In California: Use the wrong pronoun, go to jail

In the state of California, calling someone a Grammar Nazi is now closer to being a statement of fact. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill last Thursday which makes it a crime for you to “willfully and repeatedly” use the wrong pronoun, possibly resulting in a $1,000 fine or a year in prison.

Currently, the law only applies to nursing homes and long-term care facilities, but, as is always the case with laws, this is only the beginning.

The author of the bill, Sen. Scott Weiner had the following to say:

“Everyone is entitled to their religious view. But when you enter the public space, when you are running an institution, you are in a workplace, you are in a civil setting, and you have to follow the law.”

That’s interesting. Does that also apply to the gay coffee shop owner in Seattle who recently banned Christians from his business?

Wherever you fall on the transgender issue, this law is only the latest in a disturbing trend America has been following for decades: the slow abandonment of liberty for tyranny.

Americans want what we want, and since we know we can’t force our neighbors to abide by what we think they should do, we elect politicians to do it for us.

Is it too much to ask for people to live and let live? Is it possible for us to be charitable with one another? If you have a moral disagreement with transgenderism, but you’re around a transgender person at work, do you think refusing to call that person by their preferred gender will cause them to be open to your point of view?

Conversely, if you’re a same-sex couple and a baker can’t bake you a wedding cake on the basis of a religious objection, can you simply go to another baker who will happily bake you a cake?

America is a nation that was founded on the basis of liberty, and we will not survive as that nation if we insist on forcing others to do what we want — just because we want it.

Benjamin Franklin said something that always springs to mind in situations like this:

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Sadly, America has been heading down the path of corruption and viciousness (stemming from the word “vice”) for a long time now. It’s notable that as we’ve increased in those traits, we have certainly desired more “masters” in the form of the politicians we elect who pass more laws and more regulations as well as more lawyers and insanely long contracts, since every possible contingency must be covered.

At the same time, we wish to pass the blame on to anyone else — generally the politician, who was elected by the people. Then we can feel good about ourselves that we are merely the victim and that there’s nothing to be done about it.

Ah, but there is. In our constitutional Republic, ultimate responsibility comes down to We the People. I’m not offering the usual political solution of “elect new people” (although that is a part, and, let’s be brutally honest: our politicians are a reflection of us). This goes far deeper and requires reflection and change on all our parts. What kind of people are we? What kind of a person are you? In the dark? When no one’s looking?

Do you look at everyone you run across during your day as a human being with innate worth, or are they merely an inconvenience to be gotten out of your way. I admit that I’ve had this attitude far too many times — particularly in traffic.

If you have the opportunity to “get away with” something — even if it’s small — do you? We are the culmination of choices we’ve made and the beliefs we hold. With every bad choice — or every good choice — we move in a direction. There is no neutrality.

Once we all realize that the responsibility to return America to the “sweet land of liberty” we’ve all wanted her to be is ours (yours and mine), we’ll realize that we must become the kind of people who will reflect that. The question is: Will we?

If we choose not to, we ought to prepare ourselves to become like all the other nations in history with less and less liberty and an increasing number of “masters.” If we choose the path of least resistance, we’d better hope we like the “masters” who are in charge.

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Heidi Munson

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