As faithful MRW readers know, there are stories we report on, and then there are stories! Indiana is a story!
Here from March 31 is Amy Davidson for the New Yorker, writing Why a G.O.P. Gambit Backfired in Indiana. Ms. Davidson writes well, and she offers the traditional take on the situation: Governor Pence and the Indiana legislature f*cked up, big-time.
Then we have the matter of pizza and weddings. Memories Pizza, in Walkerton, won’t cater same-sex weddings. (Like, sure, lots of couples, whatever their gender preferences, want this joint to handle the wedding gala.) Madeline Buckley wrote Threats tied to RFRA prompt Indiana pizzeria to close its doors for the Indianapolis Star, updated on April 2.
Now, I’ve had some entertaining exchanges with FB Friends about this clap-trap, but I’ve also wondered why/how the owners of this establishment were asked by the media about the whole issue. So here’s Blake Neff, a contributor to Daily Caller, with The Real Story Behind the “Hateful” Indiana Pizzeria. Mr. Neff’s pitch? These nice people were just being responsive to the dastardly media, seeking input from business owners. (Also from Daily Caller, here’s Indiana Pizzeria Raises More than $100K in Less Than 24 Hours, about donations to the pizzeria owners. I figured there’d be an angle somewhere in this whole mess, and when there’s an angle, victimology often rules!)
Then there is this interesting piece, This Is How Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Wins: Moral Superiority, “Religious Freedom,” Social Media Hypocrisy and the Problem with #BoycottIndiana, from Salon. Writer Victoria Barrett thinks Religious Freedom Restoration Act opponents blew it, helping Governor Pence and hurting the cause of equality. Her theories? First, she thinks the governor was looking to enhance his 2016 opportunities for the presidency. (Probably right.) She also thinks, Mission Accomplished, as Goal No. 1 is winning the Republican Party nomination. (OK, maybe.)
Moving along, Ms. Barrett notes the challenges associated with a boycott, as the Indiana economy is heavily associated with “pre-production industrial materials (aluminum, automotive components, seed and feed corn, etc.),” which are products not easy to avoid. (Interesting, but the company mix is broader, including Eli Lilly, Angie’s List, the NCAA, lots of tech, etc.)
Finally, and this is the part that really caught my attention—living as I do, in a sane place in the midst of not so much—she worries about what the attention has done to Indianapolis, a progressive, welcoming city. (Sure, but does she expect that people would by quietly, implicitly endorsing this awful law, because: Indianapolis?)
The last piece I read was The Next Steps in the Battle Over Religious-Freedom Laws by Garrett Epps for The Atlantic on April 2. Key quote? “Glaciers sometimes melt overnight; but with shocking swiftness, they may freeze again.”
Now, it’s very unfortunate that this whole bunch of nonsense gets dealt with as if it’s about hiring a pizzeria, a photographer, or a baker for a same sex wedding. Pizza aside, it’s hard for me to imagine many instances where an unwelcoming service provider faces lots of same-sex demand for his or her services. Some things do matter, though like getting a doctor or buying meds. Life or death may be the real issue. Unfortunately, in too many cases we have laws on the books which allow service providers—in the case of physicians and pharmacists, people whose educations we collectively subsidized, heavily—to pick and choose based on their own notions about who should and should not get served. Not OK!
That all said, I’m hopeful and optimistic. First, and setting aside Ms. Barrett’s provocative notions, the populace rose up, quickly, and mostly against what was done in Indiana.
Second, while the glaciers may be icing up again, the long-term trend is toward warmth (and understanding and compassion.) (This is climate change I can support.) I’m a believer in our young people. They’re smart, committed, and they care, and while hurdles like this fiasco leave us further away from the Promised Land, the arc of that moral universe really does bend towards justice.