The week in comments: Council candidate profile bias, downtown cameras and hate crime sentencing

Sunday, March 14, 2010 | 8:35 p.m. CDT; updated 11:20 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

*CORRECTION: The comment was made by Ray Shapiro. An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled his name.

Every week, readers of offer their opinions on the news and the Missourian's coverage of it. Here, we offer you a digest of some of the conversations we found most interesting. Click any of the links to join in.

City Council candidate Kespohl's passions include faith, baseball

Comments: 8  / Commenters: 8

This profile piece on Gary Kespohl, candidate for the Third Ward seat on the Columbia City Council, outlines Kespohl's life, focusing mainly on his experiences in the community.

Missourian readers commented on the difference between the piece on Kespohl and the profile written on Karl Skala, his opponent. Hank Ottinger commented that in the Skala profile, "the reporter included both praise and criticism; in the Kespohl article, all is sweetness and light." Dan Goldstein expressed similar sentiments, stating, "I too am concerned about the strange imbalance in the two articles about Mr. Skala and Mr. Kespohl."

The reporter, Anne Christnovich, responded to the concerns of bias reporting with a blog post.

Mayoral candidates discuss housing and downtown cameras at student forum

Comments: 4  / Commenters: 4

The article describes a forum on MU campus Wednesday night. Around 25 students attended and listened to views of mayoral candidates on different issues, including downtown surveillance cameras. The candidates were split on the issue of cameras.

Comments about the article indicate that readers are also split on the issue. A debate ensued between commenters on what the right decision is for the camera issue. Dale Jones was one proponent of cameras being installed. As evidence, he stated that a TV program he watched said that "L.A. has camera's everywhere and it was a big help in helping preventing and stopping crime."  Jones also said that "we need change now with new city council members."

Ray Shapiro* spoke on the side of opposition to cameras calling "Vote Yes on Prop 1" signs false advertising. He also said Chief Burton was going for the "sympathy/fear tactic vote for city-paid cameras which CPD will be restricted from using in any real hot-spots that may pop- up beyond 'the District's' perimeter."

TODAY'S QUESTION: How should the students be punished for cotton ball incident?

Comments: 3  / Commenters:3

In the question posed before the readers, it was asked "What is the proper punishment for the students who apologized for the cotton ball incident?" The question was raised because the charge could be anything from a misdemeanor to a felony hate crime.

Reader responses were unanimous in that the two men charged should not be charged with a hate crime. Mark Johnson said, "They should have to pick up the cotton balls and be given a small fine for littering." Gary Miller agreed that the two men should not be charged with a hate crime. "Racist thoughts, speech, etc. are not a hate crime. You do not have a right to not be offended or insulted because of your race," he said. Gregg Bush said that the community "should neither cast them away as unredeemable nor excuse them as pranksters. There is a middle ground. And that middle should be rooted in fairness, equity and justice - and the policies of both the university and the city."

2 MU Students arrested in cotton ball incident

Comments: 18  / Commenters: 16

Sean D. Fitzgerald, 19, and Zachary E. Tucker, 21, were arrested on suspicion of second-degree tampering for their role in spreading cotton balls on athe Black Culture Center. Police are pursuing the charge as a hate crime which would make it a felony.

Readers were very divisive on the issue. The main issues of contention were the use of the word "colored" and whether the two men deserved to be charged with a hate crime over the incident. Anna Perez said, "Hate crime legislation is a violation of the first amendment and basically tries to make certain thoughts illegal. If you murder someone, chances are you hate them, who cares why you hate them." Ted Roberts added, "To charge these two with a 'hate crime' and turn this minor incident into a felony is a joke." Robert Reilly commented on a previous comment about the use of "colored" saying "The National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People. No offense intended but this is the name of the organization chosen by this group."

RJ Perry said "Charge them with misconduct or Stupidity. Not a hate crime." Ken Weaver agreed, saying "It's a bunch of cotton balls. On the ground. It's a prank." David Mann commented not on the incident itself, but rather race relations. He advocated segregation. "Blacks SHOULD be among themselves and develop their own communities and schools without the rest of us interfering," he said.

'48 Hours Mystery' to feature Joshua Kezer case

Comments:  3 / Commenters:3

After spending more than 16 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, Joshua Kezer is a free man living in Columbia. The show '48 Hours Mystery' did a second piece on his case, which aired this weekend. Readers commented on the behavior of the prosecutor of the original trial, Kenny Hulshof.

Bill Ferguson said "Mr. Hulshof betrayed the public trust and should be charged for his criminal behavior and given a trial." Ferguson pointed out that while Kezer was in prison, Hulshof served 6 terms in Washington.

Marvin Saunders agreed with Ferguson, saying Hulshof's actions were criminal and "he needs to be put out of all government jobs plus lose his lawyer's license." Dale Jones compared the Kezer case to the current Ryan Ferguson case.

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Ray Shapiro March 15, 2010 | 9:30 a.m.

I don't know who Ray Shaprio is, but I noticed that Ray Shapiro did not say that Chief Burton was seeking any "sympathy/fear" tactic vote for the downtown cameras.
Read it here for yourself:
ray shapiro March 11, 2010 | 4:23 p.m.
("...a mom who had a son attacked in an enclosed city parking lot goes for the sympathy/fear tactic vote for city-paid cameras which CPD will be restricted from using in any real hot-spots that may pop-up beyond "the District's" perimeter.")
If the Missourian is going to misquote its commenters, maybe they should also rescind their policy of requiring commenters to use their actual names?
I also wonder if a misquote could be the result of input from people in power.
Are you guys trying to send me some kind of message?
All you have to do is ask. You know who I am and where I live.
Funny this should happen while Jake Sherlock is not around to protect the integrity of this site.
Thanks, fellows.

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