As of last weekend, I was not 100 percent sure who I would be voting for in the election for Minnesota attorney general. But when an “11th-hour” accusation of domestic abuse was made against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who is running for attorney general this year, I made up my mind. I decided to place my vote for the most important candidate of all: due process.
As a woman who has myself been the recipient of inappropriate language, touching and advances, I am not at all unsympathetic to people who have been victims of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. But we must strongly defend the rights of the accused as well, or else our entire legal system is worth absolutely nothing.
If these allegations prove to be both accurate and legitimate, then perhaps Ellison might choose to withdraw from the race. So be it. That would be far better than for him to have lost the race because voters were quick to judge his innocence or guilt. It has become too easy for candidates’ opponents to air damning accusations right before an election, when there is not enough time for voters to digest this information or for investigators to verify it.
I will not allow my vote to be jerked around by this kind of last-minute tactic.
Elizabeth Alexander, St. Paul
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Ellison’s accuser says she has a video showing the alleged abuse. He says that’s impossible because it never happened. That leaves no room for argument or ambiguity. One of them is a liar, and the existence (or not) of the video will prove which one. Having come forward with this story, it is unconscionable for the accuser to keep saying it’s “too traumatic” to show the video. Sorry, but it’s time to put up or shut up. As for the National Organization for Women saying “we believe survivors” — that’s just irresponsible in this situation. It amounts to saying “we believe all accusations regardless of proof.” If we can just keep clear heads, we’ll get a clear answer.
John Clifford, Minneapolis
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Here’s a simple truth that seems to need relearning every so often: For a variety of reasons, ranging from faulty memory to a desire for revenge, from honest misunderstandings to political dirty tricks, individuals sometimes level accusations that are inaccurate, inflated or downright false. Which is only one of a number of reasons why accused persons should be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
Dan Beck, Minneapolis
NATURE OF BIAS, PART ONE
The takeaway: Many views. Imperfect people. Be generous.
It was instructive to read the variety of letters to the editor (Aug. 17) that contained opposing views of the importance of the media and that some regarded the media as their foe because it lies. It is also good to look at the emotion on both sides.
We seem to forget that humans are prone to make mistakes, both in their doing an endeavor and in their beliefs. I know I’ve had to change my beliefs at times when I discovered they were causing problems with myself or others. Other times I’ve found that I had a good intention but had gone about doing something in a mistaken way.
The other thing to remember is that our world is a very large, complex thing to understand. For example, I read in the newspaper long ago that eggs and butter were bad for you based on some science promoted by some experts and agreed to by the government. People changed their lives based on that information. They ate cereal for breakfast and margarine. Only much later did we find out that the science experiments that were the basis of that information were badly flawed. Meanwhile, some people developed heart disease, partly promoted by their change of diet. Was this “fake news”? I think not. The newspaper was reporting the best news it could find, based on the expertise of the time.
So, practically, what does this mean? For me, it means that I look at the large proportion of people who do not agree with me politically or otherwise and realize that they’re humans like me, that they’re working hard, are doing the best that they can and make mistakes like me. They are suffering some grievances that are causing them pain. Is it due to their erroneous beliefs? Maybe. But maybe bad things are happening to them through no fault of their own.
You buy and read the newspaper so that you can get accurate news about the complex world and community around you — so that you can more easily navigate your life. Do you expect perfection? Since the newspaper is a human institution, it also sometimes errs. You keep reading the newspaper because you believe most of its information is accurate. The media can make us uncomfortable because it spotlights troubles we are having in our society. It shows us areas we need to make better. It can also inspire us to do better as we read of people making a positive impact on our community. It helps us become better citizens as we try to figure out whom to elect to help us solve our increasingly diverse and complex problems. It is an essential communication entity for humans to have a democratic government.
Margaret A. Wood, Bloomington
NATURE OF BIAS, PART TWO
Professional work without its slipping in? No such thing.
Seriously now. Can anyone really believe that Peter Strzok, after all his venomous comments about President Donald Trump, did not let his bias affect any of the decisions he made in either the Hillary Clinton e-mail or Trump “collusion” investigations (Readers Write, Aug. 15)? I do not know of any person, either Democrat or Republican, who does not let their “ bias” affect the way they think and make decisions. Can you think of one conversation you have had with someone with opposing political views who would even consider your point of view? The news media itself should prove that point. Be honest with yourself. Strzok is no different from the rest of us in that respect. Common sense should tell us he should have been fired long ago.
Ellie Johnson, Lake City, Minn.
CHEMICALS IN CEREAL
Here was a key finding, and the newspaper underplayed it
Shame on the Star Tribune for burying the short article “Cancer-linked chemical found in cereals” on Page D4 on Aug. 16, and downplaying test results.
The chemical is glyphosate, which the article identifies as a “weed killer” and “the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S.” It says, “Hundreds of cases alleging glyphosate’s role in plaintiffs’ cancers are working their way through the courts.” As the Environmental Working Group’s report states, however, “Glyphosate is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, as probably carcinogenic to people. Glyphosate is also listed on California’s official registry of chemicals known to cause cancer, a designation just upheld by the California Supreme Court.”
As the EWG points out, “chemicals linked to cancer do not belong in children’s food” like the breakfast cereals and snack bars tested. The article reports glyphosate (Roundup) “was found in all but five of 29 oat-based foods.” But that’s not all! The EWG’s independent lab detected glyphosate in “95 percent of samples made with conventionally grown oats and 31 percent … made with organic oats,” due to drift from treated crops. EWG’s “child-protective” cutoff, based on a generous, 2-cup daily serving, is 160 parts per billion. Lucky Charms, Nature Valley Crunchy Oats ’n Honey Granola Bars, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and nine other products had samples with twice that amount or more, from 320 ppb to 1300 ppb; seven had 500 ppb or more.
We need to keep Roundup away from all our children’s food! And the Strib needs to do better reporting.
Amy Hummel, Robbinsdale