The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 1, 2013

Our View: Online opinion case lasted too long

Bob Jentges, North Mankato

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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.


Community should embrace youth event

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To the organizers  and supporters of the Community Summit on Youth for their efforts to engage the community and region in this important topic.

Youth Voice and the YWCA has been busy the last year getting feedback from area youth about what it’s like to grow up in the Mankato area. The first youth summit will offer the community a chance to hear what the groups have learned and start a health conversation about youth and their future in the region.

The Otto Bremer Foundation also deserves recognition for supporting Youth Voice with a $75,000 donation the first year and $125,000 for each of the next two years. Youth Voice aims to make the Mankato area “the very best place for youth to live and group up,” according to Bonnie Stanton of Youth Voice.

The group has been conducting listening sessions through schools and clubs and the information from these sessions as well as recent youth research from Minnesota State University.

For years, Mankato area residents have heard that youth have trouble finding healthy activities in Mankato. This summit should shed some light on that subject and be a rallying point for doing something about it.


Mayor Ed Koch rebuilt, personified New York

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To Ed Koch, the feisty, colorful Democrat who served three terms as New York’s mayor and was internationally known, especially for his foreign-policy priorities.

He died Friday at age 88. Koch took over when the city was in financial ruin with high crime running rampant.He replaced the patronage system of judges and launched a $5 billion government-funded program to rebuild a city gutted by arson.

He was best known for his blunt but affable style, which sometimes made people laugh and other times got him in trouble. He was the personification of Bronx-style politics. A long-time friend said: “He was New York.”

Even though the city was plagued with municipal corruption scandals in his final term, Koch was not directly involved and that sullied his attempt for a fourth term. Even after leaving office, he remained a public figure writing novels and memoirs and became a spokesman for UltraSlimFast diet … and for Dunkin Donuts.

While he had his vindictive side, he was considered an elder statesman who clearly loved his city and was not ashamed to proclaim that love.