Discrimination, privacy and government intrusion

Published March 25, 2016

By Tom Campbell

by Tom Campbell, Executive Producer and Moderator, NC SPIN, March 24, 2016.

This week’s special session of the General Assembly was called primarily to address a new ordinance in Charlotte, due to go into effect April 1. While the primary focus was the so-called “bathroom ordinance,” there were other important issues that surfaced.

Let’s begin by acknowledging that municipal government in North Carolina is a creation of and governed by the state. Throughout modern history our legislature has provided oversight with a “light hand,” insisting that local units of government follow the state Constitution, abide by state laws and avoid expressly prohibited actions. That philosophy has worked well in the past, but our current legislature increasingly comes across like “Big Brother.”

The admirable thrust of Charlotte’s ordinance was to ensure that businesses and others would not discriminate against a person because of his or her sexual identity or preference, but they crossed the line with a provision allowing transgendered people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Can we agree that discrimination in any form is wrong? However, as an older, slightly overweight, balding, left-handed, white man I can testify that prejudice occurs. You probably can too. What we must guarantee is that no one has his or her rights denied, while also being careful to ensure not that one person’s rights do not violate another’s.

We might question why parts of Charlotte’s ordinance were necessary but do acknowledge that locally elected officials should, after spirited and full debate, decide local issues. Drilling deeper raises further questions. The safety concern is a red herring, using scare tactics to conjure images where transgendered persons violate someone’s privacy or commit sexual crimes. Just being transgendered does not equate to being a predator. Sexual predators come in all shapes, races and genders. Whether they can or cannot share bathrooms neither promotes nor prevents sexual crimes. There are many other cities across the nation with similar ordinances. Few, if any, have reported instances of safety issues.

The larger issue to us is privacy. Nobody wants to wait in lines, so we demand more toilets, more showers and more lockers. I admit sometimes feeling awkward standing next to another man using a urinal and totally abhor shared locker rooms with joint showers. Women tell me they have the same concerns. It would be even more disconcerting with someone of a different sex. That’s not a matter of discrimination but my own desire for privacy.

Regarding the debate on the minimum wage we think lawmakers are on firm ground. State law establishes a minimum wage and does not expressly grant municipalities the right to set it higher or lower than the law. This is an instance of local government usurping state law.

The ultimate issue is government intrusion. North Carolinians have long deplored the practice of the federal government intruding into state affairs, but in recent years our legislature has done exactly the same thing by meddling in local affairs that by right should be local issues. Similarly, there can be no doubt that local governments are sometimes guilty of intrusion into personal affairs.

In summary, discrimination is not only illegal but also wrong. So, too, is undue intrusion by government at any level. Safety and privacy are vitally important. Those are our takeaways from this week’s special legislative session.


March 25, 2016 at 9:39 am
Tom Hauck says:

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your weekly shows and columns which give many points of view.

I am not directly involved in this dispute but applaud the legislature for taking up the issue. I understand that there is no doctor's certificate or other official certification for determining when a person "legitimately" decides to dress up in opposite sex clothes and attend that dressing room or bathroom. I think ladies bathrooms would be less of a potential problem than gym or swimming pool dressing rooms and showers particularly when preteen or even teenagers are using the same facilities.

Am also disappointed that the Democrats did not take a stand but ran from the room prior to the vote.

March 25, 2016 at 10:13 am
Norm Kelly says:

Even though I identify as a black female now, I still expect truth and full disclosure in my posts as well as other who post.

'crossed the line with a provision allowing transgendered people to use public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.' The word 'allowing' is wrong, dishonest, misleading. The word 'forced' is more accurate, honest. Businesses and governments would have been FORCED to provide different bathroom and shower arrangements. At great expense. For a problem that has yet to be identified as actually existing.

'The safety concern is a red herring'. Only in small minds. What in the ordinance prevented me from using a women's room? Nothing. Can you prove I don't identify as a black female? Based on WHAT!? Therefore, as a convicted pedophile, I GET TO CHOOSE TO USE THE FEMALE ROOM and you can legally do nothing about it! How does that protect anyone? One of the major proponents of the Charlotte ordinance, the guy telling us that pedophiles would not take advantage of this law, is reported to be a registered sex offender. Should his word be trusted? Nope! My safety, the safety of my wife, the safety of my children/grandchildren is MUCH more important than providing SPECIAL treatment for a very small confused group of people. I can't call them 'confused' even though they are, I can't suggest they need mental help, even though they do, but THEY can force their 'life style' on me? What gives them the right to destroy my rights? What gives them the right to force me to pay more for services and goods because I have to accept their confusion?

Talk about a red herring! 'Few, if any, have reported instances of safety issues.' EVERYONE, even die-hard libs, know this is a bogus argument. This information WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO SHOW UP ANYWHERE. It would destroy the gay agenda. It would destroy the lib agenda. It would prove thinking people were right all along. This information will be buried. Kinda like when a black person attacks or kills a white person. Identifying the perp as 'black' is forbidden. Whenever a white or close to white person commits a crime against a black person, the perp is specifically and repeatedly identified as white. Even when it suits libs to identify a hispanic person as white, they will do so without impunity.

'Women tell me they have the same concerns'. Which is exactly why a 'women only' gym has been deemed legal and non-discriminatory. Men are legally NOT allowed to have men-only institutions of ANY VARIETY because it's discriminatory, yet women are allowed and protected to have their own facilities. Suddenly it makes sense to a very confused minority to force women to share a bathroom or shower with males. Not just a workout room, but shower or toilet room. Does this actually make sense to anyone? And who polices the 'identity' of the person using the public facility? What standard will be used? If I identify as a black female, for political purposes only, am I allowed to use the women's locker room? Of course. But this is stoopid, and every lib out there knows it.

'State law establishes a minimum wage and does not expressly grant municipalities the right to set it higher or lower than the law'. So, the philosophy of the occupier has worked its way down the chain. Laws can be followed when you want and ignored when you want. Have a law you don't like? Ignore it? Have a law that doesn't say what you want it to say, simply interpret it the way you want. After all, it's a living, breathing document and MUST adjust to changes in society. Why is it that local governments should be allowed to create stup1d laws that potentially create hazardous situations (identity based bathrooms/showers) but should not be allowed to force businesses in their jurisdiction to pay a specific (detrimental) wage to private employees? Talk about a double standard. As well as a slippery slope! Using this type of 'thinking', nothing is sacred or dependable or written in ink, it's all pencil that can be changed on a whim!

March 25, 2016 at 10:37 am
Richard L Bunce says:

I have only lived in NC for 18 years... "worked well" is far from how I would describe the ever increasing intrusion of local government into their residents and property owners lives. The Legislature MUST perform the most intensive oversight to limit their County and Municipal creations to just those powers explicitly granted to them by the Legislature.

March 25, 2016 at 10:46 am
Richard L Bunce says:

... as for the restroom issue. Were I the owner of a public accommodation business I would have only single user (including family/assistant as required) restrooms and they would simply be labeled "Restroom". If I had an existing business with multiple user restrooms that were too expensive to convert to single user restrooms I would change the labels from "Men" to "Male/Female/Other" and "Women" to "Female Only". There is a specific genetic test for a sex of a human female to resolve any legal disputes should the need arise. As a business owner I would not police this use but leave it up to the customers in the "Female Only" restroom to bring a complaint to the authorities. Sex (male/female/other) is not the same as Gender (man/woman/other). Sex is genetic, gender is a social construct based on self identification.