The Outstater: A Starbucks Range of Issues

March 24, 2015

A Procrustean bed: a scheme or pattern into which someone is arbitrarily forced by either stretching or cutting.

WE HAVE REACHED a point in Indiana’s public discussion in which a citizen who decides between the proffered options faces a dreadful ordeal.

The liberal gentry of Indianapolis, both Republican and Democrat, is fine with this. Its members can pose in the manner of a Starbucks CEO, in the most reasonable of clothing, to hover above it all wondering what the world would be like “if we all could just get along.”

Last week the voice of this political aristocracy, the Indianapolis Star, defined what it considers to be the field of acceptable discussion. It is detailed in a characteristically Procrustean editorial titled, “Can Political Left, Right Confess How They Failed our Children?”

On one side, the Star explains, there are well-meaning liberals who 50 years ago made an honest mistake and destroyed the American family. On the other side are hide-bound, harsh-toned Christians who won’t give up their full-court political advocacy — not even today “when we are surrounded by hurting children.”

From which side do you think the Star expected the confession, the compromise? That question was neatly answered a fews days later by a solitary, intrepid letter writer:

“(The Star’s) effort to construct a moral equivalency between the left-wing statists (I will not call them ‘liberals’), who have clearly won the culture wars, and bloviating right-wing preachers is misguided. It is the left that has imposed a system that rewards and subsidizes family-destroying behaviors and then calls for more ‘programs’ and subsidies to repair the damage.”

The Star’s narrow discussion of recent years has carefully excluded absolutes such as the nuclear family, absolutes that could not be ignored if our state’s problem were to be solved. Try to introduce them now, and you will find that the gentry is not interested in a civil discussion. Rather, it is interested in lecturing you while protecting its exclusive right to ask the questions and set the topic.

You don’t ask the Star, then, the cost of the Indiana Collective Bargaining Act any more than you ask a barista why there is no Starbucks in Ferguson, Mo. You will have touched on one of a dozen inconvenient issues (including backpack school funding, constricted charter schools, racial demagoguery, padded stadium deals, crony economic development, Common Core and Title I inequity) that have been ruled extreme, unrealistic and out of bounds.

We trust our response to the early 20th-century author G.K. Chesterton, one of those harsh-toned, hidebound Christians. He warned back in 1912 that allowing such a political aristocracy to control the discussion would create a democracy in which there is “less value in an election than in a Roman Saturnalia of slaves.” And Chesterton was specific as to our current misery:

“For the powerful class will choose two courses of action, both of them safe for itself, and then give the democracy the gratification of taking one course or the other. The lords will take two things so much alike that they would not mind choosing from them blindfold — and then for a great jest they will allow the slaves to choose.”

So, Hoosiers, grande or venti, you’re going to get plain old coffee either way.

— Craig Ladwig

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