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The experiences of my life indicate that there are times when bullies must be slapped. I am convinced that North Carolina is at such a point with regard to those who are bullying us. 

That bullying is underway in opposition to North Carolina’s recently passed House Bill 2. Along with other issues, the legislation addresses the use of bathrooms by transgender persons. Key wording from HB2 regarding this topic follows. Biological sex is that which appears on a person’s birth certificate. The full bill can be viewed at http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015E2/Bills/House/PDF/H2v4.pdf:

Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities. Public agencies shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designated for and only used by persons based on their biological sex. Accommodations Permitted.–Nothing in this section shall prohibit public agencies from providing accommodations such as single occupancy bathroom or changing facilities upon a person’s request due to special circumstances, but in no event shall that accommodation result in the public agency allowing a person to use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility designated under subsection (b) of this section for a sex other than the person’s biological sex.

Passage of this legislation has prompted protest gatherings and actions intended to do economic harm to North Carolina and thereby force repeal of HB2. This looks, feels and smells like bullying to me. Oxford Dictionaries defines bullying as: “Superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants: a local man was bullied into helping them.” Keep that definition in mind as we look at what is being done in and to North Carolina.

The framework in which my thinking on this matter is shaped comes from my personal experience of being bullied. I am the son of a Baptist pastor. It also seems that for as long as I can remember my head has been as large as it is now. When I was about sixteen, my personal bully appeared. He would, more than some other fellas, call me “hammerhead” and thump my head, while teasing me. I thought maybe his dislike of me was because of my father’s prominence in the community. He never explained why he treated me with such disrespect and mental/emotional cruelty. I remember being fearful of the guy because he was much bigger and more athletic than me. Apparently, his aim was to belittle me in the view of others and by that control increase his standing among students in our class. 

Then the day came when I realized his actions were unfair and was having a serious negative impact on me mentally and emotionally. I decided he had to be stopped. Shortly thereafter, he sat behind me in a math class and hit me on the head with a pencil. I spun around in my desk while making a smooth and fast transition to a standing position. While making that turn, I slapped him across the face with all the strength I could muster. He sat there looking shocked. Later, in the bathroom, he grabbed me around the neck and held me against a wall. He looked directly into my eyes and made some threat, but then stopped and walked away. That bully never bothered me again.

That experience was over fifty years ago, but I remember it well. I see the same kind of attitude and conduct in entertainers who are canceling performances in North Carolina because they oppose HB2 and are trying to force repeal of it. Among the entertainers in this category are: Pearl Jam that cancelled a show at PNC Arena just two days prior to the show date; Boston (rock band); Bruce Springsteen; Ringo Starr.

The same is the case with powerful corporations. Some had committed to job-producing investments in North Carolina, but postponed or cancelled them in protest over HB2. Among these companies are PayPal and Deutsches Bank. PayPal had committed to a new global operations center in Charlotte that would have employed more than 400 people. The company cancelled those plans. Deutsches Bank froze plans to create 250 jobs at its Cary campus.

The question now is how should those of us who recognize the common sense of HB2 respond to these corporate and entertainer bullies? I contend reasoning with them is not possible … they must be slapped. Be clear, I am not calling for violence. No, just legal actions that show we will not succumb to bullying.

For instance, why must we depend on big-name stars? There are gifted individuals in this state, nation and around the world who will perform in North Carolina. Have them do so. The challenge is for us to support those who respect us and will perform.

Further, how is it an entertainer or group can cancel an appearance in protest of circumstances totally unrelated to the performance and not face legal repercussions? Without doubt, these entertainers and groups must be under contract. My reading at nevadalaw.com indicates having a valid contract where one party performs and the other does not while the performing party incurs damages due to the failure of the second party, there is basis for a breach of contract suit. To the fullest extent possible, anybody in a position to sue these entertainers who fail to perform should do so.

There is power in saying “no” to bullies. I had a PayPal account so that visitors to my website could use a credit card to purchase my father’s autobiography. That option is no longer available because I cancelled the PayPal account. In the process, I discovered there is a bunch of other companies providing similar service. The following link is to “The Top 12 Online Payment Alternatives to PayPal” which gives information on some of those other companies: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/top-12-alternatives-paypal/ 

Weeks before the city of Charlotte took actions that brought about HB2, I had a conversation with Wade Fowler, candidate for Cumberland County Commissioner, regarding economic development. He mentioned the Longmont (Colorado) Economic Gardening Initiative. Given what Fowler said coupled with my research, I believe North Carolina should investigate this approach. This is especially true in light of the corporate bullying we are facing. Two paragraphs from this link inspire hope:  http://www.nlc.org/find-city-solutions/city-solutions-and-applied-research/economic-development/small-business-and-entrepreneurship/longmont-economic-gardening-initiative 

Economic gardening is a specific type of economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Its premise is that local entrepreneurs create the companies that bring new wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues and a vibrant local business sector. Economic gardening seeks to focus on growing and nurturing local businesses, particularly those with an external market footprint, rather than hunting for “big game” outside the area.

Any business in Longmont, whether an existing business or a startup, is eligible to participate in LEGI, and can receive a combination of peer counseling, research data, data analysis, market analysis and competitive and industry intelligence. The initial interview, counseling, research data, and data analysis are free (nominal charges may apply for extended use or optional resources)

The actions detailed above are simply a partial listing of how we might slap those who bully us and not only have them stop bullying but possibly respect us in North Carolina. However, taking these and similar actions requires a step rarely taken in our time. After all these years, I know why my personal bully released me and walked out of that bathroom. It was because when he looked into my eyes, he realized that I was prepared to die if need be. That meant my fear of him was gone. Without that fear, his bullying had no effect on me. Citizens of North Carolina who believe in HB2 should slap our bullies. Doing so requires that we first be willing to risk all, even life itself. 


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