One legislator’s new joke isn’t funny

By Andy Winemiller -

Anybody watching the N.C. General Assembly might have thought, This is as stupid as it gets, at multiple times throughout the past year or so.

Admittedly, the view from the cheap seats hasn’t been bad. I’ve sat here eating popcorn and drinking big-boy sodas and snickered as I watched a plot to shore up the social right vote unravel and the backlash of such a plan unseat a governor who ought to have won re-election easily.

I think everybody (even Poor, Powerless Pat) would agree House Bill 2 was his undoing. Had it not been for that discriminatory piece of legislation — which he didn’t even support, but signed anyways — Gov. McCrory would have ridden the Carolina Comeback to a second term in office.

I chuckled a little more as I watched the federal judiciary toss out state legislative and congressional maps drawn by the General Assembly. Though I am an ordained minister, I won’t preach about this. The truth is I believe gerrymandering to be a perfectly acceptable political tool. It’s one of the prizes which comes along with winning.

That stated, the maps a legislature draws must pass some basic tests. I’m not concerned by the fact the legislature drew districts which ensured their party remained in control of the state. They are supposed to do that. I’m concerned they are too incompetent to draw districts which can pass the most basic of tests.

That incompetence has already led to one expensive special election, and another seems on the horizon.

Are you laughing yet? I was, but it got even more stupid.

After it became evident Republicans would not control the executive branch of state government, I rolled on the floor as the power-grabbing began.

When the GOP-led legislature began stripping then-incoming Gov. Roy Cooper of appointments, I found the overt political temper-tantrum hilarious. If you can’t win an election, just strip the guy who won of any power you can. Works, right?

Along the way make sure your party controls all boards of election in even-numbered years — when you are on the ballot. The Democrats can control the odd-numbered years, when there are no General Assembly seats up for grabs. That’s funny.

Still not laughing? OK. Here’s the next one.

When people speak out against you, you bar them from doing so. That is funny because it so upholds the freedoms assured in our democracy.

I recently read when former Gov. McCrory was in Washington, D.C., for the presidential inauguration he was verbally accosted by a group of people. Admittedly, it seemed these folks didn’t handle their qualms with McCrory in the classiest of ways.

That stated, it was their right to do so, and as a public official, one must realize he or she will always be the target of some sort of political backlash. Not for long in our state, however.

A Charlotte-area state senator intends to propose a law to “make it a crime to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against a present or former North Carolina official in the course of, or on account of, the performance of his or her duties.”

This one must be a joke. Right? Nope. It’s not.

N.C. Sen. Dan Bishop thinks it is necessary for the government to protect these poor folks. OK. I’m done laughing. That’s actually not funny at all. What Bishop is proposing is to rip the First Amendment out from underneath us.

What does Bishop’s language even mean? Is this column retaliation against him? Perhaps, I can be first in line at the stocks in front of Bishop’s house. If I add an exclamation point to a sentence, perhaps, he will make sending me to the gallows his ultimate act in urinating on the First Amendment.

It wasn’t enough for Bishop and his comrades to send a clear message North Carolina believes folks in the LGBT community are second-class citizens who do not deserve basic protections in the workplace. It also wasn’t enough to gerrymander districts along racial lines.

Now, like a king would do to the peasants in the courtyard, Bishop proposes to quash any discourse.

I’m sorry Poor, Powerless Pat’s feelings were hurt. Perhaps, he should have been a leader in Raleigh instead of whatever it was that he was.

However, such an attack on our rights is dangerous. It’s not funny any longer, as a GOP leader has taken a shot at the freedoms I — and so many others — fought to defend.

One must also mention North Carolina public officials already have protection under the law. Just as if a person threatened me, one who threatens a public official can be charged with communicating threats. Acts of violence are also unlawful.

If Bishop is proposing some extra protection under the law, perhaps, we should all receive that protection. I think an attempt to extend protections for themselves and not the rest of the residents of the state is sort of pitiful.

It’s not a joke. Except Bishop. Bishop is a very bad joke.

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.