Just about anywhere you turn these days you can see it happening, this polarizing influence of “social acceptability” and political campaigns. Our internet socialization brings every possible issue to the forefront and the dramatics begin. Everyone with an opinion can post, doesn’t matter if what they have to say is true, well-thought, or even pertinent. And heaven knows there are trolling people ready to virtually bop you on the head for any opinion you share.
This is equally true in politics, religion, sexual orientation, as well as many other topics. Years ago, the advice was given to people as they went out into social gatherings, don’t discuss politics or religion. As to sexual orientation, there’s a phrase commonly used in military circles a few decades back, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Somehow that advice has long since been kicked to the curb. And in our society, comments on social media often move far outside civilized posts and sometimes move into the realm of crazy.
Then along comes a few states such as Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina, who pulled together legislation they believed would turn the tide back to a more civilized approach. Oops, that’s not what has happened. The laws, if followed as outlined, have the possibility of bringing some measure of reason back into our screaming and finger-pointing world. They ensure religious organizations have the right to follow their teachings and beliefs without fear of someone claiming a civil rights violation because a religious organization that believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, or that every child deserves a father and a mother wants to not violate their beliefs and preside over a same-sex marriage or adoption.
The laws always allow private businesses in some very specific niches such as those whose services would be used in marriage celebrations to refuse service according to their own conscience and beliefs. It even allows public servants in some situations to do the same to a limited degree. So if a person works in the county clerks’ office and does not want to issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriages, they simply do not issue any marriage licenses at all, allowing others to do that task.
Alternatively, it grants the same rights to all businesses to set policies within their ranks according to their conscience. But for some reason, many big businesses and politicians choose to see the new laws as if they are enforcing bigotry. PayPal recently pulled out of plans to build in North Carolina using the excuse of these laws, that is in spite of the fact that the law doesn’t limit PayPal’s choices in any way.
To those on each side of these fences, the laws could be used to break down the barriers and create a more empathetic and equal exchange, but so far, a voice of reason seems to have fled the scene, leaving a lot of people feeling vulnerable, attacked, and on the verge of being violated – engendering an attitude among many of “I’ll take the first punch, just to make sure I’m in control as long as possible.” Through it all, it has to be asked, how long can such madness last without tearing our country apart?
We all need to take a deeper look at what such laws say, what various policies seem to push, and who gains from whatever item, instead of rushing to jump on a bandwagon long before we know the destination.