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Much Ado About Nothing

In Shakespeare’s great play, Much Ado About Nothing, comic relief is provided by Dogberry, a character that we are often stumped by and can be described as diabolical, bumbling , or sometimes just plain stupid. This character has been brought to my mind by the recent actions of the North Carolina General Assembly. First, they are called into session to pass two laws that can only be characterized as the “political retention acts of 2016”. These laws strip power from the governor, reorders how the court can be approached, and changes how public education is run in the state. Governor Pat McCrory signed them into law. If the court won’t rail the NCGA, then maybe the citizens will do it in the November 2017 court ordered elections. Somebody needs to do it.

The last special session was one called by McCrory supposedly to repeal the Ill-conceived HB2 that has cost the state millions of dollars and some much needed jobs. The legislation supposedly was in response to a City of Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance that, among other things, granted LGBT citizens the right to use the bathroom of their gender preference. But, the legislation in response to this did much more. Among its actions were to limit the wage that could be paid and an employee’s right to sue. Are we supposed to believe that these actions were designed to protect the cities and towns from themselves and not an effort for the anti-government GOP to legislate what happens locally (an idea they purport to abhor)?

The Charlotte City Council dutifully removed the offending language and later rescinded the entire ordinance with a promise from Governor McCrory and the General Assembly leadership that HB2 would be repealed. The leadership was not able to persuade a majority of their caucus that this should be done, and after failing to get a unified caucus, HB2 was not repealed and the finger pointing began.

All this is to say, where is the problem? The claims that children are raped in these bathrooms do not seem to be born out in reports. As an avid news junkie, I cannot recall a time a bathroom rape was conducted by an LGBT person. There might be an instance, but I am unaware of it. So what is the NCGA seeking to protect us from? Are they trying to protect us from the mere possibility of this occurring? If Charlotte (or any other city) believes an ordinance is required to protect its citizens from discrimination, should the General Assembly intercede? Shouldn’t the government seek to protect the rights of all citizens, not restrict them? I must have missed something in Mr. Davis’ Civics class. The whole HB2 thing seems to be an idea in search of a problem. Like the play, it is “much to do about nothing”.

Maybe we are left to wonder about the North Carolina General Assembly just as we are puzzled by the actions of Dogberry in Shakespeare’s play. Maybe they are left unchanged by the actions of these ill-advised sessions, except for misguided judgements and hurt pride.

Happy New Year.

Brad Thompson

January, 2017

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