- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

Editors: Please note that The Associated Press welcomes editorial contributions from members for the weekly Editorial Roundup. Three editorials are selected every week. Contributions can be made by email at [email protected]


Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, Oct. 1, 2015

McLaughlin mascot change teaches lesson

Quietly, with very little fanfare, the McLaughlin School District took a step toward kindness.

The McLaughlin school board last week dropped its mascot and nickname “midgets.”

And, we will not mention that word again here.

The M-word, as some little people have called it, is a hurtful word with roots in old-time “freak shows.” Today it is viewed as a pejorative.

Donna Bertsch Bratland, an Aberdeen resident, explains in today’s edition just how that word is viewed by little people. It has outlived its usefulness, and instead creates and condones a mocking tone against others.

McLaughlin school board President Juliana White Bull-Taken Alive told us the district was contacted by the nonprofit national group Little People of America, who asked that the name be retired.

And it was.

Granted, the students didn’t see a lot of positivity in the name anyway, White Bull-Taken Alive said, and the moniker was already being phased out.

But what a simple gesture, to be inclusive to all by dropping hurtful labels.

Some people need more convincing that words can hurt.

In Freeburg, Illinois, for instance, Freeburg Community High School District 77 officials say they will keep their mascot, despite concern from the Little People of America and even from a local man whose son has dwarfism.

According to at stlouis.cbslocal.com, “Supporters of the nickname told the board their intent wasn’t to hurt anyone” by using that mascot.

Their intent may be innocent, but the effect on others is not.

It’s interesting to note that the school that did drop the nickname, McLaughlin, is on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Corson County. Usually, it is Native Americans who are made into mascots and characterizations, who are “chiefs” and “squaws” and “fighting” and “whooping.”

As we know, language and culture evolves. McLaughlin’s mascot was chosen in 1929, White Bull-Taken Alive said.

Many other words and terms from the ‘20s and ‘30s have fallen out of favor; many of us would not even be able to have a simple conversation with our peers from 100 years ago.

We won’t blame the McLaughlin Class of 2101 if they don’t find our language and values to be appropriate or relevant for them to rally around, either.

Some will argue that tradition trumps all. Of course, that is not true.

When it comes to the Sisseton High School Redmen or Ki-Yi Days homecoming at Watertown, tradition should not trump common decency.

McLaughlin’s decision stands as an effective reminder: schools teach, and people can learn, grow and change.


Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, Yankton, Sept. 28, 2015

Climate change and listening

Climate change was at the forefront of Pope Francis’s talking points during his recent sojourn to America. He made the case to take action on the manmade causes of climate change while speaking to a joint session of Congress and addressing the United Nations. This is no surprise, since this pope has made this a cornerstone issue of his papacy thus far.

It’s also no surprise that some politicians who take a different view on climate change are telling people, in effect, to just ignore the that man behind the curtain.

As stated above, Pope Francis didn’t simply pick up on this issue for his American trip. He published an encyclical earlier this year in which he the effort to address climate change a moral imperative for our civilization. That placed him at the forefront in this discussion.

No matter, he is still not qualified to talk about it, or so says Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. A climate change skeptic - even in light of how the matter imperils his own state of Florida in regards to rising ocean levels - Bush dismissed the pope’s call for action by noting that Francis is “not a scientist, he’s a religious leader.”

Of course, Bush (who is not a scientist, either) and others like him also have trouble listening to the vast majority of scientists who issue the very same warnings about climate change that Pope Francis does.

People like Bush fall back on the defense that theories on climate change and mankind’s role in it are “not settled science.” This implies that there is a deeply divided debate within the scientific community about the issue.

However, a frequently-cited study was done a few years ago that surveyed peer-reviewed papers published between 1991 and 2011 about the climate issue. The results found that 97 percent of papers stated that humans are a chief cause of global warming.

This overwhelming majority of opinion was affirmed last week when a report in the journal Scientific Research Letters found that 92 percent of more than 700 biophysical scientists surveyed are convinced human-caused climate change is occurring. The study concluded: “There is a general consensus among biophysical scientists across the United States that (1) climate change is occurring, (2) humans are contributing to it, and (3) climate science is a trustworthy, mature and credible discipline. Scientists who continue to claim otherwise are operating outside of the consensus, not just of climate scientists, but also of scientists as a whole.”

As Stuart Carlton, the lead author of last week’s study, told the Washington Post. “The debate that is going on about the existence of climate change is noise. What people should be discussing, the policy issues that people should be evaluating, are what to do about climate change.”

So, when people like Bush say we shouldn’t be listening to the likes of Pope Francis or, presumably, the 93 to 97 percent of the scientific community warning about climate change, it makes one wonder why we are listening to people like Bush on this dreadfully important issue in the first place.


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Sept. 27, 2015

City needs to confront homicide surge

Everyone in our community should be alarmed by the two most recent homicides in Rapid City.

One man - 49-year-old Charles Quiver - was beaten to death with a baseball bat around 9 p.m. Sept. 23 at the intersection of First and North streets. Witnesses said two men were seen running from the crime scene.

On the night of Sept. 16, the body of 56-year-old Edward Lowry was found in a pool of blood near East North Boulevard and East Philadelphia Street, just a few blocks from where Quivers died.

As of Friday afternoon, no suspects had been arrested or detained in either case. The killers could still be roaming our streets.

The men whose lives were taken are Rapid City’s fifth and sixth homicide victims in 2015. The homicides are part of a disturbing trend. In the past three years, 14 have been reported in the city and all but one victim - Lowry - was Native American.

In addressing Quiver’s beating death, Police Chief Karl Jegeris focused on what he called “disproportionate minority victimization” and said that he is “legitimately concerned about the Native American community.”

In making that statement, the police chief is addressing one of our city’s biggest challenges, which is helping a community that suffers from a high poverty rate and all the social and crime problems that come with it.

Jegeris already has taken steps to better work with the Native American community. In July, he hired the department’s first cultural advisory coordinator, 29-year-old Vaughn Vargas, a Native American who will head a new Cultural Advisory Committee.

These are important steps to take as the city works to narrow the cultural gap in Rapid City, but they also are part of a process that will take considerable time before we can expect to see real results.

In the meantime, the police department needs to take immediate steps to reassure the community that it is doing all it can to solve the two most recent homicides and stem the surge of violent street crime in north Rapid City and beyond.

For example, a bicyclist was held up at knife point on the night of Sept. 24 in Memorial Park and just a few blocks from downtown Rapid City. The three male suspects were described as white, African-American and Native American. The victim was not harmed but the suspects are still on the loose.

You don’t need to live in a particular part of town to be concerned about public safety. It is a community-wide issue that the city needs to aggressively confront in as many ways as it possibly can.

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