Just a song before I go

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang the following words:

“Just a song before I go,
To whom it may concern
Traveling twice the speed of sound
It’s easy to get burned.”

I use this initial stanza of the song entitled in the first line, to note we need to not make hasty decisions, as we will end up being burned. I am thinking of the backlash against my home state of North Carolina for an unconstitutional law it passed against transgender people, specifically, but also slipping in LGBT restrictions, in general. The law also said any employee could not bring action in state court, if their rights were violated, leaving the only recourse in lengthier and more expensive Federal court.

The song comes to mind, as the state General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory passed and signed the bill in twelve hours after the City of Charlotte passed a law allowing transgender folks to use the restroom they identify with. This law jives with that of 200 other cities. Many legislators did not realize the LGBT restrictions were added to the law and some were unaware of the state court restrictions for all employees.

Now, my formerly progressive state, continues to become more like the southern states of the pre-Civil Rights era. Now, we are mentioned in national news in a negative and unwelcoming light, as opposed to how the Chamber of Commerce would like to present us. Since fear was used to sell this hasty law, the General Assembly and Governor are having difficulty making changes to it. You cannot scare people as your main selling point and then walk it back.

I would wager the General Assembly would like to hit the “undo” button.

29 thoughts on “Just a song before I go

  1. Interesting article Keith I was not surprised that the Carolina’s would take a conservative stand as they have done historically. I have not kept up with this issue there , I do hope it is resolved. I adore any song by C S N & sometimes young. Have a beautiful day. Holly

    • Thanks Holly. This is one of several unconstitutional laws passed by the last two General Assemblies. The following ones have been overturned in courts as unconstitutional – mandated sonogram for abortions, unwinding teacher tenure for those who had earned it, voting district gerrymandering. Also, our restrictive Voting Rights bill is still in court, yet the General Assembly made changes last summer to soften some of unconstitutional parts. It has been amazing to see the war on freedom for all.

      • No offense because we have the same mind set in many regions here in Florida, particularly central and north, and a lot of folks would like to turn back that clock on rights. I am not as liberal as I once was, but as a moderate I am appalled at the radical right wing politics that we are seeing. Have an amazing day Keith!

      • Holly, thanks for your follow-up. I am from Jacksonville, so I am familiar with that mindset. I am an independent voter, who is fiscally conservative, yet socially progressive. My first concern is this law was passed without much vetting, which has been modus operandi for this General Assembly. They had a couple of bridge too fars in the law, so they overreached and are paying for it. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. They are valued. Keith

  2. Leaving aside the ALEC component underlying this legislation, one thing this Carolina kerfuffle may do, Keith, is promote a dialogue about the languages of tradition, grievance, and fundamental rights. As I write this comment news feeds headline how the Feds feel the need, unfortunately, to big foot the States..(reeks a bit of election year pimp) on this comfort station quagmire.

    Now this comment may reek of realpolitik but just what kind of politics do we have when we can’t even acknowledge change is hard, overturning long standing tradition is more often than not troublesome, and the fear of granting others long overdue civil rights, demands a conversation with all players seated at the table.


    • Doug, great comments. While NC went a few bridges too far, I do think the President, while directionally correct, seems to have been political as well. I agree, folks need to sit down and learn a few things beyond the sensational. To me, the haste and lack of vetting of the law, has embarrassed many and they are looking for a way out.

      For NC, the next big shoe will happen very soon when the NBA pulls the all star game. The High Point fall furniture mart will begin to see cancellations and that will get notice. Thanks for your thoughts. Keith

      • This does not change my agreement with you on the Obama announcement being a tad political, but I did learn that our public schools are already complying with what Obama said. They would have to change to operate under the HB2 law passed by the state. Yet, they have gotten no direction from the state on implementation. It is possible, that Obama may be giving the state an out, since he need not run again, and a change will like this won’t impact how evangelicals think of him. This may allow the state to save face.

  3. When a law is written based on fear and ignorance, it’s hard to come to an understanding between the two sides/opinions/beliefs. Doug makes a good point about the need to acknowledge that change can be very hard and being forced into a change that goes against everything you believe can feel threatening. The problem with two solidly entrenched sides is that they lose the ability to empathize with the other. Like with the evolution of peoples’ opinions on gay rights, it often took having a gay family member or a friend to change someone’s heart. I think – even more than gays – transgender people seem very foreign and, frankly freakish, to many. Since they have never met anyone like that (as far as they know), they have no basis to start seeing them as just human. How we can get everyone “seated at the table” (again, Doug), I have no idea.

    • Janis, thanks for your reflective comment. You and Doug are right that change is difficult. I agree that having a gay/ lesbian family member helps with change for solidlying LGBT rights and fewer folks have trans family members. The education is critical, as these folks are not predators and want privacy themselves. So, this issue is leaving folks more uncomfortable and that is hard to overcome. Keith

    • Hugh, you are so right. No time is left to ask pertinent questions – what are we not thinking of? What will the repercussions be? On big lifetime decisions, I try not to make those in haste and digest them for awhile. Now, I will seize opportunity, but will do some due diligence. Relationships, jobs, careers, etc. all deserve reflection. To be frank, this legislative overreach was predictable when we learned of a special session to pass something. Not passing something was not part of the debate.

      I am reminded of a nasty email I received from a legislator on one of the nation’s most restrictive Voter’s Rights laws, when I called it unconstitutional and Jim Crow like. It should be noted the same General Assembly watered down that law last summer, in advance of a court decision. The law is still in appeal process, but that spoke volumes to me, with the nasty letter I got a year before the watering down. Keith

  4. The Job of the Federal Government is to enforce those federal laws that guarantee the rights of every citizen. Having said that, I completely understand how people who have never been exposed to the idea of gender as a state of mind might be confused about laws that give women who have a penis the right to use the woman’s bathroom.

    But the fact is that we now live in a world in which people who look male give birth and people who look female have penises.

    And these transgendered people are also citizens of the United States of America and therefore endowed with the same right to equal protection under the law as biological men and women who only have heterosexual sex in the missionary position.

    In other words, it is the job of the President to enforce the law…regardless of the limited intellects of the various governors and people of our various states.

    The idea that transgenders are unnatural is a specious argument.

    Flying and living in artificial dwellings are also unnatural.

    Our entire species is unnatural by virtue of it’s intellect.

    We now live beyond the constraints of natural selection.

    This is one of the reasons we’re such a threat to the life of the planet.

    One last word: I love the opening quotes from Dark Star. That’s an under-rated album.

    • Rob, many thanks. Great points. Two stories from yesterday. Last night, my wife and I were at dinner party at a restaurant where we were seated with someone my wife had met and her boyfriend. It was a delightful evening and the woman was enchanting and lovely, oozing with southern charm and wit. As we left, my wife noted to me that the lovely woman had been a man many years ago, but went through an operation to become female. The way the new NC law is currently written, this lovely woman would be legally required to use the Men’s Restroom. This is an extreme example, since an operation to change genders occurred, but clearly is representative of those who identify with the opposite gender.

      Earlier that day, while waiting to buy a used car for my son, the salesman made reference to his granddaughters and the new law. He referenced the overstated danger that has been used to sell the law, but the fear, while overblown is real. Yet, he referenced transgender people as potential sexual predators, which is not supported at all by data. Yet, this is the fear mongering that occurs which paints people in an unfair light. This is why it is hard to reason when fear is used to sell something.

      To your point about rights, it should be noted that when interracial marriage was ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court 9 to 0. Yet, in the mid-1960s, if people were asked to vote on it, my guess is it would have been defeated, as the country was still reacting to the Civil Rights changes of 1964-65. Now, 13% of marriages are interracial. To Doug’s point, change takes time, but sometimes it needs an impetus.

      Thanks for your comment. Keith

      • If we didn’t know it already, Trump has shown us the depth of ignorance in this country. Again, it comes back to the failure of education and lack of direction from strong parenting.

      • Agreed. His ability to convince folks that he is on their side, when his history defines him otherwise, is one of the greatest con jobs since The Wizard of Oz. We need more folks looking behind the curtain.

      • It’s the same fear that was used to justify lynching black men, for incarcerating gay men and now for denying transgender women the right to use the bathroom assigned to their actual gender.

        Everyone is a predator except the people who allow their emotional and intellectual lives to be ruled by fear and as a result harm more men, women and children than any other people.

        There is much to recommend the South and as a Southern born man I have a certain affection for it.

        But too many people in the South choose to live in abject ignorance…they seem to believe they have the right to dictate how other people must live.

        I suppose that this attitude is a residue left over from the days of slavery.

        Whatever it is it’s obnoxious and history shows us that every one of their fears was wrong.

        Our Democracy is on its knees…Our children go to bed hungry, the sick die on our streets and our biggest concern is policing the ladies room.

      • Well said, Rob. People can be made to fear things they need not fear as much or at all, but they won’t fear uncontrolled gun use, unfettered climate change, poverty, hunger or water shortage.

      • I don’t get it.

        According to right wing doctrine women should be executed as murderers for having an abortion and we should arm sixth graders so that the next mass shooter has a harder time killing them.

        Children have to be born and they have to live in fear for their lives when they go to the few public schools that remain.

        According to right wing doctrine we must police the woman’s room to protect women and children from predators but any discussion of gun control is treason.

        We can control people but not things.

        We can demean and humiliate who a person is but we must never touch their stuff.

        In the final analyses I find the intellectual laziness and the self serving rationalizations revolting.

        I seem to recall a time when one could be a conservative without being an intrusive and insufferable idiot.

      • Agreed. Conservative has been given a bad name, but extreme conservatives take the cake. I have been asking for several years now, how did the word moderate or collaborative become such a bad word? I left the GOP in 2006 due to climate change stance, catering to the gun lobby and evangelicals and the tendency with Fox and shock jocks to make things up far more than the other side. All of what you define above reeks of inconsistencies and hypocrisies.

      • It’s interesting that you left the GOP.

        My take on the GOP is that it became the Dixie-Crat Party.

        It’s not really Conservative in the traditional sense of that word.

        In fact, its agenda is largely social. To some extent Donald Trump completes the transition.

        The Dixi-crats weren’t opposed to the New Deal. They were opposed to Civil Rights for African-Americans and other groups.

        They were opposed to the way the New Deal economically empowered disenfranchised people.

      • I have been a Democrat, then a Republican and beginning in 2006, an Independent. As an actuary by trade, I am all about numbers and financial stewardship. But, I am also about reducing social and environmental injustice. I am all about achieving a ROI as we help people. I cite four reasons I left the GOP, but the main one is climate change denial. If a political party cannot acknowledge the greatest threat facing our planet and actually try to discredit science, then how can that party be expected to address our real problems. And, that was ten years ago and see where the party is today – the world has left this dinosaur behind, pun intended. And, rather than addressing climate change, water, poverty, etc. they are spending time trying to prevent transgender folks from going to the bathroom.

      • The GOP that you describe is a bit like today’s Democrats.

        I can’t imagine a man Eisenhower’s sensibility belonging to the Republican party in 2016.

        To be honest, I think that someone with Eisenhower’s sensibility would consider today’s GOP seditious.

        I know that sounds strong but I don’t know what to think about a Congress that won’t fill a judicial position because the President is not a member of their political party…oh and he’s Black.

      • Eisenhower or Reagan would not recognize their old party and would be embarrassed. Saw an interesting note – all four living former Presidents and the current one feel Donald Trump is not qualified to be President. That is two Reps and three Dems, a bipartisan group.

      • If The Donald asked Newt to be a part of his team, that would be a lot of marriages, affairs and egos.

  5. Last week I went to my writing club. I arrived an hour early and went to a shop and purchased a danish and coffee to kill time and use the ladies room. The cashier gave me the code to the bathroom lock. There were 3 women waiting for the ladies room, no one for the men’s. The man came out and said anybody want to use this one. The women in front of me were young and looked at the man like he was crazy. In my lifetime I have used many men’s room because there are never lines so I accepted his offer. I giggled all the time I was taking care of my business. Granted it was one toilet and the door locked once I entered. I couldn’t help wondered if anyone would be mistaken me as a Transgender. Here in NY we have men’s room, ladies room, and family room. The family room is for people of any sex that has small children that need adult supervision going to the bathroom.

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