Indianapolis v. Indiana

Indianapolis Welcomes You!

…even if the rest of the state doesn’t.

For those just joining us: on March 26, 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a variant of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act intended for application at the state level, but the entire affair was conducted under, um, unique circumstances that have resulted in 90% of my Twitter feed turning into serious headlines and snarky generalizations alike that collectively amount to “INDIANA R STUPID HUUUUUUUUR!”

Pence fumbled his first attempt at damage control Sunday morning on live national TV, and even earned himself the attention of The Onion, which is never a sign of victory for your side. He and/or his speechwriters penned a second try that’s online now and scheduled for publication in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Early prediction, based on the excerpts I’ve seen: it won’t help.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and the Indianapolis City-County Council aren’t sitting still for this. As numerous local and national corporations of impressive size and power express their outrage and economic threats, tonight the Republican Ballard and the mostly Democrat Council gathered before a standing-room-only crowd and voted to semi-cordially ask Pence and the Indiana General Assembly to, in so many words, KNOCK IT OFF. Several Republican members were on board with this.

In a Council of 28 members the resolution required more than fourteen votes to pass. Even before the vote, it had sixteen co-sponsors.

So we’re effectively looking at a schism between the state and capital city governments.

I’m sure Tuesday will bring more harsh words across borders, local as much as national. This story in progress is in no danger of closure anytime soon, though actual capital-P Progress would be nifty to see. Speaking of which, here’s the planned front page for Tuesday morning’s Indianapolis Star, our city’s own major metropolitan newspaper.

The entire front page.

IndyStar front page, 3/31/2015.

FYI: This is not standard procedure for them.

Worth noting, in case you’re already working on your cookie-cutter knee-jerk reactions: the Star‘s staff aren’t all liberals. Opinions editor Tim Swarens, very much conservative, has been among those leading the hometown journalistic assault against Pence. Many other vocal public detractors have also been Republicans and conservatives of various faiths and commitment levels.

Personal disclosures:

1. My wife and I were once in a photo with Greg Ballard. It was her insistent grandmother’s idea. He has no idea who I am. We still have the photo.

2. My wife and I once saw Mike Pence speak at a large-scale faith-based function several years ago. He seemed okay by us. We also once walked past his Congressional office in downtown Anderson back in 2011, but it was closed.

3. For multiple reasons that are no one’s business but mine and my wife’s, I’ve spent much of the past week in my mind storm-shelter. Suffice it to say for the moment I’m a voter who has no patience for our binary political system, who cannot believe how horridly out of control this has all gone, and who thinks this was a total misfire from draft one.

But I feel like I ought to contribute something to the discussion. So:

In the event that the talks and tensions between Indianapolis and Indiana escalate, part of me envisions a not-really-apocalyptic future where the two geographical entities finally call it quits and go their own ways so their respective leaders can rule how they like. Slight problem, though: if Indianapolis secedes, you can’t spell “Indianapolis” without “Indiana”. Some rebranding might be required.

To get the ball proactively rolling and save the Council some think-tank dollars later on, here’s a list of possible new names for the theoretical, newly independent city-state of ex-Indianapolis:

Central City
Gen Con Land
Pawnee Deluxe
All-New All-Different Naptown
Ultimate Hoosiers
Kid Chicago
Carmel (Ballard should just usurp the name by besting Carmel Mayor Jim Brainerd in open combat)
Mighty Mighty Midwest
the Artists Formerly Known as Indianapolis
Bizarro PanEm
Fort Vlogbrothers
Bacon: the City

Hope that helps! Let me know if I can help write our new tourism slogans.

6 responses

  1. How about Simply Apolis: Where life just keeps going on. I’m glad that you weighed in on this issue. People need civilized, calm and rational discussions tempered with humor to keep the implosions and explosions to a minimum.

    I have a question for you. Is this whole thing in response to the needle exchange story? I recently listened to an NPR News report about the high rate of new HIV cases in Indiana due to drug use. In addition to the stop gap measure of needle exchange, maybe it would be a good idea for people in Indiana to have something to do besides drugs. Perhaps some foreign national corporation could move their operations center to Simply Apolis and give people a more productive use of their time. Just a thought.


    • I like Simply Apolis! It makes us sound like an optimistic self-starter business, like Tastefully Simple or Scentsy. Such a kinder, gentler image we’d have.

      The needle exchange program is a wholly separate issue, not related. It did delay this month’s events a tad. Last Tuesday the 24th is when the news broke that both the state Senate and House had passed the bill, and needed only Governor Pence’s signature to become a law. Then on Wednesday the 25th, Pence traveled to southern Indiana for a previously scheduled meeting/appearance regarding the localized HIV epidemic in one of our severely struggling counties. Then on Thursday the 26th, Pence signed the law in a private ceremony in his office, surrounded only by several ranking members of various faiths, along with three leading lobbyists from the partisan groups most likely to prize the bill and its reputed anti-civil-rights agenda.

      But here’s where that digression turns interesting, at least to me if no one else: in the needle-exchange press conference, Pence admitted straight-up that he disliked the idea of a program that would, strictly speaking, enable drug users to keep on using, albeit using less dangerously. But in light of the life-threatening epidemic, he conceded something needed to be done. So he’s supporting that program. Thus he shows he is amenable to moral compromise, depending on the stakes. So far the only “compromise” he’s evinced on the RFRA is the backpedaling and revisionist explanations he’s been offering ever since the signing to save face with the many major companies that do business here and expressed their extreme displeasure in all of this. But we’ll see where the negotiations take us all as they continue this week…


  2. I need to know if Carmel is pronounced with one or two syllables before weighing in on the name change?

    I feel bad that everyone in IN is getting this bad rep. I feel bad that certain companies and people are threatening to boycott…but we also know that some of these boycotts won’t last despite however long the measure is in place.


    • Our upper-class suburb with all the best restaurants and the largest houses is pronounced “CAR-mull”, unlike the California town where Clint Eastwood used to be mayor, which was “car-MELL”. My motive for stealing their name is that, if we convince future restaurateurs and owners of cool businesses that we’re all living in Carmel, maybe they’ll start opening for business somewhere near us, so we can stop being jealous of our north-side rivals, who are like Eagleton to our Pawnee. Hope that helps!

      Boycotts were never my thing even before all this went down. I don’t do organized boycotts. At all, for any reason, whether I’m on their side or not. It’s been my long-standing policy for a good two decades now, predating even my current state of faith. I’ve read banned books. I’ve eaten at Chik-Fil-A. I’ve bought albums condemned by the PMRC. I’ve sat through things with Scientologists in them. I’ve watched Roman Polanski films and thought highly of at least one of them. For better or for worse, I keep my own counsel as to my consumer choices. They’re my own to make, my own to regret, and my own to answer for, not the madding crowd’s.

      However…this may be the first time where I’ve been part of a group that’s, for lack of a real term, the boycottee. It’s too soon to say how deeply this will affect any of us on a fiscal level, but the emotional aspect has been draining. You may be right that all this ballyhooed boycotting will be swiftly forgotten as the internet moves on to the next outrage of choice. Until then, enduring the helpless “wait and see” section of the timeline just plain sucks.


      • As long as you don’t pronounce Carmel like caramel, we’re all good.

        I am a long-term boycotter, not that it has done any good except I try to spend wisely as defined by me. I mentioned on another post I won’t eat at chikfila, but don’t begrudge those who do or anyone who works there. My actions and rationale are mine to understand, not the rest of the world. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Indiana Senate Bill 101.5 to Replace Governor Mike Pence with Grumpy Cat | Midlife Crisis Crossover

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