Â·bia, noun: irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals -Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
Hi. Big Brother here. You know me: Mr. Government-Knows-Best,
I realize I'm not popular in these Hoosier parts. I know I've failed to mandate the use of motorcycle helmets. Failed to mandate the use of safety belts in trucks. Failed to stop you from smoking up that old Chevy Malibu with your little munchkin ridin' shotgun.
Granted, after decades of futility, I finally conned you into daylight-saving time. But that was an aberration. And you're not happy about it. And a huge percentage of you opted out, anyway.
More typical of your Hoosier resistance to regulation: You have the second-highest smoking rate in the nation and the heart disease, cancer and death rate to show for it. But you won't even consider joining Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington in passing a statewide smoke-free workplace law.
But there is one issue where you love me, baby. One topic where even you government-be-damned, you're-not-the-bossof-me Hoosier masses crave Big Brother's meddling.
On that issue, you dig discrimination. You clamor to keep folks different from you quietly closeted.
Hypocritical as it may seem, all you members of the none-of-your-business, anti-bureaucracy crowd beg me to regulate the lives and loves of one infinitesimal subset of humanity.
And it's not the rapists. Not the spouseabusers. Not the sex offenders. Not the child-molesters. Not the deadbeat parents. Not the polluters. Not the puppy-killers. Not the murderers, muggers, drunks or thieves.
Nope, the ones you want me to rein in are men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women. For when it comes to this horrible, terrible, devious, dangerous threat to humanity and the planet, you love to have Big Brother dictate who can love whom, and under what circumstances and whether we even speak of such salaciousness.
So a high school kid in Woodburn writes a school newspaper editorial saying, "Hey, there are gay kids in the world. They don't choose to be that way. It just happens. And it's difficult. So we should be more tolerant."
And the school administration says this is icky blicky. What's more, they say, it's threatening to feeble-minded young 'uns who, presumably, have never heard of gay people (unless, of course, they watch Ellen DeGeneres by day or "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" by night). So all future issues of the school paper must be subject to advance review and censorship by Big Brother's bastions. Chalk one up for my side.
Then there's the 2007 Indiana General Assembly.
First, there was a wonderful piece of legislation (seriously) moving through the Senate that would clean up some unsavory adoption practices. It looked like a lock for passage. So I had one of my boys try to sneak in an amendment that read, "A court may not grant an adoption if the petitioner is a homosexual." So clever. So slick.
And while the amendment didn't make the cut this time, Big Brother knows you want this one bad, so as God is my witness, we'll sneak it in again.
But on the Big Kahuna, we have delivered, my straight-shooting friends. Because my regulate-your-bedroom henchmen have already gotten the Indiana Senate-for the second consecutive session-to pass a joint resolution banning same-sex marriages. And the House likely will follow. And after that, it's onto the ballot box so all you straight folks can grind the gay folks into the proverbial dust with Big Brother's Big Hammer of Discrimination-Because-the-Majority-Wants-It Democracy.
And never you mind that state law already bans same-sex marriages.
Never mind that you've derived your marriage-equals-one-man-plus-onewoman mandate from religion, which is supposed to be constitutionally separated from government.
Never mind that you'd go ape if Big Brother dictated to you whom you could do it with and under what circumstances.
Never mind that it's heterosexuals who let their tots trot around on Interstate 465.
Never mind that it's heterosexuals who fill the domestic-violence shelters.
Never mind that it's heterosexual domestic cases that bloat the annual body count.
Never mind all the good kids raised by gay parents.
Nope. We gotta protect society. Gotta protect the sanctity of our divorce-ridden heterosexual marriages. Gotta safeguard the sterling reputation of heterosexual parents.
So fear not, my friends. For the days of don't ask/don't tell run short, as Big Brother and the Original Hoosier Dirt Band have a sold-out crowd bopping in the aisles to the Straight Folks' Song of Salvation.
Hetrick is chairman and CEO of Hetrick Communications Inc., an Indianapolis-based public relations and marketing communications firm. His column appears weekly. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.