Approximately 6,800 Louisianans who have been out of work for more than six months lost their only income this weekend.
But what’s the state’s governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) worried about?
One Louisiana-based millionaire was temporarily put on vacation from his reality television job because he said that homosexuality is a gateway to bestiality.
When Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E, Jindal — a literal Rhodes Scholar who famously said the GOP should not be “the stupid party” — issued a statement that read, “I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”
Of course, the First Amendment says nothing about your boss having to put up with you publicly insisting that black people were happier during segregation. But Jindal was siding with the initial interpretation of noted Constitutional scholar Sarah Palin, who later insisted that Robertson was expressing ideas from the Gospels, after admitting that she had not read his comments — or the Gospels, as homosexuality is never mentioned by Jesus and all four accounts of His life.
When A&E shockingly, after airing marathons of Duck Dynasty almost 24 hours a day since the “suspension,” announced Robertson would be returning to the show in 2014, Jindal celebrated.
“Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty,” Jindal said, in another statement he rushed to get out before anyone might leave him out of their story about the reinstatement.
If a Muslim were arguing Christianity leads to bestiality (an equally abhorrent theoretical argument that I’ve never heard advanced by any Muslim) and Jindal had defended him, that would be a victory for free speech and religious liberty. Robertson’s return to television, as Rob Delaney pointed out, was a victory for “bigotry and greed.”
One of the most protected rights in America is the ability to say horrible things about lesbians, gays, transgenders and bisexuals. Need proof? Search the word “f-g” on Twitter, right now. What the critics of the Duck guy were hoping is that it was no longer a position that sponsors of commercial television would want to support with their cold, indifferent, promiscuous money.
Compensation was the issue, of course. Not speech.
Jindal was defending Robertson’s right to be highly compensated despite saying things that not only offend people but contribute to a culture of discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians.
Jindal, however, isn’t speaking out on behalf of his state’s residents who are looking for a job and cannot find one, as everyone on unemployment insurance must do or else be punished, by law. The governor doesn’t seem to care if you’re out of work — unless you lost your job for saying terrible things about gay people.
So I have an idea.
Let’s tell Governor Jindal that all 6,800 of the long-term unemployed people in his state who were just cut off from unemployment insurance by the Republicans in Congress are out of work because of anti-gay comments.
A few thousand said gay people are ruining their marriage, 2,400 or so believe that gay people are trying to spoil the Winter Olympics and the rest all think gay people are staring at them whenever they try to take a shower at the YMCA – and that “C” stands for Christian!
It used to be that Republicans could be forced to care about something by pointing out the hollowness of their “support the troops” rhetoric. But the fact that 20,000 veterans are among the 1.3 Americans who lost their unemployment insurance this weekend hasn’t moved one major Republican to call for an immediate extension. In fact, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks he’s doing the men and women who served this country a favor by taking away that income.
What is it about the unemployed, the uninsured and the undocumented that doesn’t inspire conservatives to spring into action, as they do when they worry the right to hate may be limited?
What is it about the “hidden exiles” who live lives ““marked by fear, uncertainty and difficulties,” as Pope Francis described refugees in his liturgy on Sunday, that only inspires “tough love” from the right?
Compassion for those who are downtrodden is a virtue of the Gospels that is making Pope Francis wildly popular even with liberals, who may not agree with him on his view of reproductive rights and other issues but see that his humility and rhetoric all reveal an overwhelming concern for those who are suffering most. Francis’ obsession with calling out policies that make the richest richer speaks to a willingness to risk the wrath of those who make their living defending inequality and cruelty to the poor — like Rush Limbaugh.
Bobby Jindal seems far more concerned about the right to be rich and powerful, yet still hateful to those who have been most afflicted in our society.
So, in the name of those who are suffering, somebody please tell Jindal that the thousands of people in his state who have been cut off by Congress aren’t out of work because an under-regulated Wall Street destroyed our economy and a conservative obsession with budget cutting has maimed our recovery.
No, tell them that they’re all being denied employment because they said terrible, indefensible things about gay people that they justify by reading the parts of the Bible most convenient to their hate. Then he’ll have to care.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National Memo and is republished here by permission.
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