Tag Archives: social well-being

Squirrel!

Is it just me, or does the recent rash of anti-LGBT measures remind other people of Finding Nemo?

If memory serves (and at my age, it may not) the “Dory” character would be pursuing a goal when suddenly she would be distracted by something unrelated and unimportant. Her head would swivel, and shouting “squirrel,” she’d forget what she’d been doing and follow the distraction instead.

Sort of like Mississippi, one of the most recent states to enact homophobic legislation.

According to a story in USA Today, Mississippi’s “well-being” scores are abysmal:

Mississippi
> Well-being index score: 63.7
> Life expectancy: 75.0 years (the lowest)
> Percent obese: 35.4% (the highest)
> Median household income: $37,095 (the lowest)
> Percent with high school diploma: 82.3% (3rd lowest)

Nowhere else in the U.S. did people feel as negative about their work environment as in Mississippi. But this was just one of the problems facing state residents. Respondents were among the most likely in the nation to lack access to basic necessities. More than a quarter of people surveyed in the state indicated they did not have money for food at some point in the previous 12 months, while nearly as many lacked money for health care. By a number of measures, the state was one of the absolute poorest in the nation. The median income in Mississippi was just $37,095 in 2012, lowest in the U.S. Also, 24.2% of people lived below the poverty line, more than in any other state. With limited access to basic needs and poor healthy behaviors, the state was among the worst in the nation in physical health assessments. Last year, no state had a higher obesity rate than Mississippi. In 2010, no state had a higher rate of death from heart disease or a lower life expectancy at birth than Mississippi.

So–rather than keeping their eye on the task at hand–which should be ameliorating these appalling negatives–Mississippi’s lawmakers chose to yell “squirrel!” and point to the (nonexistent) menace posed by that state’s gay and transgender citizens.

This actually seems to be a favored tactic in several states, including Mike Pence’s Indiana. (Not very good at governing? Quick–pick a distraction!)

As someone recently noted, the current bathroom hysteria is particularly misdirected, since there is no record of any transgender misbehavior in a public restroom–something you certainly can’t say about Republican lawmakers’ public restroom activities.

In fact, the more we learn about the private conduct of our most homophobic “family values” office-holders, the more interesting it gets: Dennis Hastert (recently convicted of abusing young boys when he was a coach) led the fight against same-sex marriage–not to mention the effort to impeach Bill Clinton for his sexual improprieties. In Alabama, Robert Bentley, another “pious” GOP Governor of a backward state who supports “religious liberty” legislation, is embroiled in a tawdry sex scandal. And so it goes.

What do you do when you’re caught with your pants down–either literally or figuratively?

Squirrel!!