Good for Nikki, trying to stay out of the Kulturkampf (I think)

The governor prefers to wave this one off...

The governor prefers to wave this one off…

What the governor is saying about the Bathroom Wars is a bit oblique, and probably deliberately so:

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that a bill that would limit what bathrooms transgender people can choose is unnecessary because South Carolinians already are respectful to people from different backgrounds.

“When we look at our situation, we’re not hearing of anybody’s religious freedoms that are being violated,” she told reporters. “Like it or not, South Carolina is doing really well when it comes to respect and when it comes to kindness and when it comes to acceptance. For people to imply it’s not, I beg to differ.”…

The governor said South Carolina’s 17-year-old state law protecting religious freedoms already covers banning transgender men and women from using bathrooms of their choice.

“We don’t think we need to do anything further to require people to feel like their religious liberties are weakened at this point,” she said….

Whether the governor is saying we don’t need new bathroom laws, or that maybe we do need them but we’re covered on that point, I’m a little fuzzy on.

But I do get that she’s saying that there’s no need to follow Lee Bright down this rathole.

And that’s good, right?

South Carolina has enough on its plate wrestling with down-to-Earth, pragmatic matters that should be fairly easy to solve, but seem to be beyond us. Like funding roads. I have always felt that in South Carolina we needed to save up all the political capital we can muster to address those things, since they seem to be so hard for us and yet are so basic to keeping a state up and running.

We really don’t need to join the national shouting match over this. Which is where Sen. Bright would take us…

76 thoughts on “Good for Nikki, trying to stay out of the Kulturkampf (I think)

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I don’t know what the “Bathroom Wars” are…and I’m not sure I wanna know.

      1. Doug Ross

        And then there’s the whole “toilet paper roll over the top or from below” thing.

        Personally, I think all public bathrooms should have a sign indicating the name of the architect who designed them. I’ve seen some very odd configurations – like urinals so close together that you have to try very hard to avoid touching shoulders with your neighbor.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Maybe we should have separate bathrooms for people with a “wide stance.”

          But that would open a whole other mess. You’d get people who have had a wide stance all their lives claiming that they IDENTIFY as narrow-standers, and the natural-born narrow-standers would complain that their rights were being violated by having to stand next to people who were obviously really wide-standers…

          And we’d never hear the end of it…

        2. Norm Ivey

          There’s a bathroom at Metrolina in Charlotte that has two urinals perpendicular to each other in a corner that would require the users to stand in the same space for them both to be useful at the same time.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    One thing that seems bizarre about all of this bathroom stuff is people couching it in terms of religion.

    Sure, I can understand a woman not being comfortable being in a ladies’ room with a physical man who “identifies” as a woman.

    But her problem is that she’s facing an awkward social situation — or, if you take her fears to an extreme, a physically threatening situation. I don’t see how religion comes into it…

    1. Scout

      I not only don’t get the religious aspect, I don’t even see ” not being comfortable being in a ladies’ room with a physical man who “identifies” as a woman.” Maybe I’m weird, but when I use a public bathroom, it’s not like I chat or compare notes with other random bathroom users. Nobody is sharing a stall. The crucial part is still private. I would guess that this situation has been occurring already and probably most of the time, most people who are not the transgender person have not been aware.

      The new law however would mandate the opposite – a situation where differences are obvious and everyone involved is more likely to be aware and be uncomfortable.

  3. JesseS

    It’s shameful that Sen. Bright would drag us into this.

    Last time I checked 0.3% of the US population are transgendered and the number of registered sex offenders are around 0.2%. So yes, in Lee’s sad, angry, fantasy world 2 out of every 3 trans persons are rapist and child molesters, but even if you defy the fire marshal and pack the women’s washroom from floor to ceiling with random people at Walmart, statistically you still won’t have a single transgendered person/child molester in there.

    Let’s not even get to the part where his bill nullifies potential municipal ordinances. So much for small government. :\

    1. barry

      Lee Bright is a goof-ball.

      I don’t want a dude dressed up as a woman in the bathroom with my daughter- but if I were to see it- she’d just wait on the person to leave the bathroom.

  4. Katharine Duffy Thomas

    I don’t think women are all that worried. I’m more concerned about having toilet paper (hanging either way), soap, and a paper towel. I’d also like changing tables in men’s rooms so men can change their babies’ diapers. And family restrooms so mothers or fathers can take their sons or daughters to the bathroom without it being weird. But as far as transgendered people, I don’t stare at people in a bathroom. That’s creepy.

    1. barry

      plenty of men’s restrooms do have changing tables- but changing tables are really nasty. It would be cleaner laying them down on the sidewalk and drape a blanket over them.

      I don’t want to see a man dressed as a woman anywhere- including the bathroom. But if I do, I’ll just hold it- or wait until they leave.

      1. Norm Ivey

        “plenty of men’s restrooms do have changing tables”

        Dang, Barry. Now they know.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Now there is an actual issue almost worth some legislative debate – family restrooms in large retail establishments, public places, etc.

      Instead of worrying about a few thousand people (at most) in the state who have never caused a problem or even been noticed most likely why not address situation that is difficult for hundreds of thousands of small children and parents?

  5. Norm Ivey

    I have visited places recently (Grand Canyon and San Antonio for two examples) that have installed individual unisex public bathrooms. There’s a toilet, a sink and a locking door, and anybody can use any bathroom. There’s no way (or reason) to retrofit all the public restrooms we have, but it’s a pretty simple thing to solve going forward. It fits with the universal design concept.

  6. Harry Harris

    Gov Haley made two statements that make sense to me – that it’s not a problem here so why make it one, and nobody’s religion is being threatened. I feel uncomfortable in a room full of gun-toters (and it makes me wonder if any of them have read Matthew chapter 5), but I’m not raising a religious objection to the law that permits it..

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I feel uncomfortable in a room full of gun-toters…

      But we’re just like the transgender population! You’re probably around us all the time already and don’t even know about it! We just politely mind our own business and don’t advertise that we’re armed.


      Yes, I just compared myself to a transgender person. Yes, I’m okay with that.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          But that’s the thing. I don’t go out in public and shout it from the rooftops. I keep it to myself.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      (and it makes me wonder if any of them have read Matthew chapter 5)

      Maybe you can help me out, Harry. Which part of Matthew chapter 5 says you shouldn’t be able to protect yourself and your loved ones if you so choose?

  7. Scout

    I was curious about that too. I just read all of Matthew 5. I’m betting it is this bit: “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I read that as “don’t get upset over insults”. A slap on the cheek is a rebuke, not a serious attack on your life.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Which brings us to the conundrum posed by the parable of the Good Samaritan.

      In The Robe (the novel, not the movie), Tribune Marcellus, trying to understand Christians, has a question when someone tells him the parable. He totally gets the idea of who was a good neighbor, but he wonders: What if the Samaritan had come along while the robbers were attacking their victim? Suppose he was armed — wouldn’t the right and moral thing have been to try to fight the attackers off, thereby preventing the victim from being hurt?

      As I recall, no one in the novel really answers that question. It’s left hanging…

      1. Bryan Caskey

        If I was the guy getting attacked by the robbers, I know which version of the Good Samaritan I would want in that instance.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            But don’t forget, it would be a mistake to rely too much on your own for self-defense. As David famously said before he killed Goliath:

            “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

            My thoughts on self-defense put these two thoughts together. Do what you can to protect the weak and the needy, but realize that you’re not in control of everything. Don’t trust yourself and your arms to the exclusion of God and his plan.

            Your mileage may vary.

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s what Ted Pitts, my former representative, Nikki’s former chief of staff, and currently president of the state Chamber, had to say on the matter:

    “South Carolina businesses don’t need the government telling them how to run their business. The governor has called the bill unnecessary and the State Chamber strongly agrees. South Carolina businesses already understand the importance of treating people with respect. Senator Bright is trying to create a political crisis that doesn’t exist to save his political career. Meanwhile our state has real issues we need to address including crumbling roads and a skills gap. We’ll be working on electing serious Senators next year who will be focused on addressing the states infrastructure and workforce needs and limiting government’s role in our lives.”

    1. Doug Ross

      There’s that “crumbling” modifier which apparently is required any time you discuss the roads. It’s too bad we don’t have a government agency in charge of the roads that could focus on the crumbling ones instead of other more politically beneficial roadways. Nah, let’s just wait for the OPM fairy to drop some money from the sky.

        1. Doug Ross

          Or, you know, they could shift some of the current funds to fixing roads. Crazy idea. But prioritizing needs over wants is hard to do when you can force people to pay for your wants.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Ah, yes, the libertarian fantasy that South Carolina has more than enough money, and merely lacks the discipline to make hard decisions.

            Which you will continue to believe, whatever the reality. So set that aside.

            But I will ask this: Doug, how would YOU pay for government services, were you the king? I ask since you consider legitimate taxation — which you call, bizarrely, “forcing people to pay for your wants” — to be so awful and contemptible?

  9. Bart

    Hopefully when the rules for transgenders becomes a federal mandate the urninals will still have a partition so there is still some small modicum of privacy. The urinals at the airport in Frankfort many years ago were the long floor type with no partitions. And, it was not uncommon for the female janitorial workers to come into the men’s facilities at any time. I almost ruined my shoes when the door opened and in walked the female janitorial worker. Also very glad no one was standing next to me, he may have punched me out for ruining his shoes or slacks as well. It was a cultural shock for me and still resonates but more humorous than anything else.

    For all of us who will be around when facilities will become gender neutral, remember to keep eyes forward, don’t look around to see who is standing next to you, be sure to zip up, wash your hands, dry, and leave. And hope that the partition is of sufficient height and width to provide privacy.

  10. Karen Pearson

    When I was walking the Camino de Santiago many of the toilets and baths were unisex, and the actual sleeping/dressing area was one large room (think barracks). I learned to keep “custody” of my eyes, and if anyone was not doing so I was not aware of it. We (2 little old ladies) were not bothered, nor did I hear of or see anyone else being bothered while on the trail. I think if there had been a problem we would have heard about it, simply because people tended to help each other.

    1. Barry

      It’s fine that you weren’t bothered- but some women do not want to empty their bowels 2 feet from a man doing the same, especially younger women, or even young children or teen girls.

      That you are “liberal” with it is fine – for you. But I’m not concerned with you. I’m concerned with my elderly mother, and my 8 year old daughter, or my 12 year old son who is extremely shy about such things.

      Uni-sex bathrooms are common in many places of business- but they have a lock on them and they are for 1 user at a time.

      I am not a fan of Lee Bright’s bill because I think it’s unnecessary and he’s simply using it as a distraction.

      But just because nothing of the sort bothers you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t seriously bother other fair-minded people.

  11. Karen Pearson

    The trouble is, a lot of people think transgender persons are just “dressing up” to look like the other gender. Many of them have changed gender. They look like, talk, like, and grow hair like the gender that identify with. You won’t be able to tell the difference without very close, very personal checks. I don’t mind waiting in line with other women and men for a toilet stall or shower to be free, but I don’t think I want to subject anyone to that close a perusal. And I have yet to see a woman’s restroom without enclosures around the toilets. How’s your little girl or granny going to know? I suspect that they would be more upset if they saw someone who looked just like a man (even though the birth certificate indicated female) in the rest room area.

    1. Barry

      yeah- I can tell the difference in some cases. They aren’t like they are on tv and Entertainment Tonight. It’s pretty obvious in some cases the woman is really a dude.

      and like anything else- there will be some people that take advantage of the situation – and yes- that bothers me.

      But no- I think Lee Bright’s version of this is unnecessary and a distraction.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Both of which are different from transsexual.

          All of which are different from Trans World Airlines, a type of trans that doesn’t exist anymore. Which is a shame, because with that brand they might really be in vogue now.

          I think I’ve got it all straight, so to speak…

          In any case it goes back to my point about “LGBT community” — we’re talking about several different groups, with different issues…

        2. Barry


          sometimes not – a woman can “choose” to be a man, and then well – let’s keep it classy.

  12. Brad Warthen Post author

    This release came out this morning (Monday):

    Lourie and Sheheen: Just Another Embarrassing Day In South Carolina

    Columbia, SC – South Carolina State Senator Joel Lourie (D-Richland) and South Carolina State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) issued the following statement in response to South Carolina Senate Bill 1203 by Senator’s Bright, Bryant, Fair and Martin.

    “This is just another embarrassing day in South Carolina. This legislation is mean spirited, discriminatory and economically disastrous for our state. We have real issues to deal with like infrastructure, education, jobs and healthcare,” said Lourie

    “This is just another example of the misplaced priorities when you have a South Carolina Government controlled by the extreme right wing”, said Sheheen. “This is about access to employment and education and just about everything else in public life. Instead of increasing harassment and division, we should be focusing on fixing our broken state…simply embarrassing”, concluded Sheheen. 


    1. Mark Stewart

      I would find it more embarrassing if any other Republicans jumped on this bandwagon – which I haven’t seen happen, right?

      Now this is just the typical suspects (hey – where is Larry Grooms on this???) spewing their typical asinine close-mindedness and ill-mannered intolerance. They do it all the time – and get nowhere with the vast majority of it. Does anyone really expect any different this time; or are they just spinning up the same donor base they regularly troll? Maybe Grooms avoided this because it’s more like Bright’s uninformed pining for the return of the gold standard, et al, than it is about issues near and dear to the hard core Southern Baptists?

      Roads, education and ethics. Those are things the Senate ought to be spending its time addressing – not whining about restroom policing. Do your job, Senators, do your job.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      How many people in NC and SC are transgender? Is this a big thing that I’m not aware of?

  13. Brad Warthen Post author

    And now we have Democrats trying to use it to raise money, of course:

    Dear Brad,

    Many of you have now heard about the bill that was signed into law in North Carolina that discriminates against the LGBT community, and strips the ability of cities to protect the rights of their citizens.

    A South Carolina State Senator, Lee Bright (R), now wants to turn North Carolina’s mistake into South Carolina Law. If Bright has his way, many South Carolinians will soon feel unwelcome in their own home state.

    Businesses have already begun to cancel projects, and take jobs away from North Carolina. Make no mistake, a similar law here will hurt our economy. For these reasons, even Georgia’s conservative governor has vetoed a similar effort in his state.

    We can not allow this blatant discrimination to take hold in South Carolina, and to tarnish the reputation of our state. We must defeat this effort.

    Contribute today to help us defend against this bigotry and hatred, and together we can protect all South Carolinians, and keep moving forward.

    With your help, we will protect our values, our citizens, and our state. Give what you can to make sure that we succeed together.





    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That reference to “the LGBT community” gets me to thinking.

      Decades ago — late 80s or early 90s – one of my colleagues at The State (I want to say Warren Bolton, but it could have been someone else) objected to overuse of the phrase “the black community.” The way it was often used, it implied a monolithic quality, as though black folks all thought alike and were not individuals.

      I thought it was a good point.

      I wonder whether the same point should be made regarding “the LGBT community.”

      I mean, at least members of the supposed black community have African heritage in common, as different as they might be from each other. “LGBT” is a rather rickety construct which exists for people with different issues to band together for strength in numbers. Internally, it is even more heterogeneous than the “black community.”

      Let’s just take gay men. One gay man is as different from another as one black person from another. Individuals are individuals. But at least they have, you know, being gay men in common.

      You can’t say the same thing for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals of both genders and trans… Wait, what does “T” stand for — transgender or transsexual, or both? Whatever, we’re talking about mashing together very different folks with very different issues.

      Bottom line, how legitimate is it to say “LGBT community?”…

      1. Doug Ross

        “how legitimate is it to say “LGBT community?”

        I’d say it’s acceptable. They are treated a certain way by the government and large groups of people based on their sexual orientation/identification. After the age of 18, there shouldn’t be any laws that restrict the personal activities of a citizen if it does no harm to anyone else.

        Get married? Sure. Adopt a kid? Why not? Expect to be treated fairly when seeking a job, home, or business transaction? Of course.

        Sort of ironic that a communitarian would be bothered by a group of like minded people working together to address their common goals.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I didn’t say I was bothered by it. I wondered whether it was presumptuous to call that set of groups a “community.”

          But now that you mention it, yeah, I have a problem with Identity Politics. AS a communitarian (for lack of a better word), I think of us all as belonging to one community, not limited by race or gender or religion or sexual proclivities. Communitarians — this one, at least — balk at Balkanization.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            See what I did there? Balk at Balkanization? I liked that one…

            Speaking of which, check out this cool GIF illustrating why it’s called “Balkanization.: It’s from Wikipedia. It shows the many ways the Balkans were split up from 1796 to 2008:


            1. Bryan Caskey

              Cool gif.

              Notice how after 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Empire just freakin’ disappears from the map? The book I’m reading, Fall of the Double Eagle explains why the Army of Austria-Hungary was so utterly annihilated as to cause the fall of the state it fought for.

              The short version is that they weren’t really ready for WWI in any real way. The long version (the book) explains why. For instance, their old tactics of charging positions fortified with modern weaponry makes the South’s similarly failed tactics at Gettysburg look like kiddie play by comparison.

            2. Jeff Mobley

              This has been a surprisingly educational thread. From Bryan’s insights on Psalm 82, to this GIF, the most entertaining comments are those that have detoured from the topic of the original post.

          2. Doug Ross

            So you are for gay marriage, gay parents adopting children, benefits for same sex partners, equal treatment in hospital treatment decision making for same sex partners? That would certainly go a long way toward an inclusive community.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Exactly; could they all please get back to work on the substantive matters before the legislature?

      How about we get back to talking about the real sideshow circus that is in town this month – the Alan Wilson show?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Well, that one’s out there — The State‘s keeping it on the front page — but there haven’t really been any developments in the last week or two…

        Alan has filed something that we can’t see, and Jay Bender has filed something saying we should be able to see it — or at least there should be an open hearing on whether it will be made public.

        The whole spitting match between Pascoe and Wilson is ridiculous — something that it shouldn’t be all that hard to sort out, if they were talking to each other. I’d like the court, or someone, to settle it so we can get on with the investigation…

        1. Mark Stewart

          There’s also Cindi Scoppe’s incisive editorial on the Haley tantrum over McMaster. She hit it out of the ballpark. Good to see after last week’s swing and a miss on Wilson/Pascoe.

            1. Mark Stewart

              Recommending apologies… as a solution in this situation. Also, suggesting neither is wrong; when clearly the reality is either 1) one is wrong – very wrong, or 2) both went about things inappropriately, in different ways.

              We have one right, or no rights here; if we had two rights instead, that would still make a wrong – for the rest of us.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Well, Cindi is reserving judgment (as am I) on who is right and wrong here.

              Which makes us unusual.

              Everywhere I go, people seem to assume Pascoe is right and Wilson is wrong. And the more I look at this, the more I think they’re being hasty. I found myself at a gathering of fairly senior lawyers over at the law school last week, and this was all any of them wanted to talk about, and they were all down on Wilson.

              Which means that if Pascoe meant to maneuver Wilson into a position in which he looked bad, he succeeded in spades. But I don’t know that.

              What I DO at least THINK I know is that folks are wrong on two points when they jump to side with Pascoe: The law actually DOES require the AG to check off on a state grand jury investigation, and Wilson is NOT barred from excercising his constitutional duty to supervise solicitors because of his recusal.

              A lot of folks find that that second fact defies common sense, so they refuse to believe Wilson. But I’m pretty sure he’s right on that point.

              That doesn’t mean he hasn’t done wrong things — that emotional presser was probably a bad call on a couple of levels, and he really erred in picking a fight with John Monk on camera.

              But he managed to raise questions that I think Pascoe needs to answer, and has not answered.

              This is all a good bit more complicated than most people seem to think…

              1. Mark Stewart

                Those are all fair points.

                Another would be that since Wilson had recused himself from this case, that the AG did have the opportunity to tell his clerk to rubber stamp the request (I’m saying Wilson signs proactively once presented with the SLED chief and Judge’s sign-offs) instead of proactively barring his clerk from initiating a state grand jury and also proactively telling Pascoe that he had the magic key so nah-nah na nan-nah! I use preschool language as that’s the petulant (or worse, obstructive) way Wilson was apparently acting the Friday BEFORE Pascoe first filed with the Supreme Court.

                Wilson’s instructions to his clerk before this all blew up is what is going to ultimately get him in trouble. The least this is is extremely poor judgment on Wilson’s part. It goes downhill quickly from there.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I just sent Cindi an email to say, “By the way, you were way harsh on my girl Nikki this morning.”

            I added a smiley face, of course…

            1. Doug Ross

              Cindi gets lost in the minutiae of bureaucracies and focuses too much on procedural rules versus doing the right thing. In this case, McMaster did the wrong thing because the rules allowed him to. It’s those rules that make government inefficient. Exceptions to man-made rules and the ability to adapt based on circumstances is far more important than following “rules” as if they are the Ten Commandments.

              These are the same bozos that come up with ethics “rules” that have no teeth and allow for corruption to go unchecked. These so called rules are just barriers to progress and openness.

              If not for the “rules”, Lee Bright’s idiocy would be stopped dead in its tracks. But by following the rules, he’s allowed to waste time and resources on stupid ideas.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Without rules, we are nothing.

              While I kidded Cindi about her column, she was addressing a real problem. While I think Nikki Haley has grown in office, and have given her credit for it, she still has this problem with the rule of law.

              Whether it’s ordering that Occupy demonstrators be arrested when she had NO authority to do so or loudly protesting when the lieutenant governor follows the law, she really doesn’t seem to get the concept.

              I would think that you, who have such contempt for government, would be the very first among us to insist that the governor follow the law and not act outside her legal authority….

              1. Doug Ross

                There aren’t many rules that are required for regular people. First, do no harm. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. After that, it’s all window dressing for bureaucrats and politicians who like to think they’re important.

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  Anecdote from my alma mater:

                  “One story of his presidency underscores the important role that honor has always played at the institution. When a student asked Lee for the college’s rules, the president is said to have replied: ‘We have but one rule here, and it is that every student be a gentleman.'”

                2. Doug Ross

                  I’ve spent 30 years of my career working at a variety of companies across the country. If there is one factor that determines the success or failure of an organization, it is the number of “rules” that are in place. Too many rules stifle growth, foster resentment of management, and generally inhibit progress.

                  The SC State Legislature is the poster child for how not to run an organization. Top heavy, tenured based, and too many rules. How could it be anything BUT dysfunctional and corrupt?

    3. Doug Ross

      I’d like to see the Return On Investment that comes from donating to South Carolina’s Democratic Party. It would be better to just burn your money because at least that might provide a little heat for a while.

  14. Doug Ross

    If you want to know what’s really happening with WIlson/Pascoe, head on over to FitsNews. He’ll have the story a couple weeks before The State will. From the looks of it, Wilson is protecting some big names in the Republican Party… Is there any part of the government that ISN’T tainted by corruption, greed, or incompetence?

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