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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Drawing a line

by Mike Masterson | May 25, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

It's reassuring to see a governor stand behind law enforcement and the laws of his state when it comes to cracking down on those who enter his state with plans to criminally riot, loot, burn and harm others.

Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says enough's enough when it comes to Antifa and others who organize specifically to wreak destruction and mayhem under the guise of lawfully "protesting." He made it clear that Florida and its cities are not like Seattle or Portland.

And he's given $1,000 bonuses to first responders for standing firm in the face of such illegal behavior.

"One of the reasons we are here today with the bonuses is because we know just how important that is," he said at a press conference. "It tells people, hey, if you are in Portland and you think you can come down to Florida and do this, stay out of our state!

"We don't want you coming down here and causing problems. If anyone does cause these problems, if you try to burn something down, try to harm anybody, but particularly a police officer during one of these violent assemblies, there will be consequences. They will be swift and they will be severe. They will be such that people who see that happening will know that's not something that we want to do going forward."

There was more: "There's a lot of places around this country that have not stood by law enforcement, and the tragedy of it is, you're seeing crime spike in certain parts of our country like we haven't seen in decades," he explained. "The people that are going to be most affected by that are the most vulnerable members of our society."

Hooray for DeSantis. He's one elected leader who stands up to the anarchy, criminal disruption, thieving and unwarranted destruction we've seen allowed by some states' mayors and governors since before last summer.

Peaceful assembly and constitutionally protected protests are one thing, but the robbery, assaults and mayhem created by groups like the masked Antifa thugs who fear showing their faces are anything but.

News stories quickly quoted Florida Democrats who expressed concerns DeSantis would be denying peaceful protest rights. Yet that's not even remotely close to what he said or implied.

I saw a social media meme the other day that rightfully asked why any elected city and or state government ever allowed the mobs to get out of control in their backyards to begin with. I've never really understood why any namby-pamby mayor or governor would choose to back anarchists over the law-abiding, taxpaying, contributing members of their community.

DeSantis is doing what every state leader ought to have done the moment such needlessly violent, destructive, even deadly rioting began.

At this point, I'm hoping our own governor, Asa Hutchinson, will make a similar pronouncement and issue a warning to those with criminal behavior on their minds. The people of Arkansas deserve as much as Governor DeSantis says he's providing for his citizens.

Bringing blood

You likely read the story not long ago about the investigation into the severe paddling of a 15-year-old female student in Searcy County. The licks were hard enough to bring blood blisters to her fanny and cause inordinate pain.

The resulting complaint prompted a response from the school and a promise to get to the bottom of the incident.

While I've certainly never condoned striking students with a paddle to the point of drawing blood, I also have had my share of butt-bustings when I was 15 at Harrison High School, as did lifelong friends Ken Reeves, Don Walker and Bill Dill.

In the early 1960s it wasn't unusual for several of the school's male teachers to whale away on our skinny rumps for committing relatively minor transgressions.

In fact, that subject came up at our recent reunion on Bull Shoals Lake where we took turns talking about how many times we each had our posteriors scalded with holey (as opposed to holy) wooden paddles. Those holes reduce friction and cause more pain. And it didn't take long for word to spread through the hallways which teachers applied their paddles with the most force.

Bill told of one time when a male teacher began whipping him in class to the point where Bill took off running out the door bound for the principal's office seeking refuge, with the teacher in hot pursuit striking him in the back.

One history teacher particularly enjoyed whaling away at me and the boys (never the girls) in front of class as hard as he could swing. He'd often get a two-step start to maximize the pain for 20 classmates to ogle.

A news account of this latest incident, where the girl from Marshall was given the choice between getting licks or a suspension, said our state is one of 19 that still allows corporal punishment.

I would find it beyond belief if legal permission included a paddling hard enough to bring blood to the surface of any student's bum.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

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