When news of Indiana’s so-called “religious freedom” law came to light earlier this week, the internet quickly began asking the question: What would proud Indiana residents Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson think of the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act?
Thankfully, Nick “Ron Swanson” Offerman is around to answer tough questions like that. Offerman asked Parks And Recreation creator Michael Schur to sketch an answer out for him, and read that answer at a show last night in Bloomington, Indiana. (This was the show he did for charity after canceling his upcoming Indianapolis show in protest.) At the show (and in the cruddy video below), Offerman read a statement from Schur that rails against the bill, calling it “a carefully worded, expertly constructed document that reminds gay, lesbian, and transgendered people that they are second class citizens.” Schur-via-Offerman also goes into the arguments the ever-proactive Knope would have made against the bill, including the effects of ’60s racial discrimination, the Declaration Of Independence, and the fact that people still need food to eat and homes to live in, for crying out loud. Swanson, on the other hand, would have hated the bill “because it was made by the government.”
Schur’s whole eloquent transcript is below, as is the barely discernible but still audible footage of Offerman reading it aloud.
I read one article that said confidently that both Leslie and Ron would have found things to like about the bill. To quote George F. Will, “This is nonsense on stilts.” Leslie Knope would have seen this bill for what it is, a carefully worded expertly constructed document that reminds gay, lesbian, and transgendered people that they are second class citizens. Leslie would have reminded us that recently as the late 1960s certain businesses tried sh*t like this, only they said God wanted only white people to eat in their restaurant. And she would have further reminded us that the Supreme Court had a good long laugh and told them to scram. Leslie would have said that while religious freedom is a basic and fundamental right, it is not more basic or more fundamental than the words “All men are created equal,” even though she would have then gone on a long rant about the use of the word men instead [unintelligible due to clapping]. And she might have also pointed out that religious freedom from government oppression is not the same thing as telling a gay couple you won’t bake them a cake to help them celebrate their desire to formalize their romantic love just because you get skeeved out by two dudes kissing. Then she would have told you to get over it for Christ sake, who you love is who you love, it’s 2015. She would have asked for people to recognize that every American citizen deserves respect. And that every citizen has to make small compromises in order to make room for everyone else. And finally Leslie would have asked that instead of passing bills that cloak basic intolerance in that nice sounding, but ultimately deceptive idea of religious freedom, maybe we should focus on passing laws that actually help people who, you know, have no food or jobs or something. Leslie would also be annoyed at herself for this final ad hominem attack on the bill we’re discussing, but she tended to get a little riled up and sometimes forgot her old debate club teachings.
As for Ron, he would have hated the bill because it was a bill made by the government.