An older woman who sat across from me at church coffee made comments that indicated a new edition of "Northstar" was out. I felt sorry for her having this foisted on her.
The irreverence of a college campus can be fine to an extent. You have to understand it. Many people who have not attended college might be puzzled or disturbed at some of this. I attended college and I'm disturbed anyway.
I would not be writing about the Northstar if it were not included with the Morris community newspaper. It happened once and I thought it would be the last time. I assumed it would be. I pretty much stopped thinking about it. Then I conversed with that friend at church.
There is a very simple solution if you are offended by the "Northstar." Stop buying the Morris newspaper.
"Senior Perspective" is free, as is that "Morris Area Merchant" publication of Heather Storck. Why are we still expected to pony up for the Morris newspaper, which seems to be more ads than anything? The Northstar was in with that ad pile on Saturday.
The Northstar is an extension of the "Counterweight" which was established by conservative-learning students on the UMM campus. Give conservatives their way and UMM might not even exist.
But these are not reasonable and rational conservatives. Even Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC says "conservatives play an important role in our political process." Conservatives like Joe Scarborough are the reasonable template.
Richard Nixon attracted conservative votes even though he hardly seemed motivated by conservatism at all. He was motivated by power.
The Northstar reflects the extreme conservative wing of today. It echoes Mark Levin. When you combine this political stance with the immature and impulsive nature of college students, you get "Northstar." It's pseudo-ideological masturbation. Which we could dismiss if it did not have UMM's imprimatur to a degree, as it's supported by student fees.
As you page through this thing, it's obvious that in many instances these students are just fooling around. They are doing silly things just to be disruptive and to get attention. Such traits aren't surprising with college students. Their behavior wouldn't even be an issue with me if it existed online.
If these students engaged in this online and with no connection as an institution, it would be a curiosity, one easy to ignore.
I went to campus Monday night looking to get my own copy and couldn't even find one. This was two days after it had been sent all around with the Morris newspaper. I'm sure the Morris newspaper's circulation has gone down over the last few years, but it's still an appreciable number.
Not being able to find the Northstar on campus, I'm left to wonder: Did the campus finally prohibit it? I'm just guessing. I'm a little hesitant visiting the campus because community people can get in trouble just being there.
I remember being offended by the "rat pack" behavior of some of the students at UMM basketball games. I hate to admit this but I haven't been to a game for the last seven years. Is the atmosphere at Cougar games now more civilized? I used to see Chuck Grussing (Campus Security) standing there and wonder why he didn't do something about it.
Why the enabling? I'm left to conclude that UMM is so thankful having all of its students - the students are the "customers" - that UMM indulges them. Perhaps this theory can now be weaved in with why "Northstar" continues to exist. Mind you, there is nothing to keep it from existing, as it could be an online entity that could build its own following. What's offensive is that it has the "in your face" quality of the print media, so, many people who wouldn't be interested, like that woman at church coffee, are forced to see it.
One solution may be unavoidable here: UMM may choose to not put its imprimatur in any way, shape or form, on any print publication on campus. You know, a "dead tree" publication.
Sad, unnecessary image
I have in front of me now a copy of "Northstar" that includes a photo of a dead Trayvon Martin. It's a close-up of the face. Once I'm done writing this, I'll discard this copy immediately, get it off our property. I won't even toss it on the recycling pile because it would be there a few days. I want it destroyed.
If the University of Minnesota-Morris seeks to rationalize, in any way, shape or form, that "Northstar" serves some sort of purpose, however fringe, I will think twice about having our family ever again make a financial contribution to the institution.
These kids are just sitting there thinking of the most outrageous things they can do, to get attention and ruffle feathers.
On page 4 there appears to be an advertisement for the Old No. 1 Bar and Grill. Please talk to the establishment's owner about that. "Northstar" is hurting the reputation of UMM in the Morris area and maybe even beyond.
Is the Morris Sun Tribune, which is owned out of Fargo, getting paid for including and disseminating this? Where is the money coming from? Sheldon Adelson? Maybe the Morris newspaper, which I suspect is given revenue targets for each quarter, is so desperate to meet those goals, it puts good judgment aside for the $. A locally-owned "mom and pop" newspaper could show the good judgment not to do that. Money greases the skids nowadays.
The extreme wing of the Republican Party might be endangering our two-party system. The Democratic Party has gained power in Minnesota, perhaps because of the perception of the Republicans having gone too "wacko," too tea party-ish.
Extreme conservatism is nothing new in our society. I remember visiting the Crow Wing County Fair and seeing a booth just full of papers and pamphlets presenting this. But it was marginalized then. It was cute.
Maybe because of the electronic media, adherents to this are able to network and gain a much greater foothold than before. The electronic media have been very good to conservatives.
But what kind of conservatism is most welcome? Joe Scarborough's or Mark Levin's?
The "satire" crutch
"Northstar" states that some of its content - it's not clear how much - might be viewed as satire. But the most offensive article in this issue includes a statement that it is not to be viewed as satire.
Real satire doesn't need to be labeled. "Northstar" talks about satire as a "CYA" mechanism. "If you see something here that offends you, keep in mind that. . .well, I don't know, we're just getting some thrills."
The article with the "rampant systemic racism at Morris" headline seems like drug-induced rambling. It includes real names of real people.
For this publication to be distributed out in the community is an abomination. Surely some responsible people should be out there, intervening in this, suggesting to these silly kids they should just go online.
Maybe this whole episode is just part of the death throes of the print media. If so, I'm not shedding any tears. Let's just get on with it.
Northstar tries to get itself some "cover" by devoting the last page to a memorial to Jeffrey Kirkwold. Wonderful. Well, I'm not fooled by that.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org