What do you do?

When you see someone acting ugly or doing something that crosses one of your values, what do you do?

Do you consider that maybe there’s more to the story and give them room for having their reasons?

Do you ignore them and wish for them to go away, all the while hoping they don’t hurt someone first?

Do you tell them they’ve crossed a line?

I ask you, what do you do?

I’ve made a concerted effort to not engage in social politickin’ and have been mostly quiet on Russia, immigration, pizzagate, tariffs, spygate, tax cuts, various versions of lock-them-up, corruption, decorum, the deficit, HUD policy…I could go on… Healthcare and LGBTQ issues are the two areas where I’ve felt compelled to comment, though (I did say ‘mostly quiet’).

Why have I held my tongue? Well, because I’m not sure any of you need me adding to the bickering and often over-dramatised craycray in American politics. It seems that most of the political huffing and puffing (including interweb commenters and social media posters) isn’t intended to address problems, it just generates attention. Since life is short, I keep my comments to myself and stay focused on what matters.

By now you’re asking “so what?”.

Why am I telling you all this? I’m setting the stage for a discussion about something that really bothers me: Treating anyone, regardless of their label, as if they don’t matter is not how I was raised.

I’m aware that we haven’t eradicated all bias, prejudice, or injustice, but I did think we’d driven it underground. You know what I mean, the kind of bias that people might be ashamed of, so they at least don’t plaster it on a sign.
Apparently, I’m wrong. There are still some things that people are willing to post in large letters on posterboard.

So let’s walk down memory lane.

Then you can tell me whether this recent news item is as disturbing as the anti-immigrant, pro-segregation days of the 20th century.

Image result for segregation signsThis sign dates back to a time when restaurants and other establishments freely discriminated against non-whites. For more info, check out Latino USA’s ‘No Mexicans Allowed: School Segregation in the Southwest’.

Image result for segregation signsThis one came from the University of Maryland’s Baltimore County online gallery. It’s a stark reminder of times when America freely discriminated on the basis of color. Can you imagine telling someone today that dogs and pick-a-label-for-someone couldn’t enter? Dogs, yes. People?

Image result for no irish sign

Another sign, this time banning Irish job applicants.

I could keep searching for pictorial evidence of historical, overt discrimination that is now outlawed and socially unacceptable but I think y’all get my point. Plus, I’m getting kind of bummed about picking through our cultural rubbish bin. Let’s move on to the real point of this, shall we?

What label would you pick that could make a sign like those above seem reasonable?

Or are all signs of this nature discriminatory? Even the one below?

A Tennessee hardware store is under fire again for its "No Gays Allowed" sign. (Syracuse.com)

A store in Tennesee has had this sign up for about three years, according to Snopes. Several news sources (just google ” no gay amyx” and you’ll find them all) say Amyx Hardware put this sign up in 2015 or thereabouts.

The store owner apparently replaced it for a few days with one about constitutional freedoms, which is marginally better. At least it would have been if he hadn’t put the original sign back up.

I have to ask, though, if someone walked into your hardware store and they happened to buy a hammer or some paint while also being LGBTQ, what does that have to do with your freedom of speech or religion? I may be unclear on the concept but I’m pretty sure the label – their identity –  doesn’t affect your freedom to practice your religion or say your piece. Unless, of course, you bring it up.

Is that what happened? Did you offend someone or did they offend you and now you feel like you can’t have any of “them” in your store? Has the sign brought you peace?

I’m all for our constitutional freedoms. Recall, however, that folks based their racial discrimination on the same principals and we eventually decided (well, most of us), that we didn’t cotton to discrimination. As folks around here would say, ‘that dog don’t hunt’.

So, you’ve seen the sign now. You’ve read my thoughts.

What do you do?

Here’s what I’m doing.

I’m telling my LGBTQ friends that they matter.

I’ve made our family business a politics-free, religion-free zone. (These have been the rules for years – we all co-exist relatively peacefully and without judgment – Never-Trumpers and MAGA-hat wearers alike.)

And if I lived in Tennessee and needed something from the hardware store, I’d shop somewhere besides Amyx Hardware, partially because I think discrimination is wrong and partially because I think the owner doesn’t know how to deal with folks that disagree with him. Life’s short enough without adding more ugly to my life.

Bathroom Bill aka Texas S.B. 6

I typically don’t talk politics here because I find most online political conversation to be unproductive. However, I’m making an exception because Texas state representatives are considering a bill that I find unnecessary, unproductive and unhealthy. Even worse, I cannot find any reason for this bill except for fear mongering. If you believe S.B. 6 is necessary, I hope you’ll listen to my concerns before reacting.

Dear Texas Legislators,

I’d like to understand your goal in regulating bathrooms. It appears Texas Lt Governor Patrick’s proposal will create bathroom chaos, unenforceable regulation and possible health problems for some of the population, none of which seem productive.

Slide1Regulation is a balance of costs & benefits, with benefits outweighing costs. Conservatives prefer less regulation and Texas is known for its conservatism. So why impose additional regulation on bathrooms? What data indicates current regulations (e.g., public indecency/Penal Code Chapter 43, sexual offenses/Penal Code Chapter 21) are not effective in minimizing inappropriate bathroom behavior or privacy infringements?

 

Lt Gov Patrick proposes to ensure no one invades someone else’s privacy in the restroom by drawing a line according to biology . I don’t believe that every man is a pervert trying to spy on someone using the facilities, but it appears Patrick does. Why else would he feel a need to further regulate bathrooms in this way? What data says this is a big issue, that men masquerading as women are spying through the cracks in the stall doors to watch us? Let’s look at the data and see if his proposal is the most productive way to secure our privacy. (I have yet to find any published data supporting his position.)

For now, let’s assume that TX follows NC in regulating our most private moments and insists that people use the bathroom associated with the gender on their birth certificate. Let’s discuss enforceability. Imagine you’re a woman (e.g., me) in the women’s room and a person dressed as a man walks in, and that they are a woman-at-birth and therefore must use the women’s room. What are you going to do? Ask him for his birth certificate, the document that Lt Gov Patrick proposes as the basis for this regulation? Who will tell him he can’t use the bathroom if he can’t prove that he’s a girl-at-birth? Who will force him to use the men’s room even though our state leadership banned him from doing so? Who will enforce this regulation and how will they do so? An unenforceable rule is worse than no rule since it will create chaos.

B_0nBU9UcAARWry

Let’s assume ‘he’ was born a ‘she’ and can prove it by producing a birth certificate. Now, we’ve created a ruckus, all to make sure that a ‘real’ woman is in the right bathroom. Is your average citizen going to quietly challenge this apparent man or are they going to get a security guard? Will most bystanders think, “oh, bathroom bill enforcement” or will they think “Pervert!!??” If a born-female-identifies-as-male follows Patrick’s rule, aren’t we creating more regulation than is reasonable? Are we accomplishing anything besides making a transgendered person afraid to use a bathroom (which is unhealthy). I would prefer to not have this kind of chaos when I am trying to simply use the facilities and go on my way. I’m perfectly fine having a transgendered person use the obvious facility (mens room if they identify male and women’s room if they identify female) as long as they behave themselves, as we expect everyone to do.

Or is that the point? Does Lt Gov Patrick think that transgendered people are simply perverts? Or that the only folks who call themselves transgendered are really just perverts masquerading as the other sex so they can get into the women’s bathroom? Is there data that supports this? I’m 54 and have never had any experience in a public restroom that leads me to believe bathroom voyeurism is a widespread problem, nor do I know of anyone who has had this happen to them. But maybe I’m just lucky, so please, where is the data?

Lt Governor Patrick stated “This issue is so clear and simple that it defies belief. Do they really want a man walking into a restroom with their daughter or mother or wife?” How often does a father/husband/son go into the women’s room with their daughter/wife/mother, aside from the obvious toddler attending with his mommy? Do we really think that your average male will just wander into the women’s room if we don’t make a law against it? If we think this, where is the data? If there is no data, why is a conservative like Patrick trying to regulate our bathrooms? What point is there in promoting fear that is based on how someone looks?

image_thumb95According to Media Matters, “The “bathroom predator” myth has been repeatedly debunked — by experts and government officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and school administrators in 23 school districts and four universities. Despite overwhelming evidence, many media outlets continue to uncritically repeat the debunked myth peddled by anti-LGBT groups.” Further, “Texas Experts Debunk The “Bathroom Predator” Myth. Experts — including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for sexual assault victims — from three Texas cities with LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances debunked the “bathroom predator” myth, citing empirical evidence and experience working with sexual assault victims. [Media Matters, 10/15/15]”

Without data, it appears Lt Gov Patrick is promoting a particular social agenda but not accomplishing anything productive. I have no doubt there are sexual predators out there, but don’t our current laws already address that issue? Don’t we already have laws that outlaw predatory behavior regardless of sexual orientation or appearance? This proposal is NOT a priority, not when we have bigger problems, like making sure we’re all employed, that our roads are safe, that we have affordable healthcare, that we have competitive education systems, that we can defend our nation…. you get my point. I’m hopeful our state leaders are more focused on big issues, not bathrooms.We Don't care sign