Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers
Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:
The Lawton Constitution. June 10, 2018.
— Oklahoma Suicides Are Up 38 Percent. This Is A Public Health Crisis
This past week offered several reminders that we are facing a growing mental health problem that isn’t going away.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that suicides are up 30 percent nationwide since 1999. Oklahoma is exceeding the national trend, with suicides increasing by 38 percent.
Events of the past week have shown that mental illness does not discriminate. Even the rich and famous — people who outwardly have all the reason in the world to be happy — are not immune. Fashion designer Kate Spade and chef/television personality Anthony Bourdain both made the tragic and irreversible decision to end their own lives this past week.
So, what has changed in the past two decades to get us to this point?
Some blame technology, arguing that it is advancing at a much more rapid pace than the human brain can adapt. From communicating with friends and family, to shopping, to consuming news and information, technology has definitely changed the way we behave.
We have come a long way in talking openly about mental health issues, but we still have a way to go. Seeking professional help for issues such as depression and addiction needs to be as common as going to the doctor to be treated for a physical ailment.
Leaving a mental health issue unaddressed can kill you instantly.
If you are dealing with a mental health problem, please contact a friend, family member or counselor. Regardless of what you are going through, you don’t have to go through it alone.
If you are thinking about taking your own life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org .
The Oklahoman. June 12, 2018.
— Supreme Court’s cake ruling may have broad impact
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision siding with a baker who declined to make a custom cake for a gay wedding has been described as “narrow” because the court didn’t address the free-speech question. But it appears even this narrow ruling is significant and may impact numerous similar cases nationwide.
The high court concluded the Colorado Civil Rights Commission evidenced “elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs” of baker Jack Phillips, and failed to administer laws without hostility to a religion or religious viewpoint.
Among other things, commission members openly disparaged religion, and state officials didn’t penalize other bakers who declined to create Bible-shaped cakes adorned with Scripture opposing homosexuality. The contradictory stances on identical issues played a significant role in the court’s ruling.
It’s been suggested the Colorado case is almost unique. But attorney David French, writing at National Review Online, notes religious liberty litigators he has talked with disagree because they “know the factual records of their own cases, and they know that the records are often littered with examples of state bias and double standards.”
For instance, Wayne State University in Michigan has sought not to recognize InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because the student group requires that its leadership be Christians who adhere to a statement of faith.
Citing the Supreme Court’s cake ruling, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a brief defending the students’ rights noting similar double-standards at Wayne State. The school allows exemptions from its nondiscrimination policy for secular groups such as its 46 fraternities and sororities, but not for religious groups. Sports organizations, including two pingpong clubs, a billiards club and a Quidditch club, can be men-only or women-only. Becket officials note Wayne State “insists on maintaining categorical exemptions for large, popular secular groups so that those groups can select both leaders and members based on sex” while simultaneously arguing religious groups cannot because a group’s articles of faith might include limiting its leadership to males.
“To Wayne State, actual secular sex discrimination is good while hypothetical religious sex discrimination is evil,” Becket officials write.
In Washington state, officials with the Alliance Defending Freedom point out that state’s attorney general has charged Christian florists with violating state anti-discrimination law because they declined to do work for a gay wedding, but he didn’t enforce those same laws when a coffee shop owner refused to serve an anti-abortion group and openly mocked their Christian beliefs in the process. In legal briefs, the Washington state attorney general has also made anti-religion statements similar to those made by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
In Washington, D.C., officials with the Metro transit system refused to allow the Archdiocese of Washington to advertise Christmas Mass, but allowed retailers to display secular Christmas ads. The list goes on.
In numerous instances, government officials have relied on double standards to penalize only people of faith. The Supreme Court’s decision is making such abuses much harder for those government officials to continue.
Tulsa World. June 12, 2018.
— Tulsa should celebrate Amazon fulfillment center announcement
Congratulations to all the private and public officials who combined to bring an Amazon fulfillment center to Tulsa.
The 640,000-square-foot facility to be built near 43rd Street North and 129th East Avenue will bring about 1,500 jobs to the area. A similar facility was recently announced for Oklahoma City.
Amazon is an internet sales giant that has severely challenged traditional retail outlets. We’re not naive to that reality, but Tulsa would be foolish not to welcome a capital investment of $130 million and an annual payroll of $50 million.
Snubbing Amazon wouldn’t have stopped a fulfillment center from being built, it just would have been built somewhere else while the Amazon juggernaut continued to roll.
Part of the deal includes more than $1 million in city water and stormwater work, which will serve Amazon and other development that is sure to follow in the area.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will provide traffic signals at the facility’s entrance and nearby 46th Street North entrance and exit ramps onto U.S. 169.
More than a year ago, Amazon started collecting state and local use tax on its online sales to Oklahoma consumers. The Oklahoma City and Tulsa facilities would have made use tax collection mandatory anyway, but the agreement ended a long-festering dispute with the Seattle-based company, which has annual revenue of more than $177 billion. While other e-marketers continue to offer an illicit tax discount to Oklahoma consumers, we can’t make that charge against Amazon.
We’re glad to have the big Amazon facility in Tulsa. It will bring solid working-class jobs and economic stability to the city. It was an opportunity Tulsa couldn’t pass up and should welcome.