Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Greensboro - again

On February 1, 1960, 4 black students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina sat down at a “whites only” lunch counter at a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro to protest racial segregation. Within a week, similar demonstrations had spread to other North Carolina towns, and then spread to other states.

By July 25, 1960, Woolworth had lost nearly $200,000 (equal to $1,585, 959 in 2015 dollars) due to the demonstrations, and decided that it might be a good idea to start serving black patrons at its lunch counters.

Last week, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed a “religious freedom” bill that would legally allow businesses to refuse service to certain individuals if those individuals violated the owners “deeply held” religious beliefs. The vast majority of the country immediately interpreted the law as an “anti-gay” bill, and the criticism of the state has been coming from numerous states and businesses around the country.

The truth of the matter, though, is that the law signed by Governor Pence last week (SB 101) IS an anti-gay bill. One of the legislators who was present at the signing believes that homosexuality is a treatable disorder, and another legislator who was present at the signing equates homosexuality with bestiality.

Arizona governor Jan Brewer wisely vetoed SB 1062 last January, thus saving the 2015 Super Bowl for the city of Glendale.

Initially, Arkansas governor Asa Huthcinson had indicated that he was going to sign a law that was similar to Indiana's, but under pressure from Walmart Corporation (which has its headquarters in Arkansas) and his son, he decided not to. He has since asked the legislature to amend their bill, which they did this morning.

Both the mayor of Indianapolis, and Subaru (which has a large plant in Lafayette, Indiana) have soundly criticized the new law, and have vowed not to follow its provisions. Once the state of Indiana starts to really feel the financial pinch from the new law, the only alternative is to repeal the law entirely, since “clarifying” the language of the bill will accomplish very little.

The late Casey Stengel once said, “its déjà vu all over again”, so he would be pleased to see the cartoon that appeared in this morning’s Arizona Republic.

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