I love you. All fifty bat crap-crazy states of you. (Arizona, Kansas and Missouri, I’m looking at you!) But sometimes I wish I could quit you.
I just feel like even after all this time you don’t get me. You know, like, how I’m supposed to be for everybody, how I’m “self-evident” and some would say an “unalienable” right, and how that’s enshrined in your founding documents.
Yeah, I know I only dated white guys with property at first. But pretty soon I brought white guys without a pot or a window into the mix, and after that I started digging white women too. (What’s a lil ol’ hundred forty-something years difference between the sexes?)
Then not long past that (say forty or fifty years) I had to admit that the blacks were kind of cute. They had me at “I Have a Dream” and nailed it with those heartfelt moral entreaties, marches, protests, boycotts, sacrifice and spilled blood.
After that it was pretty much “open the front door for everyone” regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin and gender. Each and every time the majority group (whichever one it was) caught on to the humanity of the people they were excluding, I gave you a little more.
So you’d think we wouldn’t find ourselves here again. Me expecting you to keep it simple, get it right. And, you just refusing to do the right thing or seeming confused by it all.
What’s so hard about letting all people have the same rights? WHY is it that when excluded people want the same rights as everyone else the majority freaks ALL the way out? Nobody is asking for any “special” rights here. Just the regular ones.
And why are you even thinking about offering a majority the special right to discriminate while cutting off any recourse of the minority to protect itself?
WHY can’t you learn from the last time we went through this? Or, the time before that? Or that other time?
What is WRONG with you?! Figuring out how to legally (and immorally) refuse fellow citizens potentially everything from wedding photos to medical treatment? Blocking the civic right of some people to marry? Yes, C-I-V-I-C. (You know you can get married in every state without a church, right? Try getting legally married without a license from a state.)
Yeah, I get it. Sometimes you think your rights are being trampled when you have to do stuff you don’t care for, like sit next to a black kid at a hamburger joint or sell cake to a gay couple. (Same song, different decade.) But guess what? You still got a right to your business and your burger. And, the free and open practice of your faith.
What you don’t have is the constitutionally guaranteed right to make other law-abiding people live like you believe. That’s your wish. Not your right. You just can’t control the lives of the people you don’t like the way you want to. That’s your desire but, again, it’s not your right.
You’re not being “persecuted.” You’re being disagreed with. Your rights aren’t being trampled. Your preferences are just no longer privileged. See the diff?
You don’t get to treat somebody — even somebody you find “yucky” — unfairly. And that ensures that you don’t get treated unfairly either. See how that works out? It’s really SO “pro-you.” (Yay, Democracy!)
Still don't get it?
Oh for Thomas Jefferson’s sake! You are one hot, crunchy mess. Any other right-minded principle would have packed up and left you a long time ago without even looking back.
Maybe I should leave. Maybe you’d see how you’d like it without me. What if your basic rights were gone because a more powerful group had special permission to ignore them? If that group never had to ask itself what harm it was causing you. If it was costing you liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Or life.
How would that make you feel?
But ... and I hate myself a little for saying this … I can’t go. I can’t quit it with you. Because I still see something in you - so much potential, so much promise. So much beauty.
Maybe that’s why I’ll always love you. Maybe that’s why I’ll always keep trying.
P.S. Justice says “Hi.”
Melvina Johnson Young is a Kansas City Star Midwest Voices contributing writer.