aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,


I came home from a backpacking trip to find my news feed and social media sites filled with hysteria, outrage, and dumbth.

Case Number One: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed SB 101, our version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law is patterned after the federal RFRA, signed into law by Bill Clinton. Thirty other states have similar laws.

Crazed hordes have been decrying discrimination. The Gen Con attendees say they might not return to Indianapolis. And so on. Get a grip, people.

The RFRA doesn't favor any particular plaintiff, or advantage anybody seeking to do anything unfair to anybody else. It's about the standards courts are to apply to anybody who sues over an infringement of their rights to practice their religion. Prior to the 1990s, the standard was that government could not place an undue burden on practitioners of religion. When the federal courts changed that standard, they said that Congress could decide otherwise. Congress did decide otherwise, and thirty States have, too. This puts the standard back where it was for two hundred years, which is why the law is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It's really pretty standard legal boilerplate. In claiming one's rights, one would still have to sue, and win one's case -- or, if sued, defend one's rights successfully. Long after today's issues are old hat, it will still allow everyone a fair hearing in our courts.

Case Number Two: The Indiana Supreme Court has handed down a decision saying that school corporations aren't actually required to provide free transportation to school for students. Quelle horreur! It's The End of Civilization As We Know It (TEOCAWKI).

Yet I was posting back and forth just a few days ago about how I used to walk to school. You see, my school corp assumed no responsibility for providing busing within the town limits of Spencer, Indiana. Nor did anyone expect them too. Schools provide free bus rides for students because they want them to be in school -- first, in order to learn; but second, if they aren't in school, the corporation loses funding. That's right, boys and girls: schools are funded on the basis of Attendance, which is why your school is so obnoxious about your child's attendance record (and one reason why it is so reluctant to expel obvious trouble-makers past the school-leaving age). But parents are now, and always have been, responsible for seeing that their children attend school (or provide equivalent opportunities, such as home-schooling).

Now, I can see how that would be inconvenient. And it might make local citizens more amenable to working with schools to see that important transportation programs are continued. Or maybe we'll redesign schools as to size and location so that they are less dependent upon buses, and that might be a very good thing, too.

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