Way to go

To the Editor:

Thank you so much for the compassionate article on Kay Arnold and her decision for palliative care. ("Going All the Way," Sept. 28)

My grandmother was paralyzed by a stroke 20 years ago and my grandfather has cared for her in their home. After 20 years of excruciating leg cramps, futile surgeries, countless doctor consultations and a leg amputation, I have begun to see the result of my grandfather's consistent care -- another 20 years of life. And an abundant life at that. This summer they celebrated 60 years of marriage in a beautiful garden party surrounded by 200 friends and family members. Dressed to the nines, my 85-year-old grandpa paraded around town with his bride in a Model-T Ford. She cradled a dozen roses and radiated mischief as they putt-putted through a McDonald's drive-thru.

In the years to come, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide and the deterioration of Medicare will complicate and cloud the natural progression of dying. I urge your readers to consider the beautiful example of Kay Arnold and my grandparents in choosing to enjoy the length of life they have been given. Their ability to face death and disease unafraid speaks to me.

I was only two years old when my grandma had her stroke. If she had decided to give up on life at that moment, I would have never gotten the opportunity to get to know her or learn from her example that life is precious.

Once again, thank you for the sensitive way in which you presented this difficult subject of death. My applause and admiration goes to those who daily face death with feistiness and courage.

-- Grace Krienke

Colorado Springs

Smaller counties don't count

To the Editor:

Last week's Outsider column contained misguided information about

Initiative 24, the Coloradans for Responsible Growth citizen initiative. John Hazlehurst stated that the best way for the anti-24ers to aim a negative attack at our campaign is by stating that controlling sprawl on the Front Range will only drive developers to develop farther from town.

The truth of the matter is that the growth maps are targeted to counties and cities with large populations. The city and county planners, local government and citizens decide where future growth will be, map it out, and then submit it to a vote by the citizens of that county. The citizens have the final say in where their new growth will be. If a smaller county's population finally hits the 25,000 person target, they will also be required to share this growth area map.

Out-of-control growth will be addressed by rural counties if the county falls within the population provisions in the future. The Responsible Growth Initiative is a reasonable step forward in allowing Colorado citizens a say in how Colorado grows.

-- Todd Herbin


Free thinking?

To the Editor:

William Edelen's column "Christian Persecution" (The Freethinkers of Colorado Springs paid ad, Sept. 21) was offensive and politically stupid: The answer to the religious right's calls for theocracy isn't to maliciously snicker when Christians are persecuted. That simply lends credibility to the religious right's branding of its opponents as "Christian haters."

Rather, we should argue that theocracy is wrong for America for the same reasons that we should find state-supported and -imposed atheism in, say, Cuba offensive: The state has no right telling its citizens to believe or not believe in God or in what God to believe. Any state-supported stance on such issues violates the individual's freedom of conscience.

And if Edelen wants to undercut the rightist argument that Christians have become an oppressed group, he would do better by showing their double standard regarding the oppression of Christians: For the last two decades, Central America, for instance, has produced a plethora of Christian martyrs. Consider the case of Juan Gerardi Condeca, the bishop of Guatemala who two years ago had his skull crushed after the national commission he headed released a report blaming the government and associated death squads for 80 percent of the civilian killings in Guatemala's civil war. When Christians siding with the left are persecuted, the religious right looks the other way.

-- Paul Dougan

Manitou Springs

Hate speech

To the Editor:

William Edelen (Freethinkers, Sept. 21) writes that the persecution of "Christians around the world" can be explained simply: "What you sow, you reap." He argues that "the vast majority of all the religious violence of the last 3000 years ... is directly related to Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- the people 'of the book,' the bible." In other words, "They had it coming."

Following Edelen's argument regarding the travails of "the people of the book" to its logical conclusion then, we have this answer to the question as to why European Jewry suffered so horribly under Hitler's Third Reich: They had it coming. Or, to quote Edelen, "in Buddhism, they call it Karma." He argues, citing the late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, that "Judaism and Christianity conditioned men to be vandals." He then explains that "vandals," these "people of the book" who "took the wealth and left only ashes," can expect to be judged by the "law of compensation." They must expect that others will take their wealth and leave them "only ashes." Following Edelen's reasoning, it was first the turn of the Jews of Poland and Germany, Czechoslovakia, Holland and Ukraine; now it is the turn of the Christians of the Sudan and Nigeria, China, Indonesia and Pakistan.

I have a serious question to ask and would very much appreciate an answer. Take the last paragraph of Edelen's commentary, the one that begins, "Christians are being persecuted. So, what else is new." For the word "Christians," substitute the phrase "European Jews in the 1940's," and then continue reading to the end of the article. Would you have printed the piece? Then try this: For the word "Christians" in the opening sentence substitute the word "gays" or "illegal immigrants" and then continue reading. Would you have printed the piece if violence against another group of people were being not only dismissed, but justified? Or would you have called it what, in fact, it is, "hate speech"?

Edelen makes the point that violence against Christians is deserved, and must, therefore, be expected. He calls it "an absolute law of life." It must be expected that the Sudanese army would be crucifying (literally, not figuratively) Christians in the Nuba Mountains, Christians who are part of an indigenous church that has been in the Sudan since the sixth century. It must be expected that an estimated 1.5 million to 3 million Sudanese Christians would have been slaughtered between 1987 and 1997 for the "crime" of their beliefs. It must be expected that elderly bishops in China would be beaten and tortured. It must be expected that Christian children in Uganda would be stolen from their families and forced into slavery.

Edelen does not decry the violence, nor does he urge an end to the violence. There are, unfortunately, also those who believe that violence against women, against homosexuals, and against African-Americans is deserved. Would the Independent sell them space from which to spread their hateful opinions? I do not think so. And I think it is time for the Independent's editorial staff to repudiate Edelen's hateful opinions as well.

-- Melissa Musick Nussbaum

Colorado Springs

The Independent neither condones nor collaborates in the opinions expressed in the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs paid ad, and normally we do not print letters criticizing their content. In this case, however, readers' objections alerted us to content we indeed find objectionable. Comments should be directed to the Freethinkers at the address posted on the ad. -- Ed.

I just know

To the Editor:

I've been on a self-imposed exile from letters to the Independent, because of its dictatorial requirements for having a letter printed, but the letter from Tom Pedigo ("Biblical disagreement," Sept. 21) makes me eat a little humble pie, and I must respond.

Mr. Pedigo expresses his advocations clearly and it is obvious that he believes what he says. I respect him for that, but I disagree with his views on homosexuality. Tom's beliefs come from the Bible as do the opinions of millions of others and that's a pity because the Bible is not factual, it is a book based on faith. For God's sake, one has to die to find out if it's true. Simple as that!

Pedigo says "there is no scientific proof that homosexuality is genetic." My response is, of course there is, there have been several scientific studies, but Tom won't acknowledge them and would never believe in them anyway. Clear-thinking people do not need scientific proof to know that homosexuality is genetic. I've known for decades that it is fun, grand and natural to be with a woman in the ultimate way. Never thought of being with a man. That's my proof. Don't need no Bible, no scientific study, no Tom Pedigo.

I cannot speak for others, but my proof is real. It is not choice. It is not theory. It is not faith. It is unshakable. I won't speak for homosexuals, but I believe they have the same feelings as I do for their sexual companions and who am I or anyone to judge them?

The Tom Pedigos of the world will always believe in the Bible and will always believe homosexuality is a choice and a sin. That's fine, but they have to die to find out if their beliefs are true. I wouldn't bet on it!

-- Phil Kenny

Colorado Springs


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