Sex/Morality/Family Values

The Less Said, The Better

Ted Cruz is an evangelical Christian who once defended a ban on dildos in Texas, has referred to birth control as “abortifacients,” and pulled an ad during the 2016 primary when he discovered one of the actors he’d hired was a softcore porn actress.

I thought that was important context for this:

Sen. Ted Cruz‘s official Twitter account appeared to “like” an explicit tweet Monday night, causing a stir on social media.

The Texas senator’s account, which has more than 3 million followers, liked a tweet from the account @SexuallPosts, which posts explicit content and porn. The “like” was later removed from the senator’s account, Cruz’s senior communications adviser Catherine Frazier said.

So… that happened.  It’s amusing and hard to know where to take the joke, but in this age of Trump, Ted can probably ride it out by doing nothing. No attempt to say “my account was hacked”.  Just…. nothing.

UPDATE:  I stand corrected.

Trust The GOP, Do You?

Well, read this:

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server.

The data leak contains a wealth of personal information on roughly 61 percent of the US population. Along with home addresses, birthdates, and phone numbers, the records include advanced sentiment analyses used by political groups to predict where individual voters fall on hot-button issues such as gun ownership, stem cell research, and the right to abortion, as well as suspected religious affiliation and ethnicity. The data was amassed from a variety of sources—from the banned subreddit r/fatpeoplehate to American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove.

Deep Root Analytics, a conservative data firm that identifies audiences for political ads, confirmed ownership of the data to Gizmodo on Friday.

The Culture At Fox News

Apparently, someone unearthed an accusation of sexual harassment against Sean Hannity, and the accuser is a right wing pundit Debbie Schlussel, who apparently stands by the story but says it doesn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment, but she may sue Hannity anyway because he insulted her in his denial and….

Well, I’m just going to put this here.  Apparently, there are more heads that need to roll at Fox News.  Maybe not Hannity’s, but certainly whoever is running that place.  Someone higher up.  Time for a better corporate culture.

UPDATE:  Okay fine — here’s the Daily Beast summary:

During a Friday interview with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based radio host Pat Campbell, former Fox News guest Debbie Schlussel accused Hannity of inviting her to his hotel room before and after a debate with a pro-Palestinian guest in Detroit. Schlussel said she rejected Hannity’s alleged advances and that she was never invited on his show again.

Schlussel and Hannity were scheduled to speak together at the Detroit show, Schlussel said. But before the show, Hannity allegedly invited her to an event at a nearby bookstore. The Daily Beast was not able to confirm whether the pair ever spoke at such a show.

“He had some event at a bookstore where he signed his book for people standing in line. He asked me to come meet him at this book signing,” Schlussel said on Campbell’s show. “So I met him there and it was very awkward. He had me up there with him while he signed books and I felt very weird. These people don’t know me and they didn’t come for me to sign their books. Then I left to get ready for the show, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come back with me to my hotel?’ and I said no, I have to get ready for the show.”

Shortly before the show, Hannity allegedly told Schlussel they would team up against another panelist. But Schlussel told Campbell that the move was a “head-fake” against her.

“Sean came up to me and said we’re gonna double-team (which was a weird phrase to use) this Palestinian guy that I was up against on the show,” Schlussel said. “And then every time I tried to open my mouth and say something, they yelled at me and said obey your host, you can’t say anything or else we’re gonna shut off your microphone.”

After the show, Schlussel claims Hannity made another advance on her. “My dad and my brother were there in the green room,” Schlussel said, claiming that Hannity “tried to get me to go back with him to the hotel after the show.”

Schlussel claimed she rejected the offer a second time, and was not invited on any future Hannity programs.

“After that, I wasn’t booked on his show again. And he called me and yelled at me,” Schlussel said. “I got a very weird feeling about the whole thing, and I kind of knew I wouldn’t be back on his show.”

After her comments to Talk 1170 Radio received widespread media attention, Schlussel told Law Newz that she would not characterize Hannity’s behavior as sexual harassment. “I would never accuse him of that. Sexual harassment has a special meaning under the law,” she said.

She did, however, confirm that Hannity had propositioned her. “I never thought I was sexually harassed by Sean Hannity, I thought he was weird and creepy,” she said.

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Hannity denied Schlussel’s allegations and accused her of seeking attention.

“LET ME BE CLEAR THE COMMENTS ABOUT ME ON A RADIO SHOW THIS WEEK by this individual ARE 100 percent false and a complete fabrication,” Hannity wrote. “This individual is a serial harasser who has been lying about me for well over a decade. The individual has a history of making provably false statements against me in an effort to slander, smear and besmirch my reputation.”

“The individual has not just slandered me over the years but many people who this individual disagrees with,” Hannity wrote. “This individual desperately seeks attention by any means necessary, including making unfounded personal attacks and using indefensible and outrageous political rhetoric.”

He went on to threaten legal action against Schlussel.

“My patience with this individual is over. I have retained a team of some of the finest and toughest lawyers in the country who are now in the process of laying out the legal course of action we will be taking against this individual. In this fiercely divided and vindictive political climate I will no longer allow slander and lies about me to go unchallenged, as I see a coordinated effort afoot to now silence those with conservative views. I will fight every single lie about me by all legal means available to me as an American.”

Hannity and Schlussel have a history of clashing, after she wrote a 2010 blog post accusing him of running a scam charity for military families. Schlussel alleged that less than 4 percent of the revenue from Hannity’s “Freedom Concerts” went to U.S. troops and their families, and that most of the concerts’ earnings went to lavish expenses. Hannity and his colleagues denied the allegations.

In 2007, Schlussel wrote a blog post accusing Hannity of “deliberately ripping off” an anti-Muslim column she wrote in the New York Post.

“That’s Sean Hannity for you,” she wrote in the 2007 post. “This is not the first time he’s done this to me, just the latest.”

UPDATE #2:  And it isn’t just sexual harassment. Fox News has a race problem:

The letter also includes new allegations of racism in Fox News’ accounting department. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black female employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the second floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.

The new claims, if true, reveal not just the failures of the legal and HR departments to deal with problematic managers but also just how deep the culture of discrimination and harassment may have run during Ailes’s reign.

7th Circuit: LGBTQ Discrimination IS Sex Discrimination

It’s not definitive, but this is a huge step. The Seventh Circuit ruled 8-3 that a woman who was denied a job because she was a lesbian had a cause of action under Title VII.  Title VII is the civil rights law which prevents workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments. Congress has frequently considered amending Title VII to add the words “sexual orientation” to the list of prohibited characteristics, yet it has never done so.

In an opinion which many critics will call “legislating from the bench”, the 7th Circuit majority in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, ruled that Title VII discrimination is applicable because “it would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation. ‘”  This is undeniably true.  If Ms. Hively had been a man with a preference for women, there would have been no issue with her being hired.  But she is a woman.  Therefore, this has to do with gender.

The dissent argues, predictably:

[Plaintiff’s attorney] is advancing a creative new legal argument for reinterpreting Title VII, deploying the comparative method not as a method of proof (its normal and intended function) but as a thought experiment with the end of imbuing the statute with a new meaning that it did not bear at its inception.

That’s a rather typical conservative judicial interpretation (unless we are talking about the word “arms” in the Second Amendment).

Anyway, this is a big step forward, and I expect that the Supreme Court will visit this soon.  Here is the full opinion:

Why McCrory Lost

Public Policy Polling looks at why Governor McCrory lost here in North Carolina in what was obviously a banner year for Republicans:

What happened in the summer of 2013 to make McCrory so permanently unpopular? He allowed himself to be associated with a bunch of unpopular legislation, and progressives hit back HARD, in a way that really caught voters’ attention and resonated with them.

Medicaid Expansion? 56% of voters wanted it to move forward, only 26% wanted it blocked.

Sneaking in abortion legislation by putting it in a bill about motorcycle safety? 8% of voters supported that, 80% opposed it.

Guns in bars? 17% in support, 73% opposed. Guns in parks? 29% in support, 65% opposed. Guns on college campuses? 25% in support, 69% opposed.

Eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit?  Only 30% of voters wanted to do that, 42% thought it should be kept.

Cut unemployment benefits? Only 29% of voters agreed with changes in the law, 55% were opposed.

Reduce the early voting period in North Carolina by a week? Just 33% of voters wanted to do that, 59% were against it.

Straight party ticket voting? 68% of voters wanted it continued, only 21% wanted it eliminated.

McCrory spearheaded or went along with all of this. And he might have gotten away with it without much impact on his image. Most voters don’t pay close attention to state government.

But the Moral Monday movement pushed back hard. Its constant visibility forced all of these issues to stay in the headlines. Its efforts ensured that voters in the state were educated about what was going on in Raleigh, and as voters became aware of what was going on, they got mad. All those people who had seen McCrory as a moderate, as a different kind of Republican, had those views quickly changed. By July McCrory had a negative approval rating- 40% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapproved. By September it was all the way down to 35/53, and he never did fully recover from the damage the rest of his term.

Moral Mondays became a very rare thing- a popular protest movement. In August 2013 we found 49% of voters had a favorable opinion of the protesters to only 35% with an unfavorable opinion of them. And their message was resonating- 50% of voters in the state felt state government was causing North Carolina national embarrassment to only 34% who disagreed with that notion.

Pushing back hard on McCrory worked. The seeds of his final defeat today were very much planted in the summer of 2013. And it’s a lesson for progressives in dealing with Trump. Push back hard from day one. Be visible. Capture the public’s attention, no matter what you have to do to do it. Don’t count on the media to do it itself because the media will let you down. The protesters in North Carolina, by making news in their own right week after week after week, forced sustained coverage of what was going on in Raleigh. And even though it was certainly a long game, with plenty more frustration in between, those efforts led to change at the polls 42 months after they really started.

Keep Pounding.

While I agree with the “keep pounding” advice, and the positive impact of progressive movements like Moral Mondays, the analysis overlooks one HUGE aspect of McCrory’s loss: HB1, the so-called bathroom bill.  It became a national issue, and put North Carolina on the map as Bigotry Central.  Even if you didn’t care about whether or not transgenders could use this or that bathroom (and I think “not caring” probably describes the majority of NC voters), you did care when sports teams and leagues like the NCAA started boycotting your city.  I think most North Carolinians didn’t like McCrory for that.

Trump and Clinton Neck and Neck in NC

Yeah, it is exciting to be in a semi-big swing state.  The candidates keep coming through.  It’s like the New Hampshire primaries in the old days.

A new PPP poll on North Carolina came out this morning.

Bottom line: Donald Trump 45, Hillary Clinton 43, Gary Johnson 6.

Clinton/Trump head to head is tied at 47:

That’s okay news since Trump had pulled ahead in some NC polls these past few weeks.

The PPP poll took some deep dives and discovered a few things:

(1)  Undecideds.   Among undecideds for President in NC, 62% would take 4 more years of Obama to only 5% who prefer Trump. If undecideds in NC voted Clinton/Trump the same as their Obama/Trump preference, Clinton would lead state 50/48.  The problem for Clinton with undecideds in NC, even though they like current direction of country, is her favoritism rating is 10/75.  Trump’s favorability among undecideds in North Carolina is literally 0, with 79% seeing him unfavorably.

(2) More Obama Please.  The key to the race in NC is voters who want to continue Barack Obama’s direction, but dislike Hillary Clinton. Overall in NC 51% of voters would prefer continuing Obama’s leadership to 46% who prefer Trump’s direction.

(3) Equally (dis)lilked.  Clinton and Trump have identical favorability numbers in NC: 40/55.

(4) Bigots Be Here.   30% of Trump supporters have a higher opinion of David Duke than Hillary Clinton. 47% of Trump voters were “not sure” who they prefer.  Meanwhile, 44% of Trump supporters are “not sure” about their opinion on LGBT people. 29% unfavorable. Only 27% favorable.

(5) Idiots Be Here Too. 71% of Trump voters in NC think if Clinton wins it will only be because the election was rigged, 17% say it will be because she got more votes

(6) Release The Tax Returns. 63% of voters in North Carolina think Trump needs to release his tax returns, only 24% don’t think he needs to.

(7) Governor’s Race Is Solid Democrat.  For first time ever, there is a clear leader for Governor- Roy Cooper 46, Pat McCrory 41, Lon Cecil 2. Independents are the story here: McCrory won them 2:1 in 2012. This time Cooper leads 44-33 with them.  11%

(8) HB2 Wildly Unpopular.  52% of voters in North Carolina want HB2 repealed, only 32% support keeping it on the books.  This has less to do with the economic harm than with acceptance of th4e LGBT community. Only 19% of NC voters view LGBT people negatively. 47% positive, 34% don’t care.

(9)  Senate Race Has Gotten Tight.  The NC Senate race tied – Richard Burr and Deborah Ross both at 41%, Libertarian Sean Haugh at 4%:

(10) In fact, everything tight.
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(11)  This.

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Tantaros’ Complaint Against Fox News, O’Reilly, Ailes, and Others

What kind of a place is Fox News?  These allegations keep on coming.

Some excerpts:

[C]ommencing in February 2016, Bill O’Reilly (“O’Reilly”), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.” Fox News did take one action: plainly because of O’Reilly’s rumored prior sexual harassment issues and in recognition of Tantaros’s complaints, Brandi informed Cane that Tantaros would no longer be appearing on O’Reilly’s Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor.

Ew…. and….

Perhaps the most shocking encounter of all was a Spring 2015 meeting between Tantaros and Fox News Senior Executive, Defendant William Shine (“Shine”), during which Tantaros sought relief from Ailes’s sexual harassment… In response, Shine told Tantaros that Ailes was a “very powerful man” and that Tantaros “needed to let this one go.” Yet, after Ailes was revealed to be a sexual predator and forced to resign, Shine was promoted to Co-President of Fox News. Shine’s inexplicable elevation sends the message that it will be “business as usual” at Fox News when it comes to the treatment of women

Here’s the whole thing:

Is This The End Of The Line For Judge Roy Moore?

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is set for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. (2:30 EST) today on charges he violated Alabama’s ethical standards for judges.

Moore is asking the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to dismiss the ethics complaint filed by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The Judicial Inquiry Commission is asking for a summary judgment against Moore and his removal, instead of moving the matter to a trial.

The JIC alleges Moore’s January 2016 order and his conduct surrounding it encouraged Alabama’s judges to disregard clear federal law.

Moore issued an order in January to Alabama’s probate judges, concerning same-sex marriage. Moore told the probate judges a ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was still in effect until the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling.

But Moore’s order came more than six months after the U.S. Supreme Court in its Obergefell decision had ruled state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.

In a response filed with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, Moore’s attorneys argue he was simply following the law and established procedure in his order, not defying the Supreme Court.

A thematic deception that infuses the JIC brief is that the Chief Justice ordered the probate judges that they ‘had a duty, under Alabama law, not to issue same-sex marriage licenses,’” the filing argues. “The Chief Justice, however, did not on his own initiative direct the probate judges to follow Alabama marriage law.

“Instead he instructed them that ‘[u]ntil further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court’ they were still under a state-court injunction issued by that Court. He neither endorsed nor criticized that injunction. Because consideration of the effect of Obergefell on that injunction had been pending before the Alabama Supreme Court for six months, the Chief Justice considered it prudent to remind the probate judges that the injunction still remained in effect pending its review.”

Moore was removed from the bench as chief justice in 2003 after refusing a federal court order to remove a 10 Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

Moore was re-elected chief justice in 2012.

Local news earlier:

A very late update from AL.com:

Suspended Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore will go on trial next month on judicial ethics charges after the Alabama Court of the Judiciary late Monday issued an order that denied Moore’s request to dismiss the charges.

The court, in a brief one-page order, also denied a motion by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission that sought an order removing Moore from the bench without a trial.

Should Miss Teen USA Forfeit Her Crown?

As 18-year-old Texan Karlie Hay celebrated being crowned Miss Teen USA 2016 last Saturday, social media users began circulating tweets containing the N-word that were linked to an account bearing her name. The offending tweets were posted in 2013 and 2014.

missteenusa

That Twitter account is now private and locked, but Hay issued an apology early Sunday morning on her public Miss Texas Teen Twitter account – although her statement didn’t specifically acknowledge the racial slurs.

“A few years ago, I used language that is inexcusable, and I sincerely apologize for my actions,” Hay wrote. “At the time, due to a number of personal struggles, I was in a place that is not representative of who I am now.

“Through hard work, education, maturity and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that I am today a better person. I am honored to hold this title and I will use the Miss Teen USA platform to promote messages of confidence, inclusion and perseverance.”

This did not admit the direct question — did she use those words on social media?

The Miss Universe Organization responded to the backlash in a statement to ABC 13.

“As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologizes,” the statement read. The organization condemned Hay’s language but showed its support for Hay by saying it is “committed to supporting her continued growth.”

This did not satisfy those on social media, nor does it satisfy me.

Actions have consequences.  Life lesson number one.

Also, the Internet never forgets.  Life lesson number two for the modern times.

You want to be a role model for teens?  Then you take the fall so at least THIS younger generation learns, Miss Hay.

Just give it to one of the other finalists.  It’s not like anyone is going to tell the difference.

CoqBKs-UIAA8lWL

NC State Senate Moves $500K From Disaster Relief Fund To Defend Anti-LGBT Hate Bill

The Associated Press reports:

North Carolina lawmakers took steps Thursday to set aside a half-million dollars for the legal defense of a law limiting protections for LGBT people as a judge sought to streamline a cluster of lawsuits it has inspired.

Republican lawmakers were mapping out the end of the session, including possible changes to the law known as House Bill 2, which has attracted high-profile critics including the NBA. The session could end this weekend.

But there was no appetite to change the provision requiring transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate in schools, universities and many other public buildings. The law also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from statewide anti-discrimination protections.

Legislative leaders were weighing possible adjustments, while trying to determine whether there’s enough support to get the legislation to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. McCrory has urged lawmakers to repeal a provision preventing workers from using state law to sue over workplace discrimination.

That half-million dollars comes from a disaster relief fund and its transfer must also be approved by the state House.

By the way, the NC legislature has been drafting legislation to “refine” the HB2 bill — basically, it will issue an official document that would recognize a person’s gender reassignment. The new document, which is treated as the equivalent as a birth certificate in the draft legislation, is referred to as a certificate of sex reassignment.  But it only applies where the person’s birth state does not do amend birth certificates — i.e., only for transgender people born in Tennessee and Idaho.

In other words, it does nothing.

LGBT activists denounced the attempt by North Carolina Republicans to “refine” the anti-transgender section of HB2. Yesterday the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets joined in. Their message:

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature. We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward. There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”

SCOTUS Strikes Down Oppressive Abortion Restrictions

This morning, the Supreme Court struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40.

The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. It applied a skeptical and exacting version of that decision’s “undue burden” standard to find that the restrictions in Texas went too far.

The decision on Monday means that similar restrictions in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.

One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

“We conclude,” Justice Breyer wrote, “that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.”

I’m not surprised by the outcome, nor am I surprised by swing justice Kennedy joining the “liberals” on the court.  Frankly, the Texas restrictions were NOT intended to support women’s health.  If you saw who proposed those restrictions (longtime Texas anti-abortion legislators) and listened to their rhetoric, “health of women” was a sham rationale.  Their real objective was to make abortion clinics so regulated that they could not afford to make the required changes, and eventually close down.  In fact, to date, twenty abortion clinics have closed down under those regulations.

So, yes, a victory, and it would have been a victory even if Scalia was alive and on the court.  But it does underscore the importance of the election and who gets to pick the next justices.

RNC Deletes LGBT Reference In Its Orlando Statement

In its original statement following the Orlando shootings, the Republican National Committee made an attempt to acknowledge that the attack specifically targeted LGBT Americans—a sad attempt, but an attempt nonetheless. But meh, who really cares about that aspect anyway? So they finally just edited gays out altogether. Rebecca Ruiz reports on the line that was just too dangerous to include:

“Violence against any group of people simply for their lifestyle or orientation has no place in America or anywhere else,” it said.

The RNC’s reference to gender identity and sexual orientation was vague and awkwardly worded. Still, the sentence stood out in a statement that otherwise declined to clearly identify Pulse nightclub as a gay destination or describe the victims as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

But by Monday, the statement had been updated. It was missing that key sentence and contained no explanation for the revision.

RNC spokesperson Lindsay Walters later explained the change:

Walters said the revision was meant to be more inclusive because it invoked a common humanity and referenced all Americans instead of singling out LGBT people.

Right! Including LGBT folks by explicitly excluding them. Note to GOP: even straight people have a lifestyle and orientation, if you think about it.

Bad News For McCrory And HB2 Lovers

After the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request Tuesday to reconsider a previous ruling affirming the rights of a Virginia transgender student, Gov. Pat McCrory’s defense of HB2 has a hit a major road block.

The intermingling of the two cases in question—the pivotal Virginia case (G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board) decided in favor of transgender student Gavin Grimm, and McCrory’s HB2 defense, McCrory v. United States—charts a course for the future demise of HB2’s bathroom provision.

Here are the basic facts governing McCrory’s case in defense of HB2:

1) North Carolina falls within the Fourth Circuit’s jurisdiction, which means the Virginia ruling siding with a transgender student’s right to use their bathroom of choice applies to the Tar Heel State.

2) Grimm’s case was decided on the basis of sex discrimination prohibitions included in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that McCrory’s lawsuit against the federal government fails to address, writes Ian Millhiser.

The Justice Department’s letter concludes that HB2 violates three separate federal laws, Title VII, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. McCrory’s complaint claims that the state is not violating the first of these two laws, but it is conspicuously silent regarding Title IX. […] McCrory’s silence regarding Title IX may be an acknowledgement that any effort to defend his states actions under Title IX is doomed.

3. Now that the Fourth Circuit has declined to rehear G.G., the only other avenue for reversal of the ruling is the Supreme Court, which seems unlikely to overturn it—if the justices even decide to take up the question.

Watch As House Republicans Go Out Of Their Way To Discriminate Against LGBT

A chaotic scene unfolded on the floor of the U.S. House today as a measure to ensure federal contractors can’t discriminate against LGBT people was defeated by a single vote.

It initially appeared that the measure — an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would’ve nullified a Republican “religious liberty” provision allowing federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees — had enough votes to pass. But Republican leaders kept the vote open and persuaded a handful of members to change their votes, which ultimately resulted in the LGBT protection being defeated by a single vote.

As you can see in the clip below, Democrats could be heard booing and chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” as seven Republicans changed their votes.

Following the fiasco, the author of the amendment, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), released a statement saying Republicans “literally snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality.”

“In the past day, House Republicans have gone out of their way to rig votes and block bills that prevent discrimination against LGBT people,” he added. “When they break their our own rules to make sure taxpayer dollars can go to folks who discriminate, they showed who they truly are – bigots and cowards.”

My cousin weighs in:

HB2 Cease And Desist Deadline Is Today

Today is the deadline the U.S. Department of Justice has given the state of North Carolina to cease and desist its enforcement of the HB2 transgender discrimination law.

Gov. Pat McCrory had asked federal officials for an extension of today’s deadline to declare that North Carolina will not comply with its newly enacted law restricting anti-discrimination protections.  McCrory said the U.S. Department of Justice declined his request unless he was willing to admit that House Bill 2 was discriminatory.

Which he wouldn’t do.

State Rep. Paul Stam, one of the bill’s sponsors, told NPR yesterday he hoped that the governor would stand firm against the federal government enforcing an “Obama-type” bathroom policy.

After a Twitter debate with N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager about North Carolina’s HB2 transgender discrimination bill and whether the NBA All-Star Game would take place in Charlotte, former TV talk show host Montel Williams last week sent Hager a cake festooned with “#lovewins” and “#repealHB2” written in icing. Williams, a conservative who campaigned for Republican candidate John Kasich, opposes the law.

So….. as I write this, news is breaking that North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department.

UPDATE — Here it is:

Here, to me, is the problem that the state has.

Bodpriv

I’m not sure how one’s “bodily privacy” is affected by the presence of transexuals in the same restroom.  That is, unless you hold the belief that transsexuals are “checking you out”.  Which would be an interesting allegation to prove.

UPDATE #2:  

Here’s what happened at McCrory’s press conference earlier today:

In a press conference, McCrory said he did not seek out the issue but was responding to policies being made at the local level in the city of Charlotte.

Which matters…. how?

The governor also said that after DOJ sent a letter last week informing him the legislation violates civil rights law, the state was given just five days to reply.

So…. five times as longer than it took the NCGS to write, “debate”, vote on, and then have the governor sign the law.

He added that DOJ refused his request for an extension unless he publicly said he agreed with the agency’s interpretation of federal law.

“That is why this morning, I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is,” McCrory said. “I anticipate our own legislature, other private sector entities from throughout the United States and possibly other states to join us in seeking this clarification because this is not just a North Carolina issue, this is a national issue.”

Yeah.  I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for other states to chime in.  Mississippi, maybe.

UPDATE #4 – 4 pm — 

US Atty General Loretta Lynch (from North Carolina, coincidentally) says the DOJ retains the right to withhold federal funds from NC.  The lawsuit is against the state as well as the university system for violations of Titles VII and IX.

Her speech was actually very human and touching.  She reassured transgender people that the federal government has their back.  Nice.

Confrontation Looms

Charlotte Observer:

Republican state leaders were in no hurry Thursday to respond to the Obama administration’s determination that North Carolina is discriminating against transgender people – and didn’t even agree on whether to adhere to a Monday deadline.

House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that legislators won’t meet the Department of Justice’s Monday deadline to declare that House Bill 2 will not be enforced.

The department sent state leaders a letter Wednesday saying that the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex.

“We will take no action by Monday,” Moore told reporters Thursday. “That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date. That’s not how this works.”

Actually, it is how it works.

Moore said state leaders are trying to determine their next steps. “Right now we’re talking with our attorneys to see what our options are,” he said. “We’re going to move at the speed that we’re going to move at to look at what our options are.”

Maybe he should consult the NC Attorney General, the highest attorney in the state, who agrees that HB2 violates the Constitution.

Graham Wilson, a spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory, said via text message that the governor does plan to have a response to the Justice Department order by Monday’s deadline. He did not offer further details.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest distanced President Barack Obama from the order in his news briefing Thursday afternoon. “These kinds of enforcement actions are made independent of any sort of political interference or direction from the White House,” Earnest said. “Those are decisions that are made entirely by attorneys at the Department of Justice.”

Democrats in the legislature said the Department of Justice order gives lawmakers plenty of time and should be addressed now.

“HB2 became law in less than 12 hours,” Rep. Cecil Brockman, a High Point Democrat, said in a tweet. “Five days should be more than enough time to decide how to clean up after it.”

Boom!  Yes!

Senate leader Phil Berger was less clear on what might happen – or won’t happen – before Monday. “Obviously there’ll have to be some response – you’ve got the deadline – but I don’t see the legislature, as the legislature, taking any specific response,” he said Thursday morning.

Maybe a TRO.  Or a request to extend the deadline.

The Department of Justice takes issue with House Bill 2’s provision requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. The bathroom rule applies to state government facilities, public universities and schools, while private businesses are allowed to set their own policies. A letter to state agencies said that the law represents “a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender employees.”

An executive order issued by McCrory addressed some of the impacts of the law on state employees. McCrory expanded nondiscrimination protections for all state employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity. And he ordered Cabinet agencies to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees and visitors who request single-occupancy restrooms, locker rooms and showers.

Moore said that despite the deadline, North Carolina won’t risk an immediate loss of federal education funding if it doesn’t comply. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million. In 2014-2015, the University of North Carolina system got $1.4 billion.

“They can’t just – through an administrative action by the attorney general’s office – issue a decree that has the force and effect of law over this state,” he said. “That’s not how this works. What they would have to do is initiate litigation at that point.”

No.  Wrong.  They can take away the money through administrative action, and the North Carolina has to start the litigation.

Berger also said he doesn’t think the Department of Justice has “the legal right” to stop House Bill 2. He says North Carolina residents should be “frustrated” by the order.

Didn’t we go through this with George Wallace?

“This might be part of what you’re seeing with both the Bernie Sanders and the Trump pushes,” he said, referring to the presidential candidates. “People are angry, and one of the reasons they’re angry is because of the failure – particularly of the federal government – to do the things that the people know need to be done, and yet they go off on a tangent like this and push radical social engineering.”

Bad choice of words.  Bernie Sanders is against HB2.  Even Trump thinks it is bad.  Even TRUMP!

In Washington, though, North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers weren’t eager to join the fray. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr didn’t appear ready Thursday to get personally involved in the HB2 controversy. His spokesman suggested it remained a state and local matter even with the involvement of the Justice Department.

“It sounds like the issue will be revisited at the state and local levels, and Sen. Burr encourages our state and local officials to do so,” said Burr campaign spokesman Alex Johnson. “In the meantime, Sen. Burr will remain focused on his responsibilities of heading up the American intelligence community and keeping North Carolinians safe.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis didn’t respond to inquiries about the federal order Thursday.

Also Thursday, one of the primary backers of House Bill 2 – the Christian Action League of North Carolina – called on state leaders to fight the federal action.

“At the hands of his henchmen in the U.S. Department of Justice, King Obama has delivered his message of intimidation to the state of North Carolina,” executive director Mark Creech said on Facebook. “The Great Pontiff of Political Correctness holds the educational futures of our state’s children hostage, while dangling the money bags of federal funds over their heads, demanding in exchange North Carolina bow to the madness of obliterating male and female distinctives.”

Ah.  So it isn’t about privacy after all.  It’s about the “madness of obliterating” the difference between male and female.  You just revealed your hand, you bigot.

Breaking: US Govt to NC — Fix HB 2 Or Else

This may end sooner than even I thought:

U.S. Justice Department officials Wednesday notified Gov. Pat McCrory that House Bill 2 violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act. 

The department gave state officials until Monday to address the situation “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”

The letter says HB2, which pre-empted Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex.

If that determination is upheld, North Carolina could lose millions in federal school funding. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million in federal funding.

Trump Shouldn’t Talk About Things

He took questions on the Today show today:

Q: Tell us your views of LGBT and how you plan to be inclusive. Please speak about the North Carolina bathroom law.

A: ”North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems,” said Trump, who would have left things as they were. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble.” He said that instead, the new law has brought tremendous economic “strife” for the state, including various boycotts by entertainers and major businesses. “Leave it the way it is.”

Okay, kudos.  It was the right answer, and in stark contrast to Ted Cruz, who actually defended HB2 last week. During an MSNBC town hall, Cruz said, “As the father of daughters, I’m not terribly excited about men being able to go alone into a bathroom with my daughters, and I think that’s a perfectly reasonable determination for the people to make.”

I am not confident that Trump supporters will agree with him on this.

But then this….

Q: Regarding news that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill: Was the move an act of political correctness or a long-overdue gesture?

A: Trump hailed Jackson as a president with a “great history of tremendous success” and said he would rather leave Jackson on the bill. “I think it’s pure political correctness. Been on the bill for many, many years and really represented somebody that was very important to this country,” he said. He suggested putting Tubman on the $2 bill or creating a new one altogether. “I would love to see another denomination, and that could take place, I think it would be more appropriate.”

Jackson had a “great history of tremendous success” if that means successfully relocating the Native Americans and laying the groundwork for the Civil War.  Seriously, Trump has no clue what Jackson did.  And if you ask around (or Google), the truth is that nobody has the slightest idea how Jackson got on the $20 bill in the first place.

No really, we checked. The Treasury Department, which has the authority to determine who appears on what bills (so long as that individual is already dead), says on its Web site that its own historical records “do not suggest” why certain presidents ended up on certain bills during a blitz of portrait selections in 1928.

In fact, Jackson was opposed to the creation of paper money.

But I digress.

Let me return to Trump.  The slam on “political correctness”?  Listen, even I believe we can go too far sometimes in pointing out and correcting perceived social slights.  But political correctness means nothing more than showing respect for, and occasionally honoring, minority viewpoints.  And when rich white men like Donald Trump take a slam at political correctness, you know what they are talking about.  It’s the death cry of the white American male, seeing his power and influence diminished by the rise of (oh, the horror!) women and minorities.  For some, slamming political correctness offers an excuse for blatant bigotry.

Consider the contrast between the two questions put to Trump above,  He is clearly capable of seeing discrimination — he has no problem letting Kaitlen Jenner use whatever bathroom she wants in Trump Tower.  And yet, put a black woman on the $20?  Why, that’s political correctness gone awry.

What’s the difference?

Speaking of Trump, I came across this, which I clip from the Baltimore Sun:

trumpsupporter

Hey nineteen.  STFU.

Court Opinion: 4th Circuit Sides with Transgender High School Student Suing School Board for Access to Boy’s Bathroom

The Fourth Circuit just reversed a lower Virginia court, which had tossed a lawsuit by a transgender boy against the school district which barred his access to the boy’s room.

Not a final decision on the merits — the case was handed back down to the Virginia federal court.  But a good harbinger, since on other federal appeals court has weighed in on the issue.

I should also mention that my city did a good thing last night, if only symbolic:

The Winston-Salem City Council approved Monday night a resolution highly critical of much of the new House Bill 2 legislation that has set off controversy in the state and beyond over transgender restroom use and LGBT rights.

On a 6-1 vote, the council approved a resolution drawn up by Council Member Dan Besse calling on the city’s representatives in Raleigh to work toward undoing “inadequately considered and damaging legislative changes” that opponents see in the law.

The Besse resolution doesn’t mention the Charlotte restroom ordinance that provoked the General Assembly into action, one that would have given transgender people the right to use the restroom corresponding to their chosen gender identification. In fact, Besse said all along he wouldn’t ask council members to take a stand on that issue.

But Besse’s resolution does fault HB2 for taking away the ability of local governments to enact local ordinances concerning discrimination. As well, the resolution criticizes the law for preventing local governments from influencing private employer worker benefits by making the benefits a condition for getting a city contract.

The resolution carries no legal weight, but adds Winston-Salem to the growing list of N.C. cities voicing opposition to the new law.

The one Republican who voted against even has some problems with HB2:

Council Member Robert Clark, the board’s only Republican, was also the sole member to vote against the resolution. But Clark voiced concerns about some aspects of HB2 that he believes should be reconsidered, although he said he shares the concerns voiced by lawmakers about “male genitalia in female locker rooms” that were voiced when the bill was passed.

“At the same time, I recognize the difficulty a transgender person would have navigating a very private dilemma,” Clark said, adding that a third restroom might be a solution but isn’t one that has been proposed.

“We must, as a state, develop policies that protect civil rights of all persons while equally protecting the privacy rights of all as well,” Clark said.

And our AG made this point:

Besse’s resolution and Clark both took issue with the provision of HB2 that prevents someone from suing in state court for any kind of discrimination.

And one of Clark’s objections isn’t mentioned in Besse’s resolution but was pointed out as a problem with the legislation by Angela Carmon, the city attorney.

Carmon recently said the state law’s anti-discrimination measures — which do not mention sexual orientation or gender identity — could, if applied to the city’s own employment practices, put the city at odds with federal civil rights regulations that are increasingly being interpreted as covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

So. Yeah.  Good thing.

Concept Creep And Why We Suddenly Are All Made Of Candy Glass

When I grew up, third graders could walk to school, play alone at the park, or bike 10 minutes to a friend’s house without anyone worrying or objecting, so long as they came home for supper or before the street lights came on.

Today, though kidnapping is just as rare, a parent who allows that same behavior is at risk of arrest or even losing custody of their children to their state’s child protective services bureaucracy.

Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s…

For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.

Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a “splash pad,” and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied. The shocked adult called the cops. Authorities declared the girl “abandoned” and proceeded to arrest the mother.

Then there’s the high school senior complains to her Facebook friends about a teacher and is suspended for “cyberbullying.”

Or students at Wellesley who start a petition calling for the removal of a statue of a man in his underwear, claiming that the art piece caused them emotional trauma.

Or the residents of Santa Monica, California, claim to need emotional support animals that the local farmer’s market warns against service dog fraud.

What the hell is this?

I think a psychologist named Nick Haslam may have nailed it.  He calls it “concept creep”.  Basically, he argues, concepts that refer to the negative aspects of human experience and behavior have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before. This expansion takes “horizontal” and “vertical” forms: concepts extend outward to capture qualitatively new phenomena and downward to capture quantitatively less extreme phenomena.

So, as we become educate (and educate others) to the concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, sexual harassment, prejudice, etc., the behaviors that constitute abuse, bullying, etc. become watered down.

Haslam suggests this happens as a result of a liberal moral agenda.  I don’t know if agree, but I certainly don’t want to suggest that we shouldn’t address — in a progressive way — certain societal problems.  I just think that when we talk about, say, parental abuse — a serious problem — we should not define it so broadly so as to include what happened to Debra Harrell who let her kid play in a park.

It’s like when Ainsley Hayes on The West Wing explains about feminism, and how there are “honest-to-God” problems facing women and calling out the petty stuff gets in the way of addressing the real problems.

So to the extent that concept creep has society tied up in knots, making everyone a whiny victim of [name your poison] , maybe we need to buck up and address REAL bullying, REAL abuse, REAL prejudice, etc.

Here’s the Haslam monograph:

The Science Behind HB2

Well, what do you know.

It turns out that there are people who actually know a thing or two about gender determination from a scientific and factual point of view.  They’re called “scientists”.  And they have to educate the Governor and the North Carolina General Assembly, who don’t bother to educate themselves before passing laws.

Here’s a letter from twenty pediatric endocrinologists explaining that gender is not binary.

April 17, 2016

Dear Governor McCrory:

As North Carolinians and Pediatricians with specialty training in Endocrinology, we respectfully request that you reconsider Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2).

A law that defines biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate” is inherently flawed and potentially harmful to a group of children that we care for in our pediatric practices. As professional experts in the field of chromosomes and genital anatomy, we provide professional consultation to our colleagues on babies in whom assigning sex may not be possible at the time of birth. For example, there are babies born in whom chromosomes suggesting one sex do not match the appearance of the genitalia. This can be due to multiple biological causes such as chromosome abnormalities, abnormalities in anatomic development, environmental exposures during pregnancy, genetic mutations in the synthesis and actions of adrenal and gonadal hormones, and tumors that make sex hormones. For these children, gender assignment at birth is challenging and takes substantial time- sometimes requiring re-evaluation over months to years.  Severe hormonal imbalances at birth may also result in gender assignments at the time of the birth that may require reassignment later in life.

Our patients already face major medical and social challenges and HB2 creates unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth. We respectfully ask you to repeal this hurtful bill.

Respectfully,

Deanna W.Adkins, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Evelyn Artz, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Mission Children’s Specialties
Mission Children’s Hospital
Robert Benjamin, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Ali S. Calikoglu, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cathrine Constantacos, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Endocrinology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Brenner Children’s Hospital
A. Joseph D’Ercole, MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Estrada, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michael Freemark, MD
Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
 Nancy E. Friedman MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Pinar Gumus Balikcioglu, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Nina Jain, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kateryna Kotlyarevska, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Jennifer Law, MD, MSCR
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nancie MacIver, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Shipra Patel, MD
Adjunct Faculty of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Sandberg, MD
Incoming Fellow
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Robert Schwartz,MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Endocrinology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Brenner Children’s Hospital
Maureen A. Su, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Bradly Thrasher, DO
Fellow
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lory Wagner, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Mission Children’s Specialties
Mission Children’s Hospital

Yup.  Let’s set aside transgender people and consider this, from Slate story from 2004 which highlights another issue — the intersex birth. Step too far outside established lines and you’ve become a “disorder” (emphasis mine):

Approximately 10 times a year in Houston, at the birth of a certain type of baby, a special crisis team at Texas Children’s Hospital springs into action. Assembled in 2001, the unusual team includes a psychologist, urologist, geneticist, endocrinologist, and ethicist. Its mission: to counsel parents of infants sometimes referred to as “intersex” babies—that is, babies of indeterminate physical gender.

That such a team exists—and that it often counsels deferring surgery for infants who are otherwise healthy—reflects a radical new thinking among doctors about gender identity and outside efforts to shape it. Instead of surgically “fixing” such children to make them (visually, at least) either male or female, a handful of U.S. specialists now argue that such infants should be left alone and eventually be allowed to choose their gender identity. The approach challenges decades of conventional wisdom about what to do with infants whose genitalia don’t conform to the “norm.” Until very recently, such children were automatically altered with surgery, often with tragic consequences.

Breaking: Governor McSmarmy Doubles Down But Also Retreats

Feeling the heat:

RALEIGH, N.C. – Governor McCrory signed an executive order Tuesday that clarifies existing state law and provides new protection for North Carolina residents.

According to the Governor’s Office, Executive Order 93 does the following:

  • Maintains the common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and schools.
  • Affirms the private sector’s right to establish its own restroom and locker room policies.
  • Affirms the private sector and local governments’ right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies for its own employees
  • Expands the state’s employment policy for state employees to cover sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Seeks legislation to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination

According to a statement released by McCrory’s office, North Carolina is now one of 24 states that have protections for sexual orientation and gender identity for its employees.

“After listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “Based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.”

Governor McCrory released the following statement in a video with the announcement of the executive order:

North Carolina proudly welcomes all people to live, work and visit our great state.

We didn’t become the ninth most populous state in the nation by accident. We have long held traditions of both ensuring equality for all of our citizens and our visitors, while also respecting the privacy of everyone.

We are also a state that strives to allow our people and businesses to be as independent as possible without overreaching government regulations.

These North Carolina values of privacy and equality came into conflict recently when the Charlotte City Council passed a new mandate that forced on businesses a city-wide ordinance of bathroom and locker room regulations, something frankly we had never seen or had before in that great city or in North Carolina.

Simply put, this government overreach was a solution in search of a problem.

In fact, the Charlotte City Council rejected this proposal less than a year ago.

In a letter prior to the most recent vote, I notified the Charlotte City Council that this unnecessary and intrusive mandate conflicts with basic expectations of privacy in the most private of settings.

Therefore, as I expected, the state took action on what was seen as government overreach.

You know, after listening to people’s feedback for the past several weeks on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misinformation, misinterpretation, confusion, a lot of passion and frankly, selective outrage and hypocrisy, especially against the great state of North Carolina.

But based upon this feedback, I am taking action to affirm and improve the state’s commitment to privacy and equality.

To that end, today I have signed an executive order with the goal of achieving that fine balance.

This executive order accomplishes the following:

First, it maintains common sense gender-specific restroom and locker room facilities in government buildings and in our schools, and when possible, encourages reasonable accommodations for families and those who have unique or special circumstances.

Second, the private sector can make its own policy with regard to restrooms, locker rooms and/or shower facilities. This is not a government decision. This is your decision in the private sector.

Third, I have affirmed the private sector and local government’s right to establish its own non-discrimination employment policies.

And fourth, as governor, I have expanded our state equal employment opportunity policy to clarify that sexual orientation and gender identity are included.

And fifth, I will immediately seek legislation in the upcoming short session to reinstate the right to sue for discrimination in North Carolina state courts.

Simply put, I have listened to the people of North Carolina, and the people of North Carolina are entitled to both privacy and equality. We can and we must achieve both of these goals.

Now I know these actions will not totally satisfy everyone, but the vast majority of our citizens want common sense solutions to complex issues.

This is the North Carolina way.

Thank you very much, and may God continue to bless the great state of North Carolina.

The Charlotte Chamber President and CEO, Bob Morgan, released the following statement:

“Today’s action by Governor Pat McCrory sends a positive message to businesses across North Carolina and to our economic development clients throughout the country and world that North Carolina and Charlotte understand the need to attract and retain diverse talent in our workforce.” 

I guess the takeaway from this is that he is feeling the pressure to do something, but he’s not willing to admit he fucked up.

Part of this is the continued bad publicity coming from HB2.  Springsteen, for example, cancelled his concert in Greensboro.  And here’s the latest from the leading convention and visitors bureau in Wake County, the second most populous county in the state:

A report released by Wake County’s leading tourism agency on Mondaysays that the county has lost more than $700,000 in response to the controversial House Bill 2 – and could lose millions more.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that four groups have canceled plans to hold events in Wake because of HB2…

 

But based on sourcing from one local Charlotte reporter, the damage appears to go far beyond those four groups, potentially including 29 groups overall. … UPDATE:

UPDATE: Here’s what the loss of just 16 more groups could mean according to the CVB:

The visitors bureau reported that 16 other groups, the names of which it didn’t disclose, also are reconsidering plans to hold events in Wake County. The groups would bring a combined 73,500 people to the area and infuse an estimated $24 million into the local economy, the report says.

Why Keep An Embarrassing Law On The Books If You Can’t Even Enforce It?

So happy Mother Jones did this:

Two days after North Carolina enacted one of the country’s most sweeping anti-LGBT laws, The New Yorker‘s Andy Borowitz imagined the scene at the state capitol in Raleigh: In a “historic ceremony,” he wrote, “North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory swore in a thousand officers charged with enforcing the state’s new public-bathroom regulations.” The new law bars people from using public restrooms that don’t align with the sex on their birth certificates—a measure proponents say protects privacy but critics describe as a thinly veiled attack on transgender people.

Borowitz continued: “Speaking to the newly graduated bathroom-enforcement cadets, McCrory impressed upon them the gravity of their responsibility. ‘You are the thin blue line charged with protecting the gender sanctity of North Carolina’s bathrooms,’ he said. ‘Be careful out there.'”

Of course, North Carolina hasn’t really unleashed an army of “bathroom-enforcement cadets” to guard public restrooms like bouncers at a club. But Borowitz’s satire got me thinking: How will the state try to enforce its new law, which is the first of its kind to be enacted in the United States? So I picked up the phone and started calling some North Carolina police departments to find out.

“That’s a very interesting question. We don’t have police officers sitting at public bathrooms all day long,” a spokesman at the Raleigh Police Department told me with a laugh. Over in Greensboro, the state’s third-most-populous city, I received a similar answer. “We would respond if we received a complaint. It’s not like we would be standing guard at bathrooms,” said Susan Danielsen, a spokeswoman for the local police department, also suppressing a laugh. At the Wilmington Police Department, spokeswoman Linda Rawley said the law struck her as strange. “So that means people have to go to the bathroom with birth certificates? Yeah, that was curious to me.” At the Asheville Police Department, spokeswoman Christina Hallingse noted, “We’re not checking birth certificates. We just don’t have the police power to be able to do that in bathrooms.”

Since the law was enacted March 23, police departments across the state have been working to determine how they will enforce it. In addition to restricting bathroom use, it bans anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation. “Our staff, particularly our attorney’s office, is trying to figure out what it all means,” says Damien Graham, another spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department. “We haven’t mobilized our police force in any kind of different way. We’re still digesting.” Public universities like Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina are also assessing the law to determine how it will affect university policies, spokespeople from both universities said.

Can police patrol public restrooms? Can they demand birth certificates, or some other form of identification, from those accused of violations? In the law, “these are all completely open questions,” says Cathryn Oakley, a senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group.

And critics of the law say police officers and universities may struggle to find answers within the text of the legislation. “The bill was passed by the state legislature in less than 10 hours and then signed by the governor that very same night with very little debate,” Oakley says. “And so it’s incredibly poorly drafted, leading to all kinds of consequences.” The lack of enforcement guidance in the legislation also suggests “it’s not motivated by solving a real problem,” she says. “If it was, they would have spent more time understanding and actually addressing a problem. Instead they passed a law that is a political statement.”

Some police departments were still checking with their attorneys this week to determine whether they could arrest an individual who used the wrong bathroom. Because it’s a civil law, using the wrong bathroom wouldn’t be considered a criminal violation in itself, Hallingse from the Asheville PD points out. But the law doesn’t lay out civil penalties for the violation, either, says Oakley, so police officers will have to use their best judgment when responding to complaints. Danielsen, the spokeswoman from the Greensboro PD, says officers there will try to respond with the “lowest degree of interaction” possible. “Not every response needs to result in an arrest,” she says.

But even before police officers are called to the scene, there may be room for mishap. Without law enforcement on guard, it will likely be up to bathroom goers to report a problem if they see someone enter the room who doesn’t appear to belong there—and appearances can be deceiving. As the Chapel Hill and Carrboro news site Chapelboro points out, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery allow many transgender women to look like biological women, even if they don’t have female birth certificates. “There are blurry lines,” writes Chapelboro‘s Aaron Keck.

North Carolina is the first state to pass a law restricting bathroom use by transgender people, but lawmakers are considering similar bills in several other states, including in South Carolina, where a Republican state senator introduced a so-called “bathroom bill” on Wednesday. This week, Mississippi’s governor also enacted a law that allows businesses to deny service to gay customers on religious objections, prompting New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to ban nonessential state travel there. The backlash has been greater in North Carolina, where PayPal announced it was canceling a $3.6 million investment. More than 120 business leaders around the country have signed a letter objecting to the state’s new law.

“It is catastrophic to the business community and public perception of North Carolina,” said state Rep. Rodney Moore, a Democrat who voted against the measure. “There is absolutely no way to enforce this law, as it relates to the enforcement of the bathroom provisions. It is an utterly ridiculous law.”

Republican state Rep. Dan Bishop, a co-sponsor of the legislation, did not respond to requests for comment. But he has said he never intended for the legislation to lead to bathroom policing. “There are no enforcement provisions or penalties in HB2. Its purpose is to restore common sense bathroom and shower management policy in public buildings, not to pick out people to punish,” he wrote in a statement to WBTV.

But that doesn’t mean people won’t be affected. Oakley of Human Rights Campaign says some transgender people in the state have stopped using public restrooms altogether. They’re “terrified,” she says, and that’s enough to keep them away even if it means enduring physical discomfort. The law, she says, “really puts a fine point on this concern that you are not safe in a bathroom.”

This statement by Dan Bishop — “its purpose is to restore common sense bathroom and shower management policy in public buildings” — makes absolutely no sense.  There is no common sense behind a law which forces, for example, manly-looking ex-females into a womens’ restroom.  HE doesn’t want to be there, and I’ll bet the women in the restroom don’t want HIM there.  Not that you can enforce it anyway, obviously.

So it doesn’t protect privacy, it doesn’t make sense, you can’t enforce it.  But the state is being a laughing stock and seriously losing money because of it.  Make sense of that!

For THIS, I Finally Appear In Playbill

Sigh:

In a new statement provided to Playbill.com by Schwartz’s team, the composer-lyricist takes a hard line against North Carolina Governor McCrory and encourages citizens of the stage to turn their anger into activism.

It can be read in full below:

First of all, I think it’s important to remember that this is not just me, this is a collective action by a great many theatre artists, as well as those from other fields. For instance, I saw this morning that 269 authors and illustrators of children’s books are declining to attend conferences and festivals in North Carolina as long as the law is in force.

I have received a great number of responses. Not a single one was in support of the law or attempted to justify it in any way. The majority of them were supportive of the action I and my colleagues have taken, but several from North Carolina, while expressing sympathy with the goal, took exception to the means. Their arguments were twofold: that it unfairly targeted those who were already opposed to the law, that is people involved in the arts, and that it deprived people of the chance to raise the sensibilities of their audiences by exposure to works that promote tolerance. I received one particularly poignant letter from a mother who asked how she would explain it to her son, who was learning so much from his involvement in community theatre and now would be unable to do one of my shows.

While I don’t deny there is merit to these arguments, I continue to feel that the only way to bring about a quick reversal is for people in North Carolina to become angered enough that they put pressure on the governor and legislature. This may be cynical of me, but I believe that the only thing Governor McCrory and his cronies in the legislature understand is the threat they may not be re-elected. As long as they feel that the bigots in their state are going to support them, while the rest don’t consider it an important enough issue to become exercised about, they are not likely to change anything. As I wrote to one of those who responded to me, “In a democracy, I think we all have to take responsibility for the policies of the states we live in. If my home state of Connecticut were to pass such a law, I would absolutely expect consequences that would affect me, even though I would be personally opposed to it. As I have seen demonstrated in the past, the most effective way to fight legal bigotry such as HB-2 is through real consequences that bring about the anger of the electorate and threaten the re-election of the perpetrators.”

In support of this view, yesterday I heard from a local North Carolina attorney, one of those who had argued against my methods, that “the outpouring of disgust from CEOs has, I think, taken the NC General Assembly and Governor by surprise, so much so that many local newspapers are writing that a repeal of the law is no longer a question of ‘if’, but of ‘when’. To that end, I thank you and other artists who have spoken out against HB2.” I hope he’s right, not only because it will mean the end of this reprehensible law, but because it demonstrates that each individual speaking out and acting against bigotry and injustice, in whatever small way he or she can, is able to have a big cumulative effect.

One last thing: I have seen some of the news media report the intent of HB-2 as being about the use of bathrooms by transgender people, as if that were the only content of the bill. This is sloppy reporting, and a parroting of the disingenuous line of Gov. McCrory and those who passed the bill. This bill forbids any municipality in the state from passing any protections whatsoever against discrimination towards LGBT citizens. There are other heinous things in it as well. It is masquerading as only having to do with bathrooms, and the news media should not fall for it.

Thanks for your attention to this, Stephen Schwartz

The North Carolina attorney he was referring to in the highlighted paragraph above?  C’est moi.  We’ve been having a little back-and-forth on this – Stephen and I.

Look, Schwartz is not the enemy.  McCrory and his cronies are.  It’s unfortunate that Schwartz thinks that, by withholding rights from schools and non-profits, this will compel the Republicans to change their mind about HB2 or create a groundswell of outrage that Republicans will have changed forced on them.  Regrettably, neither is true.  But… this is the best weapon that Schwartz has in his Bat-utility belt, so you can’t blame him for using it.  Better than those who are not speaking out at all.

P.S.  Also made the Hollywood Reporter.

Paypal Pulls The Plug

HB2, the very discriminatory “anti-discrimination bill in North Carolina” (Why do Republicans always name laws the opposite of what they actually do — like the Clean Water Act?  Do they think we are idiots?) wasn’t supposed to result in any job loss to North Carolina.  The opposition to the bill was all “political theater” Governor McCrory said.

Nnooope.

The Charlotte Observer broke this story this morning:

In a move that will cost the city hundreds of jobs, PayPal on Tuesday scrapped plans for a new Charlotte operations center in the most dramatic corporate response yet to a new North Carolina law that limits the legal protections of LGBT individuals.

The payment processor’s decision led to renewed calls for Gov. Pat McCrory and the state legislature to overturn a law that has drawn criticism from big companies such as Bank of America and American Airlines as well as sports organizations such as the NBA. The CEO of Red Ventures, a prominent Charlotte-area marketing and technology firm, on Tuesday said he would “seriously reconsider” adding jobs in the state because of the legislation approved last month.

Oh, well.  I guess that lie (and those jobs) are gone.

This has the Republicans opening their Aesop’s Fables to “The Fox and The Grapes”:  North Carolina’s GOP Vice-Chairman Michele Nix questioned whether PayPal was ever even worthy of North Carolina.

So after PayPal was forced to settle after violating economic sanctions on Cuba, Sudan, and Iran, and even processed payments for someone looking to buy nuclear-weapon technology on the black market, the California-based company now has a problem doing business in North Carolina?

Unlike those good corporate citizens like Duke Energy, you mean?

Then the GOP leaders of the state House and Senate, Speaker Tim Moore and Leader Phil Berger, went full-on delusional, blaming the PayPal loss on Charlotte’s mayor for passing the pro-LGBT ordinance state lawmakers overturned with their new statewide law.

“When Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts teamed up with a convicted child sexual predator to pass a radical bathroom policy allowing men to use girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms, the Governor warned her the legislature would take immediate action to protect North Carolina families. If Jennifer Roberts, [Attorney General] Roy Cooper and the far-left Political Correctness Mob she’s unleashed really care about the economic future of her city, they’ll stop the misinformation campaign immediately and start telling the truth about this commonsense bathroom safety law before more damage is done to the city she was elected to lead and the state Cooper was elected to protect.”

That’s a desperately evil spin.  Paypal knows what the law says.  We know this because they’ve THOUGHT IT THROUGH. Here’s PayPal CEO Dan Schulman:

“We have been deliberating this decision for the past week or so,” Dan Schulman told the [CharlotteObserver. “But with the passage of the bill, it really goes against the values of our company and we just couldn’t proceed forward.” […] “We hope that the governor will reconsider and repeal HB2, and if he does so that Charlotte is obviously a community that we were looking forward to becoming an employer in,” he said.

So, in summary, Paypal is being evil or misguided, says the GOP.   Which is odd, since just a couple weeks ago, McCrory was singing PayPal’s praises:

“North Carolina is the ideal destination for innovation-based, worldwide companies like PayPal,” said Governor McCrory. “Today’s announcement means that we can add another prominent name to the state’s growing list of technology businesses with major operations here.”

Governor McCrory Keeps Digging Deeper

The Governor takes to Youtube:

Notes as I watch this:

  • He’s talking out of the corner of his mouth and has that fakey politician smile
  • The lip service offered to “respecting each other’s beliefs and values” is unnerving, given what he is defending here.
  • He responds to politicians who have “demonized” North Carolina.  Yeah, they’re the problem — these outside agitators.
  • McCrory: “Frankly what is embarrassing is politicians not respecting each other’s positions on complex issues”.That’s a breathtakingly bogus statement.  First of all, McCrory and others are feeling the heat because they didn’t respect the position that Charlotte politicians took when it permitted transgender people to use restrooms that match up with their self-identity.  Not only did HB2 disrespect that Charlotte ordinance by killing ir, but it also prevented ALL municipal governments from coming up with the same kind of ordinance, forever.  “Politicians not respecting others’ positions”?  He went there?
  • And when did this become a “complex issue” to McCrory and his cronies?  A few days ago, they claimed to addressing a simple problem with their “common-sensical solution”.   You know, if it was so complex, maybe the General Assembly should have allowed more public debate and discussion on HB2 so that they could be better informed — rather than keep the text of the law a huge secret and then pass and sign it within a 12 hour span.
  • He goes back to the “expectation of privacy” argument.  He still doesn’t explain how anyone’s “expectation of privacy” is threatened when a transgender person uses the restroom with which he/she identifies.
  • He takes a swipe at Attorney General Ray Cooper for not “defending the laws of this land”.  Look, I don’t know the Attorney General’s oath of office is when he gets sworn in, but I do know what all attorneys (including Cooper) must swear to, and that song goes a little like this:oathRoy Cooper’s allegiance — his JOB, if you will — is not to the Governor of North Carolina NOR the North Carolina Assembly, but to the Constitution of North Carolina to the extent that it is “not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States”.  McCrory may not agree with Cooper’s assessment that HB2 is unconstitutional, but can’t he concede that Cooper at least has an argument?  It is not outside the realm of possibility that Cooper is right on this.  So this isn’t political — it’s legal — which is what Cooper’s JOB is.UPDATE:  Found it.  The NC Attorney General’s oath is actually the same as the governor’s and every elected official.  And it is pretty much what I thought it was.  He cannot act inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.

    § 11-7. Oath or affirmation to support Constitutions; all officers to take. Every member of the General Assembly and every person elected or appointed to hold any office of trust or profit in the State shall, before taking office or entering upon the execution of the office, take and subscribe to the following oath: “I, ___________, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.”

  • Governor McCrory then states, regarding Cooper, “as the state attorney, he cannot select which laws he will defend….”.  Well, he can actually.  Look, every state official involved in law enforcement has a certain degree of discretion.  They just do.  That’s how you get off with a warning rather than getting a speeding ticket (I’m told).  That’s why there are such things as plea deals where state attorneys work outside the letter of the law in order to reach a just conclusion.  You even hear people invoke the term “prosecutorial discretion” surrounding this incident with Trump’s campaign manager, and how he shouldn’t face charges for such a minor crime.  So this discretion things exists and has been around a long time when it come to enforcement of the law (something different than administration of the law).But setting that aside, McCrory ignores the problem.  Even if the state attorney “cannot select which laws he will defend”, there is a problem when one of the laws he is supposed to defend is, in the state attorney’s opinion, in direct conflict with another law (or Constitution) that he is supposed to defend.  He simply cannot defend an unconstitutional law while at the same time defending the Constitution.  So, yes, he has no choice  put to select which law to defend, and if you look at his oath, the U.S. Constitution takes precedence.  McCrory’s argument would be more valid if the issue at hand was settled law — like gay marriage was when the Kansas law clerk Kim Davis tried to buck it.  But transgender bathroom issues have not been definitively settled on a national level.  I guess we’re about to find out.
  • McCrory says that the AG is inventing “a conflict that simply does not exist”. Again, it is one thing to claim that the other side is wrong, but it is laughable to say that there isn’t any “conflict” over this.  Clearly there is a conflict — a difference of legal opinion — over the discriminatory effects of HB2.
  • He keeps going back to this expectations of privacy thing.  But what he won’t do (because he can’t) is draw a direct line from the Charlotte ordinance to HOW that ordinance affects a person’s expectation of privacy in the restroom or locker room. If McCrory thought that the Charlotte law would make it easier for male-looking dudes to go to the women’s locker room, guess what?  There’s no evidence that problem would have happened.  Moreover, HB2 didn’t fix that problem.  In fact, it may have ended up creating that problem.

Governor McCrory Attempts To Clarify HB2 . . . But Obfuscates Even More

Responding to worldwide disgust at the passage and signing of HB2, which discriminates against transgender people (and does lots of bad stuff in general), NC Governor McCrory put some shit on his website, entitled “Myths vs Facts: What New York Times, Huffington Post and other media outlets aren’t saying about common-sense privacy law”

Catchy title.

Can we dispense with the notion that this is a privacy law at all?  It doesn’t make the public bathrooms any more or less private.  It just changes who can go where.

And don’t get me started on “common-sense”.

So let’s look at this McCrory thing.  He starts off with this:

1. Does the new bill limit or prohibit private sector companies from adopting their own nondiscrimination policies or practices?

Answer: No. Businesses are not limited by this bill. Private individuals, companies and universities can adopt new or keep existing nondiscrimination policies.

That’s a nice way of saying that private individuals, companies and universities can still discriminate on the basis of gender identity or orientation.  In other words, the bill didn’t make things worse when it comes to the private sector bathrooms. You can be fired for being gay. You can be demoted for being gay. Employers can refuse to hire you for being gay. They can refuse to promote you for being gay. Businesses can refuse to serve you for being gay.

2. Does this bill take away existing protections for individuals in North Carolina?

Answer: No. In fact, for the first time in state history, this law establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy in North Carolina which is tougher than the federal government’s. This also means that the law in North Carolina is not different when you go city to city.

This is not true.  At the time the bill was passed, there was a brand new *existing* anti-discrimination policy in Charlotte.  Now there isn’t.

It’s sort of disingenuous to say that nothing has changed when in fact, the NC government convened in a special session specifically to make a change.

The next two questions are basically a re-phrasing of Question Number One

5. Does this law prohibit towns, cities or counties in North Carolina from setting their own nondiscrimination policies in employment that go beyond state law

Answer: No. Town, cities and counties in North Carolina are still allowed to set stricter non-discrimination policies for their own employees if they choose.

Ah, “in employment”.  Subtle little caveat there.  Thanks for addressing something that wasn’t an issue.

6. Does this bill mean transgender people will always have to use the restroom of the sex of their birth, even if they have undergone a sex change? 

Answer: No. This law simply says people must use the bathroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. Anyone who has undergone a sex change can change their sex on their birth certificate.

But if you can’t afford the sex change OR if you there are medical risks to sex change OR if you can’t afford the legal hurdles to get a birth certificate change OR if you were born in a state that doesn’t permit changes to birth certificates (Kansas, Tennessee, among others), you’re out of luck.

8. Does this bill affect people with disabilities?

Answer: No. Statewide law also bans discrimination based on disability.

What McCrory doesn’t tell you here is — yes, although statewide law bans discrimination based on a disability, you can’t — thanks to the new law — sue in state courts if someone discriminates against you (like, say, your boss).  And it is not just disability.  It is religion, color, national origin, biological sex and sometimes age.

So you have to go to federal court, which sometimes is impossible, or take longer, and is definitely more expensive.  So basically, North Carolina still bans discrimination; it just won’t do anything to protect you from it.

9. Why did North Carolina pass this law in the first place?

Answer: The bill was passed after the Charlotte City Council voted to impose a regulation requiring businesses to allow a man into a women’s restroom, shower, or locker room if they choose. This ordinance would have eliminated the basic expectations of privacy people have when using the rest room by allowing people to use the restroom of their choice. This new local regulation brought up serious privacy concerns by parents, businesses and others across the state, as well as safety concerns that this new local rule could be used by people who would take advantage of this to do harm to others.

Boy, this is insulting.  The Charlotte City Council most certainly did NOT vote to allow a MAN into a women’s restroom, etc.  The ordinance was meant to allow a WOMAN into a women’s restroom.  That’s why this HB2 is so offensive.  It assumes, rather stupidly and contrary to both reality and common sense, that a person’s actual gender is what is on the birth certificate.  And that a trans person will act in accordance with what some doctor said X number of years ago.

And then it assumes, in a nonsensical way, that others in the restroom would have their “expectations of privacy” invaded by the woman in the women’s restroom.  Is there any evidence for this?  Of course not.  In fact, most transgender men use the men’s restroom and nobody is none the wiser.  And same with transgender women.  So whose privacy gets “invaded”?   Name them, Gov. McCrory.  I want to meet them.

11. Will this bill threaten federal funding for public schools under Title IX?

Answer: No, according to a federal court which has looked at a similar issue.

It would be nice if he cited his work.  Because I wonder if the “similar issue” is in fact “similar”  Or how old the case is.  Because on April 29, 2014, the United States Department of Education (DOE) specifically states “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.”

And in fact, when public schools have tried to get away with what NC us tryng to do, THEY LOSE.

13. Will this bill affect North Carolina’s ability to create or recruit jobs?

Answer: This bill does not affect companies in North Carolina. North Carolina was one of the top states to do business in the country before this law was passed, and preventing Charlotte’s bathroom ordinance from going into effect on April 1 won’t change that.

Well, true.  Nothing in the language of the bill specifically hurts jobs.  But given the response from business leaders all over the country, clearly it will have an impact on companies coming here, which effects job creation.

And the rest of it is bullshit.  Kind of like… well, nothing has happened to North Carolina YET as a result of HB2.  Ooookay.

 

 

 

The Lawsuit Begins

Two transgender people and a lesbian law school professor, along with the ACLU of North Carolina and Equality NC, filed a federal lawsuit today to challenge the new North Carolina law that blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules and requiring transgender students to use bathrooms assigned to their biological sex.

While I would have preferred that the lawsuit take on the broader issues of the law besides the bathroom assignments, I can understand that the harm on those other issues is speculative at this point.

So… the bathroom issues it is.

The Cuban Mistress Crisis

The National Enquirer is reporting that Ted Cruz is hiding five different mistresses.

Before you scoff, remember that the National Enquirer was right about Gary Hart’s affair, and John Edwards.  Others in (somewhat) more respectable media outlets seem to think it is accurate.

Brietbart News is claiming the story was peddled to them some time ago by “Rubio allies”

The bombshell report, published in the magazine’s March 25th issue, includes pixelated photos of the women allegedly involved with the first-term senator, but doesn’t give their names.

However, several reports in online journals and on Twitter — where the hashtag #CruzSexScandal is trending worldwide — identify one of the women as Katrina Pierson, a former Cruz aide and tea party congressional candidate who now works for GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

screenshot_2016-03-24_21.23.11

Pierson identified above rejected the allegations on Twitter:

Yet she made her Instragram account private last night:

ted-cruz-sex-scandal-katrina-pierson_grande

Another of Cruz’s purported lovers outed by the Internet is Sarah Isgur Flores, who worked for former Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO briefly challenged Trump for the lead in the race, but she dropped out of the campaign in February.

Last July, a Cruz-affiliated super PAC donated $500,000 to Fiorina’s campaign, without explanation — a highly unusual move that is being reexamined in light of the Enquirer’s report about Cruz’s indiscretions. And Fiorina made a highly publicized last-minute endorsement of Cruz in the final days before the Florida primary, helping him come in a respectable second to Trump and keeping his White House hopes alive.

A third woman has been identified as Amanda Carpenter who denies as well

Cruz himself denies it, of course.  He posted this on his Facebook page:

I want to be crystal clear: these attacks are garbage. For Donald J. Trump to enlist his friends at the National Enquirer and his political henchmen to do his bidding shows you that there is no low Donald won’t go.These smears are completely false, they’re offensive to Heidi and me, they’re offensive to our daughters, and they’re offensive to everyone Donald continues to personally attack.

Donald Trump’s consistently disgraceful behavior is beneath the office we are seeking and we are not going to follow.

But THEN there is a story which I was GOING to blog about a long time ago, but I figured there was no there there.  It’s this, a Texas state police report from 2005 claiming that Heidi Cruz was a “danger to herself” as she was found sitting aside an Austin expressway.  Jilted?

heidi-cruz-police-report-ted-cruz-sex-scandal_grande

Trump, a longtime friend of the Enquirer’s CEO, says he has nothing to do with the Enquirer story.  And actually, I believe him.  He’s ahead.  Why attack Cruz now?  Or was their little spat about their wives what prompted this?

So far, a lot of speculation and nothing solid.  But in the weirdest of campaign seasons, who knows if it is possible?

RELATED:  Ted Cruz using the word “copulate” is just as bad as him using the word he was trying to avoid.

When You Don’t Think

The backlash and fallout against North Carolina’s HB2 law continues, and what is getting a lot of attention are pictures and tweets from transgender people like Michael Hughes, a 45-year-old trans man in Rochester, Minn.

Take a look at this picture:

Hughesx633_0_0

That’s Michael Hughes and two of his female friends in a womens’ bathroom.  Under the new law passed by the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature and Republican Governor, Michael Hughes — who WANTS to use the male restroom — MUST use the female restroom, because he was born female biologically.

I wonder how that makes the wives and daughters of the North Carolina legislators feel.  But that’s what the new law forces him to do.

Again, the legislature was trying to supposedly protect women from transgender men going into women’s restrooms and sexually assaulting women — a solution to a problem WHICH IS NOT HAPPENING.  Don’t get me wrong — sexual assaults ARE a serious problem, but there is not a problem of men pretending to be women and using public facilities to launch their assault.  As I’ve written before, it hasn’t happened in other states which are accommodating to transgender issues. Not even a little bit.

Let me talk about what else happens when you don’t think things through.  The Mike Smerconish program is killing it this morning; the topic is the North Carolina law which everyone is upset about. Some Chapel Hill attorney called in and pointed out something about the new law which I hadn’t heard before. I checked it out and she’s right. Aside from the awful bathroom access thing, the new law makes it impossible to sue your employer in state court for wrongful discharge based on ANY discrimination.

In other words, prior to the new law, if your employer fired you because you were handicapped, or a certain race, or a certain religion, or a certain gender (and so on), you could sue in state court. Not anymore.

It’s true that you can still bring these wrongful discharge cases in federal court BUT there is a shorter statute of limitations, it takes longer, more hoops to jump through, is more expensive, etc. Sometimes a wrongful discharge case in state court is the only possibility a person has. Uh…. HAD.

The odd thing is this: this aspect of the new law might have been completely unintentional. The NC legislature might not have known they were actually doing this — something that happens when you throw together a new law quickly in the dark of night. Or maybe they really are dicks.

Repercussions

I know the Republican lawmakers don’t give a damn about non-straight people, but they’re supposed to give a damn about business.  Apparently, they didn’t think about the effect on the economy:

American Airlines and other major businesses across the state and nation are taking a stand against a bill signed into law Wednesday by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory that invalidates Charlotte’s new legal protections for LGBT individuals.

The NCAA, which is scheduled to hold men’s basketball tournament games in North Carolina in 2017 and 2018, said it’s monitoring events in cities where it plans to hold its sporting events.

At a time when North Carolina is trying to recruit companies to expand and grow in the state, some business leaders said the new measure will jeopardize employee recruitment and economic development in the state.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” American Airlines spokeswoman Katie Cody said in a statement. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the states in which they are enacted.”

American Airlines operates its second-biggest hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where it just reached a new 10-year lease agreement.

***

American has previously joined other major U.S. companies, including Wells Fargo, Apple and Microsoft, in signing a statement opposed to “anti-LGBT” legislation.

Read the whole thing.  American Airlines and the NCAA are just the tip of what I hope is a larger iceberg.

There’s Paypal, which announced plans last week to hire 400 in Charlotte for a new operations center,

And Biogen, the biotech company and one of the biggest employers in the Triangle:

Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play, has in the past encouraged transgender men and women to use the facilities in which they feel the most comfortable.  Similarly, BB&T Ballpark and Charlotte Motor Speedway allow transgender individuals to use the restroom of their gender identity.

The NCAA has first- and second-round games in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament in Greensboro in 2017 and in Charlotte in 2018.  They put the pressure on Indiana to amend a similar discriminatory law.

UPDATE — More reax:

President and CEO of Red Hat News:

and

and former editor of News & Record

and Activist and Orange Is the new Black actress Laverne Cox voiced her opposition as well

Gov McCrory Signs HB2 Into Law

Here’s why he did it:

… which kind of reminds me of when Edith Bunker of “All in The Family” couldn’t understand how a man could be in love with another man, and therefore didn’t understand the concept of gay rights.  The ordinance only defies common sense if you are blind to the problem it seeks to remedy.

Speaker Jim Moore also defended the law, saying:

“One of the biggest issues was about privacy. . . The way the ordinance was written by City Council in Charlotte, it would have allowed a man to go into a bathroom, locker or any changing facility, where women are — even if he was a man. We were concerned. Obviously there is the security risk of a sexual predator, but there is the issue of privacy.”

The final bill is attached below the fold.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, released a statement saying she was appalled by the bill’s passage.

“This legislation is literally the most anti-LGBT legislation in the country,” she said Wednesday.

So how did we get here?

North Carolina, like most states, legally permits discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations. In comparison, discrimination based on race and religion, for example, in public accommodations is forbidden by federal and state laws.

Charlotte was essentially trying to fix this gap in civil rights laws. By expanding the city’s existing civil rights protections, the city council hoped to make it clear that LGBTQ people should be able to go to a bar or hail a taxi without the fear of legally allowed discrimination.

And so on February 22, Charlotte came forward with an ordinance which did just that:

The changes mean businesses in Charlotte can’t discriminate against gay, lesbian or transgender customers, in addition to long-standing protections based on race, age, religion and gender. The ordinance applies to places of public accommodation, such as bars, restaurants and stores. It also applies to taxis.

The most controversial part of the ordinance would allow transgender residents to use either a men’s or women’s bathroom, depending on the gender with which they identify.

And that’s when state lawmakers jumped into action, quickly proposing the new state law which was signed by the governor yesterday.

Here’s what the state’s law does:

  1. The statute overturns and bans local laws (including Charlotte’s) that don’t conform to the state’s nondiscrimination laws for the workplace and public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, and other places that serve the public). Since the state doesn’t ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace or public accommodations, this effectively forces all cities and counties to keep it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in these settings.
  2. It prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms or locker rooms in schools and government agencies based solely on their gender identity. Instead, they’re forced to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on the gender noted on their birth certificate, which can be changed through an arduous process after gender-affirming surgery but not before then. Public facilities can still build unisex single-person bathrooms to accommodate trans people, but it’s not required.

The governor and bill sponsors want the focus to be on the bathroom issue — it is something everyone can relate to — but that will involve a lot of silly fearmongering that has little basis in reality.  Sexual predators can exist regardless of the sexual orientation of the predator OR victim.  You don’t reduce incidents of sexual predators simply by discriminating against people of a certain sexual orientation.  The one has nothing to do with the other.  And in fact, we know from experience in places which permit transgender accommodation that the fears of heightened sexual assault or invasion of privacy are unfounded.

Cambridge, Mass, for instance:

Back in 1984 Cambridge enacted an ordinance that established the Human Rights Commission. The purpose of the ordinance was to protect the human rights of all citizens of the City. In 1997 this ordinance was amended to specifically include gender identity and expression. Much like the Transgender Equal Rights Bill proposal, the City of Cambridge sought to offer protection to transgender individuals from being harassed, fired from a job, denied access to a public place, or denied or evicted from housing. Since this 1997 amendment there have been no incidents or issues regarding persons abusing this ordinance or using them as a defense to commit crimes. Specifically, as was raised as a concern if the bill were to be passed, there have been no incidents of men dressing up as women to commit crimes in female bathrooms and using the city ordinance as a defense.

No incidents in almost 20 years.

But the bathroom thing is partly a diversion.  What is at stake here is LGBT rights and non-discrimination laws in a broader sense. This is the new battlefront after the gay marriage victories.

Already, two states have passed laws that preempt local non-discrimination provisions. In 2011, Tennessee passed such a law, and Arkansas passed one in 2015—both in responses to cities adopting or considering ordinances.

North Carolina’s law us like the Tennessee and Arkansas law.  This is the first time that a law has been passed at the state level which mandates that students use the bathroom corresponding to their “biological sex” or some similar phrase.  In February, South Dakota lawmakers passed a similar bill, but Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed it, saying the law did not answer any pressing need and that local authorities were better-equipped to handle the issue than state lawmakers.

The student-restroom laws in North Carolina and elsewhere raise other questions, most notably whether schools fall afoul of federal Title IX regulation and thus endanger federal funding. It would be ironic if the North Carolina’s attempt to preempt Charlotte’s ordinances was itself preempted by federal law, but that’s certainly a highly possible outcome.

The other problem with the new state law is the notion that municipalities must conform to the state’s nondiscrimination laws.  While that is generally true, “conformity to nondiscrimination laws” has never meant that municipalities had to be as discriminatory as the state.  Rather, it has always meant that municipalities must be at least as NONdiscriminatory as the state.  Put another way, the purpose of non-discrimination laws is, to stop discrimination.  If a municipality wants to do better than the state at stopping discriminating, it has always been free to do that. That’t the way it has been in every state in the country.  Charlotte WAS conforming to North Carolina’s non-discrimination laws.  AND it added a few non-discrimination laws of its own.

But the rationale of North Carolina’s new state law turns the whole idea of non-discrimination on its head.

Another rationale for the new law is the specious argument that state laws regarding non-discrimination should be consistent throughout the state — that this will somehow help intra-state commerce.  Sounds good and legal and rational…. until you actually think about it.  How is intrastate commerce affected at all if taxis can ignore LGBTQ people in Raleigh, but can’t in Charlotte?  Intrastate commerce isn’t impacted at all.  Nor is it affected if the bathroom rules are different in different municipalities.

And if Charlotte wants to prevent businesses from engaging in wage discrimination against LGBTQ workers — well, that doesn’t impact intrastate commerce either.  Yes, it makes Charlotte a more appealing place to work than Raleigh if you are a member of the LGBTQ community (or, you know, the human race), but that’s Raleigh’s problem.  It doesn’t affect THE STATE or intrastate commerce.  So this “conformity of nondiscrimination laws throughout the state” is just a bullshit rationale.

And so the next fight begins.  Personally, I am not worried about the final outcome.  I’ve been around long enough to see the arc of justice, and which way it bends.  In the 1970s and 1980s, when transgender discrimination issues started poking up, they almost universally failed.   Not so anymore.  Courts are beginning to recognize that that a person could bring a claim under Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination because an employer views an employee’s sexual orientation as “not consistent with … acceptable gender roles.”  The U.S. Department of Labor has acknowledged the ruling in Macy v Holder — so now, if you are a business that wants a government contract, fat chance of getting that contract if you discriminate on the basis of gender identity or transgender status.  [UPDATE:  I’m going to list some federal court decisions which support coverage for transgender Individuals as sex discrimination]

But it is just frustrating to have to continually have these battles for civil rights and, indeed, common decency.  I just wish the haters would get tired of losing and give it up already.

North Carolina General Assembly’s Horrible LGBT Discrimination Bill

A draft version of the bill that the legislature is set to consider during the special session confirmed the worst fears of the LGBT community and anyone remotely interested in civil liberties, or even municipal governance, in North Carolina: Speaker Tim Moore and the Republicans are going to destroy the ability of local governments to govern themselves.

First reported by WRAL, the bill, if it looks anything like this one, is set to revoke the ability of local governments like Charlotte to extend their non-discrimination protections to not only LGBT people, but disabled people as well. The bill cleverly is introduced under the guise of a new non-discrimination ordinance statewide, but one that only extends protections based on “race, religion, color, national origin, or sex.”

The draft bill is here:

Not only would it disavow protections for LBGT groups, but it would also prevent any cities or local governments from raising the minimum wage, creating a “livable wage” ordinance, or creating stricter labor laws than the state’s. Effectively, this bill would “supersede” all local laws regarding non-discrimination and labor that aren’t as draconian as the state of North Carolina’s.

It appears that in addition to cities and municipalities, schools would lose this authority as well, given that North Carolina is forcing schools to adopt single-sex bathrooms as a concrete policy. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools decided to implement gender-neutral bathrooms back in February; that appears to be in jeopardy now.

The cost of the special session to consider bills like this is $42,000 per day.

This is nothing new from the legislature. Back in October, they passed a bill aimed at ending “sanctuary city” ordinances for undocumented immigrants, and they’re continually attempting to strip local governments of the power to draw their own districts after they lose elections.

It is something we are seeing in other states as well.  But fortunately, Republican South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently vetoed a similar restroom restriction for students, while Tennessee’s Republican-led state House tabled a similar measure Tuesday.

Sadly, North Carolina’s version is even a more extreme, anti-LGBT bill than others proposed in other states.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory see this as a political hot potato; on Monday, he declined to call lawmakers back to consider the proposed bill, saying that, while he believes the restroom issue must be addressed, the rest of the legislation is too broad to be considered in a special session unlikely to have time to accommodate public input.

But House and Senate leaders used a rarely invoked power to call themselves back instead.

This morning in a special session, General Assembly is slated to hammer out the final bill, which should come out sometime today.

Missing The Point

The award goes to Gersh Kuntzman of the New York Daily News for writing this:

No disrespect to the jury in the Erin Andrews case, but I can’t breathe.

The Fox Sports reporter just got a $55 million award for the pain and suffering of being videotaped naked in a Nashville hotel room in 2008.

Fifty five million dollars because people got to see Erin Andrews naked on the Internet.

But Erin Andrews is still alive and, as the defendants in the case argued, is certainly thriving. She’s free to go on “Dancing with the Stars” or schmooze with NFL players. But a jury felt her pain — and treated the symptoms with cash. America, what a country.

He then goes on to note that Eric Garner, choked to death by an NYPD cop on a city street, received only $5.9 million (well, his family received it), and the family of Freddie Gray (killed by Baltimore police) received only $6.4 million.

Well, yyyyyeah, but they settled the case.  I’m not applauding or criticizing the families’ decisions to do that, but when you settle a case, you generally get a lot less.

Also, there’s no way Andrews gets $55 million.  Barrett, the guy who did that actual filming, most certainly doesn’t have the ability to pay even a fraction of the $28 million he’s on the hook for, and the hotel owners will likely appeal and try to settle for a lower amount. Add in attorney fees and other litigation expenses, and the $55 million number dwindles.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the amount she got was less than 6 million, which is peanuts to the hotel industry

And keep in mind, there is actual pain and suffering. Andrews broke down repeatedly during the trial discussing how the shame of the incident still follows her around seven years later. The video is still on the internet. People are still watching. She is still being blamed for what happened, and it’s likely that no matter what she achieves in her career, she always will be.

Her father also took the stand and talked about how much his daughter has changed since the video was released online.  “She’s terrified. She’s depressed. She cries. She’s full of anxiety. She’s a very, very changed person. She’s not the girl that we used to know at all,” he said.

It’s also crucial to remember that the jury was not tasked with comparing Andrews’ suffering to all of the great tragedies in the world. They were asked to look at the mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering Andrews has endured, and gauge her subsequent loss of capacity for the enjoyment for life.

Why not $55 million?

In A Few Decades*, Americans Will Laugh At This The Way We Laugh At Victorian-Era Magazines

You wouldn’t invite a stripper to your family Thanksgiving, would you?  Because they might perform their act just as you start carving the bird.

And if that’s true, then why would you let your gay grandson bring his “partner” to Thanksgiving?  You might get gay juju on the stuffing.

*I say “a few decades”, I hope “a few years”

Kim Davis Is A Footnote To The Same-Sex Marriage Victory

I’m on vacation, but I am not completely off the grid.  I just have a higher bar (this week)n as to what interests me enough to blog about.

Checking in, I see not much has changed.  Trump is still testing the bounds of open bigotry.  Ho hum.

And I see that Kim Davis, who I wrote about last week, has achieved mainstream status.  She’s all over my Facebook.  Since I last wrote about her, she has been denied an appeal to the US Supreme Court, so basically, she has no legal recourse anymore, and she has to start issuing marriage licenses to gay and straight couples.

She is quite adamant about not doing it.  Her lawyers say it is “impossible” for her to do it.  Davis released a statement released yesterday in which she wrote: “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience.”

Well, isn’t that special?

She has become the spokesperson for religious hypocrisy too.  Despite her claims to literal biblical interpretation, she was married and divorced three times — in 1994, 2006 and 2008, according to U.S. News & World Report.  She gave birth to twins five months after she divorced her first husband. The father of those twins was her third husband, according to the records.  Her second husband adopted the twins, the news magazine said.

CN_QfbGVAAAtPtbWell, isn’t THAT special?

It seems to me that if she is working under God’s authority, then God should provide her a salary, and the state of Kentucky should not.  Or, as many many many people have said, if she cannot do her job, she should resign (she is an elected official).  The religious objection is a serious one, but she’s misusing it.  Think of it this way. Someone who objects to war due to his religious conscience has a right to be a conscientious objector and not serve in the military, even were there to be a draft. But he does not have the right to serve as a military officer, draw a paycheck from the military and then substitute his own personal views of when war is justified for that of the government. The same applies here.

Today is D-day — Davis Day — as she has to return to federal court on a contempt charge.  She is facing fines and imprisonment.

CN_RmNXWIAAzGUBI can see why this has national media attention.  This is a conflict for which there is no middle ground.  No compromise.   On one side are five same-sex couples who want their licenses in their own county; on the other is Davis, who wants to be free to refuse them and send them elsewhere. A court could hold for the plaintiffs and order Davis to do her job, or it could hold for Davis and tell the couples to go elsewhere. Those are the only two options.

Her lawyers at Liberty Counsel are boneheads.  They made a grievous error in advising Davis to defy the court’s order. And God knows the firm is easy to mock. Its website features a statement by Davis that “to issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience”—and beneath it, a request for a $25 donation in exchange for a book in which “two nationally-acclaimed real estate entrepreneurs share biblical principles to revolutionize your work and family life, and give you the courage to stand up for what is right.”  When you look all that Liberty Counsel has done for Ms. Davis, you wonder if they have Ms. Davis’ best interests at heart, as opposed to their own.  Such is the state of religion today.

But back to Kim.  Guess what?  She loses.  And it is not because she is Christian.  It is because we are a nation of laws.  Not religion.  The two can co-exist, but if you think religion trumps law…. well, don’t complain when you get called the American Taliban.

UPDATE:  Via Facebook, a not-yet-published interview with Rowan County District Attorney Cecil Watkins:

Exclusive. Just conducted an interview with Cecil Watkins, the Rowan County Attorney. Watkins (who to my knowledge) hasn’t given any interviews.

Watkins indicates that Kim Davis “does not represent” Rowan County and is not representative of its inclusive values.

From Day One, Watkins told David I “will not and cannot support” you in her defiance of the law. Not only that he was clear he would not represent her as the law in the case of same sex marriage is clear.

While he has no stance on same sex marriage, well-established federal law must be followed.

Watkins wanted to emphasize several other things.

First that everyone who works at the courthouse has endured cursing as they enter the building. And it’s not just at her office. Everyone in the courthouse is scared to come to work.

Second that Liberty Counsel will leave Kim Davis high and dry when this charade is over. Watkins thinks the funds they raise off the case should go to Rowan County.

Finally and most importantly he has learned that deputy clerks would issue lawful marriage licenses. They are simply afraid to do so. And if Judge Bunning instructs them to do so . . . they will.

Davis has put, in the words of Watkins, her employees and everyone in the courthouse in a “terrible position.”

Watkins, in his role as the County Attorney, will be in court tomorrow for the hearing at 11:00 in Ashland. He is pictured being sworn in.

Ed. Note – The takeaways from the Watkins interview are clear. Davis is acting alone in her zealous mission. Her conduct has terrorized not just her staff but everyone that works in the courthouse. And all for a foolish mission aided by out of state charlatan lawyers trying to raise money for their “religious liberty” mission.

Shannon Ragland
Kentucky Trial Court Review

UPDATE:

Failing The Bechdel Test

Know your memes, people.  If you don’t know what the Bechdel Test is, this is how wikipedia describes its:

The Bechdel test asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.

The Bechdel test is used to demonstrate how one-dimensional women are depicted in fiction.

It is surprising how many movies, for example, fail the Bechdel Test.  The website bechdeltest.com is a user-edited database of some 4,500 films classified by whether or not they pass the test, with the added requirement that the women must be named characters. As of April 2015, it listed 58% of these films as passing all three of the test’s requirements, 10% as failing one, 22% as failing two, and 10% as failing all three.

Writer Charles Stross noted that about half of the films that do pass the test only do so because the women talk about marriage or babies.  This isn’t necessarily misogyny — even movies and TV aimed at women fail the Bechdel test more often than not (see, Sex and the City).

The phrase comes from the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who, in a 1985 strip from her comic Dykes to Watch Out For, introduced the idea as a winking criticism of male-dominated movies:

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(Actually, it should be called the Bechdel-Wallace test, as The Atlantic informs us today).

Why do I mention this?  Because someone new has failed the Bechdel test — a different Bechdel test.  Because Ms. Bechdel is also known for writing the graphic autobiographical novel, Fun Home (now a Broadway musical).  And it was assigned to incoming freshman at Duke University.  But there’s a problem:

….Duke University…  politely request[ed] that the incoming freshman class read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, an award-winning graphic novel that has (as CNNputs it) “sexual themes and use of nudity.” That’s right, America: Use. Of. Nudity.

Fun Home is an autobiographical story about Bechdel’s childhood, with memories about growing up as a lesbian interlaced with memories about her occasionally abusive father and his (closeted) homosexuality. It’s has won numerous awards, the most prestigious of which is its inclusion in The A.V. Club’s list of the best comics of the ‘00s. Prestige aside, though, it does have sexual themes and use of nudity, so—according to The Duke Chronicle—a handful of the school’s incoming freshman have declared that they refuse to read it on the grounds that it is new and scary.

Or, as one such freshman put it on his Facebook: “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That same student said that Duke’s decision to put Fun Home on a recommended reading list was “insensitive to people with more conservative beliefs,” adding that it was “like Duke didn’t know we existed.” The Duke Chronicle quotes another student as acknowledging that it “discussed important topics,” but she “could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.” One guy explained that the sexual content is fine and that he “might have consented” to read it in print, but the fact that it has drawings of boobs or whatever “violates [his] conscience.” Another student even suggested that Fun Home shook her entire perception of Duke, saying that she asked herself what kind of school would do something as horrible as suggest that incoming students read an award-winning book about a woman’s struggles with sexual identity.

Apparently, some students want to go to a prestigious college and keep their mind closed to new ideas.  It’s the school’s responsibility to step up and teach them. Duke should challenge these beliefs head-on, rather than dismiss these refusals to read Fun Home as minor quibbles.

Those objecting Duke freshmen would be far better served, watching and listeningto the amazing Sydney Lucas sing ‘Ring of Keys’ from the Broadway show. They might just learn something.

This Tweet Poses An Interesting Question Re: Ashley Madison

The problem of course is…. what if you are able to search the database, and you find your spouse, knowing that there are millions of fraudulent accounts there?  I guess it warrants a conversation, at a minimum, with your spouse.  But he can still deny it.  And THEN where are you?

But then again, if you have to ask the question, there is probably something wrong with your marriage to begin with.  Lack of trust ruins relationships (or, at least, the quality of them).  And lack of trust can come from (a) you being overly suspicious (statistics vary, but affairs are well over 33% of all marriages) or (b) your spouse doing things to warrant your distrust.  Or both.

Either way, would-be spouse-sleuths might want to consider that delving into Ashley Madison might be a symptom of the problem, i.e., your suspicion — without evidence — is causing marital discord.  Because just by looking, you create distrust.  And that’s not good.  Now, if you have some reason (other than your “gut”) and/or distrust already exists, then you might want to check it out.

But in the end, I don’t see any good coming from it.

P.S.  It’s also worth noting that many websites and ads purporting to have a searchable Ashley Madison database are actually virus-laden hacks themselves.

Ashley Madison Claims Its First “Celebrity” Victim

I’m not going to say who it was, although it is someone already “disgraced”.  And I put “celebrity” in quotes, because this guy is more of a reality show star, than an actual celebrity.

There is a certain schadenfreude at this “family values” guy being revealed as someone who cheats on his wife through Ashley Madison, but I think the bigger story is that his name was leaked at all.  The lesson to be learned from the Ashley Madison leak is NOT “don’t cheat on your spouse” (although you shouldn’t) — the lesson to be learned is be very careful what you put online.  No more secrets.

UPDATE:  Okay, since he has fessed up, I’m talking about this guy, who, in a statement today, calls himself the “biggest hypocrite ever”.

Ashley Madison Hackers Release Names

The Impact Team, the name of the group that hacked the Ashley Madison website (a site owned by Avid Life Media), has released the names, addresses and phone numbers — as well as a four-digit code that could be either partial credit card numbers or just user numbers — of the 37 million users of the cheat-on-your-spouse website.

But don’t rush to a website and start looking for cheaters in your social circles.  The data is available on the Dark Web, which is part of the Internet not readily available to just anybody. Basically, it requires software and technical knowledge that I don’t have, but the information is available, and some genius tech nerdos are probably poring through the leaked names at this very moment.

Who knows?  Maybe sometime soon you’ll be able to download all 9.7 gigs of information.  But before you get giddy — yeah, it does have the makings of some sort of modern fable in which wannabe cheaters get their comeuppance — just a standard reminder that if you download it and look through it for people you might know, there’s no turning back from that. And somewhere out there, there’s a database of stuff you do that you would prefer not get out there.

Here’s the announcement of the leak, which sets forth the particular objections of the hackers:

avid-life-media-impact-team-leak-Jj3258

This sounds like someone who was caught using Ashley Madison, and was pissed that they did not do enough to keep his account secret.

I don’t know the site, although when I read that it has 37 million users, I was astounded.  Then again, if the hackers are correct, that 37 million may be “fake”.  Who knows?

But it makes little difference what the site is for.  Revealing names and phone numbers and private information is a pretty serious felony.  And it should be.  This would be true whether the hacked site is Catfancy.com or Ashley Madison.

I wonder how many marriages are going to be damaged as a result of this.  Probably not very many, as long as it stays on the Dark Web.  I wonder if that will happen.

It seems there is some truth to the assertion that Avid Life Media was lax about cyber security:

Senior staff at Ashley Madison, the hacked extramarital dating site, were raising concerns over its security procedures as recently as June, just a month before the site was attacked.

Internal documents leaked as part of the attack show concerns over “a lack of security awareness across the organisation” being raised by one vice president.

This news story is messed up in about ten different ways.

On The Ashley Madison Hack

So, a few days ago, the website Ashley Madison was hacked and its 37 million customers could soon have their data leaked online by a crew calling themselves The Impact Team.  Ashley Madison, for the uninitiated, is a site that lets spouses cheat on their partners — kind of like a match.com for adulterers. The Impact Team has threatened to release a huge trove of data beyond the snippets of information they already leaked from Avid Life Media, the owner of Ashley Madison and related properties Established Men and Cougar Life, if the cheating site was not shut down.

Why is Impact Team doing this?  Well, it seems they were particularly aggrieved at a service launched by Ashley Madison last year, promising it could delete users’ information so it was irrecoverable for $19. The hackers claimed that service didn’t do as advertised, and customers’ names and addresses were still stored on ALM’s servers.

“Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” The Impact Team said in a notice alongside the leak, in which they also claimed to have taken complete control of ALM’s “office and production domains”, as well as “all customer information databases”.

If that is true, I think they have a point.

Now, I suppose the news of the leak is ho-hum news to a lot of people, but to 37 million — wait…. let’s just contemplate that number.

Wow.

Ok.  Well to them this is potentially… bad.  REAL bad.

What disgusts me are people like Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, who posted a message on his Facebook page about the matter Wednesday afternoon, stating:

The Bible says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” Ashley Madison, the website for people who want to cheat on their spouses was hacked this weekend. Their slogan is: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Hackers threatened to reveal personal data related to 37 million users. I have news for all those worried cheaters out there wringing their hands—God already knew! His holy Word says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Times may have changed, but God’s laws and standards never change—all sin has a price. The New York Daily News calls this an “‪#‎adultery‬ website.” Isn’t it a shame that immorality is such big business?

You know what?  F you, Franklin Graham.

Not being married nor inclined to cheat, I’m not personally affected by this hack, but it does establish a terrible precedent.  We don’t want to snicker at the cheaters who got caught because you never know what could be out in the dark hidden recesses of the web that reflects badly on you or. . .  and this is important . . . someone with the same name as you.  So I think we need to pay attention to this type of thing a little more closely.

Gawker Is Imploding

More fallout from this debacle:

Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Max Read, the editor-in-chief of Gawker.com, are resigning from the company. In letters sent today, Craggs and Read informed staff members that the managing partnership’s vote to remove a controversial post about the CFO of Condé Nast—a unprecedented act endorsed by zero editorial employees—represented an indefensible breach of the notoriously strong firewall between Gawker’s business interests and the independence of its editorial staff. Under those conditions, Craggs and Read wrote, they could not possibly guarantee Gawker’s editorial integrity.

Excuse me?  “Editorial integrity?”

Gawker Does The Right Thing . . . Too Little, Too Late Though

I was going to write about a certain story, but I didn’t want to promote it.  Basically, the Gawker news site put a story up online about a certain person you have never heard.  And it doesn’t matter who it is.  But he is the brother of someone in Obama’s cabinet, and the CFO of a major publishing company.

And the story was long and detailed, but the thrust of it was simple: this man, who has a wife and kids, paid $2,500 to have sex with a male escort.  How did Gawker get the story?  The male escort was trying to blackmail the man-in-question, and passed on texts and emails to Gawker.  Which Gawker published last evening.  They basically outed a guy and destroyed his personal and possibly his career.

Gawker’s story, written by Jordan Sargent, instantly and almost universally provoked unbridled scorn, and rightfully so.  The story had many problems — including the question of whether the subject was prominent enough to be covered at all.  And for the LGBTQ community in particular, the story brought back memories of people effectively weaponizing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity for blackmail and other threats.

Gawker’s editor-in-chief Max Read defended the story in a way that is utterly laughable, and it’s grounded in a premise that is very common when people want to wallow in others’ private lives, yet incredibly toxic.  He tweeted:

Ugh. Gawker wants you to think it is simply on the prowl to locate and punish adulterers who are vandalizing the sanctity of their marital vows. It’s just about solemn retribution for sinners. They are posing as the chivalrous defender of this man’s wife. (And note the sexist attitude of the tweet — what if a “married c-suite executive is cheating on her husband?)

But in truth, they are are hoping for clicks and pageviews so they can get revenue from their advertisers.  That’s all.  It’s not news — it is cllick-bait.

Even if you buy Read’s justification, you know it is a lie.  Read has no idea whether the CFO’s wife knew about the adultery or not. To justify the article, Read is feigning knowledge that he in fact completely lacks: the private, intimate understanding between the CFO whose life he tried to destroy and the wife whom he has deluded himself into believing he’s protecting.

A good rule of decency is to stay out of the private, personal, and sexual lives of consenting adults, absent some very compelling reason to involve yourself (such as damaging hypocrisy on the part of a political figure). The temptations to intrude into and sit in judgment of those aspects of other people’s lives are powerful, but they’re almost always lowly, self-degrading and scummy. If you have any doubts about that, reading that vile Gawker post will permanently dispel them.

So…..

I was going to write about all that, but Gawker just did the right thing, and took down the article.  Here’s the story about that, from, well, Gawker:

Yesterday, Gawker published a post about the CFO of Condé Nast attempting to pay a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. Today the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 5-1, to remove it. Executive editor Tommy Craggs, who helped edit the piece, was the sole dissenter.

The vote to remove the post, which was written by staff writer Jordan Sargent and edited by several other Gawker staffers, comes after widespread criticism from our own readers and other outlets. Along the Craggs, every other member of Gawker Media’s editorial leadership, including Gawker’s editor-in-chief Max Read and the executive editors of Gawker Media’s Politburo, strenuously protested removing the post.

The partners who voted to remove the post were Heather Dietrick, who serves as president and chief legal counsel; Andrew Gorenstein, who serves as the president of advertising and partnerships; chief operating officer Scott Kidder; chief strategy officer Erin Pettigrew; and chief executive officer Nick Denton, who founded Gawker Media in 2002. Along with Tommy Craggs, they belong to Gawker Media’s managing partnership, which Denton established in 2014 and whose members decide on all major company matters.

“The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family,” Denton wrote in a lengthy statement issued on Friday afternoon. “Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement.”

Score one for the mission-to-civilize.

Unfortunately, they don’t actually apologize.  They’re basically saying, we were right to post it, and we’re right to take it down.  Ugh again.

Roof’s Sister Asks For Donations

From a Charlotte TV station:

The sister of the suspected Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, is asking the public for donations — but not for her brother.

In a “Go Fund Me” post, Amber Roof is asking for $5,000 to pay for her and her fiance’s wedding, which was originally scheduled for June 21.

They canceled the wedding after her brother was accused of the shooting at Emanuel AME church just three days earlier.

In a post on the Go Fund Me page, Amber said canceling the ceremony cost them thousands of dollars and brought sorrow, pain and shame to her wedding day.

“Our wedding day was suppose to be the most important and special day of our lives. It was suppose to start our lives together with our new family. Our day was the exact opposite. Our wedding day was full of sorrow, pain, and shame, tainted by the actions of one man,” Amber said in the post.

Amber said she will donate 10 percent of the money raised to Emanuel AME.

So far, the couple has not rescheduled their wedding.

Must suck to be the sister of a racist mass murderer.  She seems to disavow her brother, referring to him as “one man”.

And it is nice the she intends to donate some of the money to the church.

Anyway, if you click on the link, the GoFundMe page is gone.  But here is a screenshot someone obtained before it was taken down.

roof3n-2-web

I just hope she wasn’t bombarded with hateful messages.  On the other hand, maybe the whole thing was a scam.  Or maybe some nice person came alone and offered to pay for the wedding.  In any event, if the comments on this Facebook page are any indication, people are coming down pretty hard on her.

Kennedy’s Majority Opinion In The Same-Sex Marriage Case Is Conservative, Outdated And A Bit Offensive

Check out this argument, which I agree with, and which is making the rounds in one form or another:

The immediate consequence — the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples in all 50 states — is a civil rights victory and a step toward the betterment of our people. But Kennedy’s argument, which is no elegant piece of law, reinforces misconceptions about nontraditional families. And with respect to marriage, he is as conservative as his dissenting colleagues. All that divides them is who gets to say “I do.”

Kennedy’s descriptions of marriage as “a keystone of the nation’s social order” and “essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations” are flatulent exercises of cultural atavism. At a time when divorce is routine and fewer people marry or wait longer to do so because marriage is necessary neither for love nor family, sex nor companionship, his claims on behalf a “two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals” are more fitting of a $2.99 Hallmark card than of Supreme Court jurisprudence.

These “mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages,” as Justice Antonin Scalia calls them, are not the extent of Kennedy’s conservatism. He also affirms the devaluation of unmarried people, particularly those with children. “Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers … children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” he writes. “They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life.”

But this is not a brief on behalf of extending marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples. It is, rather, an argument for providing benefits to all families, even those that lack a married couple of any sexual orientation. That means single-parent families, couples who choose for whatever reason not to marry, families comprising parents and adult children who live with them, other blood relatives who live together and every other conceivable arrangement of people whose economic and emotional ties make them families in the substantive, if not juridical, sense.

Shorter version: Kennedy imagines that marriage is the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to sex, raising children, companionship, and love.  He is wrong on all those counts.  Marriage is merely an option that should be available to all who want it.

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 To End The Sanctity Of Marriage

46 years ago this weekend, police in New York City raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn.

Obviously, this is the end (we hope) of a remarkable civil rights story (despite my snarky headline).  Here’s the opinion.

Reactions are about what you expect.  I will update as the day goes on.  But the important thing is that about 3 million gay people just won the right to become married.

The dissents are interesting.  They all take pains to say, “Hey, I’m happy about the result!  Seriously!  Go celebrate!”, just before launching rather odd objections.

The main dissent is by Chief Justice Roberts, but all of them take great pains to say, essentially, “Hey *I* don’t have a problem with gay marriage”.  The thing they object to, universally in dissent, is that the court should not decide.  They would rather have this worked out in a democratic fashion.

I think Kennedy, writing for the majority, dispenses with this.  First of all, it has come up through the courts.  There is a split in the circuits.  It IS a legal question.  And the Constitution supersedes democracy.  End of story.  If I had a bone to pick about the majority opinion, it is this: Once again, Justice Kennedy did not spell out what constitutional test he was applying to a claim of gay equality.  It simply discussed a series of court precedents, and his own recitation of notions of liberty, without saying what burden those challenging the bans had to satisfy before winning the right to equality.

The dissents also mischaracterize the majority opinion, saying things like “the majority views bans on gay marriage as unwise“.  No, the majority views same-sex marriage bans as UNCONSTITUTIONAL and a violation of the 14th Amendment.  The majority is not substituting its preference for that of legislatures — they are doing what upper level courts often do, i.e., decide whether something is constitutional or not.

Ironically, while the dissent says the majority is acting extra-judicially, many of the dissents arguments have little to do with the actual law (instead, they argue policy, democracy, etc.)

Breakdowns and reactions below the fold

Some Sarah Word Salad

Why isn’t the dialogue going right now towards hey, let’s get that law enforcement official — he or her — who released this file, this confidential.

Who — who has been a victim, is a victim — would ever want to speak out and still be able to trust law enforcement that what they’re being told, with counselors and amongst themselves, that their files are going to be held confidential, and then they’re exploited! Why isn’t the press going after that police chief, she or he or whomever it was who released this, and you know it was for political reasons, Sean.

The Crazy North Carolina Legislature

(1)  Jerks:

Lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would make North Carolina one of several states with 72-hour waiting periods for abortions. Gov. Pat McCrory said he planned to sign it, despite the urging of opponents who wanted him to stand by his statement during his 2012 campaign that he would not sign any further restrictions on abortion if elected. In announcing his plans to sign the bill, Mr. McCrory, a Republican, argued that it would not restrict access. Supporters have said that increasing the waiting period from the current 24 hours will give pregnant women more time to collect information. The bill’s House sponsors also said they hoped the measure would lead to fewer abortions. Democratic lawmakers and other opponents have said that there is no medical reason for increasing the wait and that Republicans are seeking to add more hurdles to a procedure that courts have ruled to be constitutionally protected.

(2)  Bigots:

The state Senate voted Monday night to cancel Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill that would allow some North Carolina court officials to refuse to perform gay marriage activities because of religious objections.

The 32-16 vote was above the three-fifths threshold necessary to override a veto. The bill still must clear the House again for the veto to be blocked and the law enacted. That vote was scheduled for Wednesday in the House, where the outcome is less certain because 10 lawmakers were absent last week when the bill first passed.

McCrory, a Republican who vetoed the bill within hours of final legislative passage, saying no public official voluntarily taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution should be exempt from upholding duties. The bill followed within a few months of federal judges striking down North Carolina’s 2012 constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

UPDATE: (3)  Yes, I left out Ag-Gag, which makes me want to ag-gag:

Both the state House and Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of House Bill 405, a law that proponents say protects private property rights but opponents say muzzles whistleblowers.

Dubbed an “ag-gag” measure by its critics, the bill gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces. Animal rights groups say the measure is aimed at curbing the kind of undercover investigations that have exposed abusive practices in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

 

 

 

On Caitlyn Jenner

CaitlynIt’s all been said.  Kudos to Caitlyn (former known as Bruce) Jenner (and congrats on the fact that she broke the record previously held by President Barack Obama by reaching 1 million followers in 4 hours and 3 minutes).

Yes, she is very pretty.

Yes, the Associated Press did a douche-y thing by using the male pronoun.

Yes, now that Caitlyn has arrived, we’ve already started demeaning women by saying “Well, she’s prettier than Bruce’s former wife”, as if we can’t saying something nice about one woman without demeaning another.

Yes, the fact that there will be a new reality show about her leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me feel less inclined to see her as a “hero”.

But why is nobody talking about Renee Richards?  She is the Jackie Robinson here, not Caitlyn.

P.S.  You might be interested to know that Obama is using Caitlyn Jenner — shoving it down your throat, in fact — so that you’ll be distracted when the civil war starts:

The Duggars Get Softball Interview

Okay, the Duggars.  One word: ugh.  And I could add a lot more to that — about how they’re not really “owning” that their son molested their daughters — but they demonstrated that themselves in an interview with Duggar-friendly Megyn Kelly of Fox News.  Raw Story nails this:

There was so much to dislike and be horrified by in Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’sinterview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News Wednesday night that it is hard to even know where to start.

With an able assist from Kelly — a former lawyer who used her legal training like a defense attorney walking a client through court testimony, making a small admission of guilt here, pointing the finger at someone else in the courtroom over there — the entire interview was an exercise in damage control and blame-shifting with a healthy dollop of the persecution blues.

Among the many low-lights:

  • Jim Bob Duggar, with his wife looking adoringly on, admitting that their son Josh groped –or in carefully-couched crisis manager-speak “inappropriately touched” — several younger Duggar daughters. But the girls were asleep and didn’t know it happened. Also, he touched them over their clothes. Oh, yes, and it was only for a “few seconds,” as if the 5-second rule was in effect which means it never “really” happened. Did I mention that a tearful Josh ratted himself out to his parents? Yes, according to Jim Bob, that happened.
  • Jim Bob and Michelle once again equating transgendered men and women with pedophiles which, by the way, Josh Duggar is not even though one of the victims of the then-14-year-old would have been attending kindergarten if she wasn’t being home schooled. How do we know Josh is not a pedophile? According to Jim Bob, “Actually a pedophile is an adult that preys on children. Joshua was actually 14 and just turned 15 when he did what he did. And I think that the legal definition is 16 and up for being an adult preying on a child. So he was a child preying on a child. ” Move along folks, nothing to see here, just a 14-year-old playing doctorgynecologist with his 5-year-old sister. Nothing weird about that.
  • Why didn’t the Duggars turn their creepy son in? Jim Bob — and you should get used to Jim Bob speaking for the family, because he is the patriarch and also because Michelle doesn’t seem particularly bright — explains: “As parents, you’re not mandatory reporters… The law allows for parents to do what they think is best for their child.” Laws that require teachers to report child abuse to authorities apparently do not apply to home schooling parents. Score one for the home schooling movement. Subtract one from moral culpability.
  • The acknowledgement, as Michelle explained in her little-girl-voice, that the Duggars don’t even let their girls hold hands, kiss or be alone with their boyfriends when they are allowed to have one, lest their purity be sullied. A lesson, I might add, that the girls have had beaten into their heads long after their parents covered up the fact that their own brother had already gotten to second base with four of them.
  • Bringing on Jessa and Jill Duggar — two of the molestation victims whose interview will air on Friday — to vouch for their brother while claiming that they are victims of… wait for it… a vengeful and anti-Christian media, including the tabloids who had a major hand in turning the whole family into America’s Most Famous Breeder Couple and Their Spawn.

This is where Megyn Kelly hit her journalism stride, turning a previously softball interview into an inquisition of the “media” and police authorities who are the real bad guys here and not Josh who, according to his parents, is still working things out with God since he is conveniently beyond the reach of the law.

Because they are Christians, albeit ones who never felt to the need to admit that their son was a creepy sister-groper while they preached sexual morality to America’s legions of sinners, apparently no one else was supposed to know about a little indiscretion that happened multiple times over almost two years with five different young girls.

“I know everyone of us has done things wrong. That’s why Jesus came,” Michelle explained. “I feel like this is more about… there’s an agenda.”

Prompted by Kelly, who practically held up cue cards and mouthed the words for them, Jim Bob said that “THE REAL STORY” is how the supposedly sealed juvenile record of their son was released since they had gone to such extreme efforts with local authorities to bury it for the sake of Josh Duggar’s future. Also, the girls. Them too.

“And when you’re in every newspaper and everything throughout the world, I mean, it’s been an unprecedented attack on our family. And this information was released illegally,” Jim Bob explained. “And so I wonder why all this press is not going after the system for releasing juvenile records. That is a huge story.”

Speaking for his daughters who have been paraded on television since 2008, when they weren’t having their marriage details sold to People magazine as “exclusives,” Jim Bob added, “They didn’t want this out. Every victim should have the right to tell their own story, not the tabloids.”

Defending her daughters who were apparently  raised to believe that “what Josh does in the Duggar household, stays in the Duggar household,” Michelle Duggar explained that the girls” have been victimized more by what has happened in these last couple weeks.”

Accordingly the Duggars insisted that the people who released Josh Duggar’s file either “have an agenda,” maybe were “bribed,” and have absolutely “no consideration” for the girls.

NOW the girls are victims.

As blame-shifting goes, refocusing the narrative on the evil media and the legal system while climbing up on the cross, this was not entirely surprising since there is a lot of money in play here if TLC dumps their show.

As for the show, Jim Bob said they weren’t worried about that right now, saying, “At this point, our family is trying to regroup from these attacks.”

Then Kelly thanked the couple for the interview, to which Jim Bob told Kelly in the only moment in the interview that was the honest to God truth: “Thanks for telling our story.”

That was her job, after all.

Mission accomplished.

Catching Up

The merry month of May is a busy one.  Fortunately, not a lot is happening news-wise upon which I feel the urge to pontificate at length.  However, I few tidbits are worth at least a passing mention:

  • Yay, Ireland for the feckin’ landslide to legalize same-sex marriage.  Significant, I think, in light of the strong Catholic sentiment there.  Seems that Rome is really out of lockstep with much of the flock.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road is everything people say it is, for better or worse.  It’s adrenaline, which means that even if you don’t like it, you’ll enjoy the incredible effort that must have gone into making it.  Steampunk Mario Brothers, as they say.
  • RIP John Nash:

    John Forbes Nash Jr., a mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind,” has died along with his wife in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86.Nash and Alicia Nash, 82, of Princeton Township, were killed in a taxi crash Saturday, state police said. A colleague who had received an award with Nash in Norway earlier in the week said they had just flown home and the couple had taken a cab home from the airport.

  • The Josh Duggar apologia from the Christian right has been pretty sickening.  The speed with which they “forgive” and pray for Josh Duggar is alarming.  Almost no mention of praying for his victims.  I’ve read so many articles that say, “Josh Duggar was wrong, BUT…..”.  And yes….. technically, he was an underage teen, but I don’t find that to be an excuse — at 17, you’re old enough to know not to molest your sisters and their friends in their sleep.  More importantly, we are learing more about the Duggar’s “purity culture’, and what it does to silence its victims.  And of course, all the forgiveness overlooks the ugly cover-up where the Arkansas Republicans worked to get the police record of the investigation into Josh’s assaults expunged.
  • This will probably develop into a more full post at some point, but I can’t quite get on board with the objections from some womens’ groups about the “gratuitous rape” scenes in HBO’s Game of Thrones.  First of all, anyone who has watched the series at all knows that the show doesn’t pull any punches on a number of fronts.  Incest, horrific and bloody murders, rapes…. they are all in there.  I don’t quite understand why, in Season 6, some people are suddenly finding one aspect of this dark dark show to be objectionable.  Secondly, speaking specifically of the rape of character Sansa Stark two weeks ago, it was not (compared to other GoT scenes) very graphic.  There was no nudity nor was it violent.  It was tame by Game of Thrones terms.  But it was a rape.  And notably, everyone agrees that the scene was exceedingly disturbing…. as depiction of rape should be.  To me, a gratuitous rape scene would be one which was clearly thrown in just to thrill and titillate the audience.  This was not that.  I recall many years ago when Edith Bunker was raped on an episode of the 1970s hit comedy All In The Family.  It was, to my knowledge, the first depiction of rape on television (although the actual rape was not shown).  There was the same sense (in some corners) of outrage — what is rape doing on the entertainment box?  Well, I understand that people don’t want their comedies, or violent medieval dramas, sullied with real-life horrors.  But rape happens, and it is ugly.  I don’t mind that ugliness in my fiction, as long as it is not glorified, and especially if it gets people talking about it.

Vagina Clown Car Family Has A Creepy Clown

I was writing about the Duggars (often misspelling their name) before the got their own TV show — see here, here, and here.  Oh, and here.  Then, with 19 kids and a TV show, they became some sort of major Christian conservative politico-cultural franchise, and I stopped caring.

Now comes the sad news, as it must to many major Christian conservative politico-cultural franchises

Josh Duggar, the reality TV star and conservative activist, resigned from his position at the Family Research Council on Thursday after reports surfaced that he had molested underage girls as a teenager. The 27-year-old is the oldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, whose family is the subject of the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting.”

I will attempt to act surprised. Of course, the real crime is often the coverup.  Here’s the rest of the story:

Jim Bob Duggar waited more than a year after his son, Josh, confessed to sexually molesting several female minors before contacting police, In Touch Magazine is reporting exclusively, based on information contained in the official police report.

What’s more, Jim Bob informed the elders of his church about Joshua’s actions and they waited three months before contacting authorities. The explosive new information is contained in a Springdale, Ark., police report obtained by In Touch magazine.

The report has been hidden since 2006 and was just obtained by the mag through a Freedom of information Act request. Jim Bob also refused to allow police to interview Josh when they opened a felony investigation in 2006. The Duggars star on TLC’s hit show 19 Kids and Counting.

In Touch magazine first broke the news of the Duggars’ underage sexual molestation scandal in this week’s magazine. (Note: Josh’s name is redacted from the police report but In Touch has confirmed the passages that refer to him.)

Other bombshells in the police report are: Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors. Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006. The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.

Jim Bob told police that about nine months later in March, 2003 “there was another incident.” Josh was again accused by a female minor of touching her breasts and genitals. Josh was accused by several minors of touching their genitals, often when they slept, but at times when they were awake.

Jim Bob then “met with the elders of his church and told them what was going on.” No one alerted the police or any other law enforcement agency. Instead they decided to send Josh to a “program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling. James said that [redacted, Josh] was in the program from March 17, 2003 until July 17, 2003.”

He said the program was a “Christian program.” Michelle Duggar later admitted to police that Josh did not receive counseling and instead had been sent during that time to a family friend who was in the home remodeling business.

Asked about the training center that Jim Bob said Josh was sent to, Michelle told police, according to the report, “it was not really a training center. Det. [Darrell] Hignite asked if the guy [redacted, Josh] talked to was a certified counselor. She said no. She said it was a guy they know in Little Rock that is remodeling a building. Det. Hignite asked if the guy was more of a mentor. She said “kind of.”

The Duggars told police that Josh “apologized” to the female minors and that they had “forgiven” him.

An alleged victim told police in 2006 that Josh had told “mother and dad what had happened… (and) asked for forgiveness.” The report notes the alleged victim says Josh “sought after God and had turned back to God.

Jim Bob told police that “several members of their church were aware of the situation and had been supportive of the family.”

.I need a shower.

UPDATE: Here’s a blast from the past from Mommy Michelle Duggar: