So, I’ve been surprised to see that more than 200 of the refugee kids have been placed with Hoosier sponsors.
I’ve not been surprised by the peevish, partisan, pandering response from our GOP leadership.
First State Sen. Brent Steele chides the feds for not warning Indiana officialdom this horde of foreigners was being “dumped” on our holy soil.
The Gov. Mike Pence tells them to go back where they came from.
Which, for many, is roughly equivalent to saying “Go to hell.”
After dispatching a stern letter to President Barack Obama as to the unfairness of burdening Indiana with the (speculative) cost of educating all these parasites, Pence demanded they be deported and that he be notified if any others show up.
Not that he didn’t feel “deep compassion for these children,” mind you.
Now, let’s grant that failure to give a state a heads-up that it is about to become part of a headline-making humanitarian crisis is a sin of omission. But let’s also agree that it is a venial transgression at worst, considering the numbers involved and the potential degree of state government involvement in these kids’ welfare, if any.
Small grievances, small men. Where Pence and Steele and their peers of both political parties see a problem — and somebody else’s problem — other Americans great and ordinary see innocent young victims of violence and poverty who are ours because they are here. Yes, bureaucratic and political and logistical sorting-out must be undertaken; but for God’s sake, where is the simple Christianity these powerful conservatives profess at every wink of the camera? Must Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts play the role of Good Samaritan, East Coast liberal foreigner stopping to help the wretch the righteous ones leave to the devil?
“I was a stranger, and you took me in. What were you thinking?”
It’s just so wearisome. The poor, the weak, the marginalized, the ones who most need help from the pious keepers of the Statehouse are the least likely to become a priority. Indeed, keeping their grimy hands out of the treasury to which the well-heeled have virtually unquestioned access is a proud goal of “fiscally responsible government.”
Sometimes, real money is at stake. Inner-city schools and city services may be hurting, but the business lobbies like tax cuts.
Sometimes, it’s ideology trumping practicality and common sense.
Spurning the gift of Medicaid expansion, a federal windfall even other Republican states have accepted on behalf of their low-income constituents, is a textbook example. Making a public show of protest over acts of charity toward desperate children, rather than thanking the people who stepped up, is a poetic one.
Just once I wish these guys would amaze me and toss their script. And I’ll tell you something else: Next time one of my rightwing kibitzers challenges my side to personally care for the downtrodden for whom our hearts bleed, I’ll say here, we did it, and the good deed got duly punished.
Dan Carpenter is a freelance writer, a contributor to Indianapolis Business Journal and the author of “Indiana Out Loud.”
I sat on the edge of her bed, held her hand and took a deep breath, preparing for the worst. She played the audio file on her cell phone.
Her long-time boyfriend's voice echoed in my ears as he hurled insults and obscenities at her like steak knives into a wall. His words stung me as if I was standing with them that night, an invisible third party to abuse I was never meant to see or hear.
I heard his fists violating her flesh. I heard her teary pleas to him, to God, to anyone begging for the physical assault to end. The sound abruptly ended just after. She had an old-model phone and only so many seconds of hell could be documented at a time.
Her hands — one wrapped in mine, the other barely cradling the evidence of her abuse — were weathered and pale. Her long, fiery hair fell around her hunched shoulders, shielding blackened bruises and tears from open view. I never knew brokenness, bravery and beauty to co-exist with such brilliance.
With the help of less than a dozen strangers, she parted ways with her abuser and embarked on a dangerous but hopeful journey to justice, restoration and safety.
That night, I found myself on the bathroom floor, allowing in every emotion I stifled in her presence. I cried for her. She was just one woman, and yet she was every person who found abuse where love, trust, and safety should have been. She was me. I prayed I would never see her again, that her absence from my life would mean she defied the odds stacked against her and flourished like the phoenix she was.
Still, the statistics haunted me:
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
17.3 percent of Indiana high school girls have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Reflecting back on the rise of the phoenix I'd gone to assist earlier in the day, I realized that while I was supposed to be strong for this woman, she was the strongest person in the house.
This woman, the phoenix, changed my entire trajectory in a brief few moments. She destroyed the inklings of my savior complex. She taught me the role of the victim advocate is not one of rescue missions, but of reciprocity. We held each other together, when we both would rather fall apart.
Behind each horrifying statistic are living, breathing people. Each time I stand in front of an Indiana high school health class of 30-some teenage girls, I wonder how many of them have been violated by a person they knew and loved. I try to reconcile the fact that a fourth of them may suffer domestic abuse.
Dismantling patriarchy, the origin of gender-based abuse, requires far more than basic victim outreach services. The harsh realities of abuse make reactionary programs, those that assist people who have already been affected, necessary. But how do we heal and grow from the damage that patriarchy has already done and prevent continuous cycles of abuse?
To transcend patriarchal ideology, we need proactive approached to gender inequity.
Today, I do not know what happened to the woman who changed my life. I hope she is well. I hope she is as free as the bird I imagined her to be. I wish I could thank her.
I have a new mantra now: May we burn down the pillars of patriarchy and rise from the ashes, loved, safe and restored. n
Gov. Mike Pence misjudged his role when he effectively rendered meaningless the job of Glenda Ritz, whom voters chose to be superintendent of public instruction. He also misjudged the sure-to-come political fallout that will be worse than he expects.
The Libertarian Party of Indiana supports more school choice than Ritz would prefer. Still, that is absolutely no reason to cut her off at the knees as Pence did when he pushed the State Board of Education to alter its rules so that the board can immediately overturn any procedural decision made by Ritz (until now, that would come up at the next meeting) and board members may add agenda items with neither Ritz's consent nor advance public notice. This came after a 7-3 vote of members that he appoints.
Libertarians remind Pence that Hoosier voters elected Ritz, not Pence, to the head of Indiana's schools.
Just because Ritz and Pence differ does not mean he has the statutory authority to do her job. If Pence has a problem with her personally, too bad. Part of being an adult is dealing with people you disagree with. Besides, the governor does not have dictatorial powers. Sometimes he'll have to work with people who are - horror of horrors - not from his party. She does happen to be the only one, as all other state offices are Republican, as are both houses within the General Assembly. What would happen if a Democrat and Libertarian won statewide office this year? Would he try this stunt again?
Right now, Article 8 of Indiana's constitution prescribes an elected leader for our schools. Should it still be elected or would appointed superintendents work better? That's a great question, just like whether or not our constitutionally prescribed county coroners should be elected or if Indiana ought to switch to appointed medical examiners. It's a topic deserving of a lot of debate. Pence took the chicken's way out by pushing for what amounts to an edict without any serious debate.
The right way to address this would be to seek an amendment to Indiana's constitution.
Would amending the Indiana Constitution be frustrating? You bet.
That's the point. It's not supposed to be something done in a snit. Hint: This is a snit.
Changing the state constitution would entail passing legislation in two consecutive legislatures - in this case, the to-be-elected General Assembly will start its 2-year term in 2015, and another will be in 2017. Once passed, it would have to go before voters as a referendum in 2018 at the earliest - 2017 is an off-year for Indiana elections. By then, Pence would be hot and heavy in his campaign for president...er, he'd only fewer than two more years left on his tenure as governor, presuming he's re-elected.
This doesn't take into account how this egregious overreach will rile up the Democratic base. Our hunch is that this would bring Democrat donors to hand over their checkbooks, run for office themselves, take off work to campaign on Election Day - anything to make the Statehouse not-so-Republican. And as for Pence's re-election efforts, don't be surprised if he faces very strong opposition in 2016, with the rallying cry of ENOUGH!
And this doesn't take into account how this egregious overreach will create strange-bedfellow political alliances that will make passage of such an amendment very, very difficult. We Libertarians will be joined by others outside of the Democrat Party who find this power grab beyond the pale.
Pence's overreach deserves whatever political dope-slapping he receives. And he will receive a huge dope-slapping, loud and clear. Count on it.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry snorted.
I’d just asked him a question about the new gun laws adopted by the Indiana General Assembly, including one that allows people to bring guns onto school grounds.
Curry shook his head and said that he and other prosecutors have tried to tell state lawmakers that some of their ideas, such as allowing guns to be brought onto school grounds, aren’t good ones from a public safety point of view.
“They (state legislators) have made it clear that they’re not interested in hearing what we have to say,” Curry said.
Curry and I are in a studio, recording an interview for a radio program I host. It’s a Thursday morning. (You can hear the interview here.)
About 40 hours after Curry and I talked, a couple of people bumped into each other on a crowded sidewalk in Indianapolis north side neighborhood Broad Ripple in the wee hours of the morning. In true National Rifle Association fashion, both people decided to stand their ground and pulled out guns.
By the time they finished blazing away, seven people had been shot.
Then, later that same day, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Perry Renn and two other policemen responded to a “shots-fired” report on Indianapolis’s east side. When Renn and the other officers got to the scene a little before 9:30 p.m., they found Major Davis Jr. brandishing an assault rifle.
Davis fired on the officers. Renn fired back.
The exchange of gunshots wounded both men.
Davis ended up being transported to an Indianapolis hospital in critical condition.
Renn wasn’t so lucky.
The police officer died a little before 10 p.m. – maybe half an hour after he responded to the call for help.
And the city mourned.
Those tragedies had yet to occur when Curry and I talked, but they aren’t isolated incidents.
By the time the prosecutor and I sat down together, Indianapolis already had recorded more than 70 homicides this year. The city was on pace to threaten its 16-year old record for murder and mayhem in a calendar year – a dubious achievement, to be sure.
Curry made it clear in the interview that many factors are responsible for the homicide explosion in the state’s largest city. An illegal drug economy and culture – an ongoing problem that fuels both despair and violence – contributes a great deal to the abundance of tragedies in the community. A lack of meaningful educational and career opportunities also adds to the difficulties.
But the free flow of guns, Curry made clear, plays a role, too.
And it is not a constructive one.
He scoffed at the notion that the state legislators were toughening penalties for people using firearms during the commission of a crime. He pointed out that, at the same time that lawmakers made it possible for people to bring guns to school, they also adopted a new law that would decrease the time served for people who illegally use a gun.
Curry’s comments mirror those made by Indianapolis’s public safety director, Troy Riggs, when I talked with him a few weeks – and about another 20 murders – ago. Riggs said easy access to guns imperiled the city’s citizens.
Both Curry and Riggs also expressed frustration that state lawmakers weren’t interested in hearing from the public officials who have to deal directly with the consequences of gun-related violence.
And their criticisms came just a few weeks after a committee meeting in which state legislators berated citizens who were concerned about gun violence – and, in some cases, had lost loved ones in gun-related incidents.
The lawmakers made it clear they didn’t want to hear from those folks, either.
So, our legislators won’t listen to the prosecutors and law enforcement officials who have to deal with the explosion of gun violence we have in our state’s cities. They won’t listen to people who have lost family members and friends to guns. And they won’t listen to citizens who care about the carnage we’re seeing on our streets and in our neighborhoods.
All of that raises this question: When the subject is guns, just who the hell do Indiana’s elected representatives listen to?
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 started the same as any other muggy summer day in central Indiana. My "husband" and I woke up, fed the dogs, drank some coffee, and kissed each other goodbye as we each headed off to work. We, along with many Hoosiers, had been awaiting a ruling on the status of marriage equality in our state. The moment came, as such moments often do, as a complete surprise. I was at work hunched over spreadsheets, actively listening to a conference call when my phone buzzed: a news notification.
BREAKING: Federal court rules Indiana's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
I was astonished. Did I read it right? Could it be true? Could all the hard work and persistence of so many dedicated to marriage equality in our state have finally paid off? With shaking hands and my heart in my throat, I texted the news to my "husband." He responded within moments, but such monumental news couldn't be conveyed via text message alone.
On our lunch breaks, we had time for a quick phone call. Our excitement was tempered by suspicion and fear that the ruling would be stayed immediately. But for the moment, we had been granted the right for which we'd been fighting for so long, and our enthusiasm overtook us. The ruling had provided an answer, but also many more questions. Should we go now? Should we wait? If we get our license today, should we get married today? What about our friends and family? Should we ask them to meet us? Will they be upset if we go without them?
After a workday full of distraction and daydreaming for both of us, we decided to meet at home to discuss our plan face to face. On the way, we each called our parents, and received their support to go, and go NOW. I arrived home, and found my "husband" in the kitchen. We hugged fiercely, tears in our eyes. Our day had come! We decided wordlessly. We were getting married. Tonight!
Having only told our parents, we drove to the City-County building in rush hour traffic, and arrived shortly before 5:30. Once inside, we strode down the hall to County Clerk Beth White's office. We were astonished to see a line of hundreds of people, all gathered for the same purpose: to profess their love and have it legally recognized by our state.
The line moved slowly, but no one seemed to mind. We all stood with expectant smiles on our faces. Some fidgeted nervously, while others were soothed by their soon-to-be spouses with soft words and warm embraces. Many couples were accompanied by family, friends, children and co-workers — the outpouring of support was overwhelming. Beth White was seen frequently moving up and down the line, offering congratulatory handshakes and assuring everyone in line that our patience would be rewarded. "We'll stay here tonight for as long as it takes," she said. As each newly married couple emerged from the clerk's office, cheers rose up from those of us still in line. We were all strangers, but it made no matter. We had won. LOVE had won.
After three hours of waiting in that stuffy hallway, we finally made it to the threshold of the clerk's office. Not only was the air conditioning inside refreshing, but so was the scene before us: couples waving their newly granted marriage licenses, joyful tears, smiles, laughter.
This is what many of our state's elected officials were fighting so hard to prevent?
We reached the Marriage Licenses desk and completed our necessary forms. Within moments, there it was: our official, legal marriage license. All that was left was to say the words. We were then greeted warmly by Beth White herself. She asked us how long we'd been together (11 years), whether or not we had rings to exchange (we did), and if we wanted a prayer included in our ceremony (I deferred to my future husband on this point — and he did).
We were ushered into a separate room, apart from the frenzied celebrations happening in the office. It was hushed, with only occasional muffled cheers seeping through the walls. Ms. White asked us to face each other, join hands, and began to speak.
I admit that the specifics of the ceremony are a bit fuzzy for me. What I remember most is the enormous grin on my new husband's face (no more quotation marks from NOW ON), his reassuring grip on my hands, and Ms. White's gentle and loving tone. We exchanged vows, rings and kisses — and it was done.
Again I had to think: this is what a highly vocal minority in our state is fighting so hard against? A promise we make to each other in front of a legal official?
After having our license signed, we found ourselves back in the office swarming with other couples as eager and deserving as we were. We paid our necessary fees and got our official documents. And then it was over. We were married. Husbands for life.
As we left the City-County Building, hand-in-hand, we were met with more cheering and congratulatory sentiments. We experienced none of the derisive attitudes one might expect in our red state. Family, friends and strangers alike heaped praise and well wishes upon us.
Our love was finally recognized and celebrated. Love always wins.
Yes, the state's Attorney General requested and was granted a stay that once again prevents gay and lesbian Hoosiers from obtaining their marriage licenses. So the struggle continues, as we knew it would. For the lucky few that were able to secure the right to marry the person they love it was a small and long awaited victory. But for those who still hope one day they will be able to share the joy that we feel, it bears repeating: Love always wins. n
This Independence Day, honor our nation and democracy by making sure your voter registration is up-to-date in time to participate in this year’s important elections. Then, take a moment to ask your friends and family if they are registered to vote at their current address and have a current state approved photo ID. Call 866-461-8683 or click here for a list of approved forms of ID.
This year, the League of Women Voters of Indiana is committed to making sure voters have the information they need to participate in elections and ensure their votes count. We hope to vastly improve on the low voter turnout that was common across the state in the May primary. Please be sure you register before October 6 so you can vote on November 4. Your voice counts and your vote is your voice.
The first step to having a say on the issues that matter most to you is registering to vote. As we pause this week to mark our nation’s birthday, set aside just a few minutes to check on your registration status, as well as to start learning about the candidates and issues that will be on your ballot. VOTE411.org and LWVIN.org is the place to go for all of your election information throughout 2014!
Every election, whether local, state or federal, is important to ensuring our laws and policies reflect the values and beliefs of all Americans. Celebrate America’s 238th birthday this Independence Day by updating your voter registration or registering to vote for the first time, and committing to vote and participate in the greatest democracy in the world.
President, League of Women Voters of Indiana
As a going concern in contemporary America, Hobby Lobby does business with all sorts of companies, organizations, countries and individuals whose practices are inimical to Christian beliefs as Hobby Lobby’s owners define them.
They buy from China, where forced abortion is government policy. They use oil from dictatorships that would not dream of permitting the sort of free expression Hobby Lobby (and co-litigant Conestoga Wood Specialties) petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold.
They no doubt have dealt with countless suppliers, and have served countless customers, who practice non-Christian religions, sleep with people of the same sex, follow the Affordable Care Act to the letter and vote straight Democratic.
Oh, and by the way, Hobby Lobby’s employee retirement plan has investments in contraceptive manufacturing.
And how can you avoid such entanglements? Even the survivalists who claim sovereignty over some patch of Texas or Idaho have to buy their pickup trucks and ammunition from the global network of shared guilt.
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, like me, are about as pure as the driven snow in back of the asphalt plant when it comes to economic “morality.” We’re all complicit. How the high court could miss that reality is every bit as perplexing as its more glaring proposition that an abstract convenience called a corporation can have protected religious beliefs.
Provided the corporation is not too big, that is. How big is too big? Well, let’s just say not too big to fail to provide certain employees, thousands of them, certain benefits to which the law says they have equal rights. Personal corporations, if you will.
So the court’s majority limits the seismic ruling to some corporations, without really specifying who’s in. It limits its finding to women’s reproductive health (Hobby Lobby covers vasectomies), without addressing the long list of other medical procedures that raise somebody or other’s religious objections, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her scathing dissent. Blood transfusions. Vaccinations. Men and women working in the same room. Women working.
Finally, the court accepts the fatuous notion that engaging in commerce in 2014 can be limited in terms of political or moral taint. I stick a knife in Mother Earth every time I gas up my Toyota, and yet somehow Hobby Lobby operates in an impenetrable bubble of integrity?
This court will do whatever it takes to side with corporations in these confrontations between people and power – not Obama socialist power, but financial power. The embarrassing sloppiness of this ruling and its rationale, especially when held up against Ginsburg’s litany of what-ifs, affirms the allegiance. The perverse transfer of religious freedom from individuals to their bosses ices the cake. And the implications for both are anybody’s guess. The court majority may insist it built a little box; lawyers everywhere must infer it opened Pandora’s.
Next year, religion takes front and center with the same-sex marriage issue. The court is widely expected to concur with the 20-plus lower court rulings in favor. Corporations – large ones – generally like marriage equality and did not share Hobby Lobby’s sexual hang-ups on health care. Assuming they continue the corporate world’s winning ways, and then Hobby Lobby fires an employee for marrying his boyfriend . . . oh, tell me you wouldn’t buy a ticket for that one.
Dan Carpenter is a freelance writer, a contributor to Indianapolis Business Journal and the author of “Indiana Out Loud.”