It seems with some regularity a school newspaper will publish a story by a student that the administrators don’t approve of, and then officials remove it. It’s a sort of interesting way to take the pulse of the nation, as the subjects of these censored tales are often pretty topical. Take Benilde-St. Margaret’s, as an example. The St. Louis Park Catholic school has a well-respected high school paper called The Knight Errant. This past week, the editors published an editorial criticizing the archdiocese for its recent mass mailing of a DVD that opposes gay marriage. They also published a first-person account of a BSM student who came out as gay. As Nick Pinto of City Pages details, the stories were scrubbed from the website.
What was the reasoning for the story’s removal? According to Mila Koumpilova of the Pioneer Press, school President Bob Tift offered this statement: “The online comments regarding the editorial and opinion piece in question were creating a disrespectful environment as well as confusion about the teachings of the Catholic Church.” The piece had generated 93 comments online, and it’s very likely some of them were expressions of pure vitriol — take a look at the YouTube comments for this brief commentary from a young gay man who chastises other gay men for being contemptuous of feminine gay men. Or don’t, as many of them are depressing expressions of mockery and derision of the “U R gay” variety.
That being said, most online newspapers have a mechanism for shutting down comments, rather than simply pulling the article, and this is precisely what Skinner suggested, but the Knight Errant staff apparently felt that the pieces were intended to generate commentary and preferred to just remove the stories themselves. (Simply moderating the comments apparently never came up.) And, according to Sasha Aslanian of Minnesota Public Radio, most of the comments consisted of a lively debate regarding the articles (they republish the entire student essay “For gay teens who have considered suicide,” and we at the Glean can’t be surprised that the essay didn’t use the rest of the title of Ntozake Shange’s play, “when the rainbow is enuf”). But there were also charges that a Catholic school should not have published a piece critical of Catholic teachings.
Now, there’s the MPR piece that makes it sound as though it was the students themselves who pulled the story, but whether this is the case isn’t clear. MinnPost’s David Brauer discusses a member of the editorial board, Bernardo Vigil, who protested the decision by wearing duct tape over his mouth to class (he was eventually pulled out of class). Vigil makes it sound as though the editorial board’s decision was the direct result of pressure from the administration. Brauer also republishes the other offending article, the one critical of the diocese.
In other troubling tales of youth, a former Hamline professor was given 90 days for taking “lewd photographs” of a 16-year-old, who, according to Maricella Miranda of the PiPress, he met in a coffee shop and invited to a nearby building with conference rooms with promises of modeling jobs; he took photos of her there. In a story reported by KARE11, an 18-year-old was arrested in St. Paul for allegedly setting fire to the Faith Alliance Church — while there were 18 members of a youth group in the basement. A possible motive: The 18-year-old’s former girlfriend was a member of the youth group. If true, we at the Glean have this to say to the young woman who may have broken up with an ex that would try to burn down a church and potentially kill 18 people to get revenge: You made the right choice.
And in one of the last stories from the defunct and notoriously corrupt Metro Gang Strike Force, a former Strike Force member named Jason Andersen, who has twice been fired from the Minneapolis police force, is going to trial over allegations that he kicked a teenager in the head in 2008. Matt McKinney of the Star Tribune has the story.
Depending on your viewpoint, the next story is related to the previous in that it either demonstrates an abuse of authority or doesn’t. But that’s exactly the controversy erupting over new screening measures at TSA, which involves a body scanner that uses radio waves to produce something that looks very much like a naked photo of passengers, and without even taking them to a nearby conference room. FOX9 explains the device and also explains that passengers who choose to opt out will receive a thorough — very thorough — pat-down, which is a “frying pan/fire” situation for many passengers.
Local security expert Bruce Schneier, who coined the term “security theater” to describe security efforts that only make us feel safer, rather than actually improve our safety, has something to say. He actually thinks the scanners work pretty well, in that they actually do sort of see you naked, but points out that this is a massive investment of resources that will simply cause potential criminals to change tactics. According to a CNN story reposted on Schneier’s site, “he believes money would be better spent on intelligence-gathering and investigations.”
This past year, he encouraged his readers to redesign TSA’s logo. The results were funny, but protests against the scanner are getting more heated, such as the one reported by Jeffrey DeMars of KARE11 about a San Diego flier. A passenger balked at being scanned or patted down, and said the following: “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.” A video of this exchange made it to YouTube, where it has gathered a large number of hits, becoming a sort of weird rallying cry for people who oppose the screening, including calls for boycotts.
Let’s close out the news section with two pieces of good news. Firstly, according to Norman Draper of the Strib, more teens are buckling up and staying sober, so at least there’s something positive to report from the world of youth. Secondly, as related by Hart Van Denburg of City Pages, the number of smokers in Minnesota has dropped by half since 1980. The last is sort of mixed news — it’s good if you are a heart or a lung, but not so good if you are a tobacco company or Don Draper.
In arts: It’s Give to the Max Day, which you probably already know, as you’re a reader of MinnPost. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the details of the day, the site is here, and, in a nutshell, the day allows you to donate money to your favorite nonprofits (many of them arts organizations) and have that donation matched by corporate donors and other organizations.
In sports: The AP reports that Viking Adrian Peterson has been busted again for driving over the speed limit. As you may remember, he was cited a year ago for driving 109 mph in a 55 mph zone. This year he’s a little better — he allegedly drove 53 mph in a 35 mph zone. Next year, we expect he will only be caught doing 35 in a 15 mph zone, and it will continue like this until eventually he’s moving backward.