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MCCARTHY: When laws unjustifiably burden groups labeled “unimportant”

Photo+by+Amy+Elliot-Miesel
Photo by Amy Elliot-Miesel

Photo by Amy Elliot-Miesel

Photo by Amy Elliot-Miesel

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One of the cruelest ironies in American politics is when elected officials pass legislation designed to limit the freedoms of certain groups under the guise of protecting freedoms or providing security.

North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, also known as the bathroom law, requires citizens to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth. The idea is that the law prevents criminals from entering opposite gender bathrooms under the auspice of being transgender.

The law is not without controversy. Backlash has been swift and unrelenting, with boycotts and condemnations coming from everywhere from Charlotte-based Bank of America to the adult website xHamster. The most notable backlash has come from musicians. Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Boston, Pearl Jam and others have cancelled shows in North Carolina in opposition to this law.

“It is the height of hypocrisy for these Hollywood elitists to deny their service to customers over a political disagreement,” said Ricky Diaz, a spokesperson for North Carolina Governor McCrory, in a note obtained by The Carolina Mercury.

Diaz’s statements, defending a law that denies service preferences to thousands of North Carolinians, bring hypocrisy to an even greater height. The truth is that this law solves a problem that does not exist. There is simply no evidence that sexual predators specifically operate in bathrooms.

Last weekend I went to see comedian Ron White perform at the Riverside Theater. Toward the beginning of the show, the stage right speakers stopped working. White stopped the performance and refused to continue until an employee fixed the speakers. Even though two-thirds of the crowd could hear perfectly fine, Ron White refused to perform unless his whole audience could comfortably enjoy the show. That is  professionalism.

These musicians and performers are merely doing the same thing. By failing to accommodate all of their fans, North Carolina is making it impossible for them to perform in a professional manner. While personal politics certainly play into the decision to cancel a show, I am certain the thought of providing some fans with a subpar experience also contributes to the choice.

The condemnation letter, signed by more than 160 corporations, must certainly come as a shock to Governor McCrory, who angles himself as a pro-business conservative. Among these corporations are the CEOs from Apple, Airbnb, Lyft and Dropbox. When these companies look to set up a new office or workspace, it surely will not be in North Carolina. Even Bank of America, which donated to McCrory’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign, is condemning the law.

“We believe that HB 2 (the bathroom law) will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country,” the letter reads. “It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses and economic activity.”

Democracy is often called the tyranny of the majority. The Founding Fathers foresaw this and imbued the Constitution and Bill of Rights with rights designed to protect minorities from fickle public opinion. Now in states like Mississippi and North Carolina, this idea is in jeopardy.

Even if you do not support the transgender lifestyle you should oppose this law and others like it. It sets a dangerous precedent and presents an unjustified burden on a group not politically significant enough to defend itself.

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