Daily Archives: February 21, 2012

Gee, Harvey — let the guy get started, why don’t you?

Wow. South Carolina creeps a little closer to Washington-style partisanship every day. Here’s one step in that direction…

Earlier today, I received a release saying that Thomas McElveen, a Sumter attorney and son of Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen, was running for the state Senate seat to be vacated by Phil Leventis. The release was a PDF file that won’t let me copy text (I hate PDFs!), but here’s a picture of a portion of the release…

Then, less than two hours after that release came out, I received this from Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, under the headline, “Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler on Democrat Thomas McElveen’s Entry into Senate District 35 Race:”

Columbia, SC – February 21, 2012 – South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler today issued the following statement on Democrat Thomas McElveen’s entrance into the race for state Senate District 35:

“Folks in Sumter are ready for change,” Peeler said. “This will be a prime opportunity for the Senate Republican Caucus to add to its growing majority. Democrats in the Senate still have the numbers they need to impede conservative reforms that people across South Carolina have spoken loud and clear on, and that’s something we need to change. Time and time again, Senator Phil Leventis has fought against the conservative agenda, and has led the effort to make sure the Senate is where conservative ideas go to die. After 33 years, we have the opportunity to wrestle away control of District 35 from liberal trial lawyers, and our Caucus will do everything necessary to make it happen.”

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Yeah, Harvey, I understand why you want more Republicans in the Legislature, but why should the people of this Sumter district care about whom you, a resident of Cherokee County, want them to elect to represent them?

It would be one thing if you were offering them some insights into Mr. McElveen’s suitability, and suggesting another, specific person whom you believe, for specific reasons, would be a better choice for them. That might be useful. But you don’t even bother for a second to take stock of Mr. McElveen and his qualifications, or lack thereof, for this office, much less demonstrate that there exists a better candidate. No, you just instruct them that any Republican would be better than this guy, just because he has a D after his name.

Which is just beyond offensive.

How about next time you want to butt into somebody else’s district, you have something useful to offer? Or at the very least, let a guy begin his campaign and say something you object to before you attack him.

Sheesh…

Don’t forget where the “Southern” comes from

When I started reading the story on the front page of The State this morning about a proposal to change the name of the denomination from “Southern Baptist,” I assumed that the reason would be the convention’s roots in the pro-slavery cause.

So I was taken aback when the reason given in the AP story was concerns “that their name is too regional and impedes the evangelistic faith’s efforts to spread the Gospel worldwide.” That seemed an awfully vanilla way to put it.

I read on, expecting to find the part that dealt with the convention’s founding in 1845… and it wasn’t there at all. No mention of why Southern Baptists had split from other Baptists.

Then, when I went to find the story online to link to it in this post, I found the missing passage:

The Southern Baptist Convention formed in 1845 when it split with northern Baptists over the question of whether slave owners could be missionaries. Draper said that history has left some people to have negative associations with the name.

Well, yeah.

AP stories are generally written in the “inverted pyramid” style, to make it easy for copy editors to cut from the bottom in making a story fit on a print page. But sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes a copy editor needs to read the whole story and think about what parts the reader can’t do without if he or she is to understand what’s going on. This is one of those cases.

The omission is more startling since someone thought to add a paragraph at the end telling how many Southern Baptists there are in South Carolina.

Of course, the blame doesn’t accrue entirely to the editor or page designer. This was a badly written AP story. The origins of the “Southern” identity should have been up top, rather than in the 14th graf. It was essential to understanding what the story was about.

Now, let me add that I don’t say any of this to condemn the convention, or the independent churches that belong to it. I do not mean to besmirch today’s Southern Baptists. My parents are Southern Baptists; I was baptized in Thomas Memorial Baptist Church.

But to fail to mention where the convention’s name came from in a story about a discussion of changing the name is like writing a history of Spanish Catholicism without mentioning the Inquisition, or the persecution of Jews and Muslims under Their Most Catholic Majesties Ferdinand and Isabela. Actually, you could even say it’s worse than that in terms of relevance, since the story was specifically about the name.

Given The State‘s usual interest in the history of slavery and Jim Crow (particularly during Black History Month), I was surprised by this omission.