Commentary

When did the Christian Action League become experts on sexual predators?

Rev. Mark Harris - image: CrooksandLiars.com

Rev. Mark Harris – image: CrooksandLiars.com

You’ve got to hand it to the troubled souls on the religious far right who are defending North Carolina’s new, all-purpose discrimination law, HB2. They have their story and they’re sticking to it — no matter how utterly preposterous it is.

The latest evidence of this cringe-inducing situation was visible yesterday at a rally organized by groups like the Christian Action League and its boss/perpetual candidate for public office, Mark Harris. According to Raleigh’s News & Observer, Harris, who is currently running for Congress after running for the Senate in 2014, condemned the Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance struck down by HB 2 as an invitation to sexual predators:

“Such an ordinance creates a loophole sexual predators can exploit,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, as members of the crowd waved signs saying “Keep kids safe.”

As I noted in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing, however, isn’t it a little strange that the religious right has, all of a sudden, appointed itself our societal experts on sexual assault?

“…the fact that conservative Christians feel obliged to hold public ‘prayer vigils’ in support of the law sure would seem to indicate that it’s a lot more about keeping LGBT people in their place than it is about ‘bathroom safety.’”

This obvious truth is further confirmed by the following statement that was issued by the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault last month in response to HB 2:

“Yesterday HB 2 was passed and signed into law in North Carolina. This bill overrides a recently passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte, prevents local governments from enacting a range of nondiscrimination and employment policies, and requires all public facilities, including schools, to allow restroom access only on the basis of “biological sex”. This bill specifically excludes LGBTQ people from legal protections and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal funds that NC schools receive under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students.

A central argument in this case was about the prevention of sexual violence and the use and safety of public bathrooms. Read more

Commentary, News

This week’s Top 5 on N.C. Policy Watch

Abortion TRAP1. U.S. Supreme Court steps into the abortion TRAP

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court steps back into the battle over abortion rights today, hearing argument in a Texas case that threatens the core principles underlying a woman’s right to choose as first set down in Roe v. Wade.
The question for the justices in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is just how far a state can go in regulating abortion before it unduly burdens a woman’s constitutionally protected rights.

More than 80 groups of scholars, advocates, physicians and others sharply divided on the issue have filed friend-of-the court briefs with the court, and many will likely also be gathered outside the court this morning as well in protest — testaments to the interest in the outcome.
Here’s a look at what’s at stake.  [Continue Reading…]

Great Tax Shift2. New sales taxes highlight NC’s “worst of all worlds” fiscal policy

Here’s one thing you can say for the conservative elected leaders running North Carolina state government these days: they don’t lack for audacity. Whereas some politicians might hesitate or display at least a small measure of hesitancy or sheepishness about implementing tax changes that dramatically shift the responsibility for funding our public structures and services away from the rich and onto the backs of the poor and middle class, North Carolina’s leaders are in “full steam ahead” mode.

In an era in which the one-percenters are already rapidly leaving the rest of society further and further in their rear view mirrors, Governor McCrory and the leaders of the General Assembly have enacted policies to, in effect, turbocharge their Ferraris, Mercedes and Teslas. [Continue Reading…]

School dropouts3. Limited resources, poverty, academic problems drive NC’s higher dropout rate

For the better part of a decade, North Carolina’s dropout rate has been on the decline. But this week, in the midst of ongoing bickering between public education activists and budget leaders in the N.C. General Assembly over shortfalls in state funding in recent years, state school officials will present data that marks North Carolina’s first increase in the dropout rate in eight years.

The report, bundled along with a massive presentation that includes suspension and other disciplinary data for the N.C. State Board of Education, marks a nearly 8 percent increase in the state’s dropout count, totaling 11,190 dropouts, in the 2014-2015 academic year. And the state’s dropout rate, which factors in enrollment growth in school systems, was up almost 5 percent during the year. [Continue Reading…]

Bonds-ConnectNC4. Connecting bonds and jobs in North Carolina

The folks running the Connect NC bond campaign have to be getting a little nervous these days, now less than two weeks away from voters deciding if the state should borrow $2 billion for much-needed higher education and infrastructure projects.

There haven’t been a lot of polls released publicly about the bond. One done by the conservative Civitas Institute a few weeks ago found that a significant majority of Democrats supported the bond and a plurality of Republicans said they were for it, though by a relatively close margin with a high percentage of GOP voters undecided.

The Tea Party wing of the Republican world is mounting a spirited campaign against borrowing the money and in this bizarre and unpredictable Donald Trump election year, anything is possible given the high turnout expected March 15th in the Republican presidential primary. [Continue Reading…]

Sexual violence5. The truth about sexual violence and the new Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance

As a long-time advocate for victims of sexual violence, I am always grateful for an opportunity to talk about how we, as a society, can prevent this kind of horrific and criminal behavior. That said, I am also frequently angered and frustrated by many of the conversations that do take place. A classic example is the current debate in North Carolina surrounding Charlotte’s new non-discrimination ordinance.

This ordinance, which provides new protections from discrimination for the LGBTQ community, is long overdue. In 2016 America, we cannot pay mere lip service to our belief in equality and fairness for all.

Sadly, the main sticking point in the debate over this new law is the same contentious provision that sank a similar proposal when it was introduced last March, and one that has been used whenever opponents of gender equality feel threatened — the use and safety of public restrooms. [Continue Reading…]

Commentary

The need for a stronger response to college sexual assaults

If there’s anything good coming out of the sickening situation involving former NFL running back Ray Rice in recent days, it’s the growing national chorus that much more must be done to end the scandal that is this nation’s record when it comes to violence against women.

Along these same lines and in case you missed it, check out this morning’s lead commentary on the main Policy Watch site by local attorney Chavi Khanna Koneru “Sexual assault on college campuses: The need for federal legislation.” 

As the article explains, UNC Chapel Hill is at the epicenter of what is clearly a national epidemic.

UNC is currently under investigation by the federal government for mishandling sexual assault complaints. However, the problem is not limited to UNC. More than 60 other colleges around the country are also being investigated and students are continuing to come forward with personal stories of unsatisfactory treatment of their complaints.

The mishandling of sexual assault complaints by colleges is a longstanding problem, but these recent stories dramatize the lax federal oversight that allows these matters to continue to be improperly addressed. Universities often underreport the number of sexual assault cases on their campuses and fail to properly investigate complaints yet there have been no effective sanctions against the schools for these blatant violations.

One partial solution to the problem lies in the passage of federal legislation that provide feds with some real tools to force colleges to replace the “good ol’ boy” systems that far too many still employ with respect to such matters — especially when high profile athletic departments are involved. As the author notes:

Read more

Uncategorized

A troubling story from UNC

The UNC Chapel Hill Daily Tar Heel reported late last night that a former Assistant Dean of Students, three current students and one former student have filed a civil rights complaint against the university over alleged efforts by officials in the University Counsel’s office to squelch sexual assault complaints.

“In 2011, the University Counsel’s office pressured Melinda Manning, then UNC’s assistant dean of students, to under-report cases of sexual assault, according to a complaint against UNC filed to the U.S. Department of Education by Manning and four others.

Manning, three students and one former student filed the complaint Wednesday, alleging that the University has violated the Clery Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other federal laws. Read more

Uncategorized

Once and for all: Rape causes pregnancy

The following is an abstract of a study that appeared in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology more than 15 years ago. Would that it or some similar study was required reading for all American politicans.

Abstract
OBJECTIVE: We attempted to determine the national rape-related pregnancy rate and provide descriptive characteristics of pregnancies that result from rape. STUDY DESIGN: A national probability sample of 4008 adult American women took part in a 3-year longitudinal survey that assessed the prevalence and incidence of rape and related physical and mental health outcomes. RESULTS: The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45);

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