Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The mess in Indiana, and why I'm still visiting

As a former resident of Indiana for 7 years of my life, and someone who still has numerous friends in the state, I've got a few added thoughts on the mess in the Hoosier State resulting from the Jim Crow-like legislation that just was signed into law.

First of all, I understand the idea behind the #BoycottIndiana and appreciate the idea behind artists such as Wilco and comedians Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly in cancelling upcoming performances in the state. This is a bill that is intended to allow discrimination against gay people, and others deemed "undersirable" by a straight white patriarchy. If it wasn't, Indiana Gov Mike Pence wouldn't have said adding GLBT protections "wasn't on [his] agenda", and gave absurd dodges to George Stephanopolous's relatively soft questions in what Charlie Pierce rightfully said "may be the worst performance by a purported human being in the history of television." Oh, if Pence didn't know the bill was bigoted BS, then why he did he cowardly sign the bill in private, and surrounded by people like this?

I'm sympathetic to the boycott concept that many are promoting. It often takes direct damage for a lot of people to wake up and see the injury that blind allegiance to a political party or indifference can cause, and the direct threat is the only way donors will back off their support of these fuckheads. It's a reason I refuse to spend a dime in the 262 area code, and would encourage people to lower their tourism spending in Wisconsin this Summer, so it slaps some people in the face as to just how bad things are under Scott Walker, and makes them realize the consequences of their voting behavior. It is interesting to see the uprisings and anger in Indiana, where people have casually voted Republican because that's what they've always done in those parts, and because debating and talking about issues is divisive and icky. So now you've got something going on that's even more divisive and ickier because you chose not to stand up and do something. We'll see if it has a long-term effect on voting patterns, as while Indiana is a red state, it's not as red as you may think, and if someone goes off the deep end (such as Richard Mourdock saying pregnancy due to rape was "something God intended" in 2012), they are more than willing to vote in a Democrat statewide.

As for me, I am not going to be boycotting Indiana this weekend- I'm still going to go to the Final Four, to see my alma mater make history, and to see my friends. But I'd be completely in favor of huge rallies during this weekend in Indy to keep giving attention to the Jim Crow law, and it should include members from the numerous musical acts that will be performing at the March Madness Music Festival. I think it's often more subversive to work inside the system (such as making statements at the shows about the controversy), and I put this in a different category than Wilco or Offerman and Mullaly, because there is a much larger audience that is much more likely to be casual (at best) when it comes to thinking about political issues.

And it doesn't have to be like Bono going off for 3 minutes in the middle of a show about Africa, but instead can be done with a t-shirt or simple statements along the lines of "I perform for ALL audiences, and I don't cast anyone aside based on their background....Except for hateful a-holes that think they should speak for you. Which they don't, do they?" (Audience goes wild) "Alright, on with the tunes."

I don't know if I'll have time or energy to attend the music festival in Indy (it's a bit away from where I plan to be, but I might see Weezer on Friday afternoon), but I will be intrigued to see who takes advantage of the platform, and how they choose to do so. Interestingly, Offerman is going to perform as a solo artist at IU-Bloomington (which is very progressive and gay-friendly), and donate the proceeds to the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign, so there are many options that can be taken by artists even without boycotting. Regardless, I will gladly swing by any rally they have at the Capitol or Monument Circle on Friday or Saturday (both are very close to Final Four festivities), and nod my approval of people fighting against this bigotry.

Yes, politics and common decency are important to me, and boycotts have their place. I might choose not pay for anything this weekend outside of Indy, much like I do with my spending habits in Wisconsin. But being part of an experience with tens of thousands of fellow Badger fans, in support of one of my favorite teams I've ever watched in any sport, in a town I used to live in, and remaking acquaintances in the process? Yeah, I'm doing that, and I plan to have a great time doing so. I think you'll understand.


  1. Off topic but shareworthy.

    John Daley is a defendent in John Doe II http://www.isthmus.com/news/news/wisconsin-supreme-court-race-2015/

    1. That dime it's name ain't John, although I could go for a John Daly. Maybe I'll see if I can scrounge one in Indy

  2. James Daley- not John. typo and a big oops on my part. Sorry for that.