Readers Write (Dec. 20): Amy Koch, Tom Emmer

  • Updated: December 19, 2011 - 8:30 PM
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AMY KOCH

Questions of hypocrisy and double standards

 

The story as I understand it so far: State Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch leads her party to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to "defend the sanctity of marriage."

A few months later, the married Koch resigns her leadership position, allegedly because she engaged in an "inappropriate relationship" with a staffer.

It seems to me the story should continue like this: "Senate Republicans opened the 2012 legislative session today by voting to remove the marriage amendment from the ballot. They cited extreme hypocrisy in their leadership to explain their action."

STEVE MILLIKAN, MINNEAPOLIS

• • •

I am as far left of Koch's political views as one could be, yet as a feminist, I am deeply disturbed by her treatment from men in her own party.

This is the party that once, for months on end, defended a middle-aged, married man accused of swimming nude with underaged girls!

One can't help think that if Koch were a man, somehow things would have been sorted out differently. Women in power are judged, scrutinized and held to a different standard.

Yes, it's their party and their decision, but if I were a GOP woman, I'd be asking questions about this double standard.

LINDA BENZINGER, MINNEAPOLIS

• • •

Is it just me, or is everyone else getting sick and tired of sexual scandals among our politicians?

I mean, didn't they date enough people as they were growing up? Didn't they "sow their oats" before getting married and becoming a public figure?

Call me crazy, but there is enough unfinished business at the State Capitol to keep our elected officials busy, so this should be a nonissue.

A note to future politicians: Go have your fun now and get it all out of your system before you pretend to represent me and everyone else out there who is probably as fed up as I am.

CLAY B. DUVAL, GOLDEN VALLEY

* * *

TOM EMMER

What constitutes 'academic freedom'?

 

The Star Tribune Editorial Board apparently was advocating for some "balance" or "openness" by Hamline University in considering whether to hire former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer for a teaching position despite faculty opposition to his political views, especially his opposition to gay marriage ("Hamline created its Emmer mess," Dec. 17).

The editorial acknowledged finding Emmer's views on gay marriage particularly objectionable, but then suggested that "academic freedom" requires that someone advocating discrimination against gays should not denied a faculty position.

Would the Editorial Board make that argument if Emmer publicly advocated racial discrimination rather than discrimination against gays? That would be inconceivable.

Well, discrimination against gays in any manner is equally unacceptable and is deeply destructive. It is long past time to pretend that it amounts to a mere difference of opinion that must somehow be tolerated in polite society.

KRIS HULSEBUS, ST. PAUL

• • •

Though I am a staunch Democrat, it is disappointing to see Hamline refuse to hire a conservative because of his political beliefs.

Fifty years ago, pacifist and socialist University of Minnesota Prof. Mulford Sibley drew controversy with the following statement: "Personally, I should like to see on campus one or two Communist professors, a chapter of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, a society for the promotion of free love, a League for the Overthrow of Government by Jeffersonian Violence (LOGJV), an anti-automation league, and perhaps a nudist club."

Some of these organizations were pure myth. The U did not endorse the organizations listed, but defended Sibley's belief in academic freedom and diversity of opinion. Hamline should take a lesson.

JOHN JACKSON, BLOOMINGTON

• • •

Agreed, Hamline created the mess. But the editorial presented no evidence in support of the suggestion that "conservatives such as Emmer are not welcome" there.

It is my experience that university faculty are seekers of knowledge who are dedicated to the open exchange of ideas and who are trained and experienced in recognizing bias and faulty conclusions among their students and their peers, in addition to their own.

Furthermore, it has long been part of the academic culture for faculty to be openly and quickly challenged by their colleagues if they fail to do so.

In academic peer-reviewed journals, data must be collected from statistically sound experiments, and conclusions must be limited to and consistent with what the data reveals. This dispassionate approach is the gold standard in academic research and in teaching.

It is my experience that university faculty actively seek out scholars of all political, social and economic views who have shown their dedication to this gold standard. Universities certainly have a history of giving a platform to iconoclasts of all sorts -- including those voices that challenge them personally.

While I have no firsthand knowledge of what happened on the Hamline campus, my experience suggests that faculty were not convinced that Emmer was experienced in the academic ideal of the dispassionate "show me your data" professor.

For better or worse, politicians of all stripes attempt to persuade by appealing to our passions and prejudices -- and personally, this would make me skeptical of hiring any politician at the university where I teach.

KEN SUMAN, ST. CHARLES, MINN.

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