Mississippi editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Commercial Dispatch on Mississippi sending unwanted dogs to the northeast:
Some exports are better than others. In Mississippi, poultry, forest and agricultural products such as corn, cotton and soybeans are exports that share the state’s economy.
Other exports aren’t exactly something to crow about.
Each year, Mississippi sends hundreds of unwanted dogs to the northeast, where the demand is high and the supply low because of that area’s enlightened approach to pet ownership.
For years now, humane societies and rescue groups have been transporting dogs north by cars and vans. ... Seventy-four dogs were recently flown to Delaware through the national Wings of Rescue, which has transferred more than 18,000 animals across the country during the past two years.
While we applaud this effort, we continue to be dismayed by the necessity of it.
Certainly, these transfers serve a good and useful purpose, reducing the strain that is placed on local shelters through overcrowding and, of course, providing homes for hundreds of perfectly good pets who might otherwise be euthanized.
The down side is that, after all these years, it’s clear that Mississippi has not responded well to the call for people to spay/neuter their pets. There are no “wild” dogs in Mississippi. Every stray was either someone’s pet or the offspring of someone’s pet. In each case, a person has failed to live up to a basic responsibility common to all pet owners — to provide a safe, healthy environment for the pet.
The frustrating part is that there are a number of programs that provide free or no-cost spay/neuter services throughout the year, including a mobile program operated by the Mississippi State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Simply put, there is no valid reason why any dog or cat should not be spayed/neutered.
In the northeast, many states have laws requiring dogs and cats to be spayed and neutered. In others, there is simply an ethos that considers spay/neuter as much a part of pet ownership as providing food and shelter.
Unfortunately in Mississippi, there are no such requirements, which means that unwanted pets will continue to be an export item in our state. It also means a lot of animals that would make wonderful pets and companions will be euthanized.
That’s the shameful reality.
Greenwood Commonwealth on the legacy of former President George H.W. Bush:
As this nation mourns the passing and remembers the legacy of George H.W. Bush, his brand of statesmanship — decent, honorable, respectful of adversaries — seems so foreign to modern-day national politics.
Had Bush pledged today to seek a “kinder and gentler nation,” as he did when he accepted the GOP’s presidential nomination in 1988, Republicans might have rescinded their choice as not tough enough, not hardened enough, not mean enough.
Yet, as we look back on Bush’s career, not only as the nation’s 41st president but his entire public life, a certain wistfulness sets in for a time when this nation was not as bitterly divided as it is now, when political dialogue was not so coarse, when differences were put aside and common ground sought even after heated elections, when compromise was considered a desirable goal in Washington rather than a dirty word.
Bush was a good president, especially when it came to foreign policy. He assembled a coalition of nations, including Arab states, to quickly turn back Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 — a military campaign so overpowering that it took only 100 hours to complete and with minimal loss of life to U.S. forces and their allies. Although he would be criticized for not carrying the offensive to Baghdad and ousting Saddam Hussein, Bush, a decorated World War II veteran himself, respected the limits of a president’s war powers and the need to be absolutely certain that a war is worth the price in American lives. He also thought that it would be better for Saddam to be dumped by his own people, which did not happen but seemed like a reasonable calculation at the time.
Bush was blessed in a lot of ways, born into comfort and well-connected, first in business, then in politics. But he also had his share of personal and political setbacks, which he handled with grace and which helped him relate to the misfortune of others, even though he was given at times the unfair rap of being disconnected from the public he served. His loss to Bill Clinton in 1992 was bad luck, the result of a short-lived but untimely economic downturn and the strong third-party candidacy of Ross Perot, who mostly siphoned off votes that would have otherwise gone for Bush.
Rather than being bitter, though, at the fickleness of the American electorate, which went in two years from giving him sky-high approval ratings to booting him out of office, Bush licked his wounds and exited the White House with dignity, accompanied by his adorably unpretentious wife, Barbara. He would later use the prestige of his long career in public service — president, vice president, CIA director, envoy to China, United Nations ambassador, congressman — to do good. He joined forces in 2004 with Clinton, a former president by then as well, to make a bipartisan appeal for donations to help victims of a Southeast Asian tsunami, then did it again the next year following Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.
Bush had the distinction of being only one of two presidents — the other being John Adams — to have a son elected president and the only one to live throughout a son’s entire term.
He was an important figure in this nation for most of his 94 years. He believed in the nobility of public service and considered it a privilege to work in government — a sentiment he passed on not only to his own children but also to those who worked for Bush while in office.
No president is ever perfect. They have tough calls to make and sometimes make the wrong one. But when they are motivated, as was Bush, by the public’s interest rather than their own, the nation forgives their errors and remembers their time in office with great admiration.
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on school bus safety:
Never pass a school bus while it is loading or unloading students.
Under Mississippi law, motorists must remain at least 10 feet in either direction from a stopped school bus when its stop sign and crossing arms are engaged. It’s a law we are often reminded about at the start of a new school year.
Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy for it to truly resonate.
On Oct. 31, 9-year-old Dalen Thomas was killed after he was struck by a car while boarding a school bus to attend Baldwyn Elementary. Dalen was an exceptional kid who overcame much after being born with a congenital condition that impacted his motor skills and hearing. Before he started kindergarten, he underwent 10 surgeries. And yet, he was an honor student, an advanced artist, and a friend whom classmates remembered as being remarkably generous.
His death is not isolated, either. Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 this year, five children were killed and six were injured across five different school bus incidents in Mississippi, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Pennsylvania.
In Northeast Mississippi, an elementary school student has been struck and killed by a driver while entering or leaving a school bus twice in the past three school years. In October 2016, 7-year-old North Pontotoc Elementary student Amiya Braxton was killed by an SUV moments after stepping off her school bus.
The Mississippi law on school bus safety is named after Nathan Key, who was killed in 2009 when he was struck by a car while leaving a school bus in Jones County.
Under that 2011 law, violators can be charged with aggravated assault if they hit a child. Motorists can also be fined up to $750 for ignoring a bus’s stop arm, and up to $1,500 for a second offense.
Dalen’s death, which occurred along Highway 370 in the Pratts community, also brings into focus the peril for children boarding buses along rural two-lane highways, where traffic tends to be moving at higher speeds. Those boardings are more dangerous than in municipalities, which tend to offer neighborhood stops.
There isn’t an easy answer. But we encourage leaders to creatively work toward strategies that increase safety.
That includes drawing bus routes to the best of their abilities in a way that limits students having to cross highways. We understand that many districts already do this - and that it isn’t always possible - but Dalen’s death should bring a renewed focus to the importance of these efforts.
It also includes greater enforcement - even employing cameras on stop arms - to send a message to motorists that they can’t pass a stopped bus.
As a community mourns the loss of a life that was tragically taken too soon, we must work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.