North Carolina Politicians Perplex Me

Considering confused black womanBY JENNIFER BRICK

Do you know that riddle about the two doors with one leading to a prize and one to certain death? Each is blocked by a guard: one who tells the truth and one who lies. I can never solve this riddle and just when I think I have it, I try to explain my theory and I confuse myself again.

Well, North Carolina’s current legislative system has me feeling like I’m tackling that puzzle, and no more successfully. I’m also pretty sure that I don’t like what is behind either door.

Door Number One: a bill similar to Indiana’s religious freedom act, RFA’s in 19 other states, and the federal RFA passed in 1993. The bill comes in the wake of several magistrates resigning rather than being forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. However, North Carolina’s bill differs from the others. It contains what several organizations are calling “weaker” and “worse” language. For example, instead of having to prove that carrying out certain duties is a “substantial burden,” a person (state employee, business owner, etc) would have to prove only a “burden.”

So if a person chooses this door, she believes that laws are made not on the basis of religion, but that people can opt-out of following or participating in certain laws if they go against their religion.

Door Number Two: an anti-abortion bill that has provisions like making a woman wait seventy-two hours (instead of the previous twenty-four) before receiving an abortion. Even more troubling, it prohibits state medical schools like Eastern Carolina University and University of North Carolina from performing abortions, because, ostensibly, taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for state services that go against their religious beliefs.

If the person chooses this door, she believes that laws are made on the basis of religion and that a person (state institution, in this case) can’t opt out if the law does not go against her religious belief, even though there are religious organizations where people can work and choose not to practice or learn about abortions.

Both laws are more than problematic, but it also troubles me that there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for how bills and laws are being written or enacted except that the laws seem to support the extreme views of a minority in power rather than defend the rights of those without.

Like the door riddle, I can’t figure out our legislature’s logic. If there was one door, even if I didn’t like where it headed, at least I would know the path the state was on and I could make informed decisions about my life in North Carolina. But with contradictory bills and unclear destinations, I’m left scratching my head and giving up, taking no action. Maybe that is the legislature’s goal for its constituents after all.

Cropped Jennifer BrickJennifer Brick is a writer and teacher in Durham, North Carolina. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Follow her on Twitter @jenbrickwrites.




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