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John Krull commentary: ‘They conjured up a problem that didn’t exist’

Now that the brave and compassionate souls in the Indiana General Assembly have finished their jihad against transgender athletes, perhaps they can find a new target for their next crusade.

Maybe they can pick a fight with declawed kittens.

No, declawed kittens still have teeth and might be able to bite. The thought that our courageous legislators might receive a nip on the ankle or wrist for abusing a creature that never did them any harm would terrify the lawmakers right out of their socks and stockings.

You see, our elected officials here in Indiana prefer to wage war on opponents who lack the means to fight back. Their definition of fairness is one that involves rigging the contest in their favor, everywhere and all the time.

That’s why they focused their ire on transgender athletes.

They conjured up a problem that didn’t exist—only two young Hoosiers in the past decade have petitioned the Indiana High School Athletic Association to compete as transgender athletes—and then offered up a solution so draconian that only Fyodor Dostoevsky’s grand inquisitor could love it.

They pushed a bill through the 2022 legislative session banning transgender athletes from competing in kindergarten through 12th-grade sports.

Then, when Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed it on the sensible grounds that it just wasn’t necessary, they hurried back into session to override his veto.

Moments after the lawmakers voted their pogrom into law, probably while they still were exchanging handshakes and high fives congratulating each other for their courage, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed suit on behalf of a 10-year-old transgender girl who wants to continue playing softball at her elementary school. (Disclosure: Nearly 20 years ago, I was executive director of what is now the ACLU of Indiana.)

That’s right—our big, bad, brave lawmakers are duking it out with a 10-year-old girl who just wants to play softball with her friends.

Makes one proud to be a Hoosier, doesn’t it?

At least two things make this campaign of persecution offensive—the cruelty driving the effort and the idiocy behind it.

Let’s talk about the sheer meanness involved first.

Only .58% of Americans identify as transgender. Here in Indiana, the number is even lower—.4%.

Many of these young people feel they don’t belong—in their communities, in their schools, even in their own bodies. They long to find a place where they feel at home.

Sports long have provided a means for alienated young people to find a place in a world they too often feel is hostile to them.

But that’s exactly the refuge our legislators have taken away from these youthful fellow human beings. Our lawmakers want to make it clear to children who already have a hard path to walk through life that they just aren’t and won’t ever be part of the team.

There are words to describe that sort of conduct.

“Kind” isn’t among them.

Neither is “decent.”

Then there’s the sheer foolishness of this witch hunt.

If the state loses the ACLU lawsuit—and there’s a good chance it will—then we taxpayers will be on the hook to pay both the state’s and the ACLU’s legal fees.

What else could that money pay for? A police officer on the streets? A teacher in the classroom?

Or maybe both?

The lawmakers say all this is worth it because—citing no evidence whatsoever—transgender athletes have unfair physical advantages. That’s what they care about, they say.

It that were true, they’d be using their pitchforks to prevent Shaquille O’Neal (bigger than everyone else), LeBron James (faster and stronger than other human beings) and Larry Bird (unearthly eye-hand coordination) from ever competing.

And the lawmakers would do away with all tournaments and competitions to determine who’s best and insist that only participation trophies be handed out.

The most troubling thing about this whole episode is that the lawmakers felt like they had the time to devote to this cruel nonsense.

I mean, it’s not as if we Americans have schoolchildren being shot down in the classroom or a million fellow citizens dying of a deadly disease or raging inflation or any other genuine problem to deal with.

Of course, confronting those problems would involve true courage.

That’s why our lawmakers prefer to battle with declawed kittens.

Once their teeth also have been pulled, that is.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.