A senseless arrest

Dear Editor:

Arrested? For what?

I’ve known Stephane Peltier for 17 years and there has not been a single day in that time when he was not a good friend. He is a legal migrant from France, son of a French Admiral; a man who served honorably in the French military, whose American daughter is a navigator in the U.S. Coast Guard with primo Hawaii duty as a reward for her sterling service, whose son enlisted in the Army for duty in Iraq. That didn’t happen by accident.

He is trusting to a fault with a French sense of humor that rarely takes a minute off, always ready for a laugh, dark humor or light, always welcoming of a smile, a story, a joke.

He is a man whose variety of skills would put to shame a jack of all trades, an adorer of animals who came here alone, pursued the American dream and learned English on his own; a restaurateur in New Mexico, an Aspen massage therapist without a single blemish or sleazy accusation in his long career, and a friend who would, and I mean absolutely literally, hand you the shirt off his back if you were cold. Last but not least, he is the single most elegant and capable skier I have ever seen in my life; a man of grace in total harmony with the mountain.

Arrested for a rifle in his car? You must be kidding me. What are we becoming? What is his failing? He is Basque and so shares the Basque sense of humor, sense of drama, sense of pride and on occasion, sense of overplaying a conversation. We’ve talked of this, he and I, over the years, how he sometimes accidentally alienated friend and stranger alike. How sometimes the Pyrenees cultures a facility for hyperbole that can go just too far for American sensibilities. We have laughed uproariously, argued passionately and talked for hours of the day when the things we were separately working on would at last break through. This man is not merely among us, he is not merely one of us, for crying out loud Aspen this man is us.

Arrested? What on earth is happening here?

Aspen has many times been unbelievably unkind to my friend. He has taken it all in stride, chin up, look forward, greet tomorrow. But this time, this assault is such a smear on the integrity of Stephane, that the very character of Aspen’s government, indeed whatever little is left of this town’s dying soul, is teetering on the brink of incomprehensibility. Were I Catholic, I’d call for the last rites to be read. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Aspen.

Brian Nardone