Flippant attitude no longer good for Jesse

Gov. Jesse Ventura’s latest public relations scandal suggests he still has not grasped the concept of thinking before speaking. While some of his comments reflect the essential nature of his politics, others suggest a deep disrespect for the citizens of this state.
Commenting on organized religion, Ventura claimed it is “a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people.” This statement suggests a flippant dismissal of the faith many people hold in their religion. There are rational and reasonable reasons to reject organized religion, — and just as many to embrace it — but Ventura’s comments do not reflect deep thought; merely a knee-jerk reaction to submitting to a control outside of oneself. If Ventura desires to speak out against religion, he should begin by seriously considering his reasons for doing so, rather than spitting out an unconsidered comment in an attempt to get a reaction.
While his statements on religion have gotten the most publicity, Ventura’s views on the Navy Tailhook scandal are perhaps more distressing. “These are people who live on the razor’s edge and defy death and do things where people die,” he said. “They’re not going to consider grabbing a woman’s breast or buttock a major situation. That’s much ado about nothing.” For Ventura to suggest widespread sexual harassment is “nothing” is very troubling. While Ventura certainly cannot eliminate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion, he has much more sway over the creation and enforcement of sexual harassment law. His statement indicates an unwillingness to punish those who abuse their power.
Ventura’s comments produced nationwide reactions. Outgoing chairman of the Reform Party, Jack Gargan, demanded Ventura step down, saying “You have brought shame to yourself and disgrace to the members of the Reform Party.” Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott also spoke out against the governor at a Christian Coalition convention. However, perhaps the most telling remarks are again Ventura’s own. Reacting to listener comments on his radio show, Ventura said, “I really wish they would judge me on my politics and not on what I say on an interview.”
Despite nine months in office, Ventura still seems to not comprehend that what he says in an interview reflects his politics, and consequently, that citizens are entirely justified in judging him on his public statements. In some instances, Ventura’s candor has been refreshing. His willingness to consider concepts commonly thought of as political suicide, such as legalizing marijuana or prostitution, demonstrates that he is genuinely open to all ideas.
Now, though, Ventura must realize that an open mind is not the same thing as an empty mind. A governor who is willing to consider unpopular ideas, rather than simply rejecting them as politically infeasible, is a mature and brave governor. However, a governor who supports unpopular ideas merely to provoke a reaction, or because it happens to be the first thing that pops into his head, is doing his state and himself a disservice. Gov. Ventura, think before you speak — it will make your next nine months much more pleasant.