Last month, Arizona made national and international headlines for SB 1062, the highly discriminatory bill that would allow businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs. In the short time between the legislature passing the bill and Governor Brewer’s veto, the state lost tens of thousands in convention and tourism business.The state also received threats from businesses considering expansion or new factories in the state. All of that put pressure on the governor. But what really forced her hand was the NFL’s threat to move next year’s Super Bowl out of the City of Glendale.
However, because the bill was being pushed by a national stink tank, Alliance Defending Freedom, it never died. Indeed, it has been sponsored in legislatures across the country. Before it was vetoed in Arizona, it was defeated in Kansas, Maine, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Most recently, it was passed by the Mississippi state legislature and signed into law by the state’s right wing governor, Phil Bryant, making it possible for the state’s many bigots to discriminate against anyone based on so-called “religious freedom.”
Yet the media and corporations have remained largely silent about the Mississippi law. There have been no calls for boycotts. No threats from corporations. No loss of tourism.
What accounts for the muted reaction? Maybe it’s because the rest of the nation assumes that Mississippi is full of bigots. Maybe it’s because no one wants to vacation there. Maybe it’s because the potential workforce is so uneducated that no corporations want to relocate there. Face it, the expectations for Mississippi are incredibly low. The state always seems to rank near the bottom for such things as education and personal income. And it’s always near the top for welfare, food stamps, unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, discrimination and religion.
By Teapublican definition, Mississippi is the ultimate “taker” state. Yet, like most other states that rely on the largess of the federal government, it’s a reliably red state.
In fact, Mississippi is so reliably backwards, the name is often invoked in other backward states such as Arizona, where people who decry our lack of funding for education, our over-crowded prisons and our right-wing state government are often quick to say, “At least we’re not the worst state in the nation. Thank God for Mississippi!”