[ OUR OPINION ]
a sensible solution
DRIVING is all together mind-consuming -- or it should be -- without the distraction of political candidates and their supporters brandishing signs at busy intersections and along city streets and highways. At the same time, sign-holders put themselves in peril as they perch on the edge of curbs just a few feet away from moving vehicles.
Safety concerns prompt a bill to restrict the campaigning custom to certain areas on city streets.
So the proposal from City Councilman Gary Okino to prohibit sign-waving at specific areas on roadways carries merit because it would provide some measure of safety, yet would not raise issues involving free speech or cut off cash-strapped candidates from an inexpensive method of campaigning.
Okino's bill seeks to bar sign-waving at street corners, within 10 feet of a marked, intersection crosswalk, within 15 feet of a midblock crosswalk, within 25 feet of an intersection where there is no marked crosswalk, at bus stops, overpasses and on roads with 45 mph or faster speed limits. If cleared by the Council this summer, as Okino hopes, the bill would go into effect immediately and be applicable in this year's election season.
Sign-waving is somewhat of a tradition in Hawaii. A few years back, the Washington Post displayed a feature story on what mainland people saw as a colorful and unusual custom in the nation's island state. But the practice has evolved from just the lei-bedecked candidate and a couple of supporters to flocks of T-shirted followers strung along sidewalks, hoisting fancy signs bearing names, slogans, e-mail addresses and Web sites. Candidates even jockeyed among themselves for prime positions on high-traffic streets in their districts. The prevalent "honk if you..." placards further exacerbate the problem.
For political neophytes who may not have the so-called "war chests" of campaign donations incumbents possess, sign-waving is a cheap, easy way of getting their names out. Although name recognition may be a big part of getting votes, candidates -- known and unknown -- would do better to speak at community meetings and forums or to canvass door-to-door so that voters have more information on which to make their choices.
Okino's legislation would not be necessary if candidates would take it upon themselves to consider safety first. After all, a serious accident caused by sign-waving would most certainly reflect poorly on the candidate. Barring that, however, the bill should be approved.
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Domain would shield
kids from evils of Net
CONGRESS has tried repeatedly to censor the Internet to protect children from pornography and pedophiles, only to be reined in by the courts. Its latest effort finally recognizes constitutional boundaries while providing a way for parents to shield their children from the wicked corners of cyberspace by creating a safe online "playground" for youngsters.
The U.S. House has approved a bill that would create an Internet subdomain suitable for children.
A Kauai couple learned of the dangers of the Web last week when their 13-year-old daughter allegedly was enticed into sexual encounters at a hotel with a 35-year-old Oahu man she had met on an Internet chat room. In Connecticut, a 13-year-old girl who made good grades, led the cheerleading squad and was an altar girl was strangled to death by a 25-year-old illegal alien from Brazil whom she had met on the 'Net. Police said she had routinely engaged in sex with partners she met in chat rooms.
The House has approved a bill that would establish ".kids.us" as a subdomain of the ".us" country-code domain. Any Web site, such as .com, .org or .net sites, would be afforded the secondary address for inclusion in the .kids.us subdomain, but would have to be free of sexually explicit content, hate speech, violence or other material inappropriate for children 12 and under.
In addition, the sites would be prohibited from having links to inappropriate sites and from setting up chat rooms, instant messaging or other interactive services without certification that they did not expose children to pedophiles or other risks. A study in 2000 found that one of five children aged 10 through 17 received an unwanted sexual solicitation on the Internet in the previous year.
The proposal initially would have created a ".kids" domain, but it was changed to a subdomain of the .us domain, over which the government exercises direct control. NeuStar Inc., a Washington-based firm, last year was awarded the contract to manage the country-code domain and would be assigned to police the .kids.us subdomain.
The bill was "crafted to help organize content suitable for kids in a safe and secure cyberzone where the risk of young children clicking outside of that zone to suitable contents or being preyed upon or exploited online by adults posing as kids is vastly diminished," said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., a co-sponsor. "Organizing kid-friendly contents in this manner will enhance the effectiveness of filtering software and enable parents to set their children's browsers so their kids only surf within the .kids domain."
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