And Pensive America Coming of Age
Hey, I like living in Indiana and have for half my life. Nonetheless, there are some problems with being a Hoosier other than that name. People debate the etymology of that word. Additionally, Indiana is not the most politically progressive state in America. Some even see Indiana as a Southern state north of the Mason Dixon Line. While it is located between Ohio and Illinois geographically, that is one of the only similarities. Nevertheless, there are other issues that need to be addressed about Indiana's Weltanschauung (worldview).
For example, Governor Mike Pence recently signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which quickly resulted in a thunderous outcry, both within the state and across the country. RFRA is a means of the rightwing to diss the LGBT community. The bill would allow business owners not to serve gays due to the owners' religious beliefs. However, Pence said that it was "absolutely not" the reason for the legislation. Well, what was the reason?
Nevertheless, Pence and many Republican legislators are absolutely wrong. Actually, nearly everyone else in the state views this legislation as a blatant form of discrimination based upon one's sexual orientation. There are many who are upset by Pence signing RFRA, like the Indiana State Chamber of Conference and Greg Ballard, the mayor of Indianapolis. Ballard told Pence and the legislators to fix RFRA.
In addition, Eli Lilly, Anthem, Cummins, Angie's List, Cook Group, Emmis Communications, Roche Diagnostics, Indiana University Health, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Dow AgroSciences, and many more told Pence and the Republicans to either change or repeal RFRA.
Mark Emmert, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), gave a very straightforward argument against RFRA. His retort clearly addressed Pence's position.
In the initial response to RFRA, Pence attempted to clarify the new law. Yo, Pence, your clarification does not make any more sense than the actual law, and you know it.
Pence also reacted to the many business leaders for their "gross mischaracterization" of the law. Pence's comment was direct to business leaders who are generally politically conservative and Republicans. He also claimed that journalists were misrepresenting the RFRA. It is not the liberals and the LGBT community that created most of the noise.
Another issue that caused me concern is that if Pence did not think that RFRA would have created a firestorm, then why did he sign the legislation in private? Then the question should be, who was present during the signing? The answer is many of the leaders of various anti-gay groups in the state.
The term pensive comes from late Middle English and Old French, pensif, which originally came from the Latin pensare meaning to ponder or think. Pence needs to ponder prior to acting in the future.
George Stephanopoulos interviewed Pence about RFRA several weeks ago. Listen to the number of times that Pence does not answer Stephanopoulos' repeated question. Perhaps, pensive Pence was still pondering.
Stephanopoulos' interview was excellent for several reasons. Beyond Pence refusing to answer a simple and direct question asked over a half dozen times, Pence did say that RFRA is the same as the federal and other states' RFRA. That is not true. For example, the federal law was created to resolve the issue of Native Americans' usage of peyote for religious reasons.
Then Stephanopoulos asked Pence whether he supported legislation to protect the LGBT community. Pence said that it was not on his agenda. If he does not have issues with gays, why would he not support legislation to protect gays? He signed RFRA in order for some to discriminate against LGBT by claiming it was for religious reasons.
Those opposed to the RFRA do it so for several reasons. Many do it for ethical reasons as in, it is not ethically correct to discriminate upon someone based upon the way they come into the world. Women cannot be discriminated against, because they were born women. Nor can racial minorities, who were born in that particular minority, be discriminated against either. Why should gays be left out of protection?
Others are in opposition to RFRA, because it does not make sense from a business perspective. Why limit the number of people for whom you do business? In addition, others would boycott one's business as a means to support the group discriminated against like LGBT community. Discrimination will hurt companies financially.
Nonetheless, Pensive Pence did America two major favors however. The first favor is that he brought this matter to the forefront. America is thinking about this particular form of discrimination. For example, the governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchison, refused to sign a similar bill recently in the wake of the firestorm in Indiana. It too had to be amended just like Indiana's RFRA.
However, Hutchison was not as pensive as Pence.
The other favor that Pensive Pence gave us all is that we will not have to listen to him again. It is doubtful that he will get many endorsements to run for president in 2016. Additionally, I hope that Pence will ponder in the future about dealing with people and groups that are not identical to him.
While Pensive Pence is ignored politically, we all need to look at history...the religious history of America. We have, for centuries since coming to America for freedom, persecuted people and claimed that it was for religious reasons. It started with Native Americans. We stole their land, which was based upon the superiority of the white man. We claimed that God gave us Manifest Destiny. To seize much of North America was based upon God's will.
Religion helped racist Americans to justify slavery and later segregation. Blacks were not really humans; they were more like animals. Therefore, enslaving them was okay from a religious viewpoint.
Women have also been deemed not equal to men from a religious viewpoint. List the number of women that are ordained in any religion vs the number of men. Sexists discriminated "the weaker sex" based upon religion.
We have finally addressed issues like racism and sexism more or less. Minorities and women enjoy more freedom than either have had since the beginning of time. It is time to address LGBTs. However, the religious-right is doing what they had done with minorities and women. Maybe Pensive Pence will make America less pensive.
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