South Carolina editorial roundup

News,Science and Technology

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

April 22

The Herald of Rock Hill on better sex education needed in state:

It's fine to advise young people to abstain from sex until they are married. But if you think that message alone will prevent them from becoming pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted disease, you're being naive.

That's what lawmakers sponsoring a bill to update South Carolina's 25-year-old sex education law are saying in support of the bill. And they have the statistics to prove it.

A hearing on the bill earlier this month by a House panel attracted a standing-room-only crowd that overflowed into the hallway. Unfortunately, the subcommittee apparently decided to dodge the issue and postponed a vote on it.

We hope that isn't the end of the discussion. South Carolina's students deserve more than a recommendation to abstain from sex.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. B.R. Skelton, R-Six Mile, and a number of Republican co-sponsors, would require that the state's students receive medically accurate information on how to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. ...

Teen pregnancies cost state taxpayers $200 million yearly in Medicaid alone, not including the continued cost of health care and other government assistance programs for young mothers. In addition, young unwed mothers often drop out of school and are unemployed.

Opponents of comprehensive sex education in the state, including Christian lobbying groups and other social conservatives, say any deviation from an abstinence-focused curriculum will encourage risky behavior. But there is no scientific evidence to back up that claim.

In fact, a 2007 federal study indicated that abstinence-only programs had no impact on the rate of teen sexual activity. ...

As Rep. Skelton noted, those who are satisfied with the level of teen pregnancy, of abortion, the level of STDs, high-school dropouts, government dependence and generational poverty should oppose this bill.

"But," he said, "if those things concern you, let's do something about it."

We agree. Sex education in the state's public schools needs to be based on more than wishful thinking.



April 21

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on Mark Sanford writing another chapter in comeback:

The South Carolina Democratic Party has been issuing daily e-mails that include comments attributed to Republicans on the topic of Mark Sanford.

The idea is to use the words of Sanford's fellow Republicans to tear down the former governor and GOP nominee in the special election to fill the vacant 1st District seat in Congress.

Some samples of what the Democrats, supporting their nominee businesswoman Elizabeth Colbert Busch, call "Daily Dose of Republicans on Sanford."

— Then-state Sen. Mick Mulvaney, now a congressman, said, "Someone called me and said, 'Are you going to defend the governor? ... I'm thinking to myself, 'How can I defend the indefensible? This is absolutely, positively wrong and I can't believe he would do it. In fact, at several levels it's disgusting.'"

— Then-state Rep. Tim Scott, now a U.S. senator, signed a legislative letter calling for Sanford's resignation that stated, "Your admitted actions and the facts surrounding the allegations against you — which are currently being investigated by the State Ethics Commission — reveal a pattern of poor decision making and questionable leadership ... "

... Sanford was pretty much on cruise control until this week, his libertarian views and forgiveness tour proving popular. Now comes the further test: News that his ex-wife and the state's former first lady, Jenny Sanford, has accused him of repeatedly trespassing in her home.

Sanford answered with a statement explaining why he was at his wife's Sullivans Island residence on Feb. 3. Jenny Sanford filed a complaint the next day, saying his visit on that night and several other occasions violated their divorce settlement. ...

The three weeks between now and the May 7 election will show whether the Democrats are willing to put money behind their words in a belief that Sanford can be beaten.

But don't ask us to bet against Mark Sanford.



April 23

The Post and Courier of Charleston on getting in gear on texting ban:

Florida is about to join the 39 other states that ban texting while driving. Could South Carolina become No. 41? Don't count on it.

Despite the best efforts of lawmakers like Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, legislation to make it illegal to text while driving hasn't been able to get the necessary traction even after three years of trying.

Rep. Gilliard, who favors tough penalties for texting motorists, has signed onto a weaker bill in hopes of getting something passed this session.

Considering the clear dangers of texting while driving, the Legislature's reluctance is nothing short of incredible.

Texting is considered driving while distracted, but it might better be described as driving while briefly blind, as it typically requires drivers to take their eyes of the road for 4.6 seconds.

A study by researchers at Virginia Tech found that it makes a driver at least 20 times more likely to have an accident or at least a near-miss.

And an estimated 30 percent of motorists have either sent a text or read one while driving.

Many of those texting motorists are teenagers — comparative driving novices. ...

If South Carolina's lawmakers are unable to recognize the importance of a strong texting ban, maybe a weak one will suffice until the light bulb goes off above their heads.

Charleston County Council recently decided against a local texting-while-driving ban in hopes that a statewide prohibition would soon be in place. If that doesn't happen this session, County Council should reconsider the local ban.

No question, a statewide ban is exactly what is needed.

The South Carolina Legislature should be able to get its act together long enough to adopt one — this year.


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