The recent suicides of Anoka-Hennepin gay teenagers are front and center in an Associated Press piece on the difficulties public schools are having in addressing the subject of homophobic bullying. The issue? Whether schools should specifically address homophobia or not. This is an issue that breaks along partisan lines — and you can probably guess how it breaks. Conservatives argue the issue isn’t really about what’s being bullied, but the fact that bullying is occurring, and so that should be the focus on any legislation to address this issue. But the AP makes it clear that that was exactly what was behind Anoka-Hennepin’s district policy that demanded “neutrality” on the subject of homosexuality, which resulted in a number of teachers not stepping in when homophobic bullying was taking place. According to the piece, school officials were aware of harassment of one student, Justin Aaber, but did not notify his mother. Aaber killed himself in July.
The partisan lines that divide this debate were visible on Saturday, when the frontrunning gubernatorial candidates debated at Hamline University. As Jason Hoppin of The Pioneer Press reports, both DFL candidate Mark Dayton and IP candidate Tom Horner support anti-bullying legislation, while GOP candidate Tom Emmer opposes it. According to Emmer, what is needed is “more understanding,” rather than more laws. According to him, teachers do not step in when bullying occurs, fearing lawsuits. He did not seem to back this up with any references, so we in the Glean went searching for lawsuits against teachers for stepping in when bullying occurred. We were not able to locate any, although we are sure there are some out there. Perhaps our Google search was not specific enough, as, instead, we discovered case after case of schools being sued for not stepping in when students are bullied. Lawyers Weekly did a piece summarizing some recent cases, and demonstrating that they are on the rise. As this is a subject of extreme seriousness — after all, children are killing themselves — we feel certain Emmer must actually have researched it before making a pronouncement that would so deeply affect the safety of young people. We looking forward to his campaign producing that evidence.
Emmer received an endorsement from outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty this weekend in what, as the AP reports, was, to a large extent, a swipe against Horner. In a written statement, Pawlenty said that Horner is a “decent” man, but that if conservatives are thinking of voting for him, they need to rethink. “Any Republican who votes for Tom Horner is not only helping [Democrat] Mark Dayton become governor, but casting a vote to undo the tax and spending cuts we’ve fought so hard for over the last 8 years,” Pawlenty wrote. A spokesman for the Horner campaign responded with a dig at Pawlenty, poining out that it took until three weeks before the election for Pawlenty to throw his support behind the GOP candidate: “It speaks volumes about the reluctance of Gov. Pawlenty to jeopardize his national ambitions by tying himself to a gubernatorial candidate who increasingly is the choice only of Palin-Bachmann Republicans.”
It’s a tight race — as the most recent Rassmussen poll showed, with Emmer trailing Dayton by 2 points. Additionally, Horner seems to have slipped in the polls, down 3 points since the last poll, which suggests that former Horner supporters might have shifted their support to Dayton or Emmer. With a race this tight, it’s not surprising that either party might try to peel voters from Horner.
Additionally, Emmer took a shot at Dayton at Thursday’s “Reclaiming America: The Taking Back Congress Tour.” Emmer’s appearance at the event is detailed by Minnesota Public Radio’s Tom Scheck, who quotes the candidate as saying: “He’s running because politics is a hobby for him. He doesn’t experience what you and I have experienced. He hasn’t tried to raise a family under the burdens that government provides.”
So what was this rally? MPR’s Mike Mulcahy quotes colleague Annie Baxter: It was headlined by Rep. Michele Bachmann, was held at Orchestra Hall and was sparsely attended, with less that a third of the available 1,500 seats filled. (There was a Twin game going on, which the sponsors pointed out.) Bachmann took the opportunity to go after Horner: “We can’t let anyone tell us that Tom Horner is a pro-business Republican. This is no pro-business Republican. This is two of the same, both pro-taxing, essentially Democrats running against Tom Emmer.” At the event, talk show host Dennis Prager offered up an opinion as to why Bachmann is so disliked by liberals: “I actually think that your being female and being as good-looking as you are is a major factor. That your intelligence and values should come in such a beautiful package disturbs liberals and the left tremendously.” Although, it appears, it doesn’t cause her to be appealing enough to encourage conservatives to attend her events when there is a Twin game going on.
Speaking of Bachmann, the race between her and Tarryl Clark has been contentious, with both sides releasing a series of attack ads — Bachmann accusing Clark of wanting to raise the price of State Fair food and Clark saying Bachmann wants to privatize Social Security. MinnPost’s Eric Black takes on the Clark claim and finds it unsupported. In the meanwhile, Clark also has released an ad claiming Bachmann hasn’t done “@#%!” for the people of the 6th District, with the word “@#%!” accompanied by a bleeping noise from the ad’s narrator. As Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent reports, Bachmann was not pleased with this ad, telling a very sympathetic Stuart Varney of FOX News that the ad was “despicable.”
In arts: Twin Cities supergroup Gayngs had to cancel its appearance at “Austin City Limits” when its tour bus driver apparently absconded with their equipment, according to Andrea Swensson of City Pages in a piece she has given the label “Holy @#%!” (Well, she didn’t use the word “@#%!,” but we’ll let you fill in the bleep.) The incident has ignited a pretty heated discussion in the CP comments section, which is entirely based on idle speculation, because there are few arguments more contentious than those in which no facts are known.
In sports: We will not be discussing Brett Favre here, as we are not interested in the sex scandal allegations of sports figures. Instead, let us go to WCCO, where they are reporting that on Sunday a man hit two holes-in-one in Rogers, Minn. And if that doesn’t interest you, we suggest letting your cursor hover over the word “strokes” in the description of the man completing the majestic task. WCCO has a rather ill-considered sort of intrusive advertising that automatically pops up ads. Additionally, the system seems to automatically select key words at select ads to go with them. So, when “stoke” is touched by your cursor, you get a picture of an ambulance and an ad for a pill that is supposed to reduce the risk of stroke. Ah, the genius of keyword extraction-based Web advertising, which never located a homonym it couldn’t misunderstand.