The Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 17
In ruling that final autopsy reports from a 2016 mass homicide aren’t public records, four Ohio Supreme Court justices have paved the way for governments to operate with ever more secrecy in the future.
Thursday’s 4-3 decision is the latest in a series of rulings that have weakened the state’s once-robust public-records laws and thrown roadblocks before Ohioans’ efforts to hold government accountable.
Records will show that the ruling went against The Dispatch and the Cincinnati Enquirer, which sought the autopsies for eight people, mainly members of the Rhoden family, killed in April 2016 in Pike County. But it is a blow against any Ohioan’s right to know what government is doing.
Because the justices muddied the previously clear understanding that autopsy reports are public records, any county coroner or law-enforcement official or prosecutor in the future who wants to withhold purely factual information about the manner of someone’s death will have a better chance of being allowed to do it.
The (Toledo) Blade, Dec. 18
It is disappointing that the bullying has only gotten worse for 11-year-old Keaton Jones after he made a video about being bullied.
The Tennessee boy’s powerful message is being lost: “People who are different shouldn’t be made fun of because they are different” and “Bullying is not OK.”
Young Jones, who attends Horace Maynard Middle School near Knoxville, asked his mother to film a video for him after she picked him up from school. He directed his message at bullies. A group of five students had targeted him for abuse, dumping milk on him and putting ham down his pants. “Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It’s not OK,” he said, breaking into sobs.
But then, people began digging into the family’s social media accounts and uncovered photos of Keaton and other family members posing with the Confederate flag — more than two years ago — and quickly jumped to the conclusion that the family is racist and that Keaton brought the abuse upon himself by using a racial slur.
Keaton has not returned to school and has now received death threats. The bullied youth has been handed another round of emotional abuse.
Social media can be savage. What should not be lost in the bile and hatred is the angst and message of a young boy who issued a plea for the world to be more tolerant.
The Akron Beacon Journal, Dec. 17
John F. Seiberling would not be pleased. The Akron Democrat who represented this area in the U.S. House for eight terms ending in 1986 counted among his finest achievements the protection of 67,000 square miles of Alaskan wilderness. Soon a portion along Alaska’s North Slope will be open to oil and gas drilling.
The exploring and drilling fuel obvious economic activity, and advocates contend the oil and gas operation can be conducted with minimal intrusion on the ecosystem. That latter contention deserves much skepticism. Most telling, advocates fail to show the necessity for disturbing such precious wilderness, for violating the Seiberling principle.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, insists that drilling will “provide for our nation’s energy future,” supporting energy independence and national security. Yet projections indicate differently. If oil is extracted, it would be a puny addition, increasing American oil reserves to 3 percent of the global whole.
If anything, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be a last resort, a necessity required to put at risk such pristine and revered lands. That just isn’t the case now, especially in view of the changing climate and energy priorities.
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