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Responding to yesterday’s piece commenting on the Wall Street Journal about the draconian approach to childhood obesity being taken in Gillette, Wyoming, one MNB user wrote:

I think this is a crock… body mass index on a report card? “Son, your grounded cause your index went up by a pt… who cares about the 4.0 GPA you have – your smart but dang your fat – go to your room!! And don’t walk there.. RUN!!!!!!!”

When did schools suddenly become personal trainers???

Another MNB user wrote:

I went to public school from 1965 to 1977. Soda pop was banned at school until 1973. So the concept of healthy eating at school is not new. No one measured our body mass index. My 100-year-old 5th grade teacher made us do chin-ups and push-ups everyday. Some kids could do 40 or 50 and some none at all. I could do maybe 5 or so.

I know for some kids it was hurtful and embarrassing not to be able to do any. Doing only 5 isn't much better. Self-esteem is a state of mind that needs to be taught to kids so they don't get discouraged by various measurements of success. I wonder if jockey Pat Day was bummed out about being only 4-10 or slam-dunk champ Spud Webb being only 5-7? I wonder if the Sam Walton had a poor self-esteem about driving a 20-year-old pickup truck? Or the straight A student who isn't popular at school. Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal with half a foot and was overweight. I've seen pro baseball pitchers with one arm and Babe Ruth certainly was no prime physical specimen. Good nutrition is common sense but we must also teach our kids to put things in proper perspective.

MNB user Phillip Black wrote:

While I think it’s great that the school district is taking an active interest in providing healthy alternatives, when are the parents going to start doing their job and teaching/training their OWN children how to eat responsibly? These are the same parents who take them through McDonalds for a happy meal instead of a home cooked meal at the dinner table.

There are now more children in my neighborhood riding motorized scooters than bicycles, and we’re worried about a second helping at school?

On the subject of Menards, the home improvement chain, offering an expanded selection of groceries in an effort to be a one-stop shopping alternative, one MNB user wrote:

Living in Chicago, I am a big fan of Menards and they’ve been selling food for some time, even in their standard size stores. Virtually all of it is impulse (candy, snacks, meat snacks, seasonal candy, etc., and their pricing is typically very attractive. And, all of it is right at the front of the store near the checkouts. Clearly Menards wants to “sell one more thing” before the consumer leaves the store, something many of our Grocery and Drug retailers could learn from.

MNB user Ben Allen wrote:

Seems to me that Menards is not focusing. This news tidbit has interesting timing in light of an article I just read in Ad Age.

The Ad Age column critiques Bob Nardelli, former head of The Home Depot. The author emphasizes the need for retailers to remain focused, something you have urged in your columns before.

Finally, we got a number of emails responding to our “OffBeat” commentary Friday about Don Imus.

MNB user Tim Grimes wrote:

Never heard an Imus show, not a big listener of radio. And for the record, my Mrs. is herself Jewish here in CT Wasp country. No racism in this house.

But I am really struck by the juxtaposition of Don Imus getting fired yesterday for his abhorrent comment yet I remember clearly that the Oscar winning song 2 years ago was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp". Don't know if you've ever heard those lyrics but it rates right next to "nappy headed ho's". Didn't see any advertisers pull out of supporting future Oscar telecasts or awards shows. Didn't see the outrage. Guess we should recognize that these 'thoughts/lyrics" surely reflects a world view that a certain segment of our population has embraced. Is it only an outrage when an old white American utters the same kinds of garbage? Where is the outrage over the "rap-world" in general? Where are the rallies? Far as I know these people keep winning Grammy's and Oscars without the slightest advertiser discomfort......Snoop Dog, IceT and the rest are constantly on TV selling and promoting and rap would have you believe that 1) getting arrested is good 2) selling drugs is better 3) women are all 'nappy headed ho's'’…

Where are we all headed? When I was 20 I used to believe that our children would grow up in a different world and that we'd see the death of racism in our lifetime. I guess I'm just a naive believer…but I think this moment when we could really push the national dialogue will pass and we will never learn.

MNB user Tom Devlin chimed in:

I would like to add my two cents worth on the Imus situation, even if it does not make the list for your viewers. It is obvious what Imus said was beyond Idiotic and hurtful, especially when talking about college educated kids who achieved far more then expected on the basketball court. Whether he should be suspended or fired, I will leave that for the executives who are counting their losses knowing how much money Imus has made them over the years.

My question is who will be the next one who says something that may hurt a group of people whether it be race, religion or any other reason? While I am not a regular Imus listener, I have heard him many times make statements that were crude to people from the south, democrats and name a few others. The same goes for Rush, Howard Stern and many Radio DJ’s who make a living being controversial. That is how they and the ownership make money. Last week Rosie O’Donnell stated that we should not fear terrorist because they are moms and dads just like us…… That is a statement that is hurtful to all Americans who have pride in our country. Maybe Rosie should be fired or sit down with the families who have lost loved ones in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or who were on planes September 11th…

What Imus said was pathetic and while he was trying to fill fours hours of a daily show and be funny, He was not… He is off the air and we can all live our lives again until the next great media debate. It will come soon now that Imus is gone, the father of Anna Nicolle’s Baby has been named and American Idol marketing finally ends. In the end, your statement about talking to people who doesn’t look like you is right on. That is the only way we can get better.

Another MNB user wrote:

There is no doubt that Imus was out of line and wrong with his insensitive comments, but it also bothers me that there is a double standard. The Al Sharpton types can slander and defame lacrosse players and others without retribution, while an Imus pays for his irresponsibility. Where is the equity? Where is the demand for that apology? And why do the same folks who censored Imus, keep airing Sharpton?

MNB user Ron Dunbar wrote:

In reading your response "in detail" to the Imus situation. Your comments were very well put & thought out... especially your last few points.. Thanks for making me think & dig deeper on my own personal views, be more sensitive to others, & more importantly think about what I can do to help.. Good stuff.

Another MNB user wrote:

While what Imus said was clearly wrong, I wonder if it's any more inflammatory than what some of his more popular critics have said in the past without losing their source of livelihood. I suppose if glass houses don't work, they can always fall back on plastic ones.

And I wonder if it was any more inappropriate than other things he has said over the years that haven't received such a spotlight. I wouldn't want to place odds on that.

In fact, I wonder if the Rutgers women or 99% of anyone in the country would have even heard, and therefore been so morally outraged and emotionally scarred, about the comments if the media wasn't so driven on scandal and sensationalism...even when feeding on one of their own. If Imus was the spark in this situation, they were certainly the gasoline laden tinder.

I don't like what Imus said and I'm honestly glad I didn't have to decide what a fair punishment would be. But I am disappointed in those who have been hypocritical in their attacks. I am disgusted with those who have chosen to exploit this situation for their own personal agendas, especially need of spotlight. Mostly, I am saddened that we continue to allow race to be such an explosive and divisive element in our society.

MNB user Jeff Davis wrote:

Imus was held accountable for his actions (finally). That's as it should be. Unfortunately, that isn't always how it is. For people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, it is ALWAYS about race. How can they protest Imus yet give rappers a pass for the bile that is in so many of their lyrics?

And another MNB user wrote:

It’s interesting that blatantly racist speech is horrifying but blatantly sexist speech is apparently okay with CBS and the public. Imus used the word “ho” over and over with no public outcry… but toss in “nappy-headed” and it’s all over. Why aren’t both forms of hate speech equally appalling?

Great commentary on the subject by the way. I like when you muse even without having all the answers.

Unfortunately, we muse without the answers a lot more than we muse with all the answers. C’est la vie.

A couple of final thoughts on the Imus controversy, and then we’ll move on.

The point about rap music has bee well and often made.

But we would also refer you to “South Park.” A friend recently recommended an episode of the animated series to us, saying it was a really funny takeoff on “24.” We watched it, and it was one of the most vile things we’ve ever seen on TV. Just awful.

“South Park” is broadcast on Comedy Central. Which is owned by Viacom, which until recently owned CBS. Which is one of the two networks that fired Imus.

The hypocrisy was rampant. On all sides. The decision to fire Imus was about money. (Though it may be an even more expensive decision, since Imus recently signed a five year, $50 million contract…)

Three things concern us about the firing.

One is that we may be looking at a new kind of McCarthyism, with certain people or groups deciding what is acceptable and what is not. That worries us. There’s an awful lot of stuff out there that we either don’t know anything about or hate…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist.

The other was the way people who had appeared on Imus’s show and who might have helped him weather the controversy faded into the background last week. Let’s not debate whether he should have been fired, but whether, at some point, someone could have stood up to provide some context for the man. (Not the statements, for which no context or explanation could suffice.)

E.M. Forster once wrote something along the lines of, “given a choice between betraying my country and betraying my friends, I hope I would have the courage to betray my country.” Not a sentiment, I gather, with which many of Imus’s friends would agree.

Finally, it would be our observation that by the end of the last week, the country was more polarized than it was before the Imus controversy erupted. And that’s not healthy.

KC's View: