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Am I My Brother's Keeper?

The recent passage of HB2 by the North Carolina General Assembly has had terrible consequences for the state. Even large companies like PayPal and the NBA all-star game are reconsidering their decision to come to Charlotte. “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen, cancelled a scheduled appearance in Greensboro. Ringo Starr cancelled a concert in Cary. It appears the members of the General Assembly and the Governor did not fully consider consequences of the hastily called special session and this decision.

What was projected as a bill to keep transgender people from using bathroom facilities not conforming to their gender assignments on birth certificates turned out to be much more. Civil suits against government were limited. Also made illegal were actions by governments to offer living wages to employees. It seems that what happens in Mecklenburg County has to comply with what happens throughout North Carolina. Should Dare County or Clay County determine what happens in Mecklenburg, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Wake or Cumberland? North Carolina has become a diverse state with different points of view. We can no longer speak with a single voice and say that it represents what everybody thinks. Maybe the local government has a better sense of what is best for that locale. The North Carolina General Assembly seems to disagree.

I am reminded of a famous quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller who lived during the reign of Nazi Germany – “They came for the socialists and I said nothing because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I said nothing because I was not a trade unionist. They came for the Jews and I said nothing because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one to speak for me.” We are confident of our protected position until we discover that our silence has only made us more vulnerable.

In our rush to accept, without empirical evidence, that somehow we are less safe because transgender people choose bathrooms according to the gender of their psyche, we may have exposed ourselves. Are they more prone to assault? Are they guiltier of rape? In a bathroom equipped with stalls, I am not sure why we have to be afraid of anything. I have not heard that people peeping under the partitions.

Discrimination is wrong! It should be rooted out of our society. The more we are intolerant, the greater is our risk of being exposed to less than kind evaluation or actions. When injustice becomes the rule of the day, we are not our brother’s keeper.

-Bradford Thompson, Sr.

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