Since then, Democrats and progressive independents have watched in muted horror as the Tar Heel tea party has signaled its determiniation to turn one of the most progressive states in the South — and the tenth largest state in the nation — into a poorly educated, poverty-stricken backwater like South Carolina, Alabama or Mississippi.
One of the first and most horrific steps Gov. McCrory took was to appoint Art Pope — his biggest campaign donor, a tea-bagger multi-millionaire and a Koch brothers Mini-Me — as the state’s budget director. Pope funds right-wing think tanks that promote repealing the state income tax, privatizing Medicaid and reducing the state workforce — the sort of austerity policies that have hobbled the recovery in Europe.
Earlier this month, Gov. McCrory also went on the right-wing radio show hosted by Bill Bennet, George H.W. Bush’s drug czar, to announce his intention to gut the funding of one of North Carolina’s most vaulable assets: its public university and community college systems.
But wherever the tea party takes over, the teavangelicals are not far behind — and state Rep. Rayne Brown, who represents a district in the northwest mountainous part of the state, has shown where she puts her priorities. She has proposed a law that will ban women from exposing their nipples in public:
On Wednesday, the state House Judiciary Committee C approved House Bill 34, which makes it a Class H felony to purposefully expose “private parts” for the “purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”
The bill expands the state’s definition of “private parts” to include a woman’s “nipple, or any portion of the areola.”
[Brown] told lawmakers that she was co-sponsoring the bill because activists had held a topless women’s rights rally in Asheville last summer, where as many as a dozen women bared their breasts (NSFW video here).
Although Brown’s district is 100 miles from Asheville, she felt it was important to act before women tried to assert their rights again by going topless at another rally.
“You’ve got local governments passing ordinances to protect themselves from just this thing,” she explained. “These folks don’t need to be doing that, but they do it because they’re not sure about the law.”
Under the law, exposing one or more nipples would be a felony punishable by six months in prison for first time offenders. Women who accidentally expose their nipples would be charged with misdemeanors and would only serve 30 days in jail. Women who expose their nipples in the godly pursuit of breast feeding are exempt. (One of Rep. Brown’s tea-party colleagues suggested that women who fear being arrested for accidentally exposing their nipples could cover them with duct tape.)
Of course, the new law would not apply to men, who are free to expose their nipples at any time and for any reason, presumably even for the “purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”
Because the Tar Heel teabillies gained control in 2010, just in time to gerrymander North Carolina’s congressional and legislative districts in their own favor, it appears that nothing can stop them from implementing their agenda, despite the fact that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans (2.9 million to 2 million) and independents (1.6 million). McCrory was elected easily last year — 54.7 to 43.2 percent (2.4 million vs. 1.9 million votes) against the Democrat, Walter Dalton — because he was able to swing independents and some Democrats his way. Many of them are undoubtedly coming to realize they made a big mistake.
Based on the numbers, it appears that dark days are ahead for the Old North State.