Look, people. I am on deadline — deadlineS. I have work to do. I have things to get done to keep the mortgage paid and my kids’ mouths full of peanut butter, of macaroni and cheese. So I don’t really have time to write the column that the News & Observer failed to write this morning.
But since they didn’t, I will.
Here’s the story. As you well know, the dumbass Republicans in the NC House introduced the dumbass HB 695, which basically protects North Carolina citizens from foreign laws. Because, you know, in between taking over local school districts and municipal water systems, the party of small government needs to protect us from the government of, say, Ecuador deciding to come in and, I don’t know, retest us on our driving licenses or something. The bill, by the way, has been called the “anti-Sharia law,” because it’s based on a template by anti-Sharia activists, and Republican legislators genuinely do appear to believe that somehow Sharia law can be forced on you right here in North Carolina.
That’s so stupid I won’t even begin to discuss it. There’s nothing real in this world the bill would actually protect us from, but it doesn’t restrict any meaningful rights either, so the remaining normals in the legislature didn’t worry much about it and just planned to debate it when it came up. It was a two-page piece of dumbassery. These guys love dumbassery, and it didn’t look like much more than the usual mischief.
It passed the House. Big deal. Then it moved to the Senate. Big deal. Except! Then late in the day on July 2, NC Senate Republicans amended it to within an inch of its life, filling it full of crap limiting abortion rights, especially language forcing abortion clinics to follow the same rules as surgical clinics, which would force virtually all of them to shut down. Now it’s called the Family, Faith, and Freedom act, because nothing says “dumbassery” like alliteration.
It’s standard sneak attack stuff — as a sign among the hundreds protesting this morning
said, “if you can’t be right, be sneaky.” It’s also, of course, cowardice. If the bill is good law — it’s obviously not; leaving out the health effects and other things we’ve just debated to death, it’s flat-out unconstitutional — introduce it, debate it, defend it, pass it. Hell, Republicans have the numbers to pass any damn thing they want — as they’ve demonstrated. If it’s not good law, wait around until you can think of a good law, then pass that. But seriously: “Slip it in when nobody’s around”? That’s your political philosophy? That’s what you teach your kids? Wait around until you think people who disagree with you aren’t looking, and then run something unspeakable by them? The great justification for your reactionary rewriting of the state’s law book is “because we can”? That’s your response to what you call — with plenty of justification — years of Democratic mismanagement?
Shame on you all.
Now — again. The thing is unconstitutional, as courts have upheld, so the whole farce is basically an enormously expensive practical joke played by the party of fiscal responsibility. And look, if we have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars — or more — to fight the thing all the way to the Supreme Court to hear them tell you that you’re not allowed to limit women’s access to health care like this, we’ll do that. It’s expensive and stupid and a waste of time, but expensive stupid wastes of time seem to be what Republican legislators like. Remember the bill against sea-level rise? Remember the one in favor of state-sponsored religion?
So last night, after watching Josh Stein’s impassioned defense of our rights, I messaged to a friend that I wondered what the chances were that the News & Observer would have something on its editorial page — whether by columnist or editorial staff — addressing this outrage in today’s paper. He felt sure someone would. I doubted it — back in the day, the paper used to have columnists who would drive back to the paper if they heard about this kind of thing going on just to get a word in the next day’s paper. The paper’s editorial staff is down in the thirties now.
Guess what — I was right! Even though a columnist or editorial writer would have to go no further than his or her desk to make an addition to the print or online product, nobody stepped up. Those days are gone. The N&O had a front-page story on the GOP sneakery, but nothing on the editorial page. I’m sure they will tomorrow. But guess what? The vote was today. Bad guys won. The moment for taking a stand before the final vote has passed.
I went down to stand with the protesters, of course. This kind of madness ruins lives, destroys communities, makes North Carolina look like a backwater full of madpersons. It makes the state much less attractive to business, by the way, which one would think would interest the supposedly pro-business Republican party, but it appears that when up to the mischief of limiting women’s rights and creating bad law that hits the badness trifecta — it’s bad for health, it’s bad law, and it’s embarrassing to the state — nothing stops these guys.
And, oh, yeah — the whole irony of stuffing provisions treating women like property and restricting their rights into a bill supposedly against Sharia law, which is perceived as treating women like property and limiting their rights? The irony there is so extreme I’m not even going to bother.s
To sum up though. This law is indefensible on a health basis (limiting abortions only causes abortions to be less safe, not less in number), on a legal basis (bills like it have been challenged, blocked, and overturned), and an ethical basis (go ahead, I beg you — try to defend the position that a blastocyst has the same ethical standing as Governor McCrory, that your preteen daughter, pregnant from rape, is carrying a being with the same rights as hers; if you don’t, then you’re prochoice — you just think you get to make the choice, not each individual woman).
Each senator — and state rep — who voted for this bill is either ignorant, stupid, or wicked. It’s that simple. And people who are ignorant, stupid, and wicked are in charge. That’s why I was out there this morning. And that’s why I spent the rest of the morning writing this instead of doing my job.
So. I’m going back to work now. I went out to protest, because as a citizen what less could I do? I did the News & Observer’s job because, as a writer, what less could I do? Now, as a businessperson, I have to meet deadlines and do my work. Because … well, you know. And okay — meet “-ish” those deadlines now.
But seriously: what are our options?