Addressing the Elephant in the Room – Fodor’s No List 2018

Just as I was beginning to write content for this new site, I learned that Missouri came in at Number 7 on Fodor’s NO LIST 2018. Number 7 out of a total of 10. If you’re wondering why Missouri was given this dubious distinction, you’re not alone. I looked into their reasons why, and this is what I learned.

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Fodor’s No List 2018 – Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Imagine my surprise.

One minute, I’m feeling all happy and full of inspiration as I think of topics I wanted to write about as I begin to build our brand new site, “GoofyLoon Explorations.” I have thought more and more about a travel site for a long time now. And there are so many places I want to explore here in Missouri – as well as elsewhere.

And then I found it – Fodor’s No List 2018. It lists Missouri as one of the 10 places in the world people should avoid in 2018. Isn’t that nice? It states, in part:

“The Show-Me State is full of wonders that belong on anyone’s travel bucket list. It’s home to breathtaking limestone caverns, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Kansas City-style BBQ, great jazz, the Silver Dollar City Amusement Park, and even a museum that purports to house the holy finger of John the Baptist.

“Unfortunately, Missouri is also the place where SB 43 was passed making it more difficult to sue employers for discrimination, a state representative argued that homosexuals weren’t human beings, a tourist who got lost and ran out of gas was later found murdered in his jail cell without ever being put under arrest, and two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim on the outskirts of Kansas City. And that’s just in 2017.”

The Rest of the Story

Sounds bad, doesn’t it?

However, if you’d like to know “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say (Do you remember Paul Harvey?), then please read on. Because to be perfectly honest, Fodor’s has really disappointed me with this one, I have to say.

I would like to note that much of the reasons Fodor’s lists come directly from the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP, which posted a travel advisory about Missouri earlier in 2017. I respect the viewpoint of the NAACP. However, I don’t think that this should be cause for Fodor’s to literally single Missouri out over all other states. Racial tensions and racist behavior exists in many places, not just in Missouri. This is something the entire country needs to work on.

As for the particular situations listed in the article, this is what I learned:

SB 43

If you would like to read the official details of Senate Bill 43, click here.

This legislation was signed by former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. And whether you agree with the legislation or not, you might like to know a few other things. For one, Eric Greitens is a bit of a sketchy individual who resigned in May 2018 in the midst of a scandal. For another, there is already a big fight going on to reverse it. As of January 2018, SEVEN bills – 6 from Democrats and one from a Republican – have been filed, with the intention of reversing this heinous law. Clearly, this is not something that the average person in Missouri supports. And hopefully, it will be reversed soon.

One Last Thing About SB 43

Yes, it is a bad law. Yes, it bites. As a resident of Missouri, I am not happy about it at all. However, it is not a law that has any impact on a tourist visiting the state. And if someone wants to avoid Missouri “for the principle of not supporting a state that discriminates against employees”, please remember that it isn’t the state that depends on tourism money. It’s the people. It’s the very citizens and employees that you are “defending” that will be most hurt by you avoiding the state. So please take that into consideration when making your decision.

Missouri State Representative Rick Bratton Statement

Fodor’s claims that a Missouri State Representative said that homosexuals were not human beings. But according to the editorial column that they, themselves, linked to, what Rick Bratton actually said was:

“When you look at the tenets of religion, of the Bible, of the Qur’an, of other religions,” he said Monday, “there is a distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.”

He apparently said this on the Missouri House floor as they were discussing the controversial SB 43. And yes, what he said was crappy.

But read the above quote carefully. What he is actually saying is that, according to a number of religions, there is a difference between gay people and “normal” humans. The words “just being a human being” could just as easily be put as “simply being a human being.”

Now, this IS still crappy, as he is basically saying that it’s okay to treat gays differently because they ARE different from “the rest of us”, at least, according to scripture from several religions.

However, that is still quite a different statement from saying that homosexuals are not human beings.

And in the end, perhaps it is simply a matter of semantics. And if you are seriously passionate about gay rights and can’t abide what he said – hey, I’m with you. I think what he said is vile. And what about separation of church and state, yo! However, there are some amazing gay-friendly places in the state, and in the years that I have lived here, I have rarely seen anyone even look twice at a gay couple. So, please don’t think that this guy speaks for everyone. He doesn’t.

The Terrible Death of Tory Sanders

Yes, there was a tourist who died after a “jail altercation“. And that is a horrible thing, no doubt. But to just leave it at that is to ignore the rest of the story. To leave it at that seems to imply that this is a common danger that other people should be aware of.

The truth is, the Sheriff involved in this altercation, Cory Hutcheson, has been removed from his position and was arrested in April 2017 on 18 criminal counts – regarding this case and others. People are taking this seriously and hopefully, justice will ultimately prevail.

The Kansas City Hate Crime

Let’s look again at Fodor’s words about this:

” . . . two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim . . . ”

According to this link – the same link as in the Fodor’s NO List 2018 – the two men from India, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were regulars at the Austins Bar and Grill. They were regulars to the point where people referred to them as “The Jameson Guys”.

A man named Adam Purinton came in. He was a man who, according to a neighbor, spent a lot of time drinking, and he’d had multiple issues with the law over the years. He started yelling racial slurs at “The Jameson Guys” and he was thrown out.

The people in the bar stood up for the Indian men. One guy offered to pick up the tab for the two men.

But then Adam Purinton came back with a gun and he started shooting. He not only shot the two Indian men, he shot another man who tried to apprehend him. Srinivas Kuchibotla was killed. Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot, were injured.

Adam Purinton was brought up on charges and extradited to Kansas. Yes . . . Kansas. Because this crime happened in Olathe, Kansas, on the outskirts of Kansas City. It didn’t happen in Missouri.

Details Matter. Truth Matters.

You may think I’m nitpicking the details by saying that, but I think the details matter. Saying that “two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim” paints a picture. I pictured this dark road where they were finally chased down like dogs by some group of mad vigilantes or something. But the reality is that, as sad and awful as this was, they were in a bar with friends and an outsider attacked them. Their friends stood up for them, and one was shot for it. He shot THREE people, not two. And again, it didn’t even happen in Missouri. Yet it is on the list of reasons why Missouri was put on the Fodor’s NO List 2018.

Ultimately, The Decision is Yours

I am not trying to make light of any of this. Missouri has issues and problems at times. But other places have issues too. We are living in volatile times. Fifty people died and fifty-three others were injured in the Pulse Nightclub Shootings in Florida, which targeted gay people. A gunman killed 26 people in a church shooting rampage in Texas. And the list goes on and on. But neither of those places made the “NO LIST” in Fodor’s.

We travel to see the land, see the sights, and get to know the people. Missouri is a beautiful place filled with friendly and good-hearted people. But whether or not to visit is, ultimately, a decision that only you can make.

But I do hope that you’ll consider spending time in the Show-Me State. If not this year – then soon.

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