Lawmakers in nearly half a dozen states came under intense, public scrutiny for the better part of last month as they each considered bills which threatened to defend discrimination against LGBT people as a matter of “religious freedom.” The bills were ultimately rejected by each State Legislature – even Kansas! – with the exception of Arizona, where it passed the House and Senate, but was finally vetoed by their governor – not so much as a clear-cut matter of right and wrong, mind, but more because it makes Arizona look bad, and might therefore hurt the State’s economy. And also, Arizona’s been READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL ever since the last time they lost the Super Bowl to their government officials being all dumb and bigoted.
The parallels between these bills and the “Jim Crow” policies of the Segregation-era South were even more obvious than the last couple of times I drew cartoons which compared the struggles for marriage and social equality by the LGBT community with the Civil Rights Movement that finally pushed American society out of that earlier, cultural hell-hole (er, sorta). It’s like reality itself has become blatantly satirical, and begun copying my jokes. Note – (No hard feelings, Jon! I still wanna work for you!!)
This is not a coincidence, of course: it’s the same, basic lot dressing up blind, irrational hatred of others as the responsibility of every pious, God-fearing Christian that did it before. Only the slurs have changed.
And I’m not talking about religious people, necessarily, either – a lot of Christians who oppose equal rights and recognitions for homosexuals do so mainly because of peer pressure, rather than out of some deeply-held, personal conviction to which they are super-dedicated one way or the other, and they’ve never really thought about how this philosophy of exclusion and intolerance is pretty much in direct contrast with the core teachings of the guy after whom their religion is named. You’d be surprised how easy it is to change (some of) their minds, when you put it that way.
A character in a movie I enjoyed as a kid once said, about something completely unrelated, “they’re not really bad, they’re just… stupid!” That may be a bit too harsh, but it segues nicely into my next point, which is my belief that many (even most) of the religious who initially come down on the wrong side of this issue generally mean well (or at least don’t mean not-well especially actively). The problem is they don’t really know good from bad on the matter, because they’ve been suckered by their own ignorance, as well as the slick, flashy wolves hiding in their midst, seducing them with promises of
diamonds, furs, and a new set of white, sidewall tires 72 virgins some vague notion of paradise in the afterlife.
Nope, it’s not the religious who are to blame, exclusively or even mainly; it’s jerks, who use every kind of social institution, from religion to politics to Wall Street, as mere extensions of their reach in a jerky quest to jerk off all over everyone else as much and as often as they can – religion just happens, historically, to have been an especially ripe ground filled with easy prey, due to its most eager occupants’ reliance on faith in the absence of reason.
By the way, I should thank my friend and fellow cartoonist Tucker Rzepecki for his tips on coloring, which were crucial in getting this cartoon to look as bright and snappy as it does. If you’ve followed me for awhile, you’ve probably noticed that I tend to use green far more timidly than most other colors (especially reds, yellows, and blues). While working on this, I lamented how I thought my coloring had become much less-bold than it used to be, and he pointed me in exactly the right direction towards solving that problem, at least with this cartoon!