One of the oldest legal maxims is not only must justice be done, but justice must be seen to be done. How is it, then, that four decades after other states have routinely had cameras in the court, Minnesota is still debating whether to broaden access? How is it that the panel studying the issue here contains only attorneys and judges? ("Panel looks at camera policies for courtrooms," Nov. 13.)
What are they afraid of? Nearly 70% of other states have longstanding rules and media relationships, many going back 40 years, including Iowa and Wisconsin. Just pick from one of those many models.
Over 23 million people watched some of the Derek Chauvin trial. Local reporters and experts did an excellent job helping us add context to what we were seeing. Studies have shown for over a decade that televised trial coverage educates the public about the courts and does not interfere with proceedings.
The time for "experiments" and closed-minded advisory commissions is over. The Minnesota Legislature needs to legislate presumed camera access with certain obvious exceptions. Choose transparency. Choose the First Amendment.
Public dollars fund the courts, judges, prosecutors and public defenders. We should be able to see how they work.
Tom Garrison, Eagan
He is responsible for himself
Kyle Rittenhouse "is also a victim"? (Opinion Exchange, Nov. 23.) Are rapists victims of socialization within a culture of male domination? Should we change the laws to reflect the idea that they are "provoked" to acts of violence by the actual victims? Obviously not, because we need common-sense laws that discourage acts of violence in lieu of a framework that enables killing in the name of "self-defense." Rittenhouse wouldn't have done what he did if there were severe consequences for that type of behavior. Sociology has its place, but if you're not thinking about how to take on the gun lobby and make America tangibly safer, I don't want to hear it right now.
Roman Morris, Minneapolis
The tragic events of Kenosha and Waukesha underscore some glaring realities that must be addressed quickly. The legal authority for law enforcement must be recognized as fundamental for a civil society to function. The unlawful actions of a few who wear the badge cannot be projected to an entire department or profession. The quick response by those wishing to score political points and advance an agenda are fueling the fire. All this must be balanced with the right of free speech, but limits must be recognized and enforced.
The immediate conclusion that law enforcement is guilty has to be discouraged by local leaders. The judicial process separates society from mob rule, and its verdict must be recognized. But the judicial process is also failing us when it has a "no bail or low bail" policy. This has established a revolving door of "catch and release" that has decreased public safety. Darrell Brooks, now charged in the Waukesha killings, has a criminal history that exceeds 50 pages. His latest criminal actions stem from a domestic assault charge involving battery, obstruction and disorderly conduct, where a women was bloodied and driven over, leaving tire tracks on her pants leg. Brooks bailed out for $1,000. He previously bailed out (in February) for $500 for charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and second-degree reckless endangering of safety while using a dangerous weapon. Readers, bail amounts are supposed to be the result of a comprehensive risk assessment to society. It cannot be an exercise in clearing out the local jail.
If public order is allowed to spiral down further, we may reach a point of complete societal breakdown. Law enforcement and the judicial system are inseparable partners in the condition of our public safety. They must re-establish focus with their responsibilities and send a message that constitutionally based order will be pursued. Public order must be re-established to the benefit for all of us.
Joe Polunc, Waconia
Musings, memories and poetry
In my library, among other writings of Robert Bly, is the fantastic volume "Iron John," published in 1990. The reporting in "Prolific and theatrical, poet challenged the status quo" (Nov. 23), done so well by Star Tribune journalist Laurie Hertzel, compares with Bly's own writing!
Question: What is it that establishes a "friendship," that through a person's poetry you follow all your days? Embedded in my heart is the time, probably in the '70s, that I sat next to Bly for an evening service in a pew in the balcony of the Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. Shoulder to shoulder, I'm sure we chatted a few times during the sermonizing of the Rev. Phil Hinerman. It was the lingering conversation following the benediction that brought me into the life of someone I had read, but now, we exchanged thoughts about city life, farms and my seminary experiences. Over his lifetime, among his friends were writers I know who viewed life with a "religious bent." The Bly poems certainly reveal his taste of other worlds! His attempt at writing drama, as stated in the Hertzel essay, was "Martin Luther." Hertzel also shared what we know, that Bly did many readings at churches. The chitchat was lovingly shared, Bly responding to the questions about his poems and personal remarks.
I note that the Star Tribune article mentions his last public reading on April 13, 2015. Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis was the right place to give a sense of closure for the public, and he offered his authenticity. That spiritual impulse, I believe, was another characteristic of Robert Bly, a gift from Minnesota.
The Rev. Marvin Repinski, Austin, Minn.
I have been blessed to have had numerous daylong and weeklong workshops with both Robert Bly and Carol Bly during my long career as a professor, author and advocate of the men's movement. Robert died this week at almost 95 years. Carol died years ago. Both were mentors, teachers, authors, and wise and gentle human beings.
Robert taught me about men's work, wholeness and dignity, and how that is stolen from them as they conform to models of stoicism and sacrifice and attempt to live up to an impossible image of success and power.
Carol taught me how to write short stories that were unique and captured the irony and complexity of the human condition. Her story about the funeral director's showroom was fascinating. The director used lighting and placement to convince customers to purchase a more expensive casket. Carol had a powerful sense of humor.
Robert wrote poetry, and numerous books, including "The Sibling Society." This book discussed how youth rely on each other's knowledge more than the wisdom of elders. Robert was always talking about the power of elders and eldering, and how the American culture had a somewhat negative view of aging and older people.
They were both strong-willed and seemed to value directness and honesty. They profoundly influenced me and millions of others.
They seemed to me to be both small-town and worldly. They understood the unique quirks of common people and also the complexity of cultures, systems and rules. Their legacy lives on in many who are better, deeper, more creative human beings because of them.
Michael Obsatz, Golden Valley
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