In the Toilet
I am an old man and I still get a lot of my news via the hand delivery of paper products, so it is no surprise that I have a hard time understanding much that is happening in the world today. I still think that art should be judged on its aesthetic value, that votes should be cast for the candidate whose positions you most support, and that operating one’s own website is a sensible thing to do, to give you an example of the retrograde state of my thinking. But even so, events will sometimes manifest themselves, as events do, in a way that will surprise even me, a man so scornful of the ways of human progress that I end text messages with a period.
Word comes to me, for example, that North Carolina has passed an exciting new law known as House Bill 2, or, to give it that especially self-important bureaucratic frisson that produces importance boners in the mind of every shitball middle-manager, “The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act”. The point of this law is to…well, to be perfectly honest, I can’t figure out the point of it, and I’ve spent considerable time giving it a think. Apparently, HB2 requires that anyone using the crapper in a public place do so in a way that conforms to the biological sex, whatever that is, appearing on their birth certificate.
Like many laws designed primarily to fuck with people, this has what we might gently refer to as an enforcement problem. In order to make it not discriminatory, already a bit of a losing battle since it is obviously meant to be nothing but discriminatory, the Tarheel State would not only have to require that everyone carry their birth certificates around with them — which is something actively discouraged by identity theft experts — but also station security personnel outside of public toilets to check them. I’m all for job creation, though I might suggest that NC has bigger fish to fry.
Beyond that, it’s hard to figure out exactly what the problem as that made this law necessary, or even possible. Like a lot of oppressive and discriminatory measures, this one was put forth in the name of protecting the innocent; the theory, so we hear, is that some predatory creep might pretend to be transgendered in order to lurk around a stall and sexually interfere with ladies and the young. This is kind of a long con, and as far as I can tell, North Carolina has not been stricken with a wave of toilet rapes; even if it had been, this scarcely seems like the best way to address them. One might even go as far as to say that the notion of gender-neutral bathrooms inviting sexual assault is a total fraud.
Of course, that’s not really what it’s about at all. On a higher level, HB2 was a reaction to the city of Charlotte having passed its own law to prevent discrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender people by allowing them unrestricted use of public loos. The state, operating on the historically unfeasible belief that they can discriminate against whoever they want to discriminate against, gave the Queen City a big up-yours and went ahead with this thing; its author, a fecund Methodist corporate lawyer named Dan Bishop, may be shocked if he ever notices that rape-free unisex bathrooms are the norm in many large American cities, most foreign countries, and every private residence in the world.
But HB2 isn’t really about toilets, really, any more than it is about North Carolina’s less than stellar record of protecting women, children, and other innocents. What the right-wing legislators of the state are trying to do is find a legal way to openly practice discrimination — not just against lesbians, gays, trans people, and other sexual minorities, but against anyone they choose. Wrapped up in the bill is language that will not only prevent any municipalities from passing a bill like Charlotte’s — a curious position given the conservative detestation of government interference with local law — but also prevent anyone in the state from seeking remedy in the courts for discriminatory behavior. The toilet talk is essentially a Trojan horse to make it impossible for anyone to sue when they encounter discrimination, and that would allow the state to introduce all manner of rank bigotry into law, in addition to making existing prejudicial treatment nearly bulletproof. It would crush the legal options not only of the LBGTQ community, but of blacks, Hispanics, the poor, women, the handicapped, the old, religious groups, and every other minority, and will go far afield of the courthouse shitter, enshrining in legal Kevlar discrimination in voting, housing, education, civil rights, the workplace, social services, legal protections, and any number of other areas.
NC knows exactly what it’s doing in this regard; language like that doesn’t end up in a bill by accident, and its having been crafted by a corporate lawyer gives you a good idea what can be found at the bottom line. It’s not alone, either; the governor of Mississippi recently signed a similar law which alleges to protect ‘religious freedom’, but enumerates only one religion and three freedoms, all of which happily allow the good people of the Magnolia State to practice discrimination against their fellow citizens. It could fairly be said that Mississippi is merely returning to form here, but as has so often been the case, they are merely the vanguard of all that is putrid in America: similar bills are either already extant or are being proposed in Utah, South Dakota, Tennessee, Georgia, and Arkansas, among others. Kansas, as usual, is a real trailblazer in legislative idiocy, shooting the whole concept in the foot by offering students the chance to sue for a big cash payoff in exchange for trans-hunting in their college bathrooms. Monetizing pointless bigotry is just one of the qualities that makes the Sunflower State so special.
It is unlikely that these laws will survive even the most gingerly collision with the courts. They are flagrantly unconstitutional, not only going against the whole idea of civil rights and the federal government, but also the specific intent of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In the time it takes for this patent nonsense to be finally quashed by the Supreme Court, however, a lot of people will have to do a lot of suffering, and a lot of injustice will not be addressed. The ordinary working people of North Carolina will suffer, as such people always suffer, for the folly of their leaders; this has already begun, with several deep-pocketed corporations and governments declining to do business states where intolerance has the color of law. So, ultimately, the state government will waste good will, time, and vast amounts of money on laws that are not only morally repulsive, but that they know will fail. This is the kind of non-governance through bad governance that characterizes the contemporary Congress, a group that belongs in the toilet more than anyone.