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Issues with Outreach

As people of faith, we've followed coverage of Outreach, Inc. ("Holy market for Outreach," Noted, Jan. 13) moving its headquarters from San Diego to Colorado Springs.

While we understand that employment and jobs are a top priority, we lament the political and religious rhetoric that Outreach uses, especially when it comes to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons. Outreach equates "homosexual behavior" with drunkenness, witchcraft, adultery and murder.

The Family Research Institute landed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups because of an aggressive anti-homosexuality agenda that will be embraced by Outreach. We do not need one more group that adds to the environment of hostility that is rampant in this country.

We will not be silent as our economic development corporation embraces yet another group that equates homosexuality with immorality. The American Psychological Association, National Institutes of Health, and countless religious organizations have sided with science in recognizing that homosexuality is neither immoral nor a disease. Organizations upholding a vision that divides us are finding safe haven in Colorado Springs. We find this unjustifiable.

Additionally, we are saddened that this group will receive up to $1.5 million in state tax credits, money that could educate our young, build libraries, fund our state universities. Instead, it will go to a group whose mission and understanding dehumanizes many Coloradans who are gay and lesbian, many of whom are people of faith right here in our hometown.

We invite our brothers and sisters from Outreach to reach out to faith communities welcoming and affirming of gay and lesbian men and women in our churches. We invite Outreach folks to meet with us at the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center to hear the stories of real people with real concerns who are in loving relationships and active, productive members of the Colorado Springs community.

— Roger Butts, Wes Mullins

Nori Rost, Benjamin Broadbent

Colorado Springs

GLCC confirmation

In response to the above letter to the editor, we would like to reaffirm the offer of the services at the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center (PPGLCC) to facilitate a platform of understanding around stories and experiences of LGBT community members. Additionally we acknowledge our community's diverse viewpoints and potential concerns, and we hope Outreach, Inc. will acknowledge them as well.

— Eric Austin Attard

Executive director,

Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian

Community Center

Misdirected blame

I found the Indy Letters section very disturbing last week. Three of them were cut from the same cloth except for the levels of hatred and viciousness; "Tucson perspective" by Elaine Brush won by a vitriolic mile. Ironically, they were complaining about the incivility, hatred and viciousness of Tea Partiers, conservative pundits and other evildoers, while expressing these same feelings toward them.

Help me, I am confused; does anybody else see the irrationality here?

As a matter of fact (and let's do inject some actual facts) just because you may fervently wish for something to be so does not mean it is. Even the president stopped short of crossing the line to fantasy and conjecture of the conservative media's impact on Tucson, and our own Ralph Routon wrote a very thoughtful and balanced piece on the subject.

But apparently some of the folks out there are so foaming-at-the-mouth angry that they can't be bothered with facts, especially if they conflict with their dearly beloved notions of the evil Other Side. In a further irony, they seem to know so much about conservative pundits like Limbaugh and Palin that I have to assume they watch and listen to them avidly. Or else they just drag out a tired and tattered same-old playbook for inspiration.

Come on, does the incredibly sick and repulsive Loughner cavorting in a G-string fit the Tea Party mold? Is there any evidence to suggest that he just didn't like Democrats or was anything but a total whack job who wouldn't know a ballot box from his ammunition box?

Gentle defenders of the Democrats and the left: You are the ones who are starting to scare me. I wonder what you would say if the tragic event had been held by Republicans or conservatives. "Good riddance?"

— Geraldine Russell

Colorado Springs

Chills and shills

Seems that Elaine Brush ("Tucson perspective," Letters, Jan. 13) is aghast about the "poison" being spewed from some media mouthpieces, listing several right-wing pundits while conveniently omitting liberal shills like Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos), novelist Ayelet Waldman, Keith Olbermann, Janeane Garofalo — although, one is inclined to think "Who cares about their opinions?" in the last few cases.

This was an absolute tragedy, but spawned from one individual's insane viewpoints, which were not tied to the words and opinions of others. (As of this writing, there is not one shred of evidence that Beck, Limbaugh, Palin or others "inspired" Loughner to commit the massacre.)

Should inflammatory rhetoric be toned down? Yes, but to act as if it only occurs on one side of the political spectrum is a myopic and feeble tactic for those who are only looking to scapegoat conservatives, not hold both sides accountable for extreme rants.

— Jeff Faltz

Colorado Springs

'Gone terribly wrong'

I am writing in response to the tragic events in Tucson and the inevitable attention focused on mental illness as a result. Too often when such events occur, misperceptions about mental illness are reinforced and stigma becomes more entrenched than ever.

In fact those with mental disorders are not significantly more violent than the general population and are more likely to be the victims of violence than perpetrators. When violence does occur, it's because something has gone terribly wrong.

Far too many people who need treatment for mental illness don't get it. Some say these people have "fallen through the safety net" but the safety net hardly exists and what's left is frayed and filled with holes. Nationwide, our mental health care system is broken. Deep cuts have been made in services. Broad civil commitment laws require treatment when needed; however, the law can't work if an evaluation is never conducted or services are not available.

The victims of this failure include those in the mall at Tucson, among them a congresswoman, a judge, a 9-year-old girl, and, yes, Jared Lee Loughner. My deepest sympathy goes out to these individuals and their families.

When tragedies involving mental illness occur, all of us, including the news media and authorities, need to take a hard look at what has happened. We need to ask the hard questions about what went wrong, and we need to take the necessary steps to institute change.

— Kathy Brandt

President, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Colorado Springs

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Well, all right then

Now that we are certain that (1) all the talk of our political leaders about guns, bullets, reloading, Second Amendment political remedies, and bringing guns to a knife fight had nothing to do with the murder and wounded in Arizona, and that (2) our Founding Fathers' deep concerns that all of us have access to semiautomatic clips for our flintlock pistols had nothing to do with the murder and wounded in Arizona, let's just keep on, keepin' on.

— Jonathan H. Reilly

Colorado Springs

What scares us

Once again we dwell in the aftermath. Another rampage has taken the country by surprise. Several people have been killed and a widely respected member of Congress is clinging to life.

We can say it was a mentally ill person who acted madly. What we can't really say is that it is a surprise. We can't even argue that it's not just a matter of time before it happens again, or if there is anything we can do about it.

That is the scariest aspect of this aftermath: Seemingly anyone, no matter how imbalanced, can get a gun, with extended clips, and walk out among us, looking for the right moment to strike, and to kill.

Maybe there is some way to just draw a line.

I bet our mental health professionals could devise tests to weed out individuals most prone to violence or murder. But there's another obstacle: profit. Groups like to warn us about the perils of an unarmed public, but most Americans are not out to disarm everyone. They just want to keep guns out of the hands of the unstable or insane.

Make no mistake. When those groups make loud warnings about the government coming to take our guns and ammo, and the rubes rush out and spend every cent they have on arms, it's a big payday, especially when it's so easy to rile up the natives against some manufactured threat. Well, it's not the government that scares us. It's the loner who has been watching FOX and listening to Beck and Savage on the radio.

The unhinged are the most susceptible to irresponsible suggestions by spotlight-seeking radio and TV personalities, but the biggest thing we need to grasp is that at some point cooler voices from both sides have to speak up and say, "That's enough."

— Max Lowe

Colorado Springs

Rise up, now

As a veteran public school teacher and union member with over 30 years' experience, I've felt much dismay over the continuing blame and vilification of teachers and teacher unions by politicians and media pundits.

For the past 40 years, America, like no other country, has despised its teachers. From Republican and Democratic politicians who seek to dismember public schools to our disdainful President Obama, from so-called reformers Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee to media icons such as Oprah Winfrey, teachers are America's favorite scapegoats.

The truth is that most teachers are doing the very best they can. Most children are learning and are doing well as a result of parents' and teachers' caring and responsibility. Unfortunately, a large number of children are not reaching their potential. Aside from students receiving special education and English Language Learner services, these underachieving students are mainly children of poverty, stemming from our burgeoning economic poverty and a profound poverty of the spirit wherein irresponsible or nonexistent parenting, violence, drugs, alcoholism and criminal behavior are all too common. Until these underlying problems are addressed, nothing will change.

It is time for public school teachers to speak out, and as Southern Cal professor Stephen Krashen put forth, to stop "participating in our own destruction." To these so-called reformers and know-nothings we must say, "Enough!"

Turning children into automatons with incessant, meaningless tests will not solve what ails public schools. We must address the economic poverty and high-risk behaviors of fragile families. We teachers must reclaim education through forceful action. I am, therefore, calling for a national day of protest by all public school teachers. Let us tell politicians and pundits alike to stop the half-truths and bullying that have become so much a part of the American political landscape.

We teachers will be America's whipping boys no longer.

— Deborah Sheinman

Colorado Springs

Fascinating story ...

Iggy vs. Romaine. Quite the headlining article (cover story, Jan. 13), I must say. When I saw the front page, I thought, "Iggy vs. Romaine. Must be some sort of intense rap battle or dueling DJs. Romaine could be a DJ name, or a rapper name even."

What a shock! Tales of love found, love lost. Cigarettes bummed, cigarettes lost. Knives thrust and bottles smashed.

What a shock! A real nail-biter. A sort of modern-day Gilgamesh. Well played, Indy. Well played.

— Tom Nelson

Colorado Springs

... or perhaps not

My curiosity was mildly piqued by the setup of "two regular guys who could have been friends end up almost killing each other." However, the saga failed to wrap itself around my heart and I felt vaguely hollow and disgusted after reading it.

I realize that many folks believe violent crime is random (that is, perpetrators choose their victims at random); fact is, the tale of two downwardly mobile people with propensities for petty crime and substance abuse beating the sh** out of each other is sadly common. If you lack education, motivation, willpower and good judgment and spend a fair portion of your time somewhere in the continuum of "hung over" to "wasted," your circle of friends will be limited to folks like yourself who — gasp! — might assault you for verbally insulting their choice of cigarette brand.

Violence is the predictable outcome of idiots with anger-management issues getting drunk together. Ask any social worker, police officer, ER nurse or EMT and they'll corroborate this. Please note that I'm not equating "poor" or economically disadvantaged people with "downwardly mobile." It's just that the guy with the "indecent exposure" charge on his rap sheet who "rarely sees" his 6-year-old son trying to pass himself off as a victim makes me nauseated. Ditto for the other dude.

Sick of people whose mouths are writing checks that their fists can't cash.

— Amy M.

Colorado Springs

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