Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Archives: July 2012

July
25th

Emmert takes unprecedented steps for unprecedented sins

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Penn State has avoided the dreaded NCAA “death penalty” – a ban on competition – for its cover-up of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse. But the punishment announced Monday by NCAA President Mark Emmert nevertheless sends a strong message to college sports officials. Let’s just hope they hear it.

The message: That even highly profitable, revered sports programs will be held accountable for transgressions that once might have been considered outside the purview of NCAA action.

The tough penalties against Penn State include a $60 million fine, loss of bowl revenue, reduction in scholarships, a four-year postseason ban and vacated wins from 1998 to 2011. Current athletes may transfer to other schools without consequences.
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July
25th

Scary CDC graph shows state’s whopping whooping cough increase

A great website to read about science, tech and science fiction is io9.com. One posting caught my eye with its headline: “This graph of whooping cough cases in Washington State should scare the crap out of you.” Here’s the link.

The Centers for Disease Control graph shows the 1300 percent increase in pertussis cases from early 2011 to June 16, 2012. While the nation is experiencing a pertussis epidemic, the incidence in Washington is far worse – more than seven times the national average. The likely reason: Washington’s high percentage of “antivaxxers” – parents who either don’t or

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July
24th

Tacoma police keep the lights on for Teekah Lewis

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Teekah, where are you?

It’s been more than 13 years since 2-year-old Teekah Lewis vanished from New Frontier Lanes on Center Street on a dark January night in 1999. Somebody took her. In that busy Tacoma bowling alley, somebody must have seen her get taken.

The chances of solving such a crime fall quickly after the first few days. As time stretches, it can get tougher still. Criminals flee or develop alibis. Witnesses move. Phones get disconnected. Memories get fuzzy.

In Teekah’s case, even the scene of the crime – the bowling alley – has evaporated, razed for a new development.

But give credit to the Tacoma Police Department. Its officers are pursuing this cold case with tenacity.

Detectives stepped up the investigation earlier this year, revisiting old crime reports and trying to connect dots that didn’t seem connectable 13 years ago.

They’ve looked especially hard at reports of child-luring in the Tacoma area. Predators who abduct children often commit similar other crimes before and after.
It is gratifying to learn that a Tacoma police team descended Friday and Saturday on the house of a man convicted of child-luring in 2010. Investigators reportedly arrived in a forensics van, used cadaver dogs and dug in the back yard.

They appear to have found nothing. But they obviously sense they have new leads in the case. And they wouldn’t have new leads unless they’d been looking for them.
Teekah isn’t the only missing child in Pierce County who seems to have fallen into a predator’s hands. Here are some of the most infamous cold cases:

• In 1995, Lenoria Jones vanished at age 3 in Tacoma.

• In 1996, Jeffrey Klungness, then 14, was apparently taken from his Sumner-area house, where his mother was found beaten to death.

• In 1992, Misty Copsey, then 14, disappeared after spending a day at the Puyallup Fair.

The thing is to remember.

Teekah’s family has employed multiple strategies to keep her in the public eye. They have repeatedly held vigils, used the media to appeal for help, and put Teekah’s face on television and even the sides of long-haul trucks.
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July
23rd

Will the Tacoma City Council protect dispensary neighbors?

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The Tacoma City Council appears to have backed down from a plan to enable “medical marijuana” sales in the city’s commercial districts.

Instead, it is contemplating a measure that would call dispensaries and other pot-selling operations what they are: illegal nuisances.

The move suggests that at least some members of the council recognize that the reality of commercial marijuana is far seedier than it seemed in 2010 – when the council more or less told the police to ignore trafficking if the traffickers put up a sign labeling the drug as “medicine.”

That tolerance policy spawned dozens of dispensaries that are not grandly popular with their neighbors.

Dispensaries were originally sold on the notion they exist to serve people dying of cancer and suffering from other severe illnesses.

An increasing public complaint, though, is that many of the “patients” walking through their doors look for all the world like ordinary dopers. Any honest person close to the industry will concede that it caters to a whole lot of recreational drug users.
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July
23rd

The Aurora massacre: A film critic’s view

WHEN DEATH LEAPS OFF THE MOVIE SCREEN

By Ann Hornaday
The Washington Post.

We go to the movies to dream.

When the audience filed into Theater 9 at the Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, Colo., early Friday morning, they were there to experience that state of consciousness that only movies can provide. Somewhere between waking life and hypnotic trance, the act of watching a movie is one of voluntary surrender, of letting go of our daily psychological defenses and allowing our imaginations to be colonized by the enveloping sounds and images on the screen.

That unique state of consciousness was surely all the more intense Friday, when the crowd of parents, children, friends and families piled into the theater to watch “The Dark Knight Rises,” the last of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and one that epitomizes the director’s distinctively immersive style. When alleged gunman James Holmes entered the theater, reportedly about a half-hour into the show, the audience was no doubt fully engaged with the dark, densely detailed escapist fantasy — which reportedly had reached one of several violent shootout and bombing scenes when the real attack began.

It’s no wonder that when the shooter — dressed in a bulletproof vest and a gas mask — began firing a gun into the air, some spectators thought it was part of the show, either a promotional gimmick or an over-zealous theater employee trying to ramp up an already intense cinematic experience.

When the gunman embarked on his rampage — which resulted in at least 12 deaths and dozens of injuries — he not only invaded a safe physical space and a seasonal communal rite as cherished as baseball games or late-night stories around the campfire; he invaded a deeply personal psychic space that, because of the overwhelming power of identification and suggestion that movies possess, is all the more fragile when it’s violated.

We’re sadly familiar with horrific violence unleashed in what should be inviolate places, from schools and churches to college campuses and supermarkets. But the movie audience in Aurora was victimized while in a singular psychological state, one that made them even more vulnerable.
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July
23rd

Let’s talk gun control (a Bostonian view)

Derrick Z. Jackson is a liberal Boston Globe columnist. His thoughts on the Aurora theater massacre and gun control:

WILL AURORA KILLINGS BREAK THE SILENCE ON GUNS?

By Derrick Z. Jackson

Twelve people were killed and 59 were wounded early Friday at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Earlier this week, 18 people were wounded in a shooting spree near the University of Alabama.

What is America waiting for? In a nation of common sense, these tragedies would break the national silence over our insane acceptance of guns.

But the 1999 Columbine school massacre in Colorado did not do it. The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre did not do it. The 2011 Tucson massacre that severely wounded Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords did not do it. The near-death of a congressional colleague failed to wake up Capitol Hill.

Since then, there have been more than 50 mass shootings across the United States, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. None of them broke the silence, even though the killings have taken the lives of many innocent children, including a 2-year-old in the 2010 Mattapan massacre here in Boston.

No one really pays much attention to the daily one-by-one carnage, since the shooters are disproportionately young black men. Society dismisses it as gang-related or drug-related ghetto violence. Then we pretend to be “shocked” by mass atrocities in the suburbs, colleges, and movie multiplexes committed by young men who are not black. We pretend that the non-black assailants were gripped with individual evil.

We pretend because few in power have the courage to state the simple fact that these acts could not have been committed without America’s near-unfettered access to guns.
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July
23rd

Alexandra Petri on the Screwed Generation

Funny. Unless you’re a Millennial, maybe.

By Alexandra Petri
The Washington Post.

“Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?”

Newsweek wants to know.

It thinks we are. It has statistics. It has pictures of doleful-looking millennials.

Frankly, I am sick of being told by people twice my age that they are screwing me over. I already knew that. The boomers keep leaving me with large bills — the kind that I am expected to pay when they die after receiving decades of the Most Expensive Care Available, because the boomers have been coddled and told over and over that they are

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July
22nd

Tax transparency good for Romney – and Congress, too

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Congressional leaders are right to call on Mitt Romney to release more than two years of tax returns. But their entreaties would be far more credible if those lawmakers were equally as transparent about their own finances.

They say Romney’s refusal to release more tax records suggests he has something to hide. If that’s the case, doesn’t it suggest the same thing when only 17 of 535 members of Congress agree to release their most recent tax returns in response to a request by McClatchy Newspapers?

None of the top Senate or House leaders – Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – agreed to the disclosure, nor did any members of Washington state’s congressional delegation. In fact, none of them even replied to the request one way or another.
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