In his 1916 book Our Chief Magistrate and his Powers, Supreme Court Justice and United States president William Howard Taft postulates about the state of the American legal system and the passage of new laws. He notes, “We live in a stage of politics, where legislators seem to regard the passage of laws as much more important than the results of their enforcement.”
100 years later, this mentality has persisted at state legislatures across the country, as self-appointed moral arbiters have passed into law various pieces of legislation that are aimed, simply, to disempower marginalized groups for…well…no discernable reason. This rash of pointless laws began last year with the RFRAs past in Mississippi and Indiana, and continued into 2016 with the passage of “transgender bathroom ordinances” in states like Texas and North Carolina.
These laws have received much criticism from various outlets for being non-inclusive. While this sentiment is surely true, there is something more important to consider here – the fact that both of these laws are completely unenforceable and serve no purpose other than to create an atmosphere of bigotry and faux-religious permanence in these states.
Take the transgender bathroom law, for example. Thankfully, there is no X-ray machine located at the entrance of every single bathroom in the land. Most people would agree that this would serve as an egregious violation of personal privacy and a massive waste of funds in order to implement. However, given this lack of technology, North Carolina’s HB-2 and other pieces of legislation in that vein quite simply cannot be enforced. People’s genitalia cannot be examined before they enter bathrooms.
It also should be noted that transgender people are not a homogenous group in terms of states of transition. Certain transgender people have access to hormones that can make their appearance more feminine, while others do not have the finances or desire to go through this step in their transgender development. There is a very high chance of misaccusation which could lead to cases of mistaken identity where the state could be deemed liable for any damages incurred to a transgender person if they face emotional trauma at a bathroom.
The biggest issue at the root of both of these laws is that gay people and transgender people do not wear badges immediately indicating who they are. 2016 America is not 1939 Germany. Making laws that marginalize a certain class of people is un-American, but making unenforceable laws just to prove cheap political points is pathetic. These laws are the equivalent of a baby throwing a tantrum to get attention – unfortunately, the babies in this case are elected state legislators who have legitimate political power.
So, now that the problem has been noted, how can it be stopped? Two things have to take place to rectify this situation:
- Anyone who proposed these laws should be voted out of elected office, as they clearly have no idea of how laws work and are legislating based on dogma rather than logic. If you have the ability to vote them out, please do so!
- If a friend or a colleague says something in support of these laws, please inform them that laws like these are unenforceable. If they still don’t come around, drop them. They’re meaningless. Cutting people like that out of your life is probably for the best.
The Founding Fathers sought to create a more perfect union that protected all Americans. Laws like HB-2 in North Carolina eliminate this protection for many people, and hurts this country as a whole. Let’s work together to ensure that attitudes like that which prevailed in HB-2 are not rewarded. Let’s make this country more inclusive, safer, and accepting to all people.
Having disagreements based on life philosophies and religious beliefs is fine – vibrant discourse is what makes America great. However, the creation of unenforceable laws for discrimination’s sake is not discourse. It is bigotry, plain and simple, and should not be rewarded.
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