I get to look at local news far more than even I would like lately, between Charlotte’s NDO, HB2, and the subsequent fallout that inevitably hits Charlotte because Raleigh has nothing of substance to boycott.
Today, I consider this story a positive because of how it ends; with an incredibly simple mic drop.
Charlotte’s NDO, if you look at my past work on this site, is something I’ve had an eye on since 2014. This issue would later become an international embarrassment known as HB2 and the subject of multiple lawsuits. I’ve covered two meetings, blasted city council members (wrongly) for refusing to take smaller steps than turned out to be necessary, watched as Houston’s similar attempts were defeated, and been overwhelmed by the speed of a 1-day bill that took a swipe at democracy itself.
Reading what I’ve written in the past, you might remember Flip Benham, who spoke at both NDO meetings. Well, he got up again at yesterday’s meeting, which, as far as I’m aware, had no relation to the city’s ordinance.
The whole thing reads like a publicity stunt, and Pride is coming up* so there’s a possibility he was angry about that. I don’t know why he spoke, but he had the same old script.
Apparently, the city council is “putting your middle finger right in the eye of almighty god”. You can see why this doesn’t make sense. The entire point of a middle finger is for the person to see it. If it’s too close to their face, the message is lost, and you might as well be using your index finger.
He seems extremely proud when he says “You cannot make a moral wrong a civil right.” I like that line. It’s almost as original as all lives matter. Wait…
Benham also points out that it’s not a sin to be black, although historically this has also been a matter of interpretation. Doctrine following the story in the aftermath of Noah’s ark includes details about a curse put on the descendants of his son Ham, which has in the past been seen as referring to black people and other ethnic minorities. He was cursed for walking in on his alcoholic father naked, which, in my opinion, should be punishment enough. This interpretation fell out of general practice much the same way homophobic interpretations have; with a lot of temper tantrums from clergy.
This is where the story takes a positive turn for me; the city wasn’t having it. They interrupted him from the crowd, prompting an unseen voice (Mayor Jennifer Roberts) to hush the crowd.
Benham immediately takes offense, and when she points out that she was trying to give him an easier time of speaking he shrugs off the comments from the crowd.
Getting animated near the end, Benham promises “bloodshed coursing down the corners of our streets, our schools, and our workplaces”. Remember when the religious right was promising problems if Target let trans people use their bathrooms and then went on to cause problems in Target bathrooms? Or said that abortion facilities kill people and then one nutcase went on to kill people at a Planned Parenthood? This kind of rhetoric worries me after that.
Speaking of abortion, that didn’t escape Benham’s notice either. “When you’ve got bloodshed in the womb- and there are three abortion mills here in this city- you’re going to reap it in the streets”. There are over 800,000 people in Charlotte. I’d imagine those clinics are overworked and it’s a shame we only have three. (I actually didn’t know this. I’ve been searching for an OB willing to do a hysterectomy for someone in their 20s, or preferably younger, but it never occurred to me to research abortion clinics in case I couldn’t find one).
One last point I want to make before I move on to my favorite bit of this three minute masterpiece of a failure. Charlotte’s ordinance was overturned. When the state law is overturned, it will be reinstated. This argument isn’t one we need to be having right now, because there’s very little we can do except wait for a decision and appeal if it doesn’t fall the right way.
Benham finally offers Mayor Roberts a chance to repent, loudly ending his mini-sermon with “What will you do?”
Her response made my day a thousand times better. “That’s your three minutes, Mr. Benham. Your time is up.”
It may seem weird coming from me, but I think this may be the best response. Government officials don’t owe preachers a spot on the floor. Benham can speak as a private citizen (and he does, regularly) and we can also speak against him as private citizens, but his opinions are below public office.
I’d assume Benham will be at Pride, and so will COA! (I promise that promotion is a secondary motivation of this story.)
I’m working on getting a shirt with my logo on it (the giant, rainbow thing in the background that follows you down the page) and I’ll hopefully have business cards as well. I’ll also have a couple of cameras and a shot at continuing the Street Preacher Chronicles.
COA on HB2
COA: The Street Preacher Chronicles