On May 15, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Amazon signed onto the “Christchurch Call” (“U.S. won’t sign global pact on violent online content,” May 16), a self-policing protocol among tech leaders and the governments of New Zealand and France that comes in the wake of the livestreaming of a terrorist attack on two mosques that killed 51 people in New Zealand on March 15.
While the Christchurch Call contains much to be lauded, the companies also agreed to a nine-point plan that contains a “hate and bigotry” pledge where the signers committed to “working collaboratively across industry to attack the root causes of extremism and hate online.” The broad use of “hate” is important. In France and New Zealand, hate speech laws overrule teachings on homosexuality that are native to the Jewish Tanakh, Christian Bible and Muslim Qur’an. Similarly, user agreements for the online services of Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Amazon prioritize sexual identity and sexual orientation over freedom of religious expression.
As we witness increasing boldness of these tech companies in banning and restricting users on the basis of speech alone, we would be wise to consider what comes next. In the U.S., the First Amendment protects speech and religious exercise from government interference, but no protections are offered for the millions of citizens who must rely upon the corporate marketplaces and communications technologies that enable day-to-day commerce.
Today, we face two choices. We can demand that our elected leaders regulate big tech firms as a utility and force adherence to our existing Constitutional protections, or we can watch the American Experiment end as the unelected leaders of a trillion-dollar tech industry effectively abrogate the Constitution by creating and dictating their own speech standards.
Jack Wheeler, Hudson, Wis.
We had the chance to show divided government can work, and blew it
I chuckled when I read that Minnesota is the only state in the U.S. to have a divided government. We have a Democratic House of Representatives and a Republican Senate. My hope was that this government would show the rest of the country that we could communicate with each other, find common ground and govern.
This is where my hopes were dashed, for Minnesotans and our elected leaders do not seem to rise above the bickering and lack of compromising that is sweeping this country.
We are Democrats and Republicans, not parties of “no.” Do our leaders really reflect their constituents?
We share common goals. With communication and compromise, we can all be “winners”!
Lisa Scribner, Roseville
I’m no seasoned gambler, but I don’t like the odds of a mine leak
Full disclosure, I can’t stand casinos. That rush of joy that comes when winning for me doesn’t compare to the knot I feel in my gut when I dwell on what I’ve lost. I suppose it’s fair to say that when it comes to gambling, I have a low tolerance for risk.
As to the question of whether or not we should allow copper-nickel mining inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watershed, all I see is risk (“Feds renew Twin Metals leases near BWCA,” front page, May 16). Certainly Twin Metals Minnesota and Antofagasta, the international mining conglomerate that owns them, recognize risk. Invest X and hope to earn Y. If, in the end, Y is greater than X, it’s a win. Risk, reward. Simple.
So what does a win look like for us in Minnesota? X number of jobs for X number of years and not one drop of polluted water touching the Boundary Waters? What are the odds of that? 2 to 1? 10 to 1? 1,000 to 1? Should we trust the science? The safety record of other such mines? Or should we just hire a bookie to work this out?
And what if we lose? Polluted water seeps in. Irreversible damage to arguably the most pristine water in our state. No. The stakes are too high. Any amount of risk, even a single drop of risk, is too great.
Please, let’s not gamble the fate of our Boundary Waters. Let’s not be the generation that fails our lakes and rivers. Instead, let’s be smart. Let’s be conservative. Let’s be — Minnesotans.
Timothy Hennum, Minneapolis
Push for sanctions and incentives; don’t succumb to threats and bombs
I’ve been waiting hopefully for the Star Tribune editorial pages to offer some wise reflections on the drumbeat for war with Iran. Hugh Hewitt’s recent commentary (“Here’s what Trump understands about Iran,” May 17) is neither wise nor reflective. Rather, it is a disturbing ode to neoconservative arrogance.
Hewitt is goading President Donald Trump to let loose the dogs of war on yet another Middle East country, in this case a country that we have been meddling with in one way or another long before the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. When Hewitt writes that “realism has returned to the national security establishment,” the realists he writes about are some of the same people who convinced George W. Bush to invade Iraq on the phony belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Our soldiers are still dying for that mistake.
Hewitt casts former President Barack Obama’s leadership and collaboration with other countries to achieve the historic nuclear treaty with Iran as “appeasement” — a barbaric distortion. There are those of us who believe sanctions and incentives toward diplomatic cooperation are better tools for coexistence than threats and bombs. It seems people like Hewitt are always willing to send someone else’s kids to war.
The Star Tribune editorial staff owes it to readers to wade into deeper waters surrounding the current Iran-U.S. provocations and consider the ideological pollution that is so insidiously spreading. That ideological pollution is the real WMD.
Mary Christine Bader, Wayzata
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Oh, if only there were an adult in the room to tell National Security Adviser John Bolton, “No, John, you may not have another war until you finish the ones you already have open.”
Steve Hoffmann, Anoka
Don’t reject the NRA — work with it
If we want reasonable gun legislation, we have to work with the National Rifle Association, not constantly bad-mouth the organization like Star Tribune editorial cartoonist Steve Sack does. The NRA has millions of members and they have millions of supporters besides their own family members. The NRA has worked for gun safety for decades. It makes sense to get their opinions and work with them. Nobody benefits by attacking the many good people in the NRA.
We should also work hard to address the growing mental issues facing many people. And remember: There are a lot of gun laws on the books right now. Let’s enforce them.
Tom R. Kovach, Nevis, Minn.
U OF M BUDGET
Another way to cut school spending
If University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler is hoping to make additional budget cuts (“U’s $90M budget cuts called too steep, too slight,” front page, May 15), he should look no further than his $900,000 compensation package for next year.
Isaac Mielke, St. Paul