From free speech on campus to whether or not the new special elections bill is just a bunch of sour grapes, and so much more — here’s your roundup of Sunday editorials from Alabama’s leading newspapers:
Anniston Star – Free speech on campus
The controversy over free speech on college campuses should be a teachable moment for institutions of higher learning, an opportunity to emphasize the value of the civil exchange of ideas.
One of the First Amendment’s highest aims is the protection of speech that offends or irritates. Of course, there are some limits, including not inciting a riot or the proverbial matter of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. That noted, the answer to offensive speech is more speech, not muzzling the speaker.
Those ideals have been tested in recent years.
Well-known provocateurs who thrive on shock value have made their way onto college campuses. In one instance in 2017, an appearance by extremist commentator Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California at Berkeley set off rioting. Closer to home, a speech in Auburn by white supremacist Richard Spencer spurred fighting and arrests on campus.
Decatur Daily – Trump takes ‘America First’ abroad
The Issue: President Donald Trump has always sought to join elite company, before turning against it when denied entrance. Now he is among the global elite in Davos, Switzerland, and the fate of American trade policy and prosperity may hinge on how well Trump thinks he was received.
So, President Donald Trump has landed in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
At first glance, Trump seems out of his element: the man who brought the pre-World War II slogan “America First” back into the popular lexicon at a gathering of world leaders, corporate titans and public intellectuals dedicated, broadly speaking, to the freer movement of goods, people and capital — what some on the far left sneeringly deride as “neoliberalism.”
Yet this is exactly the sort of place Trump, the self-styled populist, loves to be. His decades-long career in real estate and other businesses shows a pattern: He wants to belong among the elite. His father was content to develop Queens, but Trump was determined to take Manhattan. One can debate the true scale of Trump’s financial success, but he succeeded on his own terms. The name “Trump” now glitters among the Manhattan skyline.
Dothan Eagle – Reconsidering the death penalty
In April of 1985, Mobile police corporal Julius Schulte was on duty performing protection detail for a young woman while her former boyfriend was to be moving out of the home they shared. The former boyfriend, 34-year-old Vernon Madison, pretended to leave the house, then crept up on the officer’s vehicle and shot Schulte twice in the head, then proceeded to shoot his ex-girlfriend.
Madison was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
His execution was to have been carried out on Thursday, more than 32 years after he was first sentenced to the death chamber. But a half-hour before he was to receive the lethal injection, the U.S. Supreme Court gave Madison a temporary reprieve so the case could be revisited.
Enterprise Ledger – Some things, and people, just need to go
When I first heard NFL fans griping over officiating in the New England game, I instantly thought, here we go, more conspiracy theories and blaming everyone but Jacksonville for allowing Tom Terrific (Brady) to work his magic in the comeback.
BUT… the fact that the Patriots were whistled for one penalty – 1 – in the game and several videos show officials going out of their way to congratulate New England players after the game is at the very least a terrible look for the NFL. Those men in stripes should never work in the league again.
TimesDaily – Special elections bill a case of sour grapes
There’s nothing like a lost election, it seems, to inspire some political adjustments.
Democrat Doug Jones defeated former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in a special election in December to fill the seat of U.S. Sen Jeff Sessions. President Donald Trump appointed Sessions to be Attorney General in 2017. His term did not expire until January 2021.
Sessions resigned in February 2017 to take the appointment. In the interim, then-Gov. Robert Bentley appointed state Attorney General Luther Strange, a fellow Republican, to fill the opening. It was an appointment fraught with trouble. Bentley was under investigation for using his office to cover an alleged affair with an assistant. Bentley resigned shortly after appointing Strange, who was investigating the matter.
Gadsden Times – Tide Pod Challenge isn’t fun, it’s idiocy
In the 1920s, people (mainly college students) with (a.) nothing better to do and (b.) the urge to show off took to swallowing live goldfish. The fish probably were a bit cold, slimy and wriggly headed down the gullet, but as sushi fans would note, eating REALLY raw fish isn’t likely to kill you. (Well, there is fugu, the sushi made from blowfish, which if improperly prepared could contain a toxin whose fatal dose is tinier than a pin’s head and there’s no antidote. That’s a whole ’nother level of showing off.)
In the 1950s, folks with the same demographics and motivations took to cramming multiple bodies into telephone booths. (Remember those?) There was some risk of injury or asphyxiation — and woe be unto anyone caught in the middle of the scrum who suddenly had a claustrophobic moment. Still, it generally was a harmless fad that later expanded to old outhouses, photo booths and vehicles.
The Baptists staged a stunning upset on Sunday, fending off the Pentecostals to be the first denomination at the Cracker Barrel after church.
Thanks to an unusually short sermon and an altar call that failed to extend beyond the second verse of “Wherever He Leads I’ll Go,” the congregation at Dripping Springs First Baptist tasted sweet victory with a side of hashbrown casserole for the first time since the Cracker Barrel was built.
Bro. Eddie Warren, a deacon at Dripping Springs FBC, had a feeling they were in the lead when he pulled into the restaurant parking lot, but the victory became official when he was able to secure a table for four without a 2-hour wait.
Montgomery Advertiser – Baby Boomers, let the new order lead
Generation X (b. 1965-1982) and Millennials (b. 1993- 2000) are screaming “bloody murder” against Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964) for monopolizing elective and appointed offices, hogging business and governmental decision-making, and controlling the development of public policy. On the other hand, treating their power like personal property, Boomers are excoriating younger adults for not voting, for self-indulgence and for continued occupancy of their childhood bedrooms.
Not surprisingly, all of those attitudes are impeding progress in our democratic processes and compromising America’s future at the local, state and national levels.
Much like their predecessors — the so-called Greatest Generation — Boomers are committing two civic sins: First, they cling to officialdom, in the apparent belief that they have exclusive expertise in policy matters and premium perspectives on problem-solving. Even as waves of progress immerse them in technical and relational obsolescence, they ignore the fact that life experiences can be both bounty and baggage. They forget that time is not a vacuum; it is always accompanied by change.
Opelika-Auburn News – Legislature has long list, but it should include rural broadband
The 2018 Legislative session continues on Goat Hill in Montgomery, and one of our voices there has several noteworthy goals on his agenda.
Sen. Tom Whatley visited the Opelika-Auburn News editorial board last week, bringing with him a to-do list.
Some of it is wishful thinking carried over from past sessions, while other items on the list certainly could and should see action this session.
Among them is a continued effort by Whatley and other senators and representatives from around the state to improve the reach of broadband and overall internet service in Alabama’s rural areas.
“The idea is to get rural Lee County served,” Whatley said, for example. “There are parts of Auburn without high-speed broadband.”
Tuscaloosa News – Like Big Brother, social media is eerily intrusive
Thirty-four years ago today, Apple began selling the Macintosh computer. It was the company’s first mass-marketed personal computer. When it debuted, it wasn’t the only personal computer on the market. It arguably wasn’t even the best. But it was the best marketed.
Two days before the new personal computer went on sale, Apple announced its arrival with a now-famous commercial during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on Jan. 22, 1984. The commercial was made with the George Orwell novel “1984” in mind. The novel is based upon a frightening future in which a televised “Big Brother” controls the thoughts and lives of everyone who lives in the super state of Oceania, where individualism and independent thinking are crushed by a tyrannical state that demands conformity through constant government surveillance.
The commercial is designed to show how Apple rebels against conformity, saving humanity from other large corporations such as IBM who were attempting to dominate the burgeoning computer industry.