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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

By The Associated PressJune 10, 2019

Sioux Falls Argus Leader, June 7

Time to halt trend of transgender ‘bathroom bills’

South Dakota lawmakers intent on introducing retreads of discriminatory transgender “bathroom bills” at future legislative sessions, pay heed.

The same goes for our governor, who has explicitly stated that she would sign such a bill were it to pass.

Take note that the United States Supreme Court recently declined to hear exactly such a case, letting a lower court’s ruling stand. Pay special attention to the robust legal reasoning underpinned by solid precedent in that ruling, which let stand a Pennsylvania school district’s policy allowing transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity while allowing all students the option to use private facilities.

Republican Fred Deutsch’s 2016 House bill would have required trans students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their chromosomal and anatomical sex assignment at birth. Former governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed that bill.

But Deutsch and his compatriots have remained undeterred, returning each year since with proposals meant to limit the rights of transgender students — including repeated efforts to legislate where they can go to the bathroom or change their clothes for gym class.

In the wake of SCOTUS’s refusal to hear Doe v. Boyertown, Deutsch told the Argus Leader he thinks it’s only a matter of time before the high court agrees to hear a case on that issue and that the state legislature will continue to grapple with it as long as it is an issue in South Dakota.

“Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that includes students that struggle with their beliefs, whether they’re a biologic boy or biologic girl,” he said. But, he added, they also need to have personal privacy from the opposite sex in a restroom or locker room.

The U.S. Court of Appeals decision, the end of the judicial road for the Boyertown case, cites various precedents directly addressing discrimination based on gender stereotypes in both educational and workplace settings.

The body of case law, in other words, continues to grow in a direction that Deutsch and company may not like but need to stop railing against.

Daugaard’s 2016 veto was met with a collective sigh of relief from South Dakota business interests, including state and city chambers of commerce as well as major economic players like Sanford Health, Citibank and Wells Fargo.

That’s because, as First Premier chief executive officer Dana Dykhouse said in 2016, “This is a big world now, not just South Dakota, and there are consequences to our actions.”

The NCAA, for instance, has made no bones about pulling big events out of states that enact discriminatory laws. It did just that when North Carolina enacted an anti-trans bathroom bill. The Summit League basketball tournament hosted by Sioux Falls — just one of the events that could be affected — has an annual economic impact that surpasses $10 million.

Tourism takes a hit in states that make these kinds of discriminatory laws as well, owing to bad publicity, boycotts and state bans on government-funded travel.

The passage of a discriminatory “bathroom bill” could expose school districts to lawsuits that will have to be defended by the state attorney general’s office — not an ideal strategy when it comes to thinly-stretched state coffers.

Better yet for elected leaders to make peace with the march of human progress, bolstered by judicial precedent. Not simply because it’s the right thing to do, although that’s powerful incentive.

Leadership doesn’t stem from “fixing” an imaginary problem to appease those who stoke misinformation and fear at the expense of an already vulnerable group of young citizens.

It comes from reading the situation, seeing plenty of pitfalls, and acting in the best interest of what our state should represent for future generations.


Rapid City Journal, June 6

Retell the stories of D-Day, all veterans

Before Facebook, South Dakota families shared stories of World War II over Jell-O salads. A former Canton High School basketball star who watched Japanese Zeros fly past the USS Yorktown at Midway later bobbed for hours at Guadalcanal. A Springfield farmer, a great uncle killed by a sniper, will rest forever in sandy French soil.

Personalized instances of sacrifice and courage resonated from every global corner, from Pearl Harbor, which brought a reluctant United States into the fight, to Nagasaki, where a mushroom cloud forced the Japanese surrender. Cousins, friends and fathers served and died at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia, during the Atlantic crossing, on the black volcanic sands of Iwo Jima or high over Ploesti.

War was global, but storytellers always reserved a special reverence for D-Day. It was the pivot, the end of the beginning, and not just for WWII. On June 6, 1944 — 75 years ago today — the United States led the largest seaborne invasion in military history against the Normandy seawall, committing itself to a bloody final drive.

The sleeping giant that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto feared had been awakened at Pearl Harbor would from here on out shoulder chief responsibility for global leadership. The old confederations of quarrelsome kingdoms lay in ruins. The United States, with its military might intact and industrial strength restored from the depression, would drive forward into a confusing world dividing rapidly between east and west.

South Dakota boys would soon watch Chinese troops wither under continuous fire from quad-50 machine guns at White Horse Mountain in freezing Korea, and West River Marines would take shelter at Khe Sanh in steaming Vietnam. Their sacrifices would add to the white stones already covering hillsides. The hardened men who returned often left bits of themselves behind.

We owe them a debt.

The soldiers, sailors, airmen and others who sacrificed for duty, honor, or simply for the GI beside them, seldom concerned themselves with geopolitics. Their world was wet feet, flying steel, and interminable boredom punctuated by terror. They fought for a normalcy envisioned back home, for food that didn’t fall stale from tin. The men and women who served dreamed of Louise or Mary or Dave back home, hopefully still waiting.

We owe them a huge debt.

War news on the front page of the June 6, 1944, Rapid City Journal would have captivated readers, but the infantrymen resting on beachheads after battle would have grabbed at the scraps from home. A Lucille Ball musical, “7 Days Leave,” was playing at the old State Theater at 628 West Main. The Chicago Cubs were on a six-game winning streak.

In the days leading up to D-Day, the Journal reported that the war department had notified the Newell parents of Liberator pilot Capt. Edward Brodsky that their son had gone missing over France on May 11. He would resurface in late June as a German POW. Not as lucky was 27-year-old pilot Capt. Lon F. Brown of Belle Fourche, declared dead over New Guinea in February. He left behind a wife and child. The June 6 Journal notified his friends of a memorial requiem Mass.

War news in the Rapid City Journal in the weeks leading up to D-Day had centered on Italy, where Americans had broken through the Hitler Line outside of Rome. A bombing raid involving 5,000 Allied planes had targeted Vienna, Paris and Berlin. All of these efforts contributed to victory.

The June 1 newspaper quoted Secretary of War Henry Stimson saying 3,657,000 Army troops had been deployed overseas, and “The period of decisive action is at hand.”

Even in that context, D-Day was big.

The Journal’s June 6 War Extra edition ran the banner headline “FRANCE INVADED.” The deck beneath said “Airborne troops smash through Atlantic Wall.” Officials spoke broadly of an armada numbering 4,000 ships and 11,000 airplanes. Maps pointed out the location of Normandy. The final edition of the evening paper reported allied losses were light as beachheads in Normandy expanded. It wasn’t entirely true. D-Day would close with about 9,000 Allied soldiers either dead or wounded.

“They fight not for the lust of conquest,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.”

Today, 75 years later, the efforts of the United States have mostly held a lid on the global pot forever threatening to boil over. Here, the people still rule. Soldiers still die for a cause larger than themselves. And our debt to those who served and sacrificed has only grown.

They were our uncles and fathers, sons and daughters. Their nation called upon them and they went, many knowing they would never return. As the bullets flew, few wanted to be there. We should be glad they stayed.

We need to keep telling their stories. We owe them that. If you know one, thank them. If they’re gone, retell their story. Today would be a good time to start.


Madison Daily Leader, Madison, June 3

Hundredth celebration is worth a new look

The South Dakota State Park system is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and it’s a good reason to explore these jewels of South Dakota again.

Technically, South Dakota has state parks, state recreation areas, state nature areas and other names. But let’s not get hung up about names; let’s group them all into one category.

That means there are 63 areas available to South Dakotans and visitors, with an extraordinary range of historic sites, recreation opportunities, campgrounds, trails, boat launches and so on.

Locally, of course, are Lake Herman State Park and Walker’s Point Recreation Area. Lake Herman is among the best parks in the state, and represents the settlement of the town of Herman (where this newspaper started). The cabin of the town’s namesake, Herman Luce, is still in the park. In the late 1940s, the city of Madison deeded the land to the state park system.

We like Walker’s Point nearly as much. It has great views and access to Lake Madison, and very nice camping facilities, including two cabins for rent.

This summer’s celebration of the state park system include all sorts of events, games, giveaways, concerts, educational programs, and a statewide Scavenger Hunt. A great place to look for these is the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website at https://gfp.sd.gov .

We encourage outdoor enthusiasts — or even those who aren’t avid outdoors people — to visit South Dakota State Parks this year. They are great places we need to visit.

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