There was a time when we Arkansans, lamenting our state's lack of fortunes in statistical measures of greatness, as measured by various state rankings, would put a brave face on things by saying, "Thank God for Mississippi!" Mississippi was often 50th as we were 49th. (Some wags would respond, "Don't blame God for Mississippi!")
Lately, Mississippi has distinguished itself in the race to make life harder for homosexuals, bucking the recent trend toward equality. Couching it in terms of a "freedom of religion" bill, Mississippi has a new law that protects business who refuse service to homosexuals. Arizona's legislature considered and passed a similar bill some time ago, but its governor succumbed to pressure and vetoed that bill.
I have previously discussed why such a law is problematic. It is unfortunate that some people hate homosexuals so much that they would risk public humiliation to go out of their way to protect those who harm homosexuals. But businesses in Mississippi have hit upon a great way to show that they don't need that kind of protection. Equality Mississippi has begun distributing window stickers, like the one at the right, that Mississippi businesses can use to show that they are ready to serve anyone who wants to buy.
It's a positive approach to something that has the potential to be very ugly. Equality Mississippi--and the businesses that display this sticker--are to be commended for that.
Predictably, the American Family Association is crying foul. The AFA--the name of which is at least two-thirds deceptive, since what they stand for has nothing to do with American values and is hurtful to many families--contends that making these stickers available is "bullying" by pressuring Christians who run businesses to choose between their values and being driven out of business by conscientious shoppers who vote with their dollars.
That position invites a very unfavorable comparison, but it's an apt one. Much like members of the KKK, who conduct their activities behind the cloak of white hoods, the AFA would prefer that the "victims" of this "bullying" not be so easily identified; they want to conduct their bigotry in secret.
Well, too bad. If you are going to ensconce the protection of bigots into a law under the guise of protecting "religious freedom," then you are just going to have to suffer through when the majority of us, who oppose bigotry, use our freedom of speech to make it clear that we're open for business to everybody, not just those who meet the warped sense of morality of a bunch of prudes and repressed-homosexual homophobes.
Come to think of it, this kind of thing ought to be the subject of a national campaign. After all, there are bigots everywhere. Maybe it's time for the rest of us to stand up affirmatively to say we don't discriminate.