The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 1, 2013

Our View: Online opinion case lasted too long

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To the Minnesota Supreme Court for ruling that making disparaging remarks about a doctor online does not open someone to being sued for defamation.

Dr. David McKee filed a lawsuit against Dennis Laurion after Laurion posted remarks on a rate-your-doctor website. Laurion thought his father wasn’t treated as well as he should be by the doctor and said so. Among other things, the doctor was referred to as “a tool,” as in a foolish man.

It’s puzzling why McKee’s defamation lawsuit — filed nearly four years ago — was still in court. It’s long been established that people may spout any opinion they want without fear of being sued. It’s different from knowingly telling a lie about someone in order to harm their reputation or business.

The high court, in throwing out the doctor’s defamation suit, pointed out that you can’t prove if someone is or is not “a tool.”

It’s unsettling that the Appeals Court earlier ruled to allow the suit to continue.


Psychology of learning revisited

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To high school officials nationwide who are thoughtfully addressing “burnout” issues in their classrooms. An awareness that the stresses associated with high expectations are overwhelming students is causing educators to come up with solutions that tone down the pressure.

We all want our students to succeed, and in today’s workplace environment a solid educational background is not just helpful but essential. However, for some, the struggle to get a leg up — with so many extra-curriculars added in — leads to sleepless nights, and worse. More schools are learning that too much homework, too many exams, can put kids at risk.

So some schools are adding relaxing techniques to the day, others are having homework-free nights or “recess” time between classes. Everybody needs a little time to relax and turn off the pressure-cooker, and it’s good that educators — who themselves are under pressure to maintain learning standards — understand that students are not robots.

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