I was reading about the continued efforts of James Shaw Jr. to help the victims of the Waffle House shooting in Nashville. He was also officially commended by the state of Kentucky and others for his heroism, truthfulness and compassion. I know from experience that Shaw is more likely to emotionally survive his ordeal because of his candor and his continued efforts. Please don’t let someone like James Shaw Jr. fade so quickly from our memories. He is a very special person.
Tim J. Dolan, Edina
The writer, now retired, was Minneapolis police chief from 2006 to 2012.
Child protection: Too aggressive or not aggressive enough?
It isn’t surprising that some parents are now suing the state, saying that child-protection agencies have been too aggressive in intervening in family discipline (front page, April 25). We could debate whether spanking is really an effective (and loving?) discipline method, and there is plenty of research out there that would suggest it isn’t. Deciding where the line is for a child-protection worker to intervene — and especially to remove a child, is not as straightforward as some would wish, and there are usually parents who feel their rights were violated.
So should child protection err on the side of parents’ rights or child safety? I’d opt for child safety every time. I’ve worked in children’s mental health and in health care for more than 30 years, and I’ve never seen child protection put a child in foster care for almost two years, as was described in the article on Wednesday, without significant safety concerns and judicial oversight. And I’d rather see that action taken when needed instead of seeing the stories in the paper of children who’ve been badly injured or killed when intervention didn’t occur.
The issue of racial disparity and access to “family assessment” seems a separate issue from child-protection overreach and deserves attention. However, withholding child-protection services to children because some parents feel their rights are somehow more important is only increasing the risk to children who are unable to advocate on their own behalf.
Barb Klatt, St. Paul
• • •
How could hitting a child in response to something we don’t like not be physical violence? And then we expect the child to go to school and not hit?
And what are the implications for how a child’s behavior is controlled at school, for the teacher of 22 and more children, if the way we control a child’s behavior at home is spanking, which is hitting?
Diane Adair, St. Louis Park
• • •
I expect the Star Tribune will run an article within the next week saying that “rotary phones are common among Minnesota households,” based on a new survey that finds that more than 60 percent of adult Minnesotans report their parents used to use rotary phones. That’s exactly the logic used in the April 25 article about the spanking lawsuit. The article defended the claim that “corporal punishment is common among Minnesota households” by citing a 2014 survey that found that 60 percent of adults say their own parents used corporal punishment. The article also gave voice to the main plaintiff’s claim that kids were somehow better 30 years ago, despite a preponderance of data suggesting otherwise.
Matthew Francis Hillis Byrnes, Minneapolis
• • •
After reading about the spanking lawsuit, I wept.
Considering the abysmal record of child-protection agencies’ “protection” of at-risk children, it is truly ironic they are tasked with oversight of children at all.
The egregious reaction to a common form of parental discipline, by removing this child from his home for 22 months, is a breathtaking usurpation of parental rights, notwithstanding the error of removing this child from his home in the first place; how could it possibly take 22 months to ascertain the parents’ fitness?
I fully agree with the plaintiffs’ suit against state and county child-protection agencies, as it is high time to rein in their considerable, all-encompassing and, I would add, immoral power over families who are carrying out their reasonable responsibilities as parents.
I grieve for the Mitchell family as well as the many other families affected by the unwarranted intrusion into lives by the “holier than thou, we know best” government bureaucrats.
Jan Moe, Edina
Racial bias training can’t just be left as local endeavor
In response to “A better way to respond to implicit racial bias” (April 26, by Duane Johnson), I am concerned about his recommendation that “Starbucks should have given district stores an option on how they can address racial bias training.”
This pushes responsibility to the local level without considering local capacity. There is no guarantee that Starbucks store managers will know where to start. It’s Starbucks’ corporate responsibility to help local leaders identify community resources and provide guidelines about what managers should look for in quality training. Corporate also could provide online support, such as readings and podcasts by national experts.
I agree with much of Johnson’s analysis and don’t expect much from Starbucks’ “one afternoon of racial bias training.” Eliminating bias and overcoming racism is transformative work, and transformation doesn’t happen in an afternoon. This work takes a commitment of time and of heart. Education is necessary but not sufficient. A big part of transformation is caring about people and the issue. It’s about relationships and sharing stories. That’s the work that is local.
Herbert A. Perkins, St. Paul
The writer is an anti-racism educator.
BILL MURRAY PERFORMANCE
Complaint about show’s content was much ado about nothing
Jocelyn Hale’s complaints about Bill Murray’s show “New Worlds” (“What world, exactly, was Bill Murray presenting?” Opinion Exchange, April 25) was so much politics and prejudice it must be labeled obtuse.
Murray and Jan Vogler (1707 Stradivari cello), Mira Wang (Stradivari violin) and Vanessa Perez (Steinway) brought world-class music from Schubert, Bach, Ravel, Piazzolla, Gershwin, Van Morrison, Mancini, Shostakovich and Leonard Bernstein to punctuate works of writers and poets who built bridges between America and Europe.
Hale complained about two of the 20 presentations that included vernacular English used by Huck Finn in his attempt to help Jim escape slavery even though he believes he will go to hell for the effort (Christian views at the time). She also ranted about the Murray/Wang dance to the sad lyricism expressed by cello in Piazzolla’s most popular tango.
An entertaining evening — one of history, heartbreak, resonance and, yes, laughter. I would attend three times to revisit the wonderment of it all.
Mick McCartney, Hastings
There’s a phrase for this …
This past October, the Minnesota Twins lost 8-4 to the New York Yankees in a single-elimination- game playoff. It was their 10th consecutive loss to the Yankees in the postseason.
In January, the Minnesota Vikings were thrashed by the Philadelphia Eagles 38-7. It was the Vikings’ fifth consecutive loss in an NFC championship game.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota Wild were eliminated by the Winnipeg Jets in five games. It was the team’s third consecutive exit from the NHL playoffs in the first round.
And, most recently, the Minnesota Timberwolves were hastily eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Houston Rockets.
Luckily for the great state of Minnesota, we have the Lynx. Sure, the women’s professional team has “only” won the WNBA Championship in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, but I much prefer this “odd” pattern of winning championships to the men’s professional teams’ disturbing case of male pattern playoff loss.
Jack Uldrich, Minneapolis