North Carolina’s New State Fish – The Red Herring

North Carolina has the dogwood as the state flower, the cardinal as the state bird, the plott hound as the state dog, the Fraser Fir as the state Christmas tree, and the emerald as the state gem. We also have the channel bass (red drum) as the state fish.

But one of those need to change. I think the red herring should the state fish because I have seen many more of those these past few years in the Old North State.

red herring

Red herring actually is a smoked herring fish, turned brown/red because of curing by salt and the smoking process. But it also refers to the logical fallacy of using something that really is not an important issue to stop people from noticing or thinking about something really important (

This practice of using a red herring to draw attention away from these really important issues is something that many current members of the North Carolina General Assembly have done very well.

Remember HB2? Rep. Tim Moore and then Lt. Gov. Dan Forest both spoke of the need to “protect our women and children” from the invasive Charlotte city ordinance that would allow transgender people access to the public bathrooms for the gender they identified with.

A special legislative session was called in 2016 in defense of our loved ones in order to pass sweeping discriminatory laws against the LGBT community. So strong they hoped was the scent of the red herring that they also passed two other vital really important pieces of legislation.

The first was the removal of rights for all citizens to bring to state court any discrimination suits against any employer for termination based on factors such as race, gender, sexual identity, etc. The second was the restriction placed on cities to make private contractors to pay a wage in line with local economy standards. That allowed private businesses to bypass local authorities and underpay labor for a higher profit.

Remember the Voter ID law? When the voter ID law was passed those who sponsored the bill said that it was to protect the election process from voter fraud.

There’s your red herring – voter fraud. Except there was only one (maybe three) documented case of voter fraud in the state that could be used as evidence. That’s right; it’s practically nonexistent. But when a fish smells, it draws attention. What really was important is that this voter ID law actually hurts voter turnout for many minority voters, many of whom are in rural areas and are from lower income levels. Those same people tend to vote democratic.

And then we recently got HB324: Ensuring Dignity & Nondiscrimination/Schools.

A diversionary bill that screams loudly and has absolutely no bite or validity. And just like the HB2 bill, there have absolutely been no documented cases for which there is even the need for such a bill.

As this bill goes through the veto process and takes up even more time distracting from real issues, this NCGA has ignored the LEANDRO court mandates, stalled in setting a new budget, and allowed for schools to run on recurring fund levels established years ago while sitting on budget surpluses and entertaining cutting corporate taxes even more.

Red herrings.