Current events

Be It Worcester or Indiana, Hate is Hate

By J-Dub

I don’t live in Worcester, but the cancer that is hate is spreading everywhere in this country. There’s no better example of that right now than what is happening right now where I live…Indiana.

Unless you live under a rock in a cave on the dark side of the moon that only gets service from Comcast, you know that Indiana is currently embroiled in a controversy over the passage of a law known as the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act. I wrote about that here the other day, but then it was still just another ridiculous example of mis-informed people saying a lot of mis-informed things.

But since then, it has transmogrified into a perfect example of when both sides have so completely obfuscated an issue now’s there no chance of ever-having an intelligent or constructive debate about it, which also means there’s now no way to reach a solution.

I know this blog is largely a medium for local matters in a town in Massachusetts, and you may be wondering why would I be telling a story here about a problem in a rural state in the Midwest.  Indiana is about a close to a polar opposite as you can get to Massachusetts; this state is largely rural, largely agriculturally-based, and largely white.  In fact, as I’m reading Turtle Boy’s post about North High School principal Lisa Dyer, I’m watching a story on my local news channel about a high school inviting war veterans to speak to the students.  Can you imagine that ever happening at North?

But I digress. In Indiana right now, there is the perfect storm of mis-information, mis-directed leadership, and misguided principles that a lot of innocent people are ultimately going to get hurt.

Let’s start with the government angle.  Despite all the bluster coming out of the opponents to this law, it’s pretty much the same law which was passed by the federal government and signed by Bill Clinton in 1993. In case you don’t remember, congress was controlled by the Democrats.  That means I have a hard time believing they would pass such a law, and that a Democratic president  would sign it. But now that a bunch of Republicans in “Red-State” America did it, all of a sudden it’s the worst law ever.

The drum-beat to get you to believe this is the worst law ever is to paint it with the broad brush of homophobia.

If you read an article posted on the Federalist, you will realize right away what a complete fabrication is is to say this law is “anti-gay.”

The federal government passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. It was authored by Chuck Schumer, passed with nearly unanimous support from both parties, and signed by President Bill Clinton. The legislation was needed after a bad Supreme Court ruling delivered by Antonin Scalia that limited religious freedom for Native Americans who smoke peyote as part of their religion. A later Supreme Court ruling ruled that the RFRA didn’t apply to state or local governments. Twenty states passed RFRAs and another 13 have protections like the ones in RFRA.

And yet when Indiana passed the legislation last week, the media characterized it as nothing more than a bigoted anti-gay bill and celebrities and activists called for a boycott against the state. The media is highly uninformed about the topic and despite RFRAs being around since 1993, no one can provide any evidence to substantiate the outlandish claims made against them. In fact, RFRA simply allows religious people to challenge government activities that encroach on their beliefs. They have to show that the government action substantially burdens a religious belief that they sincerely hold. And if they prove all that, it falls to the government to show that the challenged action is justified as the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest. Having a RFRA doesn’t mean that you know which side wins, it just sets the terms of the debate.

There’s problem number one…debate.  The people who are being the loudest about RFRA’s “anti-gay” stance are the same who want you to believe Turtle Boy Sports is a bunch of “racists.” A great way to stay out of a debate is to hang a discrediting label on your opponents.  But if you go on to read the piece from the Federalist, you will see they make a list of 10 important cases where RFRA was used to protect religious freedoms which are constitutionally guaranteed in America. Now to be fair, the government officials in Indiana trying to defend themselves against this stuff are screwing this up so badly they are actually giving credence to this movement.

That brings us to problem number two.  Unfortunately in this country, the so-called “progressive culture” is terribly anti-religion.  In much the same way that a Joyce McNickles-type would cry about anything that protects the rights of white people being “racist,” the anti-religion crowd is using gay rights as the canard to attack something pro-religion. You can see it for yourself in their constructed argument against RFRA.

Start with the idea of same-sex marriage. First of all, I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If you are opposed to same-sex marriage, you lost. That battle is over, and is about to officially become the law of the land once the Supreme Court locks that down this fall. That’s important to note because the opponents of RFRA wants you to believe this will rescind that. Their logic works like this:

Religious people believe that the institution of marriage is a religious ceremony, not a civil procedure, and therefore exists between the individuals getting married and their faith, not the government.  As such, they also have rules about what marriage is and isn’t.  It’s their church, and they get to have their own rules. That’s what religious freedom is all about.  If you don;’t like the rules of the church, don’t join it.

But that’s not how the anti-RFRA people see it. They want you to believe that because now they can’t force a church into doing what they want that suddenly Indiana (and the 19 other states which have passed the same law…) will suddenly become Iran, where homosexuality is often met with execution.  That’s what this is really all about…it isn’t enough that the proponents of same-sex marriage have won the battle on a civil level, they want to be able to force this on churches and individuals who may have legitimate religious exceptions to it.

Gay people can get married now. The government can bestow on you all of the legal protections and benefits of marriage.  That’s the civil procedure.  But the real victory here for the same-sex marriage supporters is to shove this down the throat of organized religion.

Doubt that?

Then ask yourself this question: Why all the bluster about this? If you are so worried about getting acceptance from a church, then why not either a) find a church which will accept you, of b) start your own church? There’s movement heading that way. For example, the Episcopalians already are ordaining women and open gays as priests. That means a church-sanctioned gay marriage is coming. It’s just a matter of time.

The real answer to that question lies in something Turtle Boy himself said in his aforementioned piece on Lisa Dyer.

To me, the majority of the “Black Lives Matter” protesters are nothing more than a hate group, just like the Ku Klux Klan. Only difference is, this group has a name that tries to guilt people into thinking they have a meaningful agenda, and that you’re a bad person if you don’t support everything that they say.

The anti-RFRA people are just another flavor of the “Black Lives Matter” crowd.  The shouting, the mis-information, the hate…it’s all there.

Doubt that?

Check out what happened the other day here in Indiana.  This was the perfect melding of the “racist” and “anti-religion” mind-sets.  You know this story got hushed up because the of the person who said it,  but thankfully BizPacReview’s Carmine Sabia spotted it:

Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis), who has represented the 99th District since 1991, thinks white toddlers who fear her are racist. Rather than follow the well-trod path of her progressive brethren by writing a Masters thesis — say, “Changes in Postmodern White Toddler Microaggression in Middle America, Pre- and Post-LBJ” — she took her revelation to an open mic on the statehouse floor:

The already contentious debate over Indiana’s proposed “religious freedom” bill took a surreal twist Monday afternoon when — in the midst of discussion on the bill — a Democratic lawmaker said that a Republican lawmaker’s child was “scared” of her because she is black.

The comment by Rep. Vanessa Summers drew audible gasps, in no small part because the child — the son of Rep. Jud McMillin — is 18 months old.

“I told Jud McMillin I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color,” Summers told McMillin, who is white, during debate over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the House.

“It’s hard,” said Summers, D-Indianapolis. Then, as other lawmakers groaned at the comments, she followed up with, “It’s true.”

“He looked at me like I was a monster and turned around and cried. And I told him you need to introduce your child to some people that are dark-skinned so he will not be scared,” she said.

Racist toddlers? Really?

That should tell you all you need to know about where the rest of this debate is headed.  It also tells you a lot about what’s in store for both Worcester and Indiana.

7 Comment(s)
  • Itinerant Engineer
    March 31, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    From what I understand, the main issue with this particular law is that the wording in it is vague enough as to allow for private businesses to discriminate against individuals based on their religious beliefs, e.g. a bakery can refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding or something along those lines. The state’s governor has called for changes to be made to the wording of the law so as to clarify that such discrimination would not be sanctioned by this law.

    • Not-A-Hippie
      March 31, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Can a black baker refuse to make a cake for a KKK gathering? It’s not religious, but you know damn well nobody would defend the Klan’s right to have a cake.

      Cut the shit, people.

    • April 1, 2015 at 7:52 am

      The governor isn’t fixing anything…he’s caving to pressure just like the people who are organizing this protest knew he would. Think about his for a moment.

      The “wording” argument is incredibly weak because I’ve seen at used at least 200 times, and yet nobody has a specific, definitive example. Show me one of those, and I could buy that argument.

      The reason why the “wording” argument exists is because the anti-RFRA crowd need to pick a battlefield in which they could have this fight. Don’t forget this law was passed by 19 other states and the federal government. which means they need a reason to say why Indiana is different.

      Well, a great way to do that is to a) say this is different while not offering any concrete examples and b) hitting the “PC Hot Button” by making this about the PC crowd’s current favorite minority.

      Don’t think that was done deliberately? Then ask yourself why didn’t the anti-RFRA crowd use a real-life example of how in the 20-year history of these laws, they’ve been used to discriminate against ANYBODY? You don’t think that if they had such an example, it would be plastered all over the front of the argument? Because like the “wording” argument, they either don’t exists or aren’t significant.

      That brings us back to the “Why Indiana now?” question. Because they likely had a list of criteria for a state where they were going to wage this fight, and they had a plan for how they were going to do it. Since I live in Indiana, I couldn’t help but notice nobody was talking about this until two days before the legislature was going to vote on it., then within a matter of hours, we had professionally-organized protests and an obviously-planned media campaign.

      They were never going to do #BoycottIllinois, because that’s Obama’s home start, and they surely aren’t going to cause a problem there. How about #BoycottTexas. No, because Texans would fight back and they would also have to stop buying oil. You can take Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania off the list because those all always swing states in presidential elections so they don’t want to start a problem there. Indiana was perfect because it is a small, quintessentially “red” state with a governor who would knuckle under to the time-honored tactics of threats and name-calling….and they were right.

      Again, before you assume I am a supporter of this law, I am not as I explained in the original post, and for the reasons I laid out. I’m an “anti-bullshit” kind of guy, and here’s the point where the bullshit gets real on both sides.

      Governor Pence is a Republican, and has “super-majorities” in both the Indiana House and Senate. That means he could amend the state constitution tomorrow to include sexual orientation as one of the criteria against which discriminating is against the law. That begs the question, why aren’t the anti-RFRA people yelling about that? Why are they demanding the law be repealed when they could get constitutional protection? Because their opposition to this this law isn’t about who it might allow discrimination against, it’s about who it protects.

  • RBG's fat roll
    March 31, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Religious freedom was also cited to prevent black people from eating at business owners lunch counters and now it’s different?

    The author also is incredibly misinformed in regards to the function of the 1993 law versus Indianas version. The 93 law protected religious institutions from government interference and over reach such as employment division v smith u can read about. The Indiana law applies from individual to individual and allows people to discriminated against based on religious beliefs meaning it’s no different than saying black people can’t eat at the lunch counter because my preacher tells me god made them inferior.

    J DUB I usually really like what you have to say but you’re way off here or just misinformed regarding the application of the law.

    • March 31, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      1) Thanks for proving g my point that this issue share a common theme with those who are screaming about race relations in his country. I mean, that’s why you used that lunch counter reference, isn’t it?

      2) Speaking of lunch counters, don’t EVEN try to tell me that the America of the 1960’s is the same as the America of today.

      3) “…misinformed regarding the application of the law.”

      First of all, this law just got signed, so there hasn’t even been a chance to see it applied in the real world yet. It’s opponents, when they aren’t doing a lot of yelling and name-calling, only have a lot of “what if” and “could make it possible” type arguments.” Its’ supporters can’t stop shooting themselves in the foot because they have almost no media-savvy.

      That’s the next problem here…the media. The level of distortion its amazing. I’ve seen MSNBC use a chunk of local news video from here and edit in a way so as to make a crowd of no more than 100 people look ten times that size.

      Now for that whole bit about the language. I’m not about to fall for that; you aren’t the first to try to sell me that argument. We both know you can get three lawyers to read a five-word sentence, and you’ll get three different answers as to what it means. When you are talking about the “individual to individual” basis, you really mean that this law allows for an aggrieved party to a) have a chance to prove the legitimacy of their religious convictions (a standard the lunch counter crowd would have never passed), and to demonstrate how how those convictions are being burdened. That simply adds a layer of due process for all parties involved, which ultimately helps to protect individual freedoms.

      Lastly, I get the whiff here you think I’m a supporter of this law. In fact, I am not, but not for the reasons you might think. One, it’s a subject which has already been address by the aforementioned federal law, and make no mistake, tweaks in language aside, they are the same law. Two, it’s a debate that when not handled in exactly the right way leads to exactly what is happening now. And third, what is happening now is going to suck up so much time and effort for all parties involved that once again, we won’t deal with the major issues which need to be addressed in this state and in this country.

  • Patrick Fitzgerald
    March 31, 2015 at 10:56 am

    If you are selling,trading, etc to the public you are regulated, by Law. Don’t like it don’t run a business in America. Other than that leave people alone and shut the f up ( like i just did)

  • Dug's Flautist
    March 31, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Opponents of the RFRA are misguided. I agree. But it’s bad form and bad writing to misstate your opponents’ case. Please quote anyone of note–meaning not the usual random Facebook schmoes Turtleboy nutpicks–who believes that RFRA will make Indiana anything like Iran.

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