So... have any travel to Indiana planned?
Well, I had two speaking gigs scheduled in Indiana, at Notre Dame at the end of April and at the Kurt Vonnegut Library in Indianapolis in September. But I have cancelled them both and won't be doing any gigs in Indiana until they repeal the hate law they just passed.
The governor of Indiana insists it’s not a hate law, it’s a law to protect free "exercise of religion." What do you say to that?
Governor Pence's public statements about this law have merely shuffled adjectives and adverbs. This law is designed to protect not the free exercise of religion (which is already protected) but the free exercise of hatred by a certain subset of Christians. This law is intended to protect and promote sexual discrimination by those Christians. And this is also the kind of law designed to set precedents for more aggressive forms of discrimination. What will states like Indiana do when gay marriage becomes federally legal? Indiana's religious freedom act is the kind of state law that conservatives might use in the future to legally justify more stringent anti-gay laws. For that matter, what kind of racial and religious discrimination might become legal in Indiana if it is deemed theologically justified? How far would Indiana's Christianist legislators go in order to protect even their most vile beliefs?
The law makes it okay to refuse to do business with gay customers, but you're saying it could lead to sanctioned racial discrimination.
It's no coincidence that these new pro-discrimination religious laws echo the pro-discrimination laws of the past. It's no accident that Indiana's religious freedom act sounds a lot like Jim Crow laws.
Even in the more conservative communities in our country, it's bad form to be publicly racist. In many conservative places, it's bad form to be racist at all. But homophobia is still widely accepted, condoned, and codified.
It seems to me that conservatives, with their fear-based brains, have always needed to battle and often create foreign and domestic enemies.
So I think the conservative power structure villifies gay folks as a substitute for villifying black folks. I think the conservative power structure wants to use homophobia to raise campaign money, motivate voters, and empower and enrich right wing churches, media companies, political action committees, and their associated demagogues.
Governor Pence told ABC News on Sunday that "there are no kinder, gentler, more welcoming, more hospitable people in America” than the people of Indiana.
Governor Pence's statement is missing a prepositional phrase. Indiana might very well be a kind, gentle, welcoming, and hospitable place for everybody except gay people and their straight friends, families, supporters, and colleagues.
What's the main religion at Notre Dame again? They believe in leprechauns?
Notre Dame is Catholic. I don't know if they've made an official response to the Indiana hate law.
Isn't there a big basketball game in Indiana this week? Don't you like basketball?
I love basketball. I love watching men, built like Greek gods, as they sweat, grunt, and test their physical abilities for 40 minutes a night. And both the NBA and the NCAA have issued public statements against the new law. I would guess the NCAA will certainly have to reconsider holding any future regional and national events in Indiana if this hate law remains in place.
What do you think the chances are that Governor Pence sometimes finds men attractive? We keep reading about these studies that show people who are most homophobic often have some homo feelings very deeply buried inside.
I don't care about Governor Pence's individual justifications for signing a bad bill into bad law. I only care that he made it legal to religiously discriminate against gay people and other historically oppressed people. I don't want to live in a Christian theocracy.
What's your message to anyone in Indiana who cares about literature and comedy and poetry and was excited to see you speak and now won’t be able to?
I have already heard from a few liberal folks who don't want me to boycott Indiana. They insist this hate law only reflects the views of a minority of Indiana residents. I'm sure that's true. That means it's time for Indiana's liberals and conservative allies to take immediate and direct action toward repealing this law. If the hateful are a true minority then Indiana's loving majority should win, right?
And this boycott isn't just about Indiana. There are a few other states who will likely pass similar religious hate laws in the near future. And we must make it clear to those states that these hate laws are unacceptable and immoral bullshit. And the liberals and conservative allies in those states must take immediate and direct action toward preventing the passage of these hate laws.
Of course, many of those states are so conservative that there is no way for liberal residents to significantly influence legislation. Therefore, it's up to non-residents of those states to exercise our economic and cultural power in order to make a stand against hatred.
So you're probably looking at canceling some more gigs in other states, too.
Yes, I fully expect to boycott other conservative states. In reality, it means I won't be appearing in the most liberal college towns and cities of overwhelmingly red states. And since I'm only a literary writer who doesn't sell many books in those states anyway, I'm aware that my individual political gesture is relatively powerless. I can only hope that a huge group of like-minded folks also boycott these states and influence them with our collective political and economic power.
A few days ago, Seattle's mayor prohibited official city travel to Indiana, and yesterday Washington State's governor prohibited official state travel to Indiana.
Governor Inslee and Mayor Murray are doing the right thing. And certainly make me happy that I live in a friendly and progressive city and state that are truly welcoming to all people.