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Bestler | Kudos to P&C on Pulitzer, now time for legislators to step up

I began subscribing to The Post and Courier of Charleston shortly after moving to McClellanville.

I now lived in Charleston County and, while I continued a digital subscription to The Sun News, I needed to know what was going on in my own neighborhood. Besides, what's a cup of morning coffee without a real, live newspaper?

While the P&C's editorial positions are more conservative than I like, its news pages have always offered solid journalism.

Never was that more evident than in the chilling series it ran last August called “Til Death Do Us Part.”

The series traced the horrifying history of domestic abuse in South Carolina, where, in the past year, the rate of deaths of women by men was more than twice the national rate.

Wrote the authors of the series:

“More than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse.

“It's a staggering toll that for more than 15 years has placed South Carolina among the top 10 states nationally in the rate of women killed by men.”

This week, the series was awarded the most coveted honor in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize for public service.

The award, of course, went to The Post and Courier, but all of South Carolina should be proud. (You can read the series at www.postandcourier.com/tilldeath/title.html).

The paper, with just 85,000 daily subscribers, beat out two other finalists, the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal, both with a much larger subscription base.

Bill Rogers, executive director of the S.C. Press Association, put it this way:

“For a paper the size of The Post and Courier to win the top Pulitzer Prize shows its reporting measures up to major American newspapers. But they do good reporting on a daily basis. They make our state proud.”

What is most important is that the series finally grabbed the attention of lawmakers in Columbia to the extent of domestic violence in South Carolina.

Within days there were calls for stricter penalties for domestic abusers -- and most lawmakers finally figured it out.

In fact, the State Senate has approved a bill exacting harsh penalties for abusers, but the bill has stalled in the House. The problem: A significant number of representatives who are resisting a part of the bill that would restrict gun ownership by domestic abusers.

The House bill would allow a domestic abuse charge to be pleaded down to assault, which would effectively remove the gun ban.

It's not good enough.

The reporters for The Post and Courier have done their part. Now it's time for all legislators to step up and finally give S.C. women an even chance to beat the odds.

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.

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