I am having a strange moment of cognitive dissonance right now. I’m supposed to be getting Tolkien and Batman ready for later in the week on the other blogs, but there’s a knock-down, drag-out legislative battle going on around me over Mississippi Senate Bill 2681, which would allow people to assert religious freedom as a way of discriminating against non-heterosexual people, and would also, in my opinion, open the door to all kinds of other mischief.

Since I’m too stirred up to write about books right now, and I’m waiting on my social media to tell me what to do next, I thought I’d come here and express my feelings about all this. So here’s how I feel.

First of all, we need to get away from the business of prescribing sexual norms to consenting adults. Sexual prescription is one of the hallmarks of authoritarian societies, and I think the Western world has had enough authoritarianism to do us until the end of time. Everything else I say here really flows from this first point. Non-violence is a theological principle for me which I will not compromise. The belief that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights is something I take for granted, so you can see why my patience is running out with people who want to make sexuality criteria for legal discrimination, and use religious freedom arguments to back it up.

Second, I am embarrassed for Mississippi, because this is not how we really treat people. Our legislature is pandering to the 60-and-older crowd with a few fundamentalists thrown in. Young Southern people are different than the way Southerners are portrayed in the media. They have interracial relationships. They have differently-sexual relationships. They’re friendly to first-generation immigrants.

Third (and now we might be getting somewhere) I’m a little pissed off about the fact that I feel compelled to participate in politics all of a sudden. Because I swore off participation the minute I actually felt competent to understand it.

Politics is nasty business. It gives people an excuse to destroy one another, and mostly, the destruction is over nothing. It makes me sick to look at it. But at the same time, it affects peoples’ lives. And I’m talking about real people – sons, daughters, parents, wives, husbands, cousins. Homeless people and rich people.Politics is important, whether I like it or not. I do understand it, and I’m good at it. You know what that means.

So I don’t know what to do, as I sit here and wait to see what the next move is, except write this, and publish it even though it’s really not up to snuff, and hope that this time — just this once, my side wins.

The bill is online now. (Via Deep South Progressive.)

About Gene'O

Compulsive writer, amateur photographer, and blogaholic. Also an evil genius.

9 thoughts on “Personal.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m irritated that they waste all of this precious energy and time over this nonsense instead of trying to solve some of our very REAL problems that affect ALL of us! It doesn’t matter I what color you are, what your sexual orientation is, or where you were born. We all need to work, eat, and live! I guess that’ just not “sexy” enough, is it?


    • Exactly. Although up here in Canada the social issues you are currently facing have been dealt with in decades past, I can nonetheless sympathize because of how foreign they are to me. I have grown up is what is almost universally considered an extremely tolerant and progressive society. Canada and the US have always been brothers, however it seems that we have grown apart from one another as American politics simply refuses to move forward. Up here if a politician were to evoke his belief in faith as a motive for legislature he/she would be looked at with disappointed stares. The right wing Americans shout out that they are fighting for freedom, yet they seem obsessed with legislating what adults do with each other and to themselves. I think its time that American ‘Libertarians’ stop ruining Libertarianism!!!


      • As a self-described Libertarian myself, I would have to agree with you, that most of the people in the states who get this title – particularly within the Republican party – don’t seem to match the definition.

        The problem seems to come more from the two-party system we seem trapped in: to get anyone elected, the Libertarian-types tend to side with all sorts of other conservatives; much like you see interesting divisions within our Democrat party as well (and how you get Democratic states like California passing things like Proposition 8). More parties would allow for politicians to make more sense and be more consistent.

        Whoa, okay, this is why I try to avoid blogging on politics! Props to Gene’O for giving this a go. So easy to just boil up with frustration. So maybe I should avoid politics in my response…

        How, as a person of faith, can you expect legislating faith to change someone else’s mind? In other words, how will making something like this illegal bring someone to the faith? Answer is, it won’t. So why do it???

        Nope, okay, maybe ought to avoid religion as well… Dangerous stuff!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Please forgive the errors above!


  3. I am dismayed, yet never surprised at what gets placed first on the list for politicians to meddle in. I keep waiting for just one to turn around and tell their state “it’s none of your business.” I wonder how and if the tone of politics would change if one would say that publicly.


  4. lexyneedham says:

    It does sound like a gateway to discriminate against a lot of different groups of people. After all, you can’t give preference to one particular religious belief, so surely people would have to be excused from catering to divorcees, couples who live together before marriage, unmarried parents and people who are simply married in a different religion.


  5. Diana says:

    Unfortunately, I know some young Southerners with beliefs that match the older crowd. In general, though, I think you’re right that there’s a generational divide between what the older Southern conservatives want legislated and what the younger Southerners want.

    Mostly I’m tired of fighting battles that are 1) mean-spirited. I honestly do not believe that denying someone legal rights can be anything other than mean-spirited. And 2) that are losing battles. Even if this makes it, it’ll be struck down by a higher court. We’re wasting money and time (neither of which MS has a lot of) fighting losing battles that are just mean.


    • Gene'O says:

      Yes, I know there are plenty of younger people with those beliefs, but I do think that is changing – and I think the change is really evident with your generation and younger. I didn’t mean to suggest we’ve all become progressive – that’s certainly not true, but I do think there is a case to be made that the south is different, culturally and socially, than it was even 10 years ago.

      I agree about the meanness and the losing battles. The meanness partly what I was trying to get at in the next-to-last paragraph.

      The first question I ask myself when I’m deciding whether or not to engage on a political issue is whether or not it can be won, and if not, then is the symbolic or solidarity value of engaging enough to make it worth the effort. What’s going on here, I think, is that, just because of the way our legislative districts work, most of the legislature sees this as a way to get votes. And they’re probably right, because most of them represent rural districts with aging populations.

      Education is a factor, too. In general, more education means more liberal social views, if things like the general social survey can be trusted. Younger and more-educated people tend to concentrate in a few urban areas. They also tend to move more often, and moving more frequently typically means less political engagement because you have to re-register and figure out who all the officials are every time you switch districts.

      I’m coming back to this thread later, because I find the responses interesting, and I think there are several things here that bear further discussion.


  6. […] his personal blog this week, The Writing Catalog. Gene’O wrote a powerful and gripping post this week. It really hit me because it was so honest and emotionally raw. I find honesty online is […]


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