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.
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.
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.