Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tempest In A +5 Teapot of Smiting

My home state of Indiana is on the verge of passing a bill (SB 101) with a typically politicized name, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA for short. Governor Pence is signing the bill this morning. This bill aims to protect the religious liberty of business owners in Indiana so that they will not be coerced into engaging in actions that are contrary to their religious beliefs. Given the very real examples of Christians being strong-armed into providing "wedding" services for homosexual couples, this is not an unreasonable concern to address but of course anything that hinders the forced conformity with the homosexual agenda is going to cause the predictable outrage. This is no different. George Takei, famous for being Mr. Sulu on Star Trek and posting lots of funny stuff on social media, went on record calling on GenCon, the granddaddy of all gaming conventions, to move from Indianapolis. GenCon is a pretty big event (and at around $50 per person to attend, it should be) and brings lots of money to Indiana. GenCon dutifully warned that it might consider moving the convention to a new location:
The organizers of Gen Con, the city's largest convention in attendance and economic impact, are threatening to move the event elsewhere if Gov. Mike Pence signs controversial religious freedom legislation that could allow business owners to refuse services to same-sex couples.
"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years," said Adrian Swartout, owner and CEO of Gen Con LLC, in a letter sent to Pence just hours after lawmakers sent the measure to his desk.
Gen Con's website describes the convention as "the original, longest-running, best-attended gaming convention in the world!" The conference attracted 56,000 people last year to the Indiana Convention Center and has an annual economic impact of more than $50 million, Swartout said in the letter.
"Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds," she wrote. "We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention."
As someone who has been dabbling to one extent or another in fantasy gaming since I was a little kid, taking my Dungeons & Dragons books to the lake (and pretty much anywhere else I went), I have been aware of GenCon for longer than many attendees have been alive. So I sure don't want to see them leave for a lot of reasons. Nevertheless this is just a silly and empty gesture. Here is the digest of the bill from the Indiana legislature webpage (provided because I am sure that the vast majority of people who are frothing at the mouth over this bill have done zero research on what it actually says and does. After all, if you can keep hashtagging #handsupdontshoot long after it has been proven to be a farce, it is obvious that facts don't matter, only the narrative does.)
Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.
Call me crazy but that doesn't sound like people with torches and pitchforks standing at the borders of Indiana keeping them gays out of our state. Nor does it mean that homosexuals are unable to conduct business or vacation or travel through or eat at restaurants or attend a gay bar or go to a movie or....well really do anything at all that is legal in Indiana. It does mean that you cannot force a private business to violate their religious conscience in a business transaction. I don't think a Jewish painter should be compelled to take on a job to paint "Exterminate The Jews" on the side of a barn nor do I think that a black baker should be forced to decorate a cake with the words "Hang The Niggers". (Please note I refuse to use the substitute "The N-Word" because we all know what the "N-Word" is and substituting that infantile phrase for a disgusting word is juvenile).

Back to GenCon. When you read the article what is hidden in plain sight are some interesting statements.

First, they didn't say they would leave. In fact they are under contract until 2020 to stay in Indianapolis at which time this issue would blow over. They only said that it would be one of many factors they considered. It also isn't like Indiana Governor Mike Pence vetoing this bill would guarantee their renewing the contract past 2020.

Second, as the article points out their most likely alternate site (Chicago) has essentially the same law. In fact 18 or 19 other states have similar laws and others will no doubt be adding them as the years go by and bullying by homosexual activists gets more vigorous.

Third, every convention or event like this reevaluates their location and shops for the best deal when their contract is up, it just makes sense.

Fourth, state legislatures and the governor absolutely should not base legislation on the remote chance that a particular convention might not consider returning to the state at some future date. The religious liberty of Hoosiers is a much higher priority than a convention, even a large one like GenCon.

Finally, like I pointed out there is nothing to prevent or deter a homosexual fantasy gamer from attending GenCon in Indianapolis and having a lovely time.

Essentially this is an empty gesture to make a "statement" that has no basis in reality. This bill will become law, religious liberty will be strengthened, the professional outrage mongers will move on to something else and hopefully GenCon will continue to meet in Indianapolis, one of the most pleasant large cities around with plenty to attract convention visitors of all stripes and persuasions.

GenCon, stick to fantasy role-playing games and leave the clumsy attempts at social engineering, religious intolerance and capitulation to political correctness to the self-important elites. Here in Indiana no follower of Corellon Larethian will required to bake a cake for a meeting of the followers of Gruumsh. We just ask the same liberty for our residents while welcoming any and all, from farm equipment dealers to my fellow fantasy gaming dorks.

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