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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I have always wanted to find the ability to go back to the 1970s and relive my childhood again because I have fond memories of my childhood. But, as someone famous once pointed out, we only remember the good times and block the bad times out of our minds. That means that going back to my childhood with my adult perspective would ruin my memories and I don’t want to do that.

Maybe I could go back to the 1950s and enjoy the golden years of television, the movies, and the drive-in. That would be great. But it would only be great because I am a white male and would get to enjoy all of those things without having to deal with ignorant and violent bigots. In retrospect, maybe going back to the 1950s wouldn’t be such a great idea either.

Then it occurred to me, as the state of Indiana decided to use religion as a cover for bigotry, that we are all going back in time whether we like it or not. The riots of 2014 and the events that triggered them showed us that racism is still a tool of the ignorant used to defile human beings and destroy society.

Unfortunately, racism is also still alive and well. The scenes I saw on television last year and earlier this year reminded me of footage I saw of the race riots from the 1960s and 1970s. I remember watching some of those riots on television when I was a kid and the last six months have made me feel like we are all going back in time.

In Indiana, it is now acceptable for a for-profit business to deny products or services to anyone because of the business’ religious beliefs. That means that businesses in Indiana can deny jobs, food, medical attention, and anything else to anyone that they deem to be in violation of their religious beliefs.

George Takei took that to mean that Indiana businesses can discriminate against gays, but he is only partially right. Atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, or anyone else that ruffles the feathers of Christian whackos run the risk of being trampled by Indiana’s new law. Is it fair? Nope. Should it be Constitutional? Not even close.

(Psst. This is the part where you start comparing Indiana to Nazi Germany because you would be right. Limiting rights based on religious beliefs was one of the first things the Nazis did when they came to power.)

How could the law affect other religions? All a business owner has to say is they are offended by the Jewish faith and that would probably fly as a legitimate excuse to stop serving Jews under this law. When you are allowed to discriminate based on religion, then the sky is the limit on how ignorant you can be.

So we have the fires of racial tensions being fanned by the 24-hour news media and, of course, Al Sharpton compounded with religious stupidity in Indiana. I thought this country was supposed to be based on the separation of church and state. Since when is a government in these here United States allowed to use religion as a weapon against the masses?

So, here we are, drifting back to the 1960s with the racial injustice that never seems to go away and then falling back all the way to the 1930s with government-subsidized religious condemnation. Sounds like the perfect environment to bring up a child.

I really don’t know what the end game is to any of this. I always look at people as people and then judge them based on their character. I have never in my life approached someone and said “I don’t know you, but could you tell me your religion and sexual orientation so I can decide if I hate you or not?” I don’t intend to start doing it now.

Governments oppress people and religions divide them. When you put the two together, you create a pressure cooker that is going to blow at some point. The Indiana law is nothing like the federal law or the laws in 19 other states. None of those laws allow a business to claim religious freedom in a court of law when denying services to a person. Here, read this to see what I mean.

Now we have digressed to the point where the entire set of Christian whackos can hide behind their Bibles while delivering unjust prejudice on their fellow human beings. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what religion is supposed to do?

I don’t hate anyone until they give me a reason and I could never understand for the life of me how others can so violently hate certain groups of people they have never met. It makes no sense, but it is the American way.

Only America could take all of the fun out of time travel … and take all of the fun out of being a rational human being.

+George N Root III is a humanist who hates bigots and religious whackos. His column appears every week and should be fun to read, but it rarely is.

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