The week in comments: Offending Buffalo, gas prices, K2 and marijuana laws

Sunday, March 21, 2010 | 7:24 p.m. CDT; updated 11:21 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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The Missourian article "Ten things you didn't know about Buffalo" drew a large number of first-time commenters.

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.

COMMENTARY: Ten things you didn't know about Buffalo

Comments: 78/ Commenters: 47

On Friday, Missourian reporter Alex Ruppenthal wrote a commentary piece about 10 things you might not know about Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo was the host city for Missouri's men's basketball first and second round games of the NCAA tournament.

Reader response was overwhelmingly negative toward Ruppenthal, his editors and the Missourian itself. Many readers – often from Buffalo – felt slighted by the critical writing about their city and responded in kind. Nick Cummings said, "Did you forget you're from Missouri? Good effort, but when your the fattest kid in school, it makes no sense to tease the other fat kids." Other commenters criticized Ruppenthal as a writer. Peggy Marion said, "Welcome to reporting, newbie. Hopefully practice and maturity will make you better at your craft."

After a considerable amount of criticism had been levied against Ruppenthal, his beat editor Greg Bowers entered the discussion. He said, "The commentary '10 things you didn’t know about Buffalo' was intended to introduce our readers to things they might not know about Buffalo and tell some jokes while we did it." Not swayed, reader David Gadzo responded, "This article is simply amazing how terrible the writer is, and how ignorant the editor is for saying it's a great idea." After more insults were lobbed at the Missourian, reader John McCall demanded "a formal apology from you, the author of the article, and the editor in charge of this newspaper." Executive editor Tom Warhover apologized in a comment and also by adding a new opening paragraph that denounced the article and said "I apologize to readers, regardless of whether they took offense."

Columbia Chamber of Commerce endorsements cloaked in secrecy

Comments: 11 / Commenters: 6

This article reports on recent endorsements made by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce behind closed doors.

Reader Hank Ottinger wrote "I’d think that the members of any Chamber of Commerce would be aware that the nation is still stuck in a deep recession and that Columbia, a town doing better than many, needs informed and experienced leaders on its council, not amateurs beholden to members of an organization who appear too embarrassed to identify themselves."

Not all readers shared the sentiment that something was wrong with the Chamber's actions and criticized the Missourian for being one-sided. Dale Jones said "The Missourian chose to go big time because of one person who didn't like the process. ... The Missourian needs to be totally objective on the whole situation."

COLUMN: Academy Awards give hope for quality films

Comments: 6 / Commenters: 5

J. Karl Miller expressed his positive feelings about several of this year's Oscar winners, including the "Hurt Locker" for Best Film, Sandra Bullock for Best Actress for "The Blind Side" and Jeff Bridges for best Actor for "Crazy Heart. He explained his disappointment in the Academy Awards of the recent past, as he thinks the Academy has been out of touch with the public. However, he thinks the 2010 Oscars offer hope for the future of the movie industry.

Linda Ferris disagreed with Miller's praise of the "Hurt Locker" saying she is not interested in movies that showcase war and calling Miller a "war-loving Marine." Miller responded, refuting the label and calling it a stereotype. Miller explained that having been a firsthand witness of combat made him hate war, and those who hate war most are the ones who have seen it firsthand. Don Milsop shared Miller's sentiments.

Hank Ottinger disagreed with Miller's statement that films are out of touch with the public. He thinks films give audiences what they want, but what audiences want is different from audiences of the past. He wrote audiences like car chases, sound, special effects, explosions and gunfire.

House votes against legalizing medical marijuana

Comments: 7 / Commenters: 5

An amendment to legalize medical marijuana was brought up during a debate about synthetic marijuana, or K2, was voted down. The bill to criminalize K2 received first-round approval.

Johnny Green said that marijuana use itself is not that bad, it's the marijuana laws that are the problem.

Mark Pedersen disagreed with Rep. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, who is quoted in the article expressing skepticism about how many patients would use the drug for medical purposes and cited YouTube as evidence. Pedersen did not agree that a single YouTube video was sufficient evidence that medical marijuana would not be used for medical purposes. Pedersen also expressed that he personally had conducted more than 150 interviews with chronically and terminally ill patients about the use of medical marijuana.

Gas prices predicted to rise

Comments: 5 / Commenters: 4

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted the average price of gas may exceed $3 per gallon by the spring and summer driving season. Although Missouri's gas prices are typically on the lower side of national averages, it will not be an exception to the latest rise in gas prices.

Mark Foecking commented that the increase in gas prices are a good change because America is not an oil-exporting nation and if we had a different style tax on gasoline, such as the European style, our current situation may not be as severe.

Derrick Fogle voiced his disapproval of speculating on the oil market and driving up fuel prices.

Jeffery Lebowski disagreed with Fogle, saying that is not how speculation works. "They predict price changes, not bid up price changes," Lebowski says.

Fogle remained loyal to his original post, saying the point is that corporate profits aren't being invested domestically, and trickle-down economics aren't effective.

Proposed state bill would ask women reasons for abortions

Comments: 4 / Commenters: 4

This news brief describes a proposed bill that would require doctors to ask women their reason for wanting an abortion. Women would not be required to answer.

Readers who commented on this story were in a general consensus of thinking the bill would be an invasion of privacy. Peggy King wrote "HIPAA is supposed to protect us from invasion of privacy, and you're trying to stick your nose back into it," saying that it is none of legislators' business. 

Mickie Ross said the days of men owning women as property is over, and "The only reason you would want this 'information' is to intimidate a woman, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU."

COLUMN: Time to rethink stance on marijuana, K2

Comments: 3 / Commenters: 3

This column, written by David Rosman, discusses legislation regarding the medical uses for marijuana and K2.

Reader Liz Mitchell applauds Rosman for his "enlightened stance" on the subject but goes further to point out some mistakes with his research findings. "Furthermore, many reputable studies in recent years have found cannabinoids to have anti-cancer properties in and of themselves." The other commenters voiced support for her post.

Springfield, Ill., serving as case study for Columbia's downtown cameras

Comments:3 / Commenters: 3

Springfield Ill., installed downtown cameras three years ago and has experienced a decrease in crime over the years. Because of its similarity in size and the fact that Springfield is home to two colleges, it could be a case study for Columbia.

The first comment by a reader was by Glenn Rice who wanted to know if the quoted price of $45,000 to $50,000 for the cameras was in total or per camera. The author of the article Victoria Guida responded saying "The cost is for all of the cameras. They paid less than we would pay for four cameras because their cameras are stationary, without pan-and-tilt capability." Ray Shapiro said Columbia leaders want cameras "because a mother's son was assaulted in an enclosed city-camera saturated parking lot."

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Peggy Marion March 21, 2010 | 10:13 p.m.

That's a pretty selective analysis of what happened on the Buffalo thread. The executive editor pretty well summed up what happened with the story and its very predictable aftermath when he said, "We screwed up." I've always been proud of Missouri's professionalism. It's pretty embarrassing when its editor make such a key error in judgment and then compounds the mistake with the initial flippant responses.

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