By Scott McIntosh, Opinion Editor

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What a sad, disgraceful, cruel day for the Idaho Legislature.

The House Ethics Committee held a hearing to consider whether to recommend removing Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, R-Lewiston, over an accusation that he sexually assaulted a legislative volunteer staffer.

Scott McIntosh is the Idaho Statesman’s opinion editor.

The committee subpoenaed the woman accusing von Ehlinger, and her gut-wrenching testimony was difficult to listen to.

Having her testify was not only unnecessary but damaging.

“How do I explain that right before I got here, I was late because I was panicking on the floor, vomiting on myself in the bathroom and calling my mom because I’m terrified. How do I explain that to the committee?” she said, her voice quavering. “But I don’t blame you. I forgive you. You’re doing your job. And I am, too.”

Von Ehlinger’s attorney turned to tactics of victim blaming and shaming.

Republican legislators were in the audience, scoffing, laughing and heckling. And some people in the audience actually chased down the accuser after she testified, taking pictures and video of her. This all comes after some on the far right have shared information about and identified the accuser, a potential victim of a sex crime.

Wednesday was just a sad, cruel, disgraceful and embarrassing day for the Idaho Legislature, writes our editorial board.

Sexual assault victims must be protected, not subjected to a political firestorm

Tara Malek

Tara Malek

Former federal and state prosecutor Tara Malek explains why victims of sexual assault need to be protected. “When a suspect or the perpetrator is identified, victims then have to go through an often arduous, embarrassing and traumatic process in the criminal justice system of reliving the assault to attempt to bring their attacker to justice.”

You can read her guest opinion here.

Armenian genocide

Jo-Ann Kachigian, of Boise, on Saturday recounts her mother’s story of being led on a death march during the 1915 Armenian genocide, only to be “saved” by a Turk in Aleppo, Syria, where she was sold into servitude. She considered herself to be saved because the next stop on the death march was a mass execution.

Jo-Ann Kachigian, of Boise, on Saturday recounts her mother’s story of being led on a death march during the 1915 Armenian genocide, only to be “saved” by a Turk in Aleppo, Syria, where she was sold into servitude. She considered herself to be saved because the next stop on the death march was a mass execution.

A small but active community of local Armenians in the Boise area meets every year on April 24 to commemorate the Armenian genocide, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman empire.

This year’s commemoration, held Saturday at the Anne Frank Memorial in Boise, was different. That’s because on that day, President Joe Biden issued a statement declaring the atrocities of 1915-1923 a “genocide.”

I was there for the Boise ceremony, and it was a moving experience.

Critical race theory

Michael Carter, left, and Jared Cutler

Michael Carter, left, and Jared Cutler

Teaching critical race theory has become a hot topic, particularly in Idaho. This week, we received a guest opinion from a former Idaho man, Jared Cutler, who is now assistant provost at Sinclair Community College in Ohio, and his colleague, Michael Carter, who is the chief diversity officer at Sinclair.

You can read their thoughts here.

Analysis: By staying silent, Idaho State Board loses the education narrative

Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield (outgoing) and incoming President Kurt Liebich, left, address freedom of expression and other topics being debated by the Idaho Legislature during a livestream broadcast via Idaho Public Television Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield (outgoing) and incoming President Kurt Liebich, left, address freedom of expression and other topics being debated by the Idaho Legislature during a livestream broadcast via Idaho Public Television Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Two of Gov. Brad Little’s State Board of Education appointees, outgoing President Debbie Critchfield and newly named President Kurt Liebich, last week tried to strike a balance between acknowledging legislators’ social justice concerns and downplaying the problem. “I have personally not seen any evidence of systematic indoctrination,” Liebich said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.

Unfortunately, they’re a little late joining the debate, which has been going on for a while now and has already been dominated by the anti-social justice side, writes Kevin Richert, of Idaho Ed News.

Idaho’s fringe politics threatens our rankings as best place to live

Bob Kustra

Bob Kustra

Last year, Boise once again scored highest in the rankings game, this time by Livability.com as the No. 1 place to live among 100 Best Places to Live. We marvel with each passing year as Boise continues to earn national honors as one of the best cities in America. Over the years, civic leadership, entrepreneurial innovation and volunteer efforts created a national buzz about Boise that spread across the West and worked its way east, as well.

That’s all threatened, though, by moves being made by Idaho’s fringe politicians in the Legislature, writes Bob Kustra.

What you’re saying

Letters To Editor

Letters To Editor

This week, we’ve received letters on critical race theory, social justice programs, President Biden’s first 100 days, the governor’s emergency powers, vaccines, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s education task force, this legislative session and more.

You can read those letters and more by clicking here.

You can submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion by clicking here.

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