Editorial: McCrory ad stokes fear, not support
Posted September 2, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Friday, Sept. 2. 2016; Editorial# 8050
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
“At 9, I was molested by a teenager,” says a woman at the startling opening of one of Gov. Pat McCrory’s latest TV ads. Gina Little of Greensboro, a domestic violence victim, doesn’t focus on or mention that issue; instead, she goes straight to HB2.
“When I found out that President Obama and Roy Cooper wanted to force school children to share the same locker room, shower and restroom with someone who claims to be the opposite sex, I was horrified,” she says.
The ad exploits Little’s personal tragedy and plays to fear for the sake of political gain – taking aim at McCrory’s Democratic opponent in the race for governor.
It has been a challenge to figure out just what McCrory’s concerns are with transgender people and how they should be treated in the public arena – be that bathrooms or courtrooms. It appears he tailors his views depending on the audience.
When he signed the bill, late at night last March just hours after it was passed in an “emergency” session of the General Assembly, he said it was about “privacy in the most personal of settings.” He seemed to be trying to separate himself from the sharper rhetoric of the General Assembly’s leadership, who were pressing the safety issue and seeking, with a broad brush, to portray transgender individuals as deviant and predators.
When he talks to business groups, as he did recently in a session hosted by the Triangle Business Journal, McCrory stands up for state and local rights: “I don’t think the federal government should have that authority over the private sector. And I don’t think our principals or superintendents should be subjected to allowing a boy, who thinks he’s a girl but is still a boy, to be able to enter a locker room or shower or bathroom facility.” He’s said the federal government is being a bully.
In his TV ad, McCrory implies the issue with HB2 is safety. When he signed the bill, the issue was privacy. And, in front of business groups – as well as in interviews with national news organizations – he says it is about “Washington over-reach.”
So, where does McCrory really stand? A 518-page brief filed with the federal court two weeks ago provides some answers. It dwells on safety and, through a variety of medical and law enforcement experts, suggests that transgender people are sick and North Carolina women and girls are at risk when they enter restrooms or locker rooms.
McCrory and legislative leaders said a failure to allow enforcement of HB2 would thwart safety laws by allowing non-transgender predators to exploit the opportunity to cross dress and prey on others.
Even U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder doesn’t buy it. “The unrefuted evidence in the current record suggests that jurisdictions that have adopted accommodating bathroom access policies have not observed subsequent increases in crime.”
That’s been true for the more than 200 municipalities and 18 states that have adopted non-discrimination laws and ordinances to project transgender people’s rights.
As McCrory morphs the issue from privacy, to states’ rights to safety, the only clarity that emerges is the desperate quest for a campaign wedge issue gone awry.
Instead of merely mobilizing a segment of the Republican Party voter base, the issue has spun out of control. It has cost North Carolina financially in lost job growth opportunities and business. It has cost the state’s reputation—with other states, organizations and corporations boycotting North Carolina.
And now, as the election season heads into its final phase, the McCrory campaign doubles down with an ad that plays to fears and prejudice.
The ad is demeaning to the process. McCrory should stop airing it.