Panelist talk during the The Charlotte Observer’s “The Truth about HB2” forum at the McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, to discuss the impact of HB2 and the future with or without it, on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Panelist talk during the The Charlotte Observer’s “The Truth about HB2” forum at the McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, to discuss the impact of HB2 and the future with or without it, on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Mark Washburn

In a pretend world, HB2 is no big thing

November 04, 2016 04:39 PM

I won’t bore you with my personal opinion of HB2, a titanic blunder passed by the legislature to remedy an abomination that never existed.

I can’t even say I have a strong opinion about the law, which to this day is inexplicably defended as a mystical shield to fortify the ladies’ room against perverts.

I don’t even know what impact it has had, aside from driving off the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, the ACC Football Championship, corporate expansions, entertainers, conventions, millions in investments and shattering our enviable national image as a Southern state with a core value of civility and inclusion for all citizens.

But the bowl, man, I can’t get over the bowl.

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In the biggest claw-back since Chiquita vaporized, the state told PayPal to bring back the gift bowl it was given when the financial services company announced plans in March for a big expansion in Charlotte.

A month later, PayPal scrubbed the Charlotte center after HB2 passed, politely saying it would conduct its business where discrimination wasn’t codified.

Two things then happened that give us insight into who we are and where we’re at.

No. 1 was the bowl. It was wooden, carved from a mighty oak tree at the state Capitol that was smote by a thunderbolt hurled from the heavens.

When the tree came down, some of the wood was turned by artisans into bowls to be given for ceremonial purposes.

We demanded the bowl back. That’s how petty we are now.

No. 2 is the epidemic of myopia that settled over the land. When PayPal picked us, the new operations center was hailed as a high-tech plum bustling with customer services and risk operations, computer engineering and technology work.

Now, state officials shrug and say it was really only a call center, and its 400 jobs with average annual salaries of $50,000 won’t be missed.

Another example occurred Friday.

Gov. Pat McCrory came to town with big, big news: the 2018 World Equestrian Games would be held in Mill Spring.

If you’ve never heard of the World Equestrian Games – or, for that matter, Mill Spring – it just goes to show that you’re not current with the trend of modern thought in the post-HB2 world. Because this is going to be big.

“This is bigger, with all due respect, than the All-Star Game, a football game, a basketball game – combined, times two,” McCrory actually said. “This economic impact is huge.”

Bigger than the NBA, bigger than the ACC, he was saying.

A horse show.

You know what would be big? It would be big if we could back out of this HB2 mess. It would be big if we could repeal the thing and quit pretending.

Quit pretending that there was a reason in the first place to swat down Charlotte’s limited ordinance on LGBT discrimination.

Quit pretending that such an ordinance would unleash predators into public restrooms – Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Columbia have similar ordinances and can’t point to a single problem.

Quit pretending that 100 major corporations are all wrong because they question whether HB2 creates a hostile atmosphere for some workers.

Quit pretending this hasty, miserable law that has already cost us so much is soon going to be forgotten.

Now that would be big, bigger than even a horse show.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs