There were two initial reactions when Indiana first passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The first one was obviously utter disgust.
And the second? Someone sic Leslie Knope on 'em!
Leslie Knope, as most of you should know, is the Parks and Recreation character played by Amy Poehler who is basically a fictional Indiana treasure. But most of us wish she was a real person, because we would totally vote for her to run the government over at the Hoosier state.
There were even articles speculating how Leslie and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) would have reacted to the bill that was seen as discriminatory against the LGBT community. The law has since been amended by Governor Mike Pence so the RFRA "would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged."
Well, on this glorious Friday, we have an actual answer about Leslie and Ron's take on what's been happening in Indiana. Mike Schur, the creator and executive producer of Parks and Rec, wrote a piece about Leslie and Ron's reaction, and Nick Offerman read it aloud at his show at Indiana University on April 1.
You can watch Offerman's speech on behalf of Mike Schur above, or read it in full below:
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 s--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].
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."
Boom. Drop the mic.
Amen, Mike Schur. Can you please bring back Parks and Rec for five more seasons? K, thanks bye.