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April 3, 2005 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Adam Steele was not a loved or lovable guy in his hometown of Bemidji, Minnesota. But is lovableness a requirement for journalists? Part 2 here.
posted by maryh (16 comments total)
Thanks, maryh, that's a fascinating story. And one that reminds me that Judge Rosenbaum can be a scary, scary guy.
posted by subgenius at 7:39 AM on April 3, 2005

that was a great story

by the way, here's the 8th circuit decision on this (or a similar) case brought by Steele against City of Bemidji et al.
posted by Kattullus at 7:49 AM on April 3, 2005

This is actually a replica of the original Chief Bemidji sculpture. The first one was carved from boards around the turn of the century by Gustav Hinsch, a sculptor and naturalist. Gustav was afflicted with severe epileptic fits and would sometimes be forced to delay his creating of the Chief because he would lapse into a coma for a day or two. He often threatened to end his life because of his illness. One day he walked out into Lake Bemidji and disappeared.
There's some great writing in this story...
posted by at 8:11 AM on April 3, 2005

BTW, I'm not certain that this link will work, but one of Judge Rosenbaum's opinions should be available online here. It's a fairly straightforward summary-judgment / immunity analysis, but the discussion of the city attorney's conduct (in sending the LETTER) is interesting.
posted by subgenius at 8:21 AM on April 3, 2005! Amazing. Clipped the same passage on preview. I'm not sure how this story makes the judge scary because in the end he did find for Steele. Of course, the writing style of the article could have really cross-wired me. And capitalizing (the LETTER)?

But I love it. Thank you maryh.
posted by nj_subgenius at 9:16 AM on April 3, 2005

This was an interesting story, but a painful read.

[I love the magazine cover at the beginning of the second part of the article... Celebrating Law Firm Diversity headlines a photo of 5 almost identical white guys. ]
posted by birdherder at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2005

Putting aside the lameness issue (single link FPP, no links to city paper, Steele's paper, or opposing viewpoints) for a moment, it is an interesting story. It is not that unusual, however. Every small town in America has examples of this kind of thing happening. The one thing that's not covered in the story is the fact that people in small towns and citiies don't want local media that will be hard hitting investigative. They want media that will report sappy feel good stories that will make them better about living in a place they know sucks. Small towns breed small minds.
posted by berek at 10:21 AM on April 3, 2005

An interesting read!

BTW - Adam Steele's Northern Herald Official Site.
posted by ericb at 10:26 AM on April 3, 2005

Great post, thanks. I agree with birdherder - fascinating story, but really could have used a good editor.

(Btw, ignore berek on this one; he's on a bizarre crusade against single-link posts and has his head up his ass. "Opposing viewpoints"? Good grief.)
posted by mediareport at 10:47 AM on April 3, 2005

Golly, wonder why Steele included this on his 2006 Senate campaign page (pdf):

?End of funding for women?s shelters and advocates who are getting paid to make false court claims, costing taxpayers more; and to destroy marriages and families.

?End of restraining orders which unconstitutionally, and without cause, put men out of their homes, and prevent reconciliations of marriages and pending marriages.

Uh-huh. At least he'll bring back hood ornaments.?
posted by mediareport at 10:57 AM on April 3, 2005

Terribly fascinating read. Terribly written article.
posted by dead_ at 11:53 AM on April 3, 2005

the tyrrany of evenhandedness.......

"you know, i really think that launching babies out of cannons is a bad idea"

"yeah well, you're wrong, because you didn't let the WeLoveToLaunchBabiesOutOfCannon-ites into the room when you were legislating that morality for us."


"Mmmm hmmm."

eat me, berek
posted by lazaruslong at 12:23 PM on April 3, 2005

Berek, I knew I was going to get a lashing over a single link post, but I thought that this article, long as it is, would probably be bogged down by additional links. I also felt that given the fairly obscure source, it was a story that few people would get the opportunity to see, and I thought it deserved a wider readership.

And also I'm one of those dreaded newbies. We're prone to this kind of thing.
posted by maryh at 11:04 PM on April 3, 2005

And I was going to link to Steele's paper, but his site is a navigational nightmare. Thanks to ericb for linking, but the archives are a hyperlinkless slog (but pretty amusing, all the same.) Visit at your own risk, and prepare for a crank-tastic browse!
posted by maryh at 11:27 PM on April 3, 2005

maryh, nolite te bereks caborundorum. I have a couple of very close friends from small towns in Minnesota (actually both quite intelligent and progressive folks too), and a passing familiarity with the region and a general interest in First Amendment issues made this a very interesting read to me. Thanks for the link.

Loveableness aside, it sounds as though were he a decade or so younger and had less money to pour into his project, Steele's "paper" would be classified as a crank's zine -- or perhaps instead he'd be blogging his opinions and saving himself some massive debt. So the more interesting issue becomes, for me, the particular situation of self-proclaimed small town journalist. One of the obvious reasons small towns in economically depressed regions breed conformity is how much one relies on the goodwill of neighbors. It's undeniably tough to be a shit-stirrer in such a place. The pleasant surprise of this article is that Federal law did exactly what it was supposed to do: it protected an extemely unlikeable person's opinions. (That said, the future prospects of an alleged serial sex offender already depised by his town's government and general citizenry don't seem too terribly bright, do they?)
posted by melissa may at 11:58 PM on April 3, 2005

melissa may- The thing that drew me to this story was Steele's insistence on publishing a newspaper. In the age of blogs, he seemed like such an anachronism, a profoundly biased commentator trying to disseminate his views through a cut-rate version of the PennySaver. I can't imagine what's driving him, other than the need to be a thorn in someone's side. But having grown up in a small town, I remember the 'midwestern niceness' being less a value than a set of rules that defined public opinion and behavior. I know Bemidji didn't want him, but perhaps in some way they needed him. He's the misfit with a sordid past (& present) that gives the town an outlet for its ethically ambiguous past. (And recent past, too, since the recent school shooting happened within tier school district.)
posted by maryh at 12:42 AM on April 4, 2005

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