The Nov. 16 editorial "A real-life drama at the Guthrie" surprisingly labeled the woman who disrupted the opening of a play by 30 minutes as "a patron in distress," "disturbed," "a woman in crisis." The piece shamed audience members for reacting negatively while lovingly calling out one "kindly" audience member who implored people to have compassion.
Meanwhile, the editorial benefited from making a clever analogy between the woman's behavior, the audience reaction and the play itself. I wonder if the same adjectives would have been used had the woman been a man? I doubt it. Or if the patron had thrown more than a program? Not so sure.
Regardless, the villain is not the terrible audience members. The Guthrie Theater is at fault for allowing the scene to continue for 30 minutes before the woman was escorted out. This was a disservice to the children in the audience, the other patrons and the theater company while creating news and an editorial for the Star Tribune.
Christine Bray, Minneapolis
"A real-life drama at the Guthrie" drove home the paucity of compassion and understanding out there for mental illness. Between the jeering audience and the article comments questioning the use of the word "crisis," everyone seemed willing to presume the sufferer was simply acting badly. But to me, the situation described in the editorial seems to have all the earmarks of a true mental-health crisis. And in that case, the health crisis was no different from any other, and jeering and ridicule would register about the same with the victim as if one were jeering at a heart-attack victim. The person in the mental health crisis cannot really make the connection between their behavior and the reaction to it. They are hearing and reacting to other voices.
For anyone with a loved one suffering from mental illness, the incident looks just like the tip of the iceberg. As a family you try to simply work within the reality the disease imposes. The sufferer is an adult with rights, just like everyone else. But their needs can be overwhelming. So you might have a couple of family members who are responsible for her house cleaning, another who goes shopping, another who monitors medications and goes to appointments, another who schedules activities, and some who just are good listeners.
And everyone tries to do their part, knowing that it is all just provisional until the next incident. The expensive ambulance ride, the police and paramedics, a few nights in hospital lockdown. Not to mention the continuous abuse she is capable of dishing out. And your friends telling you how this could all be avoided if you simply [fill in the blank]. You consider any day where she seems safe and happy to be a good day. But you harbor a guilty hope she will cross the line sometime and somebody in authority will have to step in. For my family, the resolution came through a compassionate nursing home. She is safe, but miserable. She feels trapped and pines for her old life. Unlike bad behavior, mental illness seldom has a happy ending.
It would be nice if people witnessing the kind of outburst that occurred at the theater would pause a moment before losing their tempers and think about the fragile web supporting that person. Nothing can protect you from occasional exposure to a mental health crisis with its accompanying irritation and discomfort. But do recognize it is a health crisis, and try to muster some compassion.
Regina Anctil, Minneapolis
Provided evidence, Minnesotans might stick to what's natural
Yes, most Americans may want to get rid of seasonal time changes — but as a Nov. 16 counterpoint argues, not by making daylight saving time permanent.
We have just left a sad period of governance during which verified facts and real science were ignored, resulting in damage to our medical services and to the health of too many Americans during the pandemic. We cannot afford to continue that blinkered approach to the question of eliminating time changes.
Daylight saving time was instituted to save energy. We now know it does no such thing. We do know that it increases accidents and illnesses and decreases the general health of humans jolted out of natural circadian rhythms for eight months of the year.
I agree with Laetitia Moreau when she asks why our home newspaper has ignored both the consensus of the people and the real science behind eliminating DST. The Star Tribune did include an article last spring, citing the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, that stated that "the science is clear: We should not only quit changing our clocks but also stick with permanent standard time, which they contend aligns best with our natural rhythms."
Sadly, Minnesota's Legislature allowed a provision paving the way toward making DST permanent to be slipped into a huge budget bill, with very little discussion of the downside of doing so. I call on our House and Senate to slip it back out, and address it honestly. Mother Nature — and several states and territories — have it right: leave natural time in place, permanently, and forget the time changes.
Jane Dresser, Woodbury
May all serving this state in Congress see it as one
Back in 1944, the Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota merged to create today's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). It was a blending of left-wing and conservative policies to bring together representation of both our rural and urban concerns and needs. This was represented by Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter Mondale.
In the recent federal infrastructure bill, representation for our whole state was forgotten by Fifth District U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. By ignoring the need for rural roads, bridges and access to broadband access outside the metro area, Omar jeopardized the growth of our state. Going forward, I hope federal representatives represent statewide Minnesotans, not just their metro-area voter base.
Mary McKee, Minnetonka
Embarrassed in Minnesota, and here's how we got to this point
Minnesota has the dubious distinction of being first in the nation for COVID-19 infections (front page, Nov. 16). More than 9,000 people have died here from COVID. We also have the only divided Legislature in the nation. I see a correlation here. Our Republican-dominated Senate has constantly railed against Gov. Tim Walz for using his executive powers to try to stop the spread of this virus. Republican legislators have been at anti-vaccine and anti-mask rallies. Now they are focusing their attacks on state Health Commissioner Jan Malcom, who I believe has done a superb job of trying to keep the public safe from COVID. It is now longer a badge of honor to say, "I am from Minnesota." Rather, it is an embarrassment.
Katherine Schafer, Minneapolis
The audacity …
Wow — "biased toward the noble goal of limiting deaths or otherwise negative individual health outcomes." I have to admit that I would never have expected that to be considered a negative nor dismissed as an insufficient basis for determining a public pandemic response, as a Nov. 13 letter appeared to suggest. What a sorry state of affairs that some do.
Cyndy Crist, St. Paul
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