Tuesday, February 05, 2013


The Letter Jacket

Yesterday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a wonderful piece by my St. Thomas colleague, Lisa Schiltz. In it, she describes what sports have meant for her son with Down Syndrome:

Like every parent of a high school athlete, I know my son's sports activities are teaching him valuable lessons about teamwork and fitness. But because his disabilities make it hard for him to talk, I can only speculate about what he is thinking when he puts on that slight swagger that seems to come with his new letter jacket. Probably something like what most 17-year-old athletes think as they join the crowd of students wearing that same badge of belonging and accomplishment in the halls of Minnetonka High:

"Boy, am I looking cool today!"

In her Op-Ed, Lisa does something that is both hard and rare: She combines her own experience seamlessly with an argument on a policy debate. It is hard to do that without seeming self-centered or preachy (I have been guilty of both in some of my own writing), while still retaining a lived-out truth.

As with Jeanne Bishop's piece at CNN this past Sunday, though, I found some of the comments really disappointing. There is a mean-spiritedness to our discourse that confounds me. I suspect that the anonymity allowed by the internet has something to do with it; we tend to be more civil when our names and reputations are attached to what we say.

That said, I appreciate all the more the civility of people here on the Razor. It's remarkable that we can discuss hard topics without that edge of mean-spiritedness, and in large part it is that warm engagement that keeps me doing this.

A few years ago I was posting anonymously--not because I wanted to hide my identity or anything, I was just new to The Razor and too lazy to get a Google ID...plus lots of people were doin' it--on Political Mayhem Thursday (I think the topic was immigration or something) and I got a little carried away with sarcasm. This was back in the day when Lane (to whom my snark was directed) and RRL used to engage in epic weekly clashes. If Lane knew me he would not have been offended, but he gave what a wrote a perfectly fair reading appropriately called me out for my impropriety. I apologized. It was a good lesson about the disrespect that sometimes adheres to anonymity and one that I have always appreciated about the Razor.
I miss Lane (sad panda face)
What a great story, that of your colleague and her son and like them so many others. I often wondered how political correctness got to become such an ugly word when at its very core it was meant to open up or to protect. Perhaps somewhere down the line it got misused or misunderstood or both, by those in charge of making sure everybody had a fair chance or was protected in a fair way.
CTL and RRL: I miss Lane, too. Those discussions were lively and fun. Where did he go?
Lane applied for jobs where his comments might have been misconstrued... so he dropped from sight.
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