Seven Questions: Seven Minutes

So much of our conversation is routine that we often find ourselves saying the same things day after day . . .but what if you’re in the hot seat? With this column we give our interviewees two minutes to think and one minute to speak their answer . . .  with no advance warning of what the questions might be. How would *you* do in the hotseat?

Rob Brethouwer has worked as a probation officer in the Seventh Judicial District for 20 years. He grew up in Montrose, and returned here to work. Background research revealed a man immersed in arts and music, so I was curious to see how the two things meshed. 

  1. You have spent many years as part of the judicial system. Your educational background appears more theoretical and artistic, why did you pick a career dealing with people who lack internal boundaries?
    I chose this career because I was living in Denver at the time, had finished graduate school, was doing temp jobs, doing private trumpet lessons, private tutoring and I was very poor. So, I decided that I need to get a job where I wasn’t so poor. I applied to City and County of Denver for a job I qualified for, and I ended up getting it and that job was in probation and I’m still in it.
  2. Do you find that it conflicts with your basic personality and interests or did you find a way to make it mesh?
    It conflicts. It conflicts greatly. The only place I’ve found in probation where I’ve felt at home, and felt a true sense of accomplishment, is when I was supervising juveniles on probation and I would help them with schools’ organization, writing organization, um, that’s where I felt really comfortable with the population. Otherwise, the field in general isn’t highly interesting to me, but it’s just where I found myself, and it’s too late to quit. 
  3. I was interested to see that you study Latin. Why did you choose Latin over Greek? 
    Probably because it’s less daunting when you have an alphabet that’s familiar working with a language is a little bit easier getting started. I think Roman mythology is more interesting than Greek mythology, I think the Roman history is more interesting than Greek history, and frankly I didn’t want to start off with a new alphabet. I did that once with Russian and I chose not to do it with Greek and chose Latin instead. 
  4. I am sure you saw the ethics of morality question in the other two interviews, but given your background I’ve changed the facts a little bit for yours. The facts are these. A man’s wife has cancer. She has had 18 doses of a medication that will cure her if she takes all 19 doses. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic her husband is out of work and can’t buy the 19th dose, even though he has paid for the other 18. He explains this to the pharmacist and asks if he can get the medication on credit. The pharmacist refuses and the argument becomes quite heated, and almost violent. The husband leaves, but returns around closing to continue the discussion. The pharmacist has just locked the door and the husband begins knocking and shaking the door violently. The pharmacist has a gun and shoots the husband through the door, claiming he is entitled to, under the stand your ground law. The husband is killed, and the wife dies a month later. Should the pharmacist be charged with one murder or two?Well, should be charged with one murder, the issue with the wife not getting the 19th dose is a matter of financial matters and restrained by his job. So, the fact that he killed the one person who might have been able to assist her with getting the 19th dose and the result she dies does not equate to a second murder. If there’s one charge it’s the murder of the husband because I don’t really think the stand my ground law would take effect at a business . . .unless it’s a personal business, then it’s a gray area. Definitely one murder charge! 
  5. I am intrigued by your interest in opera. I will admit I don’t know much about it, I think I’ve only been to two in my life, Rigoletto and The Mikado, both in high school, so I don’t remember that much about them. But what little I know about them, makes me believe the are all morality plays. Is that true? With opera you have to think in terms of themes and I think morality is more of a generality. Morality comes in a lot of forms. It comes in the form of murder, adultery, greed, so yeah, morality takes a strong presence in a lot of opera but it is often not as black and white as this is moral and this is not moral. It’s how things are done on the sly in the background by characters you wouldn’t think are capable of things that aren’t moral. So, saying that morality is part of opera, absolutely, but is it a part of every opera? No. I think you have to think more in terms of taking morality and cutting it down into different themes and how it works throughout of the story and how it impacts each of the characters differently.
  6. Does that struggle between good and evil interest you in opera, or is purely musical? I have been surrounded by opera growing up, it was on in the house and on in the car. I was taken to opera first at age 12, the premiere season of Opera Colorado. As a result of becoming interested in opera I became interested in music and was a music major for my first two years of college. Now that I’ve seen 45-50 operas all around, I am more interested in the literary background, of where the stories came from. Now I am reading the works that operas are based on.
  7. I know it’s the question for the ages, but do you think people are inherently good or inherently evil? I think people, in general, don’t fall into either one of those categories. I think people are inherently lazy. I don’t mean lazy like they don’t want to do hard work, but they don’t want to find out information that would put them in a better decision-making space. I think people hear what they want to hear, absorb what they want to absorb. I think people take the easy path as far as information and how they want to run things in their life. Again, black and white, inherently evil or inherently good? Some people are evil, and some people are more good and saintly than I would ever be, that’s just who they are. I think most people inherently lazy and want to take the easiest path, which makes some sense. I think that’s where the majority of people fall.
  8. Based on your experience only, do you think criminals are born or made?I think very few criminals are born. I think those that are born are those that are evil from day one, or have something genetically wrong with them that just prohibits them from acting the way they should act, pure sociopaths. I think the majority of criminals are made. They’re made with their environment, their parenting, their background, what they’ve observed, and nowhere in that growing up period did someone intervene and say this is not normal, this is not the way it has to be. They observe criminal behavior while growing up as normal behavior, so when they engage in it as early teens and into adulthood, they think it’s normal. I think the vast majority of criminals are made. 

How well do you think you’d do in the hotseat? If you’re interested in participating in Seven Questions Seven Minutes, email us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Woman smiling, long hair with flower behind her ear
Peggy Carey wrote for one of the first internet publications, Streetmail. Founded in 2000 by Lycos inventor, Bo Peabody, the newsy letter was designed to bring local news to the internet. She was quickly addicted to this new medium, and Peggy has written for one internet publication or another ever since, often under a pseudonym. Born and raised in New Mexico, Peggy took her country knowledge to the San Francisco Bay area for 14 years before moving to the small town of Montrose in 1980, when it was only 5000 people. She raised one daughter and a step-son, practiced law, and walked many dogs many miles. Now the operator of Solas Animal Safe Home, she spends her days with 30 rescued animals, practicing law part time as well. She is the author of many short stories, and one novel, The Rock Wren’s Song.