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Reason prevails in Senate committee, not Gov.’s office

While the current manifestation of the Arkansas legislature has been more miss than hit, reason prevailed this past Wednesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee declined to refer House Bill 1228, the so-called Conscience Protection Act, to the full Senate. The bill, authored by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, would have prohibited the state from interceding in matters of conscience due to a person’s religious beliefs unless the state has a substantial interest in doing so, and does so by the least restrictive means possible.

Do you believe in miracles?

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s surprise victory over the global Leviathan of hockey, the Soviet Union. The triumph is often called “the Miracle on Ice.” As modern “miracles” sometimes do, a great mythology has grown up around this storied game.

The day the music died

Symphony orchestras all across America are struggling both financially and in terms of relevancy. American appetites for cultural products have changed over the last 20 years. One of the more notable casualties has been a precipitous decline in live orchestral music. While orchestras, such as the now closing Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra, are reeling from the sting of it all, they are hardly alone.

Shame at a terrible price

The immortal songstress Ella Fitzgerald once sang of Love for Sale “Who’s prepared to pay the price, for a trip to paradise… If you want the thrill of love, I’ve been through the mill of love. Old love, new love, every love but true love. Love for sale.”

No Prince among the royalty

Today marks an important popular culture milestone. Late in the evening of Jan. 28, 1985, a group of musical artists assembled to record “We Are the World,” a megahit whose proceeds aided famine relief in Africa.

Fizzy history moves a nation

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” While the precise origin of this aphorism is lost to time, this weekend we note an important milestone in technological innovation: the 80th anniversary of the first canned beer.

The Five Year Election Sale

It’s often amazing how one U.S. Supreme Court can change the whole course of American social and political life. There are cases in pursuit of social fairness, the most famous of which is the 1954 decision in Brown v. the Board of Education. Then there are cases of fair process, like Miranda v. Arizona. Then there are cases that serve to protect our right of free speech. It’s difficult to single out a single case as the exemplar of protecting speech, but we know one where oligarchical designs masquerading as a speech interests has been allowed to poison American politics: Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission.

Verdict uncertain motives unclear

Sixty-five years ago today, disgraced State Department official, Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, in what has become one of the most hotly debated cases of the 20th century. Hiss had been the subject of aggressive investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, led by an ambitious California representative, Richard Nixon.

Enough humility to be courageous

All we can say is ‘Wow!’ When is the last time you heard an elected official come right out, admit a mistake and then apologize for it? And to boot, this one wasn’t one of those I-got-caught-and-now-I-better-appear-contrite apologies; this was a straight up, acknowledgement of fault and mea culpa.