Chris Powell: Boycott Indiana? How about police-state China?


Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy's posturing about Indiana's new "religious freedom" law is being called hypocritical for the wrong reason -- called hypocritical because Connecticut has its own "religious freedom" law.

But the Indiana law seems far broader and meant to empower individuals and businesses to evade civil rights laws by claiming religious objection, potentially inviting nullification of civil rights, particularly rights claimed by homosexuals.

No, the governor's posturing, accompanied by an executive order barring official state travel to Indiana, is hypocritical for being so ridiculously disproportionate.

Denouncing the Indiana law, the governor bellows, "Somebody has got to stand up to this kind of bigotry, and I'm prepared to do it." But the worst consequences of the Indiana law are likely to be only that a few religious fundamentalist bakers, florists, photographers, and banquet halls will refuse to facilitate same-sex weddings.

The governor who purports to be so indignant about that law is the same one who a few weeks ago proposed a state budget reducing aid to the most innocent needy -- including mentally disabled adults living with elderly parents because state government refuses to appropriate adequately for group homes, and the mentally ill and drug-addicted -- so he could pay raises to the most coddled people in Connecticut, state and municipal government employees.

This is also the governor who three years ago announced, at the outset of his own official travel, a visit to China, that he would be "exploring opportunities for Connecticut companies to do broader business there and exploring opportunities for Chinese investment in operations here."

That is, the governor solicited business in a country that forces women to have abortions, brutally suppresses ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, imprisons political and religious dissidents, violates every major human right, bullies its neighbors, and last week sentenced a man to six years in jail for growing a beard in accordance with his tribal custom.

The governor has not yet ordered state officials to suspend business with China, but maybe he is inclined to give that country a pass since, like Connecticut, it has only one political party.

When Republicans in Washington pander to their party's reactionary base, the issues they raise are ridiculed as "boob bait for Bubbas." But in Connecticut the boob-baiter-in-chief is a supposedly liberal Democrat who has been overwhelmed by the job he was elected to do and so has been reduced to contriving distractions, trying to keep his own daffy base behind him, lest anyone notice that he has only hastened the state's decline.

Silly and unnecessary as these "religious freedom" laws are, freedom of religion being only another form of freedom of expression, not the freedom to smoke dope or deny public accommodations in God's name, the governor and other critics of the Indiana law are acting as if Western Civilization hasn't always had a problem with homosexuality, acting as if this problem was invented recently by those boob-baiting Republicans from the corn and cotton fields of the benighted hinterlands.

In fact the problem arises from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, which nastily enjoin homosexuality, just as Connecticut's own law criminalized it not long ago. That the Scriptures are arbitrary on the point, offering no rationale beyond the supposed word of God, invites freethinkers to doubt them. But the Scriptures were getting respect for ages before faux indignation and political correctness replaced political discourse, and they likely will be getting respect long after those now employing those tactics pass from the political scene.

While the governor and other critics of the Indiana law won't put it candidly, they essentially are telling people to trash the Scriptures. The genuine indignation and the legislation they have provoked shouldn't surprise them.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.