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Watch your fingers

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When a Little Rock civic leader asked last week, "How can we stop Tim Griffin?" we thought of the monkey that's been terrorizing resort towns in central Japan, biting residents in large numbers and escaping all attempts to capture it. The latest report said that a biting-monkey alert was being posted on town websites, advising where the malevolent creature was last seen, and warning residents to keep doors and windows locked.

Griffin too is possessed of low cunning and vicious instincts. The Second Congressional District candidate once contrived to get a U.S. attorney fired so that Griffin could have the job for himself. He soon surrendered the office, in the face of public outrage, but still mentions it in his campaign literature and implies that he came by it honestly. He does not mention his work keeping black people from voting in Florida, though insiders say that was his true metier. Unlike the monkey, Griffin has powerful allies, having long perched on the shoulder of Karl Rove, who taught him to attack all non-Republicans. Big Oil and other corporate interests finance his campaign. How stop him indeed?

All we could tell our friend was to continue her support for state Sen. Joyce Elliott, a capable and honest candidate. Contribute to her campaign, tell your friends about her. Don't give up, even though Elliott is at a disadvantage in an election year when hatred seems to be selling. Oh, and stay alert. Griffin likes to scuttle along in the shadows, eye out for unguarded digits.


UA flunks common sense

An outbreak of sanity on the University of Arkansas campus was quickly and thoroughly squelched last week. The Gearhart administration is efficiently irrational.

An advisory committee recommended lessening the on-campus penalties for first-time use of marijuana so that the punishment would be the same as for underage drinking – education, community service, censure and fine. Marijuana users now face stiffer penalties, including one year of probation, 50 hours of community service and suspended parking privileges for a year. Somehow, the advisory committee's recommendation was distributed on the Fayetteville campus as new university policy, which it should be. Then the administration said there'd been a mistake, that the advisory committee recommendation had not been approved – and would not be – by the executive committee, consisting of Chancellor David Gearhart and vice chancellors. Alcohol is far more destructive than marijuana, studies have shown repeatedly. Simple recognition of the truth should not be too much to expect of a state university, but the UA chooses to keep expectation and achievement low.

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