I recently came across a Facebook post that perfectly summed up America’s continuing failure to make sane public policy consistent with the country’s founding premises. It pointed to the absurdity of far-right definitions of “freedom”:

You can regulate a human body, but not a coal plant. You can regulate the speech of a teacher, but not the money-as-speech of a corporation. You can coerce a child to pray in school, but not keep guns out of the classroom.

“You” are American lawmakers.

The post attributed these truly insane results to the Supreme Court, and the Court certainly deserves a considerable part of the blame, but so do the lawmakers who play to–or are part of–  the Rightwing fringe.

The Indiana legislature is a good example. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, our legislative overlords took hardly any time to ban abortion, but has struggled–and frequently failed– to regulate environmental hazards. The state has the most miles of rivers and streams too polluted to swim in, and we also lead the country in toxic emissions, among other deficiencies. The legislature’s focus on culture war issues routinely takes precedence over concerns for  public health, and lawmakers’ concern for the rights of farmers and utilities just as routinely outweighs concerns about the environment.

Our Hoosier lawmakers have a long history of telling teachers what to do–from older efforts aimed at prescribing how they should teach reading to periodic instructions about “character” education, to the more recent efforts to keep them from teaching about the less laudatory parts of our history or recognizing the existence of LGBTQ citizens. These persistent efforts have not been matched by efforts to restrain the influence of corporate dollars.

And don’t even start me on the Indiana General Assembly and guns. The pious hypocrites who continually try to shoehorn God into public school classrooms–and  failing that (due to that pesky First Amendment Establishment Clause) support the vouchers that siphon money from Indiana’s public schools and send them to private religious schools–continue to make firearms more easily available, most recently by ignoring law enforcement testimony and public opinion and eliminating the need to obtain a permit.

The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

The same “freedom fighters” who were outraged by mask mandates during the pandemic see no inconsistency with mandates to carry a pregnancy to term. They claim the “God-given right” to be free of a minor inconvenience that would protect their friends and neighbors, but are perfectly willing to interfere with medical science and the bodily autonomy of women.

Lawmakers who are solicitous about protecting factory farms from “onerous” regulation show considerably less concern about protecting the environment and the health of their constituents, despite evidence that those farms are massive polluters.To focus on just one element of that pollution, researchers tell us that industrial livestock farms produce up to 1.37 billion tons of manure annually—and that that’s 20 times more fecal waste than the entire U.S. human population, posing serious pollution risks to water and air.

The Indiana lawmakers who insist upon protecting the untrammeled, unimpeded right to own guns–including weapons more appropriate for war than personal protection–are blithely unconcerned with the havoc and death those weapons cause.


In Indiana, 61% of gun deaths are suicides and 36% are homicides. This is compared to 61% and 36% respectively, nationwide.

The rate of gun deaths in Indiana increased 30%↑ from 2009 to 2018, compared to an 18%↑ increase over this same time period nationwide. In Indiana, the rate of gun suicide increased 24%↑ and gun homicide increased 49%↑ from 2009 to 2018, compared to a 19%↑ increase and an 18%↑ increase nationwide, respectively.

Across the nation, deadly attacks on schoolchildren are accelerating. The same legislators who are willing to tell education professionals how to teach and what to say remain unwilling to require even minimal background checks as a condition of buying the lethal weapons increasingly used to mow down the children in those classrooms.

There are, obviously, many other examples of misplaced legislative zeal.

The basic question citizens need to confront is: what is government for? What sorts of rules should government have the authority to impose, and what matters are properly left to each individual?

Our system was founded on the principle that Individuals should be free to pursue their own ends–their own life goals–so long as they did not thereby harm the person or property of someone else, and so long as they were willing to accord an equal liberty to their fellow citizens.

Hoosier lawmakers continue to get it backwards.


  1. Once again Shelia you put a spotlight on some of the reasons I packed up and departed the US. The hypocrisy practiced by the “Christian” Nationalists knows no boundaries and will result in the destruction of democracy in the US. It will become a one party nation that still declares itself to be a democracy much in the same way China also falsely claims to be a democracy.

    My paternal grandfather and his identical twin would be turning in their graves if they were able to witness such blatant heresy, blasphemy and sacrilege as currently practiced by the SBC and its “leaders” such as Page Patterson, Franklin Graham, et al.

    The fact that DJT is still walking free after committing the worst example of Presidential treason in the history of the US also serves as a demonstration of the rot that permeates the US. I wish all of you luck as I believe you will be in desperate need of protection from the “leadership” of the fascists that dominate the Republican Party and its bigoted evangelical and fundamentalist allies, more accurately called Calvinists.

  2. The only defense against a bad six-year-old
    with a gun is a good six-year-old with a gun!

  3. The best defense against a bad first-grader
    with a gun is a good first-grader with a gun!

  4. Dr. Stan always has much to say and many opinions on who and what is wrong with this government but sends his messages from another country because his “Choice….” of flight option of “fight or flight” to make things right. AgingLGirl on the other hand, while living in another country due to her husband’s employment, remains a loyal American sending her views and suggestions as she maintains her American citizenship to continue voting in all elections. Women are stronger when it gets down to fighting for family and country; I will seek her comments when seeking support for our nation in this chaotic time.

    Sheila; another strong woman whose daily blogs strengthen us with her information and determination to fight here on our home ground; “Our system was founded on the principle that Individuals should be free to pursue their own ends–their own life goals–so long as they did not thereby harm the person or property of someone else, and so long as they were willing to accord an equal liberty to their fellow citizens.”

  5. Excellent essay today, thank you. The legislature continues to make poor decisions, Indiana continues to perform worse in environmental ratings, health care, education, and economic development, and yet Hoosiers continue to elect the same clowns into office that make those decisions.
    The mid-term election saw Indiana elect a person into the office of Secretary of State even after he had been exposed as a liar and a cheat, and that is very discouraging to me. The Republican Party is the party of liars, cheats, and frauds, and now they control the House of Representatives.
    It is a new year, and I am going to focus on three issues that are near and dear to my heart; the environment, social justice, and defending democracy.

  6. And while our lawmakers claim “family values” and “conservatism” on legalizing cannabis, a native plant that was God-given, they have no problem legalizing betting/gambling in all its forms.

    Indiana is now the 4th biggest sports gambler after less than two years of becoming legal. We are free to give our money to the mafia, but we cannot smoke marijuana. Multiple monied interests control the Republican’s decisions, including police unions, private prisons, the mafia, and alcohol distributors. They pay big money to limit our choices.

    And yes, Indiana is a top-five most polluted state. Forever chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, factory farms (CAFOs), and energy are the culprits.

    All the estrogen in the water is causing major problems biologically for both men and women and the children they produce. Girls are born with higher levels of estrogen, causing them to mature at younger ages, and it’s stripping testosterone from boys and adult men. Big Pharma is reaping billions in “treatments” for the apparent symptoms.

    Those who still point at Republicans as the only culprit aren’t watching close enough. Progressives are supposed to be anti-establishment, so why didn’t they bail out McCarthy long before letting 20+ “right-wing rebels” control Congress?

    It’s all a show in Washington…why didn’t the Democrat-controlled Justice Department arrest Trump under the Espionage Act for inciting an insurrection on 1/6/2020? Also, why didn’t they arrest Koch and his dark network for funding the GOP lawmakers who protested the 2020 election?

    Because they need Koch to play his part in combating the Democrats in Washington, both Biden and Pelosi leaked the truth – “We need a strong Republican Party.”

    The oligarch-controlled media plays up all the hype to sell citizens/voters we have “choices” to make. LOL

    We have one party under capitalism. This was evident to Albert Einstein in the late 40s…

  7. The preamble of the U.S. Constitution has a clause that all elected officials should internalize. It is the phrase “to promote the general welfare.” That does not seem to have been internalized by enough legislators in any state, because few of them seem to understand that “freedom” is not defined by what you may want to do today. The height of absurdity is the thought that you are free to carry a rifle over your shoulder when you go to Home Depot to buy a toilet seat. That sort of ridiculous “indulgence” leads to a six-year old shooting a teacher.

  8. JoAnn you made me blush. Thank you for your kind words. Hubby has realized that we need to get back to the states but you can be sure, it won’t be Back-woods Hoosierville. We’re going to the west coast where MJ is legal and ground water contamination is not legal. (I always wonder why so many of my friends like me have thyroid disease). After living in IN, AL, and AZ, I look forward to living in a blue state. There is no paradise on earth but avoiding the hicks and hillbillies in Indiana looks inviting. I have no idea how long it will take to get a transfer but you can bet, I’ll be rooting for liberal policies and not the insurrectionists.

  9. Yes, the statistics are stunning regarding gun deaths…of any cause. Indiana is just another stupid state that allows Republicans to run amok. Republicans embrace hypocrisy because their corporate paymasters tell them to. Citizens United v. FEC is STILL the most egregious decision the court has ever made EVER… at least if anyone still believes in honest government.

    There are now nearly 50,000 lobbyists on K Street in Washington “serving” only 535 Congress people. That’s quite a ratio, don’t you think? Why is lobbying still legal? Who pays the lobbyists to bribe the politicians? Answer: Corporate/banking America. Best example: When 75% of the nation wants rational gun regulations, and Congress refuses to address the issue after yet another mass killing, the gun/ammo industries just add more workers to their third shift and make their stockholders happy with increased dividends. Yea! Capitalism! Freedom to kill one another!

    But the key word is “freedom” here. OF COURSE Republicans pervert its meaning and use it to beat the ignorant over the head so they feel aggrieved. That distracts them from seeing the nefarious things Republican politicians do to them while their clutching their pearls about carrying a gun on their hip.

    Stan is clearly a coward for not staying and fighting, but he makes a good point about the utter destruction of our nation’s ability to govern itself. I’m sure the Philippines are ever so much better in that regard. But soon, there will be no place to hide. If you have Canadian friends with a basement apartment, you might want to renew that contact.

  10. Vernon, your coffee may have more than the nectar of the God’s in your cup. How did you source 50,000 lobbyists on K Street in Washington? As of June, there were 12,553 federal lobbyists registered in Washington, down from 14,800 at the end of 2008, and well below a record 15,137 in 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group that tracks such activities.

  11. Hey! Wait! Maybe Indiana has come upon a solution to overpopulation! Maybe Indiana ought to
    be put on a pedestal, alongside Putin, as some have done (Carlson, are you listening?).
    You must know that killing kids is a great way to diminish the future population…dead kids
    can’t have kids of their own.
    Just sayin’

  12. Mitch might be onto something. Attrition seems the likely end goal of open carry, pollution, and pandemic response. We’ll have to wait and see.

  13. It seems much of the “thinking” behind conservatives is the mythology of the old west portrayed throughout the childhood of many of us in cowboy and Indian movies. Great 10 year old boy entertainment but hardly real life.

    Unlimited freedom to die young in a really horrible way.

  14. Todd;
    now some states and small buisness in the pot world,are now complaining of being overrun by small private
    enterprises. seems the pot is legal, those who buy it still like anonymity and a neighbor-hood market that keeps the profits local.. . seems the russians are a major investment in one,possibly the biggest commercial market in north America..go figure..

    theres a mean spirited world out there, the voice over is AI and now becomes normal thought control.
    as we lived thru everyones past experiences from decades of us watching it mature,but not grow up. our opinion is on display,whereas in the past we just used words and comment to not offend, in most regards,because its face to face conversation. todays anonymity between g and a and y and many more ,has become the firing range of hate. get off the net,wanna discuss world affairs, do it face to face.
    the only ones getting any profit off your discussion,found a way to make money from it. if the issue is time,then you must have changed your whole world,for the present system.
    if time is money,and peoples issues are the clock, its time for a rewind. just because someone can have a billion friends,(ya right) or likes,(every time eh?) doesnt give a rats ass when were being killed in the process and no ones accountable..

  15. The far-right basic instinct:

    You can’t tell me what to do.
    I can tell you what to do.

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