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Thursday, July 27, 2000

proviso for trustees
should go

Bullet The issue: A group of Hawaii residents has filed a lawsuit challenging the state constitutional provision allowing only Hawaiians to run for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trusteeships.
Bullet Our view: The restriction should be lifted because of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that race cannot be used to deny participation in OHA elections.

THE U.S. Supreme Court's decision ending the restriction to Hawaiian voters in Office of Hawaiian Affairs elections was a narrow ruling based on the broad principle of racial nondiscrimination in public elections.

The court did not extend its ruling to eligibility for OHA trusteeships, but only because it was not asked to do so. By trying to defend the racial restriction for trusteeships, the state would be asking the Supreme Court to contradict a principle it has just affirmed.

Harold "Freddy" Rice's lawsuit challenged the state constitutional provision allowing only Hawaiians the right to vote in OHA elections. The suit was based on the Fifteenth Amendment's guarantee of nondiscrimination in elections. Rice, a Caucasian, maintained that he should be allowed to vote in the elections, and the high court agreed.

OHA Chairman Clayton Hee says that the Supreme Court could have extended its ruling in the Rice case to trustee eligibility but chose to restrict it to voters. Hee is either badly mistaken or trying to delay, at taxpayers' expense, what he knows to be the inevitable.

"The validity of the voting restriction is the only question before us," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in explaining why the Rice ruling did not pertain to other aspects of OHA elections. The court does not answer questions it is not asked.

Later in the ruling, however, Kennedy made this sweeping statement: "Race cannot qualify some and disqualify others from full participation in our democracy." We believe such "full participation" includes running for election to public office.

Thirteen Hawaii residents, including a Kaneohe resident who was refused a spot on the OHA ballot, have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Hawaiians-only requirement for OHA trustees.

The state should have precluded the need for such a suit by opening OHA trusteeships to all races following the Rice ruling. Because of the clear principle put forth in that decision, any further attempt by the state to defend racial discrimination in trustee eligibility would be futile and a waste of taxpayer money.

OHA Special

Rice vs. Cayetano arguments

Rice vs. Cayetano decision

Holo I Mua: Sovereignty Roundtable

Media violence

Bullet The issue: Four leading medical associations have issued a statement declaring a relationship between violence in the media and violent behavior by children.
Bullet Our view: The statement confirms what has long been suspected and should prompt stronger efforts by the media to deal with the problem.

A few years ago the American Psychological Association estimated that a typical child will watch 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television before finishing elementary school.

Now four national health associations have found a relationship between the violence in television, music, video games and movies and increasing violence among children.

In a joint statement, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said the effects of exposure to media violence are "measurable and long-lasting." The statement added that "prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life."

The health associations said 30 years of research have shown that children "who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts." Children exposed to violent programming "have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior."

There is nothing new about warnings against exposure to media violence or pledges by the entertainment media to do something about it. In 1992 the three major television networks issued a joint statement vowing to limit gratuitous, excessive or redundant violence, glamorous depictions of violence and replicable or unique methods of inflicting pain or injury.

But anti-violence activists and media scholars accuse the industry of doing little more than paying lip service to the problem.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who organized a public-health conference on the violence problem, compared the medical organizations' statement to the historic finding that cigarettes can cause cancer. Brownback advocates a code of conduct for the entertainment industry.

The 1996 telecommunications law required the development of the v-chip, an electronic device that allows parents to block television programs, based on a set of industry ratings for sex and violence. But the v-chip remains a largely unproven technology, requiring considerable parental involvement.

Meanwhile the growth of the Internet has further complicated the problem. One response in Congress is a proposal to require schools and libraries to install filtering software to restrict Internet surfing by students as a condition for receiving federal grants to install high-speed Internet connections.

The desire to restrain media violence often conflicts with the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of expression. The Constitution prevents government from regulating the content of the electronic media, and it is vital that this barrier be maintained.

This leaves it to public opinion to demand that the networks and other entertainment providers mend their ways and accept responsibility for adverse effects their programming may cause.

America's children are being enveloped in violent images from an early age. The latest statement by health organizations confirms what everyone suspected -- that such heavy exposure to violence is unhealthy. This must change.

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