NC GOP vs. urban

My “angry activist” side has mellowed considerably over the past twenty years or so, but this makes me boiling mad. And it makes me even angrier that so few people seem to realize all the implications of what’s happening here.

For those of you who don’t see what the “bathroom ordnance” means to you:

Let’s be clear about what’s really going on. It’s not about “bathroom etiquette” nor is it even specifically about LGBT rights (though it would be evil enough if it WERE about either of these two things). It’s about a gerrymandered state legislature telling the cities of North Carolina that even though they are responsible for basically all the population and economic growth in the state, they are unfit to govern themselves in a very wide range of areas. And if they step out of line, the legislature will make life miserable for them. 

Cities in North Carolina (and their residents) are basically being punished for being insufficiently deferential to the party in power. HB2 is the next logical step after the Charlotte airport controversy, the Greensboro redistricting controversy, the sales tax grab, and any number of smaller initiatives designed to minimize the impact of cities in an increasingly urban state. Urban growth, of course, also means “urban values” which may not be compatible with “traditional North Carolina Republican values.” Therefore, urban growth and economic development it brings are viewed as threats.

If you live in an urban area, this nasty brand of politics will affect you sooner or later, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Most of these legislators couldn’t care less about who uses which bathroom. Like so many other non-issues in the past century or so, it’s merely a convenient distraction. Stay focused. Don’t fall for it.

Pardon me for sharing what is essentially another Facebook rant. I will try to avoid additional sermons over the weekend. I cannot promise this, however. Like I said, I’m really mad. And I’m also really sad that a state I love is letting something like this happen.

The obsession with bathrooms

Conservatives have been using public restrooms as a ridiculous tool for building opposition to progressive legislation at least since the dawn of the civil rights movement. Potty panic was first used to scare while people who were afraid to pee next to black people. Later, the threat of “unisex bathrooms” was used to help defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.

And now, North Carolina has passed legislation that is ostensibly based on making sure that people use the appropriate restroom based on their “biological sex.”

But it ain’t about bathrooms. Not by a long shot.

In addition to the bathroom regulations, which are a small part of the package, the ironically named Equal Access to Public Accommodations Act will:

  • Prohibit cities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances that do not match the state law, which excludes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as protections based on veteran status, etc.
  • Impede or eliminate the right to sue based on discrimination categories that still are protected.
  • Supersede any local regulations on hiring contractors that do not mirror state law.
  • Prohibit any local ordinance that would raise the local minimum wage (of which, to date, there have been exactly…none).

See what they did with that last one? Not sure how it fits into all this? No, neither is anyone else.

Once again, this is not about the fucking bathrooms. The sponsors of this legislation couldn’t care less about the bathrooms, but they know that their base will, by and large, not take the time to pay attention to what the law is really about.

This is a power grab passed in the dark of night by a rural, conservative legislature that, thanks to gerrymandering, no longer reflects the increasingly urban, moderate population of the state. it’s the next logical step by a legislature that has usurped local authority in setting city council districts, attempted a hostile takeover of a major urban airport, and engaged in unconstitutional redistricting.

We’re engaged in a war here.

#WeAreNotThis

Home?

For decades, North Carolina’s economy thrived largely due to its relatively moderate government and its relatively well educated population compared to its neighbors. The current Republican administration seems determined to do away with both. They have apparently determined that the best way to stay in power is to keep everyone ignorant and poor by destroying public education and through backward social legislation that scares off they very types of businesses and professions that might actually build the economy.

When I moved back here from California eleven years ago, I was pretty happy to be back in the “sane” part of the South. I didn’t realize I’d gotten here just in time for the birth of a new Mississippi. Ad campaigns notwithstanding, North Carolina is starting to feel a lot less like home.

I’ll stay, mainly because I have a pretty good life and a really good job, and because I want to piss off the assholes who have taken over a state that may not have been perfect but that used to be a hell of a lot better than it is now. Staying will be my own little way of telling Phil Berger and his mob to bite me.

Otherstream at 20: 2015

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It’s kind of hard to curate posts that are less than a year old, but I tried. This is the final year to be covered in my “twenty years” retrospective. I may talk about the actual anniversary tomorrow and try to draw some broad conclusions. Or I may not. You’ll have to check back by to see which it is.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Otherstream at 20: 2009

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In 2009, I got my master’s, got my first professional library job, thought a lot about cities, and bought a house in Pittsburgh. It was perhaps a more interesting year than I gave it credit for at the time. Anniversary in six days. Highlights from 2009 below.

January:

February:

March:

April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

December:

Otherstream at 20: 2007

 

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Past the halfway point now, and only eight days until the anniversary. Highlights and favorites from 2007 (the year I started grad school and actually started working toward having a real career) follow. I have to admit very little of it is especially entertaining or inspiring.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Otherstream at 20: 2005

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Back to one year per day as we move toward the big anniversary on 13 January. 2005 was another pivotal year as it brought my departure from San Francisco and return to the East Coast. Highlights and favorites follow.

January:

Febtuary:

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April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

December:

Otherstream at 20: 2004

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I’m almost caught up from my vacation break and so I can return to one year a day soon The anniversary happens on 13 January.

In 2004, the trend toward daily updates with no substantial essays continued, making the site more of a journal than a reflective space. Thus it’s harder to pick “highlights” as such and the ones I chose don’t really show what was on my mind quite so well as in earlier years. Anyway, here are the ones I chose, such as they are.

January:

February:

March:

May:

July:

August:

October:

November:

Otherstream at 20: 2002

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Twelve days till the big anniversary, and fourteen years to cover because I missed a couple of days.

2002 was all about love and mushiness, until September, when it became all about love and cohabitation. But I occasionally managed to write about other things, too. In retrospect, I’m not wild about some of it, but most of it holds up OK.

January:

February:

March:

April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November: