Commentary writer Ian Smith (“U pronoun policy should not be enacted,” July 20) makes some good points backed up with detailed case work that the University of Minnesota would be well-advised to consider before implementing the policy he details. At issue, it seems to me, is only the sixth item listed in the excerpt he provided from the draft policy. That item would require students and staff to use only the pronouns chosen by the individual. Smith is correct; the courts would very likely allow me to call him or anyone else whatever pronoun I choose. Please note that I will not do this, because I try not to be a jerk.
I do not agree with his assertion that the university should throw out an otherwise sound and helpful proposal. The remaining items would seem to make very reasonable progress in highlighting the university’s commitment to making its campus and classrooms a place where all students can feel safe, welcome and free to pursue their dreams.
When asked on Twitter what other objections he would have to this policy, Smith demurred, stating: “All parts of the policy are binding.” Given his knowledge of the casework, I find this strange. Surely, he is familiar with limited rulings and, if not, certainly with babies and bath water. The full proposal does not live or die on the presence of Item 6, nor should we preserve standing for transphobic behavior because of its presence.
In its place perhaps we should simply recommend that students and faculty try not to be jerks to one another.
Kenneth R. Solberg, Richfield
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I think that Smith’s critique of the proposed university policy on personal pronouns was mild, to say the least. I had not read the policy itself before its publication in the Friday paper, but now that I have, I find it both appalling and stupid.
Perhaps I misunderstand, but item 1 says that I can identify myself any way I wish, and item 2 says I can use gender-specific facilities associated with my choice. I happen to be a straight male, but if I were to exercise a little perversion, does that mean I can call myself female and hang out in the ladies’ room just to ogle the girls? And if someone complains, I can have her sanctioned for harassing me?
Also, item 1 says that I can choose any name by which I wish to be addressed.
Just to carry the above (ugly) scenario further, does that mean I can require my professors to address me by the N-word or some other vile epithet? I think that for starters the wording of item 1 needs to be specific about “name” meaning a name for a gender, but that leads to another whole can of worms regarding what that list should look like. I could go on and on to cite lots of other serious problems, but this is enough.
David M. Perlman, New Hope
Situation at Mora, Minn., pool is unambiguous under state law
Regarding “Breast-feeding at pool ignites uproar online” (July 21):
Minnesota Statute 145.905
LOCATION FOR BREAST-FEEDING.
A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding.
This is the law of the state. The whole situation at the Mora Aquatic Center must be settled accordingly.
Guy Hardy, Minneapolis
People want to move here. Let’s plan for their arrival.
Minneapolis has added more than 40,000 residents in the last decade, and more continue to move to this wonderful city. People move to Minneapolis because of the amenities that city life has to offer: parks, bike trails, restaurants and grocery stores are often within walking distance.
I support the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan because it would make room for new residents. If we resist building more housing, rents and home prices will continue to climb, putting city life out of the reach for many who have lived here for years. This has happened in cities across the U.S., but we currently have a chance to address the housing shortage in Minneapolis before it gets worse.
The city cannot require that more people move here, but that is what is happening and what we must plan for. Let’s share the city we love with current and future neighbors who wish to call it home.
Anton Schieffer, Minneapolis
U.S. REP. JASON LEWIS
Radio-show comments about women mean he should resign
In light of the recent, more-in-depth disclosures of comments made during his 2009-14 radio show (“Lewis derided women on radio,” July 19), U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis should resign. His misogynistic and racist statements disqualify him from public office.
His weak defense that he was paid to be provocative is indicative of his lack of ethics and moral turpitude. It also demonstrates his true character.
He maintains his legislative record should be taken into consideration. I would like to point out that U.S. Sen. Al Franken had a lengthy record of supporting women’s rights, yet following scrutiny of his behavior, he resigned.
Lewis’ misogynistic and racist comments do not represent the values of citizens in the Second Congressional District. It is time for the state Republican leadership to call for his resignation.
Jim Smola, Apple Valley
Should be free and open, but Third District event is exclusive
As a concerned citizen who has recently become involved in local politics, I am dismayed to hear that the incumbent congressman in the Third Congressional District, Erik Paulsen, and his challenger, Democrat Dean Phillips, will be participating in the first debate of this election season at an Aug. 21 luncheon in a private venue.
This debate is hosted by the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and will be moderated by KSTP-TV’s Tom Hauser. A discounted cost of $35 is available to Chamber of Commerce members, which doesn’t even take into account the annual membership fees.
Political debates for any seat should be free and open to the public. An exclusive, private debate perpetuates the notion that civic engagement is only for the well-connected and wealthy. This is not a new phenomenon — in fact, a similar debate occurred between Paulsen and Terri Bonoff in 2016 — but this actually solidifies the concept that the little guy doesn’t matter.
As far as I can tell, there is no official effort by the chamber or by either campaign to record the debate and make it available for nonattendees to view.
Phillips will be my choice when I vote on Nov. 6. One of his big campaign issues is getting money out of politics. Participating in this debate flies in the face of that concept. My understanding is that Paulsen, per his usual routine, is refusing to engage in a debate that is open to the public, which is poor behavior from a federal representative. I would encourage both these candidates and both party structures to work to make politics accessible for all.
Rebekah Lauderdale Nelson, Bloomington