Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Greenwood Commonwealth on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling protecting LGBT workers from job discrimination:
In a major surprise from a U.S. Supreme Court with a conservative majority, the justices ruled 6-3 on June 15 that the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barring job discrimination because of gender also protects gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination.
The opinion was written by one of the two conservative justices in the majority, perhaps to make the point that the ruling included both of the court’s political ideologies.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, wrote, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex.” This, he said, is exactly what the 1964 legislation is supposed to prevent.
This can be an uncomfortable topic. Other gender-related cases on issues like bathroom use and athletic participation are likely to make their way to the high court. But those seem far less sweeping than the June 15 ruling, which in essence reaffirmed that all employees ought to be judged on the quality of their work.
The Daily Journal on removing Confederate symbolism from the Mississippi flag:
As we celebrate national Flag Day, it’s a good time to ask, what is the role of a flag?
More than a mere piece of cloth that adorns a pole in front of our homes and businesses, a good flag elicits pride from those who see it and those who fly it. A good flag becomes a unifying symbol, bringing a diverse people together under a common visual identity. The best flags become inspirational – think of all of the American men and women who have given their lives in foreign lands in defense of their flag.
What then is the point of having a flag that is divisive? When a flag does more to tear people apart than bring them together, it is not serving its purpose.
It is long past time for Mississippi to change its state flag.
While the flag’s Confederate symbolism may be meaningful for those whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, it is hurtful and offensive for hundreds of thousands of citizens in a state in which nearly 40 percent of its nearly 3 million residents are black.
We recognize that there are many Mississippians whose pride in the current flag is benevolent. But the truth is the flag’s Confederate symbolism also carries darker undertones. And while it may represent heritage for many, it also has been adopted by white supremacists and hate-filled groups. Some of those groups have even begun flying Mississippi’s flag, the only flag in the country to contain the Confederate battle emblem, at their rallies. Each time they do so, it reflects poorly on all Mississippians, even though we don’t share their hateful values.
When a flag can be used to sow hate, it must be changed. An official state symbol should never cause deep pain for a large portion of its citizenry. That’s counterintuitive of what a flag is meant to be.
Changing the flag does not erase the heritage of individual family members. But it does tell 40 percent of the state’s population, we care about you, too. It says we are all united as Mississippians, we are all valued as a people, and we are all committed to working together to make this state a better place. It says we are a state for all, not a state for the few whose heritage is recognized by our official flag.
Conversations about changing the flag have begun percolating inside Mississippi’s Capitol. This month, a bipartisan group of House members privately discussed the issue and began whipping votes, as reported by Mississippi Today. On June 11, a group of Democratic senators filed a resolution to change the flag.
We are proud to see these conversations occurring, and we call on the Legislators to take bold leadership on this important issue. It’s time to act quickly and show the world our true values – Mississippi stands for unity and not for hate.
We don’t need to delay the issue with a long, drawn-out popular election. That election was held last November when we chose our lawmakers and state officials to represent us. Now it’s time for them to lead and to quickly remove a state symbol that doesn’t epitomize our state and its values.
The Vicksburg Post on continuing coronavirus protective measures:
Local, state and federal officials have always said the goal of the shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders was never to get the number of COVID-19 cases to zero. Those decisions were to slow the spread of the virus and keep our local and state health facilities from being overrun with patients in desperate need of ICU beds, ventilators and extreme care.
And even though the number of cases continues to creep higher and higher, it would appear that run on the medical community has been kept at a somewhat manageable level.
But that is today. There is no telling what will happen tomorrow, next week or next month.
There is no telling what will happen when the economy is at full throttle and restrictions on gatherings and other social distancing measures are lessened further. What then? What will the numbers be on that day or two weeks later? Will our medical facilities be able to handle what may very well come next?
As we said months ago, this is new territory for all involved. No one has the playbook and leaders across the board are navigating a situation that no one expected to be dealing with when they took their respective oaths of office.
Leaders from the federal government all the way to Vicksburg City Hall and the Warren County Courthouse are relying on data and the best advice possible from state and local health officials. They are also having to deal with the economic impact from weeks of having the economy shut down and near-historic unemployment levels.
While the playbook is still being written on how to deal with a pandemic on a global scale, there continues to be things we as individuals can do; in short, it all comes down to the little things.
We can continue to wear masks when in public. We can continue to adhere to indoor and outdoor social distancing guidelines. And, we can continue to ask elderly members in our family to stay at home, ensuring those who are at the most risk from this illness are protected.
We can continue to encourage our friends and family to follow the suggestions to the best of their abilities and do not dismiss this virus as a hoax, a conspiracy or the common cold that mere sunlight can vanquish. It is more than that — far more.
As restrictions are eased, we will see higher case numbers. As more testing is done, we will see higher numbers.
But just because we assume those things to be true does not mean they have to happen. It does not mean that we as individuals, as families, cannot have an impact on the spread of this disease. We can and we must.
In previous editorials, we pressed that adhering to government guidelines and suggestions is a personal responsibility, but we were wrong. It is not personal, it is public. Doing these little things that we are asked is what we as citizens of a free and open society should be willing to do for the good of our free and open society. If we do not, then we are staring at not just a second wave of the virus, but a second wave of shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders.
And if that happens, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.