(with apologies to Hans Christian Anderson)
John Robinson (career journalist and lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill on social media): Governor McCrory after filing his suit against the federal government: “That’ll show them! They can’t push us around!”
Governor McCrory after watching Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s news conference: “Oh, hell.”
Once there was a governor so exceedingly fond of discriminatory legislation that he spent much of his time defending a bill that violated Civil Rights and brought great sadness to his fiefdom and larger kingdom. He cared nothing about education, the economic state of his fiefdom nor reaching out to his constituency unless it involved throwing down the gauntlet to challenge anyone who disagreed with him. He had an argument for every business, artist or group that boycotted his fiefdom and stomped his foot at his King and his court for ruling against him. Instead of saying, as one might say, “The governor is in office,” it was said, “The governor is with his media consultants and lawyers.”
In the great city where he lived, life was gay and straight and the community was thriving. Every day many strangers came to town and among them one day came a group of political swindlers. They let it be known that they were conservative and could weave the most magnificent arguments and legislation imaginable. Not only were their agendas, prejudices and viewpoints carefully woven — they were so fine that they were almost invisible to anyone not schooled in the law or with access to the bill.
That would be the bill for me, thought the governor. If I sign it I would be able to discriminate at will and force all of my public entities to do as I say. The swindlers started at once and in a special session that cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars they fabricated the bill. Within 48 hours the bill was ready.
I will sign the bill, thought the governor, but he felt slightly uncomfortable when he remembered that there was much hidden in the bill and that someone might discover this invisibility. It couldn’t have been that he doubted himself yet he thought he’d rather ask his consultants how things were going. He was relieved when they informed him that the bill was fantastic! A revelation! And that it would secure his future as governor. The whole fiefdom knew about the bill and was itching to see it!
The swindlers were thrilled. The governor’s yes-men had plugged the bill to the fullest and now he had to see it for himself. Lo and behold when he reviewed the bill he began to see its gaping holes and horrifying tears at the very fabric of the society that he governed. He knew it was invisible but he couldn’t admit it. That would mean that he too was a fraud. He thought, My people are stupid. All it needs is to slide past the eyes of my fiefdom.
Little did the governor know that not only were his people not stupid, but the eyes of the greater kingdom — aye, the world — were on him and his shoddy bill. They refused to bring their wares to his fiefdom. The actors and jesters and artists refused to perform. The people rallied against him. Despite the fact that he screamed from his mansion, “Oh it’s beautiful! It’s enchanting! I am delighted with it!” The world did not agree.
The political swindlers convinced the governor that he must stand for the bill at all costs. So when the kingdom ruled against him he stood up to them wearing the bill on his sleeve — gaping holes, shoddy workmanship and all.
And then, the attorney general of the kingdom and native of the fiefdom condemned the bill in an anti-discriminatory war cry heard ’round the world.
The governor shivered, for he knew he was naked behind the bill but he thought, This procession must go on. So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.