Gov. Pat McCrory has been lashing out sporadically and incoherently at “the liberal media” in recent days and Senate President Phil Berger has been issuing startlingly dishonest and offensive statements about male predators invading women’s restrooms, but the award for “most dishonest defense of the state’s new discrimination law yet” probably has to go Lt. Gov. Dan Forest for his word-parsing, Elmer Gantry-like appearance on CNBC the other day (see below).
If you can stomach it, check out Forest’s blithe assertions in the middle of the appearance that:
- HB 2 is “the first public anti-discrimination bill in the state’s history,”
- “nowhere in the bill does it explicitly discriminate against transgender people,” and
- the Charlotte ordinance said “you cannot put male or female on a bathroom stall in the city of Charlotte.”
But perhaps the most disingenuous and dangerously deceptive prevarications come in and around the five minute mark of the interview when Forest attempts to deny what the bill does to employees who are discriminated against because of their race, sex, religion or other characteristic. The new law abolishes the right of North Carolinians to sue in state court for such discrimination — thus taking away a right that’s been established law for more than three decades and placing the state in league with Mississippi (the only other state to bar such claims). But look and listen closely to Forest:
“This anti-discrimination law is actually broader than federal law and anybody who’s being discriminated against in the state of North Carolina still has protections under state law and under federal law. They have the right to go into court in the state of North Carolina and be protected for that discrimination. There’s nothing discriminatory about that.”
Did you catch the slick word parsing there? First Forest claims that people still have “protections” under state law. While that might be technically true for some people in some sense, it is effectively meaningless because North Carolinians now can no longer sue in state court to enforce such protections. And while some subset of victims of discrimination may still be able to sue in Federal courts located in the state (hence, Gantry’s, er uh, Forest’s claim that victims can still “go into court in the state of North Carolina”) this option is vastly less accessible to victims for numerous reasons. In other words, Forest’s bald faced claims are the epitome of slick, political dishonesty designed to mislead the public on a vital issue.
The Lt. Governor goes on to make several other utterly ridiculous claims (he calls the demonstrable fact that the law may endanger federal Title IX funding “a real nice leftist lie” and states that Attorney General Cooper “hasn’t prosecuted anything to protect the state of North Carolina since we’ve been in office”) but you get the idea.
The bottom line: Unlike the Governor, Forest can be a skilled and seemingly affable, if utterly mendacious, talking head — especially when it comes to advancing the agenda of the religious Right. Caring and thinking people would do well to pay attention and respond as they work to repeal this disastrous law.