I consider myself North Carolinian – it’s where I spent the majority of my late-blooming puberty, it’s the place where I lived the longest, and it imbued me with most of my belief system (courtesy of Dean Smith, Frank Porter Graham, and Rasheed Wallace). Of course, one source of pride for all Cackalackians is that we aren’t South Carolina, a place where dreams go to die of heart disease.
In fact, of all the talk of the New South, we’re the only state that has done it right – Georgia tries hard, bless its heart, but its politics and infrastructure are positively vile. Forget about Alabama, Tennessee will only break your heart, Virginia is a suburb, Florida ain’t the South, and all of them have the motto “thank god for Mississippi” (a state that guarantees no other will come in last).
North Carolina has remained on top, economically and culturally, because it saw the future coming and actually did something about it. We switched from a tobacco-ruled economy to a culture that embraced Richard Florida’s “Three T’s”: technology (pharmaceuticals, IBM, RTP, etc.), talent (UNC, NCSU, Davidson, Wake, even Durham Klown Kollege), and tolerance (like Chapel Hill, Asheville, Wilmington, and most of Durham).
Sure, we have a healthy dose of moron rednecks, but so does New Hampshire. We’ve got our overprivileged white debutante country club families, but just look at Rhode Island. We’ve got the sun, the beaches, the mountains, and we were the only real southern state that voted for Obama. And believe it or not, we’re the only state in the South that doesn’t have a ban on same-sex unions.
my attempt at artily depicting our beach share, Duck, NC, fall 1981
Then along came this unbelievable hunk of shit called Amendment One. Crafted with the usual cruelty by Republican assholes running out of people to hate, the bill not only bans same-sex marriages, but also civil unions. When asked why the fuck a law like this would be trotted out while the economy is still reeling, Commissioner and outspoken twat Todd Johnson said, “If the moral and social issues of our country are not addressed, we don’t have to worry about the economic issues. They will not matter at that point in time.”
Look, I get it: the Republicans are out of ideas. They’ve got nothing left except epithets and think-tanks dedicated to making blacks and gays hate each other. The sound you hear emanating from Romney’s creamy-white ass is the cadaverous death-rattle of end-time farts.
But two things actually matter to me. First off, that fucker Jesse Helms has finally been dead long enough that it isn’t the first thing other Americans think when you say “North Carolina”. We’d rehabilitated, we’d almost become the South Done Right, the “light on the hill” that promised the best of all worlds: enlightened thinking with enlightened weather.
The other is this: no matter the outcome, what does it tell children when their government puts something like this up for a vote? We’re supposed to look up to our civic leaders, and they’re openly telling the populace that 10% of them aren’t real people? Maybe some of you conservatives types engage in this with a shrug, figuring as long as you distract people with one hand, the other can keep power and fiddle with your real concern, the business of money.
The end justifies the means, you think, and politics is bloody. Do what you must to win. It’s the binary age, digital, you win or lose, it’s all “moneyball” and stats.
I have to say, I’ve been tempted by similar canards on my side. I’ve reveled in how fucking stupid Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin, and Darrell Issa are, delighted in the perversely hypocritical travails of Larry Craig and Mark Foley, cackled with glee whenever I saw even a tangential benefit to progressive causes.
But the time will come when white, married, straight guys like me won’t have to stand up for the gays of the world; they’ll be able to do it for themselves. I hope they show you a little more mercy as you insult them from your wheelchairs. In the meantime, fuck Machiavelli, fuck your tacit approval of this sort of cynical bigotry. I promise you it won’t be worth it.