When you were young and got into arguments with siblings or peers the adult in the room would try to sort out the dispute. One side would inevitably claim, “He started it,” to which the other would respond, “Did not. She started it.” The adult would most always intervene by saying, “I don’t care who started it. I’m going to end it.”
This is pretty much the childish melodrama surrounding HB2, only we keep waiting for the adult to intervene.
HB2 is a modern-day cousin to the 1963 Speaker Ban Law, only it was conservative Democrats, not Republicans, who speedily passed this ill-conceived legislation without much deliberation or debate. Responding to a perceived threat of communists speaking on campus this law prohibited known Communist Party members, anyone suspected of being one, or even someone who had taken the Fifth Amendment from speaking on a University of North Carolina campus. The law was ultimately struck down by a federal court because of its “vagueness,” but not before North Carolina got a black eye.
Both HB2 and the Charlotte ordinance that preceded it were solutions in search of a problem. We’ve yet to see certifiable evidence that Charlotte had significant or quantifiable transgender discrimination problems. It was political pandering to a liberal support base.
HB2 was an even worse response. Nobody has presented significant and quantifiable numbers showing there are safety issues resulting from transgendered individuals using bathrooms, locker rooms or showers, but lawmakers couldn’t resist pandering to their conservative base, passing the bill with little consideration in a one-day session.
Let us agree that our state needs an honest, civil and unheated discussion about discrimination, human rights and safety issues. But this discussion won’t happen so long as the children on both sides refuse to back away from political posturing. Their gamesmanship and demagoguery might not be so bad were it not for the damage it has and continues to do to our state. We do have significant and quantifiable data proving the loss of goodwill, revenues and jobs.
Where are the adults to stop this ridiculous bickering? People of goodwill have tried to broker a solution to this lingering, festering wound but each time a fix seems imminent one group or the other starts pointing fingers and blaming the other. Any possible fix immediately falls apart.
Here is the message the governor, the mayor, the legislature and the Charlotte city council needs to hear: The majority of us, the pawns in this superheated rhetorical game, don’t care who started it, which political faction supports which position and we don’t care who makes the first move. We’re losing patience with you and confidence in your ability to find a palatable solution. It appears your egos and political fortunes are more important than our wellbeing and it is looking like our only recourse is the ballot box. We are unwilling to wait months (or perhaps years) for endless court appeals because during the interim we will continue to suffer losses. Get off your moral high horses and fix this immediately.
Then and only then can we have those discussions we need and find some workable solutions to protect the safety and rights of everyone.
Tom Campbell is the Executive Producer and Moderator of NC Spin.