What is with the Fixation on Potties?

Oh, Indiana! You have so many virtues….and so many legislators with questionable reasoning abilities. The legislative session that just began promises to be a bonanza for those who enjoy black comedy and unintentional irony.

For those of us who want adult government, not so much.

A major focus of the upcoming session will be the effort to add four words and a comma to Indiana’s existing civil rights law.  In the aftermath of last year’s RFRA debacle, business and civic organizations have partnered with LGBT organizations and faith communities to lobby for the addition of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the existing list of things (race, religion, gender, etc.)that Hoosiers can’t use as reasons to discriminate against other people.

All of these characteristics should be totally irrelevant to an individual’s right to rent an apartment, enroll in an educational institution or buy goods and services in the marketplace.

Four words and a comma. It’s not rocket science.

Lawmakers who really do want to discriminate but want to pretend otherwise have come up with all manner of convoluted bills to allow disparate treatment to continue. Others have simply abandoned the pretense, offering proposals that, if passed, would tell the world that Hoosier Hospitality is a highly selective concept.

And the world has noticed. This is from Talking Points Memo:

An Indiana rep recently proposed a bill that would hit transgender individuals with a Class A misdemeanor if they used a public restroom that doesn’t conform to their gender at birth.

I can see the signs now: Before using this potty, please deposit your DNA sample with the attendant…..

The whole potty fixation is a mystery to me. I was just in New York—I know, a den of iniquity—and most of the public restrooms I used were “one at a time” facilities available to either gender. (If you’re really worried about who uses which toilet, I have a suggestion: Get a life!)

This bill should die a quick death. Last year, similar bills failed to pass in Kentucky, Florida, Nevada and Texas (hardly liberal bastions), and the Department of Justice has declared that restricting transgender students’ access to public restrooms amounts to sex discrimination under Title IX, but hey–this is Indiana.

Even Georgia doesn’t want to be “the next Indiana.” 

For a legislature dominated by self-described proponents of “limited government,” the bills submitted thus far certainly are a mixed bag. On the one hand, our “small government” Christian conservatives are proposing a bill that would effectively  outlaw abortions (no terminations after a heartbeat is detectable–about the same time most women find out they’re pregnant). On the other hand, it’s hard to square that “pro life” position with the bill allowing habitual drunks to buy guns, the bill removing the need to license guns, the bill to allow guns on college campuses…

Maybe they want to be able to shoot people they think are using the wrong potty?

In any case, if the “wrong toilet” and gun bills pass, I’m moving to a saner state….Evidently, there are a lot of them.


  1. The law needs to include language to include those wit ingrown toenails , and chronic toe fungus , too.

  2. For as long as I can recall…hmmm, let’s say 35+ years, I adopted the “When ya gotta go …” rule!
    If faced with a gut-wrenching (in a matter of speaking) situation while standing in line at the loo, if the ‘men’s room’ is vacant, and I can ‘go about my business’ quickly, I do just that. In respect to the distinct styles therein, I always do return the ‘seat’ to its upright position. Admittedly, it can be awkward upon exiting when confronted with the typical user who is waiting his turn. I usually detect a brief but pensive glance at that seat as we pass one another at the threshold to the thrown!

  3. In the mid 70’s when Indiana was struggling to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, opponents complained loud and long about bathroom issues. Horrors of horrors – men and women might use the same bathrooms. Families do that in households world-wide, and the sky hasn’t fallen.

  4. Red George,

    “A saner state exists?

    Where? Indiana is just in a more advanced state of delirium than the other 48 states. Florida is now brain dead with Rick Scott at its head. It doesn’t count as a state.

    de-lir-i-um n. 1. a temporary mental disturbance, as during a fever, marked by confused speech and hallucinations 2. Uncontrollably wild excitement
    ~Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus

    Santa Claus Trump fits more in definition #l. The Tea party in definition #2.

    I keep having this tune in my head, maybe I’m slowly becoming delirious……..”Nearer to God than thee” Now I remember, it was from the movie: Titanic. The band was playing it just before she went under.

  5. Another NYC story for you. Intermission at Avery Fisher Hall. The elder ladies often line up for the men’s room because there just aren’t enough stalls, nor enough time for all women to go in the ladies’ room before the second half begins. No one bats an eye. It’s just what you do because the bathrooms weren’t designed properly. While taking Peggy Mayfield’s survey (http://www.indianahouserepublicans.com/constituent-survey-hd-60/), I was really disappointed to see this question on there. This is basic civil rights. One answer is discriminatory, the other isn’t. And if this comes to a vote, she can’t base her vote on what the majority wants. She needs to base it on what is right: What is not discriminatory. (But she’d probably vote the other way based on her track record.)

  6. Thanks for explaining that equal rights are NOT special rights as some see this fight and to Nancy Papas for providing historical context to the “potty issue”. Which saner state are you considering? We should begin making a list and checking it twice!

  7. I was in Indy last week for a conference and it was heartening to see all the “We serve everyone” stickers on business. The people we elect may be complete and utter dunces, but there’s a lot of good people in this state.

  8. This is considered to be a sexual issue that goes far beyond the “pottie situation”. Because the same parts of our anatomy are used for sexual activities and relieving bladder and yes…colon for some…areas of our anatomy, it is somehow religious in nature which makes it the business of politicians, putting it under their control. I don’t look for Pence’s third attempt at the RFRA to have it right yet; can’t help but wonder if he will try to equal the record in Congress in attempts to repeal the ACA nationally with this issue locally.

    Yes Marv; I am being sarcastic again…just can’t help myself when it comes to Indiana politics.

  9. I have observed in Europe with mine own eyes marvelous technology for even the most genitalia protective among us.

    To the floor stalls.

    Here’s what I don’t understand. It’s not like we don’t have problems to solve. Real risks that have to be addressed.

    Given that why are so many engaged in making up new ones? Why not devote that energy to solving at least one of the real and scary ones?

  10. One stunning law proposal was briefly mentioned which adds to the “beyond belief” category: guns on college campuses. So it’s Saturday night, and a frat house is drunk. Macho Frat Boy 1 is miffed that Macho Frat Boy 2 has “stolen” his girlfriend. Mix alcohol, raging hormones and guns for a deadly ending. Just make sure that neither you or your loved ones are not on an Indiana campus on any weekend.

    But then there is the Texas law that allows guns in psych hospitals. That will certainly put a dent in the number of mentally ill people in Texas.

  11. I moved from Indiana to New Mexico. I would argue that New Mexico is saner, but also more corrupt. At least in a state without a white majority, Republicans have to be more inclusive and less toxic. Our current governor is a Republican Hispanic female. But we have an amazing number of state employees who are on he take in one way or another.

  12. Yes, the toilets in Europe usually have floor to ceiling walls and doors around each toilet granting absolute privacy that allows you to “go” in peace. Some public restrooms have shared sinks that both men and women use which is hard for me to get used to sometimes. In the states, I’ve actually had a child crawl under the door to peek in at me while I “went” which made me laugh out loud. The mother was horrified and apologized through the door. And Germany, France, Switzerland and other countries have the cleanest public toilets I’ve ever seen. Why can’t that be the norm in the states? They used to have maids that would work in the public restrooms in Germany when I lived there and you were forced to leave a few coins for their hard work keeping it clean. What they are just starting to build now are handicapped accessible toilets which is not something I used to see at all. With the public nudity that Germans are known for, they take their bathrooms seriously and allow you some privacy. I think humans are evolving all of the time eh? Indiana is just trying to be more conservative than Mississippi which is why their nickname “The Mississippi of the Midwest” is so fitting.

  13. One of the monstrous mistakes of conservatism is that extreme wealth inequity correlates with extreme cognitive capability distribution – that smart people are wealthy and dumb people are poor. There is no evidence for that.

    Wealth is inequitably distributed, no question. Intelligence is unequally distributed, no question. But wealth doesn’t follow intelligence. While there are certainly smart wealthy people and dumb poor people, the relationship between the two is chaotic.

    But because they believe otherwise conservatives live in chaos by treating wealth as though it was synonymous with intelligence.

    One of the bad places that that bad belief leads to is oligarchy over democracy which leads to slavery over freedom.

    Erroneous assumptions unfortunately lead to erroneous actions, in business, politics, religion, and government.

  14. This is wonderful! We live in Tayuksis (spelled phonetically). I imagine the main concern in Texas is “but would you want to go to a bathroom where there have been sightings of Socialists from Vermont? When you go to any city with small children, that is the main concern. When we lived in New York back in the Dark Ages, there was a book called NEW YORK ON $5 A DAY. I always threatened to write a companion book titled THE RESTROOMS OF NEW YORK AND WHERE TO FIND ONE.

  15. Shortly before the Winter Break at the IU School of Dentistry and IUPUI, my husband mentioned receiving an email from the School of Dentistry’s Dean announcing the plan for 14 all-gender restrooms located across the campus. These restrooms are single-occupancy much like single-occupancy restrooms found in every business, in faculty lounges in schools, and in many gas stations across the US.

    Bravo for this decision! I’d walk a mile for a designated single-occupancy public restroom simply because I prefer to be the sole person in a restroom when nature calls. On the other hand, my husband did ask me a question I could not answer, an unusual occurrence for sure.
    He pointed out the Dean’s use of a term, LGBTQ, as opposed to the LGBT designation of which we’re both familiar. We decided the Q meant ‘queer’, a derogatory and pejorative word for a couple of aging Baby Boomers.

    Obviously the old Baby Boomers need help.

  16. I can now see much more clearly, what we’re facing, after proofreading my essay: “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power” about half a dozen times. It’s been some time that I’ve read it so closely.

    It’s a COMBINATION of ethical deviancy and sexual perversion at the core of the Far Right Movement. That’s the same “combo” that built the Nazi Party. Eventually, in Germany the two sides fought it out…….and Hitler won.

    There’s a difference between the two. That’s why we’ve having so much trouble in identifying what is the root cause of the sickness in American politics. We don’t understand the platform that is releasing “the lethal mind viruses of hatred.” Consequently, the virus is now mutating more and more. It’s even into our restrooms.

  17. Yes, most people in Indiana are mental children, as are most adults nationwide. But it is a bit worse in Indiana, rather like Kansas or Mississippi. Perhaps this is because of the history of intolerance and ignorance leading to a brain drain that continues the cycle of lower genetic and educational outcomes. But most of all the agent of infantilization is religion. There is a magic man in the sky that “blesses” you with things, and you can beg him for more, and he watches you like Santa and gives you presents when you die if you have been a good little child.

  18. Let me make my position clear: There are both heterosexual and homosexual perversions. I include both under the definition of sexual perversion.

  19. Marv, you do realize that you’ve opened a can of worms, a Pandora’s box, don’t you? Define perversion. Define heterosexual perversion. Define homosexual perversion. Compare and contrast heterosexual and homosexual perversions. As I wrote, you’ve opened a brand new can of worms.

  20. I agree with Cynthia. When you gotta’ go, you gotta’. Any port in a storm. Whatever clique you want to use. In a stall, I could nor care less who is in the next one, male or female. If men have an issue, maybe urinals should have a shoulder height wall. Although, some men would still need to practice their aim!

  21. BSH; define perversion? Reminds me of my old high school friend who was City Prosecutor here in Indianapolis who had to watch the movie, “Deep Throat” six or seven times to decide if it was pornographic. Well; to be fair to him, he was in his mid 30’s, single and still living at home with his mother so he could have lacked the knowledge to reach a decision without in-depth study of the issue.

  22. I’m with BSH Marv, getting into sexual perversions is just looking for trouble. One of those things no one will agree on. A total can of worms. I would be hard pressed to try to define it, but many things that many people would include as perversions I would likely not.

  23. BSH,

    “As, I wrote you opened a brand new can of worms.”

    Actually, I’m not talking about a lot of worms just an important few. I wasn’t very clear.

    Since my last post, I’ve been downtown to deliver a few books back to the library. I generally go downtown every Sunday for a few hours and visit with my friends at Chamblin Bookmine. It overlooks the city square. They have a real nice coffee shop. It’s all used books. It’s the largest chain (2 big stores) in the Southeast. Ranked 4th best in the U.S. by Huntington Post.

    I knew one of my good friends would be there to explain to me what (Q) was about. She’s a member of the LGBTQ community. And also is a therapist. A very, very good one.

    “Off the bat,” I mentioned to her about my statement about homosexual and heterosexual sexual perverts. Her response was similar to yours: “That’s a touchy subject.” My response was, “I know, but I’m only talking about who is behind this lousy mess. She wasn’t worried about me “opening a can of worms.” She knows both Jacksonville and me. It’s a town of worms. You don’t need to open anything. They are all out there.

    Next, I wanted to hear her response to my statement: “an ethical deviant was not necessarily a sex pervert, however, a sex pervert would necessarily be an ethical deviant.” She agreed.

    BSH, I don’t want to open a can of worms. The “worms” have been swarming all over Jacksonville since I was a kid. I’m talking about the ethical deviants and sexual perverts who started this Far Right mess. They don’t have to be let out of the can. Most of them are dead and buried back in Texas. They were all 20 to 40 years older than me. They just need to receive the “honors” they deserve.

    I was in and out of their “inner circle,” either as their counsel, co-counsel, prosecutor, advisor or member of their elite country club. Two are sex perverts. The others are ethical deviants. THEY RAN IN SEPARATE CROWDS. What both groups have in common is that they are all DEVIANTS. Consequently, they had no problem with attempting to create a DEVIANT America.

    Lastly, I asked my therapist friend to tell me about the (Q) in LGBTQ. She said it was about “reclaiming the word Queer.” She was positive about the idea. It’s an attempt to take the negative connotations away from the word. As you have pointed out, there are those who see the word “queer” in negative terms and with it goes, at least. a little bit of their old prejudices. I’m sure there is a controversy in the LGBT community about this effort to include (Q). However, It makes sense to me. I hope it’s effective.

  24. Would someone care to argue that there is no such thing as sexual deviancy? Would you care to tour the gutters of the internet before you make that claim? Are we not to talk of the subject for fear of offending? I suppose that puts us in the category of “liberals” that excuse Islam despite the horrific abuse of women. There IS right and wrong, and when the conservatives attack liberals for refusing to define those lines, they are (gasp) right. Being so tolerant of anything means you have no standards and are open to anything (including fascism, rape, Nickelback, and other obscenities). Like it or not, you have to take some stands.

  25. BSH and Anne Johnson; if I am reading Marv correctly, I believe his reference to “perversion” is how the far-right, conservative, religion-based Republicans view LGBTs, up to and including their right to use public potties they feel most comfortable in. Knowledgeable people have moved beyond that misconception of their inborn sexual orientation and accept it as reality. It certainly is not a new or different “can of worms”; it is bringing out into the light a reality long hidden in “closets” throughout the world. The elected leaders of the state of Indiana would cram them all back into the closet and padlock the door. This third attempt by Pence and his cronies to get the RFRA right is a prime example.

  26. Burnt,

    “Like it or not, you have to take some stands.”

    This is the last sentence in my essay: “Democracide: The Far Right’s Path to Power”: History shows that “freedom can be preserved in the face of continuing process only up to a certain point. Beyond that point, one inevitably becomes the slave to events. The logic of the process takes charge, upsetting all independent plans and calculations.” ~Hermann Rauchning, 1939

    It was too late by 1939, Germany would eventually be destroyed. Our essay was written 23 years ago.

    Donald Trump didn’t cause this mess. It’s becoming at full throttle for at least 45 years. Something like ten billion dollars has been invested in it. And do you really believe that we are better than the Germans of the 30’s? In my opinion, we’re much worse.

    They weren’t cowards at least in the beginning. Look at who was the Person of the Year for Time Magazine: “Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Free World.” They have trouble, but nothing like us.

    Our troubles, for the most part, have been subsurface. And no one wants to deal with it. “Let’s just wish it away.” Don’t worry, we’ll shortly be dealing with it “on the short end of the stick.”

  27. BSH: the Q in LGBTQ is for “questioning”. in other words, people who don’t fit the normative heterosexual model, but really aren’t sure that any of the others fit either.

  28. And add my name to the list of women who have used facilities labeled for “men” when they were more conveniently available. I’ve even done it in a public park during Tour de Carmel.

  29. JoAnn,

    “if I am reading Marv correctly, I believe his reference to “perversion” is how the far-right, conservative, religion-based Republicans view LGBTs, up to and including their right to use public potties they feel most comfortable in.”

    You’re exactly right. It’s a sickness. Both you and I can feel reality. It comes from our deep experience with racism. That’s where all this is coming from and where it is trying to go. And it’s very, very dangerous, to say the least. The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming. It’s understandable.

    Indiana is important in all of this. It’s the KKK legacy. There’s a triangle to all of this. The points are Dallas, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis. Ever heard of the “Bermuda Triangle” where all the ships and planes have disappeared in the Atlantic ocean. This is where democracy disappears: The DalJaxIndy Triangle.

  30. These legislators make perfect sense to me; no back ground checks for guns, and sex organ check for entering a McDonald’s restroom.

    While I do recall the last time someone shot someone dead in Indiana, as it happens every day, I can’t recall the last time someone shot into the wrong restroom and scared the piddly out of the other person.

    And darn it, we need to keep it that way. (Please, read as sarcastic reasoning).

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