IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob
© Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer
(Used with permission. All rights reserved.)
As readers here know, the stunningly beautiful state of North Carolina recently enacted an egregious law that voids and prohibits any and all anti-discrimination statutes enacted by local municipalities to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, among others. The law also prohibits local anti-discrimination statutes and/or state law remedies for discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, ethnicity and religion. And since this was not nearly enough doucheweaselry to pack into a single bill introduced in an “emergency session” and passed into law 11 hours and 10 minutes later, it went even further: with respect to public-sector contractors, HB2 also prohibits local municipalities from enacting laws concerning minimum wages, health insurance standards, family leave policies, child welfare protections and the number of consecutive hours an employee is required to work without a break. I mean that is impressive people, amirite?
The most notorious provision of HB2 is the one requiring people to use restrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. Putting aside (for the purposes of this particular rant) its significant implications for those of nonbinary genders, HB2 means, among other things, that these people must now use restrooms designated “WOMEN”:
And these people must now use restrooms designated “MEN.”
What could possibly go wrong?
It was heartening to see immediate backlash to HB2, including powerful companies like PayPal, Apple, IBM, Wal-Mart, the NFL, the NBA and American Airlines pressing for repeal, the governor of New York banning state-funded travel to North Carolina, and Bruce Springsteen canceling his concert in Greensboro. One of my favorite protests is web porn giant XHamster.com refusing service to IP addresses in the state. XHamster spokesperson Mike Kulich noted:
“We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which XHamster.com does not tolerate,” he said in an official statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Judging by the stats of what you North Carolinians watch, we feel this punishment is a severe one…Back in March, we had 400,000 hits for the term ‘Transsexual’ from North Carolina alone,” he said. “People from that state searched ‘Gay’ 319,907 times,” he added.
Predictably, the law’s proponents tied themselves in knots blaming everyone but themselves for the pushback.
[Republican Lt. Gov. Dan] Forest charged that PayPal didn’t “see the worth of our children,” while [Gov.] McCrory blamed his Democratic rival for governor, Attorney General Roy Cooper.
This kind of comic absurdity is to be expected, because conservatives are pathologically averse to ever admitting being wrong about anything, except in those instances when they have regrets about not being terrible enough. This unfortunate propensity underlies the mother of all conservative logical fallacies: “Conservatism can never fail. It can only be failed by weak-minded souls who refuse to properly follow its tenets.”
And, as usual with conservative policies, the bathroom provisions of HB2 have no basis in reality whatsoever. As in, zero.
Media Matters‘ Luke Brinker and Carlos Maza wrote an in-depth report of the widely circulated narrative that trans people are predators, and how this myth is used to justify hate crimes against trans people. In fact, in most criminal courts, a defendant can legally use their fear of transgender people as their defense for assaulting or killing them. The results of Brinker and Maza’s survey of 15 “law enforcement officials, government employees and advocates for victims of sexual assault” from 12 states yielded no incidents of trans people harassing or assaulting cisgender people in public restrooms. They declared “the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms is a lie, plain and simple.”
Also from Media Matters:
Unsurprisingly, it is not hard to find conservative North Carolinians defending the law nonetheless, and displaying the characteristic conservative aversion to reality. A specimen observed in the wild by Charlotte’s News & Observer is illustrative:
Deborah Thompson, who owns the Simply NC gift shop in downtown Clinton (North Carolina), says she finds the bathroom debate to be a “very confusing issue.”
“A lot of people don’t understand what the whole transgender thing is,” she said.
Gosh, then perhaps one ought to educate oneself before supporting draconian policies that put people in danger? Just a suggestion, Deborah!
Thompson says the safety concern has been at the front of her mind as she’s considered the issue. “On the side of safety, I approve of what the governor did,” she said…
…thereby proving that neither she nor the governor have the first fucking clue what they are talking about. Unless by “safety concern” what they mean is “adversely affecting the safety of trans people.” NAH COULD NEVER BE THAT. But back to Deborah:
Thompson is among a small number of business owners who are willing to publicly support House Bill 2. The Keep N.C. Safe Coalition says that nearly 400 business owners have signed its petition in favor of the law, but only 65 of them agreed to have their names listed.
“Due to vocal threats and bullying from the LGBT community, some business owners feared for the well-being of their business and families,” the group said in a news release.
BZZZT. Uh no, Deborah. See, pointing out bigotry, being justifiably angry about bigotry being codified into state law, and boycotting businesses owned by proud and unrepentant shitspigots is not “bullying.” Bullying (and worse) is what transgender people experience at the hands of people like you, Deborah. PLEASE DO TRY TO KEEP UP.
Thompson said the reluctance to speak out is common. “Too many times, Christians and conservatives, we stay too quiet,” she said.
CHRISTIANS AND CONSERVATIVES STAY TOO QUIET OMFG LOL 4EVAH.
Of course I would be remiss if I did not point out that a bathroom bill banning Republican lawmakers from public restrooms makes a whole lot more sense than HB2, given that at least three Republican lawmakers have actually been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms. Compared to, you know, ZERO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE in places with anti-discrimination statutes on the books. (And I cannot help but think that quite a few more Republican lawmakers may have been caught, but were never arrested for some mysterious reason.)
There are two serious obstacles to fixing any of this: (1) conservative lawmakers generally cannot be enlightened or persuaded by facts (see above re: never wrong about anything), and (2) they harbor very little empathy for fellow citizens who are not exactly like them. Indeed, the only thing likely to flip their position is a serious, direct threat to their own self-interest—such as, say, a credible election opponent arising in the wake of big businesses pulling out of the state en masse. They will never take responsibility for the initial damage they caused, but sometimes, when their fragile egos are at stake, they can occasionally be forced to do the right thing.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that none of us here are CEOs of businesses with large operations in North Carolina. So what can we do? We can point fingers at the culprits, pile on the mockery and laugh, that’s what.
Please allow me to recommend this superb exercise in exactly that, from a news outlet in the small town (pop. 900) of Oriental, North Carolina.
Bathroom Re-opens With On Duty Compliance Officer
Gender Identity Assured Thanks To New State Funding
April 15, 2016After being closed since late March, Oriental’s public restroom is again open. The town has been able to hire a certified Gender Compliance Officer.
Located by the harbor near the new Town Dock, Oriental’s public bathroom opened to great acclaim in December. However, the Town was forced to quickly shutter the facility when the NC legislature passed HB2 on March 26. NC Law HB2 mandates that “users of public restrooms use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.” Without a way to check birth certificates, bathroom use had to be shut down, or the town was vulnerable to a stiff $10,000 daily Gender Non-Compliance fine.That’s all been solved. At a Tuesday news conference Governor McCrory has announced the GCF (Gender Compliance Fund), a 6 million dollar program providing revenue for communities to hire Gender Compliance Officers.
Oriental Town Hall officials wasted no time. Oriental’s GCF funding allowed for the hiring of one Gender Compliance Officer. The town tapped Kim Daniels, whose pharmaceutical background provided the required knowledge base. Thursday at 8am the public restroom re-opened with GCO Daniels on duty.
Compliance Officer Kim Daniels awaits at the base of the restroom stairs.
You should probably just go read the whole thing—but here are a few more highlights.
Mr. D. Mauney submits to manual Gender authentication.
While manual authentication may seem harsh just to use a public restroom, Governor McCrory wants all NC citizens to know “that we’re all in this together.” McCrory states “every member of my staff, including myself, has been manually authenticated to insure the veracity of the process.”
North Carolina Governor McCrory being authenticated.
Major kudos to the anonymous mocker(s). I don’t know how any of them kept straight faces long enough to pose for all those pics outside of the town’s restrooms—I’d have laughed until I peed myself and, ironically enough, would no longer need any restroom at all.
You know what? A lot of bathrooms in NYC are accessible to any and all humans with a biological need to relieve themselves. Some have multiple private stalls with sinks in them, others have private stalls with communal sink areas. I have never felt unsafe in any of these spaces. Quite the contrary, actually: in my experience it seems that men—and let’s face it, that is precisely what these bathroom bills are about: men—are generally better behaved when other members of the public are visible and within earshot.
Why unisex bathrooms are not universally adopted is beyond me. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s because THEY HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOM.
By the way, North Carolina’s HB2 passed with an able assist from 11 Squirrel People.
johnson catman says
They don’t want it advertised that they are bigots because they fear that people will vote with their dollars somewhere else. And you know that boycotts are only allowed when it is the fine christians calling for the boycotts.
johnson catman, no no no! It’s just Christians and conservatives being characteristically too quiet.
johnson catman says
Businesses that are against HB2 are eager to promote that. I am all for that. If a business doesn’t advertise that it is against HB2 or won’t make a public stand on it, I don’t want to spend my dollars with them. There are a lot of NC residents that feel the same way as me. The “pro-business” republicans in charge of the legislature (and the governor) should learn their error, but you are right that they will never admit a mistake. I hope that the November elections sweeps them out of power. I know that is hoping for a lot because of the gerrymandered districts, the voter suppression that they have enacted, and voter apathy, but maybe this law has lit the fire under progressive NC to oust them.
johnson catman says
My wife and I vote all the time, but we are especially pissed now. We had GOOD seats for the Pearl Jam show scheduled for tonight in Raleigh. Neither of us has seen them and we really looked forward to it. Fucking republican assholes in Raleigh! We understand the position that PJ has taken, and we do not blame them. The blame lies entirely on the NC legislature for their spiteful actions after Charlotte passed their anti-discrimination ordinance.
One thing I find interesting about this law is that it specifically prohibits local governments from legislating against discrimination. Does the state government fear that parts of NC are going blue and that the state level bigots are losing control?
I think that’s exactly it. As johnson catman points out @3, they’re gerrymandering districts and enacting voter suppression tactics to stay in power because they have to if they want to stay in power. And they most desperately do. Gawdferbid they should want a democracy, or anything terrible like that.
If you’re interested in the recent history of North Carolina politics, this is an excellent 47 minute documentary. If you watch it, be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor more than once.
johnson catman says
Thanks for the link to that Bill Moyers documentary. I live in NC, and I have experienced much of what was presented in the program, but it is still frustrating to see it laid out. Our best hope is that enough people have finally been pissed off enough to get out and vote the damn republicans out. Not only in NC, but nationally too. They are burning down the country and loving every second of it.
Of course,gerrymandering only works if you can still convince someone to vote for you. Perhaps after the mockery, financial loss, and loss of entertainment the state of North Carolina has undergone as a result of this ill advised law they’ll think better of it and stop voting for the people who proposed it. In all districts, not just the “liberal” ones.
I’m a wild eyed optimist, aren’t I?
Yes, but the point of gerrymandering is that you don’t need majorities to win. See, e.g., this graphic.
@Iris 9: I get that, but that sort of gerrymandering can result in fragile majorities. In the middle example, just one block has to flip for any given district to become red rather than blue. In the example on the right, the red districts are just one block away from a tie. You could easily get a shift in the power structure by having a 10% shift in voting patterns. This could, in principle, lead North Carolina to a change in state level government if, say, 10% of voters are angry enough at this nonsense to switch their votes.
Or not. Gerrymandering is only one means that politicians use to maintain control. They also have significant control of the media* and can spin the issue as evil liberals interfering with North Carolina’s freedom! Hey, it worked in 1861.
*The US is number 41 in press freedom, between Slovenia and Burkina Faso, per Reporters Without Borders. Up from #49, yay?
I laughed out loud upon reading that. That reminds me of the “taking me out of context” excuse* conservatives use where the only context that would make the quote acceptable is if it were preceded by “I would be a major shit lord if I said: “.
*Apocryphally attributed to Al Franken
My theory is that what they actually cared about was undermining local minimum wages (something else outlawed by HB2), and the “bathroom bill” angle was just to drum up support for that,