Jay Dardenne, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana whose responsibilities include promoting tourism, wrote an open letter to cast of Duck Dynasty in which he offered “to use his influence among Louisiana’s growing motion picture industry to seek out alternative production options” should A&E decide to cancel the program.
Lt. Gov. Dardenne has a long history of encouraging film and television production in the state. As a state senator, he authored the Louisiana Motion Picture Tax Incentive Act, which is credited for making the state’s industry the third most productive in the nation, trailing only California and New York.
In his statement, he noted that his offer was not tantamount to an endorsement of Phil Robertson’s positions on homosexuality, same-sex marriage or race. In a GQ interview, Roberston is quoted as having said, “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Robertson also contended that “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person…they’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people.’ Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
“Regardless of one’s views on Phil Robertson’s statements,” Dardenne wrote, “Duck Dynasty has been an important representation of the state of Louisiana, inspiring prospective visitors and investors since its debut. Their show draws tens of millions of viewers each year, reaching an audience eager to visit Sportsman’s Paradise.”
The state’s tourist industry currently accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in the state, the highest level since the state started keeping employment statistics. Because of this, Dardenne wrote that “[i]f the Robertson family cannot come to an agreement with A&E and wants to continue the show, Louisiana already has the infrastructure in place to maintain their record-breaking program.”
[Image via Jay Dardenne]