On Doing Better.

Hi, I’m Alex, I am many things, but the most important is a husband and father. The role of a parent is manifold: it’s budgetary, we provide essential goods and services, it’s disciplinary when necessary, and it’s a role of pastoral care, responsible for ensuring moral behavior in keeping with our values. Essentially then my wife and I are the governors of a tiny state. It’s a role we take seriously, and through a combination of good luck and hard work our child is a good-natured, (mostly) well behaved and, crucially, tolerant one. How, then, are we to explain to him that the state he lives seems to be none of those things?

How to explain to a person taught to both appreciate and elide peoples differences from them that other people are incapable of doing so, and whipped up into a frenzy by paranoiac, unfounded fears they are prepared to abridge the rights of others? How to explain HB2?

Other people have written more fully than I will on the law, but I think it important to point out that, in addition to being morally repugnant, it’s utterly unenforceable and ineffective (at least on the trans bathroom issue, it will allow for a wide range of mistreatment of people, which seems to be its’ intention). The primary argument I have seen for the law is that it will protect our children from sexual predators (our daughters, primarily). It won’t. Sexual assaults don’t take place in public bathrooms, in the main, they take place in the home, by someone the child trusts. Transgender people don’t commit assaults, in the main, they are the victims of them. Also, unless every bathroom in North Carolina is to be under 24 hour security, checking birth certificates, manning x-ray machines, a sign on the door isn’t going to do very much to stop a sexual predator from gaining access to them. Assuming there are no birth certificate checkers at the bathroom door there could be someone born a man peeing next to your daughter right now…

What this law does is make it more likely that a minority is assaulted, essentially delivering a group of people vulnerable to attack into an environment where attack is likely, i.e a public bathroom with people who seem to think they are nothing but a bunch of child rapists. (They are not, though hopefully you don’t need telling that).

I want my child to embrace life in all it’s diversity, understanding that everyone is a person deserving of respect, regardless of the way they are made, or the choices they make, no matter how alien they are to them, unless they do harm to others. I used to put Republicans in the former category, but in the current climate, I might have to change that. While I worry about predatory people, I also worry that his growing up in a homogenized, bigoted society will make teaching him about difference more difficult, and may even leach into his worldview. Fortunately the risk is sexual assault on my child is low, though any risk at all is terrifying. The chance of him being exposed to hateful bigots, and the children of hateful bigots is one hundred percent.

In an ideal world, there would be a way to sequester bigots so that their hate might not spread to others. Regrettably, in the eyes of much of the rest of America and the western world, this place exists. It’s name? North Carolina. Do Better.

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