Governor Dennis Daugaard attended the signing ceremony for the new Chinese-government-run Confucius Institute on the Northern State campus here in Aberdeen yesterday. Celebrating the Confucius Institute’s teaching of Chinese language and culture to open up international trade, Governor Daugaard said, “You can’t discuss business, you can’t discuss culture, if you can’t discuss…. Language and understanding of language is foundational to that.”
Emracing Chinese political culture, Governor Daugaard dodged protesters who had gathered at the NSU library, the site of the signing ceremony, to air their disagreement with House Bill 1179, a new law that widens the definition of veteran for purposes of state benefits. A couple dozen veterans gathered at the front door of the Beulah Williams library; the Governor slipped in and out the back door. Some veterans went around back and eyeballed the Governor on his way out; the Governor waved but did not speak to them. The Governor did make this flaccid comment to the press about the protest:
“I certainly respect their right to object to the legislation,” Daugaard said. “That’s what America is all about — freedom of speech. The majority of the Legislature did not agree with them. We want to show the kind of respect that we show to those who have served overseas to all men and women who are willing to take that risk” [Bryan Horwath, “Governor’s Visit Sparks Veteran Protest,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.10].
Vietnam War Army veteran and HB 1179 protester Terry Fowler of Aberdeen told the press that he and his fellow protesters want “to get this on the ballot in November so the public can vote on it.” A third referendum? What fun! But you fellas are burning daylight. Eleven of the 90 days available for circulating referendum petitions have passed, and the Secretary of State has not received the paperwork necessary to start petitioning HB 1179 to referendum.