I’m a Hoosier, born and raised, and I’m damn proud of it. Trouble is, there are times when I’ve got to hide smile to hide either a mouthful of excrement or a set of gritted teeth, when being from Indiana isn’t all that easy. And despite what those of you from Chicago might believe, it usually is pretty easy.
My alma mater, Hanover College, is in Indiana, though it’s buried so far down in the southeast corner of the state that it might as well be Kentucky. If you watched Cheers, you might know it as the temporary home of Woody Harrelson, since the bumpkin he played on the show hailed from Hanover, IN. Woody actually did attend HC and was even awarded an honorary doctorate last year.
But it’s another Hanover grad who’s been making headlines recently, and not for something so noble as guiding Katniss Everdeen to success in the Hunger Games. No, Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been acting as my state’s de facto spokesman for the last week or so, and the results have been…well, they’re not good.
I know that you don’t come here for political diatribes, and that’s not what I’m here to do. But as much of the sports world has become involved in this matter — the Final Four, after all, is here in Indy this weekend — I felt compelled to share my thoughts, albeit in a brief manner.
I consider this site to be somewhat of a community, even if it’s a very small one. To that end, it’s kind of like the town in which I grew up, separated from any major metro areas by at least a 90 minute drive. We’re sort of insular here at Cubs Insider, having recently lost a bit of our broadest exposure.
And while that may allow me a bit more free reign to share my thoughts will a bit less fear of blowback on a grand scale, I also recognize our readers’ need for this to be a place they can come to relax for a bit. The last thing I want is for this blog to turn into a venue for drawn-out political and ideological debate.
I’ll admit that the general lack of comments has bothered me at times, but this is one time that I’m not too broken up over it. I see the massive conversational strings that take place on other Cubs-themed blogs and I’m equal parts envious and appalled. As someone who does read the comments, I can’t imagine combing through and moderating those behemoths.
In any case, at the risk of alienating some of you even more than I already have with my incessant coverage of the rooftop fights or what Scott Boras said this time, I do feel compelled to share some of my thoughts here. I sort of feel it’s my duty as both a Hoosier and a Hanoverian.
Fear not though, I’m not going to delve too deep into the nature of the RFRA law or anything like that. Rather, I want to talk about recognizing and correcting mistakes and the fallout from being unable to do so. I’ve been highly critical of the Cubs’ business operations and their seeming inability to stay in tune with the fans.
Likewise, my state legislature appears to be somewhat tone deaf when it came to the fallout from the passage of a new law and their ensuing reaction to it. I’ll admit that my opinion on the law vacillated as I heard more about it from both sides and my thoughts were alternately colored by blue and red crayons.
As you might imagine, all of that coloring and thinking eventually brought me to where I am today, which is in somewhat of a purple haze. Excuse me while I kiss this guy. Wait, no, I don’t want to be refused service. Okay, that was a bad Jimi Hendrix-themed joke, as I’m neither gay — not that there’s anything wrong with that; that’s perfectly fine if that’s what you are — nor in a haze.
I think the real turning point for me came when I read Kate Fagan’s fantastic article on ESPNW about not trusting my home state. I had been touting the fact that Indiana was just the latest in a group of nearly 20 states, Illinois being one, that had such legislation in place. But I was overlooking the fact that our law is missing some key language.
Here’s the deal: I feel that my lawmakers messed up. They didn’t mess up by passing the bill, though it saddens me to no end that we feel the need to have laws like this in place to govern common sense and decency, though the pitfalls of our overly-litigious society are a topic for another time.
I am just as fallible as anyone else, perhaps more so, and I have made more than my fair share of mistakes. Some of those have been relatively public and have resulted in me being called an idiot (true for the most part), racist (not true, but the catalyst for the most fun I’ve ever had on Twitter), sexist (contextual issues, but it wasn’t Bersteinian), and even a White Sox fan.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t just hide from your mistakes and sweep them under the rug. Yes, I’ll battle if I feel I’ve been inappropriately called out. But if I’m wrong and I’m called to the table, I’m not going to throw someone else under the bus or dodge questions by redirecting the criticism.
Character is revealed by how we grow from our mistakes and correct them moving forward, and that is where I feel my governor has fallen short. Rather than acknowledge immediately that the law could have been written more clearly, he talked about how Hoosiers are really good people who don’t need such clarity.
Really, Mr. Pence? Then why did we need a law in the first place? Now we’re faced with all manner of slings and arrows in the form of travel bans, rescheduling of major gatherings, and just general bad press. My city is a great one and we’ve done a fantastic job over the years of showing out when it comes to big events.
Even the biggest, the Super Bowl, was handled as well as it’s been in any number of bigger, more highly-thought-of towns. We’ve worked hard with our broad shoulders and open arms to build up goodwill; to throw that all away out of stubborn devotion to partisan politics or campaign funding would be an act of selfish treason.
And now that I’ve rambled for over 1,000 words already, I suppose I’ll get to my point. And that is an appeal to those of you out there reading this from beyond Indiana. I ask you to understand that this law doesn’t represent Hoosier ideals, and I ask that you continue to work with us to make sure we can learn and grow from our mistakes. Not with shouting and finger-pointing, but with open minds.
For the two of you who actually made it this far, thank you. I try not to use this blog as a platform too often, and I hope I didn’t just perform a swan dive from it. If you still want to come back and read more in the future, I promise it’ll be about baseball.