It’s funny how time usually seems to catch up to hate and bigotry (and the people who purvey them). As society progresses and humans become more enlightened, language and viewpoints and images that once were widely held and expressed become less and less acceptable. Sometimes, the change happens rather suddenly — so suddenly that the proponents of the noxious views miss the memo and go right on spouting off until they suddenly become laughingstocks and pariahs for saying the same things they’ve been saying for years.
The current sports world controversy surrounding the use of the name “Redskins” by the Washington, DC NFL team is an example of how public mores can reach a tipping point and then change rapidly.
America witnessed countless such incidents in the late 20th Century around the issue of race and gender — usually in the form of clueless public figures saying embarrassingly stupid things about members of racial minorities or women. The pathetic thing about so many of these incidents. of course, was the befuddlement that gripped the clueless bigots. Frequently, they simply couldn’t fathom how their once-funny “jokes” or “common wisdom” observations had, all of a sudden, become offensive and unacceptable.
Let’s hope with all our hearts that we’re witnessing another such event take place right before our eyes in North Carolina with the latest noxious utterances from North Carolina’s longstanding champion of hatred and intolerance toward the LGBT community, State Rep. Paul Stam.
As was reported by Sarah Ovaska (and many others) this morning, Stam compared homosexuality to “pedophilia. masochism and sadism” on the House floor yesterday. But, of course, this is nothing new to veteran General Assembly watchers. As my colleague Chris Fitzsimon has reported on numerous occasions down through the years, Stam has been doing this for decades.
What’s different and heartening this time, however, is that people are finally waking up and paying attention. Stam’s ridiculous bloviations are actually getting lots of mainstream news media attention — both in North Carolina and nationally — and none of it good. That he is the top lieutenant for the Speaker Thom Tillis (the GOP nominee in one of the nation’s most visible U.S. Senate races) only serves to raise the profile of Stam’s statements. Tillis reportedly described the statements as “not helpful” but has not condemned them as of this writing.
With any luck, however, this is just the beginning of the story — and maybe the beginning of the end for the use of such hateful and ridiculous comments by supposedly serious political leaders in North Carolina. Stay tuned.