A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Richard Nelson: Declaration of Independence worth celebrating, but what are we fighting for today?

It was 242 years ago when America’s colonial leaders declared their independence from a tyrant who trampled their rights and usurped their self-rule. They outlined 27 specific violations citing a “long train of abuses” reaching back a decade to the Stamp Act and decided the relationship was irretrievably broken. So on July 4, 1776, the Founders formally separated from Great Britain...

Richard Nelson: Supreme Court ruling in case of Colorado baker restores dignity to people of faith

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a religious freedom victory to a Colorado baker who’s been through the legal wringer ever since he declined to bake a cake for a gay wedding in 2012. SCOTUS deftly sifted through the narrative that Jack Phillips’ bigotry led to unjust discrimination against a protected class. As the facts emerged, so did a distinct aftertaste of religious discrimination...

Richard Nelson: Despite drama, 2018 legislative session was a successful production in many ways

The 2018 General Assembly was incredibly productive and even took positive steps to shore up the state pension system, but incessant negative news reports by major media outlets implying Republicans were sticking it to protesting teachers and unfortunate comments by our Governor left many with another impression. It’s funny how high drama and a few entertaining if not painful moments receive...

Richard Nelson: Kids need parents involved in lives; fathers play key role in preventing mass violence

Gabe Parker was described as cold, callous and “shockingly calm” in an interview with Kentucky State Police. The 16-year old is being tried as an adult for killing two of his fellow students and severely wounding 14 others at Marshall County High School earlier this year. The calm demeanor was called “bizarre” by one KSP trooper. And Marshall County Sheriff’s Detective Captain...

Richard Nelson: On sexual harassment, we need a cultural assessment, and each of us must stand up

Sexual harassment and allegations of abuse by high profile politicians are dominating the news and as distasteful the details and disappointed we may be in our political candidates and leaders, we’re forced to process this cultural moment and how to appropriately respond. Where to begin? How about with empathy toward the women who’ve come out of the shadows to share their stories? It takes...

Richard Nelson: All sinners fraught with brokenness, but Christians must ‘love your neighbor as yourself’

One of the most divisive and difficult topics to discuss today is over sexual ethics—specifically involving LGBT issues. It’s a topic most of us avoid. For the few that are engaged, the conversation is often shrill with carpet bomb arguments that leave the public arena riddled with verbal craters and unspent mines making it difficult to navigate civil conversations. I’ve had several instances...

Richard Nelson: Instant racing expansion will be a bust — pie-in-the-sky promises, economic bad bet

Churchill Downs and Keeneland announced a partnership to expand gambling into eastern and western Kentucky and promised they’ll “create hundreds of new jobs, stimulate economic growth and generate funds to increase purses and breeder incentives.” But if the deal ends up like so many communities lured by casino interests’ pie in the sky promises, the economic gains are a bad...

Richard Nelson: Fixing the foster care system critical to improving the lives of Kentucky children

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward If Hurricane Harvey’s record rainfall doused the fiery political climate, then the images of rescue workers saving children have softened embittered hearts in our politically divisive age. One evocative photo depicts a disaster relief worker slogging through muddied Houston waters carrying an Asian woman who is cradling her infant. Yet as Harvey leaves...

Commentary: Tweeting is no way to communicate policy; discussion needed about gender issues

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward President Trump’s tweet barring transgendered persons from serving in the military caught everyone off guard, including policy makers who are still trying to figure out exactly what it means. As we navigate the minefields of this highly charged issue there’s middle ground that nearly everyone can agree on: policy by tweet is no way to run a government....

Commentary: Coverage of Bevin’s real estate deal results in another case of unbalanced journalism

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward The Executive Branch Ethics Commission (EBEC) recently cleared Gov. Bevin of any wrongdoing involving a deal on a home by a campaign donor, but considering the way the Louisville Courier-Journal trotted out the story since it broke earlier this year, its uncertain they’ll accept the unanimous ruling in Bevin’s favor. A week before the EBEC issued...

Commentary: Civility is missing in public discourse — we need to find a way to bring it back

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Civility is on life support. But the body politic was sick long before James T. Hodgkinson assaulted GOP Congressmen at a baseball practice, critically wounding Rep. Steve Scalise and wounding five others after asking whether the men on the field were Republicans or Democrats. Kentucky witnessed a similar event eight weeks ago when a machete-wielding Transylvania...

Commentary: Despite what you might have read, Bevin does give interviews — I had one

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward I recently sat down with Gov. Bevin for an exclusive interview to hear about significant legislative progress, continuing challenges and current initiatives to address Kentucky’s most pressing needs. We talked about a host of issues including foster care and adoption reform, education policy, the state pension crisis, and a special session to modernize the...

Commentary: Constitutional protection for conscience should also extend to the judiciary

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Does a judge have a right to his conscience? That’s the question many are asking since a Glasgow Family Court Judge recused himself in cases regarding the placement of children into the custody of homosexual parents. Judge Mitchell Nance said that “as a matter of conscience” he believes that “under no circumstance” would “the best interest of the...

Commentary: Living in a post-truth world — from ‘alternative facts’ to a state of confusion

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Wheaties was a staple breakfast food in my childhood and between spoonfuls of the stuff that was supposed to make me strong I remember staring at the box donned with Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner ready to spring the javelin. It was the breakfast of champions and of course what eight-year boy old didn’t aspire to be a world champion athlete? Jenner now...

Commentary: Churches are not second class — state should treat all organizations equally

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in an important case regarding religious freedom and whether the government can treat religious institutions as second class. The case at hand involves a Missouri church that applied for a grant to receive recycled scrap tire material for its playground. The state rejected the application on the grounds that...

Commentary: Cognitive dissonance in Georgetown over proposed gender identity ordinance

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Have you ever had two conflicting feelings happen at the same time? Ever felt both happy and sad? Or angry yet compassionate? If so, you’ve experienced something that amounts to a $10 word psychologists call cognitive dissonance. Such confusion filled my being the other day while attending a Georgetown City Council meeting where the public weighed in on...

Commentary: The fear within the debate on fairness affects those on both sides of the issue

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Participating in a city council meeting can be intimidating. And the intimidation factor is magnified when a controversial issue is on the agenda. Such was the case in Bowling Green last Tuesday when the city commission had a special working session to discuss the proposed sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) nondiscrimination ordinance. I was one of...

Commentary: Trust in institutional media is at an all-time low — why and what’s the solution?

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Kentuckians’ trust in institutional media may be at an all-time low. According to Secretary of State Alison Grime’s Kentucky Civic Health Index released in January, less than half of Kentuckians trust the media. Even more surprising is an Emerson College Poll that found more Americans believe the Trump administration is more trustworthy than the...

Commentary: An unforgettable experience outside Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Have you ever gone to an event expecting one thing only to find out that it was something entirely different? That was my day on Friday and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I was invited to attend a gathering of pastors and pro-life leaders in Louisville where I thought they’d be praying outside the EMW Women’s Clinic. As I drove down...

Commentary: Marches, Planned Parenthood and balanced reporting on what’s really significant

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward It’s been a week of marches and protests and major policy shifts, but in the pursuit of a story that seemed the pinnacle of “what’s important,” the institutional media neglected some major news. The Women’s March on Washington, while an important event attracting nearly a half-million marchers, received an inordinate amount of attention—at...