Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


Sept. 8

The Post and Courier on the vision test for driver’s license renewals:

One of the craziest things the S.C. Legislature ever did — and yes, we realize that’s a high bar — was eliminating the vision test for driver’s license renewals.

In fairness to lawmakers, most of them apparently didn’t realize what they had done until after they started getting complaints.

A House subcommittee, acting at the request of Department of Motor Vehicles Director Kevin Shwedo, inserted the repeal into a 2017 bill to bring South Carolina into overdue compliance with a 2004 Real ID law, which required stricter security measures for driver’s licenses.

That bill was controversial on its own, because some lawmakers still clung to the black-helicopter fears about the federal government getting our driver’s license information that then-Gov. Mark Sanford had whipped up to convince them to ignore the federal anti-terrorism law. On top of that, a much-discussed part of the bill eliminated a widely ignored requirement that older drivers pass a vision test between license renewals, and most lawmakers missed the fact that in so doing, the bill repealed the test for all license renewals.

A few senators spotted the repeal but decided not to say anything because they were afraid of derailing the overall bill, which needed to pass quickly so South Carolinians who didn’t have passports or military IDs could continue to board commercial aircraft and enter federal buildings.

Mr. Shwedo had told lawmakers that continuing to require drivers to pass the vision test would make lines even longer as the state rolled out the Real ID licenses. Besides, he said, it didn’t catch all vision problems, and there was no proof that it did any good. At one news conference the following year, he defended the repeal by saying people already get their eyes tested and their vision corrected when they need to “so they can see a TV.”

It’s true that some states don’t require drivers to pass a vision test to renew their licenses; it’s also true that South Carolina has one of the highest highway death rates in the nation, only part of which is a result of our loophole-riddled DUI law. We simply don’t need to eliminate the minimal safety requirements we have, particularly such simple requirements as looking into a screen and reading a few letters at the DMV counter.

Fortunately, it took only a few months for some legislators to recognize what a mistake it had been to eliminate vision screening and introduce legislation to reverse it. And in the end, only one legislator voted against it. Unfortunately, it took four months, the entirety of the 2018 legislative session, to pass the bill, and thanks to Mr. Shwedo’s persistent lobbying, its implementation was delayed to Oct. 1, 2020.

Which is finally about to arrive. And now, according to The Post and Courier’s Adam Benson, Mr. Shwedo acknowledges that it’s the Legislature — and not vision-challenged state agency directors — who get to determine whether drivers need to be able to see in order to get our licenses renewed, and that our Legislature has decided we must.

So after more than three years of renewing driver’s licenses for people who might not be able to see well, South Carolina is about to start enforcing a vision requirement again, at least at the time of license renewal. That’s good news, and in this bizarre year, we’ll take any good news we can get.



Sept. 3

The State newspaper on Chadwick Boseman's death:

The state Senate has passed a resolution honoring actor and Anderson native Chadwick Boseman, who recently died at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

But here is what should truly strike a chord regarding the state’s commemoration of the beloved film star:

It is an honor that Boseman deserved just as much for the nobility he displayed in actual life as the brilliance he exhibited on a movie screen.

By all accounts Boseman was a private public figure; indeed what made the impact of the actor’s death so weighty for so many was that so few knew that he was even fighting a daunting battle with cancer — or that he’d been doing so for such a lengthy period.

But we can surely assume that during the four years between the day Boseman learned of his diagnosis and the day he finally succumbed to it, he experienced moments of fallen tears.

Moments of raw devastation.

And moments of deep despair.

A superhuman in a two-hour film is still a human being in 24-hour life — and isn’t immune from the vulnerabilities that come with that reality.


Yet the enduring power of Boseman’s memory should be that his final four years of life were lived with:

- Resolve.

- Intensity.

- Passion.

- Determination.

And, most striking of all, Boseman’s final four years of life were clearly fueled by this: a relentless hunger to keep accomplishing great things in his life — and, time after time, to keep achieving them.

Yes, we should always treasure the magnificence of Boseman’s work in movies like “42,” “Marshall,” “Da 5 Bloods” and, of course, his iconic starring role as King T’Challa in “The Black Panther.”

But what demands to be cherished even more about Boseman is that he possessed the unquenchable sense of tenacity to keep pursuing acclaimed magnificence while also confronting stark mortality.

We should always admire how convincingly Boseman played a superhero in front of the cameras.

But our greatest applause should always be reserved for the compelling courage that the actor demonstrated far from the camera — because that truly was heroic in nature.


It’s a given that part of Boseman’s legacy will always be the declaration of empowerment that he utters in “The Black Panther”:

“Wakanda Forever!”

And that will always be fitting.

For generations to come it will inspire young Black children of all backgrounds — some of them facing obstacles of all kinds — to proudly wear “Black Panther” costumes to Halloween parties and countless other gatherings of kids.

Their heads will be held high.

Their bearing will be brimming with self-esteem.

Their eyes will be bright with self-confidence.

And that will forever carry a power that goes well beyond two simple words in a Marvel Studios movie.

But the lasting legacy of Chadwick Boseman should also be that of someone who chased and grasped excellence in cinematic life while bravely and directly confronting, each day, the fragility and uncertainty of genuine life.

It is a legacy worthy of resonance, and it’s why the state Senate’s recognition of Boseman is one so richly earned.



Sept. 3

The Times and Democrat on nursing home visitors:

Quarantining nursing homes in South Carolina was a sensible move in the early days of the coronavirus emergency. But the quarantine failed to keep the virus out of the facilities -- more than 1,000 residents have died from COVID-19 -- and at the same time has kept a vulnerable population away from people they love at a time when they need them most.

Nearing the end of August,

In the face of increasing calls to restore access to nursing homes, Gov. Henry McMaster asked the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to devise guidelines. On Tuesday, he and DHEC unveiled a plan that will leave many wanting because there is no visitation inside nursing homes.

The rules require visitors and residents to stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart while in special outdoor visitation areas. Facilities can also use three-sided Plexiglas booths to let people visit closer together.

Masks have to be worn at all times from the moment visitors arrive at the home. There is a limit to two visitors, who can only stay 15 minutes unless they can provide a negative COVID-19 test in the past five days or a positive COVID-19 antibody test in the past 30 days. Pets can visit too if they are in kennels or leashed.

Visitors cannot come inside the nursing home and residents can’t pass through any area where COVID-19 patients are to get to the visitation area. To protect residents and visitors from the weather, a nursing home can choose to not allow visitors at a particular time.

McMaster’s guidelines also require visitors to give full contact information and pass a temperature check.

And the nursing home must have had no COVID-19 cases in staff or residents for two weeks.

In making the announcement, the governor said: “It’s been frustrating for all of those who are worried about a parent, grandparent or their loved one’s wellbeing. We know that we have no policy or procedure that can eliminate all possibility of risk. We can’t do it. But the time has come -- based on what we’ve learned, what we’ve experienced -- to reunite our families members, loved ones and caregivers, safely, as best we can.”

COVID-19 downturn continues to eat away SC budget estimates

The governor said he had heard from hundreds of families via letters and conversations about not being able to visit people in nursing homes.

Now that visitation in a limited way will be allowed, let’s hope most South Carolinians in nursing homes will be physically able to handle the regimen of seeing those they love outside of a customary setting and in the specially designated areas. Some will not be able to do so.

As soon as feasible, all residents of nursing homes should be given access to such visits that often are as important to their well-being as any amount of skilled and special care.