Five at 8 – 8/14/09: When do you forgive?


Hundreds of people showed up in Los Angeles this week for a free health care clinic. “When does your problem because my problem?” It’s one of the many simple questions we’re asking today. Read on. AP Photo: Nick Ut)

1) When does “I’m sorry” cut it? Where is the line at which some things are too unforgivable? This has certainly been a week to test the issue.

Act one:

The Star Tribune has more information on the two Hennepin-Anoka teachers who apparently ran a kid out of the district by ridiculing him in front of their classes about their suspicion he was gay (he says he isn’t). He met with them in June. “They said, ‘We’re sorry you had to come here today. We’re very proud that you could stand up like this.’ Sorry doesn’t cut it, ” Alex Merritt said, “The teachers should be kicked out.”

Act two:

The only man sent to prison for the Lockerbie bombing (it was unusual back then to have innocents targeted) is dying and may be released from prison in Scotland. He hasn’t admitted his involvement, but the court said he did it. Should he be released on the basis of compassion?

Act three:

Basketball coaching legend Rick Pitino apologized this week for his affair with a woman six years ago. Oh, and that thing about having sex on the restaurant table and allegedly paying for her abortion. This is a guy who made a fortune speaking to companies and groups about faith and family. In his apology, he seemed to stress the words “six years ago,” while also using the word “indiscretion.”

Act four:

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford – the Appalachian Trail guy — apologized again this week. His wife moved out of the governor’s mansion last week.

Act five:

Michael Vick has apologized for running a dog-fighting operation. He’s gone to prison. He’s served his time. He’s back in the NFL. “PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water,” PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told The Associated Press.

Vick is on 60 Minutes on Sunday:
Watch CBS Videos Online

Act six:

CBS reports that John Edwards is about to admit he’s the father of the baby of a woman with whom he had an affair. He had previously apologized for the affair, but denied paternity. If the CBS report is true, he’ll probably apologize for fibbing about the baby.

2) The overnight sensation. Eleven-year-old interviews Obama.

Smart kid. He put his teacher and principal’s name first in the video. Discussion point: Why do we change our voice when we talk to kids?

3) The easiest question you’ll get today: How can you not love Elizabeth Strohfus?

Be sure to read Nikki Tundel’s and Madeleine Baran’s story.

4) There’s always a camera. NBC News has obtained video of last weekend’s mid-air collision over the Hudson River in New York:

The videographer focused on the helicopter because his friend was in it. It confirms that the low-wing nature of the plane made it impossible for the pilot to see the helicopter. Meanwhile, an air traffic controller was on the phone chatting with his girlfriend when the crash happened. He’s been suspended.

5) Where are Minnesota’s uninsured? The state had the highest percentage of residents with health care insurance as recently as 2006. Colleague Paul Tosto has crunched the numbers and found some surprising factoids:

I would have guessed that the no-insurance numbers would match up pretty close to the unemployment numbers. It doesn’t necessarily look that way. What are we seeing there? Processing plant workers going without insurance? Farmers? Self-employed small town businesspeople?

The highest county uninsured rates are along Minnesota’s borders: Cook and Lake of the Woods along the Canadian border and Traverse on the North/South Dakota line.

Paul is “crowd sourcing” the data and in the meantime is calling on members of the Public Insight Network at MPR to look at the health care debate, and finding exactly what he’d hoped to find: insight.

“There are quite possibly five to seven major issues with health care that all need to be dealt with simultaneously,” says David Frank, a source from Canby, MN who’s a licensed broker for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MN and other plans.

“It seems that groups latch on to just one of the issues and then those groups argue with each other over who is correct when in reality they are all correct.”

Join in and provide yours.

Meanwhile, a question: Is this debate still about health care? If so, when do people start talking about the crowds that show up every time there’s a free clinic offered? Forget the means by which they can get help, the issue is now more basic than that. So let’s back up and look if there’s anything everyone can agree on. The question: Should they get help at all?

That’s the issue that is the underpinning of every political issue in America today and we’ve leap frogged over it. When is your problem, my problem? If there was ever a question to discuss — intelligently — at a town hall forum, that’s the one.


Forty years ago, 32 acts performed over three days and four nights at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. A half million concert goers looked on as Joan Baez, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and many others defined a generation. If you were there, wish you had been, or were otherwise marked by those three days in August of 1969, what does Woodstock mean to you?

One possibility: It didn’t mean anything. It was just a concert in the mud. If we’re still searching for its meaning 40 years later, maybe it didn’t have any.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) A gutsy topic for a radio show: Falling asleep. Second hour: Musician Bela Fleck.

Did someone say rouser?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak are in the studio at 11 to talk about their budgets (and I’m guessing they’ll be asked — again — whether they want to be governor). Both call for property tax increases. Here’s Brandt Williams’ story on Rybak’s announcement yesterday. I’ll be live-blogging the first hour here on News Cut.

Second hour: Helen Fisher, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about romantic love and the brain.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – It’s Science Friday. I’ve seen nothing from NPR yet this morning that describe what’s on, however.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Collin Peterson holds a town hall on health care in Willmar. MPR’s Mark Zdechlik will be there.

  • 1) Last week had the great forgiveness story, about the family forgiving the neighbor who ran over a woman pushing a child in a stroller. Forgiveness only seems to be about what someone else did to you; it’s really about deciding how you will live after what happened.

    2) Not sure I get the comment about changing our voices to talk to kids. Obama seems to talk to him straight up.

  • matt

    I guess I am heartless I say the apology does not cut it on all but #5 (Vick – apology accompanies penance and restitution along with ongoing social monitoring). The rest have a long way to go.

  • Heather

    Act 1 makes me feel hot with anger, and cold with it at the same time. Those teachers DO deserve more than they got. A LOT more. Their words of “apology” to that kid were completely disingenuous. What an(other) insult. Teachers are not supposed to be The Bully, regardless of whether the kid is actually gay or not. What a couple of ignorant jerks. Need more training, indeed. I bet they thought they were HILARIOUS, and I bet they still aren’t sorry.

    Thanks to you and Mary for your stony silence after you read the story on air yesterday evening. It spoke volumes, and it actually made me feel a little better.

  • kennedy

    Act 1 – No forgiveness. For an adult to bully a child is inexcusable. When that adult is supposed to be teaching the child, they are obviously not fit for that job. They should never teach again.

    Act 2 – No lenience or reduction in sentence. Forgiveness is not mine to give but would come from families of the victims.

    Act 3 – Don’t really care about this story. Again, forgiveness would not come from me as I have not been wronged.

    Act 4 – Forgiveness for the affair would come from his family. If dereliction of duty is evident, I would not forgive but vote for impeachment.

    Act 5 – Time has been served, justice has been fulfilled. If Kobe Bryant (rapist) can be the face of the NBA, I guess sports leagues will increase revenue regardless of the PR hit. In the scheme of things, I guess this is the most forgivable. There is something deeply wrong with someone who would torture animals, though.

  • Bob Collins

    I was discussing the Michael Vick situation on Twitter earlier today, responding to a person who said he should be banned because our kids learn things from athletes.

    Forgetting for a second THAT whole issue, I actually think — depending on what he says on 60 Minutes — the Vick story could very well be a good role model for kids.

    It could be instructive than one can make horrible mistakes, pay for them, recognize them, attone for them (and I’m not talking about merely going to prison) and carry on… that it’s not the end of the world.

    Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people, many of whom think mistakes are the end of the world. Would it not be a good lesson to learn they’re not?

    We have many things to overcome in our lives. Learning that our own failings are responsible for many of them, and they can be overcome, might be just the lesson Vick could teach.

    We’ll know more on Sunday.

  • kennedy

    Why is Michael Vick more of a story than Donte Stallworth, who killed pedestrain whle drunk driving? Stallworth has been banned for a year with little public interest, while many are calling for a lifetime ban for Vick.

    What makes the crime of dog fighting more sensational than killing a person while drunk driving? Is it because we can personally relate better to the latter than the former?

  • Bob Collins

    //What makes the crime of dog fighting more sensational than killing a person while drunk driving? Is it because we can personally relate better to the latter than the former?

    Nobody said it was. But that’s probably more a conversation about the differing criminal justice sensibilities than it is the nature of forgiveness.