Mississippi- ‘The Hospitality State.’ With that state motto, the joke has always been on us.

That was on full display in Monday’s Clarion-Ledger. The front page contained articles on: (1) the U.S. Supreme Court denying to weigh in on the misguided anti-gay HB 1523 legislation; and (2) trying to stop the brain drain of college grads. That right there is what makes Mississippi ‘The Ironic State.’

Mississippi is an enigma. At the individual level, Mississippians would give the shirts off their backs to help each other out. But these same Mississippians do not trust people who look or act different from them who they do not know personally.

Where else but Mississippi are there so many racist people who have personal friends of the opposite race? Where else are there so many homophobes who have gay friends who they don’t judge?

The racists who say they aren’t racist because they have black friends aren’t lying. They do have black friends. Yet they can still drop the ‘N-bomb’ like it’s 1968. I can’t explain it. I just know it’s true.

It’s just so…damn…frustrating. And ironic.

Mississippi just can’t help but shoot itself in the foot. Last week, it was announced that USM will lose a baseball series due to 1523. That does not bode well for future bids to host regionals and super regionals. More damage and embarrassment on the way. Count on it.

North Carolina has already rolled back it’s 1523-like law in response to backlash like this. Mississippi doesn’t have enough going for it to generate sufficient backlash to get this stupid law repealed.

You can’t say you want to stop millennial brain drain while simultaneously telling gay people they aren’t welcome here. Regardless of your justification for the law, millennials view it as backward-ass and stupid. Given a choice, what young person wants to live in a place they view as backward-ass and stupid?

The Clarion-Ledger article focused on retaining engineering graduates. My daughter graduates from college in May with an engineering degree. She’s already accepted a job in D.C. She will work at a company, and in a city, full of people she already knows from college. I suspect there are plenty of cities where that would have applied. It wasn’t so much that she avoided Mississippi–Mississippi was not even on the interview radar.

My daughter’s story is not unique. I regularly talk to Mississippi lawyers who tell their college aged kids that they need to at least be looking out of state because the opportunities are better. That’s not easy advice for a parent to give. Your instincts prefer your kids to be close to you.

Mississippi needs to stop shooting itself in the foot. It needs to stop being ‘the ironic state.’ Until it does, we have no hope of reversing the brain drain.

Start with the easy stuff. Change the flag. Repeal 1523. Do the right thing. Stop being ironic.