Go home, North Carolina, you’re drunk

Up until about two months ago, whenever the state of North Carolina was mentioned, the first thought that popped into people’s heads was, well … nothing.

Absolutely nothing. There’s really not many more unmemorable states than North Carolina. Sure, you’ve got a couple good college basketball teams there, and it’s along the route when people want to travel southward to Myrtle Beach or Florida.

And that’s fine! There’s nothing wrong with being under the radar. It means you’re doing you’re own thing, and more importantly, you haven’t done anything stupid to bring negative attention to yourself.

Well that all changed in late March, when the state’s legislature and governor passed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which has been described as the most anti-LGBT legislation in the United States.

Since then, the backlash against North Carolina has been well documented.

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But it looked like this whole situation would finally come to a head when the U.S. Justice Department gave North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory a deadline to assure them that he will not enforce this law, stating that it is in direct violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So that ended it, right? When the DOJ comes down hard on you, there’s really not much else you can do. North Carolina tried to pass a law, failed, and we move on to the next story. What else is happening in the news?

Wait, hold on a second. North Carolina did what?

Seriously? Ugh. Alright, let’s keep going.

On Monday, McCrory responded to that deadline by filing a lawsuit against the United States government, calling the Justice Department’s position a “radical interpretation” of the Voting Rights Act.

This prompted a counter suit by the DOJ, coupled with a dramatic press conference by newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch — a North Carolina native — as she voiced her assurance that the Obama administration will do everything in its power to protect transgender rights.

At this point, it’s shocking how invested North Carolina is to go out of their way to inconvenience the lives of transgenders.

So what can us common folk do to stick it to North Carolina? (Other than blog about it). Well, we can go to their college basketball games and heckle their teams … when the college basketball season begins in November. Or we can drive around the state when traveling along the eastern coast, adding several hours to our commute.

Yeah, there’s not really much we can do. Boaty McBoatface2.jpg

Unless …. maybe I do have an idea.

Remember when I told you about the social media campaign to name a polar research vessel Boaty McBoatface?

Well, unfortunately it failed. Popular consensus did not prevail, and the environmental group that organized the contest will instead name the boat RRS Sir David Attenborough, all but guaranteeing that no one will ever care about this boat ever again.

How about we kill two birds with one stone?

Somebody design a massive boat (I’m talking Titanic 2.0 here), and let’s turn it into not a gay cruise ship, but a transgender cruise ship, and call it Boaty McBoatface. And where will it traverse?

The entire coast of North Carolina.

If that’s not the ultimate way to grandstand against discrimination, then I don’t know what is.

Goodbye, Kobe Bryant. We hardly knew ye.

Before we get to today’s topic, we first have to tie up some loose ends on a few rather large news stories that have surfaced recently.

Remember the anticlimactic Apple/FBI battle? Remember the discriminatory North Carolina law that angered everybody? Remember that privileged teenager from Texas who got away with murder because his attorney claimed he suffers from “Affluenza?”

Well, there’s updates in all three of these stories, and they involve suspicious hackers, a governor’s about-face, and well deserved jail time.

First, the Washington Post exclusively reported yesterday that it was professional hackers who received a one-time fee from the FBI to crack the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, after they contacted the bureau with knowledge of a flaw in Apple’s software.

Apple FBI2.jpgWe don’t know who these hackers are — I’m sure they’re so proficient at hacking that they can actually make a living off of it — but it’s pretty cool to know that anybody could just contact the U.S. government and help them solve a problem.

Yo, FBI, if you need blogs tips, I’m here. Just sayin’.

Secondly, Goveror Pat McCrory of North Carolina, facing intense ridicule following his “religious liberty” ordinance last week, and the threat of two major companies in PayPal and Deutsche Bank to call off proposed expansions within the state because of it, issued an executive order on Wednesday that will attempt to scale back the law so it does not encourage discrimination.

But most analysts say it’s smoke and mirrors, or too little too late, mainly because McCrory said nothing about retracting the most controversial part of the law, which disallows transgenders from using the bathroom of the gender that they now align with.

And finally, that Affluenza bitch, Ethan Couch? Yeah, he’s going to jail for two years. Thankfully.

But enough about the news.

Let me talk about Kobe Bryant. One of the most prolific athletes athletes of the last 20 years, the Kobester will call it quits after his team’s last regular season game on Wednesday night.

And yes, it took the final day of his NBA career for someone to finally call him “the Kobester.” I take full credit and I could not be more proud.

In truth, it’s been pretty upsetting to watch Kobe play this year. We’re used to his Kobe Bryant.jpgdominance. His ability to take a game over. But this year, it’s been like watching your beloved 19-year-old cat clinging to life.

You know it’s over, but you refuse to admit it.

However, at some point, you just got to put it down. And that’s why, after tonight’s game versus the Utah Jazz, the Lakers ownership will take him out back and shoot him like he’s Lenny from Of Mice and Men.

Oh wait, that’s not how it’s going to happen? He’s just going to ceremoniously retire and spend the rest of his life in his Newport Beach mansion? How … sad.

In all seriousness, for sports fans, Kobe Bryant has been synonymous with the game of basketball. Almost all people under the age of 30 never even watched basketball without Kobe Bryant.

He’s won five NBA titles, thrilled us with an astounding 81 point game 10 years ago, is the league’s third highest leading scorer of all time, and probably raped a women.

That last one is obviously not a career accomplishment, quite the opposite, but it is indeed something he’ll always be remembered for.

So it’s an and of an era, no doubt, even if he’s going out with a whimper on a team that will finish the season with no more than 17 wins, good for second-to-last in the entire NBA.

Peace, Kobe, I’ve already sort of forgotten you.

But thanks for the memories, I guess?

North Carolina, paving the way for discrimination

Things had been going too well for the LGBT community lately.

A few weeks ago it was the South Dakota Republican governor who vetoed legislation that would have prevented transgendered people from using the public bathroom of the gender that they align with. A similar bill in Tennessee died in committee just last week.

At the time of the South Dakota veto, I pondered what would have happened if the bill was passed into law, and what the public backlash would be? Since it never happened, it never really made it to mainstream news. Remember, it takes anger for most people to really become aroused enough to start caring about a particular topic.

Well, this week we found out what that backlash would look like.

On one hand, Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal pledged to veto a bill that would have threatened the civil rights of the LGBT community and likely would have opened the door for discrimination.

But there always has to be one state that just doesn’t get the memo. And this time, it was North Carolina. In a week that should have been headlined by the state’s predominant college basketball team making the Final Four, the nation’s focus was instead pointed towards the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature and governor, Pat McCrory.

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In a hastily called session that cost taxpayers $42,000, the Senate approved a bill that not only disallows transgenders from using the bathroom of the gender they align with, but which also, for good measure, overturned all local non-discrimination ordinances.

There’s so many despicable things that happened here. The first thing was the rapid, secretive method in which it was passed without public input. The state’s Democratic legislators were so against this bill that they actually walked out of the Senate chamber while it was being voted on.

But worst of all, it was done in response to a law recently passed in Charlotte that would have protected transgender rights. This new law was essentially created to undo the Charlotte one.

Oh boy. It’s been a rough few days for North Carolina since this law was passed last Thursday. Not only have major corporations and sports leagues like the NBA spoken out against it, but there was this amazing Tweet, as well as this equally amazing video North Carolina law2.jpgproduced by the comic website Funny or Die.

Finally, a coalition of individuals and organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the law, arguing that it violates the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws.

It just boggled my mind because, most of all, it just makes North Carolina seem like a hateful place. By virtue of one law, they’re obstructing social progress and advocating discrimination.

Supporters of the law say that women are in danger because they’ll be in the same bathroom as men (as in, people who have transgendered from man to woman).

First of all, this implies that all transgenders are sexual predators.

Second of all, sexual assault is illegal in all circumstances, regardless of what local laws there are.

Transgendered individuals are among the most vulnerable and discriminated people in our society. They deal with prejudice and inequality on a daily basis.

So yeah, North Carolina, go ahead and make their lives even worse. Good job. And Governor McCrory, good luck in your reelection this November. 

You know this is especially sad when, after spending time on this topic, I have to think about the presidential race in order to cheer myself up.

What a time we’re living in.