Here in St. Louis the word “hoosier” is a derogatory term, applied to one who is uneducated, backwards, intellectually inferior, bigoted, and misinformed. In other words, a hoosier is a racist hillbilly. It comes as no surprise, then, that the official nickname for Indianans is “hoosiers”; at least not after the bill that the Indiana legislature passed and Republican Governor Mike Dense…I mean, Pence, signed into law recently. It is disingenuously called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (a name that only the sneakiest and most hypocritical politicians could dream up), but it’s really a license to discriminate. Indiana business owners can now deny service to anyone they choose, or, more specifically, gays, blacks, Latinos, liberals, socialists, Obama voters, or anyone else they hate. Taken to its logical (read illogical) conclusion, this law can be used to starve people to death in Indiana.
Let’s say restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, donut shops, Walmarts, and all other places where one can purchase food in Indiana are owned and operated by right-wing nutjobs (we know this is already true in the case of Chick-Fil-A and Papa John’s). Theoretically, these food merchants can deny sustenance to anyone whom they suspect of being gay or religiously objectionable. This judgement is made by the proprietor at his or her own discretion, without any objective criteria. (My neighbor, an Indiana native, says the state is really just Mississippi North; he can just hear Republican hoosiers screaming, “I don’t want no damn guvmint tellin a me who I kin serve and who I caint.”) On this basis, proprietors can refuse to serve blacks, Hispanics, females, old, young, Democrats, etc. Using the RFDA as their cover, merchants can literally starve someone to death. Or deny them clothing in the winter. Or deny them transportation. Or deny them drinking water. Or heat in the winter. Or a home. Or any life-sustaining product or service. It’s an extreme scenario, I know, but hypothetically possible when the citizenry has no protection from state-sanctioned discrimination practiced by business owners.
Pence and other Republican bigots claim the law is not meant to discriminate. If that is so, what exactly, then, is the purpose of the law? Republicans are talking out of both sides of their mouths as they, in the face of immense public backlash, try to put lipstick on this pig. Pence says the law is meant to provide Christian business owners with the right to refuse service to anyone they find objectionable. And who would right-wing Christians find objectionable? Let’s see…maybe gays, blacks, immigrants, Democrats, feminists, anti-NRA groups, atheists, agnostics, Obamacare recipients, college students with outstanding loans…and all the other usual objects of the right-wing hatred: basically anyone who is peaceful, tolerant, loving, compassionate, sensible, and mentally stable.
Hoosiers are running Indiana; remind me to avoid the state altogether.