What's the crime?

To the Editor:

Bravo to Patrick Lilly ("Democracy in Absentia," Sept. 21) for boldly speaking out on the atrocities of the military tactics used in the local (and national) war on drugs. Drug addiction is a social problem to be treated, not a criminal problem to be prosecuted. Just ask any of the convicted drug users/nonviolent offenders packing the nation's prisons.

They'd tell you that they didn't learn a thing from incarceration and that they wish that they had a chance at rehabilitation. We all know that they have no right to have such wishes. The substance is not the crime; the way in which our government wastes resources on prohibition of these substances is a crime.

The lack of democracy in action of which Lilly speaks (right here in the Springs) mirrors the same deficiency occurring at the national level. Neither Ralph Nader nor Pat Buchanan have been invited to participate in the presidential debates. Third party (independent) voices have been stifled on every level. If you are searching for honest dialogue about the ridiculous violence and expense of the current drug war policies, you can look to the Green Party for lively discussion on this and many other issues. We hear you, Mr. Lilly. It's time for a change.

-- Marlene Hyer
Colorado Springs

Mill Street blues revival

To the Editor:

The Mill Street Neighborhood has been getting a lot of press lately, and rightly so with all that has been taking place within our few short blocks. As an update, most all of the residents south of the 200 block of West Mill have packed up and are gone. Their homes were purchased by Colorado Springs Utilities and are set for demolition for a rail extension for the Martin Drake Power Station. The proposed Montgomery Community Center plan, slated for the end of the 200 block of West Mill, was denied by the Planning Commission by a 5-to-1 vote. The project planners have appealed the decision and it will be heard by City Council on November 14th.

These factors have contributed to the formation of the Mill Street Neighborhood Association. The neighborhood, although neglected for years, still has outstanding value within the city. Yes, it has infrastructure problems, deteriorating sidewalks, overgrown trees, and a few homes in need of upgrades. But, as a whole, this 100-year-old neighborhood has significance.

Our vision for this neighborhood is: to have handicapped accessible sidewalks so our disabled and elderly can safely make their way around the neighborhood and get to transportation and services; to utilize our open spaces for neighborhood parks and gardens; to keep the Fountain Creek Trail maintained and safe for all the community to enjoy; to enhance the streets with the same novelty lighting as downtown; to help one another as a neighborhood to restore our homes to their original charm and beauty; and to prioritize our infrastructure problems and address them in a timely manner.

We are going to accomplish these things by becoming a strategic area, and with the help of the City of Colorado Springs Neighborhood Redevelopment and money from the SCIP program.

Please realize that this is not a dead, decaying neighborhood. We have lived with these problems because we were unaware of the processes to get them fixed. But circumstances as they are, a revival is taking place within the Mill Street Neighborhood.

Please understand, too, that our vision is at risk of being trampled upon by upwards of 1,000 people per day by the proposed Montgomery Community Center project. We cannot incorporate this scenario into our vision. It is too overwhelming. Without a vision, people perish. Without fulfillment of the Mill Street Neighborhood vision, the neighborhood will perish as well.

-- Rickie Stuart
Colorado Springs

A response to Rev. Pedigo

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to the letter by Reverend Tom Pedigo that appeared in the Sept. 21 issue of the Independent.

I am not gay and thus could never even pretend to understand the oppression that these unfortunate souls have had to endure over the past few decades and, yes, even centuries. But I am sick and tired of over-the-top, holier-than-thou bigots making the news and spreading their negative influences under the auspices of the most populace, supposedly "tolerant" religious institution (not to mention the richest) in the history of humanity!

First of all, Mr. Pedigo's glaring ignorance of scientific fact is absolutely appalling. In this age of relative medical enlightenment, to spread fear of homosexuals by putting responsibility for AIDS solely on "homosexual behavior" is unconscionable. And while it is true that there is as of yet no hardcore scientific "proof" (Isn't it funny how Christians can completely discount science with one breath and use it for a rational argument the next?) that homosexuality is inborn, recent studies have provided substantial circumstantial evidence that indicates exactly that.

And in reference to the good Reverend's comments concerning the "militant gay movement," what the hell does he think Christianity is based on -- surely not sugar and spice and everything nice? After all, uncounted thousands upon thousands of people have been murdered over the millennia, ostensibly in the name of God. When you factor that in along with the recent headline-grabbing atrocities toward gays (the death of Matthew Shepard comes to mind), it really kind of has an impact on which group can more reasonably be labeled "militant."

And finally, in response to Mr. Pedigo's assertion that the gay community "is striving toward forced affirmation of their lifestyle onto society": Just what, exactly, do you mean by "forced affirmation"? Do you mean that in the traditional Christian sense, where it is acceptable to ruthlessly and mercilessly quash all ideas contrary to one's own (one thinks of nightmarish Orwellian Thought Police)? Or did you mean it in the sense that it is understood in the minds of millions of minorities today: forced affirmation upon society of the ideal of equality, stated directly and unequivocably in the Declaration of Independence?

Homosexual men and women are just that -- men and women, with souls like the rest of us. And Reverend, if I were you, I would sincerely hope that your congregation is praying for yours.

-- S. Blair
Colorado Springs

Digging a little deeper

To the Editor:

I read Ms. Beckman's tirade ("Your Turn," Sept. 14) and I fail to understand what subject has her up in arms. Is it discrimination and prejudice in our society against homosexuals, or is it fallacies in the Bible?

I think I agree with her that all people should be nurtured in forming their self-image. It should be a positive and self-affirming experience, no matter what their sexual orientation. The best way to mentor that formation is by modeling. If the Boy Scouts don't provide that experience for homosexuals, then find, or build, another means for providing a positive growth experience. I know there are many churches that try to do that -- which leads me (rather indirectly) to her rant about the Bible.

For someone who supposedly has a degree in theology, her arguments (if I can call them that) don't seem to go much deeper than one-liners and name-calling. Of course there are a lot of contradictions in the Bible. Even if you believe the book was inspired by God, it was still written by humans.

There are also a lot of wise and beautiful passages in the Bible. Ms. Beckman might find a bunch of them in the New Testament. In fact, if her beef is with fundamentalists (which I suspect it is), check out Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc., as well as Paul's letters to the various churches throughout the Mediterranean area. You'll find a lot of ammunition to slam-dunk all of the silly assertions made by those highly selective and highly biased Bible readers. And, yes, good old common sense and a generous and loving heart will do that, too.

Incidentally, it is not true that "for centuries the Christian Bible has been used to justify the oppression and genocide of the Jewish people, as well as the oppression and submission of women." The Bible, and religion, has been used as an excuse for oppression and genocide -- as was the Koran and the teachings of Buddha and Confucius. People who want power over others will use anything they damn well please to get that power. Don't throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water, Ms. Beckman. There are a lot of people who in their heart of hearts may agree with you about discrimination and prejudice, but they just don't care to take the shotgun approach in justifying their agreement.

-- Kenji Farinelli
Colorado Spring

Meeker thank-you

To the Editor:

We would like to express our sincere appreciation for your support of the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials ("Seven Days," Aug. 31). The audience this year was bigger than ever, and the growth was in large measure due to generous people like yourself who helped us spread the word about this unique event.

Tom Kay, a Colorado Springs resident and the photographer of the picture you used, told me how surprised and delighted he was at opening up the Independent and finding his photo credit. He was most pleased to see that Colorado Springs had finally paid attention to his beloved Sheepdog Trials.

I wish to second his reaction. As you might suspect, it is difficult to pique the interest of the Front Range in a remote mountain town like Meeker. But once they've seen this event, spectators are generally hooked and will travel across states to return repeatedly.

Once again, thank you so much for your excellent coverage and your kind support.

-- Jo Anna Besseghini
Publicity Chairperson Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials


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