There are plenty of problems that can be traced back to the media (or social media). I’ve personally been critical of how media has affected politics (I’m not blind to the fact that this includes bloggers such as myself). However, there is a trend that I’ve noticed among conservatives. When their stupidity is questioned…they blame the media.
You’ve probably seen conservatives on social media complaining about the “liberal media.” It’s constant. They blame the media for the perception of their beliefs. Multiple laws against women’s rights? It’s not a war on women…it’s the media! People don’t like conservative economic policy? It’s because the media is making them!
In today’s installment of Blame the Media, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana went on to the radio this morning shortly after signing the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or the Religious Discrimination Act as I call it) and defended his stupidity. Here are the highlights:
“If you read the bill instead of reading the papers, you would see that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is now law in Indiana, is simply about giving the courts guidance and establishing the same standards that have existed at the federal level for more than 20 years…I understand the concerns that have been raised by some, because frankly, some in the media have tried to make this about one issue or another. Really, this is about religious liberty and making sure that the courts review government action in the right framework.”
First, let’s start with the fact that he should know something is wrong with his actions if he is having to immediately go on the radio and defend the bill against the tidal wave of people and businesses who have come out against the bill.
Second, when pressed Pence admitted that there wasn’t any real reason for the Indiana legislature to pursue this law. He tried to bring up Hobby Lobby and Notre Dame cases about contraception, but was shot down because those were covered under the federal law. When asked again he responded, “I’m not aware of cases in controversy.”
Finally, I’ve read the bill from start to finish. It’s very vague. Basically, it is meant to allow discrimination based on religious reasons. It says that
“a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”
Note that the definition of a “person” in this bill includes any organization or business. Basically…it’s okay to discriminate if you claim that your company is a Christian (because, you know…companies are people too) and that something like catering a wedding or making a cake for a gay couple is a burden to your company’s religion. I understand…it’s hard for a building made of bricks to fit into a confessional. The problem is that this someone can claim that their religion is completely opposed to homosexuals and that providing them any product or service burdens them and their company. It may not be likely (because most people are smart enough to understand that it’s foolish), but it is entirely possible. Supporters who say it isn’t apparently haven’t taken Pence’s advice and actually read the bill.
In any case, the reaction to this bill is justified based on the fact that it is profoundly bad for Indiana and anyone living or visiting the state. It will cost the state money in businesses and visitors. It hurts the reputation of the state and the people. In one day Gen Con, a $50 million convention held annually in Indy, has said that it will consider leaving the state after its contract is up in 2020. Salesforce, a multi-billion dollar software company, has already said that it will “dramatically reduce” its investment in Indiana based on this bill. I’m sure that there will be more fallout.
Based on the reaction to this bill and the other foolish things Pence has done (don’t forget the educational mess), I imagine that Pence is done as governor after this term. Hopefully the people of Indiana have learned their lesson and will oust Pence and the legislators who completely ignored the wishes of the people of Indiana and the businesses and organizations (which included at least one church headquartered in Indiana) in the next election. After he is finally out, I’m sure he will write a memoir of his time. Might I suggest a title? Memoirs of a Failed Governor: It Wasn’t Me, Blame the Media!