D.J. Tice’s Sept. 1 column (“Free speech? Or bigotry? Work it out in court”) raised some interesting points, and I can understand both the perspective of the Carl and Angel Larsen, who don’t want to film gay weddings, and that of anti-discrimination law. It was pointed out how anti-discrimination laws protect minority groups from not being served but how creative artists have more latitude because of freedom of speech and religious beliefs. David Stras, a former Minnesota Supreme Court justice and Trump appointee to the federal appellate bench in 2017, likened the question to requiring an ardent atheist singer “to perform at an evangelical church service.” While I disagree with the Larsens’ views, I’d like to think capitalism would answer the question on its own as people choose not to book them as wedding videographers. Likewise, if you don’t want to sing Psalms at an evangelical wedding, don’t be a wedding singer. (God tends to come up in many wedding ceremonies, however. I see a flaw in Stras’s analogy here.)
Atheists believe that once they’re dead, they’re dead. The end. Christians believe they will visit St. Peter at the pearly gates and review worthiness for entrance to heaven. Honestly, I’d much rather just be dead than have to answer for being an ignorant bigot during my time on Earth.
Brett Larson, St. Louis Park
• • •
The one important thing Tice conveniently forgets is that religion has been used to justify bigotry for hundreds of years. In my youth, in the 1950s and 1960s, pastors and politicians alike would say, “God did not intend for the races to mix,” and use that as a pretext for denying African-Americans the right to stay at a hotel or eat at a lunch counter. They were sincere in their beliefs, and they were also racist. The Larsens are saying, “God did not intend for people of the same sex to marry,” and while they, too, are sincere, refusing service to the GLBTQA community is bigotry. If we are to remain a secular nation, we will make people obey the law, regardless of their religious views, and the ultimate outcome of this case will decide whether or not the United States descends into theocracy.
Daniel Pinkerton, Minneapolis
• • •
The opinion pages always provide a smorgasbord of food for thought. Last Sunday, as Tice weighed in on the government’s attempts to limit corporate free speech, a letter writer had no problem with the government’s suppression of Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide abortion services.
As Tice recounts, in Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, a panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the government cannot bar a wedding video company’s conduct of discriminating against same-sex couples by impermissibly limiting that company’s freedom of speech. The opinion and the dissent are well-written and accessible. I found the reasoning to be, well, reasonable. Every citizen should read them to observe the process of drilling through hundreds of layers of common law sediment to manufacture gemstones of precedent, and to find out how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin.
Stras, for the majority, cites such precedent: “While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government.”
Yet, in Citizens United, the Supreme Court famously declared that money is speech. So, how can Planned Parenthood’s corporate use of some of its own money to provide abortion services not be classified as speech?
Apparently, if you accept government funds, that government may feel blithely free to interfere with your freedom of speech if that government disfavors your perfectly legal message.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD
What literature can do when other endeavors come up dry
Thank you, Bonnie Blodgett (“The great Scott,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 1) for helping me understand Sinclair Lewis’ “Main Street” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” better than I did years ago when I read them for superficial pleasure, not deeper literary and social/political significance. Makes me sometimes think I should have majored in literature instead of sociology. (A different way of thinking. Those soc statistics were always a stumbling block for me.)
Carol Cochran, Minneapolis
• • •
As an editor or author of several books about Fitzgerald, I enjoyed reading Blodgett’s commentary about St. Paul’s native son. However, like many others, Blodgett assumes that Malcolm Cowley’s 1953 observation about Fitzgerald’s writing is historical rather than metaphorical: “It was as if all his fiction described a big dance to which he had been taken, as he once wrote, the prettiest girl … and as if he stood at the same time outside the ballroom, a little Midwestern boy with his nose to the glass … .” In the case of the University Club, Scott was not an interloper, but a welcome guest. He met future Oscar-winner Donald Ogden Stewart at the club; his friend Benjamin Griggs remembered sleigh rides with Scott and Zelda that began at the club; and, yes, Scott served on a committee that organized the “Bad Luck Ball” at the University Club in January 1922 at which “The Daily Dirge” was distributed. He was not “on the periphery of high society”; in many cases, he was the eye of St. Paul’s high-society hurricane.
Scott’s maternal uncles were plumbers, but not his father, who was a well-dressed but down-on-his-luck soap salesman who married into a family that could afford to send Scott to the best private schools. (I have never heard of a “scholarship” that paid for Scott’s studies.) During the time Scott lived with his parents, they always employed one or two live-in servants. While not part of the ultrarich, his family was able to send him to summer camp in Canada, take him on vacation in Atlantic City and the Catskills, enroll him in dance lessons, and on and on.
Blodgett makes the mistake of assuming that only an outsider would skewer the wealthy with such ferocity. I argue that only an insider could do it with such skill. Scott’s sin was not that he was a millionaire resentful of billionaires. What could not be forgiven was that he did not fear them.
David Page, Hastings
The writer is author of “F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota: The Writer & His Friends at Home.”
Track type and caliber. You’ll find a lot of semi-automatic pistols.
The Sept 1 front-page article “Straw buyers fuel glut of guns in state” helps educate readers about a few of the shortcomings of our knowledge of gun violence in our state. Because federal legislation (The Dickey Amendment — limitation on research; bizarre restrictions on the use of ATF trace statistics; immunity for civil liability for gun manufacturers) effectively prevents us from knowing more and responding financially to the gun violence, articles like this help — a little.
Pistols (all of them now are semiautomatic handguns designed to kill humans quickly and efficiently) have the largest market share of death and injury in Minnesota and nationwide. I urge the Star Tribune to report the type and caliber of every gun mentioned in any story it runs going forward. It will find that 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistols are involved in a vast majority. Why? Because ATF statistics from the late 1980s to now show that manufacturers have ramped up their sales to civilians in the U.S. from a few hundred thousand per year to almost 5 million annually. It’s a great little gun. Polymer grip, lightweight. Average-size hands and average strength is all it takes to squeeze off a few rounds. They are fun little guns, but have huge killing power. That includes the 79% of gun deaths by suicide identified in the article.
Minnesotans have the right to own and keep pistols for self-defense, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in its Heller decision. I am not against that ruling. But I am tired of seeing these 9-millimeters used for suicide, crime and in accidents. In the U.S., toddlers younger than 4 shoot, injure and kill more people than adults do in some industrialized countries. Why are toddlers shooting other people? Because 9-millimeter pistols are so portable, light and easy to shoot and are laying around everywhere — even a toddler can do it.
And I am tired of paying for all of this with my tax dollars. Each 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol should be licensed and insured so that if it it ends up shooting someone in a crime or accidentally or in a suicide, I don’t have to pay.
Glen R. Bruhschwein, Dayton