Should students stand for Pledge of Allegiance?

Everybody knows that dissent is un-American

Everybody knows that dissent is un-American

A school board in western Minnesota is still torn as to whether students should be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Officials at Glyndon's Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton school, located just east of Moorhead, suspended three eighth-graders earlier last month for refusing to pledge their commitment to a red, white, and blue pennant.

The pennant in question is known colloquially as "the American flag," and features 13 horizontal red and white stripes, with a star-spangled blue rectangle in the upper corner. The flag is intended to evoke emotions of cohesiveness and pride-in-geographic-proximity, and is often displayed publicly to ward off the twin demons of Independent Judgment and Rational Thought. Sometimes referred to as "Old Glory" or "The Star-Spangled Banner," the flag is believed to magically transmit strength and support to American battalions and U.S.-commissioned mercenary armies currently fighting in killing fields across the globe—especially when coupled with a yellow ribbon.

The pledge itself is usually delivered in a perfunctory monotone by uninterested schoolchildren. Its aim is to foster obedience to both the flag and the nation-state it symbolizes.

At their last meeting, the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton school board voted 3-3 on requiring students to stand. The gridlock is expected to be broken at the next meeting, on June 19, when all seven members will be present. The ACLU says it will consider a lawsuit should the requirement make its way into the student handbook. Now what's more American than that? —Matt Snyders

It's a ruff life

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan is in the doghouse.

Last week, Dolan admitted to keeping his civilian pooch Chesapeake at the police K-9 kennel, and agreed to make a $200 donation in recompense.

The move was in response to criticism from Police Federation Union President John Delmonico, who told Fox News that K-9 cops were tired of grooming the chief's mutt on city time.

But apparently not all of the officers agreed with Delmonico's beef. Some are pissed that they probably won't be able to use the police kennel to board their dogs anymore. Now they'll have to pay for private accommodations, just like the rest of us.

Leaving dogs at the K-9 unit has been common practice at the MPD for some 15 years, says a police department source who wishes to remain anonymous. There are always empty cages available, and officers bring their own pet food and dog toys.

Even members of the union have boarded pets there, our source continues. "This is a personal attack on the chief from John Delmonico. He's not representing the officers as a whole; he's representing himself." (Delmonico didn't return calls for comment.)

We're not sure what's more concerning: that Dolan can't pay for his own doggy lodging on his $132,000 salary, or that cops have this much time on their hands. —Beth Walton

Deadbeats à la mode

Think when you hand over that extra 6.5 percent sales tax to store owners that they're giving it directly to the state government? Think again.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently launched an internet database to humiliate companies that are delinquent on passing the revenue along to the government. Since the website's debut, at least four companies have paid up, allowing the state to collect $124,000. But that's small change compared to the $2 million the remaining 64 businesses owe.

Even ice-cream shops haven't missed the list. According to the database, the Maggie Moos Ice Cream and Treatery franchise in Chanhassen still owes $7,240 in sales tax. Now that's a lot of hot fudge. —Beth Walton

Master bait

An ingenious GOP political ploy is enjoying much success, thanks in part to the unbridled prudery of key DFLers.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Republican Party circulated a letter lambasting Senate candidate Al Franken for a salacious column he penned for Playboy back in 2000, titled "Porn-O-Rama!"

Ever the vigilant defenders of gender equality, Republicans complained that the article showed "flagrant disregard for women, and an extreme objectification of women as sex objects for your pleasure."

DFLers took the diversionary bait. Representatives Tim Walz and Keith Ellison voiced concerns, but none played the schoolmarm better than Rep. Betty McCollum, who supported Franken's rival Mike Ciresi before he dropped out of the race.

McCollum called the writings "indefensible" and questioned whether the article would hurt other Democratic candidates on the ballot. "Do they spend all of their time defending him, or do they spend their time talking about issues that are important to this election?" McCollum asked.

Apparently, neither. —Matt Snyders