I usually leave the fisking of Nick Coleman, Doug Grow and the other StarTribune columnists to others. One reason is that I usually ignore their columns as part of my own “quality of life” commitment. A second reason is that I try to use outrage in modest doses as leavening in this blog rather than as a main course. And a third big reason, of course is that, as the Night Writer, by the time I’ve sat down at my computer to blog in the evening these columns have already been fisked to within an inch of their lives by others in the MOB so I turn to other topics.
Earlier this a.m., however, I grabbed a section of yesterday’s Strib to catch the debris as I trimmed my beard. It turned out to be the Metro section – or what they now call “twin cities + region”. Avid reader that I am, I found myself reading through the section before completing my grooming, which certainly made it easier to trim my hackles.
Mr. Coleman had a follow-up on the 11-year-old girl who died mysteriously last week; Mr. Grow was offering a tribute to a strip club doorman who died young. There was also a short AP article about a woman who just finished a 154-mile walk to the state capital to deliver petitions demanding a constitutional amendment requiring affordable health care. Oh, and there was an article about bars in Minneapolis trying to figure out how to hold onto what’s left of their smoking clientele in Minneapolis after the onset of the bar-smoking bans and winter.
Individually, each article had more than enough to get Mitch, Foot, Marcus and some others salivating. Taken as a whole, however, there was a certain ironic pattern that caused me to alter my pre-breakfast routine. Can you detect it?
Apparently, Coleman received emails from readers after the first column criticizing his take; he dismissed these as the smug rationalizations of the insulated self-righteous, and offers this response (my additional commentary in parentheses):
“I don’t see how anyone (other than a paid columnist) gets off making judgments from a distance of anyone else’s parenting skills (or motivations).”
He also asks “whatever happened to ‘there but for the grace of God, go I’?” Well, as for my family and I, we are grateful for God’s grace, but especially for his word which, applied in our lives, has helped us avoid these kinds of circumstances. We have also freely (and hopefully, not too judgmentally) tried to help others who have sought our help to get these same benefits in the same way we have.
Which is why there’s a certain heart-warming but wistful appreciation for Grow’s column about Lucky, a young and friendly man who elevated himself from a more desperate life through the opportunity to work, even if his latest job was as a doorman at what I call an ungentlemanly club. I personally know several redemptive stories such as Lucky’s and I don’t begrudge Grow’s account (it was a good gig for Charles Dickens, too). I do object to his sanctimonious sniffing that others didn’t see what a great guy Lucky was because they looked down their noses at what he did:
“Get judgmental about places such as the Seville if you choose. Many people do.
“It seems like so many people want somebody to be the bad guy so they can be superior,” said Page, who is a dancer at the Seville and asked that her real name not be used. “Who’s easier to be judgmental about than us?”
It’s okay to be judgmental as long as you’re judgmental about the right things, or kinds of people, I suppose. Imagine “Page’s” comment above word for word, but attribute it to “Bubba, who is a conservative in Minneapolis and asked that his real name not be used.” Ok, I might be stretching things a bit; I judge that there might be more strippers in Minneapolis than conservatives, based on the candidates that get to contend for office there.
Naturally several of these candidates get elected, such as state senator Linda Berglin (DFL-Minneapolis) who said she would enter a bill promoting a constitutional amendment for affordable healthcare that was described in another article in that section of Sunday’s paper. This blog is already running too long for the amount of time that I have, so I will simply point out that if history and experience were to be the judge, such a proposal will do little to bring down the true costs of healthcare, but will contribute greatly to an increase in poor people (perhaps a subject for a future blog-post).
The point of this post is that here are three articles that don’t just point a finger — they also take the other index finger, position it perpendicular over the first and then move the second finger forward and back repeatedly. Let’s see, I did mention a fourth story, didn’t I? Oh yes, the story about the bars and smokers trying to prepare for the winter. I don’t go to a lot of bars, and I’ve never smoked, but I do think personal liberties are important and that the marketplace is efficient. Certainly the plight of these small business-owners and their customers as they struggle against an unjust law will arouse the sensibilities of Mssrs. Coleman and Grow who will then shame us as for looking down our noses at these people just because they smoke or own a business. I mean, I know I must have read that somewhere in the article in order to lump this story with the others. Strange, I can’t seem to find it now.
I do, however, see this parting shot from Coleman in his column:
“Enjoy the warm sense of satisfaction while you can, people. It’s getting harder and harder to feel superior.”
Well, maybe for some of us.