Opinion: Two Days Into Legalized Bigotry

Fallout from HB2, coming down like rain
Max Socol via Twitter
Protestors crowd North Blount Street outside the governor's mansion Thursday.

Two days into legalized bigotry:

I’ve seen some chatter on Twitter and plenty of other places noting that HB2 violates Republican legislators’ supposed commitment to local control, or asserting that the state can’t override a local ordinance, or some combination.

True on the first; false on the second. Like it or not, under North Carolina’s constitution, local governments are subdivisions of the state and, on most matters, subject to state control. (Exceptions mainly concern provision of basic services, such as water and garbage collection.) A legal challenge to the new law may hold up in court, on civil rights or other grounds, but it’ll have to be based on something other than a claim that the legislature can’t nullify a city ordinance. The special session was extraordinary, the new law is revolting, and the justification was crap on a stick—but there’s no question about the General Assembly’s authority to do it.

On the first point, the local control issue, it was obvious long before HB2 that Republican legislators hew to that “principle” to the extent that it serves them and ditch it when it doesn’t, which makes it not a principle. So at this point, it’s almost not even worth discussing. Of course they’re a bunch of shameless hypocrites. Legislative supermajorities mean never having to say you’re sorry.

So how is Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts responding to all this? Yesterday, mere hours after the governor signed HB2 into law, she appeared on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins” and faced a series of questions from Collins that amounted to, “Did you and the City Council bring this on yourselves?”

Legislators said so Wednesday. So did “Brian,” an emailer to the show—Collins read it aloud—who identified as gay and pointed the finger at Roberts’ “arrogance and blind bravado” in pushing the issue before the City Council so soon after taking office. Do you worry, Collins asked, that you’ve just made matters worse?

“Well,” the mayor responded, “there we go blaming the victim again, right?”

Right. It’s a bully’s logic: See what happens when you make Daddy angry? The biggest practical reason why Charlotte moved so quickly was economic; as has been shown amply since HB2 took effect, big business is allergic to government-sanctioned discrimination. Charlotte plays on a global economic development field, so it’s not really good for the brand to lag behind the likes of Latta, S.C., population 1,379, in securing the civil rights of LGBT people.

And riddle me this, Brian, or whomever: How long should Charlotte have waited? Six months? Ten years? Twenty? Fifty?

The final insult: Forcing the victim to pay for the privilege of her own assault.

State Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) has asked his staff to look and see how the General Assembly can charge Charlotte to cover the costs of Wednesday's special session, including the possibility of withholding the city's sales tax revenues …

"Charlotte brought this all upon themselves," knowing exactly what they were getting into, Apodaca said.

I’ll refrain from responding in the proper manner on this blog and simply refer you to a headline on another that, in a different context, does it for me.

Categories: The Buzz