Monday, March 30, 2015

Now We Are Free

This has been an insane week over at Chez Wifely. So much is going on I don't know where to begin! We got the “go” and now 'rents are gearing up for their move to L'Étoile du Nord at the end of next month. I'm running around like a headless chicken trying to put together furniture for their new place. At 92 and 94, they cannot be camping out in sleeping bags the first week. Wednesday morning, unbeknownst to me, my iPod Touch managed to do a header outta my pocket in order to spend 8 hours in a very clean toilet. Thursday was spent worrying about said iPod Touch. Friday, I skipped outta work early and went to look at a headboard for the folks, and replaced the kitchen chairs instead...finally having found gorgeous Danish modern chairs with rush seats that match the teak kitchen table perfectly. It's true, I am a total sucker for mid-century (especially Danish) modern furniture...and I found this little store called MIDMODMEN on University Avenue at Raymond.. everyone has to swear to do everything in their power to keep me the hell away from there. OMG. There was this chair.........

And my first Passover as savta is coming up fast since the holiday from hell starts this Friday night and even though I'm making the second seder Saturday night, I gotta get 99% of the stuff done before Shabbat starts on Friday at sundown. I'm already thinking about all the traditions and green glass plates I have to hand down to my granddaughter. 

And while we're on the subject, Passover just happens to be a holiday about freedom. And while we're reliving our departure from Egypt, we should try not to forget that this year there may need to be a departure from Indiana.

Not to quote stuff seen on Facebook, but a conversation on my cousin Barry's page got me to thinking. We all love Barry dearly, even when he was trying to found the Civil Wrongs party back in the 60s. These days, however, he seems to be more of a pragmatist...and is the resident cynic over at Tom Sumner's ARMCHAIR POLITICS program on Flint's WKUF-LP radio. Which brings me back to his FB page and some of his weird friends. Like the one who thinks all states and the federal government have all passed the same Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The back-and-forth in the comments was enough to make me wonder why people don’t read stuff before they go off ranting about it. Barry came off like the voice of reason.

From the Washington Post
Which made me wonder about RFRA laws and the differences between them. 20 states and the federal government have theme and variation of the law…are they all equal?

The Atlantic ran a brilliant article, What Makes Indiana's Religious Freedom Law Different and I would highly recommend everyone read it. Garrett Epps has done a bang-up job explaining the differences between the federal law and the ones passed by 19 other states. There are some glaring differences, and Indiana's version of the law is significantly different from most of the others in two important aspects: 

  1. It allows for-profit businesses to exert the right to "the free exercise of religion."
  2. And the law includes the following statement: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” 

The federal version, and most of the state versions, specifically exclude for-profit business from the "free exercise of religion," something that has traditionally been limited to religious organizations and private non-profits. By allowing for-profit institutions to exert that right, it opens the door.... or rather, closes the door.... to anti-discrimination laws. 

And the new law goes even further than that. The language of the second part provides a valid defense for businesses or individuals choosing to discriminate in the case of a lawsuit. If you think that's far-fetched, think Hobby Lobby and their recently sanctioned ability to deny their employees access to contraception under their insurance policy. 

I suppose one can say this is a state's right issue, but it really isn't. This is an "equal protection under the law" issue and not one that can be legislated in a local legislature. If that were the case, we would probably still have slavery in the south. But we don't. We are 50 united states and as such, citizens on the nation are entitled to a standard of equal protection across the country. Civil rights cannot shift between state borders; they must be consistent.

When we turn our backs on our own citizens, when there is an attempt to deny civil rights to a group or a class, when we declare that all people are not created equal, we are digging our own national grave.  We lose that one thing that made us the hope of the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We betray everything We, the People, have striven to represent in this world.  Walk away from civil rights, and we walk away from the tattered remnants of what used to be called American exceptionalism. We become just like the rest of them. We emulate the Venetians who built the very first ghetto in 1510. We become the Inquisition, the Nazis, the Taliban, and ISIS, all organizations that separated people into a hierarchy of who was okay…. and who was not.

When Indiana signs into law an act that has the power to give business the right to say, “We don’t do business with homosexuals,” how far are we really from “we don’t do business with Jews…or Blacks…. or Muslims…?”

I don’t know about any of you, but the answer to that question scares the hell outta me.

Oh, yeah. The iPod is just fine. And yes, I used the bag o'rice method to dry it out. Gotta be thankful for the little things. 

The Wifely Person’s Tip of the Week
For fluffy matzah balls, use seltzer instead of water or broth, and
separate your eggs; beat the whites to soft peaks before folding them into the rest of the stuff. 


  1. Enjoyed your post ... Mazel Tov on your 1st Pesah as a bubby and good luck with the big move :)

  2. great transition from Passover to "Indiana" (almost like my thread's transition from a last second Wildcat win to the same) .... I guess I'm one of those who deals with reality rather than sentiment, so I really doubt the Indiana version has any significant difference than those of other states, other than it's timing: and by "timing," i mean a time when it actually does harm to the state's economy and display's the Republican Party's willingness to reject its business community in favor of irrelevant legislation to satisfy a few wackos who care about such things ...