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COL Smoking e-mails on gun column

And some didn't like 'Little Timmy' reference

My in-box is still smoking with e-mails from readers responding to my May 3 column on the permissive gun legislation passed into law a couple of weeks ago.

A few of the e-mails were negative.

Here's an example. "Writing like that is why myself and many others have canceled our subscriptions. You are making the Post-Bulletin a liberal rag."

And there was this sophomoric response: "With all due respect and in my humble opinion Greg you're pathetic and you suck terribly."

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With all due respect?

However, the vast majority of responses came from people (liberals AND conservatives) who agreed the new law is a bad one.

Some excerpts:

"How refreshing it is to see our Legislature dealing straight away with the pressing issues of the day, rather than the $2 billion deficit our state is facing." (Actually it's $4.2 billion, but what's a couple billion among friends.)

"The law doesn't make sense, it is insane. ... All the e-mail, letters, pamphlets, questions, Million Mom marches evidently made no impression. Perhaps the general public didn't realize the implications of the law."

"A friend of mine once said, 'All people who feel that they need to carry around a gun should be shot.' Her comment made about as much sense as the new, absurd gun law."

I'm still trying to figure out how the Legislature and our governor allowed this bill to pass into law.

Polls indicate the public doesn't support it. Former governors don't support it. Law enforcement doesn't support it. But the National Rifle Association supports it, and I guess passage of this legislation indicates how powerful the NRA's lobbying influence is.

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Speaking of the Legislature, there's been a lot of talk since Election Day about the governor's "no tax increases" pledge. I'm not going to debate that here.

But I think it would be refreshing to hear a "no more special sessions" pledge.

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More than a dozen readers called or sent e-mails commenting on my plea for tolerance and civility as we agree to disagree on the most pressing issues facing our country, state and communities. Most of the e-mails were like this one from a Hayfield reader: "... The degree of vitriol and bombast in so much of today's public discourse is distressingly rampant, and it seems that far too many of us give in to the temptation to make our case for one thing or another by demonizing those with whom we disagree. The 'public square' of political and social debate has come to look more like a school lunch room food-fight."

But one reader, now living in Lafayette, La., had a slightly different take:

"... You forgot to mention the worst case of mass hatred and intolerance to hit this country since the Civil War: The average citizen has been slowly, but surely, programmed to hate smokers. Nothing is too vile, too extreme, too violent, too ridiculous to 'get rid' of them."

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Also on the subject of civility, I got a call the other day from a teacher who said I set a poor example for young people in my column a week ago when I referred to Gov. Tim Pawlenty as "Little Timmy."

"I think it's disrespectful," the teacher said.

That's fair criticism. But I meant no disrespect. I haven't been around the governor a lot, but from what I've seen he is affable, articulate, intelligent and -- perhaps most importantly -- he has a sense of humor.

"Little Timmy" is what Paul Bunyan called our governor when Pawlenty walked inside the gates at the Paul Bunyan Center, so I thought it would be funny to call him the same thing in my column.

I figure if we could replace vitriol with humor in our political debates, we'd be a lot better off.

And if the governor or anyone else wants to call me Little Greggy, I won't take offense. Just don't call me Gregory. Only telemarketers and police officers call me that.

Greg Sellnow's columns appear Tuesdays and Saturdays. He can be reached at 285-7703 or by e-mail at sellnow@postbulletin.com.

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