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Heavy rainfall in the region has touched off flash flooding and swollen rivers, which in turn has snarled traffic on waterlogged roads from Danville to South Hill.


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Plain and Simple for Dec. 26, 2013 / December 31, 2013
The big thing surrounding Christmas this year is “Duck Dynasty.” Actually, it is the furor over what patriarch Phil Robertson said in an interview and his subsequent suspension from the show that has gotten the attention in the media and social networking. Comments are being made ranging from this is an example of the loss of free speech all the way to Robertson is a prime example of what is wrong with hate-filled homophobic Christianity.

Permit me to make a few observations. I do not think that this is an issue of free speech first of all. Robertson has the right to say what he said and no one is denying him that right. The problem is that there can be consequences to what we say. I can stand up in the pulpit and say a lot of things but let me say some things the wrong way and see how long I hold a pulpit.

I do not personally find the way that he stated things very well spoken but, then, what did anyone expect? The whole attraction of the show is that they say off the cuff things. Expecting Robertson to sugar coat his ideas would be to expect Miley Cyrus to sing gospel songs. Making a stink over the way that he said something is akin to a setup.

On a deeper level, however, it bothers me greatly that we in this country have come to a place where we seek to shut down anyone with whom we disagree. Are his remarks insulting to you? Then argue them out in a public forum. Don’t seek to silence the debate and don’t simply try to scream louder than your opponent. Just because history may now be on our side and we are able to get public opinion to put a muzzle on our opponents does not mean that we are right or that history may not turn and we will be on the other end someday. I agree that pure hate speech does not qualify for these privileges but I do not think that Robertson crossed over into that territory.

If you want to know the truth, I found his remarks on race relations to be more troubling than his remarks on gay people. Somehow he failed to notice that black people did not have equal rights when he was growing up in Louisiana. His impression of them was that they were intensely happy and singing all the time. I grew up during the same period in Virginia and that was not the case there. I would love to have a conversation with him about race relations. But that is not possible, is it, if all we want to do is shout each other down?

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