Editorial Summary: North Carolina | Charlotte Observer


Winston-Salem Journal. March 5, 2022.

Editorial: Ban book banning

Oh shit no.

You come after Dolly Parton, you come after all of us.

You better buckle up your seatbelt, ’cause you’re gonna have a tough ride.

That’s the advice we’d give Kentucky State Senator Stephen Meredith, who last week, while discussing a bill linking his state to Parton’s Imagination Library program, asked if language could be added to ensure that the books in the program were “fit for purpose”. ”

The Divine Mrs. Parton, if we may, is one of the few national treasures we all still agree on. This stellar icon has brought joy and comfort to millions of Americans. She did a lot of good with her fame and fortune and, as far as we know, never spoke ill of anyone, not even Porter Wagoner. As Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said, the Imagination Library has long been “uncontroversial, and I think what Dolly Parton and her program have shown is that they have an age-appropriate subject and – appropriate books aimed at children.

Incidentally, we have benefited locally from Parton’s Imagination Library, which sends free books to children from birth to 5 years old.

Meredith was quick to backtrack, saying “as we know, players change over time and things change.”

But we trust Parton and his Imagination Library team far more than the reactionary politicians trying to take advantage of this recent push to censor literature that makes them feel uneasy.

Among Parton’s defenders were her little sister, Stella, a singer in her own right, who tweeted, “Sen. Meredith chose the phrase “indoctrinate our children.” But that’s the GOP’s way, to be as sinister and alarmist as possible. When you lower yourself to the point of questioning the honorable intentions of someone as well-meaning as my big sister, Dolly, then you lower yourself.

He’s not alone on this downward trajectory, of course; a number of lawmakers across the country have tried to anger voters by opposing documents that address gender or race issues. Whatever problem actually exists has been irrevocably eclipsed by hyperbole.

Perhaps most hyperbolically was the demise of country music star John Rich, who compared teachers and librarians to “a guy in a white van who pulls up to the edge of the school when school end”.

But not everyone in Nashville has gone crazy. Last week, Tennessee Rep. Jeremy Faison, a Republican, called criticism of school librarians unfounded and “very unfair.”

“I have two boys in public school, and their school librarian is a wonderful friend of ours,” Faison said. “I know the librarians from all over our district, they are not like that. They are people with whom I entrust my children.

We need more of that, especially from Republicans.

The truth is that the vast majority of school and public libraries hire information specialists who know all about child development and material selection. They also already have procedures in place that allow individuals or groups to question or challenge the inclusion of materials.

But this process does not lead to parents yelling at school board meetings.

Over the past year, book challenges and bans have reached levels not seen in decades, according to officials from the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and other advocates. freedom of speech.

Fortunately, the push has generated pushback, as some parents realize they don’t appreciate conservative reactionaries having the last angry laugh. They have formed groups like the Florida Freedom to Read Project, Red, Wine & Blue, and the Round Rock Black Parents Association in Texas to ensure that a wide range of materials will be available for those who want them. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, PEN America, and the National Coalition Against Censorship have worked with them.

Some students have also taken action, including high school students who staged protests in Florida last week and Joslyn Diffenbaugh, an eighth grader in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, who formed a banned book club at her school. Their first selection: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

“We believe education works best when parents and teachers work together,” Katie Paris, founder of Red, Wine & Blue in Ohio and mother of 7- and 3-year-old boys told The Associated Press. “And if you don’t want your child to have access to a book, then refuse it. It is very good. You just don’t want to deprive my children of this opportunity.

We agree. Pitting parents against teachers is not productive, nor is it to claim the primacy of one over the other. Children benefit the most when parents and teachers work together.

It’s also much more productive than making ugly, baseless accusations.


Greensboro News and Recording. March 6, 2022.

Editorial: They’ll be watching you

Every move you make

And every vow you break

Every smile you fake

Every claim you claim

I will watch you

The old hit song from the 80s, from the police, no less, says it all.

The city of Greensboro has placed 10 solar-powered cameras in certain high-crime areas to keep a closer watch on offenders.

And already, those eyes in the sky have apparently been another blow to the police – this time to the real ones, who wear badges.

As News & Record’s Kenwyn Caranna recently reported, the camera footage, which cost the city $27,500, yields both leads and arrests.

For example, Greensboro officers used information from cameras to identify a vehicle used in a series of convenience store robberies, resulting in two arrests.

“They were extremely successful in identifying the vehicles,” Greensboro police spokesman Ron Glenn told News & Record of the cameras. “(They) allow us to capture traffic in and out of that area.”

The cameras were placed along the rights-of-way of city streets, including Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Spring Garden Street, East Market Street and West Gate City Boulevard. On March 1, City Council approved the installation of five more, along English Street and East Gate City Boulevard. An additional camera will also be placed on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Each camera can capture the license plate number of a car traveling up to 80 miles per hour.

Of course, cameras have been used as law enforcement tools around here before. The short-lived deployment of cameras around the city to identify and fine red-light runners has received mixed reviews from local motorists. Then there’s the matter of Big Brotherism and what critics see as a rampant lack of privacy.

However, police say the newer cameras, which are rented from an Atlanta-based company, Flock Safety, are not used for general surveillance. These are specialized devices called automated license plate reading cameras, or ALPRs.

And they’re designed expressly to fire at the rear of passing vehicles, not human beings. The cameras capture the make, model, color, license plate and state that issued the plate on each vehicle, as well as details such as roof racks and bumper stickers. They also provide audio recordings of evidence such as gunshots, screeching tires and broken glass, the company’s website says.

The company that provides the rental cameras also cross-references its data with the National Crime Information Center to match license plate numbers with outstanding warrants, missing persons cases and stolen vehicles. In one case, it allowed police to track down and arrest a driver with outstanding warrants. In turn, the driver provided leads on two accomplices who were also arrested.

Three arrests in a shooting case also resulted from camera footage that identified a vehicle linked to the crime.

Early feedback from another North Carolina police department has also been promising.

Within a day of installing the LPRs, Garner police told WRAL the camera footage enabled them to recover two stolen cars. They also used ALPR footage to identify a suspect in a park burglary and obtain warrants for his arrest.

For short-handed police, technology extends the reach of law enforcement even when no flesh-and-blood officers are on the scene. Also, someone might think twice before committing a crime in an area where cameras are known to be deployed.

Regarding privacy concerns, a Flock official told the News & Record that the cameras “have no facial recognition capability.” She also said saved footage was deleted every 30 days. And third parties do not have access to it.

The investment certainly seems reasonable. Data from each camera costs a subscription of $2,500 per year.

But, as with any new technology, there can be unforeseen problems and unintended consequences.

Remember how police body-worn cameras were meant to mend community-police relations, encourage both the public and police to behave better, and take police transparency to new heights? While cameras have arguably increased accountability and in a number of cases cleared police of alleged misconduct, accessibility to footage is still too restrictive. And even when the images are made public, they may not be conclusive – or different people may draw different conclusions.

Likewise, as promising as LPRs seem at first glance, there could be glitches and abuses that no one anticipated.

So the Greensboro Police and City Council need to be aware of this. It means keeping a close eye on the cameras, even if they are watching us.



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