Readers Write: Abortion law, Section 230 and the internet, economic dysfunction

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Review Editor’s Note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters readers online and in print every day. To contribute, click here.


An author of the May 13 letter said that “the dependency of a fetus is unique, since only pregnant women can ‘care for it'”.

I say to states that make it difficult, if not impossible, for women to have the right to choose: why not spread the concept of “saving a life” to both genders? There could be a law that all men from puberty to 55 would by law be required to register as a “living organ donor” if it meant saving a life. The law would state that if a man left the state to avoid the donation, he could be prosecuted. Also, if the person needing the organ ends up dying because of this choice, they could be charged with murder. On top of all that, private citizens could be delegated to bring civil suits against anyone who helped a man evade his responsibility to save a life.

Barbara Mosman, New Brighton


I’m going to throw my hat in the ring when it comes to abortions. Why not? What I am going to share with you is simply my opinion on the beginning of life. I offer no facts or certainties, and in this respect I am like all the other people whose articles you have read in this newspaper. The truth is, no one really knows when a growing fetus can be considered a human. It is unknowable, just as the existence of God is unknowable. If it was knowable, we wouldn’t be involved in these endless, bitter discussions for all these years.

My argument is simple: because we cannot know, let alone agree, on the beginning of life, the power to decide this question should be vested in the woman in whose womb resides the fetus. She is the one who will have to live with the consequences of her choice for the rest of her life. The criterion by which the choice she makes does not lie outside of herself in the speculation of others (or man-made laws) about the beginning of life, but rather in her journey to the depths. of his heart and soul and to know that still, silent voice within. . It is from this place that she can make her informed decision knowing that she has done everything she humanly could do to make the best decision possible.

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PS As a man, I can only imagine how difficult and agonizing a decision about pregnancy can be. Perhaps we should all show a little more empathy, kindness and understanding towards a woman in this most difficult situation and a little less commitment to our position on abortion. Just a suggestion.

John Cordes, Golden Valley


To expand on the well-done May 9 editorial “The ‘oops’ that made the internet”, I have seen much confusion in recent years as to the true purpose and meaning of Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act 1996 It is sometimes called the 26 words that made the internet.

This confusion is more pronounced among those who advocate the repeal of section 230. They forget the purpose of this law. This was to define similar websites and platforms as carriers or distributors rather than publishers. An operator is like the telephone company which is not responsible for what subscribers say or send on its networks. A publisher is like the Star Tribune, which is responsible for much of its content, since it chooses what it publishes. An early computer news service, Prodigy, was held liable for the content it disseminated because it exercised some editorial control over its subscribers’ posts. Another, CompuServe, has not moderated its content and has never been sanctioned by a court.

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To alleviate this confusion and create the best environment for future creativity, Section 230 was passed (nearly unanimously). But we weren’t anticipating Facebook in 1996. Facebook blended individual websites, blogs, and affinity groups into one simple platform for anyone new to the Internet. The real game-changer came when he delivered news to subscribers, later developing algorithms that fed increasingly targeted stories to each subscriber based on that subscriber’s stated and implied preferences and interests.

The complete repeal of Section 230 could turn all Internet content platforms into publishers, or would certainly create immense legal confusion. If Donald Trump and his gangs think they’ve been smothered right now, wait until Facebook and Twitter are forced to exercise full editorial control over their posts.

The key problem is that Facebook is the consummate capitalist, gearing its News Feed algorithms to give you exactly what it thinks you choose to see. The goal is to keep you glued to Facebook, thereby increasing ad revenue. Twitter will provide you with what you choose to follow. One could argue that this problem wouldn’t really exist if people were less gullible, more discerning in their reading, and more adept at checking before believing. But this has been a problem throughout history.

American Amy Klobuchar wants Facebook to be responsible for its newsfeed algorithms so they don’t spread evil stuff. Good luck with that. Facebook engineers barely properly understand their own “artificial intelligence” software for what it is. Who will determine if they are doing a good enough job? The courts, of course, which are the most deficient in this area.

The inability to discern truth from lies and the culture of grievance that so many people harbor today has enough causes to fill a book. I think trying to fix section 230 is like legislating morality. You need citizens to do their part here.

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Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis

The author is a former supercomputer designer and director of Internet services.


Too bad that three articles related to May 11 were not presented together. The underlying theme is about the dysfunction of our economy and the aggregation of wealth into the pockets of the few at the expense of the many.

In the Business section, it was reported that David Wichmann, the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, received $142.2 million in compensation last year. And that after earning just $94.2 million in the previous two years. Health care is getting more and more expensive for less and less coverage, and why? The rich get richer, and we workers pay for it, in the hope that “insurance” will cover astronomical costs if we get sick.

On the editorial page, a reprint from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board lamented the higher rate of inflation, suggesting it caused people to stop working because their purchasing power has declined. Companies cannot be expected to pay more in wages; they have to save their funds to ensure that senior executives earn enough to motivate them to lead.

Finally, our two illustrious dominant parties are rushing to restore corporate research and development tax credits for needy businesses. Because, as Adam Smith said, the magic of markets only works when corporate welfare is practiced. Can you imagine if companies reinvested their profits into R&D because that’s how capitalism works instead of giving multi-million payouts to former executives?

No, Republicans and Democrats want to offer tax cuts to make sure the rich get their share, and our share too.

What about the middle class? Who?

Paul Scott, Bloomington

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