morris mn - We're a community on the grand, seemingly endless prairie of the Upper Midwest. Empty, you might say? It's the epitome of richness, both in the overall environment and the hardy souls who populate. Morris is home to the University of Minnesota-Morris, a small public liberal arts college of distinction.
History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).
Saturday, October 25, 2014
The Todd Hoffner matter, what it signals for parents
Todd Hoffner, coach at Minnesota State U-Mankato
(I wrote the following post for my "I Love Morris" site on August 29, 2012. This was when the charges vs. Todd Hoffner were "breaking news." The news was a signal to parents that common sense vigilance might not be enough. Beware "witch hunts." Hoffner has been cleared and is back to work at Mankato State, but residue of the process continues making news.)
What a tangled web we weave when we use video cameras.
Having something on film supposedly provides incontrovertible evidence. Except that it isn't that simple in many cases. People are having to explain things on video which in the past would never have seen the light of day. Like that guy using a strap to apply corporal punishment to his child in the back yard. A neighbor videotaped that over a fence. The strap represented a typical punishment that people my age - the boomers - can remember as being routine in our childhood.
We'd get plopped on a car seat without any special legally-mandated measures for "protecting" us. Somehow we got through all that.
It is fine to show vigilance in protecting the safety of children. But the measures can become onerous. The vast majority of boomers, I would guess, have a photo or two tucked away in an old album showing them without clothes on. Our parents wouldn't have worried for a second taking such photos. Just like they didn't hesitate much spanking us.
Parents were given a fair amount of space in which to show judgment.
Did some bad things happen? Yes I'm sure because we're human beings with human failings. We're told from the pulpit every week we're sinful. We strive to use laws to protect the interests of kids as much as possible. There's an old saying though that "the perfect is the enemy of the good."
It shouldn't be dangerous to have kids. The "old man" on "Pawn Stars" is joking when he says it's "scary" to have kids. But he's hinting at a kernel of truth. It's hard enough raising kids when you try to do everything right. A little lapse in judgment today, though, could cause your kids to be ripped away from you.
All these thoughts are prompted by that curious incident in Mankato, a nice mid-size city nestled in southern Minnesota. It's where Morris native Zach Witt went to play college football.
It's the football coach at Mankato State who is at the vortex of a tempest now. And it all came about because of "family videos" that may or may not turn out to be innocent. Which conclusion you reach thus far, appears to depend on what media report you're reading. One day I'll read a report suggesting the videos are innocent even if out of the mainstream. The next day, the subject appears pushed into more of a gray area.
I haven't read anything yet suggesting it's a slam-dunk for the prosecution. I should attach an asterisk. I'm puzzled by the use of "fondling" in the media reports. It's too vague a word to be used in a reliable news article. If the reporter can't get anything more specific from investigators regarding what is meant by the word, a sentence should be inserted saying so.
Right now I'm giving my benefit of the doubt to the accused party who is, or was, the Mavericks' coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato. It used to be "Mankato State University." And, not long before that, "Mankato State College."
I was a student at St. Cloud State University when it shifted from "college" to "university." I didn't notice any difference.
"Minnesota State" is confusing because both Mankato State and Moorhead State go by this. I remember Zach Witt playing quarterback for the Mavericks. I remember the sad pattern of Mankato losing more than their share of close, high-scoring games. The offense certainly shouldn't be faulted.
Zach was a lefty throwing the football. He's the oldest of the three athletically gifted Witt boys, sons of Jerry and Holly. I covered the Tigers when Jerry first became head coach here. Now he's a total graybeard with the wisdom one expects.
I'm sure Mankato State football is trying to regroup and focus now even with that sensational Todd Hoffner story in the background. I'm sure it's quite the story around the diners and coffeehouses in Mankato.
Hoffner is the coach whose family videos have caused a tempest because of legal charges. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky mess out east, and because of "mandatory reporting" obligations felt in most places now, there looms the possibility of a witch hunt.
Is the current Hoffner matter an unfortunate consequence of the witch hunt pattern? Or is it a legitimate matter where law enforcement needed to intervene - where something egregious was committed? Of course we don't know for certain yet. If I were to be pressed, I would say the videos were totally uninhibited, rather odd and fun episodes of kids unleashed - acting stupid, whatever. I'm not convinced of any sinister aspect.
I can guess what the teachers in parenting classes are going to start saying: "Don't photograph or videotape your children naked ever, no matter what."
Why do parents want to take such photos of the type I've alluded to in connection to the boomers? There's one of me lying on my tummy on a bed, smiling and with no clothes on. Maybe parents see a special kind of beauty in the human body. Artists see this too. Prurient interests needn't be a part.
The sensational stories as reported by the media perhaps cause us to fear the worst too much. We certainly need to pursue the worst cases of wrongdoing. But this must be done with extreme care because "jumping the gun" can ruin lives.
The investigators in Mankato had better be pretty sure of their suspicions. Actually I don't think they are. They'd probably just argue they're "doing things by the book." That's the danger: that legal obligations will trump caution, restraint and patience in the process of sorting things out.
Would anyone dispute the Hoffners' lives are scarred now?
Just as most boomers were photographed in the buff with not a thought of legal consequences, so too were they occasionally spanked. Yes it could be intense. But there weren't video cameras poking all over the place.
Harsh punishment was a tool of love to get kids straightened out. Its effectiveness might be debated. But our parents didn't fear getting called on by social services.
I remember when I was a kid and our family was at the Del Monico Cafe having supper, I begged them to let me leave the booth briefly to look at some item at the neighboring Messner Drug (Thrifty White Drug today). I was a quite young tyke. I was allowed to make the jaunt. The clerk in the store seemed uncomfortable about me being by myself. I told her my parents were right next door but finally she said: "I think you should go back and be with them." Simple encouragement from the wisdom and caring of an adult - no legal action. Today a store clerk in that situation might call 9-1-1 and social services might make a check, with the specter of me possibly having to be separated from my parents for a time.
So maybe there's in fact more than a kernel of sincerity when the "old man" of "Pawn Stars" says "It's scary raising kids."
We don't want people to be scared of having kids. The human race needs to propagate.
There are three generations on "Pawn Stars." It would be neat to take my old Beatles vinyl albums to their business. I would suggest "Pawn Stars" is more a show about family and friendships than about the pawn business literally.
"The old man" really does believe in family. He sets the example. Now we all need to lighten up.