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How Hate Laws Work


The flux of religious freedom [to discriminate] bills is as good a time as any to review when bills designed to limit the rights of women and minorities begin to work, how they work, and why they’re effective even when they aren’t enforced.

A bill like HB 1840 or HB 2 starts to work the moment its contents reach the general public. It works first by reminding bigots and intended victims alike that the state backs oppression of whoever happens to be in the targeted group, this week.

Then the bill’s sponsors and supporters can get down to the serious and important business of further demonstrating their power by painting the powerless as a threat to the public.

So it isn’t that women who don’t necessarily fit society’s rigid definition of Girl want to use the toilet or locker room, it’s that hordes of predatory men will invade women’s toilets and locker rooms if those women are allowed to use the women’s toilet. People who are not heterosexual don’t want mental health counseling, they want to attack religious freedom. Women don’t seek prescription medicine or medical procedures, they murder babies, etcetera, ad nauseum.

Now a group that is already subject to discrimination has to deal with the additional stress of opening the morning paper and reading “State legislators met yesterday to demonize you and discuss a law that will help ensure that you aren’t treated like a human being. [Quote from Assemblyman Goatgroper citing a paper from a hate group that “proves” you’re a menace to society].”

And then they get to go out into a world full of people who are now armed with a fresh steaming pile of official excuses to view them as dangerous and disgusting. Have a nice day!

However long it takes such a bill to pass, it has already done a lot of work, i.e, regularly reminded its victims that the state can and will fuck with them on a whim. That’s why the methods by which the law will be enforced may not even reach afterthought stage.

(As an aside, this is why the suggestion that HB 1840 potentially protects people by keeping them away from bigoted therapists or counselors is grotesque, insulting and not based on anything approaching reality. There is never a silver lining to discrimination, and if you think you’ve found one, please remember to use chemicals such as rubber cement and paint thinner in a well-ventilated area.)

Take North Carolina’s HB 2 – The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, AKA the Naughty Bits Obsession Act, which states in part:

Public agencies shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designated for and only used by persons based on their biological sex.

The law defines biological sex as whatever is listed on a person’s birth certificate.

How should this law be enforced? The police don’t know.

At the Wilmington Police Department, spokeswoman Linda Rawley said the law struck her as strange. “So that means people have to go to the bathroom with birth certificates? Yeah, that was curious to me.” At the Asheville Police Department, spokeswoman Christina Hallingse noted, “We’re not checking birth certificates. We just don’t have the police power to be able to do that in bathrooms.”

Perhaps Rep. Dan Bishop, one of the bill’s co-sponsors can provide guidance?

“There are no enforcement provisions or penalties in HB2. Its purpose is to restore common sense bathroom and shower management policy in public buildings, not to pick out people to punish,” he wrote in a statement to WBTV.

Yes. Of course. There was no need to think about that sort of thing, because the law allows for harassment and humiliation of anyone who looks like fair game. Even if no one ever yells “Get out of here!” or calls the police, it will have worked.

The transgender community is fearful of the bill. Alyson Nicole Jamison is transgender and calls House Bill 2 ridiculous. She has used the women’s bathroom before and is troubled about what to do.

“Go to the female’s bathroom and go by my identified gender,” Jamison said, “Or be rejected from the female bathroom or go to the males’ bathroom and then worry about either getting jumped or beat up or brutally hurt.”

And from the MJ article

…some transgender people in the state have stopped using public restrooms altogether. They’re “terrified,” she says, and that’s enough to keep them away even if it means enduring physical discomfort.

Mission accomplished.

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  • efgoldman

    Has the federal lawsuit been filed yet?

  • pianomover

    The lack of shame is …

    • efgoldman

      The lack of shame is …

      When they register Republiklown, as an initiation rite, they immediately have two surgeries: a shame-ectomy and an empathy-ectomy.
      They should require a vasectomy, too. Unfortunately….

      • shame-ectomy

        That’s upstate, right?

        • N__B

          There used to be a lot of manufacturing there, mostly General Dishonor.

  • pianomover

    It’s that respect for sincerely held religious beliefs that is the kicker.

    • CrunchyFrog

      I have a sincerely held religious belief that all Republicans are evil Nazis and to offer them any kind of assistance whatsoever is the worst sin imaginable. I work in a polling station handing out ballots – and my co-workers believe the same thing. Obviously this law will support our belief, right?

      Ok, so the above is an example of taking a position to its logical extreme to demonstrate how absurd it is. But if these sort of laws aren’t challenged now its only a matter of time before Jim Crow practices are back on the grounds of “sincerely held religious beliefs”. The Mormons figured out long ago that they could justify their anti-black racism by incorporating the notion that black skin is the “mark of Cain” into their religious beliefs – I’m sure the Southern Baptists can do something similar.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        And *I* have a sincerely held belief that I should plant sharp axes in the noggins of Fundie Xtain morons.

        Somehow I endure the repression of my beliefs, but it is so, SO, difficult!

        • John not McCain

          Jokes on you, hippie. Christians have eternal life and, therefore, cannot be killed. As a matter of fact, prosecuting someone for the “murder” of a bible-believer is a horrible attack on the religious freedom of Christians. It’s like the government is saying Christianity is wrong! This should be addressed at the federal level.

      • alex284

        I too am getting tired of squishy liberals always going “what about their religions! Their religions that require them to beat up, demonize, and fire certain people! Isn’t religion a ‘get out of jail free’ card?”

        For some reason, I have never seen these liberals defend segregation as a religious belief, even though there were lots of white people (and still are) who think that the separation of races was ordained by God.

        I’m thinking “Respect their sincerely held religious beliefs” actually means “I’m sympathetic to their position.”

    • alex284

      Prove that these are sincerely held religious beliefs.

      Where in the Bible does it require someone to run ads saying that trans folks are child molesters?

      • alex284

        Adding… Also thinking that homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, etc., come from religion itself leads to some pretty hard-core disrespect for religion. Religion is what people make of it, but if I really thought that it was sole reason people murder trans folk, fire gay people, or protest abortion clinics, then I’m sure I would think that Christianity is a disease that must be eliminated. It would sound awful!

        And this is how you get people like Bill Maher, who makes the argument that Islam is the sole motivator for any terrible thing that any Muslim person does, and he’s not particularly respectful of Islam, now is he?

    • Rugosa

      Slightly OT. I heard a news story this morning about a Catholic retreat center in Mass that is having its tax-exempt status re-evaluated by the town it’s in. The retreat center, situated on 200 acres, includes typical religious structures such as a chapel and educational facilities but also a nature preserve, parking lot, etc., that are not strictly religious in purpose. The town is assessing it at 60/40% religious use/not religious use. The church is defending 100% religious use, arguing that the church, not the town, should be able to decide what is religious use and what is not. It’s a pretty good scam if you can get away with it – the church decides which laws apply to it – and that’s what these “religious freedom” laws do.

  • Joe_JP

    There was a recent blog post about “expressive” legislation:


    This is basically hateful messaging while “hate crime laws” would be more positive messaging. It isn’t merely messaging just as anti-sodomy laws were at times actually enforced, but it’s a large part of the whole thing.

    There are many trans stories out there but the recent book Becoming Nicole, which in significant part involved bathrooms too, is a good one.

  • DrDick

    As the person who made the facetious crack about protecting people from bigoted therapists, it was never meant seriously and I have a lot of trans friends, so I am aware of the problems they face.

    • You aren’t the only one who has made such a comment.

  • McAllen

    Thank you, Shakezula. This is excellent.

    One of the things that’s been discussed among trans women is how this puts us on the defensive. Instead of pointing out how dangerous society is to us, we have to spend energy defending ourselves against the idea that we’re dangerous to others.

    • I appreciate this.

      That tension and energy drain is – I think – another intended consequence of these bills.

      I should have also noted that the impact of these laws goes way beyond the state lines of where they’re in effect or being debated.

  • hamletta

    One heartening thing about these laws is that the people who write them are dumbasses, so you run into executive branch officials, like the police, asking how the fuck are they supposed to enforce them?

    Some idjit councilman in Nashville introduced an English-only law, and the cops hated it, because they value their bilingual officers who can speak to immigrant communities. In addition, Metro Legal Counsel was asking, well, what if the mayor needs to write to the home office of Toyota or Mercedes-Benz, huh?

    I did phone-banking against this piece of shit, and one lady asked, “Aren’t you tired of calling your bank and hearing, ‘Press 1 for English’?”

    I said no, not really, and this law wouldn’t change that, because it only applied to official Metro business. Her bank probably had a lot of Spanish-speaking customers, and they weren’t going to diss them!

    These laws are stupid, hateful preening that wind up costing money to defend as they’re inevitably defeated. Tell me again how Republicans are for efficient government.

    • Nobdy

      I find pressing one for English mildly annoying. Therefore a huge portion of the population should lack access to essential government services up to and including law enforcement.

      Why do liberals find this to be an unreasonable position?

      • Woodrowfan

        because it’s dumb. Seriously. You’re about to press several dozen buttons going through the automatic menu, so pressing one additional button once is an added burden? You hate being reminded that people who speak other languages exist? You’re afraid you’ll wear the 1 button on your phone out?

        • Nobdy

          Most phones have touchscreens these days so there isn’t really a physical button to wear out.

      • los

        I’ve never heard the “press if you speak English”. I hear something in espanol about pressing 1.
        I then press nothing…

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      So they should add an option “Press 1 for dumbass”.

  • Troll comment deleted

    Troll comment deleted

    • prplmnkydw

      So I read this comment as saying that people against the HB-2 laws are pursuing a goal that, according to you Mike Rogers, is aiming to require you to refer to people in some specific way, Mr./Ms. Jenner in your example? You think the point of opposing HB-2 and its ilk is specifically to control how you think and talk about transgender people, or whoever else?

      Assuming that is the case:

      1) It isn’t about you, stop being so egotistical.
      2) No one cares how you refer to anybody. If you are rude to people in public, expect someone to call you rude.
      3) Maybe, just maybe, imagine that this is about other people, and not wanting to give them a hard time. Maybe opposing HB-2 is about not making transgender people stress about bathrooms, and is in fact not about you or someone trying to make you refer to anyone in anyway.

      Also maybe consider that Lenin was talking about how language was used by people in power to obscure the way in which they exercised that power in exploitative ways. The analogy does not hold up for even one second. Lenin, contrary to fever dreams, was not trying to write a totalitarian handbook.

      • so-in-so

        You over think it. Mr. Rogers just stopped by to tell us that all leftists are still totalitarian a-holes, and make it a bit topical by bringing in HB-2. He just hates anyone to the left of Jerry Falwell.

      • JMP

        But don’t you understand, if Mike refers to Caitlyn Jenner or Lana Wachowski as “he” in public, someone might say that he’s a horrible transphobic bigot just because he said something awful and bigoted, and that’s mean! Why this is totalitarianism that is just as bad as how, when white people call black folks the N-word, they get called racist!

        Won’t someone think of the bigots who just want say ridiculously bigoted things, and never get called bigots, which is mean?

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      That “Mike Rogers”, she makes an interesting point.

    • JMP

      It’s totalitarian to ask that people act polite to each other, huh? Mike Rogers does not seem to understand what words mean. Maybe that’s something he should think about.

  • cpinva

    fuck their religions, go after their wallets, and watch how quickly those “sincerely held religious beliefs” disappear, as the night mists to the dawn. the more companies/artists/etc. refuse to do business in states/localities with laws like this, the quicker those laws will be gone, and other states/areas so inclined will think twice before implementing them.

    • efgoldman

      the more companies/artists/etc. refuse to do business in states/localities with laws like this, the quicker those laws will be gone

      At least initially, MS and NC seem to be in full “fuck you, you’re not the boss of us” mode.
      It worked in IN and GA. It will eventually work in NC, particularly if a corporate giant with HQ there (B of A) starts moving jobs, or if the major sports organizations start moving events.
      I wonder what would happen if the non-traitor-state schools in the ACC cancelled games?
      MS, I’m afraid, is immovable. They want to be a third world country; let them.

  • Julia Grey

    Mike can call anybody anything he likes. The only consequence of calling them something rude or ugly will be the disapproval of others or the perhaps equally rude return remarks from the object of his bigotry.

    The government won’t arrest him for calling Caitlyn “he.” That would be, ahem, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

  • galanx


  • galanx

    When this law first came out, some guy from North Carolina who had been born female but had a sex-change operation posted a picture on Rod Dreher’s site of himself, looking decidedly masculine- full shoulders and full-bearded- and announced to the women of his home state that from now on he’ll be sharing their bathroom, because that’s what his birth certificate says.

    • DocAmazing

      Rid Dreher’s site

      Most accurate typo all week. Paging Dr. Freud…

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  • The HB-2 law has now stopped the Boss from performing in NC. Great work, a-holes. He canceled yesterday’s booked show in Greensboro. NC has got to suffer economic punishment for this abomination until it is repealed. More importantly, NC voters have got to vote out the whole bunch, including our idiot Governor, come November. I’ve lived in NC all my life. This is the worst governance we’ve ever had. The NC GOP is run by Jesse Helms’ mind, now preserved somewhere in a bottle.

  • Good point about the function and intent of legislation like this, to serve as a power display.

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