Thursday, July 26, 2007

Views from the editor's desk

By Chris Evans

It looks like Graves County is emulating our school system. Crittenden County Schools implemented a drug testing policy last year that requires periodic checks on students who want to drive to school, play sports or participate in extracurricular activities.

Now, Graves is doing much the same thing and you can expect others to follow suit. Crittenden wasn’t the first to react to a drug problem among teens, but we were certainly ahead of most.

Now, it’s time to go a step further and find a way to test 100 percent. From my understanding, there are legal questions regarding testing everyone, but to me it sounds more like discrimination when you single out a certain group and test only it.

Not arguing the law, just can’t imagine that there isn’t some creative way around it. Students who are not involved in school-based activities are probably those at greatest risk for drug abuse.

We also need mandatory testing for all teachers, staff and bus drivers. It just makes sense.


The Crittenden County documentary that is being promoted by Fohs Hall and a group of area historians is gaining some momentum. Filming has been underway for various segments and other interviews are being planned for the coming weeks. Producer Sam Koltinsky of Princeton was at Hurricane Camp Meeting and the recent Marion High Reunion gathering footage.

Judy Winn, one of the coordinators for the project, says Crittenden County is losing its history every time someone passes away. She stresses that it is important to capture the knowledge of our elderly population while there is an opportunity.

Filming the documentary is expected to cost about $50,000. Winn said fundraising has been going well, but the group is still about halfway toward its goal. To make a donation, contact Winn or mail it to Fohs Hall, PO Box 1, Marion, KY 42064. Please denote in the check memo that the donation is for the documentary.


What you will hear on television:
Football star Michael Vick has been indicted for putting two dogs into a ring and betting on which one would win the fight.

What you won’t hear on television:
Don King and other fight promoters have been making millions for years by putting two humans into a ring and betting on which one would win the fight.

What you will hear on television:
President Bush’s approval rating is currently at 31 percent.

What you won’t hear on television:
The approval rating for Congress is about 15 percent.

Chris Evans is editor and publisher of The Crittenden Press. You can reach him at

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You are what you eat

By Chris Evans

“You are what you eat,” as purported by an age-old saying.

Does that mean I’m a shrimp or a blackberry?

I like to think of myself as a bowl of sherbet – maybe a little oozy on the edges, but firm and cool in the center.

While the literal interpretation of that adage is quite difficult to show, it’s easier to swallow once we understand the metaphoric thesis of the phrase.

In other words, what it really means is that we are perceived by how we conduct our lives, because how we conduct our lives shapes who we are.

We are what we do. We are where we work. We are how we talk. We are how we vote. We are where we go at night. We are where we go to church, if we do. We are how much we drink or how much we swear. We are whatever we do.

Because we live in a society that considers certain people – because of what they do, who they are or where they work – public individuals with fewer rights to privacy than the average mill worker, then we must conduct ourselves more deliberately in order to avoid embarrassment. In assuming certain roles, we must accept transparencies uncommon for the common man.

In actuality, what we do in our private lives is no longer our business.

What we find is that our bedrooms are not a refuge from public scrutiny, our habits are held in public display, old scars are never allowed to heal and politics and money drive everything including Aunt Daisy.

Public people can’t afford to make mistakes as can the average Joe. Good, bad or ugly, that’s the cold stark reality of a free society that’s evolved through the Information Age. There’s no room for a stubbed toe in a world of kick-ball mentality where the game is viewed on slow-motion replay at 6 and 10.

Last week, the woman selected to be Kentucky’s next education commissioner declined to take the position after increasing scrutiny from the media. She blamed news reporters for the so-called “noise” that affected her decision to not accept the job. Barbara Erwin, whom the state Board of Education selected in May, said she would retire rather than start her new post in Kentucky amid such a circus. Questions about a missing personnel file and a police investigation at her old job near Chicago had been raised by reporters over the past few weeks.

Despite the investigative reporting and her subsequent resignation, state education officials said they still believed she was the best person for the job.

For Erwin the stakes had become too high. She recognized the treacherous road ahead and took a different path.

For all of us, there are roads to success and roads to disaster. They are not clearly marked. Safe travel along the public roadways requires near-divine self control – retroactive to pre-adolescence – cautious steering in heavy traffic whether you commute through a big city or along rural highways, and it takes a whole lot of luck to get home unscathed.

As the parable of Job tells us, there are pitfalls and rocky roads even for the righteous. The ultimate judgment is not granted by friends, neighbors, kinfolk nor news anchors.

No, mere mortals cannot rule on the big question, but they can darn sure publish a stinging appraisal that lasts a lifetime. The piling on mob-mentality sometimes seizes public control of public – and private – scrutiny and compels some to act as though they might not normally.

What we, as civilized individuals should do, is answer the question of whether we have compassion for the sinner along with that natural contempt for the sin. For without empathy, we are guilty of casting an unfavorable first stone. And sometimes, they bounce back.

Chris Evans is editor and publisher of The Crittenden Press. You can reach him at

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Islam outpacing Christianity

By Chris Evans

From a colonial superpower to communism and then today’s religious extremists, the United States has been at odds with some part of the globe since its very existence.

Understanding the world and how it reacts to U.S. political policy and culture is very important in an every shrinking global society.

For those interested in learning more about Islam – the fastest growing religion on earth – there are countless resources from the Holy Koran to the Internet. Recently, I attended a program on the Islamic culture. It was very enlightening. Although I had studied the religion a good bit over the past six years, I found many new aspects.

Islam is a rapidly growing faith based on the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. It was founded in the early seventh century generally as a peaceful, loving doctrine that parallels early Judaism in some respects. The more radical sects of Islam, however, have given rise to worldwide caution regarding Muslim extremists. Last weekend’s bomb scares in England are among the latest episodes.

The current strife between Muslims and Jews and Christians started well before the terrorist attacks of 9-11 or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It really started about 1,000 years ago with the Medieval Crusades in Europe and the Middle East. In fact, one could argue that it goes even farther into history, back to the prophet Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac.

We can’t blame a single president or one political party for what’s going on right now. Extremists don’t care if the “infidels” are burrows or elephants, Aussies or Anglo.

What we must do, as Americans, is to educate ourselves regarding the beliefs and spread of Islam worldwide. Currently, there are about 2.1 billion Christians on earth. There are about 1.3 billion Muslims. However, the Islamic faith has increased over the past decade through births and conversions at the rate of 245 percent. Meanwhile, Christian numbers have gone up just 47 percent. Those are the two largest religious groups on the globe, well ahead of Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism.

In fact, the third largest group of people is those who are secular, nonreligous, agnostic or atheist. They number just over 1 billion. Imagine that host of people as Independents in, let’s say, a political season. The major parties are each fighting to lure them in, attract them into their own fold. Welcome to Earth 2007.

If a religious group is fishing for men, you can bet they’re casting into that sea of current non-believers.

In Europe, Islam is spreading through France and Britain and soon could declare a political and social majority in most European countries. The same could happen in the United States over the next 20-30 years.

In America, private Islamic schools are common in some states like Minnesota, California, New Jersey and Florida. Minnesota, which has the highest density of Muslims in America, last November elected Keith Ellison of Minneapolis to Congress, the first Muslim in the nation to go to the U.S. House. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is one of the Democratic favorites to become the next President of the United States, lived in Indonesia as a child and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school.

There are certainly moderate Muslims worldwide who are fighting to prevent a backlash against their religion because of recent links to terrorist activity. Radical fundamentalists, however, believe they are in a global Jihad, or holy war, against the infidels and America is squarely in the center of their crosshairs.

To a large degree, most of us in Crittenden County do not understand the influence of Islam on the United States. It will impact us more and more in time.

In 1970, there were about 100,000 Muslims in the U.S. Today, there are about 10 million.

Understanding the Islamic religion and its culture is terribly important. This is not the first time I have written on the subject, and it will not be the last. I urge you to do your own research and make up your own minds. The better your understand what others are planning and doing, the more apt you will be to deal with the matter once it crosses the county line.

Chris Evans is editor and publisher of The Crittenden Press. You can reach him at