5 x 8: Uncivil discourse civilly discussed


Aaron Rupar of City Pages, Bob Collins of MPR, Steve Seel of The Current,  Shayla Thiel-Stern of the University of Minnesota, and Julio Ojeda-Zapata from the Pioneer Press ponder a hard question from the audience at Monday's Policy and a Pint. (MPR Photo/Nate Ryan)

The Current has now posted the audio from Monday’s night’s Policy and a Pint at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis where we discussed whether the comments sections of news stories and web sites have any value.

I admit I was surprised by the number of people who said they don’t, considering that most of the audience appeared to be people most likely to have something intelligent and valuable to say.

After the event, I talked to several people who explained they’d never consider posting an online version of their very principled arguments they were using to explain why, and I still left somewhat confused why.

We probably spent too much time talking about trolls and not enough time talking about the sociology surrounding how we communicate with each other and why we’d attempt it differently online than we would, say, at a watering hole.


These are the stories that keep you out of the water. A brain-eating amoeba has killed another young person. Since 1962, National Geographic says, there has only been one survivor. The family of a 12-year-old girl hopes she’ll be the second.

A Stillwater girl died when she contracted the parasite while swimming in 2010. A 9-year-old boy died after swimming in Lily Lake last August.

National Geographic this week provided a list of what we know and don’t know about why this happens:

Millions of people swim in these bodies of water every year and don’t become ill. So it is difficult for us to say why one person would become ill and other people who swam in the same place and did the same activities did not. It certainly can affect anyone.

What is the chance of survival?

Since 1962, there have been 128 cases of Naegleria fowleri [infection] and only one survivor, not including the current case. Back in 1978, a patient survived after being treated with antibiotics. The same regimen has been tried unsuccessfully on other patients.


Attention bicyclists: You don’t have a right to ride in the center of the road. The Volokh Conspiracy details a Massachusetts case in which a man insisted riding near the centerline is safer than riding along the shoulder.

No, the Supreme Court said.


Ray Widstrand, the man beaten by alleged gang members on Saint Paul’s East side last week, opened an eye for the first time yesterday, according to his Caringbridge.org page. He’s been in a coma since the beating, which has finally focused more attention on a reality: the gangs are running the neighborhoods.

In his article today, the Pioneer Press’ Ruben Rosario calls out the city leadership and African-American leaders in the city:

“No question these hoodlums have been getting bigger and bolder and out of control in that area for over a year, blocking traffic, harassing people,” said the officer, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not permitted to speak publicly without advance approval from the department.

The cop also added that fellow colleagues working the East Side feel their hands are tied by police leadership they suspect is more concerned about community backlash if they aggressively enforce curfew and other quality-of-life laws.

“Look, recreation centers are fine and they may help, but these (gang members) don’t go to rec centers,” said the officer. “It’s not all law enforcement, but in this case right now, the hammer needs to come down on these people.”

He also noted a lack of outrage, particularly from the African-American community, over the recent beating, but more so the gang-related slaying of a 17-year-old youth by another last month in the same area. Both were black. The suspects in the Widstrand beating also belong to a predominantly black gang.


Yesterday was “Go to bat for brain injury” day at Target Field. So Andre Robinson, 6, threw out the first pitch. He was badly hurt when he was just 19 days old, according to KARE.

“He has had nine surgeries. We have been in the hospital 16 times,” said his mother.

Related: Paralympic rules under fire after paralyzed teen banned (CBC)

Bonus I:24 Reasons Matt Saracen Is Your Dream Boyfriend.

Bonus II:Dunkin Donuts coming to La Crosse area. Pay no attention to the comments, it’s news. Big news, people.

Bonus III:Chicago scoutmaster travels to Minnesota camp each summer at age 94.(Forum)


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Betty McCollum.

Second hour: Many recent events from Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman, to immigration reform discussion, to even pop culture TV. shows or films, challenge our own preconceived biases. While we might think we are open-minded in how we perceive and treat others, research shows that we may actually be predisposed to bias. But before we lose hope in ourselves, research is also showing that we can retrain our brains to recognize personal biases and rein it in.

Third hour: War reporters and photographers.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the Aspen Ideas Festival: Education reform. T Common Core curriculum. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and former superintendents John Deasy and Joel Klein.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – As deaths rise to more than 500, a look at next steps for Egypt, U.S.-Mideast relations.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak makes his final budget speech today, and it’s possible he’ll announce the first cut to the city’s tax levy in recent memory. Like St. Paul, Minneapolis benefited from DFL control at the state Capitol. It will get almost $12 million in new state aid next year. MPR’s Curtis Gilbert is covering the story today.