The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on February 3, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, February 3, 1986
Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Monday, February 3,1986 Page 4 HP1 -teilllkfe.i T 1 1 he Journal Founded in 1871 HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor Testing needed Should those who aspire to be police officers have to take a psychological fitness test before being hired to enforce the law? A legislative committee thinks so and has introduced needed legislation that would require psychological testing of applicants for police work. The matter came to the attention of the Joint Committee on Rules and Regulations last summer, when officials from the state law enforcement training center at Hutchinson proposed dropping their tests because they weren't required in all cases. The committee's bill would require two tests: one before being hired for police work and another during training at the center. "We cannot afford a single incident in Kansas where an officer who is not psychologically fit would react ad- versely under a stressful condition," said Rep. Sandy Duncan, R-Wichita and vice chairman of the committee. He's right. Psychological testing of applicants isn't a new idea in police work. Many departments use such tests as part of comprehensive interviews to find people best suited to and qualified for police work. While psychological tests shouldn't be the lone determinant in hiring decisions, they are a useful tool for those who hire law enforcers. Such tests can help employers detect applicants who likely wouldn't be able to stand the stress of police work. Any tool that helps identify applicants who aren't suited for police work — before they crumble in the line of duty — is worth using. The bill should be made law. More heroes They probably will never get a ticker tape parade or a White House reception, but they are heroes all the same. Heroes who live and work in Salina, Kansas. People who took a risk by getting involved. Salina police officer Glen Soldan is in Asbury Hospital recovering from bullet wounds sustained the day the odds that a police officer plays every time he goes to work caught up with him. Soldan stopped a suspect in a hit- and-run accident. A few minutes later, the officer was lying on the floor of a motel lobby after being shot four times. Even so he managed to give a description of his assailant, a description that sent other officers to the area immediately. But the description was hardly needed. Several citizens who had witnessed the shooting, including former police officer Steve Raymer, had already gone into action, pursuing a suspect who was arrested a short distance away. Like Officer Soldan, they saw a job that needed to be done and they did it, regardless of the risks and without expecting thanks, or even waiting to be identified. Thanks. From all of us. What others say About the shuttle explosion Atlanta Constitution "Christa McAuliffe has taught her last lesson. It is one none of us would have wished to learn, least of all from this keen, agreeable teacher, the first private citizen, if you will, into space. It is a lesson of fate. Damned fate. "Of course, the space program will go on and its shuttle flights will resume. A tragedy was inevitable, sooner or later .... The way will be traveled. We will go to the planets. "But meanwhile we pause. We have had a death, seven deaths in the family .... so very American the lot of them. Smart, brave, personable, skillful. So very American a loss. "We mourn. We assess. But we will resume. We will return. Class dismissed, Mrs. McAuliffe? No. It is just coming to order." The Boston Globe "Any illusions that space travel has become commonplace evaporated in the deadly fireball. Laid bare for the world to see was the poverty of treating the shuttle program as a running photo opportunity for an enterprise that has tortured legitimate scientific priorities from its inception... "The spectacle of an apparently normal launch turning into disaster was first of all a tragedy involving seven persons who, whatever the flaws of the program, were themselves at the edge of human experience. Their vitality, which they bravely committed to a system whose hazards are now too well understood, has been snuffed out." The Boston Herald "We had all become so blase about this space flight business. The few die-hard office fans who turned on the TV to watch the liftoff, found instead the usual array of game shows and soaps. We have taken this most dangerous of missions for granted — until now. "Now seven human beings have perished and the horror of that moment will live with us forever... "We grieve for the families who have suffered the most direct loss of all. And this morning we now feel, amid the wonder of man's technological triumphs, the fragility of our own humanity." St Louis Post-Dispatch "Think of the crew of Challenger and you think of what is best in us as a people. They were extremely competent but they were also adventurers and risk-takers, eager to experience life to the fullest. More than anything, they reflected America. IMP/VT 1 NO- WU.HIM?/ ^cep. ffcR AVOID R.YINQ iNTo D O Q IN CIRCLE. \ FLY ONLY Pl)R'N6 OFF; I C^\ k iX ^n ./\rv il -ir* _ « m. t/\ , IF YOU'R? To CHWGO, FLY FO FARGO, THSN QRAB K CA>B.. PW'T PURW6 AN MR FARe WAR . NeveR UMOON A RUNWrVI CRMeRS. Lesson from a tragedy of man's self-destructiori "Among the crew were an Asian- American, a black, a Jew, a school teacher, a test pilot, an engineer. Two of them had doctoral degrees; one was a classical pianist. The mission commander had been a mechanic who attended night school to earn college credits. "We think of astronauts as people set apart by their skill and daring and technical ability; and so they are. But these men and women might have been any of our neighbors, and that is what makes their loss all the more poignant." The New York Times "President Reagan... has offered the right solace, not despair and not withdrawal, but more missions, even one day more school teachers in space. In this moment, the country mourns; in the next, the task will be to honor the dead by again turning tragedy into triumph." The Philadelphia Inquirer "Their deaths are a grievous tragedy, but that spirit, which self-evidently animated them all, is the legacy they leave. Nothing less enabled Americans to conquer the frontiers of the past, nothing less will permit conquest of the vast and mysterious frontier of space. Their loss reminds us of the epic grandeur no less than the danger of this historic enterprise." The Louisville Courier-Journal "Safety was rarely mentioned as missions became seemingly routine. The American public — and indeed the whole world — had come to expect perfect launches and landings, whatever minor setbacks might be encountered while the shuttle was in orbit. "For NASA the most urgent task now is to find out what triggered the blast so future missions aren't similarly endangered ... But the tragic end of the 25th shuttle mission musn't be allowed to discourage continued U.S. manned space flights." Buffalo News "The president has rightly decided that there should be no more manned space flights until the cause of the tragedy is determined ... "This setback does not, however, mean that space exploration should be limited to unmanned probes, such as the spectacular investigation of the planet Uranus by Voyager 2. "There is a place for both kinds of investigation as mankind reaches toward the stars J." NEW YORK - "Awful Event," read the headline over The New York Times' account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In the 120 years since, no one has devised a simpler, more devastating phrase that could be applied to the explosion of the Challenger, with the nation and the world watching on television. But unlike the murder of the greatest of Americans, who was shot by a stranger in irrational pursuit of political revenge, the self-destruction of the Challenger with the death of all aboard seems to me to have been a true tragedy, in the fullest Aristotelian sense. Such a tragedy (in my inadequate paraphrase) requires a great, even noble protagonist to carry some quality of his or her greatness to such an extreme as to bring about the protagonist's downfall and ruin, consequently moving witnesses to the action to the twin emotions of pity and terror. In the tragedy of the Challenger, Man himself, homo sapiens, is the protagonist—a great figure, surely, capable of nobility and grandeur, of courage and sacrifice, of restless questing and remarkable learning, though capable too of meanness, cruelty and pride, stupidity, greed and wantonness. Of this remarkable protagonist — Man — must it not be said that his capacity to adapt his universe and its physical laws to his own needs and desires and purposes—his science and technology — is one of the qualities of his greatness? And that his use of it to range outward, ever farther toward the unknown limits of that universe, and inward, to its fiery core, has approached the extreme? Thus, in the tragedy of the Challenger, Tom Wicker NEW YORK TIMES Man's genius created the vessel and its far- reaching mission. But even in the most splendid creations of Man, perfection has proved beyond his reach. A fatal flaw developed, and in the moment of apparent triumph, Man also brought about his own downfall in the fireball that marked the Challenger's end. This tragedy, moreover, reverberates far beyond the awful event itself. Few human beings could have witnessed that white blaze of destruction (as through the equivalent genius of television, so many of us did) without being moved to pity and terror—pity first for the seven who died but also for all who must share Man's fate; terror not only in the explosion but in its revelation of the self- destructive seeds within his genius. It seems trivial, therefore, to look for practical political lessons in such a tragedy. Perhaps we do rely too much on manned flight in the exploration of space; but the destruction of the Challenger doesn't prove it. Perhaps the technology of President Reagan's dream of a space-based missile defense will be flawed, too; but that alone doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried. In a larger sense, however, a kind of catharsis might be derived from the burning spectacle, if the human consequence were to be a tempering of pride in Man's achievements, a sobering view of his limits, a greater reluctance to climb Mt. Everest for no other reason than that "it is there." Not as a procedural guide to space exploration or Star Wars or arms control but as a brake on Man himself, his vanity, ambition and audacity, the Challenger's fate might prove instructive. • It's not likely; nor is it even certain that that would be a good thing. If a fate exists, it can't be evaded. And if one of the qualities of man's greatness lies in the genius of his learning and his knack for adaptation, -he cannot by his nature turn away from it. He cannot stop searching and striving. He must keep on yearning to know and find. Thus fated to explore his universe and bend it to his will, he may also be destined to bring himself to a Challenger's tragic end. "I decline to accept the end of man," William Faulkner said, upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. "I believe that man will not merely endure; he will prevail ... because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance." Faulkner spoke in the early morning of the era of Man's greatest scientific and technological feats; but even then he could speak, too, of a "general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it." Decades later, in the awful light of the Challenger's burning, it is not so easy to believe in Man's endurance, much less that he will prevail. But the general and universal fear still must be borne; for there is no turning back. Popularity divides Reagan from his government BOSTON — In the hours after the explosion of the shuttle Challenger, people waited: Not for an answer, because there could be none yet, but for words of consolation. They came, with rare grace, from President Reagan. "Today is a day for mourning and remembering." In a few words, simple and direct, the president gave meaning to the deaths of the seven astronauts. He spoke to their families with consoling respect. He expressed our inchoate feelings. He was touching without being mawkish. He was dignified. Listening to Reagan, I thought I understood better than ever before the mystery of his enormous popularity as president. That is, how can the American people feel such respect for a president whose ideology and actual policies many do not accept? The latest New York Times-CBS News poll indicates the dimensions of the mystery. An astonishing 65 percent of those polled approved of the way Reagan handles his job. That is a higher rating than Franklin Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower got a year into their second terms. Yet when it came to issues, the 1,581 Americans interviewed in that poll showed that they had very different views from the president's. The environment, for example: 66 percent said they believe environmental improvements are "necessary regardless of cost," up from 45 percent in 1981. That jump in concern must reflect the failings of the Reagan years, such as the scandal in the Environmental Protection Agency, stalemate on renewal of the urgent toxic waste law, foot-dragging on acid rain. Yet many of those concerned Doonesbury Anthony Lewis NEW YORK TIMES citizens still approve of Ronald Reagan as president. On welfare, too, there was a falling away from the president's views. He campaigned against "welfare cheats" and the asserted failure of government poverty programs. Yet the percentage of people who think welfare recipients do not need it has fallen since 1980 from 51 to 40. And 66 percent think the government should spend more now on efforts like those of the 1960s to help the poor: An idea anathema to Reagan. In foreign policy, the president's overarching claim in his 1984 re-election campaign was that the United States was once again "standing tall" in the world. Of those polled, 25 percent said the United States is more respected now than when Reagan took office; 37 percent said it is less respected. The poll showed remarkable concern about arms control. People put it, along with the budget deficit, at the top of a list of problems facing the country. And 41 percent were optimistic that an arms control agreement would be reached with the Soviet Union. Yet key figures in the Reagan administration are implacably opposed to arms control, and agreement is not in sight on any major arms issue. In all of this, one senses a crucial aspect of the Reagan phenomenon, much remarked upon. The public, or much of it, simply does not connect the man with his government. The public attitude may in part reflect Reagan's own turn of mind. He, too, does riot make connections. He refuses to believe that his increases in defense spending may have something to do with the deficit. He sees a vision of space defense without at all acknowledging the dangers — dangers in fact underlined by the tragedy of the Challenger. He sticks to visions, untainted by facts. But the main reason for public affection lies, as always, in Reagan's personality and his ability to communicate it. How clear that was in the shuttle disaster. In cold print the next day his words seemed flat. But when he spoke, there was tangible emotion in them, resonating with his listeners. It is not at all irrational for Americans to want a president who symbolizes their feelings, their pride, who talks as if to them. But to divorce that symbol from government policy and its consequences has not been the American system. It is, rather, what Walter Bagehot, the 19th century essayist, saw as the genius of the English constitution. Bagehot saw the British government as divided into two parts: "The dignified," which commands "the reverence of the population," and "the efficient," which "works and rules." The Monarchy leads the dignified part, the prime minister the efficient. In President Reagan, Americans have a near- perfect king. But there will be a heavy price to pay in the end for confusing the magic of personality with the hard work and hard .choices of government. ANWEKDOSE JUSTPOESUr MAKE. SENSE, CUKTIS. PUKE ' KNEW HIS LIMITS. LETS 6O OVER. IT AGAIN, PSAN HONEY. WHEN DIP YOU LASTSEB HIM? AKOUNPIOP.M. HE'PJUSTHAP AUPHEWSUN- MNPIN6WITH A FIFTH OF.. ^< JUST A 0U&ARY STUPENT FROM THE VOOPOO CENTER... \ VOOPOO'THATStT! OUKBISNTP5AP, H&'SA Alive! / THIS HAS GOT TO Bt THE. UORST HANGOVER Of- MY ENTIRE LIFE

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