The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on June 3, 1998 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, June 3, 1998
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Page 10
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B2 WEDNESDAY. JUNE 3. 1998 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "The Marlboro Man may not be everything he's cracked up to be.' Kim Belshe advertising executive, announcing a series of ads funded by the California Department ol Health Services that make a link between smoking and impotence T COMMENT OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Back on track THE ISSUE Rail service for Kansas farmers THE ARGUMENT Next time, it might take more than jawboning T his time, it did not take any laws, or lawsuits, to get the results the Kansas farmer needed. It only took the threat of same. That's good. But, next time, we might not be so lucky. Monday we were told that the Central Kansas Railway, which serves grain elevators in several central and western Kansas counties, has decided not to double the rates it charges to haul the staff of life away from rural elevators. The rate hike announced last month would have made it totally impractical for farmers and elevators to ship their wheat by rail as, in so many cases, there is no rival railroad to turn to. They would have to ship the wheat by truck, which is difficult, dangerous, expensive and damned hard on the Kansas highways, which are already overworked and underloved. The rate hike drew the attention of Gov. Bill Graves, U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran. All of them made it clear, to the railroad and to the federal entities that supposedly regulate that industry, that the surcharge was unacceptable. Brownback, to his credit, even brought a Senate subcommittee out to Kansas in May to hear about the problem. Although no official government action was taken, clearly the railroad noticed the political firepower being brought to bear on the situation and thought better of its previous action. But this fight is far from over. The clear threat to many Kansas counties, and to the core of Kansas agriculture, is that railroad companies don't consider Kansas farmers and elevators worthy of their attention. Prohibitive price hikes make no sense except as a precursor to outright abandonment of their lines. That would be crippling to Kansas agriculture and, as Roberts, Brownback and Moran must constantly remind their colleagues, might not be received kindly by urban consumers who like to eat all that bread, breakfast cereal and pizza dough. This time, all it took from our government officials was some serious jawboning. Next time, it might take more. Our elected leaders should be prepared to take that action, and we should back them when they do. More football, anyone? In the future, everyone will want to have a league of their own I t is not clear that any survey of the population would reveal a deep yearning for another professional football league, but it looks as though we may be getting one anyway. Aced out of their traditional role in televising NFL games in the last, breathtak- ^ ingly costly round of bidding for those rights, NBC and Turner broadcasting have announced plans to create a league of their own so as not to deny their viewers the ration of football they have been conditioned to expect. The two mean to bring some 10 to 12 franchises on line, perhaps as early as the fall of '99. Previous, similar undertakings flopped. Remember the World Football League? Neither does anyone else. The U.S. Football League was taken off the gridiron in 1996 after failing to sizzle in three years. The attempt to interest U.S. viewers in the affairs of the Canadian Football League foundered on the thoughtful American conviction that Canadians could not possibly have anything useful to do with football. NBC and Turner see better prospects for their venture because by owning the teams outright they will be able to keep salaries down, and if that would seem to promise games that are mainly comedies of error — blooped punts, fumbled passes, half-fast backs — the same proprietorship also would let the owners script the games for thrills. It TOM TEEPEN Cox News Service * works for the World Wrestling Federation. The plan tests basic questions of physics and sociology that scientists have wondered about for years: How much sports can you load on a population before the population breaks and runs screaming into the woods? Can any game offend a viewership that will sit still for arena football? As it is, there are several national cable sports channels and scads of regional ones. Other cable channels take up sports part-time, and the broadcast networks — well, see above: "bidding, breathtakingly costly." The NFL has swollen to 31 teams, making what used to be the simple arithmetic task of keeping track of the standings an exercise that now requires a background in calculus. Basketball, which at one time was sensibly confined to plugging the few weeks after it got too cold for football and before it was warm enough for baseball, now sprawls all over the calendar. Hockey is played into weather that would make short work of the polar ice caps. Only the most dedicated television viewer, and one with the most practiced clicker hand, can successfully fishtail among the channels in search of content that does not require scorekeeping. For every Hallmark Hall of Fame drama there are a thousand clashes between colleges you never heard of over things like lacrosse. Still, sports is only sports, so where's the harm? Just hope that any success in creating their own sports exclusives doesn't give NBC and Turner other ideas. It will be time to worry when we hear that NBC News and CNN are building villages near active volcanoes or arming small, nastily disposed nations with battlefield nukes. Or slipping Hooters trainees into the Oval Office. WILL YOU ME A A/OT£ ? OR TA.LK W'TH A1E ? ME A LOCK OF VOOfi NOT UWLES5 60T A, SUBPOEA/A. TKe. day RewetK Starr d&cidfi-d to ibfico/ne a prosecutor. os NEUJI i ujoftuE SUCH ^ VlAV DOCUMENTS.' T LIBERTIES Poor Monica is not having any fun at all Kenneth Starr wanted a handwriting sample, and here is what he got W ASHINGTON — Poor little Monica. On top of all the other indignities she has suffered dur- A ing her career as White House gofer and scandal babe, she had to spend hours on Thursday at the FBI field office in Los Angeles. She had to write down in longhand whatever came into her head. The 24- year-old must have felt like Bart Simpson, forced by Schoolmaster Starr to stay after class and copy out the same sentence a hundred times on the blackboard. The prosecutor needed a $ handwriting sample. Or he pretended to need a handwriting sample, so he could scare the poor girl into thinking he is T SPEAKING ENGLISH MAUREEN DOWD The New York Times about to indict her unless she starts spilling the cat out of the beans, as Carmen Miranda used to say. He no doubt wants her penmanship to compare it to the lovey-dovey stuff Monica was messengering the president from the Pentagon. You'll never believe this, but a copy of Mon-. ica's scribbles has fallen into my hot little hands. Her stream-of-consciousness ramblings are on FBI letterhead — in a girlish scrawl, with loopy letters, little hearts and breathless punctuation. Here's what she wrote: Monica Clinton. Monica Lewinsky Clinton. Monica Lewinsky Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Big Creep. (Frowny face.) First Lady Monica. (Smiley face.) Menu for MY Italian State Dinner: Spaghetti Carbonara. Tiramisu. Spumoni. Table placement: Me between Leonardo DiCaprio & John Travolta. Also, cannoli. I HATE Linda Tripp! She calls that a makeover? What a ghoul!! Dear Johnnie Cochran: Can you please, please, please come be my lawyer now? There was no dress, need not confess!! Or, if the dress doesn't fit — never mind, I hate that subject. I am so totally sick of Ginsburg! Even Dershowitz would be better. Ken Starr, if you are reading this, you are an; extremely twisted individual who needs help. You can't possibly understand what Bill and I had together. It was so poetic!!! Bill and Moni^ ca. (The "i's" dotted with hearts.) Usually I go for older men, but you are a dirty old man. I can't believe you're trying to subpoena my sales slip for "Vox." Why are you so interested in phone sex? Anyway, I didn't even finish that book. It's sooooo long. That's probably why you want to talk to Secret Service agents — just to hear a bunch of kinky stories. I'm starting to get scared about prison. I didn't find the last scene of "Seinfeld" at all funny. I don't want to be buried alive like. Susan McDougal. Her ankle bracelets are sort of sexy, but I look terrible in orange!! I really loved Bill, but no way I'm going to be stuck in a 7-by-12-foot cell for years just to save his neck. Not after he called me "THAT woman." I'm not having any fun at all. (Frowny face.) Phelps' visit was good for a laugh Hateful protests have pushed the rest of us to behave in a civil manner toward gays I got a good laugh on Saturday. Fred Phelps came to town. I can't be angry anymore. It's just too hard. When they faxed us documents that had George Pyle dressed like a member of Right Said Fred (remember "I'm Too Sexy?") and then came to our * offices on Saturday carrying those signs that read "God Hates Fags," well, I couldn't suppress my giggles. I needed a good laugh a while back, but the Ku Klux Klan didn't show, so I didn't get to see their Halloween costumes. It's a good thing Phelps and his little cultists showed up. I thought I was going to have to start listening to Dr. Laura for a good chuckle. James Talley had an excellent column about Phelps on Friday, where he stated that Phelps was good for society. I couldn't have said it better myself. OK, maybe I can. It's important that society have extremists like Phelps and the KKK. I can say this because I can't quite classify the National Rifle Association as extremists. Its membership, while dropping, still is too high. A few more children need to die before that happens. DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal Phelps is just so crazy, so out there, so ridiculous, that he poses no threat. Come on. No one takes him seriously anymore. Extremists like the KKK and Phelps simply don't have much of a following anymore. Society still has a lot of work to do to end discrimination. But at least we've come that far. They're a joke. Today's society is too desensitized against any sort of shock value. A kid can scream until his veins throb, but a parent will just tune him out after a while. Phelps' sick faxes, the ones that talk about semen- drinking fags, are nothing more than a child's temper tantrum. That doesn't mean he doesn't hurt people. Kelly Roberts, who lost her husband, Tyler, to AIDS and is HIV positive herself, has every right to spit her wrath at Phelps after he threatened to picket her husband's funeral. And I'll never like that fact that people think they know Kansas because they know Phelps. But every state has its boils on their butts. Florida has its Marlins, New York has its Steinbrenner and Texas has, well, Texans. Even so, it's yet another reason why people don't take him seriously. Only the insane could think that a funeral is a good time to get a message across. And that's the best part. A good laugh always is important, but the best reason Phelps is important is because he forces people to be civil. I did a story last week on homosexuality in the churches in Salina and the area, and though it's hard to draw any conclusions from a news story with many different opinions, there was one constant: All of the pastors didn't want to be associated with Fred Phelps. That includes the pastors that agree with at least part of his message: That homosexuality is sinful. But those pastors were so afraid that they would be grouped into Phelps' little camp that they all specifically stated that they in no way thought he was doing God's work. That's important. Phelps, in other words, is so wacky that calling homosexuals "fags," or picketing their funerals, or using gross language to make fun of the way they date, is considered distasteful. Phelps is making those who don't like homosexuals at least see them as human beings. That's the first step toward acceptance. It's far too easy to lump a class of people together, throw in a few stereotypes and hate that group. It's a lot harder to get to know a person, accept him or her as an individual human being and then hate that person. Phelps does that with homosexuals. Apparently everyone is getting uncomfortable with that. Maybe we won't see a day anytime soon where homosexuals are treated no differently than any other group. But thanks to the efforts of Phelps, maybe there will be a day where I won't ever have to do another story on homosexuals in the church. Maybe there will be a day when that's just not a story. Phelps has brought us to the first step. He's made the homosexual debate civil. It's easy to see why. Just look at his alternative. III •SBURY By G.B. TRUDEAU HOUSEBUKN DOWN, MR. PUK& \ OF THE PAY, THIS ISN7 ABOUT A HOUSE... \ IT'S ASOUTA PLACE ANP/tN £RA. ANPTHZMCTKSMAINS, U0&SWW6NEARASPOT WHERE SOME. OFTW MOST HIDEOUS MUSIC OFTH5 *TOs 6VASBORN.' 5RCU&R1- AN OFFER TIES, AREN'T FROM PRISON. BIG-TIME. FM PIPPING TOMMY LEE

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