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My heart aches for the Hurleys of Blue Earth, Minn. — if they are still in Blue Earth ("In wake of beating, family decides to pack up and leave," Jan. 28). What happened to the Hurleys — that is, bullying experienced by their family in the wake of a brutal attack on their son — could happen anywhere and ought to happen nowhere. The people of Blue Earth need to take a hard look at themselves and do some soul-searching. Shame on this toxic town. Where is the humanity? To paraphrase attorney Joseph Welch, have the townspeople no sense of decency?

Elissa Mautner, Minneapolis

• • •

I used to live in Blue Earth, and at the time it was a pretty peaceful community. Apparently, things have changed. Supporting your kids when they are wronged is right. Supporting them when they are wrong is reprehensible.

The perpetrator's mother referenced in the article — and in fact, the whole town that remains silent — should be ashamed. It is they who should be leaving town with their collective tails between their legs.

Bill Wehrmacher, Prior Lake

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"A few kids who made wrong choices" — I'd say it's so much more than that. Why in the world would the members of a high school football team beat one of their own into unconsciousness, and actually film it as it took place? Why? What did the kid do wrong? What would prompt them to do such a thing? And what about the parents of the assailants complaining that their sons were being treated too harshly? What if the tables were turned, and it was one of their sons who was beaten and mocked? How would they react then?

Teammates are supposed to have each other's backs and support one another. Basic moral values and human decency were lost to these young men. I wonder what kind of adults they will become. I wonder if they will have learned anything from the outcome of their vicious, depraved actions. Why did they do it? Look at all the lives that have been hurt because of their "wrong choices." Young people need to know there are consequences and responsibility that come along with actions.

Judith Lyzenga, Bloomington

RONALD REAGAN'S RANCH

Now a place for learning — but what message is being taught?

I was troubled by the Jan. 28 article "Reagan's ranch nurtures young Republicans." The article describes bringing teenagers to President Ronald Reagan's former ranch "hoping to summon Reagan's spirit." In addition to young people spending time understanding true conservative ideals, learning how to speak about capitalism and standing up for their beliefs, the article also describes helping these young people develop "a more unyielding, confrontational approach" (emphasis added).

Is this really what our public discourse needs right now — how to be more unyielding and confrontational? Don't we have enough partisan confrontation on display every day? Our country is being torn apart by confrontation and outrage, which makes it more unlikely to find common ground on anything. How about teaching our young people skills that might enable them to understand someone's point of view and be able to disagree without being confrontational? Ronald Reagan could certainly be confrontational if necessary, but he also learned that if he were to accomplish anything in a democracy, he would have to collaborate and find common ground. This seems more in tune with summoning Reagan's spirit.

Mike Reeves, Lake Elmo

CONSERVATION

Goal: Solve farmland problems

without undue regulation

Bonnie Blodgett's Jan. 28 commentary "From a right-leaning think tank, hope for better farm policy" resonated with me. As a township planning commissioner in a farming community in south-central Minnesota near Northfield, I am constantly engaging with politicians, asking them to give me the data and tools to help create locally driven solutions to farm preservation. As a Republican, I point to the same conservationist roots as the article. I note that there is no denying that there is problem; it is up to us free-market types to show how to solve this problem without just bringing to bear the full power and burden of a regulatory state. It is the solution methods that distinguish me from my Democratic peers, not the problems we see.

As noted in the commentary, national organizations that speak to the conservative mind are becoming more emboldened now that regulatory approaches are being turned back. Places like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute see the decreasing regulatory power in Washington as an opportunity to show how to address tragedies of the commons using the more market-oriented solutions preferred by conservatives. Farmland preservation is just one example of such a tragedy, climate change represents another. As chair of the Conservative Caucus in the Citizens' Climate Lobby (a national organization working for climate solutions through market forces), I sometimes open my conversations with Republican politicians by talking through the tragedies of the commons found in farmland preservation. Once I have focused their attention on using market-based solutions to environmental issues, I bring up the possibility of using a border-adjusted, revenue-neutral carbon-fee-and-dividend as a nonregulatory way to address climate change. Since both problems are the sort that create powerful political incentives for regulations, I appeal to the principles-based reasoning that resists regulations by noting that the problems are real and the choice of solution methods is up to us.

Bruce W. Morlan, Northfield, Minn.

GARRISON KEILLOR

Don't come back until …

In the Jan. 28 article "Keillor plots his scandal comeback," we see an arrogant, narcissistic man more than willing to ignore his past transgressions. We should be flattered that Garrison Keillor isn't seeking a "public apology" from Minnesota Public Radio. In pursuit of fame and fortune, he moves directly to his reincarnation as if nothing happened — other than a pat on the back of a female writer. Apparently his misbehavior didn't end there, according to published reports.

Quite simply, he is tone-deaf to what has happened in the real world — suggesting he has lived too long in Lake Wobegon. The mere fact that MPR is even considering a negotiated return is a big risk. Keillor needs to relocate to his fictitious world and stay there.

Joseph Polunc, Cologne, Minn.

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If Mr. Keillor is looking to clear his name and to have his artistic contributions welcomed by the community, there are several paths he could take. All of them, however, begin with the same step: genuine remorse for the women he has hurt.

If his own version of events is different from theirs, does it occur to him to wonder why that is? Many of the women who have come forward in recent weeks and recent years with their experiences of abuse have been abused again by those who doubt and those who fail to understand. What would lead someone­ — and in his case, multiple individuals — to risk all that in making a public accusation?

Keillor wants to restore his writing career. An essay that explores his accusers' experiences with the goal of understanding them should be his first assignment.

Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis

BIG-BROTHER AMAZON

Loop us in, would ya?

News of Amazon's recently patented wristband that would allow the company to track an employee's location and every move (including in the restroom) begs a reaction from the world's most conspicuous retailer ("Amazon can 'stalk' its workers," Feb. 2). But no, in a twist of sweet irony, the retailer "could not immediately be reached for comment."

Paul Hager, Northfield