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March 31, 2015


The governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, under intense political heat from Democrats and business Republicans (read Chamber of Commerce and other cheerleaders) alike, now says he wants the legislature to “clarify” that the bigoted bill the legislature passed and he signed last week will not discriminate against people at lunch counters etc. He says this will correct the legislation to make it clear that the legislative intent is not to discriminate against gays, lesbians and trans-genders. Such a “clarifying amendment” is woefully inadequate to correct the language of the act since the act envisions a “religious” right to discriminate in sundry other ways which are sure to bring about hundreds if not thousands of lawsuits that will clog the dockets of courts both state and federal in Indiana.

I think the basic problem in the Indiana legislature is not to be found in passage of this toxic and bigoted piece of junk legislation, which is rather a not-unexpected symptom of the problem. I think the basic problem is in the discriminatory mindset of members of the Indiana legislature themselves which gave rise to such act of warped bigotry. With a supermajority of Republicans and a Republican governor, they are the new dictators and fancy themselves as keepers of public morals who will set the rules for all of the Hoosier peasants, especially those they regard as “deviates.” So what does “deviates” mean? It means whatever and however they want to define it since they are also in charge of definition of terms. What will such bigots pass next with their cement synapses firmly anchored in the past and perhaps extending to the medieval?

Apparently they feel that their election to office amounts to some sort of divine coronation to force conformity on others to suit their view of things, all under the cover of religious liberty (which we already had and have under the First Amendment). This whole scene of ostensible protection of a right that is already protected is asinine and smacks of government overreach into religion against a medieval background much as that of the coronation of Charlemagne by an Italian pope as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1,000 A.D., which Voltaire noted “was neither holy, Roman nor an empire.” Neither is the Indiana legislature a place (or shouldn’t be) where mini-emperors gather in feudal fashion and write edicts to control Hoosier maids, varlets and other knaves. This is (or is supposed to be) a democracy where certain rights of the people are supreme and protected by our constitutions and laws, edicts binding on state legislatures as well.

Pence talks about government overreach and the bill he signed is a case in point. It is overreaching, so much so that it is likely and rightly to be held unconstitutional in its application. Unless repealed in its entirety, look for truckloads of lawsuits, protesting parades on the statehouse lawn and an accelerating exit of businesses from this land of self-proclaimed bigotry, though, as I will discuss further on, even a repeal (though it would help) will not prevent an exit of businesses and boycotts. The damage has been done. Reasonable people will be wondering what new havoc bigoted legislators will foist off on the people and businesses in the Hoosier state. Some will not wait and see; they will leave. They’ve seen enough.

The fact is that this narrow minded governor and his puppet legislature have already done incalculable damage to the State of Indiana, damage that is lasting and that cannot be undone by “clarifying language” to the statute as passed. You cannot undo the rot in a rotten tomato. All you can do is throw the tomato away, but here is the bad news. Even if you throw the tomato away (repeal the statute), its stench remains, as does the bigoted legislature that caused the tomato to rot for all to see.

I am of the view that my old home state, Indiana, will suffer a loss of people, market, capital, both old and new investment and exiting businesses for years to come as a result of this law which represents the epitome of bigotry, all irrespective of whether the law is amended, repealed or whatever. Why? Because this legislature and governor have shown us the dark underside of bigotry all gussied up in the language of “religious liberty” when (like “No Child Left Behind” and “Right to Work” and other grossly mislabeled acts) the real legislative intent was precisely the opposite. Such labeling is an old trick that frequently works but this one stunk so badly that we read the language of the bill and picked up our signs and took to the street.

The ultimate answer beyond ridding ourselves of this feudal piece of tripe is, of course, to rid ourselves of bigoted mindsets in the Hoosier legislature whether Democratic or Republican. These are the people who would tell us when and how to breathe, who we can sue, love or serve. The governor talks of government overreaching and he should know what with his signature on the bill whose overreach for unnecessary “religious protection” has done enormous harm to his state and its people both now and for the foreseeable future, and for “religious liberty?” Liberty for whom, Governor?  Bigots?  GERALD   E

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