Thumbs Up and Down - Views by the Echo Press March 9
A hateful backlash
Thumbs Down: What happened to respectful debate and human decency? They both went out the window in the backlash against State Representative Mary Franson, R-Alexandria last weekend. In a video she posted about her weekly work at the Legislature, Franson talked about a range of issues and then touched on the topic of welfare. She read an e-mail that was forwarded to her that compared giving food stamps to feeding park animals. The point she tried to make was that some people can become so dependent on government assistance that they don’t even try to find a job. It’s understandable that the comparison drew heat – it came across as insensitive and failed to recognize the fact that the welfare program, while not perfect, has helped many people get back on their feet. The video should have sparked a constructive discussion about welfare reform – what works, what doesn’t. Instead, Franson was hit with a barrage of hate-filled personal insults and threats that were e-mailed and tweeted to her, most of them anonymously, of course. One twisted individual went as far as saying he’d use explosive devices to blow up Franson and every female member of her family. Politicians should be expected to take some heat. They’re certainly not going to please everyone with their votes or positions. People need to concentrate on the issues – not the individual – and they should certainly not threaten, demean or use the kind of malicious language that was directed at Franson. When some people sit at their computers, they put on a cowardly mask of anonymity, thinking they can say anything, no matter how vile or hate-filled, because it’s their “free speech” right. But free speech has limits, especially when it comes to threats of violence. Those who attacked Franson in that way not only showed cowardice, shallow-mindedness and unrestrained hate, they broke the law. They should be punished.
An awe inspiring event
Thumbs Up: Red and Leona Schneider of Alexandria were very impressed with the Living Stations of the Cross presented at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. “Hats off to Joe Korkowski for his excellent performance in his portrayal of Jesus and to the rest of the cast who performed Sunday evening,” the Schneiders said in an e-mail to the newspaper. “It was an awe inspiring performance that brought tears to our eyes and chillls down our spines. Thanks to all who helped put this on, the music, the lighting, the camera, etc. Kudos to all.”
10 people’s loss is many people’s gain
Thumbs Up: A group of 10 members at Snap Fitness in Alexandria hit upon a way to get in better shape and help a good cause at the same time. They organized a weight loss challenge, agreeing to donate $1 to the Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf for every pound they lost. From January 1 through February 29, the group lost a total of 184 pounds. Rick Jones, owner of Snap Fitness doubled the group’s donation, increasing the total amount raised to $552. It was a neat idea – a challenge that other groups should consider taking on.
Newspapers in the classroom
Thumbs Up: At the risk of tooting our own horn, we’re very impressed with how Tim Urness is using the Echo Press as a learning tool for his 5th grade class at Carlos Elementary School. He’s a supporter of the Newspapers in Education (NIE) program, which provides free newspapers for classrooms. Each week, he compiles worksheets based on content in the Echo Press and the students partner up to answer a variety of questions. The February 29 issue, for instance, generated questions about how much money was raised for Special Olympics at the Polar Plunge, why students gathered at Lake Community Church, what Cullen’s Home Center was advertising and two things a local woman enjoyed doing, based on information in her obituary. The students were also encouraged to get creative by coming up with their own captions for a photo and determining which advertisement had a photo that resembled their teacher. Urness likes the interaction the NIE program has sparked among his students. “It has been fun seeing them aware of the current events and what is taking place in their world,” he said. Schools that are interested in the NIE program may contact Lynn Mounsdon at the Echo Press, (320) 763-3133.
Making their own lane
Thumbs Down: We’ve been seeing it too many times – impatient drivers getting around left-turning vehicles ahead of them by using the shoulder of the road. County Road 22 west of Alexandria is prone to this kind of illegal tactic. Drivers who do it run the risk of hitting a bicyclist or a pedestrian or getting hit themselves because they’re in a blind spot. Wait two seconds until the driver ahead completes the turn. Those few seconds saved aren’t worth it.