"I guess what that means is that life on earth takes on a different perspective." --Rep. Lynn Luker, in a Boise Weekly interview, when asked about turning 60.
When I wrote the column "Sillyrious" a few weeks ago (BW, Opinion/Cope, Jan. 15, 2014) I didn't title it "Sillyrious One" because at the time, I had no plans to turn it into an ongoing series. As you recall, "Sillyrious" discussed the dangers of putting silly, thoughtless people--or what is known more commonly in my circles as "Republicans"--in a position where they can do serious, lasting damage by electing them to the Idaho Legislature. In that column, the specific issue involved was my fear that these nitwits would take steps to assume control of federal lands. But with a little foresight, I should have realized that when you put enough nitwits in an enclosed space--the Idaho Capitol, say--there is no limit to how many stupid ideas might come rolling out.
Which brings us to Rep. Lynn Luker. A Republican and one of our Boise neighbors, Luker has introduced a bill that would ensure any professionals licensed by the state would be able to deny their services to gays without any threat of censure, reprimand or license revocation for doing so. Luker calls it the "Free Exercise of Religion Act," and if enacted, it would mean Christian medical personnel, Christian police officers, Christian educators, Christian lawyers--in short, Christians--would be free to tell anyone who offends their Christian sensibilities to take a hike. And of course, nothing offends a good Christian's sensibilities more than homosexuality.
But then, we all know that homosexuality isn't the only thing that offends people who are so offended by homosexuality, is it? The only stipulation this bill would require of those who would refuse services to people who offend them is that their refusal was founded on "sincerely held religious beliefs." And among people apt to have sincerely held religious beliefs to such a degree they would use those beliefs as an excuse to treat gays as less than human, there is a legion of other human beings who historically have either offended or are offensive to such pious souls.
Why, I can think of a half-dozen such offensive categories without even having to pull my trousers on. Catholics, for instance. Seriously, it hasn't been so long ago that a lot of people had a sincerely held religious belief that Catholicism was, at the very least, something you sure as hell didn't want your daughter to go a'marrying into. And imagine what this sort of institutionalized righteousness would do with a Muslim, if given the legal support to do it.
Oh, but can't you just imagine the fun they would have denying their services to unwed mothers, Unitarians, people with tattoos, consumers of shellfish and all those cultists?... your Seventh-day Adventists, your Jehovah Witnesses and, of course, your Mormons.
Lest you have forgotten, didn't the unfortunate attitude toward black people, still prevalent among many folks with sincerely held religious beliefs, start with some little detail in the Bible about the descendants of Cain?
And to Idaho Jews, all I can say is "watch out," eh?
But as we all know, there are Christians, and then, there are Christians. There are many Christians, every bit as devout as Mr. Luker, I am sure, who will be as appalled by his proposal as I am. And they are probably, as we speak, searching their consciences for ways to tell Luker he is a despicable and paltry excuse for a human being, and unfit to serve as an elected official in this democracy.
Yet I imagine they feel limited in how they can react to Luker's effort because, as good Christians with their own versions of sincerely held religious beliefs, they probably don't believe they should use such words as "despicable," "paltry" and "unfit" in describing another human being.
Fortunately, I have no such reservations. Which is not to say I don't have some sincerely held religious beliefs of my own. As it happens, I am a faithful adherent to a old and honorable tradition that believes--sincerely--that one should never suffer the foolishness of fools--or what is more commonly known in my circles as "dumbshits."
And certainly, Mr. Luker, by introducing this latter-day version of Jim Crow discriminatory behavior into Idaho politics, has proved beyond a shadow of my doubt that he is exactly that sort of spiritual threat the elders of my old and honorable tradition meant when they told me, "Don't put up with no dumbshits, Bill."
Of course, not being a maker of laws, as Mr. Luker is, I can't legislate discrimination on a statewide level, as he is attempting to do. Nor can I effectively deny Luker my services as a columnist, not without asking all the other Boiseans with the same sincerely held religious beliefs as mine to snatch the Boise Weekly from his hands with the admonishment, "Mr. Cope objects to you reading his column, Mr. Luker, because he is offended by your dumbshit lifestyle."
All I can do is take advantage of the fact that Idaho does not license columnists, therefore I run no risk of being censured, reprimanded or having my license revoked for pointing him out as a despicable, paltry, unfit dumbshit.
Not as effective a sanction as I'd wish, but who knows? If he is a fraction as decent as he thinks he is, perhaps he will consider yet another perspective of what life on earth means.