Rehabilitation is possible

To the Editor:

I'm looking forward to the rest of the articles in Malcolm Howard's series about state parole policies on Colorado's prison population.

In "Life With Parole" in the July 13 edition of the Independent he mentions questions that the parole board members must weigh such as, "On the other hand, it doesn't require much physical agility to improperly touch a child, and if Lilley's in denial about his latest offense, is he more likely to re-offend?"

Why is it that once a man is accused of a sex offense he is not allowed to be innocent, or, if he is a sex offender he is not allowed to change? Maybe they can't be cured but they can change their behavior. What the board calls "in denial" could possibly be innocence. I agree with those who say, "the parole board needs to look at inmates on a case-by-case basis."

Our (the taxpayers') money is being wasted and families are being torn apart by the incarceration of people who need treatment not prison.

-- Betty L. Wolfe
Colorado Springs

On the edge of homelessness

To the Editor:

On and off this week, I, a middle-aged, middle-class woman, watched the era of "compassionate conservativism" being ushered into this new millenium.

The other thing which occupied my time this week is accepting that before the convention center in Philly is ready for its next event, I shall be homeless.

My friends are horrified; I haven't even found the courage to tell my mother. (There's still a week or so before the phone is shut off.) Everyone has ideas, suggestions, helpful hints, etc. No one has an answer.

Walking downtown this week, I saw two signs posted on two businesses, a door or so apart. The first sign was for a job (food service -- $2.13 per hour plus tips). The second sign read "Don't Encourage Panhandling."

Knowing I wasn't dressed for job hunting, I still inquired about the job. Without so much as a question as to my qualifications, I was told no. Bravely accepting that rejection, I continued my walk. When I passed the second sign, I sat down and sobbed.

But from this despair came ideas which can lead to hope.

What I'm asking of my friends is: Keep a coffee can for change; keep a roll of quarters for laundry. I know the time will come when I can do something for a friend for which they shall gladly repay me with the promise of clean clothes, a cup of coffee and a "meal deal" at some fast food joint.

And, if you are saying to yourself, "But I don't know any homeless people," just wait. ... You will.

-- Dorothy DeMartin
Colorado Springs

The great witch tradition

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing the article, "Casting Spells: Goddess worship, witchcraft and paganism in Colorado Springs," (July 27). I found it to be both informative and well-balanced.

The only small problem with it was the blind eye cast to traditionalist witches. Wicca is a mixture of paganism and witchcraft. But thousands of men and women practice just the Craft, without the religious connotations. These witches often come from family trads, work as solitaires and specialize in divination, medicinal and magical herbology and occult lore.

-- Jade Walker, Editor, Inscriptions

Out of the broom closet

To the Editor:

Excellent article on paganism in the Springs! You may get some fallout here and there, but one thing I'd like readers to remember is that freedom of religion means all religions -- not just some of them. And not just religions followed by the majority of people in a particular region.

I am a 35-year-old wife and mother of two children -- my husband was raised Baptist. We have been married for 15 years, and although he does not follow my path, he respects that I follow a religion that contrasts his in major ways. I don't believe in forcing my religion on anyone else -- you won't find me proselytizing or going door-to-door in order to convince you that my way is the right way. Many of my friends are either Christian, Jewish or Hindu, but we don't allow our religious differences to get in the way of friendships. In the grand scheme of things, it matters not the divine path you take, for all paths lead to the One.

If you glimpsed me on the street, you'd probably never guess that I was a (gasp!) witch -- or as some prefer, Wiccan. I shop, dine, purchase stamps and go to sports events with my kids just like everyone else does. I don't ride broomsticks, I don't do sacrifices, I don't worship Satan (what an insult!) and I do have a black cat -- but only because I rescued him in December and gave him a home after he was viciously attacked by a dog and nearly died.

As a Wiccan (a religion that is officially recognized by the U.S. government and, thus, protected by the Constitution -- something George W. Bush needs to realize), I don't want to be saved, and I don't want to be deprogrammed or driven from my ways because others don't agree with my belief system. All I want is to be open to practice my religion without fear of retribution from others. I am more out of the broom closet now than I was a couple of years ago -- but that doesn't mean I'm still not filled with caution when I meet people for the first time.

Thank you for publishing the article on paganism and Wicca in an attempt to explain and re-educate some of your readers about an ancient religion that thrives and will continue to thrive -- albeit often in secret -- despite concerted attempts to spread lies and falsehoods about our faith. I find it ironic that when witches wear black, it's considered evil by some, and yet, priests and nuns wear black and they are considered pious individuals. Is there really that much difference between the workings of a spell or ritual as opposed to a prayer or church ceremony? I think not.

Blessed Be!

-- Bev Walton Porter, Lady Rowan of the Mountains
Colorado Springs

Name that statue

To the Editor:

Along with Mr. Calaveras and Atomic Elroy (a.k.a. Tom McElroy, Palmer High 1971), I'd like to enter my guess in the name-that-statue contest.

How about Winfield Scott Stratton, an unforgettable man while he lived? Time and the modern rush do not permit us to stop long enough to read the name emblazoned in bold black letters beneath his statue.

-- Tamara M. Teale
Colorado Springs

and name it again

To the Editor:

In reference to the previous letters to the editor written by Mr. Elroy and Mr. Calaveras, I would like to point out that the statue on Pikes Peak and Nevada Avenue is neither Spencer Penrose nor Myron Stratton.

The statue that stands on the corner, not too far from the building that houses the Independent, is of Winfield Scott Stratton. According to the history books I have read, Winfield Scott Stratton was one of Colorado Springs' greatest philanthropists. After striking it rich in a Cripple Creek gold mine he named The Independence, he donated his money in very egalitarian ways. Not only did he fund a home for the elderly and the orphaned (named for his father, Myron Stratton), but he also financed the trolley system that provided transportation to everyone (not just the wealthy). He donated land around town so that the people would have free parks and when he saw the washerwomen in town struggling to carry baskets of laundry, he bought them all bicycles!

-- Lee Ann Groff
Colorado Springs

Kill the critic

To the Editor:

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. Actually, I believe the last monumental gaffe of such a rudimentary nature was TV Guide 's review of the TV series Kindred, which their highly esteemed monthly editorial reviewer stated was a very inventive original concept from Aaron Spelling, ignoring the role-playing game from which it was licensed and which was explicitly listed in the show's credits.

Ms. Eastburn's first mistake was in revealing the entire plot of the movie in a review. Every critic and reviewer knows that giving the general basis for conflict is required, but elaborating with such detail so as to insult fans of the comic series and blow the surprise for newbies is against the rules of critic etiquette.

Second, Eastburn characterizes the movies as "a spirited, stylish allegory more along the lines of its mighty predecessor The Matrix." Excuse me? Aside from wire-fu, which was actually made popular by the Hong Kong film industry, and a plethora of black vinyl/leather, I fail to see the resemblance.

I thought the mighty predecessor of X-Men the movie was X-Men the comic book, created by Stan Lee in 1963, as I recall, and referred to throughout the movie (yellow spandex anyone?). Perhaps if Ms. Eastburn had gone through the burdensome journalistic trouble of picking up a $1 comic book, she could have made some more insightful criticisms.

Furthermore, X-Men does not mimic The Matrix in its commentary on our society, as Ms. Eastburn states. She confuses directorial style and set construction with the writer's job: creation. The X-Men concept was the next stage in Stan Lee's journey through his understanding of the human psyche, such as Incredible Hulk, which contemplated whether a "good" person should be judged by his appearance and words or by his actions. (And for film fans, was very well explained by Stan Lee himself in Kevin Smith's Mallrats.)

While I will be the first to acknowledge that everything is derivative of everything else, give comic book geeks some credit -- X-Men is less derived from The Matrix than it is from Jet Li, the social influence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

-- Anjanette C. Wayman
Colorado Springs

-- Ms. Eastburn responds: My review does not say X-Men was derived from The Matrix, but simply compares it positively in style, content and quality of filmmaking. Last time I checked, the word predecessor simply means "that which precedes," as The Matrix does X-Men in the world of movies. The review acknowledges the comic book genre, but I do not consider myself qualified to write knowledgeably about the X-Men series. However, after six years of writing film reviews, I feel qualified to compare this year's crop of films with last year's. No insult was intended toward "comic book geeks," and your knowing perspective on Stan Lee is appreciated.


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