Not clear on the “free speech” concept, I guess

North Dakotans are making themselves look like idiots again. They’re trying to pass a bill that literally criminalizes free speech.

A Republican lawmaker in North Dakota introduced a bill that would fine people $1,500 if they refer to trans people using their correct pronouns, rather than the pronouns they were assigned at birth.

The rule would apply to organizations that receive state funding—which includes public schools. That means schools and teachers could be fined for using their trans colleagues’ or students’ pronouns.

‘Words used to reference an individual’s sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression, mean the individual’s determined sex at birth, male or female,” states Senate Bill 2199. “Any person that violates this section must be assessed a fee of one thousand five hundred dollars.”

Remarkable. So, if a teacher uses a student’s preferred form of address, they can be slapped with a $1500 fine? Just for saying “he” or “she”? I’m glad I don’t live in North Dakota, or I’d be bankrupt right now, all for respecting students’ identities.

Thank goodness it’s still legal to reference David Clemens as a horse’s ass with a bad haircut, who looks like he’s trying out for a remake of Dumb and Dumber. At least that’s an upgrade from being known as a member of the North Dakota state senate.


  1. drew says

    I have been applying for jobs lately. Some companies ask me if I “identify as my legal gender.”

    Which is just disturbing because I’m not aware of having a legal gender, so I can’t possibly answer yes. Nor can anyone else who’s lived where I have. But they ask the question . . . because, I assume, politics.

    It lets me know who the far, far right folks are. Now if only I could stop getting liberals to purity test me, we’d be ok . . .

  2. KG says

    Now if only I could stop getting liberals to purity test me, we’d be ok . . .

    You mean if people could stop objecting to the stupid crap you come out with.

  3. moonslicer says

    Sadly it isn’t just North Dakota or Texas or Florida. In recent days we’ve been reminded just how widespread this anti-trans crap is here in Ireland as well.

    It started with a schoolteacher’s refusal to address a non-binary pupil as “they”. (And note that this wasn’t even one of his pupils. He went out of his way to pick a fight with them.) But school policy supported the pupil, and the teacher, being the super-religious type, got obstreperous and one thing led to another, and where we are now is that the teacher has been ordered to stay away from the school, which order he is defying. He continues to show up for work every day as if he hasn’t been dismissed, even though his appearance at the school costs him €700 a day every time he shows up.

    He is a stubborn skunk, and that worries me because stubborn people can get away with a lot because people often find themselves unable to stand up to them. This guy was actually in prison over this business for 108 days, I think, and the judge finally let him out because he wouldn’t capitulate. When a judge will surrender, it doesn’t exactly encourage the miscreant to.

    Anyway, on line I found the usual discouraging total ignorance concerning trans issues. People don’t know anything about us. They just know they don’t like us. And the religious types are hailing your man as a hero for standing up for “religious freedom”, which naturally gives him the right to erase transgender freedom. He complains that he’s being forced to “participate in transgenderism” and that his “religious beliefs are being criminalized.”

    Ho-hum. It is tiresome and discouraging. If anyone wants more details about the case (and good luck trying to keep things straight) you can google Enoch Burke. His name’s all over the place.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    So .. where are all the Freeeezepeachers!!1ty!…

    Cheering on this bill, that’s where.

  5. christoph says

    “Thank goodness it’s still legal to reference David Clemens as a horse’s ass with a bad haircut”
    I think it’s actually a bad hairpiece. I wonder if that’s common with right wingnuts? (Ref Donald Trump’s bad hairpiece…)

  6. robro says

    Reginald Selkirk @ #6 — You saw that, too. Bob Keeshan went without a mustache a lot. I gather Mr. Keeshan was a nice guy, not a jackass like Clemens.

    David Clemens? I wonder if there’s any relation to the famous Clemens.

  7. Jack Krebs says

    One solution for teachers in this situation is just drop he and she entirely and use they/them/their exclusively for everyone, fellow teachers and admins also. That would cause a stir! :-)

  8. asclepias says

    It feels to me like high school–legislators have to introduce some sort of legislation just to get a participation grade. The media tends to bash legislators who haven’t introduced any legislation in however many years as if that’s their only job. It’s not much better here in Wyoming. One of our legislators introduced anti-discrimination legislation aimed at businesses requiring their employees and patrons to wear masks. Apparently that’s what counts as discrimination to some people.

  9. raven says

    Wyoming is always so progressive about everything.
    Their latest is to outlaw electric cars.

    A JOINT RESOLUTION expressing support for phasing out the sale of new electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035. WHEREAS, phasing out the sale of new electric vehicles in Wyoming by 2035 will ensure the stability of Wyoming’s oil and gas industry and will help preserve the country’s critical minerals for vital purposes.Jan 13, 2023

    SJ0004 – Phasing out new electric vehicle sales by 2035. › Legislation

    That goes along with their previous attempt to outlaw renewable energy, wind and solar.

    Wyoming Bill Would All But Outlaw Clean Energy by … › News

    Jan 13, 2017 — Coal supporters are pushing a bill that would bar utilities from using the state’s abundant wind power to provide electricity within the state.

    Did they ever pass bills to outlaw computers and the internet?

    FWIW, I don’t think it is even legal for them to outlaw EVs.
    That violates the Interstate Commerce clause of the US constitution.

  10. R. L. Foster says

    One of the issues I have with the current pronoun issue is just when am I expected to use non-binary pronouns? I get that he/she or him/her are gendered pronouns and they/them are not. That’s a quirk of the English language. I know a young woman who wants us to use they/them instead of she/her. OK. That’s fine. Not so hard. But, in reality I would only be using they/them when I am talking about her/them, not directly to herself/themself. When speaking to her/them I would use the workhorse pronoun you, not they. If I said something to another about her/them I guess I would be expected to use they/them and not she/her, but would she/they really care in that case? Or would she/they be miffed if she/they heard that I’d referred to her/them as she behind her back? I understand that if I was asked, where did Lydia go, I’d be expected to say they went to the store. But if I said she went to the store, because I’m an old dog and that’s what I’ve been saying for decades, I might be accused of a social misfire. Perhaps this all comes easy to the rest of you all, but I can assure you I find it confusing in the extreme.

  11. says

    @14 R L Foster

    No, you’re not confused.

    If I said something to another about her/them I guess I would be expected to use they/them and not she/her … I understand that if I was asked, where did Lydia go, I’d be expected to say they went to the store.

    That’s it. That’s what you do. You understand it perfectly. And yes, because you know, you would be making a ‘social misfire’ to do other than what you know is the right thing to do. In which case either you correct yourself and move on, or you decide not to correct yourself because you think respecting Lydia isn’t worth the effort.

    That’s what this comes down to. This is not confusion. You understand it just fine. This is discomfort. You don’t like that it’s changed, you want to keep doing what you always used to do while being shielded from people being aware that you’re choosing not to do what you already know is the right thing.

    You want to not have to do this incredibly bare minimum thing that you understand perfectly, but also not have anyone treat you differently because of that. You want the world to conform to how you’re comfortable in it, rather than do any work to move with the times or respect someone you “don’t understand”. That’s pure privilege, that is.

    You’re not confused. You’re asking for your cis privilege to be upheld. So, no. Do better, like you know you’re supposed to.

  12. asclepias says

    raven @ 13 – I try to check out of the news cycle when the legislature here is in session because they are–with a few notable exceptions–either relatively uneducated, educated but unwilling to educate themselves further, or left to be educated in a different state and want to throw their degrees around to show the rest of us how little we know. Unfortunately, sometimes things are hard to ignore. Somebody who moved from here to Denver pointed out in a letter to the editor in a local newspaper that banning electric vehicles would be a violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause, and that the state would lose money if they indeed succeeded in doing that. I really don’t get the one about outlawing clean energy. Right now, all our clean energy is going to California through transmission lines. The bottom line is that the reason the state has been able to stay solvent for so long without a state income tax is that it’s been relying on severance taxes from the oil companies (I wonder how surprised they’d be to find out that the companies have been shortchanging us on a lot of the taxes they’re supposed to pay?).

  13. calgor says

    If the law is applicable to calling trans people by their preferred pronouns, what happens if you call non trans people by pronouns opposite to their birth gender? David clemens exudes a virtual miasma that makes me think that he couldn’t tolerate any suggestion that he may not be as male as he thinks he is…

  14. raven says

    If this passes, I would hope it leads to many “I am Spartacus!” moments.

    Already has.

    I changed my pronouns to they/them.
    I’m not even nonbinary and I’m also not even sure what nonbinary is.

    My gender isn’t relevant most of the time anyway and it makes it slightly harder for people to stereotype other people.
    Plus it shows solidarity with the alphabet people LBGTQIN+ and might make a few people think.

    Lots of people are doing the same.
    The pregnant receptionist for my last doctor’s appointment had they/them above their/them’s name tag.

  15. Yaron Davidson says

    Are David Clemens, and anyone else supporting this bill, having notarized copies of their birth certificate widely published, and given to anyone they come in contact with? Because otherwise I can’t see how they can expect anyone to know what their “determined sex at birth” is.
    Is everyone just supposed to assume it based on how they present themselves, or to consider what they say it is without verifying?? Because those sounds like the sort of things they should really be against, and which this bill is explicitly intended to prevent…

    How does this actually work, in the unlikely case they expect it to work? I mean, the post just referred to David Clemens as a “he”, but I’m fairly certain PZ didn’t see a notarized copy of David Clemens birth certificate, so PZ can’t possibly know the determined sex at birth of David Clemens is male rather than female or anything else. Referring to David Clemens as a “he” could be breaking the law, if done by someone this law applies to, once this bill is in effect.