- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

Sept. 16

Sun News, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on seeking men and women who died in military service:

Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina is asking for widespread public help in locating mothers and other family members of men and women who died while in military service.

The chapter’s third annual Gold Star Mothers Day Service is Sept. 28 and members want to invite all Gold Star mothers, if they can be located.

“We need RSVPs and we are also actively seeking contact information regarding Gold Star mothers and families in our area that we may not know about. Due to privacy laws, it is not possible for us to obtain a list of local Gold Star Mothers from the military,” Sharon Russell says.

The event will include a short program to honor these women and their families, “and they will have the option of speaking to the audience. Past experience has shown they have important insights to share with all of us,” says Russell, a past president of Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina and coordinator of Operation Welcome Home of Myrtle Beach, which greets returning military service men and women at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Gold Star Mothers dates to World War I and the mother of a young aviator, George Vaughn Seibold, who was killed in action in France. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, visited hospitalized veterans in the Washington area. Her son was missing in action for months partly because he was flying for the British Royal Flying Corps.

“Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospital but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service,” according to American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

The name came from the gold stars on small flags in family homes of military men and women. Blue stars were displayed for every family member serving; for those killed, a gold star was superimposed on the blue star.

Blue Star Mothers of America is another organization, but Anne Parker, an officer in the national Blue Star Mothers and founding president of the Grand Strand BSM chapter, notes that honoring families of the fallen is one of the core values of Blue Star Mothers, along with honoring men and women on active duty as well as veterans. Parker is president of the American Legion Auxiliary of South Carolina.




Sept. 9

The Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina, on wearing makeup for license photo:

Surely the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has bigger fish to fry than harassing a teen-aged male who likes to wear makeup.

The DMV was sued this month after refusing to take a driver’s license picture of a 16-year-old who was wearing makeup. Chase Culpepper, the male in question, said he wears makeup and androgynous or women’s clothing every day.

But agency officials refused in May to take his driver’s license until he agreed to remove most of the makeup. The DMV has a policy that bans license pictures when someone is purposefully altering his or her appearance.

DMV officials accused Culpepper of wearing a disguise. He had to make several attempts to remove makeup before officials were satisfied and agreed to take the picture.

In June, however, a New York group known as the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund wrote the DMV asking that Culpepper be allowed to have a new photo taken that would be more reflective of his daily appearance. The agency refused, citing its policy about not altering one’s appearance.

So, the group assisted Culpepper in filing his lawsuit. The complaint asserts that the policy is unconstitutionally vague and should be discarded, and that Culpepper should be allowed to have a new photo taken.

“I left the DMV feeling humiliated,” Culpepper said at a news conference Sept. 2. “I want to be myself and have a driver’s license photo that reflects that.”

We understand that the DMV and law enforcement agencies have an interest in preventing people from wearing disguises when they are photographed for their license pictures. People shouldn’t be allowed to wear Halloween masks or cover their heads with brown paper bags during the photo session.

France has instituted a nationwide ban on women wearing burqas, the traditional Islamic facial veil, in part for security reasons. French authorities argue that the veils prevent accurate identification of those who wear them.

But Culpepper wasn’t covering his face wearing a disguise. His appearance was typical of what he looks like every day.

Isn’t that what the DMV wants on a driver’s license picture, an accurate representation of how a person looks?

Logically, if Culpepper had wanted to alter his appearance for the license photo, he would have had it taken when he wasn’t wearing makeup.

If the DMV is going to enforce this policy, it has to do so uniformly. That would require asking many women to remove most or all of their makeup before having a photo snapped.

After all, that’s the whole purpose of makeup - to alter one’s appearance. Hopefully for the better.

The folks with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund say they don’t know of another such case in the nation where a DMV has refused to take a person’s license photo based on makeup. Maybe agencies in other states thought through the legal pitfalls of trying to enforce such a policy.

The S.C. DMV should settle this case and fine-tune its policy to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate against males who like to wear a little lipstick, mascara and blush.




Sept. 17

The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on alarmist rhetoric:

Calling it “poetic license” unfairly insults poets. But many politicians do habitually indulge in the “partisan license” of extreme exaggeration - especially during election years.

And U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., took that tradition into hyper-hyperbole mode late last week.

HBO “Real Time” host Bill Maher, though usually contemptuous of Republicans in and beyond Congress, expressed ambivalence about the GOP’s seemingly strong chance of adding Senate control while maintaining its House hold on Nov. 4.

Maher asked Rep. Pelosi: “What do I care if (Democrats) lose the Senate?”

She replied: “It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the Senate.”

Maher, rightly mocking that preposterous answer: “This and ISIS are threatening civilization. Oh no.”

… Of course, Republicans also have stretched rhetoric beyond reason while trying to scare their way to victory.

For instance, Newt Gingrich, like Rep. Pelosi a former House speaker, posed this bizarre question about President Barack Obama to National Review in 2010:

“What if he is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together (his actions)?”

So no political party has a monopoly on spouting apocalyptic nonsense aimed at getting you to vote for its side.

Yet lest you assume the worst if the GOP captures the Senate, keep in mind that Democrats will still control the White House for the next two years regardless of who runs Congress. Thus, President Obama’s veto power could protect civilization as we know it from the Republican menace.

Plus, civilization as we know it did somehow survive GOP control of the White House, Senate and House from 2003-2007 - and Democratic control of all three from 2009-2011.

Sure, our nation - and our world - face daunting challenges.

So what else is new?

Neither that relentless reality nor politicians’ overwrought, self-serving alarms should make you give up on civilization as we know it.

Still, if you want to have your say in which direction our community, state, nation, world - and civilization - will go, vote on Nov. 4.



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