Wednesday, February 10, 1999

General aviation field
will benefit many

THE closing of Barbers Point Naval Air Station is scheduled for July 1. After that the Leeward Oahu facility will be converted to a variety of uses. Of the station's 3,700 acres, the Navy will retain 1,100 acres for housing, a medical center, commissary and exchange, and golf course.

The remainder will be divided among a general aviation airport, Hawaiian Home Lands, a beach park, a city sports complex, a fish and wildlife habitat, Hawaii Army National Guard, a state heritage park, the Coast Guard, a city desalination plant, an elementary school, homeless facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs and a University of Hawaii flight school.

Although there are obviously other benefits from the turnover of the base to the state, perhaps the most significant is the general aviation airport. This solves a problem that had defied solution for decades.

State transportation officials had sought in vain to find a site for a general aviation (light plane) airport on Oahu. It's needed to provide a way to remove light planes from Honolulu Airport, where the mix of big, fast jets and small, slow planes constitutes a safety hazard.

But community resistance, remote location or difficulty of land acquisition defeated one proposed site after another. At one point the state proposed joint military/civilian use of Barbers Point, but the Pentagon rejected the idea.

The decision to close the naval air station provided a golden opportunity to solve the general aviation problem. It enabled the state to acquire runways, hangars and airport equipment at no cost, and in a location convenient for general aviation activities.

Although some area residents objected, the general aviation airport is included in the final plan, and fortunately so. Most if not all general aviation operations are to be moved to Barbers Point by the end of 2000.

This is not merely a benefit for the relatively small general aviation community. It benefits everyone who flies in and out of Honolulu, by making Honolulu Airport safer. It's hard to exaggerate the importance of that.


No cigarettes, please

THE U.S. Postal Service has succumbed to political correctness with a stamp to be issued Feb. 18 depicting the painter Jackson Pollock. The stamp is based on a 1949 Life magazine photograph of the abstract impressionist pouring paint onto canvas on the floor of his studio. Pollock was a chain smoker. In the photo, a cigarette dangles from his lips. In the stamp, there is no cigarette.

The same thing happened in 1994, with a stamp commemorating the blues guitarist Robert Johnson. The original photograph depicted his signature cigarette. The stamp didn't.

However, a 1982 stamp honoring the centennial of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt showed a profile of the president and his cigarette holder.


A Postal Service spokesman commented, "We're not honoring a smoker who happened to be an artist; we're honoring a very good artist who happened to be a smoker. Smoking is not the issue." Maybe it is. A professor described as an expert in cultural symbolism said the stamp was an example of the "government trying to sanitize American history."

It's understandable that anti-smoking crusaders should press the film industry to keep movies tobacco-free. But doctoring a famous photograph to remove an offending cigarette amounts to tampering with history. Jackson Pollock, like millions of people, was a smoker. Smoking is no longer politically correct, but that fact should not induce us to falsify history.


Gay housing rights

HOMOSEXUALS should have the same rights as heterosexuals in gaining access to housing, stores, restaurants and other public accommodations, but constitutional questions arise when granting a right to one person results in the denial of a right to another. In this case, religious groups maintain that their strong beliefs would be violated if they were forced to sell or rent a home to a homosexual. Court battles are sure to ensue.

The state Legislature is considering a bill proposed by the Cayetano administration that would prohibit discriminatory practices that deny housing and public accommodation because of a person's sexual preference. Discrimination bans now are limited to race, sex, color, religion, ancestry and disability.

It is hard to argue with Carolyn M. Golojuch, president of a local lesbian and gay support group, when she tells senators, "Housing and public accommodations are a basic need that should not be denied anyone." The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission has received about 20 complaints of sexual-orientation discrimination in the past two years. Commission Executive Director Bill Hoshijo says they have been settled out of court.

The problem is that various courts have held that landlords may refuse to rent property to unmarried couples on religious grounds because they consider sex out of wedlock to be sinful. It can be argued similarly that requiring a landlord to rent property to homosexuals would be an affront -- perhaps even a greater one -- to the landlord's religious convictions.

"Which has the overriding prerogative, sexual orientation or religious belief?" asks Leon Siu, state director of the Christian Voice of Hawaii, which represents some 500 ministers from many denomination in Hawaii.

Siu's question cannot be easily dismissed. If legislators decide that the right of sexual orientation should prevail over religious beliefs as a matter of public policy, they should be prepared to fight it out in court. After the anguish over the constitutionality of gay marriage in Hawaii, they may wish to remain on the sidelines while this battle occurs in some other venue.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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