As a Christian, I see the importance of addressing genuine conflicts between religious freedom and civil liberties. It requires respect on and for both sides, and hardheadedness in determining just what is at stake. That said, I don’t see the Telescope Media suit advancing the cause, however it gets decided (“Same-sex marriage law spurs first suit,” Dec. 7, and “We’re acting pre-emptively to protect our rights,” Dec. 8). Carl and Angel Larsen are quite rightly concerned about the extent to which marriage has become “a means for personal gratification … or a method of achieving social status.” Do they sincerely believe they can change this for the better by enlisting their talents and energies in the commercial wedding industry? As if the industry concerns itself at all with the strength and health and integrity of marriages? A video of any celebration can be a wonderful souvenir, but to suggest that a wedding video could promote a particular concept of marriage seems grandiose. Law and society may continue to gravitate toward a broader, flatter notion of marriage. The purpose of law, after all, is to set the bottom line on things. It in no way prevents us as individuals, groups or faith traditions from aspiring and committing to something much more daring and demanding in our marriages, and having our weddings express this. I would urge the Larsens, if producing wedding videos is their true desire, to consider what a support they could be to members of their own faith community, who will share their vision of what marriage can and should be.
Bradley Wronski, Red Wing, Minn.
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Any unessential service company should be free to choose the customers it wants to serve, just as customers can choose the businesses they want to deal with. Adverse publicity would drive many businesses to fail if obvious unfounded discrimination is practiced. The company loses business, something most businesses cannot afford to allow.
However, when religious liberty is threatened, anyone can understand someone working hard to stay true to their faith. Thankfully, the Alliance Defending Freedom works to promote the religious beliefs of its clients against a mandatory secular agenda of the far left. Customers will be served by the many other businesses that appreciate serving them.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
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At first I thought the operative word for Carl Larsen’s Dec. 8 commentary was “absurd,” a word he uses to describe the dilemma he finds himself in. But then I realized the real word is “disingenuous.” Mr. Larsen knows full well that as an artist he is completely free to make films about whatever moves him to create and that the state of Minnesota will never intervene. But when he uses his business to pick and choose who his customers will be, excluding people that he disapproves of, that crosses the line into discrimination, and the state is obligated to step in and uphold the law. Larsen is a businessman using clever language in an attempt to disguise himself as a poor, beleaguered artist being prevented by the state from expressing his creativity. The state is doing no such thing. I encourage the Larsens to make all the films they care to make. To find actors who fit their particular requirements and pay them to act in their films. That’s how the rest of us do it. The state will never intervene in that process.
Chris Cinque, Minneapolis
‘COLD OUTSIDE’ LYRICS
Is the criticism good judgment or completely misjudged?
When millions of Americans vote for president a man who is openly dismissive of sexual assault, we cannot honestly say that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is “just an old song from a time in our country that no longer exists,” as was argued in a Dec. 8 letter (referring to “ ‘Cold Outside’ remake loses loutish lyrics,” Dec. 7). The rewrite of these lyrics is only a part of an important conversation, and we should be wary to be so laissez-faire when it comes to these discussions with our sons. “No” meant “no” then, and many of us still will teach without apology that “no” means “no” today.
Adam Nafziger, Minneapolis
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Let’s be perfectly clear. Rape is not a crime of passion but a crime of violence. And to say a song such as “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is “date rape-y” is an insult to any woman who has ever been raped. And to use the phrase “date rape-y” is absurd and demeaning. They call it “date rape” because it happened on a date or in an encounter with a man the woman knows. They could call rape “alley rape,” “parking ramp rape” or “your uncle’s basement rape.” Rape means only one thing. A man has committed a crime. And the woman has done … absolutely nothing. She has not lingered over a drink, nor hesitated about going out into the snow, nor snuggled a little bit into her date’s shoulder. She is an innocent victim. A woman who has been raped has been violently attacked by a man. Let’s be clear about that, please.
Tina Landeen, Edina
The problem is that there’s a witching hour for violence
I was interested to read that Minneapolis business leaders are demanding that the city implement measures to reduce downtown violence (“Minneapolis business leaders demand a safer downtown,” Dec. 8). Since most of the violence seems to occur at bar closing time, my first thought was to shorten bar hours dramatically, say to 11 p.m. However, that would still create the “everybody out” situation that seems to foster most of the violence. Then I had a more radical idea: Eliminate bar closing hours altogether. Let them stay open as long as they want. Instead of everyone staggering out at once, they would trickle out until dawn. This is not a perfect solution. It would not stop violence, but it could significantly reduce the number of innocent bystanders who are wounded or killed.
Jeffrey Loesch, Minneapolis
Critic’s complaint doesn’t cohere with his party’s business adoration
An article by a leading Republican (“Washington’s isn’t the only swamp that needs draining,” Dec. 7) criticized Gov. Mark Dayton for paying bonuses and severance pay to employees. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (Dayton’s opponent in 2014) doesn’t claim the payments were illegal, just ill-advised. But the criticism still confuses me. Most of the time Republicans say government should be run more like a business. We’ve all seen how businesses treat departing executives. Is the Republican point that the bonuses paid to departing state execs should have been bigger?
Rolf Bolstad, Minneapolis
Stop talking about what the other side does or does not do
Regarding “Think tank for the right ramps up in Minnesota” (Dec. 8): In “think tank” president John Hinderaker’s own words: “The left never wants to debate anything. They want to make it impossible to talk about it.” Next paragraph: “We [at the Center of the American Experiment] talk about all issues but it will be inclusive, respectful and data-driven.” Irony? This is the way our entire country is talking right now, and America will never come together until we stop talking about what the other side does/does not do. Let us and our leaders really mean it when we say we will be inclusive and respectful. Our country depends on it.
Liz Knutson, Minneapolis