Mississippi editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Daily Journal of Tupelo on the slaying of a University of Mississippi student and other acts of ‘senseless violence’ in the state:
Violence continues to happen around us for reasons that make no sense. Such is the death of University of Mississippi student Alexandria “Ally” Kostial, a 21-year-old from St. Louis.
The Ole Miss marketing major was found July 20, the victim of a horrendous act of violence. A friend described her as the “kindest, nicest, sweetest person,” who “didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”
The university’s Interim chancellor, Larry Sparks, said in a statement that, “Ally’s death shocks the conscience and causes much pain and sorrow, . We must draw strength from what brings us together as a community, even as we grieve this unspeakable loss.”
One of her male classmates, Brandon Theesfeld, 22, has been arrested and charged with her murder.
In May, 32-year-old Dominique Clayton was found dead in her home in Oxford. She was the mother of four children. Matthew Kinne, a former Oxford police officer, is now facing a murder charge in her death.
Neither family could have expected these tragedies, but they happen any time, anywhere. None of their lives will ever be the same.
Senseless acts of violence occur more often that we would like to have to admit and both of these cases should heighten awareness against women and gun violence.
According to a report released last November by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, more than 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. That calculates to an average of about 238 per day — nearly 10 every hour.
The Violence Policy Center reports that more than 90% of women murdered by men are killed by someone they know. This type of violence has no regard for a person’s background, or social and economic status and usually centers around intimidation, domination, and jealousy.
And another senseless shooting leaves a community to grieve.
The Greenwood Commonwealth on the University of Mississippi students who posed with guns in front of a bullet-riddled Emmett Till plaque:
The stupidity of college students can be boggling at times. It makes one wonder about the quality of American education, particularly how well or how much young people are taught about history.
Had three University of Mississippi students fully understood the story of Emmett Till, we would hope they would not have thought it cute or clever to pose, holding long guns, in front of an already bullet-riddled sign in Tallahatchie County memorializing Till’s premature death, or to post the photo onto social media as some type of a boast.
It also was not very smart, as their actions reportedly caused the FBI to look into the matter, and could still prompt a Department of Justice investigation as to whether what they did constituted a hate crime. Unless there is more evidence to unearth, that’s probably a stretch, as the photo was taken at night with no one else around (other than possibly the photographer), and the social media post by one of the three students sounded more like a bad inside joke among friends than an attempt to harass or intimidate people of the opposite race.
Nevertheless, Till’s life and death are no joking matter. He came in 1955 to this part of Mississippi from Chicago at the age of 14 to visit relatives and failed to make it out alive because he broke a couple of Southern racial taboos of the time: He was fresh with a white woman, and he apparently refused to grovel to the white men who were going to teach him a lesson for it.
Till’s murder — made worse by the racist attitude of jurors that empowered them to acquit his killers despite their obvious guilt — has been a curse on Mississippi for more than six decades. Every boneheaded and racist act, such as this photo, only continues to reinforce the negative stereotypes about this state in the national consciousness.
Ole Miss officials say the university has no grounds to discipline the three students since their actions didn’t occur at a university function or on campus. College students, after all, do have the right to behave like boorish numskulls away from school.
But someone other than the fraternity that suspended them does have the authority — and arguably the obligation — to use the incident as a teaching moment for the three. That someone would be their parents.
They could require their sons this fall to take a course at Ole Miss in civil rights history. If these three were to learn how cruelly and unjustly not only Till was treated but countless other blacks, who were lynched or beaten or humiliated as a way to try to keep them as second-class citizens, that would wipe the grin off the students’ faces. It might also help them mature into better-educated and better-behaving grown-ups.
The Vicksburg Post on the need for a state review of post-flood measures:
Successful businesses and organizations at times will stop, evaluate past projects and discuss those things that have gone right or wrong.
For people, there are medical checkups from time-to-time where their health is evaluated, their weight checked, blood pressure monitored and, in consultation with their doctor, they develop a plan for improved or continued good health moving forward.
Such a checkup, or to use government and military terms, after-action report, is needed once the floodwaters have receded and the first part of this historic flood is behind us.
With recovery efforts on the horizon, it is important for government officials to take inventory of what has happened over the past six months and review steps that were taken to fight floodwaters, protect life and property and support residents who were affected during the flood.
The best time to review such processes and actions will be upon us soon, and doing so ensures those thoughts fresh on our minds are written down, evaluated and learned from before the events of the past months become a distant memory.
While we are firmly behind the #finishthepumps movement — a movement that should only grow stronger as the full scope of damage from the flood is revealed — it is also important that the push for the pumps is not the only effort our residents and our leaders get behind.
Are there other changes that can be made to mitigate flooding? Is there work Mississippi Department of Transportation can do to protect vital infrastructure from future flood damage? What steps can utility companies take to make sure crucial services like water, sewer and power can endure during months of flooding?
All of these groups will be hard at work as recovery begins in a matter of weeks. Crews will be evaluating roads, while utility companies will be attempting to restore service and make repairs. Governmental agencies will be assisting in the cleanup, while law enforcement and first responders will be on hand to make sure such work is done safely.
As that work begins, it is important to write down what we have learned, to make sure any mistakes are not made again. We need to make sure we are better prepared next time, because there will be a next time.