The Week in Commentary
A message for young men: Anger is OK, but violence isn't
Jose Leonardo Santos, an anthropologist and assistant professor of social science at Metropolitan State University, explores the ways society might be able to stem violence committed by young men.
"This summer, it's happened too many times. Angry men, acting like angry children. They get mad. Then they kill people.
"Who's been killed? People at worship, pouring their hearts out to their maker. People going to watch a movie. A cop enforcing the law. A guy whose mistake was working with a killer. Every random person killed by every angry criminal in the United States. Innocents caught in whirlwinds of vindictive tantrums.
"Why? The false answer, the cop-out, is that they're crazy, beyond reason. But crazy is random. These guys follow a pattern. They've become common, not abnormal. ...
"Somewhere along the way, as boys, these men learned something. Our culture taught them a lesson. Something foul. When confused, when afraid, when you think the world has gone crazy — kill them all. If the world seems turned upside down, burn it to the ground. ...
"What's the solution? Work on teaching lessons. We learn from everything around us, and the dominant message wins. Next time you see an angry boy, send a message. Anger is O.K. Hurting and killing are not. Go to your room and scream, Son. Punch the pillows. Channel your rage. Change the world if you must. Never destroy it."
"I work in the court system with kids who are charged with crimes, often for violent acts. There are many kids growing up who have no skills in dealing with their emotions. We have failed them by not helping them to learn what to do with their anger and frustration. We have provided them with hundreds of hours of violence in the form of video games, movies, music lyrics and adult media examples, and many of them live with violent adults or siblings. That is the modeling they receive, the lessons in showing them how to handle their (perfectly normal) angry feelings." - A Minnesota attorney
The real fraud is the claim that voter IDs will prevent fraud
Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, explains his opposition to the proposed voter ID amendment.
"It is wrong to place roadblocks to voting in the way of the senior in assisted living, the soldier serving in Afghanistan, the disabled woman who is homebound or the veteran who is homeless. They have a right to vote too.
"In our democracy, the right to vote is fundamental. Taking away the vote from our neighbors under the pretext of preventing fraud is a radical step backward for that democracy. The Constitution is supposed to guarantee human rights, not take them away.
"This anti-democracy initiative is present in many states, but the proposed amendment in Minnesota is perhaps the worst assault on voters. ...
"No military IDs would be allowed. No student IDs either. While many voters assume that 'everyone' has a driver's license with current address, that simply isn't reality. And if your wallet is stolen, or you misplace your license in the weeks before an election, you won't be able to vote.
"Students living away from home in a dorm, if they were no longer able to vote absentee, would need to pay for a driver's license for their new address even if they are living there for only nine months. Virtually no homeless Minnesotan, including the many Vietnam-era veterans who are living on the streets, would be able to vote. They risked their lives for our country, but they are not good enough to vote?
"What about the senior in assisted living or a nursing home who no longer drives and doesn't need a driver's license? Should we just assume that every frail or elderly person has a friend or family member willing to drive that senior citizen to the license bureau to get an ID?
"This amendment won't prevent fraud, but it will prevent many seniors in nursing homes from voting."
"My thoughts, exactly." -- Beverly Elliott, Kirtland, Ohio
"The 'real' fraud here, Mr. Marty, is being perpetrated by you & your Democratic cohorts as you try to scare Minnesotans into preserving your dishonest voting practices by telling them they will be unable to vote. You know better." -- Terry Franklin, Minnesota
Even the perception of fraud makes voter ID measure a good idea
Peter J. Nelson and Harry Niska, writing for the Center of the American Experiment, suggest that a voter ID amendment is worth enacting even if voter fraud is negligible.
"In 2005, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker concluded that our 'electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter and detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.' As a result, the Carter-Baker Commission recommended that states adopt a photo identification system ... .
"Although there is dispute over the magnitude of the voter fraud problem, there is, in the words of the Carter-Baker Commission, 'no doubt that it occurs,' and in a close election, even 'a small amount of fraud could make the margin of difference.'
"Minnesota's current election system is especially ripe for fraud. The state is one of only eight that allow voters to register the same day they vote. Unlike other same-day registration states, Minnesota fails to administer simple fraud-prevention strategies, such as strict identification requirements or segregating same-day registration votes until they are confirmed. Instead, Minnesota allows one person to vouch for as many as 15 voters who are not required to present any identification. ...
"Perhaps as damaging as the actual existence of widespread voter fraud, however, is the perception of fraud and the resulting lack of trust in election results. In Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court remarked on how the appearance of corruption is of 'almost equal concern as the danger of actual' corruption. Appearances, the court explained, are 'critical' to maintaining 'confidence in the system of representative government.' Avoiding even the perception of voter fraud is similarly critical to maintaining confidence in America's political system."
"We require an approved state ID to buy a gun. Everybody has the right to own a gun, yet people aren't crying discrimination over requiring an ID to get one." -- Tim Saxton, Twin Cities
"It may be 'hard to believe' that people don't have photo IDs, but many don't. My 92-year- ld grandmother, for instance. She doesn't drive and for her to get an ID, my dad would have to take the day off work, drive 150 miles to bring her to get an ID." -- LMK Morioka, Minneapolis
Why are we so eager to decide another person's guilt or innocence?
David Mann, a Twin Cities theater artist and business consultant, ponders the human tendency to rush to judgment.
"That's what I heard one night when I stepped onstage dressed in priest's vestments. I was playing the role of Father Flynn in the play 'Doubt.' This was the first moment of the play, and I had yet to utter a single word. The play presents the question of whether Flynn is guilty of a crime, but never offers a definitive answer. Apparently one audience member had already decided.
"Recently, Lance Armstrong was stripped of seven Tour de France victories because he's a cheating lowlife who drugged his way to hero status. At least that's what some will believe. Others will believe he's the victim of a witch hunt. But you know what? We'll never know for sure. After all, he's passed hundreds of drug tests. And even if his teammates come forward with stories of Lance drinking steroid smoothies, we still won't really know. They could be out to get him. ...
"Now a Mankato football coach faces felony charges for videos he took with his cell phone. News reports described the videos, but we haven't actually seen them. Our perception of the videos relies entirely on those descriptions. We don't have enough information to make a sound judgment. But no matter. We'll decide how to fit those videos into the version of the story we want to believe. And we will defend or vilify the coach with equal fervor.
"Why do we do this? Humans are fully capable of considering facts and coming to a rational conclusion. But that sounds boring! We're far too impatient for all that nonsense. Let's get to it! Let's all have strong feelings and express them loudly. We want the story to always be exciting! And if the facts don't add up to more than a few story fragments, we'll just fill in the rest with our imagination."
"The answer is simple — when you are able to judge or decry someone, it puts you in a position of power either emotionally, politically or financially. It's an advantageous act that sadly is a part of the human experience." -- John Komarek