While I deplore the violent attack on the Family Research Council, I take issue with Dana Milbank's criticism of the Southern Poverty Law Center's designation of the council as a hate group ("The risk of instigation knows no ideology," Aug. 18). The council has a long public record of using falsehoods and false science to demonize gays and lesbians. One also should consider the council's support of a Ugandan law that would criminalize homosexuality and include the death penalty for "serial offenders."
Milbank claims the basis of the Southern Poverty Law Center's designation is a 1999 quote from the group's materials, but there is plenty of newer material supporting the center's assertions, including false statements made in 2010 and 2011 that allege that homosexuality is dangerous and that homosexual men are more likely than heterosexual men to be pedophiles.
While I commend Milbank for taking offense at council statements such as these, he says that calling the organization a hate group goes too far because it is "a mainstream Christian advocacy group." Segregationists were once politically mainstream in the United States; mainstream status does not immunize a group's conduct from being considered hateful.
PATRICK FINNEGAN, MINNEAPOLIS
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Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, spews racist rhetoric. A Republican Missouri congressman makes offensive comments about rape victims. A DFL state legislator has a sexual encounter with a teen. What happened to the pride and dignity of those serving in public office? Please think hard about your candidates of choice in the upcoming election and realize their personal beliefs and behaviors directly impact our lives as they make important policy decisions on our behalf. Make informed decisions.
ELISE RYAN, CHANHASSEN
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How can any thinking woman today even consider voting Republican? The GOP of yore has disappeared. In its place, purveyors of extreme social conservatism have effectively usurped and corrupted authentic debate about conservative economic principles. Although the Senate candidate from Missouri -- Rep. Todd Akin -- has momentarily taken center stage with his bizarre explanation about how victims of "legitimate rape" cannot get pregnant, he's merely the weirdest flavor of the day, representing a plethora of Republicans who continue to refuse women the freedom to make decisions regarding their bodies when dealing with issues of sexuality.
Mitt Romney's followers support his promise to defund Planned Parenthood. Republican legislators are promoting mandatory transvaginal ultrasound on unwilling women because they believe women and their doctors cannot be trusted to handle medical issues without government oversight. They claim that, just like corporations, fertilized eggs are people.
The only difference between many Tea Party-influenced Republicans and Todd Akin is that most of them have the sense to couch their proposals in somewhat more sophisticated language.
SHAWN GILBERT, BLOOMINGTON
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Mitt Romney paid 13 percent in income taxes in wartime. His budget plan would allow him to pay much less, and he's calling on Missouri Rep. Todd Akin to sacrifice his Senate bid for the good of the country? How shameless is that?
BRUCE BOLTON, HOPKINS
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Amy Bergquist argues that ad man Frank Schubert shouldn't be allowed to ambush the marriage amendment debate at the last minute with his views against gay marriage ("This man shouldn't get the last word," Aug. 21). I've got nothing against that. Will the Star Tribune give us its arguments soon? It already has said it is in favor of gay marriage. So, let's hear more about why. Or is the newspaper planning an October surprise? By the way, if it weren't for the marriage amendment, there would be no public discourse -- civil or uncivil, logical or emotional. It would be a matter of a few judges sooner or later finding a way to strike down a law.
MIKE EBNETT, EDINA
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I've been fortunate enough to travel to the beautiful country of New Zealand many times, so I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Nesset's commentary ("Wish you were here?" Aug. 19). Nesset's first impressions were spot-on. However, he neglected to mention one important Kiwi trait -- that of the "dig your heels in resiliency" that was shown by the people of Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake. The city was in shock, yet it wasn't long before it came up with the Re-Start Initiative. Shops, restaurants, a grocery store, and bars and coffeehouses were set up in creatively decorated shipping containers. A sign on a newly cleared lot summed it up. "It doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop." A good lesson for all. You'll never get there if you give up.
BARB MACKENZIE, WAYZATA
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As recently as the 1970s, the western part of Hennepin County was all farms. City folks started moving to this rural area and built homes along the lakeshore in the early 1970s. That's when the problems with our lakes began ("Owners seeing red over a green lake," Aug. 21). Lakeshore homes had lawns, mowed short with lots of fertilizer. Farmers follow strict rules about when they can spread their manure and the handling of that manure. Lakeshore homeowners do not follow rules about amounts of fertilizer they can spread on lawns, often spreading at a rate far exceeding farmland application. Nice, green lawns do not stop runoff, as we once thought. In fact, large amounts of fertilizer washes off lakeshore lawns every year into nearby lakes.
GORDON KELLEY, DUNDAS, MINN.