What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This is the second time in two weeks I’ve written about an Indiana governor. When I moved here five years ago, I thought Indiana was just “fly-over” country. Who knew there could be this kind of intrigue in a state known for little more than high-school basketball and pig farming?
The other day, current Indiana governor Mike Pence signed a bill known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. What this bill does is prohibit the government from forcing business owners into practices which would violate their religious principles. Opponents of this law immediately took to the rooftops screaming a bunch of politically-correct bilge about how this law “could be used to discriminate against gay people.”
I generally avoid discussing politics, but there are times when sports and politics intertwine, and thanks to NCAA President Mark Emmert and Yahoo Sports., this is one of those times.
Before I get into this, let’s set up who I am in terms of this story, which is all going to come down to your demographics. I’m a middle-aged, educated black guy. I was raised Catholic, but left the church once I was old enough to realize that organized religion exists in this country largely as an instrument of social control, and my political leanings could be best described as “anti-bullshit.”
Believe me, the bullshit drips out of this story.
First of all, let’s talk about the government’s role in deciding social issues. It honestly should be at absolute zero; this country has far larger problems to worry than this kind of crap. The time spent turning this into law could have easily been spent finding ways to create jobs, dealing with crime, or fixing our crumbling infrastructure. There a precise term for what happens when a government starts getting worried about religion; it’s called “Iran.”
But what is an even bigger bit of bullshit is the bluster coming from the opponents of this law, who are breaking out all their shop-worn rhetoric of “intolerance” to make you believe that Indiana is going to start burning gay people at the stake the day after tomorrow. This is coming from the entirely-manufactured idea that this law allows business owners to refuse service based on their religious beliefs.
When questioned about this law, Governor Pence defended his stance.
“This bill is not about discrimination; and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way, I would have vetoed it,” said Pence.
Since I didn’t really understand what this law was really about, I looked it up and read it. When you boil all the legalese off of it, it breaks down to four simple bullet points:
Translated, what this really means is that the government can’t stop somebody from running their own business in accordance with their religious beliefs, unless doing so violates previously existing law, backs that up with establishing a process for handling violations, and offers protection to business owners against lawsuits filed because of practices in place due to religious beliefs. That’s not just “blanket protection,” either. This law would require business owners to “show cause” if a complaint arises in a process where they can still easily lose. In other words, business owners just got back a slice of “due process” they lost in the “Politically Correct” wars of 20 years ago.
A guy who knows a hell of a lot more about law agrees with me. Daniel O. Conkle is an Indiana University law professor who supports gay rights and same-sex marriage. Having said that, he also agrees with the governor and supports the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He said the objections to the law are exaggerated. Instead, he said it provides a general legal standard.
“It’s the same legal standard that is already a matter of federal law under the federal comparable statute RFRA, Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It also is already the law in roughly 30 states, and it has not led to discrimination laws being overtaken by religious objections,” said Conkle.
In other words, by establishing a legal standard, we now have a law which is not only fair to employers and everybody else, but set in place a procedure to deal with people who violate the law.
But if you allow yourself to be informed by the likes of Mark Emmert and Yahoo Sports, you don’t even get past the first sentence and all the old hate banners are flying. You don’t have to wait long for the self-moralizing to happen.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says the “Religious Freedom” bill he signed into law Thursday isn’t about turning back the clock to old-time bigotry where you could refuse service to blacks at restaurants, set up drinking fountains for whites only or post a job opening alongside a sign with NINA painted on it – No Irish Need Apply.
The NCAA and its president, Mark Emmert, responded with what most clear-minded people believe: that this law is about the state of Indiana protecting discrimination, effectively allowing businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs. As such, Emmert, whose organization is hosting the Final Four next weekend in Indianapolis where the NCAA is also headquartered, went far enough to threaten future events in the state and potentially moving their offices out of downtown Indianapolis.
“The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement issued immediately after Pence signed the law. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees.
“We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill,” the statement continued. “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
That sent my Skeptic-o-Meter into the red zone. You have to understand that when your bell-cow is an undeniably corrupt self-serving dogpile like Emmert, you need to seriously re-evaluate your position. Emmert is a guy who for years helped the NCAA keep a blind eye turned to the sexual abuse of children which was happening at Penn State, and under his watch the NCAA has become the most corrupt sporting organization in the world short of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee. The same guy who never once called out Florida State for what was so obviously a cover-up in the Jamies Winston case, and who is turning his back on the University of Oregon clearly retaliating against a whistle-blower is now the harbinger of social justice?
Now, there’s a massive cut of 100% pure, USDA Prime bullshit. But it gets worse; the temperature on this Yahoo article just keeps climbing.
The tide has turned. The young and more enlightened are rising up, which is why laws like this won’t last 10 years; maybe not even five. This is the last gasp of open discrimination. Soon enough everyone supporting these ideals of discrimination will be incredibly humiliated they ever did so, the way old timers hang their heads when asked about how they thought a segregated lunch counter for third graders was a just idea. Most will pretend they didn’t agree with it in the first place. Shame will cause everyone to run from it.
The author invokes segregation. Really? Why stop there? Why not take us back to slavery and lynchings? That’s where the author seems to think we are heading. But the real question is why are these people so incensed about this? By the author’s own admission, it’s not like Indiana is the first state to pass such a law.
Mike Pence isn’t even a creative, trend-setting bigot. He’s just a dense follower. Indiana is the 20th state with some kind of similar law – the kind that would never be allowed against any other group of humans. It’s long past time they answer for it too…
…So use the momentum to right past wrongs. Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Alabama, wherever else you want to do this, it’s true the rest of America may not be able to change the law – time and young people will do that for you.
It’s subtle; perhaps the only subtle thing in this article, but the key to why this piece is so hate-filled is present. It’s not even the obvious and usual suspects. It’s not the name-calling. It’s not even the hollow “holier than thou” moralizing. It’s in the phrase “would never be allowed against any other group of humans.”
You see, this is all about whipping up a homophobic boogey-man. Again, the author admits this.
“This is the era where civil rights victories for gays and lesbians are sweeping the country; next month, the Supreme Court will consider whether to make legalized gay marriage the law of the land.”
If you are an opponent of same-sex marriage, get over it. That battle has already been lost. The cultural tide supporting that idea is already here, so move on. Specific to this case, I really need somebody to tell me where this law says “discrimination against gays or anybody else for that matter is A-OK.” Short of that, somebody needs to tell me why this author continues this rant using some pretty specious reasoning.
Let the NCAA’s statement be the first of many. NCAA Final Fours in Indianapolis? Not after next week.
Unless, of course, this year’s event rakes in a mountain of cash, in which case they will be back in a few years when this is all long-forgotten. Rule #1 about Emmert and the NCAA is they never met a dime to which they ever said “no.”
The NCAA already refuses to stage national tournaments in South Carolina because the Confederate battle flag flies on the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia. (Though the University of South Carolina was recently allowed to host a women’s NCAA tournament game because it was a “non-predetermined” event.) So why not on this issue?
Because the NCAA is all about inconsistency. They love to make bold statements, but always manage to keep their options open. Doubt that? See the NCAA position on “hostile and abusive” mascots. Why do they have such a stance? See Rule #1.
As for moving the NCAA national headquarters out of downtown Indianapolis, well that’s more challenging, but it’s a good and bold threat by Emmert.
If by “challenging” you mean “completely not feasible,” then I might agree. If by “bold,” you mean “empty” threat, then I definitely agree. The NCAA is not going anywhere. If this comes down to a “put your money where your mouth is” situation, it’s much easier for the NCAA (and other other business with a major investment in Indiana) to simply toss a few bucks into a political campaign than it is to drop a couple hundred million dollars building a new facility and relocating thousands of employees.
Then, we move on to the NFL, which gets even funnier.
The NFL should follow suit. Future Super Bowl consideration? Forget it. The league once banned Arizona from hosting the Super Bowl because at the time it wouldn’t recognize Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
This is the part where I tell you that Rule #1 about the NCAA also applies to Roger Goodell and the NFL. Do you really think a guy like Goodell who can’t even handle wife beaters and child abusers knows how to navigate this kind of issue? Good luck with that. Not to mention, the Super Bowl held in Indianapolis a few years back was such a success the NFL would be more than happy to do it there again. The biggest threat to another Indiana Super Bowl is the threat of horrible mid-western winter weather. Not to mention a major part of the NFL’s threat about a Super Bowl in Arizona was about getting a new stadium built.
The annual NFL combine, which is a major convention for downtown Indy? The league should find a new home, pronto.
Do you know why those combines are in Indianapolis? Because it is centrally-located and has brand new facilities. The airport is brand-new and is within a two-and-a-half hour flight of 80% of the U. S. population. Lucas Oil field is less than ten years old. The cost of doing business in Indiana is dirt cheap. Where else are they going to find that combination?
The rant goes on from there, and it just gets more laughable. The author ultimately suggests a possible boycott of the NCAA and the NFL if they don’t act. Again, good luck with that.
But the not so laughable part is why this is happening. The thing about the possibility of discrimination against gay people is being made of whole cloth not because the opponents of this law are worried about homophobia, but because of who this law protects.
There are two important phrases to remember here: “Freedom of religion” and “equal protection.” The people who are crying about how this law will destroy the right of gay people conveniently forget that the progressive culture in America has deemed for forty years now that shitting all over white Christians is perfectly acceptable. Doubt that? Try mentioning the word “Christmas” in a public school these days. You’ll be getting waterboarded in Guantanamo. See, Christians are still Americans, and while a lot of religious zealots create many of their own problems, they are still guaranteed equal protection under the law. Equal protection applies to ALL Americans, not just the ones you like, or who happen to be today’s politically correct cause célebré.
When a guy like Mike Pence stands up for them, he gets called names, as I likely will for writing this. That’s an important point, because you need to see where the hate speech is really coming from. I didn’t see a logical argument about why it’s a bad law; I saw a lot of name-calling and threats.
If you don’t see that, it’s because you don’t want to.