It's Thursday and time for our semi-weekly offering of mini-editorials on topics near and far:
[THUMBS UP] Elsewhere in this newspaper is the news report explaining that a federal judge sentenced Richard "Bigo" Barnett, 63, of Gravette to 4 1/2 years in prison for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Readers will remember Barnett as the brazen man photographed with his foot plopped up on a desk inside the offices of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In January, a jury found him guilty of four felonies and four misdemeanors related to his activities at the Capitol that day. He emerged from the Capitol and was captured on video proudly explaining what he did and showing an envelope from Pelosi's office as proof. Barnett is among those who still believe they did nothing wrong on Jan. 6, that those who protected Congress and the Capitol were somehow deserving of the harm done. He, and they, are wrong. "All the folks who follow 'Bigo' need to know the actions of Jan. 6 cannot be repeated without some serious repercussions," U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said, noting Barnett seemed to enjoy the notoriety he earned. He earned his time behind bars, too.
[THUMBS DOWN] To demonstrate how pathetic much of the book-banning or book-removing nonsense happening in our country is these days, it seems Florida strives to provide prime examples. The latest? A Miami-Dade elementary school limited access to Amanda Gorman's poem "The Hill We Climb" after a parent complained it contained indirect "hate messages." You may recall Gorman's work: She recited that very poem at the 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden, becoming a star in the process. That poem is suitable for any age, for it gives a accurate description of the perils the nation faced and faces. It's got such X-rated phrases as "We are striving to forge a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man." The same parent complained of other books, labeling them "indoctrination" and "CRT." The fact that the complaint identified Oprah Winfrey as the poem's author suggests more books, not fewer, should be in parent's future. Politically oriented book banning is a strategy of thin-skinned people whose worldview depends on hiding knowledge, not expanding it.
[THUMBS UP] Spirits seem to be flying high at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, where passenger numbers of late appear to be on track to top the airport's pre-pandemic high and perhaps, for the first time every, top 1 million boardings. A busy airport is a great sign for the region as business and recreational travel picks up, signaling a return to what passes most of the time for normalcy. Northwest Arkansas can use a dose of that wherever it can get it.
[THUMBS UP] The story was about a clinic in Washington County that gave people with outstanding arrest warrants a chance to straighten those out and get back on track within the courts system. But the comment deeper in the story was from Denny Hyslip, the county's public defender, who was talking about additional programs that could help lessen the load on the local jail and more efficiently handle cases through the courts. "I know they're talking about a mental health court and maybe a DWI court," Hyslip said. "I don't know when they are going to happen but I think all these things will be significant." We do, too, and it's good to hear they may be some progress on those approaches.