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Marriage Amendment, Public Art and Backyard Chickens: Feedback Friday

The best comments from around the west metro between June 2 and June 7.

Each week, Patch users contribute numerous insights, opinions and observations. The following is a collection of the best comments that appeared on Patch sites in EdinaGolden ValleyHopkinsLake MinnetonkaMinnetonkaPlymouthRichfieldShakopeeSt. Louis Park and St. Michael. Click on the headline to read the full story and join in the conversation.

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With Minnesota voters charged this November with choosing to amend the Minnesota Constitution to state marriage is between one man and one woman, multiple movements for and against the measure have sprung up. And after Target Corporation's statement in opposition to the amendment, a recent University of Minnesota Law School grad started a Change.org campaign to get Richfield-based Best Buy to do the same. More than 15,000 have joined the Web campaign.

However, Kevin O'Donovan believes the amendment would protect traditional marriage and wrote: 

It is a Defense of Traditional Marriage, not an assault on homosexuals. Homosexuals have the same rights to marry as anyone else. One man can marry one woman. To legitimize a clinical disorder, and deem it to be commendable is both ignorant and destructive to our society. People engaging in homosexual behavior should not be allowed to adopt children, and deviant sexual behaviors should not be taught in public schools.

President Barack Obama's stop in Golden Valley last Friday sparked debate about the economy and health care.

Jim Edward had this to say:

You can hear reports on T.V. and in the paper about how ill prepared our emergency rooms are. This is why. Got a headache? Go to the emergency room and get something for it. They can't turn you down no matter who you are. I read a couple of months ago that some emergency rooms are closing down because they can't afford to lose any more money. This is minor compared to what is coming.

School Bus Driver Retires After 20 Years

As Edina Public School's academic year came to a close this week, the district bid farewell to ten retiring employees. Among them was 20-year veteran Robert Hennen, who drove a school bus in the city's country club district after retiring from the Ford Motor Company.

The Merrill family remembered him and wanted to wish him well:

Bob the Bus Driver was a wonderful representative for Edina Schools. My children enjoyed seeing him each morning -- his friendly, caring manner started their day off right. Many thanks and best wishes, Bob!

The St. Michael-Albertville School Board decided against busing students that live within Albertville’s city limits, but outside the borders of the STMA School District.

Dawn Hepper explained why parents in the Towne Lakes neighbohood were asking for a change:

As a resident within the Towne Lakes neighborhood, I was in attendance during Monday evening's school board meeting. This was not nor does it continue to be a situation where a group of parents are complaining, a fact that was supported many times by comments from the Board. The pre-existing bus stops on Hwy 37 & 19 are not safe, as they require kids to cross major highways in order to safely catch a bus -- which was acknowledged in comments by at least one Board member that Hwy 37 in particular is a "nightmare". We respectfully asked both the Board and the Director of Transportation to review the current stops and provide options for our children to be safely transported to school. As a resident of the St. Michael-Albertville community, I urge the Board to consider the safety of our children in recommending a solution.

could soon start asking developers to chip in for the arts when they embark on projects in the community.

ERB was one of those questioned whether the city should be getting in the art business:

Like Carol, I'm a bit nervous about the "art" that might soon be clogging our sidewalks. I certainly appreciate the place art has in society and have seen many moving paintings of wildlife. Also dogs. But sometimes these "artists" get a little too "out there" for me. Like that statue of the little boy peeing. Inappropriate. Or the naked man who is just sitting there and thinking. Thinking about what, I'd like to know. Probably about how he should put some clothes on. What kind of message does that send?

I'm just saying there should be some sort of committee overseeing what art gets installed so we don't end up with any of those morally questionable eyesores.

At Tuesday's Shakopee City Council meeting, two  seniors from the Environmental Ethics class brought up an idea cropping up in urban places around the country: Backyard Chickens.

Shakopee Mom didn’t think it was a good idea:

A city of 40,000 is not a rural community or is it a small town. Good grief, if it is the trains being noisy or tying up traffic...now you all want noisy, smelly chicken coops in the yards.

Dark Star, born George Chapple, was found dead in his Minnetonka apartment on June 1. Fans used social media to share their memories of him.

Randy Essell contributed this memory:

George and I used to have marathon games of HORSE at the old Flagship club, which has to be 20+ years ago. Rest in peace, old friend. Say hi to Ray Jablonski for me. RJ Esselli

Located on the corner of Minnetonka Boulevard and Dakota Avenue, the old Tonka Mart is a prominent—but empty—building.

Emily B thought it would be a good idea to put a restaurant there:

"I don't eat cows, but I do advocate for any improvements to our food system and restaurant selections that makes eating more sustainable and healthy. There is a chain I've heard of through friends called Elevation Burger - organic, grass-fed, etc. None are open in MN, but looks like they are in many other states... maybe time to invite them to MN? We could totally provide the local sourcing options to fit their needs.www.elevationburger.com/EB.php"

Jennifer June 08, 2012 at 01:08 PM
"Each week, Patch users contribute numerous insights, opinions and observations. The following is a collection of the best comments that appeared on on Patch sites..." So, Kevin O'Donovan's comment was the best comment on the anti-civil rights amendment? Really?! Do you all know how backwards and medieval his comment is? If that's the best comment, then how sad for Patch readers.
Jennifer June 08, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Oh, I should also add that Kevin's comment is ignorant of the current stat of gay marriage. He says "Homosexuals have the same rights to marry as anyone else." Um, then why is it still illegal for two people of the same sex to get married and collect the same civil benefits from that marriage? God, what planet is Kevin from?
SHausen June 08, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I believe Kevin is saying that homosexuals do have the same rights to marry, provided that they choose to marry someone of the opposite gender. I'm more dismayed by ERB's comment. "The Thinker" is "morally questionable"? Hopkins would be beyond fortunate to have such a famous work of art in their collection and even that's not good enough for some people?
Jennifer June 08, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Being able to marry only if you choose someone of the opposite sex actually is *not* having the freedom to choose which is what heterosexuals have. So my point remains.
Jennifer June 08, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I still think Kevin's comment is a ridiculous one to highlight. All it does is create more anger. His views are anti-civil rights. Doesn't anyone remember the 60s?
Jennifer June 08, 2012 at 02:15 PM
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Nelson Mandela
Jennifer June 08, 2012 at 02:18 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otQqZrFaMFg&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Seth Engman June 08, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I have to agree with Jennifer. Mr. O'Donovan's comment is disgusting and at best willfully ignorant. Shame on Patch for highlighting garbage like this.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Hello all. I appreciate your feelings regarding the comment and, believe me, its place in this article was not an attempt to stir the pot. We get dozens of comments throughout the week and pick the best, most interesting, odd, insightful and so on for this piece. Everyone has an opinion. This happens to be his. Obviously there are many who would agree with you, but there are also those who would disagree. I know this is a sensitive subject, and regardless of any comment that is made - for or against - it can "create anger" or inflame the situation on both sides.
Seth Engman June 08, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Hi Caitlin, Mr. O'Donovan is certainly welcome to his opinion, but his comment veers into misinformation. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the 70's. A subsequent diagnosis created, ego-dystonic homosexuality, was removed from the DSM in 1986. According to the American Psychiatric Association as of today, homosexuality is not a disorder. I suspect Mr. O'Donovan either knows this and ignores it or is unwilling to research the matter any further. For that reason, I find his comment hateful and think it is in poor taste for Patch to promote his comment. Thank you for the clarification in your comment, but that is not how the article is presented in the subtitle or first paragraph.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Yes. "Best" wasn't intended the way it was received. The wording will be changed for future posts. As far as featuring the comment, this is our second week of compiling comments in a format like this. It is likely we will have future stories on this issue with comments in favor of gay marriage. Patch is an open forum and people on both sides of the issue are welcome to share their opinion. Also, take a peek at the article itself. People have begun to comment in response.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) June 08, 2012 at 05:58 PM
And I get what you're saying, however, he and others may think the information used to form the opinion is correct. P.S. Hope you're doing well!
Grace Kelly June 10, 2012 at 04:05 PM
To have a "best" comment that represents just one point of view with no new insight or new humor means the only way that it could be best is if it fits the author's or Patch's perspective. I find government interfering in our bedrooms and personal lives to be very wrong. I would rather government was working on maintaining bridges, roads and schools. So for me it is a "worst" comment.
James Warden (Editor) June 11, 2012 at 03:47 PM
As Caitlin mentioned above, we did not intend "best" to mean a comment either Patch or the author agreed with and we will be changing the wording in future articles so that it doesn't cause confusion. However, we will continue highlighting select quotes posted to our sites. These quotes will be chosen based on their humor, detail, emotional resonance and the response they've instigated earlier in the week. Some of these you'll agree with. Some of these you probably won't. This isn't all about controversy—see the above comments about Dark Star and retiring bus driver—but controversy will have its place. Overall, you can expect to see a balance of comments over time. As Caitlin said, we'll mix up comments for and against the marriage amendment—and likely many other issues facing us this election. But this isn't really about what we at Patch do. This is about what readers have to say. Let your voice be heard. When you see a comment you like, support them. When you see a comment you don't like, tell them why they're wrong. The discussion is yours.
Kevin Parks June 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Yes, the post being stated in these comments are at best ignorant and at worse just plain wrong, however as a community news source The Patch not only has a right, but an obligation to high light these posts so the community can discuss them in a forum that is safe and reasonable. It shows the different side of the story. Just because I or you do not agree with it has no bearing on whether it is a "best" comment. It is "best" because it elicited a large response. As a reader I appreciate the fact that both sides can be heard. Also, Jennifer... Thank you for highlighting it even more. And thank you Patch for making sure that people, no matter their opinion, are not censored.
Seth Engman June 11, 2012 at 08:24 PM
So the message is say something hateful and untrue about an individual, you violate Patch's terms and can have your comment deleted, but slander a whole community and you can have your post highlighted--all in the name of free speech and anti-censorship.
David DeGrio June 12, 2012 at 12:14 PM
James and Caitlin, Does a newspaper not have an obligation to deliver factual information or to correct untruths? In Mr. O'Donovan's quote, replace "homosexuals" with "Jews," "blacks," "Muslims," "women" and ask yourself: "would the newspaper have allowed that to be printed?"
James Warden (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM
So by that standard there should be no reporting on the marriage amendment? The Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Minnesota Public Radio and many, many others err regularly simply by reporting opinions of the opposing side? That's not the way it works for issues at play politically — especially when those issues are the subject of a vote in November. Comparing this to antisemitism, women's rights and racism is a red herring because those are settled issues. It's a red herring to compare it to anti-Islam rhetoric because there's been a robust debate over Islam's position in the west that has included comparable comments. Like it or not, time and place matter. This is a debate that's taking place right now. It's our job to spotlight that debate and provide a forum for discussion. I'll also note that there's a widespread misunderstanding about what you called "factual information" and "untruths." Mr. Donovan really made only one fact claim: that homosexuality is a clinical disorder. As an earlier reader noted, homosexuality was entirely removed from the DSM in 1986. So that was, in fact, false. Yet his remaining comments are not fact claims. They're opinions. Opinions by their very nature can't be proven or disproven — however offensive they are. So yes, it's our job to correct untruths and we probably could've noted that homosexuality is not classified as a clinical disorder. But since the rest of his comment was an opinion, there were no further untruths to correct.
Seth Engman June 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
It's not a red herring because many parallels can be drawn. People did historically try to use scientific and moral "evidence" for discriminating against race and gender. If we don't learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. There can be debate without the type of comment Mr. O'Donovan made. His opinion seems to be formed around an incorrect fact making his entire statement faulty and not worthy of public debate. If I stated as fact that the moon were made of blue cheese, then said because of this my opinion is that we should colonize the moon to excavate this cheese to send back to Earth, you'd have every right to call my opinion stupid. You wouldn't say, "Well, it's a fact that's the moon is NOT made of cheese, but your opinion that we need to go to the moon to get the cheese still sounds reasonable." Would you?
James Warden (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Does he believe it's a clinical disorder because it violates his religious convictions or does it violate his religious convictions because he believes it's a clinical disorder? If it's religious-based, do you really want an atheist (me) judging whether someone has sufficient religious justification to make a statement? For that matter, do you want anyone making that judgment?
Seth Engman June 12, 2012 at 04:29 PM
He doesn't frame the comment in regards to his religious convictions, so I must assume he is arguing from an empirical standpoint. That would remain consistent regardless of religious views.
James Warden (Editor) June 12, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Great conversation going over here, and we welcome the thoughts. We wanted to pull it back to the abstract a little bit, so we posted a new article here: http://hopkins.patch.com/articles/how-would-you-keep-conversation-civil-without-cutting-off-debate We want to know what you think. When does speech cross over from an attack on an issue to an attack on a group of people? How would you balance the need for civil dialog with vigorous debate on key issues? How would you allow diverse opinions and still keep the conversation polite? What speech, if any, should be off limits? Drop on over to the article and let us know what you think.
Kevin Parks June 13, 2012 at 07:10 AM
"Does a newspaper not have an obligation to deliver factual information or to correct untruths?" As a reader of Patch, I submit that they have stated in their articles factual information. It is the statement of a man (another reader), that at best could be interpreted as an editorial. A newspaper does not have an imediate reply button. I will submit further, it is not the Patch's job to decide what views should be read, but give you all sides (whether right or wrong) and allow the reader to make the decision whether he's a nut job or not.

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