Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, May 15
Thumbs up to Mary Buelow. The head of information services at Hedberg Public Library isn't merely asking people to watch out for fake news. She plans to hold a class, “Searching the Internet: Special 'Fake News' Edition,” on the topic at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Unfortunately, we suspect many people who should attend this class with front-row seats won't be at it. Fake news proliferates among the least informed individuals, not necessarily the type you'd expect to visit the library on a Wednesday afternoon. Nevertheless, the community benefits from its leaders drawing attention to this issue. Of course, The Gazette Editorial Board is concerned about fake news' proliferation, but stopping fake news requires information consumers to identify questionable information and alert others to its falseness. It's important to discredit fake news before it has a chance to gain credence among a wider audience.
Thumbs up to Leadership Development Academy of Rock County. Every successful community needs leaders, obviously. But how do these leaders come to be? How should they be nurtured? The Leadership Development Academy provides part of that answer, showing people how to have a positive impact on their communities. We need people such as town of Beloit police Sgt. Bryan Hasse, who came up with the idea of First Light, a program that provides free housing to residents in emergencies. He is one of more than 350 people to attend the academy since 2004. Leaders are people who take the next step beyond identifying a problem. Leaders are the opposite of complainers. Leaders are the doers—the people who implement solutions.
Thumbs down to sentence in sexting case. A former Edgerton teacher who exchanged sexual messages with a 17-year-old managed to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor and walk out of Rock County Courthouse last week without jail time. Kyle Bowman, 33, should have at least been ordered to serve probation for a few years so authorities could keep an eye on his behavior. Sorry, but we're not giving him credit for delaying a camping trip with the 17-year-old until she turned 18. Nor does it matter in our mind that he started sexting with her after he left his teaching position. The courts cannot afford to send sympathetic signals to educators who work with children. It's not OK for a teacher to use his or her position to develop a relationship with students with the intention of pursuing a sexual encounter once they turn 18. Bowman's circumstances should not have warranted the light sentence.
Thumbs down to the disappearing guns. It's not everyday an M-16 automatic rifle goes missing, but then again the Joseph Jakubowski manhunt wasn't an everyday event. Jakubowski was caught 126 driving miles from the gun shop he's accused of burglarizing, so who knows where that M-16 is? Maybe it's under a gooseberry bush or at the bottom of a ravine. Maybe Jakubowski dropped it into a flowerbed. Authorities have been looking for the M-16 for weeks but now say they have little hope of ever finding it or 12 handguns he's accused of stealing. It's a bizarre twist to Janesville's most bizarre story of the year, and nobody should be surprised if this story gets even weirder before it's done. Just make sure to keep your eyes peeled while working in the garden this spring. You never know what might pop up next to that row of onions.