Since the passing of HB2, or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, or simply “the Bathroom Bill”, we’ve been trying to find the right time to step in and comment. It’s difficult for us as a news outlet to comment on something like HB2 because we’re the fun ones who wrap our views and beliefs in humor. Sure, we could write editorials on the need to overhaul (or scrap) instant replay in sports, or the widespread application of a double standard in the public and in the media for Cam Newton because of his race, but “Headphone Bling” and “How to Talk to Your Kids About Cam Newton” are just simply more fun.
In communications, you’re taught to deliver the same message in different ways in order to effectively pass your message to a diverse audience. We always promised to be the outlet to tell the same stories you’ll see on your local network affiliate or read in your local newspaper, but to tell them in a way that no one else can. It might be a funny look at the ACC’s decision to pull the conference basketball tournament from its roots and move it to Brooklyn, or it might be take a more serious tone like our mini-series on the treatment of women in sports, but we’re proud of our ability to provide you, our audience, with a fresh lens.
Unfortunately, there’s no real opportunity to do that with a story like HB2. In fact, the problem with the debate surrounding HB2 is that there are too many different lenses to look through. On its surface, with the clever political decision to throw in words like “privacy” and “security”, we all think this is about keeping our public bathrooms safe. In reality, it’s a bill that aims at a city government’s right to establish its own ordinances, especially surrounding minimum wage and protection against discrimination. I didn’t know that until I did some deep reading on the subject because, like most of you, especially if you are fans of our content, I typically get my news fed to me in 30 to 60 second bits of information. Here’s what I heard prior to my research, which I’m confident is similar to your experience as well …
- The bill originally was intended to require people to use bathrooms matching their biological gender and not the gender that people identify with
- But it’s only public facilities and not private businesses, private institutions can do whatever they want
- And dads can still take their young daughters into the mens room so we’re not sending little kids by themselves into the bathroom
- Then there was something else about the bill impacting protection against discrimination for race, religion, handicap, age, veteran status, etc. Wait, what?
- Oh, but never mind. McCrory signed an executive order taking that part out so it’s not about discrimination at all
- So … what’s still in HB2? We cool now, NBA All-Star game?
- But why is Pearl Jam cancelling?
Read up, folks. On your own. Go do research. Question what you’re reading about the bill. We aren’t equipped to be the definitive resource for HB2 education, but if you are, educate others. And do so free of partisan messaging. People need to fully understand the content of ordinances and bills and laws, and not just support it or reject it because it originated from Republicans or Democrats. That’s why it’s so disappointing to me that we’re hearing of boycotts and cancellations, with promises of more to come.
Pearl Jam had an opportunity to conduct a three-hour civics lesson to an audience who badly needs it, and they chose to sit it out. The NBA could have three solid days in Charlotte where they can truly make a difference towards inclusion and diversity, but if they boycott North Carolina, they lose that opportunity. The Association doesn’t want to be political at the All-Star Game, as evidenced by cutting Win Butler off after last year’s celebrity game when he started talking Canadian health care, but they’re talking about moving the event to take a social stand? That’s a cop out.
We have a diverse set of political views among the SportsChannel8 staff, but we all stand solidly against HB2. Telling you that does no good other than letting you know where we stand, and telling you why would just be adding to the confusion that exists around this subject. So we’ll stay true to our mission and we’ll be different. Our message doesn’t go to you, the SC8 audience, or to our state government, but it goes out to organizations like the NBA and the NCAA, and it goes to the Pearl Jams and Bruce Springsteens of the world:
North Carolinians are creatures of tradition. We’re bred to take allegiances seriously, whether its a political party or a basketball team, and because of that, we learn to support or oppose irrationally and unconditionally. But we’re also smart, and we love learning, and we have a unique ability to maintain intense rivalries while accepting and respecting our differences. We’re not closed minded. You may view us as the state who doesn’t want our kids sharing a bathroom with someone who may be different than them, but we’re the state where Duke fans marry UNC fans and then send their kids off to Wake Forest and NC State. We’re capable. We just need to be taught. Our state needs help. We don’t need the silent treatment when we have no idea what we’ve done wrong. It’s our hope that outreach and exposure replaces boycotts and cancellations. We, truly, are not this, and we look forward to the NBA and the NCAA and the arts and businesses tapping into this unique population to bring about some real growth for all involved.