Hate Not Here
Over the past year, you’ve probably heard people arguing about going to the bathroom.
And we’re not talking about incontinence. We’re talking about the very-real legal, social, and personal fight being waged in toilets across the nation: it’s largely fueled by personal-rights advocates and harmful, disparaging stereotypes about gender and identity.
Though steeped in arguments about personal safety, morality, and decency, the core issue being fought about here is one of privilege and acceptance, a tale as old as time we’ve seen disguise itself through sex, race, orientation, and more. It’s easy to disregard this battle for the bathrooms as insignificant, saying “Who cares where someone pees?” and pretending that this changes nothing, but the fact of the matter is that bathroom rights are just the tip of the iceberg as far as related legislation is concerned.
At the forefront of this battle is the state of North Carolina, which rapidly passed its Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, better known as House Bill 2 or HB2, last March, much to the dismay of many private institutions and the public at large. Considered by some as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the country today, HB2 prevents municipalities in North Carolina from passing or enforcing anti-discrimination policies. This means that businesses have the right to refuse service based on the perceived orientation of its customers— the key word here being perceived.
Sound ridiculous? Yes, it is. To show just how absurd this law is, these pranksters decided to have a little fun by using the law against North Carolinians to show them just what kind of inane policies their politicians instated. What would you do if this happened to you?
What HB2 Really Means
During a special session on March 23, the North Carolina House of Representatives quickly drafted and passed House Bill 2, which was then passed by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory all in less than 12 hours.
Criticized across the floor for its sloppy writing and unclear and virtually non-extant means of enforcement, House Bill 2 is best known for stating that in all public schools and government buildings, individuals may only use the bathroom or changing facility that aligns with their “biological sex” as stated on their birth certificate. While this may make sense for cisgender people (whose biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression are the same), this may seem like common sense, but for people who are gender nonconforming or transgender, this presents a plethora of problems. Imagine you transitioned while young and have been living as a woman for decades, and now, suddenly, you are forced to use a men’s room. Would you feel safe or dignified?
Sadly, this scenario has been flipped on its head by the many supporters of HB2 as well as by social conservatives. You’ve probably heard it pitched as women and girls feeling threatened in their own restrooms by “bearded ladies,” violent crossdressers or transvestites parading in the other sex’s clothes merely for pleasure or even with criminal intentions. This is a frightening example of propaganda used to distract us from the human rights being violated by HB2. Clearly, the war over bathroom rights isn’t about incontinence, it’s about incompetence.
HB2 goes much further than just bathrooms, however. One measure of the law is that local governments cannot enact anti-discrimination measures for LGBT people. While North Carolina has the standard anti-discrimination laws, it does not include any language regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.
This makes way for a rather odd reality in 2016: Citizens and businesses in North Carolina can discriminate against people if they think they’re gay.
Yes, you read that right. While there’s no way of enforcing HB2, per se (you try and get a cop to sit in a bathroom all day), there’s certainly no [legal] way for a small business owner to get someone to outright “prove” their orientation or gender. That means that if somebody is really, truly intent on refusing service to someone based on their orientation, they can only rely on outward appearance, affectations, gestures, and cold, cruel stereotypes.
What’s stopping me from assuming that you’re gay? Or that that woman walking with her “husband” and “children” isn’t gay? In fact, nothing is stopping me, and HB2 only supports me to make this arbitrary decision.
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah picked up on this idiocy, so he decided to set up a prank which would show North Carolinians just how dumb the law truly is.
HB2 in Action
Meet the Bone Brothers.
Okay, so they’re Daily Show correspondents Roy Wood, Jr. and Jordan Klepper, artfully disguised as BBQ food truck owners parked in Raleigh at lunchtime. And in case you were wondering: No, they don’t serve gay people, because what says North Carolina like barbecue and discrimination?
As you can guess, people weren’t too pleased with the result. Watch the video above!
So, how far is too far?