PENCE AND THE RFRA DEBATE REMIND US: Reject the Left’s Distortion of Language

Written by Michael Cummings on April 3, 2015

Are your necks stiff from shaking your heads so much this week? I don’t believe we’ve seen such hysteria over what should be nothing, yet here we are. Make no mistake, if the months since the November midterm elections are any indication, social issues and those at their epicenter like the Indiana religious freedom law and Mike Pence will most likely receive a thorough bashing before the next election. 

My fellow RockTheCLASHbaughs will by now have tapped their wit and wisdom to elucidate the particulars of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) but here’s the short of it: RFRA, like similar laws in many states and at the federal level, only allows court access to people who object to serving an event they believe places substantial burden on their religious beliefs. That’s it. In states without this law (like my Colorado), no one has standing in court. No one has a defense. You will be forced by law and a gun into a transaction for an event you don’t agree with, or go out of business.  No one in any state may deny cakes, photography, flowers, etc. to a person. In states with RFRA, denying service to an event based on adjudicated and proven religious beliefs is legal. 

The notion of “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone” is gone for the time being. My Clash Daily column last October discussed how we should have the right to discriminate against anyone for any reason, a position I maintain today. As immoral, mean, and stupid it would be to deny business to someone with the money to pay you, in a free country this should remain our right. Any variation thereof means we are not free. 

Enough about the law for now. This week’s message centers around…messaging. I have a plea for Republican candidates and representatives at all levels, social media debaters throughout the once-free Web, and every other liberty-loving American: Do not accept the language and premises of the Left. Do not let the debate go on without an examination of the meaning of these words and phrases. 

This week we’ve seen language inversions like no other. E.g. a law that protects religious beliefs, that says not a word about gay people, is called anti-gay? So when Mike Pence, who seems like a good man and solid Republican, signs a bill into law — a law that blazes no new legal trail and infringes on no one — the Left goes breathless in their fake indignation. 

Pence made a few mistakes in his messaging, one of which was actually talking to the mainstream media. Governor Pence, you hear the rainbow thunder approaching and your first reaction was to talk with…George Stephanopoulos? A skilled debater though you must be to win a gubernatorial election, even if you’re a master do you believe you’re not going to get slammed as a bigot before, during, and after the Sunday shows, and since? By the way, if you had truly known your audience, you would have known “Stephie” was a political advisor to Bill Clinton when the federal version of RFRA was signed in 1993. Could this fact have helped you when he went on the attack, as you knew he would?  

Armchair consulting as this is, what Pence should have done is not gone on This Week, and answered questions as they arose within the daily operations of his job. Strong messaging can many times mean not communicating with the media at all — or at least not with the networks. Choose your medium carefully, everyone. 

Another phrase thrown out this week included “protected class” as in what the Indy Star says: “Chief among those circumstances is the fact that many states with an RFRA, including neighboring Illinois, also have statewide bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation, alongside other protected classes such as race, sex and religion.”

This is yet another opportunity to call out the Left, and many on the right who caved this week, on their language. What does “protected class” mean? When you put segregate people into a group, by nature that means some people don’t get to be part of that group. So this can only mean some Americans won’t be protected, and how can this be? Sure, the above also mentions religion but other than to use it as a mocking stick to bash us with, what Leftist believes religious people should be protected?  

The day we quit accepting the Left’s gruesome distortion of language is the day our freedom will take a giant leap forward.  



Michael Cummings
Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.