The Bathroom Bill Is Evil, But Do Parents Not Have a Right to Fear the Culture?

In this world,  we must search for morality wherever we happen to be.
In this world, we must search for morality wherever we happen to be. apologies to Igor Kapustin, Shutterstock
Yesterday. I am staring at a Dallas Morning News online story telling me that the Texas Association of Business would start running ads on Texas radio stations today warning that, if the special session of the Texas Legislature passes a bathroom bill, it could cost Texas the NFL draft.

I know I may get beat up for admitting in this, but I have to stop and do a Wikipedia search to be sure about the NFL draft. It’s about picking people to play football. I think I may have some bad childhood memories associated with that process.

I hate football. What kind of fun sport involves stopping the game every 50 seconds for a meeting? They can’t remember that long how to play the game? What is it they have to accomplish out there anyway, like working some big quadratic equation?

And I hope I haven’t spoken insensitively because I do understand that there is a huge problem in football with diminished mental capacity. As I understand, it’s associated with people running into each other, face first, as hard as they can on purpose.

I, personally, would stop running headlong into people, but I can see that maybe the people who keep doing it need 60 meetings an hour to remember what they’re doing. I once saw a football game on TV played by dogs. They did not smash their heads into each other or have meetings. It was very fast-paced and engaging.

I was able to make out from the story in the Morning News that the business association paying for the radio ads is lobbying against passage of a Texas Nuremberg-style law pushed by the Texas governor and lieutenant governor, who want to be able to oppress children based on gender identity.

The position of the business association is courageous. The Texas Nuremberg bathroom bill is an abomination, an expression of the very lowest, basest rabble-rousing instincts in two politicians who would happily humiliate and endanger children in order to garner votes.

I understand that the Texas business association is trying to explain the moral depravity of the bathroom bill to the Texas public in terms that will be understood.

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I understand that my own lack of devotion to football is peculiar, entirely anomalous, morally and psychologically suspect — and, by the way, I’m not allowed to discuss it at home. My wife is a native Texan raised in the church of football and thinks the meetings are really fascinating. She watches entire games with intent interest and knows how to say all kinds of football stuff.

So I understand that the Texas business association is trying to explain the moral depravity of the bathroom bill to the Texas public in terms that will be understood. It would be wrong to humiliate and endanger children and wreak havoc on the lives of transgender adults because doing so might endanger the NFL draft.

The Dallas Cowboys wants to bring the NFL draft event to Dallas. The NFL might decide it doesn't want to host the event in a state like Texas if Texas passes a Nuremberg bathroom bill. In that event, I would agree with the NFL wholeheartedly. Nobody should come to Texas if their coming could be viewed as an endorsement of the bathroom bill.

Here is the other thing, though: The story in the Morning News is illustrated by a photo of a scene on some stage where people are arrayed around a podium made to look like a beer can. A man dressed in a business suit is behind the big beer can. On each side of the man are two beautiful, young women dancing in their underwear.

All around the bra-and-panties-clad women are pre-adolescent boys in Dallas Cowboys football jerseys, jumping, screaming and spraying spit as if they are about to explode like overinflated balloons — exactly what I would have done at their age had some sainted soul ever put me on stage with beautiful women dancing in their underwear. In fact, I would not have minded if I had died right after. I might even have agreed to it in advance.

So let’s round it all up again: The business association is warning the public that if the Texas Legislature passes a Nuremberg law oppressing people based on gender identity, the sport in which people damage each other's brains by smashing their heads together may not hold its annual event in Dallas, and many little Texas boys will be deprived of their chance to dance onstage in football jerseys with nearly naked women.

Let’s say we put the demagogic governor and the lavatory-obsessed lieutenant governor aside for just a moment and ask ourselves: What is stirring the pot out there? Why does the ugly appeal of the bathroom bill work? What thing is roiling the heart of the body politic so that it makes people responsive to things like this? Is it simple primitive sexual phobia? Or is there more?

Is it possible — just possible — that a lot of people who have young kids and who are not especially phobic or crazy look at that photo and wonder if they should trust their children to the mainstream culture? It’s a bunch of frenzied pre-adolescent boys jiggling on stage with near-naked women in what looks like a beer ad. And it’s about football — the sport that brain-damages children.

click to enlarge By the time you get Santa Claus woven together with the birth of Jesus and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, anybody should have the right to be a little bit morally and culturally confused. - KEN DURDEN, SHUTTERSTOCK
By the time you get Santa Claus woven together with the birth of Jesus and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, anybody should have the right to be a little bit morally and culturally confused.
Ken Durden, Shutterstock
The moral appeal of the ad is: The children won’t be able to dance with the naked ladies if we do the bathroom bill. I’m just asking if people have a right to be very confused.

Of course, I am not saying that anybody has the right to exorcise his or her confusion by taking it out on defenseless children who are already marginalized. Clearly the impulses of our governor and lieutenant governor are to exploit confusion and uncertainty by howling up the wolf pack.

Over the last 100 years, humankind has witnessed repeated examples of the horror into which this kind of political demagoguery, unchecked, inevitably leads us as if pigs by the snout to the slaughter.

But by the same token, maybe we can afford a little bit of empathy for people who fear that the culture is going to eat their kids. They want rules and certainties because they want a bulwark to protect themselves and their families from depravity. Who can say for sure they are wrong? What would we tell them to do instead? Let the NFL raise their kids?

I think the ad about the NFL draft is excellent. It is aimed right where most people really live, not where I live. You’d be pretty dumb to aim an expensive ad at me. Just text me. You’ll have my entire demographic covered.

But I wish there were also a way to tell people they are right to worry about their kids. They are right not to make popular culture their babysitter. They should be respected, not ridiculed, for their integrity and resilience.

Maybe if they got some respect from the other side, more people on the bathroom bill side would put themselves in the shoes of parents whose children are not exactly like their own. Then they might comprehend how deeply and urgently those parents want their kids to be loved and defended as well.

The unifying theme here, insulted and defiled by the governor and lieutenant governor, is that the duty and commitment of all adults must be to protect and nurture all children. Nobody is wrong to care about that.

I am also under orders at home never to try to discuss football with relatives or neighbors, so sorry. I guess I took it out on you.
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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze