A Minnesota legislator draws national attention for a racially tinged tweet and, it appears, his penalty is nothing more than personal embarrassment. A Rogers High School student suggests an inappropriate relationship with a teacher in a two-word online post, and his life is instantly altered.
First, the background. State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, stepped in Twitter dung this weekend with this missive: “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.”
Garofalo spent much of Monday apologizing — even though, as he explained to reporters, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
That’s good to hear, although no one has explained why Garofalo felt the need to comment on the NBA in the first place. Our guess: He had a smartphone and a thought — a really stupid thought — and shared it with the world. It happens. Apology accepted.
Reid Sagehorn, the student, was asked in an online forum last month if he had “made out” with a teacher. His answer — “Yes, actually,” which he later described as sarcasm — led to the suspension and, ridiculously, to a suggestion from law enforcement that he might face a felony charge. (After a brief review, the Hennepin County attorney’s office said that no crime had been committed.)
Sagehorn, who has transferred to another school, apologized in writing to the teacher who was victimized by the false rumors and spoke with a reporter. “No matter how I meant it, [it] doesn’t matter,” he ultimately told the Star Tribune. “Sarcasm doesn’t belong on the Internet.”
It happens. Apology accepted.
But isn’t it fascinating that for similar online transgressions, a 17-year-old suffered greater consequences than a 42-year-old legislator? So much for maturity being the key to responsible use of social media.
Scott Gillespie has been editorial page editor since October 2007. He is responsible for the Star Tribune's editorial and opinion pages and Sunday Opinion Exchange section. Prior to his current assignment, Gillespie was managing editor at the Star Tribune, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the newsroom. During Gillespie's five-year tenure as managing editor, the Star Tribune staff produced awarding-winning coverage on the death of Paul Wellstone, the war in Iraq, the collapse of the I-35W Bridge and dozens of other stories. Before being named managing editor in 2002, Gillespie was assistant managing editor for local news at the Star Tribune. He also served as the paper's assistant managing editor for business news. He has more than 25 years of news reporting and editing experience at newspapers in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He served as a Pulitzer Prize juror in 2004 and 2005. Gillespie has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been an adjunct faculty member in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his family.
About five years ago we told our two teenage sons that we might invest in a small family cabin in western Wisconsin. They were excited, as you might guess, but with a caveat. "We'll still go to Burntside, won't we?"
On Mexican soil for the first time as the Republican presidential nominee, a firm but measured Donald Trump defended the right of the United States to build a massive border wall along its southern flank, standing up for the centerpiece of his immigration plan in a country where he is widely despised.
The decision means the $15 minimum wage proposal and a police insurance question will not be on the November ballot. The state's highest court found that neither proposal to amend the city's charter met legal standards.
A 91-year-old Pennsylvania man who has for years lectured to school groups and others about what he said were his experiences at Auschwitz now says he was never a prisoner at the German death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.