By Chad Nance
Photos by Edie Joines
“Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.”
― Michael Crichton
“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”
― Lord Byron
“Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.”
Strother Martin, “Cool Hand Luke”
The decision to take my daughter with me to City Council was an easy one. The intention at tonight’s meeting was for the City Council to pass a resolution (which they did) denouncing the latest bit of manufactured outrage and nastiness coming from the Republicans in Raleigh. The reason I took my daughter is that I wanted her to see exactly how immature and ridiculous adults can behave. She was not impressed.
What follows in this column is not directed at the adults among us. If you are one of those folks who just wants to get through life, make a living, have a little fun, and not hurt anybody while you do it then this column isn’t for you. You are adults and deserve better so please go read about a lovely time I once had working in community theater. (HERE)
If you’re one of those preverts who somehow equates going to the bathroom with sex then you are exactly the kind of nasty bastard the rest of this column will be directed at. Right from the jump I will say what City Councilman James Taylor said tonight before voting for the resolution. “This isn’t about bathrooms.” There has not been a documented case of a transexual attacking a child in a bathroom. In fact transexuals don’t attack children at all. That would be pedophiles. Those criminals tend to be straight males, so this isn’t about bathrooms. That’s just stupid and childish and I am a grown ass man so I won’t be mentioning that again. Who lets their little kid go in a public bathroom unattended anyway?
It also isn’t about the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ citizens have just been used as political pawns and mascots here and they deserve better. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have once more tried to goose turnout in an election by scaring the crap out of suburbanites with some phantom threat from the terrifying others who seem to be in charge this century. It’s a hell of a lot easier than discussing the economy. That said I will let my LGBTQ brothers and sisters rest a while and not drag them any further into this.
Now- for you deviants in the Republican Party who hear bathroom and think “SEX”- This ain’t about your private water sports, this is about real world problems like economic development. I’m not judging. If y’all like to get your particular freak on in public bathrooms, then more power to you. Can’t you just find some creepy, nearly abandoned park somewhere with standing public restrooms and leave the rest of us out of it?
There are people who have lost opportunities and income because of this HB2 nonsense. These are real people, not some algorithm sliced demographic that is under-educated and still reacts with fear and suspicion nine times out of ten. These are North Carolinians who have lost opportunity. They have a right to make a living, and in the case of HB2, Pat McCrory and his pals in the NCGOP decided that their right to drive turnout with bigotry trumped the right of their neighbors just to get by.
The numbers are extremely grim:
PayPal: $44 million
Deutsche Bank: $21.4 million
Unnamed tech company expansion in Buncombe County: $14.3 million
Lionsgate: $3 million
Bruce Springsteen concert: $0.7 million
Charlotte hotel revenue lost from canceled or relocated events: $2.2 million
Five canceled, relocated, or scaled-back events in Raleigh: $0.7 million
That doesn’t even count a major television production deal for Winston-Salem, Pearl Jam just cancelled a concert, and no one knows exactly how many other opportunities have been scuttled by this nonsense. Major television studios, including Fox, A&E Studios, and Turner Broadcasting, have announced that they will not consider North Carolina for future filming if the law is not repealed. Two projects by A&E and Turner that are currently filming in North Carolina are expected to have direct in-state spending of more than $57 million. Google Ventures—an investment firm that manages $2.4 billion in assets—has pledged not to back any companies from the state; this is at a time when North Carolina’s emerging biotech and life sciences sector is ripe for investment and are exactly kind of jobs we’ve been trying to bring to Winston-Salem.
HB 2 could may also cost the people North Carolina billions of dollars in federal funding. HB2 requires all public schools and all other state and local government agencies in North Carolina to discriminate against transgender students, patients, and workers in violation of federal protections. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced that his office is reviewing the potential removal of North Carolina’s federal transportation funding, which totals roughly $1.2 billion and makes up more than one-quarter of the state’s transportation budget. A similar review is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, which provided $4.3 billion in funding to the state in 2015.
How did our Governor respond? First he issued an Executive Order that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Then he went on a campaign of public whining while co-opting the old Segregationist’s line of “Outside Agitators” stirring up trouble. Yes folks, our Governor went so far into stupid and mean that he attacked an organization whose sole purpose is to promote and encourage the flourishing of human rights. Then there is his baffling appearance on Meet the Press which just proves that not only our Governor a political hack- he’s not even good at it. No one who appears as buffaloed as Pat McCrory does on this issue needs to be in public office. They should probably be under some sort of constant and compassionate care to make sure that they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else.
To their credit the Winston-Salem City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution, put forth by the South West ward’s Dan Besse (see full text below). The South Ward’s Molly Leight was not in attendance and the only “No” vote came from the West Ward’s Robert Clark. In all fairness, y’all, Robert Clark is a good guy, he just happens to be stuck being a Republican when the Republicans in Raleigh decided to do something really vicious and really moronic. He was also maintaining the same policy he has always had in office which is not to support resolutions and declarations about hot button issues. Mr. Clark did read a letter into record in which he expressed his reservations and disappointment with the politics only actions of his party leaders in Raleigh. While he pitched the compromise idea of a third bathroom, (Grown people shouldn’t be having these discussions, though) Councilman Clark also expressed deep reservation at Raleigh’s power grab from local governments and how that might affect the City of Winston-Salem’s relationship with the federal government. Clark’s discomfort with the issue is shared by most North Carolinians. Like many of us he’s been caught up in a political crap storm that he didn’t make, didn’t ask for, and would rather not have to comment on. This is a dumb conversation in the first place and we should all be focused on important things like economic development rather than having schoolyard arguments over potty time. The point of the resolution was a clear, simple one: In Winston-Salem, we are not this and we are open for business.
This last bit is directed straight at those who have supported and encouraged HB2 (Like the used car salesman/preacher Mark Harris) Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. If you want to be an a-hole in private, then do your thing, but don’t drag the rest of us and our families into it. The majority of North Carolina’s people are tired of being a national pariah. If you are someone who still harbors hatred for your fellow human beings and would like to impose your lifestyle onto their reality then it is historically your turn to go into the closet. Seriously. Just shut up about it and be quiet so the rest of us can go about our lives and quit having these moronic public conversations.
What you really don’t seem to like is shame. For years, and currently with HB2, y’all have been happy to shame anyone you wanted from single mothers to the gay kid down the street. Now the shame has rightly been directed back at the people who have spent years using at is a weapon. No longer is it socially acceptable to behave this way and it is eating some of you up to such an extent that you feel obligated to act out publicly. It is those who live their lives in a state of reactionary bigotry that should feel shame. Y’all be embarrassed when you go out of your house. You should feel like people are watching you and silently judging you because of who you are. It’s your turn, folks…
Or we could all quit using shame as a weapon against one another and learn how to get along. Learn to celebrate each person’s unique magnificence. It is time to learn how to treat one another decently and work together to make North Carolina a place of opportunity and joy rather than a land of shame, hatred, and political viciousness. Practice what you preach, y’all. Try loving your neighbor… you’ll be glad ya did.
RESOLUTION ADOPTED 4/18/16 BY THE WINSTON-SALEM CITY COUNCIL REGARDING HB2:
RESOLUTION EXPRESSING CONCERN REGARDING INADEQUATELY CONSIDERED PROVISIONS AND CONSEQUENCES OF HB2, AND CALLING FOR REVIEW AND RECONSIDERATION OF THE LEGISLATION
WHEREAS, the NC General Assembly was called into special session on March 23, 2016, supposedly to deal with a single controversial provision in the City of Charlotte’s recent amendments to its long-standing local ordinance regarding nondiscrimination in public accommodations; and
WHEREAS, the special session in fact introduced and enacted sweeping legislation (HB2) dealing with a broad range of individual and local government rights and responsibilities; and
WHEREAS, this action was taken without advance notice of the legislation’s contents, and without opportunity for input from impacted local governments, businesses, or the public, or even most members of our legislature; and
WHEREAS, initially unrecognized consequences of this inadequately considered legislation are beginning to come to public light; and
WHEREAS, those adverse consequences include (but may not be limited to) the following:
–All local ordinances regarding nondiscrimination in public accommodations and employment are revoked and further such ordinances banned;
–There are now no state or local nondiscrimination laws in North Carolina for public accommodations or employment regarding marital status, familial status, sexual orientation or gender identity;
–Local governments are now prohibited from requiring in their contracts with businesses, even for local public work using local public tax revenues, any provisions regarding nondiscrimination or good employment practices, wages and salaries, sick or family leave or other benefits, or other requirements that exceed the generally applicable minimum state requirements for all private employers;
–Local governments may have been stripped of their ability to use their contract bidding process to promote the development of local minority- and women-owned businesses as contractors and subcontractors on many public contracts;
–The decades-old right of employees to sue their employer under state law if fired for a legally prohibited reason was eliminated, making North Carolina one of only two states in the nation without any effectively enforceable state law protecting private sector employees from workplace discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, or sex; and
WHEREAS, these inadequately considered changes are already raising concerned questions nationally among businesses and industries considering locating, expanding, or doing business in our state, with potentially severe and far-reaching adverse impacts on our state and local economy; and
WHEREAS, these inadequately considered changes appear to undercut and retard our local efforts to build our community’s economic base and promote development of jobs and economic opportunities, especially for historically disadvantaged and underserved members of our community; and
WHEREAS, these sweeping new restrictions on local efforts to build welcoming communities are severely damaging our state’s reputation nationally as a place where all people are welcomed to take part in our civil society and economy without fear or discrimination;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Winston-Salem calls for a public legislative investigation, review, and determination of the nature of these and other concealed or inadequately considered adverse consequences of HB2; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Winston-Salem calls on the members of our Forsyth County state legislative delegation to work to reconsider and undo these inadequately considered and damaging legislative changes during the 2016 legislative short session, and if necessary in subsequent legislative sessions.