The Edmond Sun

Our View

May 6, 2011

Kern reprimand creates complications

EDMOND — This week’s 76-16 vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives to reprimand one of its own marks the third such reprimand this year. The censure against Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, was perhaps the most difficult of the three to decide because this marks one of the first instances of censure in recent memory based on a moral and ethical line and less on an instance of breaking a written code of conduct. Typically reprimands have come from physical threats or criminal conduct.

Kern’s remarks during House debate in regard to blacks and women and their purported work ethic are without a doubt inappropriate comments from any educated and professional person. It’s even more concerning that a female educator who has had to work hard to attain her professional success should be so demeaning to other women. This Community Editorial Board cannot imagine the disappointment felt by Kern’s former students, many of whom must be wondering if it’s them she might be labeling in her broad-brush statements.

Kern could have and should have made her points without referencing race or gender.

We appreciate that Kern asked for public forgiveness and apologized for her tactless remarks. Edmond’s Rep. Randy Grau and Rep. Jason Murphey both voted against the reprimand based on their belief that it’s a slippery slope to reprimand representatives for comments protected by the First Amendment, while noting that they do not condone the content of those comments. Whether citizens like it or not the First Amendment protects speech that is hateful.

Grau’s and Murphey’s argument has merit, especially in light of the fact that legislators have immunity under state law for what they say while on the House floor.

The line that Kern crossed is a moral and ethical issue. If the House of Representatives wants to continue to reprimand legislators for saying hateful, hurtful and stupid things, then it should implement a true code of conduct that encompasses moral and ethical issues so that all legislators are on notice to be more careful with their speech. Otherwise, it’s open season on legislators never knowing when they might be misinterpreted or called to task. Even legislators have the right to be wrong now and again. We just hope Rep. Kern will remember in the future the power of words and their ability to do harm.

1
Text Only
Our View
  • OUR VIEW: Bring ‘dark money’ into the light

    Several statewide races this primary season have tacked toward the negative as no candidate has appeared to have a clear majority ahead of today’s primary voting — particularly in the U.S. Senate unexpired term seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee.

    June 23, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Schools should examine future lobbying efforts

    The Edmond Board of Education will have its annual summer retreat next week in which the members will gather to plan for policy changes for the next academic year. They also will look at the district’s overall goals as well as long-range planning for facility and program needs.

    May 27, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Don’t wait to improve reading

    One state representative wants to hold off implementing The Oklahoma Reading Sufficiency Act until more funding for the education reform is put in place by the Legislature.

    February 17, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Votes needed Tuesday

    Voters in the Edmond Public Schools’ District 4 seat will be asked to make a choice Tuesday at the ballot box.
    Running for Edmond Board of Education are Cynthia Benson and Stephanie Bills. This is for a five-year term of service on the board and replaces the seat vacated last year by longtime board member George Cohlmia. Bills was appointed by the Board of Education last spring to fulfill the remainder of Cohlmia’s unexpired term.

    February 8, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Consider storm shelter petition carefully

    Thousands of Oklahomans are expected to sign a petition seeking a state bond issue to pay for installing storm shelters in every Oklahoma public school. And after seeing the destruction wrought in Moore — again — we certainly support the need for school districts to vigorously pursue adding storm shelters to their buildings.
    However, the mechanism that we choose to pay for this endeavor needs to be carefully considered.

    November 18, 2013

  • OUR VIEW: Even one death by violence is too many

    A recent study highlights the rate of women killed by men in 2011. In this study, Oklahoma ranked third in the nation with 38 women killed that year by men, often their partners. In 2010, there were 27 women killed by men in Oklahoma.

    October 25, 2013

  • OUR VIEW: We’re tired of waiting

    Getting to a compromise before Thursday’s deadline to end the government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt ceiling may take more political willpower and guts than most in Congress currently have to give.

    October 14, 2013

  • OUR VIEW: Caudill should step down

    Oklahoma County Clerk Carolynn Caudill has apologized publicly for her actions. She takes the blame for her Sept. 17 DUI arrest and promises constituents that she will be better in the future.

    September 30, 2013

  • OUR VIEW: Thank you Supreme Court

    All Oklahomans received good news this past week when the state Supreme Court ruled that the University of Central Oklahoma can legally use the Master Lease program from the State Regents of Higher Education to pay for bonds to build a new Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.

    September 28, 2013

  • OUR VIEW: Downtown needs homegrown vision

    Local developer Pete Reeser brought up an excellent question this week before the Edmond City Council.

    September 14, 2013