Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Indiana Jones and the Men of Straw

The only “Indiana” I ever liked in life always had “Jones and the” following it…except for “Crystal Skull”. Blech.

The state leaves much to be desired. I’m sure there are phenomenal people to meet and things to do in Indiana, but a state whose capital translates to “City of Indians”, which refers to indigenous people of the land who were NOT from India, I am not too inclined to look. Besides, Indiana is the home of the White Aryan Resistance. Also, the Ku Klux Klan was so prominent in Indiana that they just called it the Indiana Klan. How are you so Klanny that you that your Klan gets its own name? Well now, Indiana’s lawmakers and Governor respectively passed and signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), a bill that is touted to preserve its residents’ prerogative to follow their religious beliefs free of government interference. It is really just a bill that allows people to deny business to groups of people they don’t like. Good news, though, everyone: This is not a bill to discriminate against black and brown people. Indiana has moved on to homophobia! This RFRA has the same wording in it that people used to use to justify laws against miscegenation and business owners’ “rights” to refuse service to black people.


In response to people from all over the nation threatening to pull their business from Indiana, governor Pence went on what can only be called a straightsplaining™ tour, where he feigned incredulousness over businesses pulling multimillion dollar projects out of his state. He claimed it was strictly to protect Hoosiers’ personal rights, but he quickly followed that he had no agenda to push for an LGBT protection rider for the bill that would have allayed any appearance of discrimination. If you set your Google Translate app to go form Bullshit to English and input his statements, you yield, “The Bigotry Justification Act is intended for people to discriminate against anyone they want. I could do something to keep that from happening, but fuck gay people. ‘Merica.”


As we all know, the next step in justifying idiocy is bringing out the straw men. The first and easiest one was the “But this guy you like passed the same thing!” straw man. In 1993, Bill Clinton signed a bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Also, 19 other states have similarly named acts on their books. The difference with the previously passed laws and the Indiana’s is that in the former laws, it was stated that the government cannot burden a person’s exercise of his/her religion. Indiana’s law refers not to government, but to private citizens. This means a business owner can call it out if he does not like that a woman is wearing a head scarf in his office. A pizzeria owner can refuse to make a pie for someone perceived to be gay. It does not matter if the pizzeria owner is right, or that the holy book used is grotesquely mis-referenced.

My favourite straw man, though, is the Kosher Straw Man. Whenever the exercise of religion in the free market is debated, someone pulls out this gem: “Kosher deli has sign that says, "We can obtain other meats. Just ask." I ask for bacon. Can they refuse to serve me?” It is not refusal of service on any grounds if the firm has never carried or dealt with the product. If you go into McDonald’s and ask for a $5 Footlong and they do not provide it, you are not being discriminated against. You are being an idiot.


Worry not, though. Indiana doesn’t like to make it difficult for the LGBT community under the veil of “religious freedom”. They also make life difficult for women! Purvi Patel is the first woman to be convicted of feticide, because she had a miscarriage. She came into an ER bleeding heavily after a miscarriage, and now she must serve 26 years in prison! The prosecutors quite literally lied in court, saying she was farther along in her pregnancy than she was, and that she took abortion inducing drugs, even though a toxicology report showed that nothing of the sort was true. Because who needs to burden the courts and legislatures of Indiana with “facts” and “truth”? If you go to Indiana and you’re a woman, you’d better damn well control your body’s involuntary functions, or you’re going straight to jail!


Based on this “religious freedom” law and the one that would convict a woman for miscarriages, it seems that the Indiana government is a great fan of George Orwell. Expect the name of the state to be officially changed to Oceania, with capital renamed Airstrip One. The Department of Education will be renamed the Ministry of Truth, tasked with creating names of laws that are exactly the opposite of what they actually do, and revising their history so that they can justify said laws. Though the business backlash was swift, I would not hold my breath for Indiana to change much. Boycotting Indiana may not help much, because what the hell is in Indiana to see? This will blow up in their face though. Regardless, here’s to hoping for a better future.


Indiana: The Midwest’s smellier armpit (Sorry Ohio).

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