If I were running Delta Airline, I’d end discounted tickets for everybody and blame it on Georgia’s Republicans. I’d say I did it because, thanks to them, my gas bill went up.
That’s evidently going to happen, after a riled up majority in the state legislature voted to deny Delta a tax exemption because the airline didn’t want to give members of the National Rifle Association a discount anymore.
You probably know all about it, but I first heard of it Tuesday when Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running hard for governor, said he wouldn’t support the $50 million tax break on jet fuel for Atlanta-based Delta.
Other Republicans started chiming in, or maybe they started it and Cagle chimed in, I don’t know. I do know they raised enough of a ruckus over Delta’s decision to stop giving the NRA its discount that Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican himself, called it "unbecoming."
That’s part of it. It is unbecoming.
It may also be unconstitutional.
But never mind that for now, because among my first thoughts was a paraphrase of the late, great Lewis Grizzard’s famous line to northern transplants who like to criticize the South:
"Casey, Delta is ready when you are."
Not because I have anything in particular against most Georgia Republicans or Cagle, a seemingly decent enough sort who is entitled to his opinion. I don’t really have anything against the NRA or its members, either — other than its continual attacks on anyone who even dares suggest that maybe assault weapons in the hands of some folks isn’t such a great idea.
I also don’t care for its posturing as the voice of gun owners in America. Take me, for example. I’m law abiding (well, except that I drive over the posted speed limit a lot) and I own three guns, so that makes me a gun owner. But I’m not an NRA member. And I know other gun owners who don’t belong to the NRA.
The NRA doesn’t speak for me. The NRA is not the Second Amendment, so painting Delta’s move as an assault on the Second Amendment is baloney.
There’s this, too, from Cagle’s press handlers. It was sent Feb. 24, saying that corporations "miss the mark on NRA."
"In response to multiple corporations cutting ties with the NRA today, Casey Cagle — the leading conservative Republican for governor — said political posturing and discriminating against the viewpoints of law-abiding gun owners won’t solve the problem of mass shootings.
"I’m a lifelong member of the NRA and a strong supporter of law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights," Cagle said. "Like all Americans, I’m horrified by the mass shootings we’ve witnessed. If corporate America wants to make a positive difference on gun violence, it should donate a portion of its profits to mental health treatments and school safety initiatives. They should put their money where their mouth is instead of engaging in viewpoint discrimination against conservatives and law-abiding gun owners."
Pot, meet kettle?
For starters, refusing to sell an NRA member a ticket to fly somewhere because he’s an NRA member is discrimination.
Declining to give him a cheaper ticket because he is in the NRA isn’t.
What’s more, isn’t Delta within its rights as a corporation and, when it comes to political speech, a person, too? Remember Citizens’ United? Republicans wanted to pass that one so corporations with deep pockets could vote with their money.
So, can’t Delta decide who it wants to give discounts too, and shouldn’t it be able to without fear of government reprisal.
You can argue whether Delta should be getting the tax break on jet fuel on its own merit, i.e., is that something the state should do. Just don’t make it about something it isn’t about.
Cagle should know that.
He’s not stupid, or he wouldn’t have gotten as far as he has in life. I’d wager the same goes for the majority of those in the general assembly, regardless of political party. Yet he, and our state lawmakers of the Republican stripe, are saying that we don’t like Delta’s politics so we’re going to punish them.
That says a lot more than folks likely intended about how our state has been "governed" for too long. Either that, or politicians really are afraid of the NRA.
Deal reportedly said he’ll sign whatever tax bill that passes. Given the politics behind this one, I hope Delta will be ready to respond in kind.