Here I am in Mississippi. I’ve been trying to get out for well and good all my life. Mississippi is like a cage for the soul, but that’s not to say it’s a bad place.
We have nice weather, except during hurricane season. People mostly leave you alone and let you do your thing – as long as you’re a white, straight, Christian, well-spoken man. If you’re black, gay, don’t believe in Jesus, stutter, or happen to be a woman, well. Mississippi might give you a bit of trouble.
Earlier this year, we had a nasty fight over a bill in the Legislature that was basically an argument over whether businesses could turn paying customers away because of their sexual orientation. Mississippi said no to that. I know because I watched the debate on the floor of the state house of representatives, and the house couldn’t pass it as it was originally written.
Instead, there was some fast talking, the bill went to a conference committee, some language was changed, it was passed while no one was looking, and the governor signed it.
So, what’s the point of even having representatives if they’re going to pass things while no one is looking, is my first question. Where’s the democracy in that? It’s more a mockery, really. The way Tolkien’s orcs are a mockery of elves. This was a perversion of the legislative process.
But something good came out of it. Now we have these little stickers, and t-shirts to go along with them.
These stickers are courtesy of ifyourebuying.com. You can find them on Facebook here and on twitter @IfURBuyingMS. In the short time since they started, they’ve shipped these stickers all over the country. They have t-shirts (I bought one), and they’re trying to help the ACLU of Montana (of all places) with a similar campaign.
The American Family Association attacked this campaign and leveled charges of religious discrimination. Which, if you read that press release, you must agree, is frankly stupid. No one’s trying to pressure businesses who aren’t on board to join the program. This is just a lot of hard-working, property-owning Americans deciding to do business with everyone and communicate that message in a visible way. That’s all it is. A few of them have threatened legal action against the AFA over the attacks.
Here’s an editorial that rebuts that AFA message from a Christian perspective.
There’s so much more I could write about here, but I’m already running long. So let me answer the question you surely must be asking. Why? Why does a privileged dude like me care about this? And why write about it on a blog that just wants to be about comics and music and good photos? I’ll tell you why. This is intensely personal. Not just because I know a lot of people who are denied full legal rights on account of their orientation (although that alone would be enough to do it).
I remember the 80s and the Reagan administration. I was a little kid in the schoolyard back then, hearing the jokes the older kids were telling about AIDS.
I know, and no one will ever convince me otherwise, that there are people missing from the table on holidays because of Reagan’s AIDS policy. Which was no policy whatsoever, when you come right down to it. Those people have been gone for almost 30 years now. These are people I only caught glimpses of as a child, and people I never met. I wonder what they were really like. That policy was a direct result of a cultural attitude that made it okay to view differently-oriented people as less worthy of dignity and respect than the rest of us. And that’s what this is really about – treating everyone as human beings.
I am not a little kid in the schoolyard now. So I write about inequality. Not regularly, but often. And when it comes to this one thing, I don’t give a damn about sensibilities. What I’m talking about is bigger than all of us. Even if things can never change, we’re still obligated to try and change them. So I support “If You’re Buying, We’re Selling,” and I’m encouraging other people to do the same. They’re good people, and every little bit counts.