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Opinions offer historical perspective

Editor’s note: Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.

March 1, 1916: An S-R editorial titled “Verdun May Be the Decisive Battle of the War” stated:

“The Germans are paying the price at Verdun. It may be too great a price. … France is clearly their point of driving assault. They can not get at England with an effective blow. The Russians can come back again and again. But France, heroic France, is nearing exhaustion and must have quick help or be driven to the wall. She has called her children to the colors and the old men are fighting, too.”

Verdun never falls, but France and Germany suffer nearly 1 million casualties over a 10-month span. On April 6, 1917, the United States enters the war and eventually strengthens the Western Front.

March 4, 1936: An S-R editorial noted that while there may be times when the U.S. Supreme Court errs, its role in interpreting the Constitution must be preserved.

“If authority to pass upon the constitutionality of acts of congress and state legislatures were taken from that great tribunal, the Constitution would go out the window. … Any legislation would then be “constitutional” that congress or a legislature might enact. The precious bill of rights would be demolished.”

March 5, 1926: An S-R editorial examined the growing political influence of farmers:

“The old-time farmer was a detached individualist, distrustful of his fellows and those who lead him out of the wilderness, and a bashful, inarticulate chap when it came to standing on his own two feet in meeting and maintaining his rights. The modern farmer knows his way about – even in the national capital, and politicians, big and little, are always ‘in’ when he calls to present his arguments for what he thinks are his rights.”

The danger in this, as the editorial noted, was “to imagine that all economic ills could be cured by legislation.”

March 8, 1986: Farm foreclosures are big news, even though Congress passed a five-year farm bill the year before that cost $69 billion in price and income supports alone. An S-R editorial noted:

“As a nation that sees its roots in family farms and lonely, sod-busting pioneers, we have created a heroic mythology about farming that makes it difficult to deal with the fact that farmers, like other business people, must accept the consequences of bad breaks or fiscal miscalculations.”

March 5, 1996: An S-R editorial urged TV producers to tone down their content, rather than have the industry adopt an arbitrary ratings system that could be encoded in a V-chip. It noted:

“Television has been resisting political and public pressure for years to tone down the content of its programming. Instead of taking heed, the industry has pushed the envelope even further – airing cross-dressers during after-school hours and mentioning masturbation and group sex during the so-called family hour, for example.”

The editorial concluded: “Ultimately, it’s up to parents – not TV producers, not the president – to decide what their children will watch.”


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