A couple days ago North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced the creation of a 24-hour “Offender Hotline” enabling individuals to report others whom they consider “gender suspicious” and possibly in violation of the provisions of the recently enacted HB2 - the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act” - which prohibits transgender individuals from using a public bathroom other than the one corresponding to the gender assigned to them at birth. I recall living in Asheville, North Carolina in the early 1960s when visiting a public bathroom was determined by the color of one’s skin. How can we step backwards now? This new state law supercedes any local non-discrimination laws and ordinances to the contrary. “We need our state to unite as one,” the governor’s office announced, “if we’re going to keep our children safe from all sexual predators and other aberrant behavior that is out there.” The governor seems only interested in the “gender suspicious,” and those found in violation of this law, the foundation of which is hate and ignorance. If they are, he assures them the will “see jail time. What about the heterosexual pedophiles and rapists who are more likely to commit a crime in a public bathroom? Why stigmatize and punish someone who simply wants to pee in private?
This hotline also leaves it to an individual’s discretion to determine whether an individual is “gender suspicious.” What are these snitches looking for in order to make a hotline report? This is all strikingly reminiscent of life in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) where the Ministry for State Security, popularly known as the Stasi, relied on regular citizens turned "unofficial informants" [inoffizielle Mitarbeiter, or IMs) in order to protect its surveillance state and support the repression of the privacy and civil and humans rights of the citizens of the GDR. Once denounced by an IM, whether the allegation or report was accurate or not, an individual would have a record that would follow her or him for the rest of their lives. How is this different from what Governor McCrory is rationalizing with the passage of HB2 and the formation of a state sanctioned system of informing on the citizens of North Carolina? And, in this instance, an individual will have been outed (whether she or he is actually a her or a him) in violation of their God-given right to privacy and security protected by US Constitution . . . the same rights the State of North Carolina claims it is protecting. I don’t think so.
It is time to stand up and tell Governor McCrory and the state General Assembly and Senate that decent Americans will not tolerate this naked dispossession of an individual’s basic human and civil rights. The citizens of East Germany stood up to repression and their state withered and collapsed. The citizens of North Carolina must do the same. Governor McCrory signed HB2 into law last month after it passed the General Assembly and state Senate which codified fear and ignorance by a vote of 82-24 and 32-0 respectively (the Democrats walked out refusing to vote in protest). Since then thousands of jobs have moved out of state, and numerous companies - Facebook, Apple, and Paypal to name just a few - have warned that they intend to cancel plans to expand into the state. Entertainers such as Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr, Bryan Adams, and the Cirque du Soleil have also canceled their concerts and performances in North Carolina to boycott the law. These boycotts have already cost the state upwards of $200 million dollars in revenue. Keep the pressure on! Money is the only thing these people understand. It was a stupid thing to do, and more importantly, the new law is unconstitutional and violates the Bill of Rights as it deprives individuals of their blessings of liberty and their privacy and right to be left alone while impinging on their right to be “secure in their persons” while subjecting them to “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The actions taken by the North Carolina governor and the state legislature have brought shame and ill repute not only on themselves as representatives of a pariah state, but also on the entire United States. Our oldest and most loyal ally, the United Kingdom, has now issued travel warnings to its citizens, cautioning them about possible risks traveling to North Carolina and other southern states, including Mississippi where legislation adversely affecting the LGBTQ community will take effect in July. (If it does, it will be time to boycott that state as well). The director of Human Rights Campaign Global cautions that these discriminatory laws are “causing serious damage to our nation's reputation, and the perceived safety of LGBT people who travel here." The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association highlights countries with legislation targeting the LGBTQ community. The United States joins countries such as Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Nicaragua, much of northern Africa and the Middle East, some of which punish homosexuality with death. Not very esteemed company for the land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
This new law was passed and signed by a bigoted governor and legislature who are supposedly acting in the name of the people they represent. It is time for the good people of North Carolina, like the East Germans before them, to stand up and take their state back. If they do not, then they are equally culpable and should suffer the consequences of their inaction and silence. Until this hateful and ignorant law is overturned, all people and organizations of good conscience should boycott North Carolina by refusing to visit or do business in the state. If you have to drive through the state, gas up, eat, and lay in road snacks before you arrive. Do not attend concerts or other events. Don’t visit its beaches and mountains. Quite simply, stay away and spend your dollars elsewhere. Show North Carolina there is a price to pay for its intolerance.
Check out the "Looking Toward Portugal" Facebook page for more information and photos.
From the Hermitage Artist Retreat
1 month ago