This is part of a weekly series called in which The Lantern’s Ty Anderson offers his take on the week’s pop culture news.
“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote Sunday night in a Washington Post op-ed. Cook was referring to a new law passed in Indiana, as well as similar bills across the nation, that allow businesses to refuse services to customers on the grounds of religious freedom.
Other famous faces, from Miley Cyrus to Hillary Clinton, have voiced their disapproval of the discriminatory law. Cyrus straight-up referred to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as an “a–hole,” while Clinton was a bit more refined in her response, expressing sadness that there are still people in our world who are being discriminated against for who they love.
I agree with Cyrus: Gov. Mike Pence is an a–hole. But he isn’t just an a–hole for supporting a bill that facilitates discrimination, he’s also an a–hole for the way he’s gone about supporting it. Despite the controversy, he’s adamantly stated on Sunday: “We’re not going to change the law.” When asked if he would be willing to exclude sexual orientation from the list of legal-to-discriminate-against populations, Pence blatantly stated: “I will not push for that. That’s not on my agenda, and that’s not been an objective of the people of the state of Indiana.”
The New York Times reported Monday night that the law will be amended to clarify that it isn’t discriminatory against gay men and women.
But it isn’t just gay people who are hurt by this law. In theory, anybody might fall victim. Is a Christian man allowed to refuse a Muslim woman the right to shop in his grocery store after taking note of her hijab?
Can a Jewish baker refuse to bake a cake for an atheist wedding? From what I understand, the answer to both of those questions is “yes.” So just so we’re clear — I am very much against this law. I think it’s silly, I think it’s unnecessary and I think it’s wholly un-American.
But Pence cited “empowering people to confront government overreach” as the reasoning behind the law. And after reading that, I admit, albeit reluctantly, that I can see where he’s coming from.
I can sort of, kinda see where he’s coming from.
As much as I support an America that is free from all discrimination, I also support an America where people are able to make their own decisions without the government stepping in. So if a private business wants to refuse to serve me based on my sexuality, I believe it has every right to do so.
And in retaliation, I have every right to take to the Internet, publicly destroy its image and reveal its owners for the bigoted, socially toxic imbeciles they are. They wouldn’t be breaking any laws, and neither would I.
As “Dance Mom” Holly Hatcher-Frazier once said, “You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, that’s fine.”
Private business owners are entitled to their own wrong beliefs. And if they want to drive away business in the name of protecting their “values,” well, that’s fine.
In theory, empowering Americans to confront government overreach is a great idea. But when legally facilitated discrimination is the result, it’s safe to label this new bill as the greater of two evils.
Cook was correct when he stated that the bill set a dangerous precedent, but the danger extends much further than the apparent implications for those affected. Businesses across the state of Indiana are also in danger. The Indiana tourism industry (if such a thing even exists — who wastes vacation days in Indiana?) will likely take a nose dive. Disgruntled minorities might very well leave the state, once the feeling of being treated as a second-class citizen takes hold. And worst of all, affected individuals will cease to feel as safe, as loved and as valued as they once did. And in a country founded on the principles of freedom and brotherly love, that is a truly, truly dangerous idea.
I believe Andy Cohen said it best when he tweeted: “I can now legally be denied service in Indiana because I am gay, or Jewish? Am I right, @GovPenceIN? Sounds like a fun place to visit!”
Sounds like a very fun place indeed.