There have been a lot of amusing moments over the last four weeks in North Carolina since the passage of HB2 (“amusing” in the sense that they want to make you laugh so you won’t start crying). There’s been the spectacle of Senate leader Phil “I’ve never met a corporate tax cut that I didn’t like” Berger solemnly informing us that he doesn’t bow down to corporate pressure. There was the laugh-out-loud nonsense of Gov. McCrory and others attributing the actions of scores of major national corporations, nonprofits and governmental bodies — almost all of which employ gaggles of in-house lawyers and lobbyists — to a “misleading smear campaign” by leftist activists.
But perhaps the most outrageously absurd and unintentionally illuminating claim from an HB2 supporter was the one made this past weekend on the editorial pages of Raleigh’s News & Observer by the N.C. Family Policy Council’s John Rustin. Read how Rustin wraps up his op-ed “Cutting through the liberal propaganda on HB2”:
“Opponents of House Bill 2 are mad that the Charlotte City Council was rebuked for its overreach of legal authority. They are mad that HB2 pre-empts their efforts to open public bathrooms and showers to individuals of either sex. And they are mad that HB2 curtailed their efforts to impose a radical social policy of unbridled sexual license on our state. Unfortunately, the media are propagating the smear campaign, and many levelheaded citizens have been confused and misled by it.” (Emphasis supplied.)
Sometimes, you really have to wonder what’s circulating in the minds of the sex-obsessed folks on the religious right.
“Unbridled sexual license”?
What the heck does that even mean? Is it the opposite of “bridled sexual license? And what in the world could it possibly have to do with whether people are discriminated against because of who they are and where they can find a place to use a restroom in peace?
The bottom line: Throughout the HB2 debate, the loudest defenders of the law have been the folks on the religious right, who keep making clear that what they’re really demanding is a state legal framework in which LGBT people are not acknowledged as human beings. This can be seen in the way people like Rustin almost always include terms like sexual orientation and gender identity in quotations (as he did in the N&O essay) to show that they’re not even legitimate descriptive terms.
What this particular essay also reveals, however, is something else that we should have remembered about the religious right — namely that its age-old obsession with/fixation on sex and the thought that somebody somewhere is enjoying it in a way they find icky or unacceptable is still fully in force. And, at some basic level, that remains what all of the recent commotion in North Carolina is all about.