A Pot to Piss in – Open Letter to Rep. Tim Moore and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

Dear Rep. Moore and Lt. Gov. Forest,

The special legislative session convening on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 is a perfect example of one of the many lessons that I am asked to teach my students each and every year as a public high school English teacher. That lesson is in the use of irony.

The common core standards that ironically you helped place in our schools and are now debating on replacing are specific in teaching irony. Consider these examples:

Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context.

One of the greatest teachers I have ever known used to say, “Irony makes the world go round.” Well, it sure is fueling the North Carolina General Assembly’s actions in this short special session, a session which will surely become a wonderful example to use when teaching irony.

There are three basic types of irony we teach in schools: situational, verbal, and dramatic.

Verbal irony is when you say one thing, but mean another. Take for instance your quote, Rep. Moore, on the cost of holding these special sessions of the General Assembly. You were quoted in a Feb. 25th report by Jim Morrill in the Charlotte News and Observer (“NC House speaker weighs special session on Charlotte LGBT ordinance”) as saying, “While special sessions are costly we cannot put a price tag on the safety of women and children.”

Rep. Moore, you are right from an ethical point of view. Nothing is more important than the safety of our loved ones. But where was that sentiment when the General Assembly and the governor decided not to expand Medicaid for many of the very women and children you are alluding to? Maybe many of those very same women look to Planned Parenthood for health and pre-natal support, but you have stated a very strong stance on Planned Parenthood.

You said in an August 2015 statement during the “long” session of the NCGA,

“As we continue the development of our state budget, I will work to include language in the final document that states in no uncertain terms, no state funds will go to organizations that are involved in the reprehensible practice of profiting from the sale of a baby’s remains.”

This very statement was made with the assumption that the videos made by The Center for Medical Progress secretly in Planned Parenthood offices were actually valid. Ironically, those videos were doctored. (Pardon the pun, but we teach the use of puns in school as well).

Even you, Lt. Gov. Forest, use the women and children of our state as a reason for the special session. You stated with Rep. Moore in another report (March 21) by the Charlotte News and Observer’s Jim Morrill ( “NC lawmakers heading for the special session Wednesday”), “We aim to repeal this ordinance before it goes into effect to provide for the privacy and protection of the women and children of our state.”

What you both are really saying is that you are offended that a local government has stepped up to protect rights of some of its citizens without asking you and others in Raleigh first. It seems that you want to exert control over a situation that really does not affect you. Furthermore, it is ironic that the political party to which you both are aligned favors small government and less regulation from a larger government body when the very opposite is occurring here.


Want some more irony? This special session deals with Charlotte, the place where Gov. McCrory was a four-time mayor, and a successful one according to him because he was so adept at reaching across the aisle and working with both parties. One would think that that would translate to his current job where he works with both parties to construct legislation that truly benefits women and children. But that sadly is a case of situational irony, when what was expected is totally opposite to what actually happened.


Many cities have enacted the same ordinances in defense of the LGBT community as Charlotte, and I have yet to hear how those have caused in those locales the very problems you claim will happen in Charlotte when April 1 comes. This sounds a lot like the need to prevent non-existent voter fraud with a voter ID bill that was enacted. You made the claim that there were problems, but in reality you wanted to make it harder for those who align themselves with the Democratic Party to vote. Isn’t that ironic?


The cost of the special session is estimated at $ 42,000 a day. Is that not a little too much for a “fiscally frugal” crowd on the heels of an extra-long summer session that really did not produce a fantastic budget? That’s even more ironic.


Yet, perhaps the most ironic aspect of this special session is a wonderful example of dramatic irony, when the audience (in this case the citizens) knows more than the actors on stage (legislators).


You say that you are going to protect our women and children, yet most all of us know that behind closed doors on West Jones Street more will be done to further the current General Assembly’s grip on this state during an important election year.


You say that you are protecting the public, but history has shown that you will surreptitiously enact more policy that will further damage our state’s health. Even Rob Schofield’s recent March 23 post on NC Policy Watch (“Bathroom bill will be far ranging…”) has a copy of the bill being considered in this special session. And it does not limit itself to the Charlotte ordinance. It is far reaching.


When I teach irony, I inform my students that it is not always funny and humorous. In fact, it is many times cruel in nature.


And this particular example of irony is definitely cruel, considering that you are stating you are more concerned with where people go to the bathroom when you should consider that too many people in this state do not even have a pot to piss in.

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