Monday, April 06, 2015

Oh no! Has Indiana's reputation for "Hoosier hospitality" been tarnished?


Great Moments in Hoosier History: Americans learned the meaning of Hoosier tolerance when America's Foremost Hoosier, Vice President Dan Quayle, publicly jumped ugly on 12-year-old New Jersey schoolkid William Figueroa for spelling "potato" correctly.

"I just don't like that they say we're intolerant. Because that's not who we are."
-- Martinsville (Indiana) bakery owner Michelle Crafton,
quoted by the NYT's Richard Fausset in
Residents Rue Damage to State's Welcoming Reputation

by Ken

Well, boo-hoo, Michelle.

Here's the opening of Richard Fausset's NYT report from the Hoosier State, "Indiana Residents Rue Damage to State's Welcoming Reputation":
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. — Michelle Crafton, the owner of a tiny bakery in this struggling town 30 miles south of Indianapolis, is not sure what she would do if asked to cater a same-sex wedding.

Ms. Crafton, 42, is a churchgoing Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin. But she also has a gay cousin — “I’ve loved him ever since he was a kid,” she said — and if she did say no to a gay couple, she would struggle over a polite way to tell them.

As the debate over a law promoted as defending religious freedom but criticized as anti-gay convulsed Indiana last week, Ms. Crafton might be excused for also being unclear about whether it would give her the legal right to refuse such service. She and other supporters of the law had hoped that it would.

But on Thursday, after an outcry from business leaders, Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, signed a revised version clarifying that the law could not be used to justify discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

If Ms. Crafton was sure of one thing, it was that all of the national attention had given Indiana a black eye.

“I just don’t like that they say we’re intolerant,” she said Thursday from behind a counter stocked with pastel Easter cookies and red velvet cupcakes. “Because that’s not who we are.”
Ah, well, thanks for clearing that up, Michelle! Okay, well, she has a bit more clarifying to offer:
Ms. Crafton said she supported gay couples’ right to have their relationships recognized under the law. And despite her religious reservations, she said she might cater a same-sex wedding if she felt comfortable with the couple.

“It comes down to the people,” she said.

She said she would never turn away gay customers who walked into her store, unless they were excessively rude. But that, she said, applied to everyone.
There you go: It comes down to the people. As long as they aren't "excessively rude," they can darned well spend their money in Michelle's store. Tell me that isn't welcoming! This must be what's meant by "Hoosier hospitality."

Then there's Pentecostal Christian café owner Ryan Colwell, 41, also in Martinsville, who huddled with his pastor "to work out a plan if he was ever asked to cater a same-sex wedding, which he feels his faith precludes him from condoning." You'll be thrilled to learn that they worked it out:
“I would cater a gay wedding,” he said, but only if he could drop the food off “and leave, and not have to stay and observe.”
Why any same-sex couple would want to have a proud homo-hater present, or for that matter to avail themselves of his services, escapes me, but I guess it's a matter of principle. And our Ryan isn't shy about his principles.
Mr. Colwell said he also supported the original version of the law because he thought it would give business owners the right to deny services if delivering them offended their religious sensibilities. The revisions disappointed him.

“To me, it’s almost repealing the law without repealing it,” he said. “It hurts me to know that if I take a stand on an issue based on my religious convictions, that I’m labeled as a discriminator, and I’m just not.”
Okay, if I'm getting this right, Ryan resents being labeled a discriminator when it's merely his chosen religion that's the discriminator. And people say Hoosiers aren't welcoming.

And, oh yes, here's a ringing retort in case there was any lingering question about the "intent" of Indiana's as-written God Says We Gotta Hate Them Homos Act.

Okay, we have time for maybe one more such story, and this one comes from Cody Button, 22, who started his high school's first LGBT group "after he was criticized by faculty for kissing a boy in the hallway." He's torn by the Hate Them Homos Act. "It makes me feel for Indiana, all the businesses that are backing out," he says.
But he also said he understood why business owners might want the legal system to protect them if they refused to serve gay customers on religious grounds. He noted that a friend’s father, who runs an environmental remediation company, faced a similar situation recently when asked to do a job for a satanic church.
I wonder whether thinking that being gay is just like being a satanist ever came up in Cory's high school LGBT group.

To be sure, reporter Fausset found other voices. He doesn't seem to have actually found journalist Stephanie Dolan, but he did read her piece "Are there more than bigots in Indiana" in NUVO, "Indy's alternative voice."
“ ‘Hoosier hospitality’ has been a phrase that I’ve heard my whole life,” Stephanie Dolan, a journalist, wrote recently in NUVO Newsweekly, an Indianapolis alternative paper. “It’s hokey and it’s corny, and — if you’re easily annoyed like me — it’s a bit off-putting in its sappiness. But there was never any mistaking its sincerity.”

“Now?” she added. “I can only think of that phrase ironically.”
I guess there was no need to actually talk to Stephanie, except maybe to find out her age, which alas goes unreported. Apparently the NYT doesn't feel obliged to report the age of people who merely write stuff.

In addition, reporter Fausset finds, "The perception that the law had created an unwelcoming atmosphere was shared by a number of business-oriented conservatives." Godliness, it would appear, may stop at the cash register. Score one for Hoosier hospitality.

Reporter Fausset found more dissenting voices in Indianapolis, "the more diverse and gay-friendly capital," where "many said the law had always struck them as the height of rudeness" and "some characterized it as a solution in search of a problem." Would you be surprised to learn that one of those voices spoke with an accent?
Enza Papalia, 69, a native of Italy who immigrated to the United States in 1963, laid into Mr. Pence on Thursday afternoon from behind the counter at J. Papalia Tailoring, a renowned Indianapolis shop established by her husband.

“What is he trying to prove?” she said in a voice still redolent of her native land. “What’s the point? Is anything good going to come out of this?”


In closing, I offer consolation in the form of two pairs of words:

(1) What reputation?

(2) Dan Quayle.

Do the hospitable Hoosiers not remember having gifted the country with a man of whom it can be said, without fear of contradiction: Gosh darn it, he was vice president of the U.S.A. While hospitable Hoosiers dream about the imagined slur on Hoosier hospitality, many non-Hoosiers have nightmares about the ensuing hordes of crypto-Quayles who have worked so hard to drag the standard of competence and decency ever lower. You know, like far, far right-wing pandering hate-monger Gov. Mikey Pants.

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At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am fascinated by all of this. Are Hoosier business owners who don't want to serve gays planning to ask everyone who comes to them for service if they are gay? Do they imagine their God will punish them for failing to ask and for serving gays out of ignorance? What do they say is the scriptural justification for their answer?

It may be that in some very, very few instances, it will be possible to determine gayness from the circumstances, but not in the vast majority of cases. In those few cases where the gay can spotted from context - e.g. the classic vaginal wedding cake for two lesbians - why wouldn't it suffice to say, "We don't do that sort of thing," or more simply, "We're very busy that day. Perhaps another bakery will be able to help you,"?

Even though I have been trying to practice a Christian lifestyle for many decades now, I fear I am no longer smart enough to live among these Christians who face such extreme difficulties.

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One only need to look at the vitriol bandied about by gays who want to compel Christians to cater their affairs to understand that Hoosier hospitality is a marketing myth. They screech about tolerance and then offer none in return. These are not my rules. I am not going into gay businesses and demanding service that I don't really want anyway. These people are deceitful in their approach and the poor people they trap with this silliness end up ruined. That's the real hate here. It's not Christian. It falls squarely on the shoulders of the perpetually aggrieved. I'm like most Americans in that I firmly believe in live and let live, but you do not have a right to compel me to do something I find morally reprehensible. If you want to make an enemy of me, that's your problem, not mine.


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