The Bathroom War Between the States

Apr 23, 2016

By Herb Silverman

The Civil War started in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, the South called it the “War Between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America,” now shortened to the “War Between the States.” A few here in Charleston still call it the “War of Northern Aggression.”

While there hasn’t been another actual war, there have been competitions between North and South Carolina since I moved to South Carolina in 1976 to teach at the College of Charleston. North Carolina has usually fared better, and I’m not referring just to sports teams. South Carolina has no equivalent to the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill Research Triangle, with outstanding academic universities like North Carolina State, Duke, and the University of North Carolina. Educational opportunities and quality of life have long seemed better in North Carolina. Some in South Carolina half-jokingly told me that the difference between North and South Carolina is the difference between culture and agriculture.

However, the culture, especially in Charleston, has improved significantly, making the city a top tourist attraction. There’s more interest and talk in South Carolina about how best to improve education and race relations, though words and ideas need to be put into action along with financial priorities for these issues. In some ways, South Carolina has become better than North Carolina. I’d like to say that’s good news, but it’s actually bad news, because North Carolina has recently gotten worse in ways that South Carolina hasn’t, at least not yet.

North Carolina approved a law blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules that grant protections to gay and transgender people. This is a solution searching for a problem. There are zero recorded instances of harassment by transgender people in bathrooms. However, because there are at least three recorded instances of Republican politicians being arrested for lewd behavior in public restrooms, perhaps we should bar male Republican politicians from using public restrooms.

If family-values, Bible-thumping politicians don’t want to treat people fairly on moral grounds, then perhaps they could be persuaded on economic grounds. North Carolina lost revenue when Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert and companies like PayPal pulled out of projects. But my favorite protest comes from the porn site X-hamster, which decided to block its website from North Carolinians and replace it with a petition to repeal the law. A spokesperson for X-Hamster said, “Judging by the stats of what you North Carolinians watch, we feel this punishment is a severe one. We will not stand by and pump revenue into a system that promotes this type of garbage. We respect all sexualities and embrace them.” (Note to my wife: I hadn’t visited the site before reading about the issue here.)

Just when I thought it was safe to live in South Carolina, along comes proposed legislation from a South Carolina senator ironically named Lee Bright (R), who is known for his attempts to bring bad legislation passed in other states to South Carolina. Bright introduced the North Carolina bathroom bill in the South Carolina legislature, saying, “I want to stand with North Carolina … for showing some decency and common sense.” When asked about the economic fallout caused by companies like PayPal, Bright argued, “Apparently PayPal has shown its support for pedophiles by wanting them to go into bathrooms.” Even though this legislation hasn’t yet passed in South Carolina (and I hope it never will), there is already economic fallout. An $830 million corporation is pulling out of South Carolina over the proposed anti-LGBT bill.

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6 comments on “The Bathroom War Between the States

  • If the law stands, the governor will be swamped with complaints about transgendered people complying with the new law. Now they use the bathroom least likely to raise a fuss or attract attention. That is what everyone really wants. In other parts of the world, bathrooms are unisex and civilisation has not collapsed.

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  • @OP – Bright argued, “Apparently PayPal has shown its support for pedophiles by wanting them to go into bathrooms.”

    He is obviously so “bright” that he conflates gay and transgender people with the totally unrelated issue of paedophiles!

    Bright by name and dim by nature, but he confidently “knows-it-all” as DK sufferers do!

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  • It is often said that the Romans conquered the world with the bath-house and the English with the flushing toilet. Will the Georgians, North and South, manage the same with segregated amenities?

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  • I recently moved to North Carolina. This law, and the knuckle draggers who run the state are an embarrassment.

    There are two things they seem to have forgotten

    1) molesting someone is illegal whatever is on your birth certificate. As such, this law doesn’t add any more protection – the law already protects you when you use the bathroom.
    2) if transgender people stick to the law, its going to make women and men feel even more uncomfortable. That dude with the beard who just followed your wife into the bathroom… turns out he was born a woman. If he’d gone in the men’s room, no one would have even noticed.

    Unbelievable that McCrory and his neanderthal chums think its the best use of their time passing these absurd laws. Is transgender people attacking people in toilets currently a problem? Not according to the stats. You’re more likely to encounter a Republican politician doing something lewd in the bathroom. How about a law to protect us from this?

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  • 6
    Ted Foureagles says:

    If you worry about your daughter being attacked by an XY chromosome pedophile in a public bathroom are you not concerned that the same person could attack your son? It seems to me that a sexual predator would be more likely to be attracted to someone the opposite of their gender identity. If that person is transgender and a sexual predator (which I imagine is vanishingly rare), such draconian laws would force them into bathrooms with the gender to which they are attracted. All that silliness aside, how could those laws be enforced? Do you carry your birth certificate or submit to a swab for a DNA test? I’m no expert, but those tests probably take what would seem like a really long time when you need to pee.

    Here’s an idea — just mind your own damn business and don’t go peeking to find out if someone in the next stall is an innie or an outie.


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