I spoke yesterday on the phone with Marilyn Pfisterer, a Republican City-County Councilor from the west side of Indianapolis. While the conversation was very courteous and polite, I have to admit that I ended the conversation feeling confused and exasperated.
It wasn't that Ms. Pfisterer wasn't likable. Not at all. She might be a Republican, but I have it on very good authority that she's "good people." And I must say, she's a lot more sensible than the foam-at-the-mouth councilor that is known for sending out vitriolic emails... Which, I think, made me more irritated that our conversation was veering off the 'ole reality path and into what I like to call, "bullcrap."
I'd called Ms. Pfisterer to disuss the upcoming human rights ordinance for the city of Indianapolis. As a learned woman, I planned on her arguments against the ordinance to be well thought out and reasoned. I quickly realized my mistake. Again, not that the conversation was heated or demeaning - just that her reason for not voting for the ordinance was a little - shall we say - juvenile?
She stated right away that she wouldn't be voting in favor of the ordinance. When I asked her why not, she said, "Morality can't be legislated." Apparently, the protections afforded to African-Americans should be tossed aside... "You need to change people's hearts and minds," she said. "Then you'll be able to stop discrimination."
I pointed out to her that anti-discimination laws were intended to discourage discrimination by providing penalties for the behavior. (Maybe cases like this should just be thrown out of court...) I suggested that anti-black discrimination was a lot more blatant and pervasive before they were given civil rights protections.
She agreed. "But you can tell if someone is black. I can't tell if someone is gay until they tell me," she countered.