Monday, May 23, 2016

The New Straw People: Bathrooms, Bakers, and Voting Booths, Oh My!

In what some naive people might want to consider a coincidence, ever since the Supreme Court announced racism is dead, there have been a spate of hate laws passed in red states.

It started with voter ID laws.  These put severe restrictions on being able to vote in order to prevent voter fraud.  Except actual cases of voter fraud are very, very few.  As skeptics (or those with any common sense) point out, the actual purpose of these laws is to keep people from voting, especially those who might vote against incumbent Republican regimes.  Low turnouts like in 2010 and 2014 favor Republicans because their base is largely old people who have nothing better to do in November anyway.

Once the Supreme Court abolished anti-gay marriage laws, red states responded with "religious freedom" laws that are thinly-veiled attempts to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.  Because the horror of an Evangelical baker making a cake for a gay couple!  For money.  I mean why should businesses want to actually make money?  Personally if I were a baker I'd rub my hands together and think, "Woo hoo, I can increase my business!"  But I guess some of these bakers and wedding planners and such are living so high off the hog it just doesn't matter.

I always think the way to end "religious freedom" laws is for a Muslim convenience store clerk to refuse to sell beer to customers or a Hindu to refuse to serve beef products at McDonald's.  That would create a real furor among the Christians who write these silly laws and I'm sure they'd get repealed in no time flat.

The latest bunch of silly laws are aimed at protecting people from evil transgender people who rape little kids or women or men in bathrooms.  This despite there's no evidence that such a thing has ever happened anywhere in America.  I'm not even sure what it is the idiots hope to accomplish with this.  I mean, why would you want Caitlin Jenner using the men's room?  And who's going to enforce this shit?  Don't cops in America have enough actual crimes to deal with to worry about a transgender male using the ladies room?  Honestly, I don't understand why any state is wasting time worrying about where transgender people go to the bathroom.

I posted a comment to a Yahoo News thread on Facebook and the comments were pretty enlightening--and silly.  A man dressed like a woman could just walk into bathrooms and camp out there all day!  Well first off, unless you're stationing guards at bathroom doors, a law isn't going to stop a hard-core pervert from going into a ladies room.  Second, camping out there all day is loitering, which is already a crime.  But they could film women in there!  Which again is already a crime.  I read about a transgender person who went into a locker room and waved his thing around!  That would be indecent exposure; whether you claim to be transgender or not, you can't just show your genitals to random people.  And, yup, already a crime.  I don't want some man going to the bathroom in front of my 10-year-old daughter!  Um, unless he's using the sink to piss in I don't see how anyone in the ladies room is going to the bathroom "in front of" anyone.  It's not like ladies rooms have urinals.  Or at least I wouldn't think so.  I mean logically it wouldn't do much good.

The fact someone's lifestyle bothers you doesn't mean you can make it illegal.  Someone on Real Time with Bill Maher said this was the same stuff they did to gays back in the day.  I think in that same episode it was Bryan Cranston who also compared it with segregation where "coloreds" had separate restrooms so they wouldn't attack the white people or anything.  All of which is absolutely true.  It's like how they used the same arguments against gay marriage that they did for interracial marriage in the day:  it'll lead to the end of marriage, people will start marrying horses or siblings, etc.  The dumb arguments remain the same, but they get applied to new targets.

Most of the states passing these laws are in the south.  If you're a politician in a state like Mississippi that is last in education, unemployment, and most everything else, giving people a straw man (or straw person) to focus their rage on is a good way to keep your ass in office.  They're doing exactly what Mayor Quimby did in The Simpsons when the public was outraged over massive spending on the silly Bear Patrol:  he needed to distract the rabble with a phony threat and so used illegal immigrants as a scapegoat.  Since Trump is hogging the Mexican scourge, why not focus on the tiny minority of transgender and queer people?  Those are people a lot of hillbillies wouldn't understand and thus could easily see as monsters in spite of the lack of any real evidence.

The blatant fear-mongering has in some cases backfired on these states.  Last August I talked about corporate activism and we've already seen it with some of these laws.  Paypal decided to back out of building a new facility in North Carolina.  Marvel threatened to pull out of shooting movies in Georgia.  Artists like Bruce Springsteen aren't corporations, but they've cancelled shows in states like North Carolina in protest.  As I said back in August, these corporations are able to do a lot more than a simple protest at the state capital.  Sad as it is, that seems to be the only way to end these bullshit laws, especially with a deadlocked Supreme Court.

So as I said back in August, don't bother writing your Congressperson, write Apple and Paypal and Marvel!  Because the only thing politicians care about more than placating their base is money.

Fun Fact:  I thought up a sort of political protest story using my alterego.  It's called The Hot Girl in the Men's Room and is about a male governor of an unnamed Southern state that passed a "bathroom law."  He's magically turned into a really hot chick and in order to get changed back he has to use the men's room as a woman for a whole week.  At the same time he has to go to a job every day in a crowded mall to make sure he can't just stay home for the week.  It might sound like a silly idea, but is it any sillier than these laws?


  1. What a great book idea. I agree with you on this stupid bathroom issue. It's so ridiculous. This whole "my daughter might be attacked" thing is ridiculous. First of all, if you have a little girl you don't let her go into a public bathroom alone. You go in with your kids because before this discussion even came up, you don't trust a law to protect your kids in a public place.

  2. Great article, Pat. it's sad to see how many of those stupid laws are out there. But I guess certain people are always comfortable discriminating others.

    PS: I love the idea for a book!



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