Henry Rollins: North Carolina, I Love You, But Your Governor Is an Asshole
Photo by Heidi May
When North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory signed House Bill 2 into law, I wonder if he was thinking long-range about what the result might be. I can’t see him and his staff wondering out loud if their thick-skulled, cracker logic might result in Bruce Springsteen not only canceling his upcoming show in Greensboro, depriving the state of revenue and its residents of a Springsteen concert, but inspiring Mr. Boss to issue a press release that more people have read than will ever peruse House Bill 2.
Springsteen’s is a well-written statement that you have probably seen by now. In it, he concludes, “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.”
House Bill 2 is much more than just the “bathroom bill” that it’s being characterized as. It actually prevents avenues of state government from including LGBT people in previous protections. For private-sector bigots, it is now open season.
It seems like a long way to go to please a handful of hicks, but obviously the governor was losing sleep over all those poor homophobes shaking in their boots as to who is in the stall next to them, and he took action.
Bruce Springsteen’s reputation, as far as I can see, is unimpeachable. His statement coming from a less well-known artist would be all well and good but would carry only a fraction of the weight.
Springsteen made Gov. McCrory all kinds of famous. I was being charitable using the governor’s name. The truth is that no one cares what his name is. He will be dimly remembered as the asshole who signed that fucked-up bill that embarrassed the majority of North Carolinians.
Punching himself in the dick, North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker described Springsteen as “known to be on the radical left,” then generously added, “He’s got every right to be so,” but considers Springsteen’s cancellation a bully tactic. In a sad attempt to show how “with it” he is, Walker quipped, “We’ve got other artists coming soon — Def Leppard, Justin Bieber.”
The congressman added, “I’ve never been a Bieber fan, but I might have to go. Maybe artists who weren’t ‘born to run’ deserve a little bit more support.” Do they hand out free bags of dumbfuck at red lights in N.C.?
This is where the fun begins. Gov. McCrory will no doubt be getting more bad news as money big and small either leaves the state or goes around it. If he “stands his ground,” he will severely disadvantage his truly great state for a long time to come.
HB2 is now law. There is no “walking it back.” If McCrory eventually caves and tries to repeal it, everyone will know it’s because he values money over his homophobia, which he has poorly disguised as moral rectitude and common sense. Either way he’s fucked. If I were him, I wouldn’t feel all that put out by Springsteen’s cancellation as much as I would fear PayPal scrapping its plans to locate a new operations center in his state. PayPal is bigger than any governor.
It is almost impossible to describe how beautiful North Carolina is. For a few summers, I was shipped off there to live in a tent at a summer camp. Each day, we were given chores. Milking cows, feeding chickens, getting beetles off the vegetables. Since the late 1960s, I have always had an affection for N.C.
Years later, I was happy to find out it was a great state in which to be a broke band on the road. Not only were there plenty of college-town venues to play in, but the people were incredibly friendly and would let you sleep on their floors.
One of America’s best venues, the Orange Peel, is in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s always one of my favorite stops on tour because not only is there a great show waiting for you, but you can walk from the venue and spend time in the Wolfe House, made famous by the legendary literary giant and Asheville native Thomas Wolfe.
Judging from the people of the state I have met over almost 50 years, I can’t believe they are pleased with House Bill 2. They probably are wondering how they got to where they are now.
It has become quintessentially American to resist progress and change. To still be breast-stroking in the primordial ooze of the past and call it integrity is pathetic, but describes the mindset of millions of people in this country.
While I have nothing but respect for Bruce Springsteen, I wish he had not canceled the show. I wish he had spoken to the thousands of people who were there about what had just happened to the greatness of their state, then told them where he was donating all that money. The cancellation, in a way, allows McCrory to end the conversation, which I think should be just beginning.
In any case, you can’t mess with Springsteen, so if that’s the way he saw to go, that’s cool. I just love the idea of when you see a problem, you don’t leave it alone; instead, you make it your special project. After I found out about the plight of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, otherwise known as the West Memphis Three, and got involved in the effort to secure their release, I talked about the state they were trapped in, Arkansas, every day. I enjoyed firing at the state’s hull on a regular basis.
I want North Carolina to reap an LGBT whirlwind. More shows, more light, more heat, more volume — just more.
We Americans are such a bunch. You give us a topic, any topic, and we’ll divide over it. I am impatient and don’t want the past for the future.