Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Aug. 2012


A pet cemetery awaits Ivan, if his remains come home

This just in: An offer from New Tacoma Cemeteries.

It was sad to read of the passing of Ivan, he was/is such an icon of Tacoma. I myself recall visiting Ivan on several occasions at the B&I, always in awe of his presence and the fact there was a gorilla here in South Tacoma.

We at New Tacoma Cemeteries have a pet cemetery on our grounds in University Place. It would be our honor to have Ivan placed here and once again be “home” where he belongs. A cemetery space would gladly be donated, whether they would decide to have

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Letter writer was accident victim

I just read on our website that the motorist killed in Wednesday’s awful accident on Interstate 705 was identified as attorney Scott Jablon, 58, of Federal Way.

The name sounded familiar, so I checked our letters to the editor database. Jablon was a fairly regular writer, and he last had a letter in the paper July 19, supporting 30th Legislative District candidate Linda Kochmar.

Our condolences to Jablon’s family.


For pot stores evading taxes, any rationale will do

Marijuana plant

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

As if the world of medical marijuana weren’t confusing enough, now comes news that some dispensaries are faithfully paying sales taxes while others consider it strictly optional.

The ones that don’t pay offer a variety of reasons – none convincing and all self-serving.

They portray themselves as legitimate businesses yet argue that their product shouldn’t be taxed – because it’s illegal. Try to parse that logic.

One pretext is that marijuana is exempted from taxation because it’s a prescription drug. But under state law, marijuana is explicitly not a prescription drug. As medical marijuana people usually take pains to point out, the “green card” authorizations that some naturopaths, nurse-practitioners and doctors hand out like confetti are not prescriptions. Read more »


Lay Ivan where he will be remembered, honored: Here

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Picture a tasteful memorial, perhaps at a pet cemetery, somewhere in Tacoma, for a gorilla.

That’s where the mortal remains of Ivan belong.

Tacoma’s favorite non-human son died at Zoo Atlanta Monday in the gentlest way. He was under general anesthetic as veterinarians attempted to diagnose the causes of his recent physical decline, and he never woke up.

Ivan’s long life spanned a revolution in our own species’ understanding of the great apes.

Captured as an infant 50 years ago in what was then the Belgian Congo, he was shipped to the United States by wildlife traders. He wound up as an attraction in the B&I Circus Store on South Tacoma Way, where he spent 27 years by himself in a concrete enclosure.

In the meantime, humans figured out that gorillas weren’t just scary-looking jungle beasts. Naturalists observed their close family bonds, elaborate social structures and intelligence. It became clear that gorillas are as tied to other gorillas as humans are to other humans – and that no gorilla should spend life alone.

Credit the Lynnwood-based Progressive Animal Welfare Society with launching, in 1987, what became a national campaign to unite Ivan with other gorillas in a proper gorilla habitat.

National Geographic featured his plight in a documentary, “The Urban Gorilla.” The New York Times told his story. The News Tribune editorialized again and again in favor of giving him a better home.
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Biden, Akin, et al: Not all gaffes are created equal

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday, Aug. 21:

One of the most annoying features of modern American politics is the scripted politician. He or she memorizes a set of consultant-generated talking points, repeats them with monotonous efficiency and never lets the public glimpse a real human being with thoughts that have not been preapproved and focus-group-tested. So why do politicians behave that way? Simple: They want to avoid the dreaded “gaffe.”

Gaffes have become one of the dominant topics of this election season. But contrary to what you might assume, all gaffes are not created equal. Here, we offer voters a guide to which stumbles warrant a response and which deserve to be excused or ignored:

A common type is the quote ripped from context, framed to distort the candidate’s actual views and blown up 10 times its original size. Mitt Romney found his way into this phenomenon when he was quoted as saying, “I like being able to fire people.” His critics pretended he was showing disdain for the unemployed, when he was really extolling the value of letting consumers “fire” companies that treat them poorly.

Something similar occurred when Barack Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” The “that” in his statement, though not entirely clear, seemed to refer to the infrastructure that businesses need to operate in a modern economy. The valid criticism was not that Obama thought business people didn’t build their businesses, but that he discounted the importance of that entrepreneurial contribution. This pertinent point, however, was lost in the uproar.

Then there is the gaffe committed when someone dares to speak impromptu on a controversial topic. Among the politicians prone to this sort of spectacle are Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill.

Biden made news¬†the other day when he got carried away in front of an audience that included many African-Americans, warning that Republicans are “going to put y’all back in chains.” Walsh attracted attention recently when he asserted, in reference to the threat of Islamic terrorism, “It’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin.”

The vice president later insisted he didn’t mean to make any racial allusions, and Walsh acknowledged that he got “a little ahead of myself with my language.”

Maybe both were hoping to inject some unworthy elements into the electoral bloodstream while escaping responsibility. But we’re inclined to give the benefit of some doubt to any elected official or candidate who refuses to be enslaved by scripts and teleprompters. Walsh and Biden deserve some credit for not poll-testing every utterance before speaking.

But spontaneity is not an excuse for ignorance or egregious blindness. Both were on display when Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., a U.S. Senate candidate, was asked about his opposition to legalized abortion even in cases of rape. “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” he said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
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Ivan remembered

Ivan at Zoo Atlanta in 2001. (Photo by Joe Sebo)

Obituary: Ivan – the “B&I gorilla” – died Monday at age 50 after a brief illness.

The native of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a former South Sound resident who lived with a local family for three years, then at their store before residing briefly in Seattle. He moved to Zoo Atlanta in 1994, where he lived until his death.

Although Ivan had no children, he had many devoted fans.

When I came to the Tacoma

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Chambers Bay or University Place? Let’s talk about it

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

A new idea shouldn’t be tossed out just because it’s a new idea. The citizens of University Place ought to at least explore the merits of rechristening their city Chambers Bay.

Several city leaders floated the notion recently, and so far it hasn’t proven seaworthy. People tend to see their community and its name as an indivisible package deal. Call it something else, and it’s not quite the same place.

In this case, there’s a certain charm to a “University Place” that has no university. The city’s name dates to the late 1800s, when the founders of the University of Puget Sound decided to establish the school there – and then changed their minds.

The locals stuck with the name, which at least made the community sound as if it abounded in scholars.

“University Place” has a century of fond tradition on its side. Let’s consider the case for “Chambers Bay”:

The name is short, lovely and evokes images of a picturesque cove on Puget Sound. What’s more, University Place actually does have a picturesque cove on Puget Sound.

But the best argument for “Chambers Bay” is that people across the United States will recognize the name in a few years.
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