Letter: Trial by media

In 1985, I shared a dorm room with a man who’s been written about extensively in The Aspen Times recently. This bright, well-spoken young man initiated fascinating discussions about culture, art and the societal systems that give us all opportunities to thrive. He possessed a keen understanding, even then, of the destructive power of power unchecked. This is a man who always had a ceaseless and curious interest in the human story. Most people outgrow their idealism after college, but he didn’t.

I saw him work from the ground up, as he trained himself in the New York construction and development world. By 25 years old, he was the lead project manager for well-known celebrities’ private developments. After that success, I watched him build a business in New York that profited because it sought to use materials that were environmentally sound. That was at a time when few people knew what that notion even meant.

In later decades, he became one of the most supportive husbands imaginable; he raised two children with kindness, grace and beauty. I saw him thanklessly resigned to do all of the housekeeping as the domestic caretaker of his family. I saw him bake bread, cook meals, help his kids with homework and take his son around the state for hockey games. I listened to his plans for starting an environmentally sustainable building-supply company. And I watched him work doggedly for something meaningful when he did just that.

He has a different opinion from other people in power. He doesn’t celebrate profits over people now, just like he didn’t then. And some people really hate him for that.

He recently went to a pub in Snowmass Village, his friends begging him to go out after a long retreat from the world because of his recent contentious and corrupt divorce. As the police know, this is the kind of place where Rohypnol, Flunitrazepam, Narcozep and Ketamine (known as roofies) are sometimes scattered in drinks with the hope of finding a victim, an intended one or otherwise. Who would do that to someone else? Well, the incidents are frequently reported.

No one in law enforcement or the media offered a plausible explanation other than that this man was drunk that night. The police took it personally that the jail was damaged. No other explanation for the incident seems to matter, even if the results of such a drugging are known to cause agony and aggression in their victims. It’s much easier to put people on trial in the media, which exploits them­ (and you) for advertising dollars.

Even if you don’t know him, I’m sure your lust for tabloid entertainment would lessen when you had your first conversation with my friend Christopher Jacobson. You may not agree with Chris about everything, but you’ll know you’re getting viewpoints from a dedicated man, one who cares about the welfare of others and who is really on trial for what he isn’t afraid to do: to challenge the status quo.

Joseph Coplans