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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Gov. Mike Pence speaks at the Boys and Girls Club Thursday.

Furthermore …

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Robertson

Everything still ducky for freedom of speech

OK, as free-speech advocates, we need to declare our position on “Duck Dynasty,” the reality TV show about some down-home bearded good old boys and the, um, not very progressive views on homosexuality one of them espoused.

Phil Robertson, 67, made some dumb ass comments about gay people in an interview with GQ, perhaps not exactly the best venue for such remarks. In any event, the progressive wing rose up almost as one to deplore his comments. The network that airs the show, A&E, suspended good ol’ Phil as a result.

The conservative wing then rose up as one and asked what about freedom of speech. There was no freedom of speech issue here. A&E ain’t no government. (Excuse us. We got carried away.) Phil had freedom of speech; now he faces the consequences.

Our position is … well, for crying out loud, it’s “Duck Dynasty,” not a documentary showing where the U.S. hides the plutonium. Let Phil have his say. His views are vile, yes, but he is entitled to them. And we and others are entitled to watch something else. That may drive home the point better than shouting.

Laser light danger for planes, pilots

By the grace of God, they have not yet been known to have brought down an aircraft by temporarily blinding or disorienting a pilot. But unless people everywhere smarten up soon, it will happen somewhere. It could even happen in Fort Wayne.

As staff writer Jeff Wiehe reported, a green laser was aimed at three planes landing at Fort Wayne International Airport Wednesday night.

Two pilots reported the laser was aimed at their aircrafts; a police officer observed a laser beam being aimed at a third plane.

The first pilot reported that the laser came from an area two miles northeast of the airport. The officer who was responding to that report believed the laser he saw may have originated in the 8000 block of Kinnerk Road, though he was not able to catch anyone there.

A lucky break for the moron who was targeting that aircraft; it could mean five years in prison and an $11,000 fine. And, more important, it could have meant lost lives of crew and passengers.

The perpetrator might not have been just an incredibly stupid adult. It could have been a child who had no concept that he was putting real crews and passengers in danger. And police have to respond with the idea that it could even have been a terrorist.

Laser pens are nothing to mess around with. Tell your kids.

Pence gives children the focus they deserve

Gov. Mike Pence visited the city’s Boys & Girls Club Thursday to outline his agenda for the coming year.

We don’t agree with him point-by-point on his approach to the state’s problems. But his tone was conciliatory, always a plus in this era of confrontational politics, and his emphasis on children and families was appropriate to the setting as well as the season.

Pence’s plan includes one idea that everyone should be able to get behind: adjusting state personal and dependent-child deductions for inflation. As he noted, those deductions have not been changed in decades. If the personal exemption had been indexed when it last was increased – in 1963 – it would be $7,600, instead of $1,000. Hard to argue with fixing that.

Pence mentioned his support for the marriage amendment but noted that many disagree with him and avoided centerpiecing or rhetoricizing the issue. Maybe he’s at least realizing what a distracting and destructive fight it could portend.

Pence called again for a tax credit for families who adopt children. And he used appropriately evocative language to call for action to lower Indiana’s infant-mortality rate, which one of the highest in the nation.

“We’re not talking about numbers,” he said. “We’re talking about heartbreak. … We must make it our aim to stand for the most vulnerable among us.”

Pence also called strongly for efforts to encourage kids to stay in school and to encourage married, two-parent households. That sometimes can be a code for dehumanizing those who don’t have traditional families, but Pence talked compassionately about the state’s need to support single parents.

Argue with some of Pence’s proposals if you will – and we will. But he deserves credit for placing family and children’s issues front and center. Sometimes the most important thing a governor can do is start the conversation.

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