Biased "Freedom": Indiani Digs Itself Into Deeper Hole, Before Digging Out

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What was Gov. Pence thinking? 

[Commentary]

The American humorist Will Rogers would say: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

The meaning of this truism is well-established in both science and common sense. Simply put, if an individual finds himself or herself in an untenable position, he or she should stop and change course, rather than attempting to carry on or to explain. It’s a simple enough concept, so I’m confused as to why Michael Richard “Mike” Pence – the Republican Governor of Indiana doesn’t get it. Why can’t the Republican Party embrace concepts of inclusion rather than constructs of exclusion? Governor Pence has almost singlehandedly created a national sinkhole for the Grand Old Party. The current fiasco in the “Hoosier State” was entirely avoidable, but it’s getting worse with each passing day because Pence – a good man – refuses to act like he has good sense.

Last week, Pence signed a religious freedom law which would allow businesses throughout Indiana to legally refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers. The legislation the governor signed in private has blown up in his face publicly. To call this so-called religious freedom law controversial would be a vast understatement.  Pence is an attorney. Did he actually think he could authorize a law which would all but allow businesses, restaurants, hotels, and florists in Indiana to post “No Gays Allowed” signs and no one notice? Did he think no one would be offended? Did he think at all?

Freedom of speech is no guarantor of institutionalized discrimination.

Naturally, Pence cited the most Republican of excuses – he blames the media for the massive blowback he’s experiencing. He calls it a big misunderstanding. Uh-huh.

I’m not gay – but I take great offense at this law. It is the slipperiest of slopes because if you can legally refuse service to any one group of Americans, who’s next? Today in Indiana, it might be gay people. Next week, it could conceivably be Hispanic people. Next month, it may be Black folks. Then women. 

The point I’m making is once you begin to discriminate, it will be easier and easier over time to do so. Continually, I teach and preach God’s word. God’s word is crystal clear that we should love people, and hate sin.

It takes a lot to make me angry. You really have to go out of your way to achieve it. Any piece of legislation in effect anywhere on God’s green earth which perpetuates hatred and intolerance among God’s people is an abomination – especially when it’s wrapped in the false narrative of religious freedom. There’s nothing religious about hatred or bigotry or persecution. Anyone even attempting to argue otherwise is either ignorant to what faith truly is – or bearing false witness. Both of those are sins, I might add. Religious freedom laws typically aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Such laws make me angry.

As you might expect, the viral infection is spreading. Days after Indiana passed this preposterous law, other states – including Arkansas and Georgia – are already moving in the same, tone-deaf direction.

Mike Pence used to be considered a rising star in the Republican Party. His name was mentioned as a potential 2016 GOP candidate for president. Mr. Pence, I regret to inform you that this is no longer the case. Your name is now mud, sir. As a direct result of the universal laughingstocks you’ve made of yourself and of the great state of Indiana, you have as much chance of being the President of the United States of America as Elmer Fudd.

If only Pence had a heart. The first-term Republican governor is now desperate to dial down the searing criticism of his state by allegedly ordering fixes to his draconian religious freedom law. How do you explain the inexplicable? How do you defend the indefensible? He can’t stop digging. He won’t stop digging – even though he’s up to his ears in soil.

Meanwhile, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush stands with Pence. Governor Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) stands with Pence. Congressman Marco Rubio (Florida) stands with Pence. Congressman Ted Cruz (Texas) stands with Pence. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for Pence – because he’s too busy running for cover from the very law he signed into effect. These endorsements for foolishness have consequences. Pence has incurred the wrath of the NCAA, the professional sports leagues, large corporations (such as Walmart, Apple, and Salesforce), and musicians. If they make good on their threats to sever business ties to Indiana, the Hoosier State stands to lose millions – if not billions of dollars.

“Was I expecting this kind of backlash? Heavens no,” Pence admitted Tuesday.

The backlash against the law was intense: Angie's List canceled its planned $40 million expansion of its headquarters and major businesses like the Marriott and Apple criticized the law.

Today, Gov. Pence signed a revised version of the law that now explicitly bars any business from denying services to any person on the basis of categories that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

 

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