The tolerance of youth

To the Editor:

I too, have attended a meeting of the Organization of West Side Neighbors (OWN) and definitely found myself in the minority regarding Urban Peak, the agency that works with homeless youth ["West Side whining session," Letters Nov. 15-21]. The agency is looking for a location for a residential site for teens enrolled in their program -- different from their planned shelter. Their grant application specifies the Old Colorado Motel at 21st Street and Colorado Avenue, and the reality is that they are looking all over the city for a possible facility. Should they land at the West Side location (nine blocks from my home), I have little concern regarding the impact of this part of their service continuum. This residential facility would house seven (count 'em) youth, with an on-site supervisor. The kids would not enter the program at this location, they graduate to this part after spending time at the planned Urban Peak Shelter.

When considering youth programs, remember there are two kinds: those where the kids have to go there and those where the kids get to go there. If this were a "have-to-go-there" facility, I would be far more concerned than with what Urban Peak is planning. These will be kids who wish (very badly) to leave the unhealthy street life that they have found themselves in. They will have to prove themselves first at the shelter part before they get to move to the residential part. If they screw up, they go back to the shelter.

I have walked around the Denver Urban Peak's neighborhood and heard essentially no complaints about the impact of the facility. Some of the neighbors (this is a business/commercial area) were unaware of the existence of the Urban Peak shelter.

I bought my home on the West Side 23 years ago partly because I appreciated the open, tolerant attitude of this neighborhood. I would hope that we West Siders will live up to this long-standing reputation and engage in open, public consideration of this issue. There are safeguards that can be built into the City's approval of this agency, such as "Good Neighbor plans," that address the very real concerns of the neighborhood, but first, we have to sit down and converse as reasonable people.

-- Matthew Parkhouse
Colorado Springs

Defining fanaticism

To the Editor:

Tom Pedigo ["Poke in the Eye," Letters, Nov. 15-21] merits a response regarding how a "religious fanatic" is to be interpreted. He also deserves to know why freethinkers, atheists, and other secular humanists are not so defined.

Let's start with his question: "Is there a 'fanaticism' (for freethinkers, liberals) to get their message out and publicly be accepted?"

The answer is that "fanaticism" resides not in the desire or energy in "getting a message out." It is rather in the active intolerance to suppress, inhibit and destroy the choices of others. This is what separates the religious breed of fanatic from merely energetic "messagers."

For example, the psychotic nutcases that blew up the World Trade Center buildings were religious fanatics. They believed so intensely in their own righteous cause and "Allah's" blessing of it, that they were prepared to sacrifice their lives and also take thousands more with them. There was no temperance, no tolerance, no ambiguity. It was all intolerant absolutism (which has been referred to as a "mind virus").

Other examples of religious fanatics include:

People not content with merely arguing against abortion; they actively block and terrify women attempting to use such clinics, as well as post the names and addresses of abortion providers on Web sites.

People who see "demons" in Harry Potter stories and are not prepared to simply disagree with those of us who don't; they want to prevent the books and movie from being read/seen by anyone. The Harry Potter books are now the most banned in the nation.

People who see diverse art work or presentations as "porn" and would deny all others the right to see it on the basis that their "righteousness" supersedes others' choices and freedoms.

People who would not only "disagree" with an atheist like me -- say if I wrote a letter to the Indy -- but would seek to take all the papers off the newsstands so no one else might see it.

All of the above serve to configure the arch-religious fanatic and separate him or her from others who simply express a "disagreement" with their freethinker, atheist or liberal brethren. The problem is not in the disagreement, which is welcomed, but in overt actions that go way, way beyond the bounds in order to suppress others' choices and liberty.

-- Phil Stahl
Colorado Springs

Many factors at play

To the Editor:

Interesting, well-written article ["Shopping While Brown," Nov. 1-6]. I have a couple of points that I'd like to make.

First, Mr. McKee's checkered past as outlined by you would lead one to believe that his accusation of Mr. Villanueva shoplifting was racially motivated. However, in all of his supposed shortcomings he just might have thought he saw exactly what he claimed. I don't know the man personally. Both are legitimate possibilities.

Second, Mr. Villanueva might be ultra-sensitive to race issues and might be the type of person to seek out racism wherever he is, whether it's there or not. He might be a liar and may not be 100 percent truthful in describing the situation to you if it would benefit him. He also might have been racially profiled and, if so, has a valid complaint. All are legitimate possibilities.

The extra-duty police officer, from your article, seems to have simply done his job. I assume Officer Ragland did not know Mr. McKee and thus could not have made a judgment as to whether Mr. McKee's accusation was a valid one. From what you quoted police Lt. Skip Arms as saying, the officer, if a crime has been committed, has the duty to inform the victim that an offense was committed and what the victim can do about it.

In my humble opinion, I think you should have investigated this story in much more detail, interviewing witnesses of this event, and should have put more effort into this story instead of simply scraping the surface and taking the plaintiff's word for everything. This simply perpetuates in the minds of minorities and minority issue sympathizers that the Colorado Springs Police Department is not there for them. From someone who knows firsthand, that is simply not true.

--Jason T. Garrett
Colorado Springs

Terrorism, plain and simple

To the Editor:

As a proud supporter of Planned Parenthood, I am disturbed by the lack of media coverage about the constant threat of anthrax to reproductive health centers and staff. In the past month, 171 letters and over 132 Federal Express packages containing threatening letters and a white powdery substance have been sent to reproductive health care providers.

This is the latest wave of domestic terrorism against reproductive health care providers in the United States, yet there has barely been any press on the attacks. Hopefully, legislators will begin to understand what Planned Parenthood and other providers have been upset about for years -- that terrorism is terrorism, plain and simple.

No one deserves to be the victim of anthrax and anthrax threats -- but somehow the perpetrators who have been striking reproductive health care clinics for years continue to elude authorities.

These threats have not been taken seriously because Planned Parenthood just happens to be the leading provider of reproductive health care in this country. One in four American women have used Planned Parenthood's services and it is high time for our government to recognize the important work that Planned Parenthood does and to take a stand against American terrorists who attempt to disrupt their daily efforts of providing vital health care services for women. If John Ashcroft is serious about stopping terrorism, then he needs to start right here at home.

-- Georgia Moen
Colorado Springs

We are what we drink

To the Editor:

On November 28, the Colorado Springs City Council will make a final decision regarding the use of hydrofluosilicic acid as a fluoridation chemical in the Colorado Springs public water supply. Hydrofluosilicic acid is a waste byproduct of fertilizer manufacture and contains lead, arsenic and mercury, as well as silico-fluoride compounds.

Unlike the kind of fluoride found in dental products, hydrofluosilicic acid has never been tested for safety. A final decision was postponed in September to allow time for Dr. Ted Eastburn, Council member, to continue dialogue with the national Centers for Disease Control about the possibility of initiating a government safety study of this fluoridation additive. A large Dartmouth study showed that children who drink water fluoridated with this chemical have elevated blood lead levels. The Union of Scientists and Professionals at E.P.A. headquarters has called for a national moratorium on the use of hydrofluosilicic acid until safety testing has been done.

Please contact City Council members if you have concerns about the addition of hydrofluosilicic acid to our public water supply. You can find their e-mail addresses and more information at

www.INFOgroupsite.com or phone them at 385-5900. The public is invited to attend the Utilities Board meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Plaza of the Rockies, 121 S. Tejon, on the 5th floor of the South Tower to learn more.

Speak up or drink up!

--Lisa McLaughlin and
Dr. Thomas E. Levy, M.D.
It's Not Fluoride Only (INFO)
Colorado Springs


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