The bullies win again (5×8 – 5/3/12)

A death in Kasson-Mantorville, the limits of religious freedom, stop and smell the suburbs, a $100 baggage fee, and you’re probably below average.


There’s more than a little grace in the family of a young girl in the Kasson-Mantorville school district who took her own life Sunday after being bullied at school. “They’re all really good kids,” Mary Ehmke, Rachel Ehmke’s mother told the Rochester Post Bulletin said. “They just made some bad decisions.”

And it killed her daughter.

The school system has an anti-bullying program, but it didn’t work. The family says the school staff was busy on testing, and didn’t immediately intervene when bullying flared up last Friday.

From what the paper reports, the bullying was going on under the noses of other parents…

In today’s society, he said, it wasn’t possible for his daughter to escape bullying. She’d go home on weekends, and the bullying would continue on Facebook. He wants to make clear that retaliation isn’t the answer.

“Even the bullies obviously need some help,” he said. “They need to be aware that they have the right to that same help.”

On Tuesday, the young girl’s sister spoke out.

Brittany wants people to know what happened to her sister, and she would rather people hear about it from her than the spreading rumors about Rachel. Brittany said Rachel dealt with bullying for quite some time. She said other students would put gum in her books and say mean things to her as she walked down the hall. She said Rachel’s dad, Rick, had spoken to K/M Middle School principal Al Hodge about Rachel’s situation when incidents came up.

Incidents like when someone wrote “slut” on Rachel’s locker last fall. School staff waited for some time to clean off her locker, according to Brittany.

“My dad had to call twice before [they] actually did something about it,” Brittany said. “Everyone had to watch my little sister open her locker [with the word still present].”

(H/T:Jake Griggs)

Related: Why do football players kill themselves? (Esquire)


North Dakota voters will decide in November whether this should be added to the state’s constitution:

“Government may not burden a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A burden includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.”

A group in Fargo yesterday announced its opposition to the amendment, saying it would open the door to “endless litigation,” and provide cover to break the law, domestic violence, for example.


Few people ever consider the architecture of the Twin Cities suburbs. Until now.

Related: Removing our least useful bridges (Streets.MN)

4) A $100 BAGGAGE FEE?

Spirit Airlines is about to start flying to the Twin Cities. A few months ago Metropolitan Airports Commission officials announced they’d worked to provide competition for Delta Airlines.

Fizzle. Spirit announced yesterday it’s jacking its carry-on baggage fee to $100.

Spirit’s low cost is mostly a mirage and the Wall St. Journal has calculated that the average customer spends about $100 on fees. That was before the airline announced a price hike.

Related aviation: Delta’s oil refinery purchase is either brilliant or insane (or both).


From NPR: The bell curve powerfully shapes how we think of human performance: If lots of students or employees happen to show up as extreme outliers — they’re either very good or very bad — we assume they must represent a skewed sample, because only a few people in a truly random sample are supposed to be outliers.

New research however suggests that rather than describe how humans perform, the bell curve may actually be constraining how people perform. Minus such constraints, a new paper argues, lots of people are actually outliers.

Bonus I: Freakonomics radio: Why is it OK that we import flowers from so far away?

Bonus II: “Trampled by Turtles” as Minnesota’s “Foggy Bottom Boys”

Bonus III: “After a car accident near Cottonwood in February left Cody Schmidt paralyzed from the chest down, doctors told him he’d probably never walk again. Schmidt has some insurance, but better than that, he’s got friends.” (Marshall Independent)

Bonus IV: You don’t have to be a human to have a friend.

video platform

video management

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Postscript: The story is helping other dogs get adopted.


Evangelical Protestant and nondenominational churches are the fastest-growing bodies of faith in Minnesota, according to a recent count. Meanwhile, Roman Catholic and traditional Protestant churches are losing membership. Today’s Question: If you attend a church, what about it appeals to you?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The race to prevent Alzheimer’s.

Second hour: The errors the news media make.

Third hour: What money can’t buy.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Live broadcast from the Westminster Town Hall Forum. Minnesota native Patrick McGrann speaking about his work with young people living in violent places like Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Gaza.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: How to be smarter than your parents.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – With national unemployment figures still high and an election looming, members of Congress are increasingly holding job fairs back in their home districts. Minnesota lawmakers have announced several this year. While these fairs might make good politics, MPR’s Dan Kraker will report that they don’t often lead to jobs.

  • Robert Moffitt

    North Dakota seems to be opening a ‘big old can of worms with that amendment.

    Can anyone supply a single concrete example of someone’s “religious liberty” being “burdened” by government in the state of North Dakota?

  • Bob Collins

    Would this amendment prevent an amendment banning Sharia Law. :*)

  • Disco

    Having been bullied in middle school, I can tell you definitively that it’s up to the teachers and administrators to deal with it. Luckily my school had people who would do so if brought to their attention. I have to give them credit.

    But in this case, there should be an investigation. If the administrators/principals/whatever knew what was going on, they should be fired. Immediately and publicly reprimanded and fired. If school admin are unwilling or unable to handle bullying, they need to find another line of work. It’s that simple.

    There has been a lot of attention given to bullying in the media lately. Obviously that does no good if the adults at the school aren’t doing their jobs. Bullying “awareness” is worthless. Making laws about bullying is worthless — physical or verbal abuse and/or harassment is already illegal.