Soap Box

The abortion-violence connection

To the editor,

Normalized violence has so many pieces to its puzzle. Our culture is addicted to violence in legends, games, movies, racism, religion and television. Add to that conflict in high-density housing, family stress, lack of resources and more. There are those who claim a right to inflict violence by dominance upon those who are denied the right to dignity and freedom from fear. Witness the government-sanctioned violence upon children on our border.

One more puzzle piece is examined in the 2005 book Freakonomics, by economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The book reveals that in opposition to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s claim that abortions cause school shootings, it is, indeed, the opposite. Chapter Four, “Where have all of the criminals gone?” correlates case studies where women have gained or lost access to abortion. The loss or lack of access correlates with the rise in violence 17 years later.

Seventeen years ago, George W. Bush instituted a reproductive gag order. His fellow Republicans, state and federal, (who profit from the prison industrial complex), have fought to deny women access to reproductive health care. Seventeen years later, we live with mass shootings and normalized atrocities of government harm to children.

– Stephanie Johnson, Durango

The Lion's Den

Our hearts cry out for the savageness,
For the innocents trapped in the wilderness. And our spirits they burn, and they tear at us! The world is a-blaze;
And the flames are so grim, and so ravenous!

The hawks and trembling canyon wrens Take flight thru a smoky delirium; Mourn for the lives of all of them,
And pray for survival in the lion’s den.

Down in the den, watching the flashover flare; Huddled down with her pride,
As the inferno draws near!
Coaxing their ma, and eager to leave,

The cubs in the kit are brave but nai?ve.
A cougar calls out to his love in the lair, Stalked by the fire, she cries back in despair!

Predators streak through the ashes and death, Passing prey on the run and wishing them best! Companions survive, the lynx and fox, and the hare; Crows rescue ravens from the wildfire’s snare!
Life has gone wild in the fight to survive,
Where the lion and lamb must now run side by side. Junipers seething, smoking and breathing;
Burnt spruce and white aspen,

and the pine sap is bleeding!
The fire will open the seeds of the pine,
But death and destruction are all left behind! Ashes are scattered, and the winds pulling fast; The canopy’s lit and there’s no turning back!

At the edge of the wild tears the rage of the fire, And a bruin bursts thru,
Barreling forth from the pyre!
The bear’s trailed close by critters in flight; Thru the smoke-dark inferno,

The lions escape to the light!

Billowing black with an ash-laden smoke,
A trainload of death caused our valleys to choke. Hotter and fiercer than a fireman’s dream,
Was the great conflagration of the cruel 416!
Then gentle rains came to our sweet forest floor. When buds blossom now, you can hear the lions roar!

We mourn the grave loss of our dear forest friends, And pray for survival deep down in the den.

– David Singer, Durango

We are better than this, America

To The Editor:

A few months ago, the first bus loads of Central American immigrants were camped out on Mexican soil in Tijuana and were processed legally for asylum to legally live In The USA. The filthy conditions and how these poor travelers were treated by Tijuana, Mexico was visually upsetting for me. Tents with holes were set-up at the border without porto-potties. The current situation, unfortunately, has masses of asylum seekers that also traveled about 2000 miles, and are illegally crossing multiple borders because Mexico spits on them now.

Although my heart breaks now to see and read about children being separated from their parents, why doesn’t Mexico show hospitality to these exhausted families?
The Catholic Church in Tijuana fed weary Central American parents with children, but now the politics in Mexico are showing elitist true colors in the way they treat their neighbors.

I believe we should rise above the politics - even if it means setting up American made tents/cots with a place to wash up for prayer in Tijuana for asylum seekers. Why not? This idea is much cheaper and thoughtful in keeping families together than using abandoned WalMarts to house displaced children. Maybe, just maybe, Mexico will step it up. Come on USA, step it up too, as we are better than this.

– Sally Florence, Durango

Clean energy economy a win-win

To the editor,

Like most Coloradans, I am interested in seeing our state transition toward a clean renewable energy economy. Benefits include lower energy costs, lower green-house gas emissions, better health, and increased jobs, a 

win-win. What politician would argue these things for their constituents?

I am perplexed by our Congressional Rep. Scott Tipton. He just published a letter touting the benefits of increased fracking of gas on our public lands titled “We Must Utilize Western Colorado’s Vast Natural Resources.” We have a much vaster natural resource in Colorado than fracking more methane gas – our abundant sun and wind! Yes, the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow, but shouldn’t we be taking advantage of these low-cost clean alternatives when they do and take advantage of new storage technologies? Investing in more fossil fuels just doesn’t add up. Why would we want to pay a higher price for gas energy when the cost to our environment is compromised by fracking waste fouling our water, land and atmosphere?

Perhaps Tipton is not aware of the atmospheric methane “hot spot” captured by NASA satellite imagery above the Four Corners area, amounting to the size of Delaware. I do not trust a profit-driven gas company to put their money toward capturing their own waste, when they can emit for free and pass those costs along to the general public. I do not trust a politician who accepts money from the fossil fuel industry.

– Joanne Kopke, Bayfield

Stop pre-existing condition policy

To the editor,

More than 300,000 residents of the 3rd Congressional District suffer from pre-existing conditions, including 40,000 minors. Donald Trump’s Justice Department has imperiled health care for more than half of the non-elderly population in our district by refusing to defend settled law, the Trump Administration’s fundamentally immoral decision benefits only deep-pocketed health insurance companies.

I call on Rep. Scott Tipton to join me and the concerned citizens of the 3rd District undersigned below in publicly condemning this harmful, backwards policy and to demand that the White House resume defending the provisions of the ACA that protect the people of our district.

Surely, you must have a loved one or a neighbor who suffers from asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis or cancer. Subjecting your constituents to the whims of insurance providers to raise their rates or reject their coverage altogether is incompatible with the values of our district. We deserve better than this.

People’s lives hang in the balance of this decision, we urge you to condemn this policy.

– Karl Hanlon & Concerned Citizens of the 3rd Congressional District (To see the full list of names or to add your name, please go to