Johnson and Griffen 

If the owners of the two existing race tracks in Arkansas were seeking legislation giving themselves exclusive rights to casino gambling in the state, a franchise worth many millions of dollars, it might be appropriate for a legislator to call for criminal background checks. (Or, if he was sponsoring a bill to aid the track owners’ scheme, to volunteer for one himself.) Similarly, if a land developer was pushing to build a subdivision that might endanger Central Arkansas’s drinking water, it could well be in order for a conscientious legislator to suggest background checks. But when these matters came before the legislature earlier this year, Sen. Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow, did not mumble a word about checking backgrounds. Instead, he pressed for legislation supporting the track owners and the developer. It is only now that Senator Johnson seeks background checks. And for whom? Victims of Hurricane Katrina, who have sought refuge in Arkansas and whose only offense is being (mostly) poor and black. As Gov. Mike Huckabee has said, “[T]hese are not detainees or prisoners, but American citizens displaced through no fault of their own. They are primarily our guests, neighbors and hardworking people who have been through a horrendous ordeal.” They deserve our sympathy, not our suspicion and our prejudice. Judge Wendell Griffen has been thinking about the flood victims also, from a much different perspective than Senator Johnson, and as we’ve all surely learned by now, what Judge Griffen thinks, he says, and what he says, he means. The judge told an NAACP gathering in Conway that the Bush administration’s mishandling of the hurricane disaster revealed “the scab of racism and classism.” (He adapted those remarks for a guest column on this page.) Whether the administration’s failures were the result of “racism and classism” or simple incompetence, or both, is subject to debate, but Judge Griffen is not alone in his suspicions. Even pre-Katrina, this administration has been indifferent if not outright hostile to the poor and people of color, sufficient justification for the judge’s assertion that Bush’s sending his snarly vice president to New Orleans to hug flood victims was the height of hypocrisy. Ghastly, is what it was. Hadn’t they suffered enough? In the same speech — some speech — Judge Griffen spoke out against the bullies of the Religious Right, who have intimidated too many Americans with their questioning of others’ faith and patriotism. Griffen, who is a Baptist minister as well as a judge, called James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson “pimps of piety.” It was time somebody did. Some will question the propriety of a judge saying what Griffen did. The need for truth can outweigh the need for propriety.

From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Bank of Ozarks announces new LR headquarters building

    Bank of the Ozarks announced today that would build a 247,000-square-foot corporate headquarters on a 44-acre site at The Ranch on Highway 10, a project reported in the works by Arkansas Business last year.
    • Sep 19, 2017
  • Rapert challenger faults his reference to her

    Sen. Jason Rapert, the Faulkner County Republican, spoke to an NAACP session in Conway yesterday and encountered a question from his announced Democratic opponent, Maureen Skinner.Her campaign took offense
    • Sep 19, 2017
  • Larry Crane announces retirement as clerk

    Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane sent a message to staff saying he doesn't intend to seek re-election next year.
    • Sep 19, 2017
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • I am very glad to see a lot of women running for government positions in…

    • on September 19, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Since Hillary's book has come out, the Hillary Bashers have starting ranting again. My thoughts:…

    • on September 19, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation