same still great, but alas, not the same.

Just wanted her and the world to know: I'm still missin' Domestic Bliss.

Sharon Hamand

Colorado Springs

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