Image via Shutterstock, the flag of North Carolina, waving in the wind.
The economic boycott of North Carolina over the state’s controversial “bathroom law” that requires men and women to use their respective bathrooms in public facilities is a failure.
As reported by Bradford and Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times:
Tourism has thrived: Hotel occupancy, room rates and demand for rooms set records in 2016, according to the year-end hotel lodging report issued last week by VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
Meanwhile, North Carolina ranked fourth in the nation for attracting and expanding businesses with the arrival of 289 major projects, and seventh in projects per capita — the same as in 2015, according to Site Selection magazine, which released its 2016 rankings in the March edition.
North Carolina finished first for drawing corporate facilities in the eight-state South Atlantic region, said Site Selection, which uses figures tracked by the Conway Projects Database.
And in November, both Forbes and Site Selection magazine ranked North Carolina the No. 2 state for business climate.
Also unscathed was the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which registered at 5.3 percent in January 2016 and 5.3 percent in January 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Despite NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest saying that the effect of the boycott was “less than on-tenth of 1 percent” of the state’s annual gross domestic product, opponents of the law say that doesn’t tell the whole story. Chris Sgro of Equality NC says the state could have done much better if HB2 had been repealed.
“It is a universally agreed-upon fact at this point that HB2 is hurting the state of North Carolina economically,” Sgro told the Washington Times reporters.
While “what might have been” is difficult to quantify, it’s clear that the boycott, which was aimed at punishing hardworking North Carolinians because they value the privacy and security of women, wasn’t as effective as opponents of the law hoped.
HB2 came about in reaction to a Charlotte city ordinance in which all businesses — not just public institutions, but privately owned businesses as well — were required to permit men who claimed to be women (and vice versa) to use the bathroom of their choice. This would have allowed men free access to a previously private space reserved for women, and it would have involved government intrusion into the private sphere by telling business owners what they can and can’t do with their bathrooms.
This violation of the private property rights is often ignored in this debate, but it is an important point. Leftists seek to expand government in the name of “social justice,” exposing their statist agenda, which reduces freedom for all Americans.
In North Carolina, state legislators intervened to protect the rights of private businesses and the rights of women in particular to privacy and security in public restrooms and locker rooms. This has been a critical point lost in the uproar over the bathroom law. Opponents make it seem like men or women who claim to be of the opposite sex are being denied their rights to a bathroom. That’s not true at all. Everyone in North Carolina can use a bathroom. In private businesses, like Target, if they want to use either bathroom, they’re free to do so. But when it comes to the public sphere, where we can make collective decisions about what to do with shared property, they have to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex.
Regardless, activists reacted as if transgender people were being forced to urinate and defecate in the streets. To right this mythical injustice, they called for an economic boycott of the state. The NCAA championship moved March Madness games from Greensboro, N.C., to Greenville, S.C.. NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events.” (Never mind that opening women’s bathrooms to men does the exact opposite.)
Boycotters applauded the NCAA, until Duke fans, at least, were confronted with the law of unintended consequences. As reported by Ty Duffy at The Big Lead, “Duke got burned by North Carolinas HB2 bathroom law.”
The South Carolina Gamecocks upset Duke 88-81 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils (No. 2) were the higher seed, but they were at a significant disadvantage playing in Greenville, South Carolina. It was a de facto home game for the Gamecocks.
First, I just have to point out the continued misreporting on the bathroom law in this post. Notice how Duffy says that transgender people were required “to use the bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.” This is a falsehood by omission. The only bathrooms maintaining the status quo are public, not private. That means most of the bathrooms in North Carolina have open access — if private property owners allow for it.
Despite the inflammatory headline blaming one more thing on the bathroom law, Duffy admits in the post, “We can’t say whether a change in venue would have altered the result. Duke provided its fair share of disappointment this season. But, it certainly compounded Duke’s difficulty.”
We don’t know if it compounded Duke’s difficulty or not. Given South Carolina’s stunning performance, they would have likely lost no matter where they played. As a UNC-Chapel Hill grad, I’m just glad they’re out, whatever the reason.
Thankfully, the boycott didn’t work—at least not to the degree these “socially conscious” radicals wanted. According to a lodging report cited in the Washington Times, hotel business actually increased by 3.4 percent from the year before, and “each month of 2016 experienced the highest occupancy on record.”
The average room rate of $98.88 per night represented a 3.6 percent jump from 2015, which also set a state record and exceeded the national increase of 3.1 percent.
The strong hotel performance “indicates more people are visiting North Carolina and hotel operators are bringing in more revenues,” despite the “predictions of doom-and-gloom for North Carolina,” said the conservative advocacy group 2ndVote.
In light of these numbers, boycotters seemed to have shot themselves in the foot.
Given the state’s booming tourism industry, Mr. Forest said, the sports leagues may have hurt themselves more than North Carolina. A week before the game was played, the NBA had “the lowest ticket sales” in All-Star Game history, he said.
“So they lost money comparatively to what they would have made in Charlotte,” Mr. Forest told Texas legislators. “The other one was the ACC championship football game that’s been hosted year over year. They moved it to Orlando and had the lowest attendance in history, again losing money.”
While PayPal canceled plans last year to construct an operations center in Charlotte that would have employed about 400, other companies have stepped in. Already this year, Moen, Corning and Alevo have announced in-state expansions, bringing in about 650 jobs over the next several years, according to the partnership.
The boycott’s messaging, however, is of greater concern — and it’s this slanderous message promoted by activists that North Carolinians need to counter. The notion that the state expects people to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex — as they always have done without conflict — is hardly bigoted. This is especially true when the aim of the law is to protect the actual rights of men and women.
There was a time when liberals valued a woman’s right to privacy, even pushing for an abortion law that allowed for the killing of an unborn child in order to protect that right. Now, they are willing to expose women to possible harm and violate their rights to privacy — all for men who might or might not be struggling with their self-perception regarding their biological sex.
Before seeking to punish people for doing the right thing and acting in good faith for the benefit of their fellow citizens, maybe these social justice warriors need to take a long look in the mirror and reflect on their own beliefs and motives. They might just discover that the real bigot is looking back at them.