Confronting the passion with which some on the religious right cling to HB2 — a law that is taking on the status of a virtual holy icon in some circles — is always something of a through-the-looking glass experience. The notion that an utterly illogical and unenforceable law designed to respond to a non-existent problem could rouse such passion amongst its defenders never ceases to amaze.
The truly delusional Lt. Gov. Dan Forest spewed a remarkable bit of this brand of nonsense last week when he said the following about Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest effort to bend over backwards with a proposed compromise that would up penalties for anyone engaging in predatory behavior in a bathroom:
“If Governor Cooper’s proposed bill for repealing HB2 becomes law, it will create a state-sanctioned ‘Look But Don’t Touch’ policy in our bathrooms. Heterosexual men will be able to access women’s showers and bathrooms by simply posing as a transgender individual. They will be able to watch women and children shower, or shower next to them. As long as the man doesn’t touch them, assault them or film them, no legal protection would be afforded the offended woman or child. Nothing.”
The award, however, for last week’s most utterly vacuous HB2 defense had to go to the staff of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. This is from a post attacking Cooper that appeared on the group’s website last Thursday:
“Thirdly, NC Family believes the enhanced penalty section of the proposal is simply an admission by the bill sponsors that they expect crimes to increase in intimate settings if the protections provided by House Bill 2 are repealed and men are allowed full access into girls’ and women’s bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms. The bill proposes to increase penalties for the following crimes: second degree forcible rape, second degree forcible sexual offense, indecent exposure, secret peeping, taking indecent liberties with children or a student, stalking, and assault. If the bill sponsors did not expect these crimes to increase, of if they did not see a need to create a greater deterrent for these crimes, there would be no need for this section of the bill.”
It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the inanity of this passage. Earth to the NC Family Policy Council: If you had listened to what Cooper (and Senator Dan Blue and Representative Darren Jackson) said at their press conference last week, you would know that it’s precisely because they DO NOT expect any problems to occur that they proposed the change. The proposed enhancement to penalties was intended as a symbolic olive branch to your organization and others like it. The precise point is that it is to serve as a comfort to HB2 defenders so they don’t have to worry at all about their bizarre fantasies of predatory behavior in bathrooms by transgender people. It’s not a concession that such things will happen; to the contrary, Cooper and company have absolutely no concerns about such behavior (and for good reason — it doesn’t happen and won’t).
The bottom line: If ever there was a final, once-and-for-all evidence that there is, literally, no pleasing the religious right with any kind of compromise on HB2, this is it. When the Governor proposes to enhance criminal penalties for the precise behavior the defenders of the law profess to be worried about and then those same defenders attack that proposal, you know that all hope for a common sense solution to this ridiculous stain on our state has, for the time being, evaporated.