Gay and transgender people aren’t “filth”; it’s just teaching that they exist that is

I honestly don’t think it is particularly uncharitable to term NC’s Lieutenant Governor, Mark Robinson, a truly horrible person (seriously, just google for 5 minutes).  His latest is particularly deplorable:

Recently-released video showed Mr. Robinson telling a crowd in June: “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth. And yes, I called it filth.”

In August, he told a religious gathering: “If there’s a movement in this country that is demonic, and that is full of anti-, the spirit of Antichrist, it is the transgender movement.”

For starters, that’s right out of the 1950’s or so?  I mean, obviously, I think it’s horrible to refer to transgender people as “filth” but, that probably still plays to some degree with the Republican base in our culture war politics.  But, in this era when even a majority of Republicans support same-sex marriage, Robinson is just totally out on a limb of depraved cruelty.  So, what’s the response from Republicans?  Ignore, elide, and obfuscate.  From the N&O:

Some Republicans who responded to the Observer’s survey said they believed that Robinson was only referring to what books should be available in schools.

“I assume he was referring to pornography and/or obscenity that could steal a student’s innocence; therefore, he should not resign,” Rep. Kelly Hastings said in a statement. “As a Christian, I believe we are all sinners and can be forgiven by God.” Rep. Jake Johnson said in a statement that he believed Robinson was referring to “the display and promotion of explicit images being shown to young children, and any social agenda being pushed onto students.”

“Most parents I have spoken to agree that children are in school to learn to read, write, do math and learn basic social skills,” he added. “Not to be inundated with any social or political agenda.”

Of the Mecklenburg County delegation, most told the Observer that Robinson should resign. Reps. Kelly Alexander, John Bradford III, Carla Cunningham, Carolyn Logan, as well as Sens. Mujtaba Mohammed, Jeff Jackson and Joyce Waddell did not respond to the survey.

Both Jackson and Cheri Beasley, two candidates running for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat, have called on Robinson to resign.

For Democrats, though, calling out Robinson is relatively painless. “It doesn’t matter what Democrats say about Mark Robinson, it matters what Republicans say about Mark Robinson,” said Steven Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University who studies the role of gender in politics.

Although that shift has included many Republicans, it is less apparent among white evangelicals — a major force in GOP politics, Miller said. Even among many Republican voters who wouldn’t approve of Robinson’s comments, LGBT issues are not among their top issues when they go to the polls, he said.

“If I’m a Republican in the North Carolina legislature, then I’m thinking: What do I risk or what do I gain by condemning his comments?” Miller said. “I don’t see a lot of gain in that because I’m sticking my neck out on a low-priority issue.”

Along with that, they would risk alienating evangelicals who do prioritize so-called “culture war” issues. “For Republicans to publicly call for Robinson to resign, I suspect, would be seen as akin to liberal cancel culture mobs,” Greene said.

Now, there’s a perfectly reasonable conversation to be had about what and when we teach about human sexuality in public schools.  This is not that.  Robinson could have said, “we don’t need schools pushing a liberal agenda to re-shape society and push a transgender/homosexual agenda on our children.”  Not great, but, just another day for a Republican politician.  But, he doubled down on “filth.”  And, it’s not at all clear what the logical argument is that says teaching about these things are “filfth” but there’s not actually anything wrong with them.  It’s really just offensive on every level (including intellectually, the idea that somehow this is not incredibly derogatory language about human beings based on their sexuality).  

As I alluded to, a better Republican party (one not in thrall to Donald Trump and it’s worst elements) would, of course, condemn this type of language.  But, apparently only liberals actually criticize their own for saying awful and inappropriate things.  So, ultimately, I guess it’s just being a horrible person and accepting that kind of behavior in co-partisans to own the libs.  Ugh.  

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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