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Lawmakers have been talking a lot lately about taxing forms of digital communication. Here's hoping they'll not try for a thumb tax.

[THUMBS UP] Musician, comedian and actor Steve Martin had a piece of advice for those who would criticize a man, a word or two along the lines of first walking a mile in the man's shoes. "That way, when you do criticize him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes."

There is some wisdom in his joke, for it is difficult to fully comprehend the attitudes and experiences of others if their lives come from an entirely different world or perspective.

Some administrators at NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville get that. Several of them enrolled in classes to get a ground-level experience of what it's like to be a student. Naturally, that doesn't suddenly give them the same experience as every other student, but the exercise was an honest attempt to hear students concerns and observe the kinds of challenges facing the people sitting around the classroom. That kind of information can help inform decision-making and remind administrators what life as a student looks and feels like. Is it a perfect representation? No, but the effort will no doubt help administrators keep their "customers" in mind as they lead the institution.

[THUMBS UP] We'll jump at the chance to finally give kudos to Arkansas' junior senator, Tom Cotton, for his apology to a Fayetteville activist who was blocked from meeting with one of Cotton's staffers recently. Cotton called Caitlyn Moses of the group Ozark Indivisible directly, apologized and offered to meet soon. And now, Cotton has announced a town hall meeting at Springdale's Jones Center at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Arkansas is still a small state and people like to be able to visit from time to time with those who represent them in the halls of Congress. It shouldn't be challenging to have a word with a U.S. senator in Arkansas. Cotton needs to be a visible presence in his home state more than he needs to be on CNN.

[THUMBS DOWN] They're innocent until proven guilty, but the story behind an arrests a few days ago makes one wonder about humanity. A man and woman were arrested and accused of going into a retirement home, distracting residents and stealing their valuables. Talk about preying on the weak. Thankfully, law enforcement intervened this time and the courts will hash out guilt and innocence.

[THUMBS UP] Springdale has another great addition to its Interstate 49 corridor coming. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has accepted the city of Springdale's donation of 61 acres for development of a new Northwest Arkansas game and fish education center. It will be near the southeast corner of Wagon Wheel Road and Interstate 49. Johnelle Hunt has donated $5 million for the center, the Game and Fish Commission pledged $4 million and its foundation pledged $1 million. The estimate for the center is $15 million. It will be focused on introducing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts "to what we all hold dear," said Game and Fish Director Jeff Crow.

Pair that up with Arvest Ballpark, Northwest Arkansas Children's Hospital and the many other developments and it's clear the city has a lot going for it within that Interstate 49 corridor. These institutional facilities will promote the development of other welcome additions, from retail to restaurants to hotels and more. Good times are ahead for Springdale.

[THUMBS DOWN] A study of Arkansas' death row and other data indicate black Americans are twice as likely to be charged with capital murder and receive the death penalty as white defendants. They're also more likely to get longer prison terms for other crimes.

That ought to be a disheartening piece of news for everyone who believes our law enforcement and judicial system should be color blind. And if there are folks out there who don't believe that, it's time for some serious introspection.

Skin color shouldn't be a factor in how one is punished, but it's vital the men and women involved in the prosecution of criminal defendants are aware of the impact biases can have. Convict and punish people based on what they did, not because of who they are.

Commentary on 02/16/2017

Print Headline: Thursday thumbs

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