Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Brunswick News on the passing of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant:
Death is not a fun subject to talk about. It is an inescapable fact of life that we all know about, but try to keep out of our minds. When a death occurs out of the blue to someone too young to die, it has a way of impacting us in a very profound way.
The death of a celebrity, though, is always a reflective time. Our televisions are filled with their exploits in the aftermath.
Usually, we contemplate the memories we have from watching their movies, listening to their music or watching them excel on the sports landscape.
Those two factors collided on Jan. 26 as the world mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant, the former NBA superstar who was killed in a helicopter crash in California. There were nine on board, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, according to reports.
The sadness felt by millions around the world is immense. There is a generation of kids and young adults who played in the back yard, hoping to grow up to be like Kobe one day. Losing someone you looked up to so suddenly is a tough loss to process.
There is no proper way to grieve. A sudden loss can cause a complex series of emotions to rise to the surface, whether it’s a celebrity, a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even a stranger.
We hope, however, that this tragic event serves as an important reminder to the fragility of our lives. None of us knows when it will be our time to go.
Knowing that, it is important that we live our lives with that in mind. We should focus our lives on the things that matter.
Take the time to tell your loved ones that you love them. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids, your siblings, your spouse, your family, your friends or even a stranger on the street that you love them. You may not get another chance to do so.
Don’t hold on to negative emotions like spite, anger and hatred. Life is too precious to let negative feelings take it over. We shouldn’t hold on to petty grudges and slights. They serve no useful purpose and will only lead to more heartbreak in your life.
Live life with a purpose. Don’t just sit on the sidelines and let everything pass you by. Experience what this world has to offer. Don’t assume you will have another day to pursue your dreams.
Life is a precious gift from God, and we only have a limited time on this earth. Don’t waste it on negative emotions.
The Savannah Morning News on the arrival of new voting machines:
Earlier this month, five tractor trailers loaded with hundreds of voting machines rolled into Savannah.
In two months, that equipment will make its public debut.
The presidential preference primaries are March 24. Early voters will use the new system, a combination of ballot marking devices, printers, optical scanners and ballot boxes, when that period opens March 2. But the majority of voters will first experience the voting machines upon visiting their assigned precincts on the fourth Tuesday of March.
Poll lines should be short.
Chatham County was to receive one set of equipment for every 224 registered voters, exceeding the mandate set by the Georgia General Assembly last year of one machine per 250 voters. The machines will be distributed across 89 precincts based on registration numbers.
The Georgia Election Board rejected a proposal earlier this week that would have relaxed the standard for the presidential primary due to the popularity of early voting. Nearly half of voters statewide have cast ballots early in recent elections.
The state’s elections chief, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, lobbied in favor of putting as many of the machines to use as possible.
“We’re going to err on the side of short lines, not long lines,” Raffensperger said. “We want to make sure we move people through the lines so the lines are less than 30 minutes.”
Local election officials want to do their part to meet that deadline, as well. They demoed the system in December during a statewide convention held in downtown Savannah, and the state delivered two machines ahead of the wider rollout.
When the balance of the gear reached Savannah on Jan. 17, crews unloaded all five trucks in five hours.
They’ve spent the time since unpacking the machines. Training is underway and will build in intensity in the coming weeks.
The chair of the Chatham County Board of Elections, Tom Mahoney, called the election timetable “ambitious,” but said he “fully expects to be ready, for both advance voting and for election day.”
He added: “It’s a bit unusual to be in the process of receiving and inventorying machines at the same time that we are training poll workers. We ask for everybody’s patience as we work through everything.”
The election calendar should ease the strain. Georgia pushed back its presidential primary date for this cycle, moving from Super Tuesday — March 3 — to three weeks later, giving election officials more time to train and implement.
In addition, President Donald Trump’s standing as the de-facto Republican nominee could result in a low turnout among GOP voters. Then again, some Republicans may turn out at the polls just to try out the new machines.
“March won’t be like November,” Mahoney said. “The implementation process feels a bit rushed right now, but it may be the best time to be dealing with it.”
The Augusta Chronicle on the debate over a mother breastfeeding in a Georgia Chick-fil-A:
Breastfeeding is perfectly natural.
Does that mean everyone is obliged to witness it in public? Certainly not.
But was a mother perfectly within her rights on Jan. 20 to nurse her baby in an Evans Chick-fil-A restaurant? Yes.
There the issue will have to sit — because you’re more likely to instantly cure the common cold than to instantly solve the always-simmering controversy over public breastfeeding.
Here’s what spurred an outsized gathering of upset mothers at the Mullins Crossing restaurant this week:
Samantha McIntosh, a Chick-fil-A customer, was hungry. So was her 7-month-old daughter.
As McIntosh described in a Facebook post, she pulled up her clothing just enough to allow her baby to breastfeed, “so I happen to know that absolutely no skin was showing and we sat in a booth in the back of the restaurant,” she wrote.
Relying solely on her description, that apparently was enough to offend another customer. We don’t know the identity of this diner, who might tell a completely different story. All we know is that a manager, on behalf of the offended person, asked McIntosh to cover up.
The mom got angry. So did another mom nearby. The manager’s apparently awkward handling of the situation made McIntosh angrier. One social-media post and hundreds of responses later, moms filled the restaurant in protest.
Georgia law clearly sides with the breastfeeding mother. So does the law in every other U.S. state. Not only are mothers free to nurse their children in public, in 49 states moms aren’t even bound by statute to cover themselves.
Here’s Section 31-1-9 of the Official Code of Georgia: “The breast-feeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.”
There used to be a line at the end — “provided the mother acts in a discreet and modest way.” But lawmakers removed that part years ago. The only state codifying that requirement is in North Dakota. So had this incident occurred in Fargo or Grand Forks, this might have ended much differently.
But not in 2018, apparently, when a Chick-fil-A manager in Fargo told a nursing mother to cover up or get out. The manager later apologized.
That’s how it ended in Evans, too — with a corporate apology on behalf of the restaurant’s owner-operator, in the spirit of the restaurant chain’s legendary courtesy.
But the polarizing problem is still there.
The best solution we can think of — besides simply not gawking at breastfeeding mothers — is for more public places to provide more comfortable accommodations for nursing moms, placed out of a bystander’s field of vision. Clearly there aren’t enough of these facilities.
The battle still is being fought to place diaper-changing stations in every public bathroom. So unless concerned citizens fight soon to make private breastfeeding stations a priority, then nursing mothers, their hungry children and appalled bystanders will have a long wait.
If public breastfeeding offends you, we do sympathize and understand. Perhaps change the law. Take up the matter with your state legislator. Otherwise, you might encounter another mother nursing in public. Worse things have happened.