Tag Archives: HB 2

2016: The Year In Review

This has been my mantra for the year.

Well, beloved, we’ve come to the end of another year, which means we’re about to be inundated with “Year in Review” posts/articles/programs. And, yes, I’m doing one, too. “Year in Review” posts aren’t what you’d call a regular feature here. Unlike my annual Thanksgiving posts, I haven’t written one of these since 2012. I’m not exactly sure why, it’s not like the past four years have been uneventful or anything. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m writing this one. Probably because I figure a post about 2016 will get some views and, like all writers, I’m a bit of an attention whore.

The consensus view seems to be that 2016 has been a rather shitty year. After all, it’s seen:

  • An orange-hued shit demon take advantage of the pain and fear of a large swath of the country to become President of the United States,
  • A bunch of idiotic yahoos in my home state of North Carolina pass an obviously discriminatory law and then commit political suicide by standing behind it in the face of overwhelming opposition both in the state and abroad,
  • The most deadly mass shooting in U. S. history, in which 49 people were killed because of their sexual orientation and/or gender expression.
  • Unarmed black men shot down by the police, mostly for the crime of just being black (that’s not new, but it was a big part of this past year).
  • An election that may have hacked by the Russians. At the very least, they influenced the voting toward the candidate they preferred.
  • And the death of a beloved celebrity every time we turned around.

Not exactly the best year on record, huh?

Still, it hasn’t been all bad. 2016 has also seen:

  • Working class people find a new (unlikely) champion in a 78 year old Jewish socialist. Now, if the Democratic Party (who likes to think of itself as “the party of the people”) would just get on board.
  • An announcement that Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman would be replacing former president (and slaveholder) Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. This is good because not only was Jackson was a slave owner, he was an asshole.
  • Jabba the Hut stunt double, Roger Ailes, resign as chairman and CEO of FoxNews. Ailes did so amidst a hail of accusations that he has a proclivity for making lewd remarks and/or advances to his female employees. And, punishing them when they reject him.
  • Pat McCrory lose his job as Governor of North Carolina to Roy Cooper. The best part is that McCrory engineered his own downfall with the hated HB 2, which was actually supposed to hurt his opponent, Cooper. Ain’t karma a bitch?
  • Samantha Bee debut her most excellent show, Full Frontal, on TBS. Bee, smart woman that she is, blew off the industry standard  live interview portion of the news parody format and stuck with her strength, scathing, intelligent satire. And, the television world is better for it.
  • A new Star Wars movie come out. It’s called “Rogue  One” if you’ve been living under a rock. I’m going to see this weekend and I can’t think of a better way to ring out this year.

Do these things offset losing David Bowie and Carrie Fisher in the same year? Probably not, but you’ve got to accentuate the positive. Even when the positive is not all that great.

It’s been said that 2016 has been the worst year ever. But, the truth is, it hasn’t. Not by a long shot. We’re not engaged in a global conflagration, an entire race isn’t in the process of being exterminated, there isn’t a plague killing off a significant portion of humanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s been fun and I’d like to do it again. Just that it’s not been that bad. Hey, most of us even survived it. I’m not giving odds on 2017, though. I have a feeling it’s going to be a motherfucker.

Pat McCrory to Charlotte: Let’s Make A Deal

Can you say, "Oops"?
“Well, shit. This isn’t what I wanted at all.”

Yeah, I know I haven’t written in a while, but this school thing takes a lot more time than I expected. Between my class schedule and homework, my blogging frequency has dropped off dramatically. But, a recent development has prompted me to shake the dust off of the Progressive Redneck and dispense my own particular brand of “wisdom” once again.

Last week, the NCAA and the ACC both announced that until HB 2 (NC’s bathroom bill) is repealed, they will not schedule any events in North Carolina and the already scheduled events would be moved to another venue that didn’t have such a discriminatory law on the books. That, my friends, is the heaviest blow we’ve been dealt so far.

Now, if you’re not from NC, you probably think, “So what? If all the stuff that’s happened so far didn’t move them, why will this make a difference?” It will make a difference because much of my state’s pride is tied to its universities and their prowess in sports. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit, you take what you can get.

This was a particularly effective action, even more so than Springsteen cancelling his concert or the NBA moving the All-Star Game. How do we know this? Because Governor McCrory and his Republican colleagues have started making overtures about a possible repeal.

That’s right, beloved, the governor and his pals have spent last six months on their collective soapbox, shouting that HB 2 is a necessary, common-sense protection of the safety and privacy of North Carolina womanhood. Now, faced with the premier sporting events boycotting the state (and, let’s be honest, no true North Carolinian gives a flying fuck about pro sports when the ACC’s available), they fold like a cheap suit. Could it be there’s more to this story than meets the eye?

I’d say yes (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?). You see, there’s another development that isn’t getting quite as much attention as the latest sports news: McCrory is losing his reelection bid and badly. His opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, leads him by an average of almost 5% according to RealClearPolitics. It’s taken 6 long months, but it appears that the guv has finally figured out that HB2 is a millstone around his neck.

He’s not going down without a fight, though. It seems that the Republican offer of repeal comes with strings: before the governor will even call a special session to consider rescinding this bit of heinous fuckery, the Charlotte City Council has to walk back their ordinance. You read that right, folks, they’ll talk about repealing HB2 if Charlotte actually repeals their law first. I wonder if these guys have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell?

I have to wonder what makes McCrory think this course is even possible? He’s spent months pumping up his base with talk of not giving in to “political correctness” and dog whistles about awful trans folks just waiting to molest their pure-as-the-driven-snow daughters if they’re allowed into women’s restrooms. Now that he’s losing, he’s willing to remove the only thing protecting their precious angels provided he can get concessions from the enemy? I don’t think that will fly.

Charlotte’s leaders would have to have rocks in their heads to fall for this bit of political chicanery. McCrory is on the ropes and HB2’s chances aren’t looking good either. A similar case in Virginia was heard by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction includes NC) and it didn’t come out well for the anti-LGBTQ crowd. Hang tough, Charlotte. In a couple of months, we should be rid of the one of the worst governors in state history. Unfortunately, the stain he’s left on our state’s reputation will take much longer to clear up.

Trans-parenting

Wednesday evening, my son Parker and I spoke to some of the members of our church family about our experiences with transgender issues; he, as a trans man and me as the father of a person who is transgender. This is the video of that talk. If you can’t watch it, what follows is a close (i.e. improved) version of I said. I hope you enjoy it.

I have a friend who likes to say, “I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.” I have to amend that because, while I do love Jesus, I cuss a LOT. I am going to do my best not to do that tonight, but all I can guarantee is no f-bombs.

Now, I’ve always been pretty liberal around social issues: I figure as long as no one’s getting hurt, it’s none of my business. Never really been concerned with who somebody loved. I was thinking about this and said to myself, “Yeah, but you grew up in rural North Carolina in the 60’s and 70’s. How many gay people did you actually know?” Come to find out I knew quite a few; at least four people have come out since we graduated high school. The signs were there; two of those people got fake ID’s, not so they could drink, but so they get into Daddy-o’s and dance. (Daddy-o’s was the place to go in central NC during the disco era)

I attribute this liberal attitude to two things: 1) my parents always taught me to judge people based on who they are, not something they didn’t have control of, like the color of their skin or their sexuality. And 2) I was out of the church during the heyday of the evangelical insanity surrounding LGBT issues. So, I didn’t have to deal with that.

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to this stuff; I just want to put that out there, right up front. I do know more about it than I ever thought I would. That said, sometimes, I feel like I’ve just scraped the surface.

As Parker said, he came out as trans in 2013. I was at the beach, relaxing and having a good time when I got a phone call. It was Parker and he said, “Dad, I didn’t want to do this over the phone, but I need to tell you that I’m trans.” I think my response was, “Okay, then. This is a heck of time to tell me.” I didn’t care and, to be honest, I wasn’t really surprised. It was something I had seen coming for a while. In fact, as soon as he told me, everything fell into place and made perfect sense.

When your kid drops a bombshell like this one, you’ve got two choices: denial (which never works out well) or acceptance. I chose acceptance. When I signed on for this parenting gig, it was for the long haul and I couldn’t write him off. But, acceptance means you have to start educating yourself. So, I started researching and learning.

Now, the one thing that taught me the most, and you’re not going to believe this, is a South Park episode. It’s called “The Cissy”. C-I-S-S-Y, which comes from the term, “cisgender”, or what a lot of folks (erroneously) call “normal people”. Basically, it means you identify with the sex you were assigned at birth.

I’m not going to go into the details of the plot, but as it starts, Cartman is tired of waiting in line in the boy’s room during recess and not having enough time to do what he wants to do. He finally gets fed up, sticks a bow on his hat and says “I’m ‘transginger’. That means, I can use the girl’s restroom.”  If you think that sounds a lot like certain Republicans these days, you’re right. And, when your elected officials start to sound like Eric Cartman, you’ve got a problem. South Park gets a bad rap all of the time, but they’re doing some of the best social commentary on television these days.

So, what I wanted to talk to you about is what it’s like to be the parent of a kid who’s trans. For me it was humbling, more than anything. By the time Parker was 18, I didn’t think I knew everything about being a dad, but I did think I had a pretty good handle on it. As it turns out, I did not, In fact, I found out how much I did not know. There was an avalanche of new things to learn.

Like names, for instance. When you’ve called someone by one name all their life, it’s a little difficult to start calling them something else. Add in the fact that the new name is a different gender and things get even harder. But, it’s one of those things you do when you love someone.

Then, there are pronouns. Pronouns are hard. Again, calling someone “he” when you’ve spent the past 18 years calling them “she” is not easy. There are new gender-neutral pronouns like “zie” or “hir” along with those old standby’s,“they/them”. I like to consider myself a bit of writer and, as someone who works with words, these phrases are a bit…, difficult to work into a conversation. But again, it’s one of those things you do when you love someone.

Let’s not forget the discrimination. I’m a straight, white cisgender man who lives in the South, which means if you were to look up “top of the heap” in the dictionary, you’d see my picture. So, I don’t know much about discrimination first hand because I’ve never experienced it. Now, if it was me who was being treated this way, it wouldn’t that big a deal. I could handle that. But, it’s my kid. It’s a lot different when it’s your kid they’re talking about.

As most everyone knows, I used to work for the Raleigh Fire Department and firefighters are generally very conservative people. They come from a traditional, working class background and I’ve had to listen to a lot of BS from them lately. At one point, things got so bad, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“There have been a lot of ugly, hateful things being said by people who support HB 2 and the fact that some of these words are coming from people I have counted as brothers and sisters, people who I served with as a firefighter, feels like a betrayal. We shared meals together, risked our lives for each other and the community and talked each other down after dealing with trauma that threatened to break us. And now, you want force my son, who is transgender, into situations that expose him to harassment, humiliation and even violence for incredibly thin, even ridiculous, reasons. That hurts. A lot.

I know that, eventually, we’ll get past this. One day, things will be normal again; not the same, but “normal”. We’ll be able to laugh and joke and tell the war stories we all love hearing, even though we heard them a thousand times before. But, not now. Right now, I don’t believe I want to talk to you people.”

Now, if I had seen one of my friends post something like that, I hope I would say, “Whoa, I need to back up!” But, that didn’t happen. Basically I was told to “get over it”. About the nicest response was, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about your son”. But, it is my son you’re talking about. How can you not understand that?

As I said just a minute ago, there’s violence involved. There was a study conducted in the DC Metro area that found almost 70% of people who are transgender have experienced harassment up to, and including, violence in bathrooms. And, I don’t believe that’s an anomaly.

It’s hard being a parent in today’s world with all the crap you have to worry about. Now, as the parent of a kid who’s trans, you get to add something else: the possibility that someone will do something stupid to your kid because they don’t like trans people. I’m not stressed enough whenever my son walks out the door, worrying about the normal stuff he might encounter So, now I’ve got this extra dose of angst to go on top it. That is probably what bothers me more than anything.

There are only two ways that I can see someone’s motivations for supporting these laws. One is that they think my son is predator who might use an ordinance like Charlotte’s to find new prey. The other is that my child’s well-being is less important to them than an imaginary threat. And, the “bathroom predator” threat has been conclusively debunked. Something like 200 municipalities and 18 states include gender identity in the anti-discrimination laws and none of them can trace an increase in sexual assault back to these laws.

While it’s tough, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are good things that have come from this:

  • I finally have a son. His older sister used to  say that Parker was the “boy” I’d always  wanted. We didn’t know just how right she was. Now, we get to do stuff together we might get to do otherwise; this comes in particularly handy during the male bake-off (the rules say men can’t get any help from women) because he’s a much better baker than I am.
  • He can talk to people! The change since he began to transition is amazing. Talking to strangers was almost impossible, to the point that he couldn’t even order food at McDonald’s. Just getting that extra layer of junk (the dysphoria) out of the way a massive amount of difference.
  • There has been a big improvement in his mental health, if only because, now he can talk to his therapist. I have gone to therapy sessions with him and sat in the room for an hour and listening to the doctor try to get him to say something. And, not a word in response.

While I do worry about his safety, I don’t worry about how he will make it in the world. I can see this huge change in him and I know that he has a community that loves and accepts him and that makes all the difference in the world.

“Targeting” Our Daughters?

Last month, the American Family Association kicked off their #BoycottTarget campaign, which aims to push Target into changing its trans-inclusive bathroom/dressing room policy. Recently, Faith2Action joined in this effort with their “Don’t Target Our Daughters Day” protests scheduled for June 4th. As Enid Strict would say:

To promote their protest, the group has put out a video. Perfectly attuned to its target audience, it ends with an appeal to sign up “before there’s another victim”. followed by footage of a man running out of what or may not be a Target store for an undetermined crime, chased by a woman shouting, “Stop this guy! Call the cops on him!” Boy, that is some top-notch dog whistling, right there.

So, what’s the point of this special day? According to the organizers, it’s a “moment to stand together” and alert the public to the retail giant’s decision to allow “predators and sex offenders” to enter women’s restrooms and dressing rooms. What, do they think the rest of us don’t know about Target’s bathroom policy? Believe me, we know. Mostly because its opponents won’t shut the fuck up.

I have to admit, I’m a little confused about the whole thing. Especially the fitting rooms. Are the ones in Target’s ladies department set up differently from the men’s?  In the mens dressing rooms, you take your items into a private little cubicle, close the door and try on your clothes. And, those doors have locks on them.

So, what, the women’s dressing room just a big open space where your junk is on display for everyone to see? Because that’s about the only way I could see this being a problem. And, even if that was the case, wouldn’t a guy just hanging around, waiting for tasty morsel to show up kind of…, oh, I don’t know, stand out?

And, as for bathrooms, who in their right mind believes anything sexual is happening in a public bathroom? Have you been in one of those things lately? Maybe women’s restrooms are different, but a lot of men’s rooms are about two steps away from being classified as a toxic waster dump. I don’t know about you, but that’s not an atmosphere I find conducive to sexy time.

Look, even the cleanest public bathroom has an undercurrent of revulsion.  Because, even if it was so clean you could eat off the floor, you’re still surrounded by strangers taking care of disgusting (albeit necessary) bodily functions. I don’t like being around my own…, well,  you know. I sure as hell don’t care to experience the same from someone I don’t even know.

And, I have a question for the folks at Faith2Action: Why wasn’t this “bathroom predator” thing a problem until it was your daughters who were “at risk”? Are you somehow under the impression that boys don’t get molested? Because they do (not quite as often as girls, but still…). I don’t know, maybe you believe your 7-year-old son, simply by virtue of his maleness, can somehow fight off the advances of a determined adult with less than pure intentions. Because that’s such a realistic assumption.

It’s interesting to me that many people who call themselves “Christian” find trans folks icky.  I mean, we’re talking about people who follow a man that embraced the most marginalized people in his society and they’re dumping all over what is arguably the most marginalized group in our society. And, they’re using children to do it. Fuck.

You know, this is one of those times I wished I still believed in a physical Hell. Because I’d love to say there’s a special place there for anyone who does this kind of shit. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

 

HB 2 A “Blatant and Baseless Overreach”

satire defThe rest of the country has not been kind to North Carolina the past few month. Since the passage of HB 2 in March, the state has lost as much as $500 million in economic activity, seen shows cancelled by popular performers, faced travel boycotts from multiple states and countries, and become the butt of cruel jokes. All because we want to protect our wimmin and kids from a bunch of freaks transgensders sexual predators. Now, the U.S. Justice Department has weighed in, informing NC officials that HB 2 violates both Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act and is, therefore, “facially discriminatory”.

Yesterday, our illustrious governor, the Honorable Pat McCrory, appeared on “Fox News Sunday“, to whine protest about the letter. It seems that he is unhappy about the amount of time the Justice Department had given the state to respond to the charges.

“We don’t think three working days is enough to respond to such a threat,” McCrory said. “It’s the federal government being a bully, it’s making law, and it’s their interpretation.”

Why, that makes perfect sense! Any fool can see that three working days isn’t anywhere near enough time to come up with a response to the Justice Department’s threat. I mean, sure the law took less than 12 hours to debate and pass, but our leaders need a sufficient amount of time to deliberate and come up with common-sense answer.

After McCrory complained pointed out that the federal government was now going to start telling private companies who could use what bathroom, Wallace asked if he would regard it as “government overreach” if the group in question were African-Americans and not people who are transgender. The guv’s answer? “But we can definitely define the race of people. It’s very hard to define transgender or gender identity.” Exactly. While we’re at it, let’s set up some special water fountains for trans people, too. Separate but equal, of course.

Wallace, who appears to have found his journalistic integrity seemed particulartly quarrelsome, asked, “How many cases have you had in North Carolina in the last year where people have been convicted of using transgender protections to commit crimes in bathrooms?” After repeated attempts to evade the question and blame the whole thing on the Democrats, he finally had to admit that there were none. At this point, things were not looking good for the governor.

But, our Pat wasn’t done yet. When Wallace asked “But, if there’s no problem, then why pass the law in the first place?”, our boy replied, “But, there can be a problem…” Exactly. We need to be protected from all the things that might happen. I’m thinking about asking my representative to propose legislation outlawing alien abduction. Granted, such a law would be as effective as HB 2 is in preventing sexual assault, but that’s beside the point.

Well, it’s Monday, and this morning our esteemed leaders responded to the Justice Department’s warning theat: the governor and Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry have filed suit in federal court calling the Justice Department’s demands “a baseless and blatant overreach.” Amen and hallelujah!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I applaud this action; to do anything less would be selling out our kids to the PC culture that is ruining this once great nation. Sure, it might cost North Carolina billions in education funding and our kids won’t be able to read or write, but at least they’ll be safe from those mythical bathroom predators. And, isn’t that what really counts?

McCrory: “I Might Be In Trouble”

Can you say, "Oops"?
Can you say “oops”?

On Tuesday, Governor Pat McCrory went on The John Boy and Billy Big Show in his continuing (pathetic) attempts to control the damage HB 2 is doing to his campaign, not to mention the state of North Carolina. The 15 minute interview was mostly a rehash of the whining and bullshit that has characterized the conservative response to the shitstorm this law has brought on. But, interestingly, he said three things I hadn’t heard before.

The first came when he was listing all the people/organizations/companies he considers hypocrites for their stance against the law. In this list, McCrory included a certain rock and roll icon, saying:

“I love Bruce Springsteen. I love his music. But he canceled a concert in Greensboro. By the way, they only had 8,000 tickets sold, with all respect. Hmm. But Bruce doesn’t mention that. They didn’t get the ticket sales they wanted.”

My god, man, if you’re going make shit up, at least try and make it believable, will you? Seriously, Springsteen probably can’t remember the last time he sold just 8000 tickets for a show. And, if he does, it was probably for a 6000 seat venue.

It’s bad enough that the comment was obvious bullshit, but it was bullshit that was incredibly easy to verify. With a single phone call to the Greensboro Coliseum’s PR director, Andrew Brown, Politifact found that “The Boss” had sold not 8000 tickets, but 15,000. In fact, there were only about 100 seats left for the show. According to Brown, “It’s safe to say it would have sold out.” Of course, when they called him on it, the governor apologized for using “the wrong number”. Why, that makes everything better!

For the second, ol’ Pat slipped up and allowed some genuine honesty into this sad attempt to pander for votes on a show that was filled with what can only be called “sycophantic ass-kissery”. At one point, he told these two fawning groupies, “Society is changing quickly and anybody who gets in the way is in trouble. And I might be in trouble. I might be looking for a side job over here.” A side job? Pat, if the polls are any indication, you might need to dust off your resume and start putting out feelers for full-time employment.

Those polls show Attorney General Roy Cooper leading McCrory from anywhere between 2-10% (RealClearPolitics average = 4.3%).  That’s one hell of a turnaround considering that McCrory held a fairly consistent lead over Cooper (as much as a 7% at its highest) prior to the passage of HB 2. Afterwards, though? It’s been all down hill for McCrory, with the last 4 polls showing Cooper ahead. Saying that it’s not looking good for the guv is a lot like saying George Wallace was “a little racist”.

The third was, umm, ahh, oh what was the third? There was Springsteen didn’t sell many tickets, “I might be in trouble” and, let’s see…, I can’t. The third one, I can’t…, oops. Yeah, I know that joke goes back a ways, but it’s a classic.

You know, as much fun as it is to watch the disintegration of the Republican Party on a national level, seeing what’s happening to these local turds is giving me a joy boner. With any luck, it’ll stay up until November.

What Does “Alice in Wonderland” Have to Do With HB 2?

AAIWLast year, in a moment of what can only be called “insanity”, I decided that continuing my education would be a nice thing to do with all the time on my hands since retiring. While it has been…, let’s say, challenging, at some points, at others, it has been incredibly interesting. Take, for instance, the banned book essay I’ve been working on the last couple of days. I mean, who knew “Alice in Wonderland” had ever been banned? And, the reasons? Oh, you wouldn’t believe some of the reasons. Like the one I’m going to tell you about today.

It seems that, in 1900, Woodville High School in Haverhill, New Hampshire “suspended” Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” from classroom use. That’s what the sources say, not banned, but “suspended from classroom use” (not sure what the difference is, but it’s very specific about that). Why did they do this? Because they claimed it contained “expletives,sexual content and derogatory characterizations of a teachers and of religious ceremonies”. Well, okay then.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering “Where might these sexual references be found? In the caucus race? The Tea party? Maybe they’re in the Mock Turtle’s story or the Knave of Heart’s trial.” Who knows? Before you start looking for your copy of “Alice” to see if these accusations are true, let me save you the trouble: they are not. I just finished it a couple of weeks ago and I can’t think of anything even remotely sexual in the entire book.

Documentation for Woodsville’s claims is, evidently, lost to posterity; that’s if it even existed in the first place. One of my librarian friends (fyi, you know you’re a nerd if you have more than one friend who’s a librarian. I have two…, that I know of) told me that, quite often, the reasons books are banned hasn’t always been made clear or even given; at least not in writing, anyway. So, we are left with this odd little blurb that casts a less-than-wholesome light on one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. Weird, huh?

Okay, I know that was a lot of background, but I had tell you all that so I could tell you this:  Banning “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for non-existent “expletives and sexual content” makes about as much sense as forcing trans people into bathrooms where they’re likely to be harassed because you’re afraid of mythical bathroom predators.

Just as I have to wonder what kind of mind can find sexual references in “Alice”, I also have to wonder what kind of mind can justify discriminating against people because they’re a minority, or they’re different, or they’re “scary”, or whatever, all in the name of protecting women and children from a non-existent threat. Especially when that means means exposing someone else’s children to a very real one.

That so many people who support HB 2 (and other similar laws) claim the name of “Christian” blows my mind. How the hell can you claim to follow a man who hung out with hookers, lepers and tax collectors and told his followers to love everyone and then turn around and dump on the most marginalized people in society (duh, trans folks) with laws that push them even further to margins? If you don’t think this kind of thing makes Jesus cry, you don’t know Jesus. At all.

What the Hell, Y’all?

This flag belongs to what is now one of the most progressive states in the South.
This flag belongs to what is now one of the most progressive states in the South.

I don’t know what’s going on down here in the South, but it seems like quite a few states have lost their damn minds. Last month, Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly passed what was, at the time, the most sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in the country. Not to be outdone, Mississippi passed a religious “freedom” law that considerably ups the ante in the “Craziest State In The Union” Sweepstakes. Then, South Carolina senator Lee Bright (R) introduced a bathroom bill for his state. And, finally, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that will allow therapists and counselors to reject patients that violate their “sincerely held principles.” What the fuck, y’all?!?

I’ve told you several times about North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act”, aka House Bill 2 (here, if you’re interested), so I won’t waste anymore space on that. Instead, let’s talk about these other legislative abominations. In thinking about how to order this list, I considered chronologically, geographically and alphabetically. But, in the end, I decided to go with least offensive to most offensive (in my opinion, of course):

  • First up is Tennessee’s HB 1840. I find this the least offensive of all these turds for two reasons: 1) it is the narrowest in scope and 2) while it is discriminatory, I’m not so sure that it doesn’t do LGBT folks a favor by keeping them away from providers who would not see a patient based on some bullshit religious belief. Oh, I’m sorry, that should have said “sincerely held principle”. Seriously, what kind of mental health professional are you if you can’t put aside your prejudice and help someone who’s hurting? Hell, what kind of human being are you?
  • Next is South Carolina’s Senate Bill 1203. Palmetto State senator Lee Bright (R) stole a page from NC’s law to craft a bill that says “Units of local government in this State may not enact local laws, ordinances, orders, or other regulations that require a place of public accommodation…to allow a person to use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility regardless of the person’s biological sex.” Right, so not only does Bright want to codify discrimination, he wants to stomp on local administrations while he’s doing it. So much for the Republican ideals of “small government” and “local control”.
  • And, finally, there’s Mississippi. Two weeks after North Carolina’s law was passed, lawmakers from the Hospitality State (that’s actually one of Mississippi’s nicknames. Oh, the irony) enacted what has been called “one of the most sweeping of the nation’s ‘religious liberty’ bills”. HB 1523 will allow bigots of all stripes (governmental, private sector and health care workers) to deny services to people who are LGBT on the basis of their religious beliefs; that those beliefs are ‘sincerely held’ goes without saying.

There’s one aspect to all these bills that boggles the mind: each of them either came up for consideration or were passed after the shitstorm of backlash from HB 2 was rocking North Carolina. I cannot for the life of me figure out how a state could look at what’s going on here and say, “Hey, that looks good. We should get us some of that.”

Since Governor Pat “Coal Ash” McCrory signed NC’s economic death warrant HB2, businesses have left, entertainment acts have begun boycotting us (Justin Bieber may the biggest act that’s still coming. Justin…Fucking…Bieber) and, perhaps worst of all, Georgia looks more progressive than us. Georgia, people; a place where the state flag is the old Confederate Stars and Bars with the state seal incorporated. That state is now considered more progressive than North Carolina. Do you have the slightest inkling how fucked up that is??? If you’re thinking about joining us down here in the muck, I don’t believe you do.

Stop Bullying NC!

Bet you can't guess which one of these guys is a bully.
Bet you can’t guess which one of these guys is a bully.

In the days since North Carolina’s “Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act” (aka, House Bill 2), its backers have used no small amount of time, energy and effort to assure us it will not hurt our state’s economy. As HB 2 has been law for almost 3 weeks, I thought I’d take a look at how that notion is holding up.

First, a little background. Two days after he signed HB 2 into law, Governor McCrory’s office issued a press release that said the law would have no effect on NC’s ability to create or recruit new jobs. That same day, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told the Hollywood Reporter that “Businesses will continue to move here, and the businesses that are complaining right now will continue to do business in this great state.” And, on April 8th, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters at the ribbon cutting of a new VA center in Charlotte that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. Well, okay then.

So, how do things stand now? Well, a few days after Gov. McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, Lionsgate and A & E, both filming productions here, declared that once those projects are finished, they won’t be back until the law is repealed. Then, on April 5th, PayPal announced that they were backing out of major expansion plans in the Charlotte area, costing that city at least 400 new jobs. And, on April 8th, Bruce Springsteen canceled his show  at the Greensboro Auditorium, resulting in a loss of $100,000 in revenue.

Now, I want to point out something to you. Notice the date of Burr’s comment I mentioned in an earlier paragraph. Now, look at the dates of the companies in the previous one. Do you see it? Our senior senator said that he didn’t think HB 2 would keep businesses from moving here. after multiple businesses had already stated their intent to leave NC. Or, not come here in the first place. Holy shit, y’all.

Now, lesser politicians would be deterred by this avalanche of bad news and scramble to amend the offending statute, hopefully keeping our state from going completely off the rails economically. But, not our Governor and his partners in crime colleagues. No, these stalwart defenders of women and children stood firm against this onslaught of LGBT oppression, decrying it as…, bullying.

You read that right, beloved; white, Christian cisgender people are complaining that they’re being “bullied”. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that he considered Springsteen’s cancellation “a bully tactic” and compared The Boss to a kid who takes his ball and goes home when he doesn’t get his way. Walker also said that Justin Bieber was scheduled to perform in Greensboro and that he might attend. Wait, we’ve sent a Belieber to Congress? Shit.

Walker isn’t the only Republican who feels bullied by LGBT activists; Michelle Nix, vice chair of the NC GOP, denounced PayPal’s action as “corporate hypocrisy and bullying” because the company has done business in countries with less than stellar human rights records, especially concerning LGBT issues. Yes, Michelle, pointing out PayPal’s ethical shortcomings is the perfect way to convince them to stay in North Carolina.

What might persuade PayPal and all the other companies who said they’ll pass us by for less backward (and discriminatory) pastures? I’m thinking that if the Republicans who passed HB 2 would stop whining about our state suffering the consequences of their stupidity and repeal this abomination of a law, it might just do the trick. Of course, that would be the smart thing to do, so I’m not holding my breath until it happens.

Looking For The Bright Side Of NC House Bill 2

Or, in this case, an odious, discriminatory law.
Or, in this case, an odious, discriminatory law.

I’ve written quite few posts about NC House Bill 2 of late and they’ve been…, let’s say, “less than complimentary”. As a young man growing up in the South, one of the lessons that was beaten into me that I learned was if I couldn’t say something nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Sadly, the ship concerning the latter part of that adage sailed a long time ago. So today, in an attempt to live up to my raisin’, I thought I’d take a shot at finding something nice to say about a law that I have referred to as a steaming pie of discriminatory shit. Something tells me this may not be so easy.

First up, we have to address the fact that HB 2 has rekindled conservatives’ love of laws. I mean, they’ve spent years telling us how laws (of the gun control variety) don’t stop criminals. Now, however, they’re convinced this new one will prevent the awful (and non-existent) threat posed by bathroom predators. It really makes me happy to see my conservative friends embracing law and order once again.
Next up, there’s the way HB 2 has revealed the bigotry that abounds when it comes to LGBT folks, especially the “T’s”. Okay, the fact that folks don’t seem to have a single fucking qualm about shitting on people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and the rest of the alphabet soup that makes up that acronym wasn’t exactly what you’d call a huge  secret. But, every so often, we seem to need reminders that people like to discriminate against those they don’t understand. And, more importantly, that doing so is wrong.
We can’t forget how House Bill 2 has helped shine a light on Republican hypocrisy when it comes to the best way to govern. For years, the GOP has championed small government and local control. But, since they took control in Raleigh 4 years ago, they’ve attempted to take over the operation of Charlotte-Douglas Airport, they did take over Ashville’s water system and changed the make-up of Greensboro’s city council, all without these cities consent or public referendum. Even if you disagree with their methods, you’ve got to admire their chutzpah. Or not. I mean, it is pretty shitty.
Finally, there’s the fact that our esteemed legislators didn’t say anything about religion, freedom or anything else along these lines. This is good because, for once, bigoted assholes aren’t hiding behind their faith while they treat people like shit; they’re hiding behind their wives and children. Is that just as much of a dick move as saying Jesus told you to discriminate? Well, yeah; if anything, it’s an even bigger one. But, at least the J-man is catching a break this time. God knows, he could use one.

Well, would you look at that? Turns out finding the bright side(s) of HB 2 wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I mean, all I had to do was turn my already jaundiced eye on the fetid swamp that is North Carolina politics and look beyond all the bullshit the GOP-dominated General Assembly is spewing to find the actual benefits(?) of House Bill 2. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take multiple showers in what is probably a futile attempt to feel clean again.