The unbridled hysteria over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was also directed toward places like the falsely reported “anti-gay” pizzeria, would not, I believe, have occurred ten years ago. Nonsense has always existed, but outrageous cries of discrimination have become mass-produced, are set off at the slightest inconvenience, and are fueled by omnipresent social media. Even though this is true: “…the words ‘gay,’ ‘lesbian,’ and ‘sexual orientation’ don’t appear in any of the RFRAs”, the fear from those in the gay community was that the law, and those like it, would bring about anti-gay discrimination. That type of environment wasn’t even cultivated in the Indiana that existed before the RFRA, and since references to homosexuality were not even in the legislation itself, the fear of targeting the gay community with acts such as this came from elsewhere.
Central to many is the idea that disagreement is not just unwelcome, but must automatically equal hate. Differing opinions, regardless of whether they result in any anticipated bigotry, are absolutely unacceptable. The knowledge that others hold dreadful little thoughts in their heads that conclude your view/opinions/personal beliefs are wrong cause self-described social justice warriors to convulse. Since hate is just the worst, they fire that accusation at any with opposing viewpoints. It’s hate, after all. It must be. This often-used tactic assuages the horrible fear of giving weight to another side’s perspective, and perhaps, taking a moment to review their own.
Protecting oneself from different worldviews isn’t brand new, but its popularity has skyrocketed in the past several years to an absurd degree. Take for instance last month’s article in The New York Times detailing the idea of a ‘safe space’, to protect the already cocooned college student: “Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being ‘bombarded’ by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints.” In the padded environment of higher education, youngsters of the liberal persuasion get a high from preaching to their choir. Transfer them to the post-college reality, and they will brand any thought of opposition as injustice. Obviously this isn’t singular to the college campus, but is certainly concentrated there.
The media and modern societal mindset, focused on blocking anyone whose worldview doesn’t align with their own, should have propelled those in Indiana and elsewhere to resist caving to pressures and stand firm. Last Thursday, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed an RFRA “fix”, described here. Never mind that the original bill did nothing to discriminate against anyone and didn’t even mention sexual orientation. The stir-up by militant leftists placed a stain on the state with it suddenly being branded as anti-gay. Despite none of this actually being the case, the Republican Governor and his supporters in the legislature fearfully passed a fix. What happened to standing firm? Instead of resisting the falsehoods reported by the restless media who is ready to strike anyone defending what they abhor (religious liberty), Indiana and its leadership caved. The damage done by those propagating lies about individuals, stores, and an entire state trumped the truth. Liberals have a pretty solid record of choosing to call conservatives “bigots” at the slightest provocation, so why do we even attempt to water down our message? The bully wing of the gay community and their targeting of Indiana occurred only because that particular state was in the crosshairs at the right time. Since that is true, neither our words nor our law “fixes” will ever appease those whose mind is dead-set on accusing us of bigotry.