‘Racial inequity’ in media coverage? Not so

Joe Bollettieri (“Bias lurks in equating attacked and attacker …,” May 15) suggests that coverage of the Mankato assault involving ex-Gopher quarterback Philip Nelson suffers from “racial inequity” because the paper is purportedly overly deferential to Nelson, a white man, in noting the fact that he stands to lose much from his role in the assault, and not sympathetic enough for Kolstad, a black man, for failing to devote enough print and pictures to his life and current tragic predicament.

The paper never shied away from covering the relevant facts that Kolstad is a father and fighting for his life, including making prominent mention of his CaringBridge site and linking to it in the online version. The fact that Nelson was a Gopher quarterback is also a relevant aspect of this story, including the angle of what effects this incident will have on his future. The idea that the coverage implies that Nelson is a victim of any sort, and that it perpetrates racial inequity, is purely a product of Bollettieri’s own interpretation. The paper reported the facts, and Patrick Reusse, a sports columnist, wrote a column (not a news story) focused on a sports aspect of the story (Nelson). It’s unfortunate that Mr. Bollettieri feels the need to stir up a debate on racial bias when there is absolutely no need to do so and when the reporting does not call for it.

John Grimes, Hopkins

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The commentary and its companion on the May 15 Opinion Exchange page were off-target.

I do not see racial bias in the Mankato assault coverage. Rather than whiteness, I believe the alleged perpetrator’s athletic prowess, public figure status and potentially bright future in football drove the coverage. Imagine the minimal coverage if the perpetrator had been a white Ph.D. candidate without previous public exposure. If the perpetrator had been a black quarterback similar in all other respects to the perpetrator, the coverage likely would have been just about what it was. People are struck by a perpetrator apparently squandering his own highly visible potential with a single indefensible, likely drunken, act. That is newsworthy and worth impressing upon the public, without diminishing the victim’s tragedy.

Regarding the accompanying commentary: The outrage over Nigeria’s missing girls comes not from bias, but from both shock at the scale of the wrong and the potential to undo it. A story on Page A2 of the same issue stated that the number of people displaced by violence has reached its highest level in 20 years. The community of governments does not do much to stop such violence. Let’s hope that the outrage over the missing girls helps spark needed change.

John P. James, Little Canada



There could be ways to mitigate the delays

I am a disabled vet who appreciates the Minneapolis VA and the services it provides me. Having said that, I don’t know why a vet can’t be given a voucher good for care outside the VA if the wait exceeds the community norms.

For example, there is currently a two-month wait for a hearing-aid appointment. Why not let me go to a neighborhood vendor who would install my Starkey hearing aid at the same price Starkey charges the VA, plus a vendor service fee?

When and if the VA backlog clears, the VA could cease issuing vouchers.

Robert Bonine, Mendota Heights

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In the midst of the revelation of unconscionable VA procedures in place to hide lengthy wait times for deserving military veterans, resulting in many deaths, a serious review of eligibility should be conducted. The current eligibility criteria, wherein all veterans with a mere two years of service (or less) and without any service-related disability can receive VA benefits, is overly generous. I’m rather certain that the VA is somewhat overwhelmed by the number of applicants that flood its offices based on a criteria offering services to such a vast portion of the U.S. population.

Without doubt, there would be taxpayer savings if the VA eligibility criteria were reduced to include only those suffering from a documented service-related disability or are career military people. The more important benefit to be gained from this criteria change would be the dramatic reduction in the number of patients, resulting in a more concerted effort to heal our wounded warriors and providing the benefit for career military people for their many years of service.

Lynn Hondo, Nisswa, Minn.



Fine, marijuana. How about my Sunday beer?

Once again the Legislature has proved how insane the priorities in this state are by passing the medical marijuana bill. That is not to say that I am opposed to this, but what about finally getting rid of the “blue laws” that plague our state? It is as though we have one foot in the modern world and one foot in the past. If you have a chronic illness we can accommodate you, but you can’t buy a beer in a liquor store on Sunday.

It is such a shame that we have not been able to break free from the ties that bind us to the useless and outdated. Progress in this state is slow and disjointed. Maybe that will change next year, but don’t count on it. We have too many legislators who are beholden to lobbyists and special interests to do the right thing for this state. I’d say throw the bums out, but new ones just end up taking their place and nothing changes, I still can’t get a beer!

Kathy Stachowski, Coon Rapids