Vote against Romney, spare PBS, Big Bird


Mitt Romney lost my vote by threatening to cut the government subsidy to PBS if elected president. PBS is the acme of American television -- the example of truly good TV that every other station picks on but tries to emulate. I'll get Big Bird to fly over your freshly washed car, if you try!


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Once a downsizer, always a downsizer.


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Are children the purpose of marriage?


If I correctly understand the essays of Matt Birk ("Let's protect marriage -- and speech, " Sept. 30) and Riley Balling ("Why same-sex marriage affects my marriage," Sept. 28), marriages that produce no children have no value, because "marriage is about raising children in a healthy environment." And the problems that undermine the sanctity of marriage are primarily divorce, adultery and "the nonchalant attitude toward marriage." Why does that lead to a "yes" vote for the marriage amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state Constitution? What it sounds like they really want is an amendment that outlaws divorce and requires all married couples to have children.


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I would like to thank Birk for his commentary in support of the marriage amendment. I'm from the "old school" that believes every man and woman has a right to enter into marriage, but marriage as an institution can only be between a man and a woman. Marrying a person of the same sex is not a civil right, because same-sex couples cannot fulfill the core public purpose of marriage: bringing men and women into the only kind of union that can naturally make new life.

The debate about the meaning of marriage is not one we who are supporting the amendment have started. We also cannot remain silent as this very important institution is under attack. However, our love and compassion for our neighbor does not mean we are compelled to modify important public institutions to satisfy desires or validate relationships. People can live as they choose, but no one has the right to redefine marriage for all of society. I, like Matt Birk, do not feel that same-sex unions will affect my marriage. However, I also believe it will affect the next generation. Unlike some of the commercials we are now being swamped with, some things do not change and some things shouldn't.


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Birk's opposition to same-sex marriage is all about "our children," but one searches in vain for a coherent argument. How exactly is it that children are harmed when gay people marry? Birk does not say that homosexuals are perverse and must not be permitted to adopt children. He does say that kids should have a mom and a dad -- before admitting in the next breath that it's not on account of same-sex marriage that many don't. He does not claim that social-science research shows that kids with two moms are a mess. His emphasis on the child-rearing function of "traditional" marriage raises the question of whether heterosexual septuagenarians who meet at senior mixers should be permitted to wed. Birk doesn't say. But it will be terrible for all our dear children if homosexuals do!

His argument, if that is what you want to call it, reminds me of the old commercial featuring a baby sitting inside of a tire. The idea is that if you love kids you will protect them with the advertiser's tires. Birk's case really isn't any better than that.


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'Drunken driving' was a flawed analogy


Norm Coleman ("Keep it easy to vote by ensuring ballot integrity," Oct. 5) compares society's lack of tolerance for drunken driving with what should be our attitude toward election fraud of the kind that might be prevented by the photo ID law. That's an analogy easily turned on its head. Although a case of drunken driving can lead to tragedy, we do not have zero-tolerance policies. We could lower the acceptable blood-alcohol level to zero, increase random police stops and require breathalyzer lockouts on all cars -- but we don't, because the expense and inconvenience is not considered acceptable. Why should we endure longer and more expensive voting processes in order to counter an insignificant problem? It's an expansion of government that the libertarian faction in the Republican Party should be opposing much more vehemently.


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There's much a society can do to stop harm


Andrew Engeldinger was legally allowed own weapons and stockpile ammo in prodigious quantities ("Easy access to ammo gets fresh scrutiny," Oct. 3). Joseph D. Kadlec is legally allowed to own a vehicle and a gun as well ("Driver in rage case had earlier run-ins," Oct. 3). Kadlec is now charged with multiple felonies after using his car and his gun to assault a motorcycle rider, in of all places, the parking lot of the Isanti Police Department. Engeldinger, as we all now know, was apparently retaliating for getting fired from his job. Both of these unhappy people have a history of dangerous or erratic behavior, but for the sake of freedom we allowed them to own and use deadly weapons.

These two men, like the rest of us, were exposed to a media culture saturated with violence. Gunplay, car chases, murder and assaults are graphically depicted on TV, videogames, in music and in movies. As an organized civil society, we have the power to change the rules. We can place reasonable restrictions on ownership of weapons. We can place reasonable restrictions on the level of violence that passes for entertainment. We can also change the way we neglect to treat depression, mental illness and other forms of antisocial behavior.

Will we have the courage to act?