The Opinion Shop

Bonus letters on adoptees, Muhammad Ali, employee rights, House Bill 2, UNC, Roy Cooper, Gov. Pat McCrory, Raleigh Planning Commission

Letters that got overrun by other issues before they could see print:


Identity issues

The May 13 letter “ Pretend vs. identify” quoted attorney general Loretta Lynch saying North Carolina is asking (transgender) people to pretend to be something they are not.

As an adoptee, North Carolina is also requiring me to pretend to be something I am not. Adoptees’ original birth certificates are sealed, and amended birth certificates are created listing adoptive parents’ names. Adoptees are expected to pretend to have been born into our adoptive families, even though we were not.

Fortunately, I was born in Virginia and was able to petition the court to get my original birth certificate. The court also gave me a document listing both my birth and adoptive names, along with the names of my birth mother and my adoptive parents. All of us are named accurately, along with our true relationships to one another.

I consider this document to represent my authentic identity. I strongly encourage and support transparency concerning identity issues, whether adoption or transgender.

My life is much more rewarding since I no longer have to deny part of my identity. I wish the same peace of mind for others who are struggling.

Sarah Bethune



Ali no ‘hero’

Regarding the June 5 news article “ Brash and blunt, Ali shook up the world”: The media have portrayed Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, as a “hero.” This is the same person who refused to enter the service of his country when asked but continued to enjoy the benefits America afforded him. These traits do not reflect heroism.

Servicemen and women, policemen and women, firemen, EMTs are the real heroes in our society today, and they continue to serve and protect us daily without all the fanfare.

Georgie F. Brizendine



Bring employers to justice

Twenty-five years ago I overheard a conversation in a local hardware store between two homeowners. One of the gentlemen had hired a local landscaping firm to landscape his yard and was commenting how the owner of the company had boasted about paying his Hispanic workers only $2 per hour. There was no mention of the immigration status of these workers.

The May 26 letter “ All means all” left out an important detail regarding employers who are unwilling to thoroughly vet the legal status of the workers they employ. If Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and law enforcement responsibilities are to act as an extension of the border patrol, those obligations should also include bringing to justice employers who hire undocumented workers and profit from hiring them.

Donald Trump’s proposal to maintain our country as a gigantic gated community is a simplistic, ineffective approach to a complex problem. If Trump were genuinely interested in preventing undocumented immigration, a place to start might begin with vetting all of the employees working in his hotels, casinos and other establishments. He could lead by example in doing so.

There are far better uses of concrete than to create a legacy for Trump. All of us would benefit by remembering Humpty Dumpty’s fate.

Greg Bruhn



What mama missed

Regarding the May 31 letter “ Losing ‘Mama Bear’ voters”: Did the letter-writer also write the Maroon 5 fan club to demand back her $75 or the promoter for a fuller explanation?

Maroon 5 could have let the show go on so as not to alienate fans or penalize workers at the concert site and donate the money, like other artists have done, to organizations that are fighting House Bill 2.

After all, real mama bears in the wild swipe at any perceived threat, not just those that are to their right.

L.M. Green



Move UNC students closer to floor

Regarding the June 10 sports article “ UNC 4th nationally in basketball attendance, but ... there are plenty seats at Dean Dome”: UNC wants to up its attendance at basketball games?

Easy. Devote more – many more – floor seats to students. We don’t have to go far down the road to see that this works.

UNC wants to create a “feverish and borderline insane” culture? That’s not going to come from the wine and cheese crowd.

Again, simply provide more opportunities for the students to actually see their own team play live, and UNC will see those seats filled every single time.

The university will find that alums and supporters will gladly move back a few rows if it means giving more access to the students there now – the very people UNC hopes will support the program long after graduation.

Sara May



An enabling parent

Regarding the June 7 news article “ Dad calls rape ‘20 minutes of action’ ”: This parent is a prime example of those who commonly protect their children by trivializing their children’s inappropriate actions even though those actions are indefensible. Has he done that at other times during his son’s life? And, if so, what message did he send?

In this instance, the protective father’s son was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious, intoxicated young woman who was attending a fraternity party. His father seems not to accept that rape is a crime of violence and that those who commit rape should pay a “steep price.”

However, in the real world, the son is responsible for his own actions and their consequences, however adversely they may affect his life.

Hopefully, he will learn from this experience. But that will not happen as long as those close to him continue to say that the rape was just “20 minutes of action.”

Sharon McDonald



A stronger stand

Regarding the May 11 news article “ UNC board struggles with response to HB2”: As a grad student at Western Carolina University, I have to say that the tepid response from Margaret Spellings is underwhelming.

If Spellings cannot come out with a clear and firm statement that House Bill 2 is an affront to diversity, freedom, equality and privacy and that the university system will disregard HB2 in favor of federal protections against discrimination, I will not be attending classes. I will drop them.

Spellings seems to be hanging her hat on the idea that we should all have empathy for her because she is in a tough position, but she has not taken a public stand against what the governor and General Assembly have done.

Funding for federally backed student loans is being threatened because the state is demanding the right to refuse service to someone due to who they are.

HB2 has turned public education into an afterthought in North Carolina; its importance is less than our pride in ignorance and bigotry – and, of course, Republican political games.

Amy Meier



An eye-opening opera

After reading the May 15 Arts & Living article “ Opera tackles a hot-button issue,” I must say I am pleased and excited that North Carolinians are learning to discuss the controversial House Bill 2 law in open and expressive ways rather than strictly through protests and anger.

It appears that the two main creators of the play, Charles Osborne and Leo Hurley, understand that there are many different layers to the current discussion on transgender rights, and I applaud them for creating an environment that welcomes all different kinds of questions, views and concerns.

I am not particularly familiar with the topic of gay and transgender issues, but it sounds like this opera involves opinions from both sides and helps to provide a well-rounded understanding of the topic as a whole.

I am also intrigued by the fact that the piece involves aspects of the Afghani culture, as the main character in the opera is said to be a refugee from Afghanistan. Seeing some of the similarities and differences in how these issues are addressed in cultures apart from our own will surely be an interesting and eye-opening experience. I hope to attend the showing.

Emily Pittman



Cooper just doing job

Regarding the June 3 news article “ Cooper’s filing in HB2 lawsuit turns political”: Attorney General Roy Cooper’s first sworn responsibility is to defend and protect the Constitutions of the United States and North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory has sworn the same responsibility.

Cooper, in his capacity as top legal officer of North Carolina, has made it clear that in his professional (not political) judgment, House Bill 2 violates both constitutions.

The governor, who has no legal training and is not responsible for determining the constitutionality of our laws, should accept the attorney general’s opinion.

Instead, the governor has petulantly defended the indefensible and chosen to waste taxpayer money by hiring his own lawyers at our expense. His flimsy excuse is that he is protecting people from something that has never been reported to have happened anywhere in the entire country.

Cooper is doing his job. McCrory is the one playing to a political grandstand.

Michael Schaul



Spreading fear, hate

Regarding the May 22 Point of View “ Learning who the enemy is”: Nelda Holder discussed hatred and prejudice, which have managed to grow since the days of slavery, unchanged.

Franklin Roosevelt knew who the enemy was, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And fear and suspicion of “others” cause hatred and then finally violence, selective isolation of those considered different.

Man is naturally aggressive and will destroy natural beauty and hunt for the sake of sport and kill those who are a “threat.” The theme is repeatedly shown in every movie about discrimination and every sci-fi movie since the early 1950s, our enemies are aliens, creatures that look different and are, therefore, threats to our existence.

Politicians are promoting the idea of isolation and suspicion of anyone who is “different.” It spreads like a cancer and eats at the inside of everyone in this country and others. We are no different from “terrorists” who seek to destroy our way of life. We do it to ourselves with laws like House Bill 2 and stricter immigration.

We must work very skillfully to remove the stigma of hate from our hearts, but we must start now, before we destroy every living being on this earth.

Norman Singer



McCrory’s monkey

It was surprising to find two stories in the May 5 N&O about men with monkeys on their backs: one, a motorist in Burien, Wash., who wrecked his car by driving with a monkey on his back (“ Unruly monkey contributes to bizarre accident,” Nation & World brief item), and the other, Gov. Pat McCrory, who has driven North Carolina into the ditch by failing to veto House Bill 2 (“ Feds: HB2 violates Civil Rights Act,” news article).

There’s a Nat King Cole song (“Straighten Up and Fly Right”) about a man with a monkey on his back. Those lyrics offer advice that could be helpful to one of these foolish drivers: “Straighten up and fly right. Cool down, papa, don’t you blow your top.”

Instead of fuming about the “overreach” of the federal government, McCrory needs to cool down and rein in the leaders in the General Assembly. HB2 has already cost the state millions of dollars and is about to run up a more appalling tab unless it is repealed.

Louise Taylor

Buies Creek


Role questioned

In reference to the May 11 news article “ Board backs rezoning for anti-abortion group”: The story said that the Raleigh Planning Commission is “a group of residents appointed by the City Council to judge whether such land-use requests are in compliance with city codes.” I disagree that that is the role of the Planning Commission. That is the role of city planning staff.

The Planning Commission’s website lists “Ethical Principles In Planning.” It states that “an ethical judgment often also requires a conscientious balancing, based on the facts and context of a particular situation and on the entire set of ethical principles.”

Later it states that “Planning Process Participants should: Pay special attention to the interrelatedness of decisions and the long range consequences of present actions” and “exercise fair, honest and independent judgment in their roles as decision makers and advisers.”

They are supposed to be “decision makers and advisers,” using their expertise to help guide the City Council, not be rubber stampers.

If the Planning Commission’s job truly is to only decide whether a case is in compliance, it is a redundant body and needs to be dissolved.

Michi Vojta



HB2 enforcement questions

In the midst of the fiasco over House Bill 2, I must say that never in my decades of residency in North Carolina have I been more disappointed in our state.

As if gerrymandering and the war on educators, voters and service providers were not enough, lawmakers have now imposed yet another restriction on liberty.

What is this conservative fascination with gender and sexuality? “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Shakespeare).

Since the state has determined bathroom privilege by one’s pee-pee, is it now technically illegal for anyone to occupy a bathroom of the opposite sex? Will restaurants need to match custodians with gender-specific bathroom assignments? Will we all need to drop our pants if questioned about our gender? Will we be required to take our birth certificates to the bathroom? Will we be arrested for going to the wrong bathroom by mistake? To which bathroom will mothers need to take their male babies and young boys?

This law is a joke, a perfect example of state government “overreach,” and an unnecessary, unenforceable restriction on personal freedom. It is a clear attempt to define personal liberties from the perspective of ideologues. The HB2 law simply needs to go.

John Wilson