Verner column: Bosom buddies? Not in legislature
Will this be the year that crusading Republican legislators finally give North Carolinians statutory protection from that grave threat to public decency and family values, the uncovered female breast?
Yes, my friends, this is what it has come to: Having finally seized total control of North Carolina’s government after decades of wandering in the political wilderness, Republicans now want to seize control of the state’s dress code — at least as it pertains to women and their “private parts.” The latter category is apparently where female mammary glands will fall if this legislation succeeds.
For those who harbor any doubts that our diligent legislators haven’t studied up on their anatomy, let’s just spell it out: The proposed legislation will expand the definition of “private parts” to include “the nipple, or any portion of the areola, or the female breast.” (Freckles apparently get a free pass.)
Just to clear up a point of confusion, this proposal is not related to a surge in women seeking “concealed carry” permits. That part of the legal code relates to a different class of weaponry. Even though our legislators are taking a bold stance against public exposure of female breasts, there’s no indication they’re considering a broader crackdown or a registration requirement. Possession for personal use would still be legal, at least for now.As for punishment, the guilty party could be charged with a felony and get six months in prison if the exposed “private part” is deemed to have been revealed “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.” That pretty much nixes North Carolina from ever hosting another Super Bowl. Few female performers will be willing to risk hard time for a “wardrobe malfunction.”
However, don’t think the bill’s authors aren’t willing to be reasonable about this. Exposure deemed non-prurient — I’m guessing this will apply to topless female lobbyists — would merely be a misdemeanor, with up to 30 days in jail. And to show that their hearts are in the right place, “incidental” exposure by breastfeeding mothers would be exempt — so long as the baby isn’t leering.
Many citizens will be surprised to learn North Carolina is on the verge of invasion by the Valkyries. They were under the impression the major issue before the state was the jobless rate, not the topless rate. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County, says Asheville has suffered a veritable plague of topless women appearing at downtown rallies supporting women’s rights, attracting crowds of men, who — let’s be honest — tend to get overstimulated where women’s rights are concerned. (I don’t know if one of these rallies occurred recently, but if Asheville is getting topless women in February, that pretty much ends any doubts about global warming.)
If mountain women are going topless, you know it’s bound to be a slippery slope. It’s only a matter of time until this spreads down the hill to Wilkesboro, Statesville and eventually Raleigh itself. In fact, Rep. Rayne Brown of Davidson has signed on as a cosponsor because her constituents are worried that topless women will show up in her county, inciting mammary hysteria among the masses.As you might imagine, this issue has inspired even deeper philosophical debate than the legislature’s previous burning issue — whether it’s appropriate for a live opossum to take part in New Year’s festivities.
Some legislators pointed out that ladies wanting to circumvent the proposed law might simply resort to strategically placed duct tape. (An admirably practical solution — but be very careful during the tape removal process. That’s how plastic surgeons end up driving Ferraris and owning beach homes.)
Ordinarily, you hate to see lawmakers do things piecemeal, but when it comes to combatting topless terrorism, a Bandaid approach might be best.Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post.