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Pedestrian fatalities at alarming levels

Study finds strong student support for voter IDs; pressure mounts on City Pages sex ads; a blunt Vikings punter; and more.

Editor’s note: Former Glean writer Max Sparber is filling in for Brian Lambert for a few days.

We’ve entered a strange time to be a pedestrian. It is the mode of transportation that uses the least resources, and therefore the greenest. It’s good for you. It can be terrifically sociable — you end up meeting strangers walking dogs, or mail carriers, or people on zombie pub crawls, or whoever else might be hoofing it, and sometimes friendship break out, or cannibalism. And yet it seems like it has never been less safe to be a pedestrian. Never mind the reckless bicyclists, who seem to think transportation laws apply to everybody but them.

There’s a galling number of cars hitting pedestrians, leading, in an alarming number of cases, to fatalities. How many? Kelly Smith of the Star Tribune places the number at 23, and gives a succession of upsetting stories about pedestrians who check both ways, step off the curb, and meet their terminus. Thankfully, authorities are stepping up both education and enforcement — in Minnetonka, a misdemeanor crosswalk violation will cost you $178, which, one hopes, will discourage recklessness, even if the thought of accidentally killing a pedestrian hasn’t served as enough of a deterrent.

It’s strange. This seems like a given — you should be careful on the road, or you might end up making the sort of horrific mistake we have been warned about ever since we watched those awful road fatality documentaries in high school. And yet people persist in engaging in behavior that is certainly bad for society, and generally bad for themselves. Another example: Aaron Rupar of City Pages points out an Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) study that looks at the number of Minnesota college students that would support ID’ing voters. Now, this is a tricky subject, as far as things go. I mean, the number of actual cases of voter fraud are laughably low, some of the fraudulent voters had perfectly valid IDs, and the only thing voter ID has shown itself to be effective at is disenfranchising poor and minority voters. But never mind that. As Rupar notes, more than 70 percent of these same students do not have IDs that would be considered valid under voter ID laws.

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But, then, City Pages may not know what’s good for it either. Kristin Tillotson of the Strib discusses mounting pressure on the publication to cease adult ads. Certainly, the temptation to keep them must be huge. Alternative publishing has a long history of being bankrolled by back-page sex ads, and I worked at City Pages once, and can tell you the long line of astonishing people who lined up to pay cash for ads before the newsweekly went to print. However, the paper’s parent company, Village Voice Media, has ads that have been linked to underage prostitution, and so a protest organization is asking mainstream advertisers to refrain from publishing ads in the paper’s Backpage section. Tillotson describes this as “Minnesota Nice for ‘boycott.’ ” But Minnesota Nice involves a lot of passive aggressiveness, and when you name your watchdog organization VillageVoicePimp.com, there is nothing passive about your aggression.

And sometimes you know what’s right, at least from your personal viewpoint, and you make a point to say so publicly. Such was the case of Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who made national headlines on Friday when he wrote a letter in support of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. The Raven has publicly supported gay marriage, which brought the attentions of state legislator and minister Emmet C. Burns Jr., who wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, telling him to muzzle his player. Klewe responded with a scathing, if somewhat graphic, letter.  Among his more printable comments, Klewe wrote: “This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom?” and “I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children.”

Kluwe further explained his letter on his PiPress blog: “The swearing is there for a reason. What Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote, what I responded to, was far more disgusting and foul minded than any simple scatological reference or genital mashup.”

By the way, dibs on Genital Mashup as a band name.