Thursday, March 24, 2016

Zero Tolerance Or How the Bastards Have Taken Over North Carolina

North Carolina, the state I call home since my rocket landed here half a century ago (and yes, I'm sticking to that story) has a government that unleashed a double whammy of dumb ass.

I want to get the slightly lesser of the two dumb ass things covered first. Starting today (Thursday, March 24th), the NC Department of Transportation has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding speeding. Typically, motorists have operated under an unspoken understanding with the constabulary that police officers have better things to do than chase your ass down if you're going a few miles over the speed limit. Somehow it has entered into driving lore that the buffer zone between the speed limit and the police actually pulling you over is about 10 miles per hour.

What the zero tolerance approach means is fuck that understanding. If you're going 1 MPH over the speed limit, you can and will be ticketed for speeding. Now this has been engaged presumably to improve our safety on the open road. Except North Carolina apparently doesn't give a shit about your safety after April 3rd. That's right, the zero tolerance measure is in effect during a particularly high traffic time in North Carolina, ranging from Easter weekend to the following weekend.

This is nothing more than a cash grab to line the coffers of the state treasury and the pockets of the all the attorneys representing the significant increase in persons ticketed for speeding. Never mind the extra burden being put on city police and state highway patrols and never mind the extra burden being placed on an already overburdened court system.

The thing is, the law is the law and if the speed limit is 55, we shouldn't assume that really means 65. But this zero tolerance thing needs to be seen for what it really is. It's not about improving our safety. It's an opportunity to score a bunch of ticket fines during a time when the state can make the most money off of it. I guess its also a chance for the state government to look tough on enforcing the law even though it just adds extra weight on the shoulders to our overworked police officers and judiciary. 

But as I said earlier, this is actually the lesser of the dumb ass things being done in North Carolina today. The other one strikes much deeper into the heart of what is legally and morally right.

The North Carolina legislature passed a billed making it illegal for a NC city, town or county to establish any LGBT anti-discrimination law, regulation or ordinance. And that includes the one Charlotte established which led to Republicans pushing through this particularly nasty bit of legislative business.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard. 

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies.

Republican lawmakers called the state’s General Assembly into a special session with the goal of blocking Charlotte’s anti-discrimination measure from going into effect.

Since this blatant form of discrimination is not supported at the Federal level, the state of North Carolina stands to lose $4.5 billion in Federal education funding.

Of course, we all know a bill is only a bill until someone signs it into law. (Thank you, Schoolhouse Rock!) And in this case, someone did, Gov. Pat McCrory.

Apparently the tipping point for our Republican governor was the Charlotte ordinance would allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender for which they identify. For some reason, this bathroom thing really spooks people.

So today North Carolina takes a step backward into hysteria driven discrimination. It's this same hysteria that drove the state to establish in 2012 a statewide amendment to block gay marriages. And how well did that turn out for the anti-gay people? Not too good. It cost the state millions in legal fees trying to defend a measure that was so indelibly unconstitutional. This latest debacle by the Republicans in North Carolina will wind up being costly as well in time, money and reputation.

So people coming to or driving through North Carolina, be warned: the bastards have taken over the state so you might want to just keep moving on.

At least at the specifically mandated speed limit.

Everyone, be good to one another.

I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You


HE'S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!

Today is April 24th. Art by Bill Watterson Happy birthday to me!   By the way, I got a birthday greeting from Bing!