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Saturday, April 9, 2016

HB2: Can you bully a bully who whines and snivels, then brushes it off as nothing and opposes banning bullying?

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North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows is, like most in his party, a bit developmentally delayed, culturally. He’s dissing Bruce Springsteen as a “bully” while dismissing his alleged bullying as no biggie:

"We've got other artists coming soon — Def Leppard, Justin Bieber," the congressman told The Hollywood Reporter.

"I've never been a Bieber fan, but I might have to go. Maybe artists who weren't 'born to run' deserve a little bit more support," he said, referencing one Springsteen's most famous song titles.

Meadows, a Southern Baptist minister, may find it hard to become a Belieber when he learns of the pop star's penchant for nude selfies, or his tweet, "I'm not gay but even if I was that's not an insult."

Meadows was just appropriating a meme making its way through the daisy chain of Republican soundbites, the Richmond County Daily Journal notes:

Defenders of North Carolina’s much-maligned House Bill 2 have latched onto a dubious buzzword — “corporate bullying” — in the wake of backlash against the state’s rewritten nondiscrimination law.

The N.C. Values Coalition seems to have started the trend with a flood of tweets branding businesses as bullies March 24, when Fortune 500 firms began criticizing the law and warning of economic consequences. As more than 100 major companies lined up against HB2, the phrase was widely deployed by conservative lawmakers, think tanks and even the North Carolina Republican Party.

When PayPal announced Tuesday that it would cancel a planned $3.6 million expansion that would have brought 400 new jobs, state GOP Vice Chairwoman Michele Nix called the company’s decision “corporate hypocrisy and bullying at its worst.”

Public opinion on HB2 — which requires transgender individuals to use the restroom matching the gender on their birth certificate in all government facilities and excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from nondiscrimination protections — is sharply divided.

North Carolina’s largest employers have overwhelmingly sided with the law’s opponents. Is that really bullying? Not by a long shot.

A second-string Fox News guy, Todd Starnes- who has previously declared he knows for a fact that Chik-fil-A is Jesus’ favorite earthly fast food joint- is running the same line against Pay Pal for pulling the plug on a big corporate office in Charlotte- again, over HB2:

That’s what a corporate bully looks like, folks. Conform to the demands of radical cultural militants or pay the price...Disney threatened to boycott the state and take their business elsewhere.

Gov. Nathan Deal gave in to the bullies and vetoed the legislation...

There’s only one way to stand up to corporate bullies – with your pocketbook.

I’m not the kind of person to tell you what to do with your hard-earned money. But as of today, I will no longer drink Coca-Cola products, nor will I mail packages through UPS.

Odd, that: to complain that a determination not to locate a business in a place with a suddenly less-attractive business climate is a bullying boycott, the only answer to which is- a boycott.

Of course, Franklin Graham called for that in 2015 when he found out, from a TV ad, that while his minions lugged in the daily haul of pelf in Well’s Fargo’s preferred customer suite, a lesbian couple adopting a deaf child might be downstairs, waiting in line to deposit a paycheck.

Odd, too: that bullying is in the eye of the Republican beholder. It’s bad when they don’t like it, but they dare not ban it, or even denounce it as a practice that is reprehensible no matter who practices it.

A backgrounder by People for the American Way explains how such inversions of logic and common sense (Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson, the bachelor defender of marriage discrimination, has offered the most novel explanation of how majorities justify discrimination: The Mississippi law is based on the principle of protecting minority rights after major social change”)
bled out of the conservative campaign to keep antigay bullying thriving in American Schools and into general political discourse:

The Religious Right’s campaign against bullying utilizes an upside-down version of reality where the bullied are the bullies. Just as right-wing activists falsely predicted that hate crimes laws would lead to the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of people of faith and the criminalization of religion, now they say that anti-bullying programs will force religious students out of schools.

Tom McClusky, FRC’s Vice President of Government Affairs, audaciously claimed that President Obama’s efforts on preventing bullying push religious students “in the closet,” saying the President’s efforts will lead to “bullying by the federal government and by a homosexual agenda that seeks to make children hide their Christianity and their religion in the closet and to silence those who would speak out against what they don’t believe.” Cushman of Focus on the Family even implied that groups like GLSEN want school sports teams to “ban athletes using their freedom of speech to voluntarily share the Gospel with those who disagree with their viewpoint.”

Matt Barber, Liberty Counsel’s Director of Cultural Affairs, who is also an Associate Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, recently said that anti-bullying programs are an “Alinsky-style, homo-fascist tactic to stifle any dissent.” Shawn Akers, the Public Policy Analyst for Liberty Counsel and a professor at Liberty University, agreed, and called bullying prevention efforts “a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and communist countries.”

Brian Camenker, the head of the anti-gay group MassResistance, said on David Barton’s radio show that “homosexual activists” represent “a very aggressive, fascist type of movement and these guys define the term ‘bullies.’” The Protect Kids Foundation even argues that anti-bullying efforts will “homosexualize” children and “trample” on the civil rights of heterosexuals:

The civil rights issue actually runs in favor of the estimated 96% of the population who are not homosexual. Having LGBT activists homosexualize their children will trample upon their civil rights. For the first time in our history, America is faced with a powerful movement that defines its alleged “rights” in terms of the deprivation of the fundamental rights of others. As a result, the homosexual movement is depriving other Americans of civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

After Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law that addressed bullying based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, [and] gender-related identity or expression,” the Illinois Family Institute cried that the inclusion of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ in anti-bullying programs will allow “homosexualists to use them as cultural battering rams to destroy First Amendment speech and religious protections” in order to “censor the expression of traditional moral beliefs and ultimately eradicate them.”

When the Religious Right isn’t trying to distort reality by claiming that anti-bullying programs are meant to hurt instead of help students, they allege that supporters of gay rights and gay students themselves are responsible for bullying and anti-gay violence.

Conservatives have long opposed efforts to discourage- or ban- bullying in public schools. They are, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s 1936 speech, insistent that schools be forced to wander “in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.” They insist on inaction.

Acknowledging bullying, conservatives believe, legitimizes homosexuality. Not being able to stomp gay kids into silence, the “Big Bullies” report notes,

Focus on the Family founded the misleadingly named True Tolerance campaign, led by Candi Cushman, the group’s education analyst, to fight anti-bullying programs and safe schools initiatives across the country. Cushman dubs such programs “homosexuality lessons,” which she blames on “activist groups who want to promote homosexuality to kids” in order to “capture the hearts and minds of our children at their earliest stages.” Cushman labeled efforts to reduce anti-gay bigotry and harassment on school sports teams as “radical policies and teachings that fall in line with homosexual and transgender political activist goals.” When the White House convened a summit to address the problem of bullying in schools, Focus on the Family immediately criticized the gathering, claiming it would “promote pro-homosexual curriculum.”

A staffer for Focus’s California branch, the California Family Council, denounced the “homosexual message” of anti-bullying programs and dismissed the “gay activists in California [who] have been making a big to-do about ‘bullying’ because of sexual orientation.” Focus on the Family is even working with the far-right Alliance Defense Fund on legal plans to block “efforts to indoctrinate our society into supporting homoseual behavior.”

Like the FRC, the American Family Association (AFA) uses the indoctrination myth when lobbying lawmakers to oppose anti-bullying bills. In Kentucky, the AFA called on legislators to vote against bullying prevention legislation, declaring, “The intent of this bill is re-education and indoctrination.” Gary Glenn, the head of AFA’s Michigan chapter, described to the rabidly anti-gay extremist Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality his group’s strategy to oppose anti-bullying legislation:

“On the bullying issue, the Republicans were floundering in the Michigan legislature as to how to stop this, we just simply framed it a different way” and developed the message that “homosexual activists are using the bullying issue, as you indicated, as a ‘Trojan Horse.’”

Not to be outdone, Concerned Women for America claimed that the “radical homosexual lobby has done a masterful job of infiltrating our government schools to gain control of the minds of America’s youth. Their propaganda tactics are time-tested.” The group, which says that “homosexual acts are unhealthy” and “like smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse, they should be discouraged,” argues that acknowledgment of sexual orientation in anti-discrimination codes leads to the “indoctrination of very young children.”

When the recruiting argument fails- or someone brings up unhappy topics like the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert- conservative pivot to a “special rights” argument, under which giving The Gays equal rights is actually elevating them above everyone else:

Focus on the Family’s Cushman slams anti-bullying policies as “policies that single out certain characteristics for special protections,” calling them “counterproductive.” According to Cushman, addressing anti-gay bullying will ultimately lead to “reverse discrimination”:

Listing certain categories creates a system ripe for reverse discrimination, sending the message that certain characteristics are more worthy of protection than others. Instead of bringing more peace and unity, this can politicize the school environment and introduce divisiveness among different groups of students and parents.

Why not emphasize instead the things we have in common as Americans? For example, we can unite around the teachings of our Founding Fathers—in particular, the principle that all men are created equal and that they are endowed with unalienable rights.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, alleges that safe schools initiatives create “inequity” by “promoting homosexuality,” and Sprigg of the FRC acknowledges that while such programs recognize many characteristics that play a role in bullying, he only finds “sexual orientation” to be a problematic “special protection.” Writes Sprigg in Homosexuality in Your School: “singling out ‘sexual orientation’ for special protection (along with the usual categories of ‘race, color, national origin, sex, and disability’) is illogical. The latter qualities are usually inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous—none of which is true of homosexual behavior, despite the claims of its advocates.”

Religious Right groups consistently employ such rhetoric while campaigning against anti-bullying laws. The Liberty Institute, a far-right Texas organization, blasted a state bullying prevention bill, saying, “It’s about gay rights. Its intent is to create special categories and special rights.” The Texas Eagle Forum similarly stated that anti-bullying legislation would “grant special rights and protections to homosexuals.” In Kentucky, the AFA opposed a bullying prevention bill, claiming that “the homosexual movement” was trying to get the government to “recognize them as a special group with special protections.”

The erroneous “special rights” rhetoric is all about trying to make some of the most vulnerable, marginalized and victimized students appear to be repressing others, primarily, the Religious Right.

And if that doesn’t work, you can always blame the victims:

In one of the crudest aspects of the Religious Right’s desperate efforts to block schools from putting anti-bullying programs in place, many right-wing activists are suggesting that the LGBT community should be blamed for bullying. Their stigmatizing and demonizing rhetoric only exacerbates problems by making bullies feel justified when they torment their gay peers while pushing gay youth on a path of shame, depression, and self-hatred.

AFA’s Bryan Fischer blames LGBT suicides on gays and lesbians who allegedly “recruit” students through “brainwashing” in school. “I’m suggesting that adults that pressure these students to declare a disordered sexual preference when they are too young to know better, that they share some culpability for those who take their life,” Fischer explains, “it would be just like an adult encouraging a young student to experiment with injection drug abuse.”

Barber of Liberty Counsel maintains that gay youth commit suicide because they intuitively know what they are doing is “immoral.” Barber claimed:

“Kids who are engaging in homosexual behavior often look inward and know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, is immoral, and so they become depressed and the instances of suicide can rise.”

FRC’s Perkins wrote in the Washington Post that gay rights groups are “exploiting [youth suicide] tragedies to push their agenda.” He said that the gay rights community is to blame for cases of suicide among gay teenagers, rather than the people who condemn and attack them.

The Richmond County Journal put the issue in perspective:

Companies that have invested tens of millions in the Tar Heel State have a right and duty to weigh in on public policy that affects their workforce. If legislators enact laws that harm recruitment and retention efforts or conflict with corporate values, it’s only common sense to shift jobs to states with more business-friendly climates.

PayPal, American Airlines, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other HB2 opponents are merely voting with their wallets. North Carolina consumers do the same thing every day, whether or not they realize it.

When we purchase products and services, we’re indirectly funding our trade partners’ pet projects and political causes. Conservatives know this all too well, as Chick-fil-A’s opposition to same-sex marriage in 2013 sparked a surge of right-wing support for the restaurant chain.

Before you criticize PayPal for pulling 400 jobs, ask yourself whether you would knowingly spend your money in a place where it will be used against your own interests. Yeah, we didn’t think so.

Collectively, consumers wield enormous power to effect change. Boycotts and counter-boycotts can influence the goings-on in Raleigh and Washington nearly as much as elections.

The right some of us choose to exercise on the first Tuesday in November and the decisions we make at the cash register on a daily basis are inexorably linked. Savvy shoppers reward fair practices and punish bad actors in the same way voters elect some candidates and send others packing.

“Corporate bullying” is a convenient phrase to vilify corporate citizens who exercise their right to make informed investments. But it’s disingenuous for HB2 supporters to whine about how the law’s opponents choose to spend their money when politics influence their financial decisions too.

Companies are right to vote with their wallets. Those on the bullying bandwagon are just upset because their own pocketbooks are being outvoted.

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