“March Madness” Indeed
The irony hanging around the capitol building in Bismarck, N.D., was so thick it might just as well have been a dense fog. We’re talking pea-soup thick. Might as well have been that putrid color, too, given its cause. Not to mention the stench.
On the very day N.D. Republican legislators voted by secret ballot to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 4010, which invalidated the state’s 1975 ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, videos documenting blatant discrimination against women at the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournaments were circulating on social media.
The videos showed how the NCAA clearly favored male over female athletes in how it made gym space and strength training facilities available to the players in the two tournaments.
The NCAA blew it with women in a bunch of other ways, too. According to USA Today, there were discrepancies regarding what and how much food the organization provided male vs. female players, poor childcare arrangements for coaches and players, lesser swag bags and even – in an excruciating display of pettiness – jigsaw puzzles with fewer pieces for women than those provided the men.
March Madness, indeed.
Some might say drawing a line between the two – the N.D. invalidation of the ERA and the NCAA’s mistreatment of women – is a stretch, that the tournament is nowhere near North Dakota and the Legislature has absolutely nothing to do with NCAA decisions. They might also argue that Title IX should have prevented what the NCAA did, anyway.
I’m neither an attorney nor a Constitutional scholar, so I won’t go there. However…
As I argued in my testimony against the unnecessary, misguided and discriminatory legislation before the N.D. House Government and Veterans Committee the day before the GOP supermajority passed SCR 4010, it’s not just about the legal protections, but the unambiguous message conveyed.
Invalidating the state’s ratification is a clear message that, in the eyes of the North Dakota powers that be, as well as the majority of voters who put them into the Legislature, females simply are not as valuable as males. Period.
And the message has gone not just to girls and women, but to boys and men, too.
Argue that any way you like, but in my judgement there’s really no other way to interpret it.
Even so, boy-oh-boy, did the proponents of SCR 4010 twist themselves up in linguistic knots trying to persuade themselves that’s not the case. The circular arguments bouncing off the walls of the committee hearing room last Thursday, March 18, were something to behold –
The ERA is all about abortion on demand, not equal rights for girls and women, they argued vehemently. Then, mere minutes later, they said the legislation is so narrow that the only issue at hand was the time that passed between the U.S. Congress’s ratification of the ERA and an arbitrary (potentially unconstitutional) deadline for ratification by the states.
That’s it. Nothing to do with abortion, they said. But everything to do with abortion, they said.
They also eased each others’ consciences by claiming, repeatedly, that voting for SCR 4010 would definitely NOT mean legislators were voting against equality.
EQUAL is in the damn name, fer cryin’ out loud.
They even claimed – with straight faces – the ERA would actually harm girls and women.
Jaysus, Mary & Joseph!
No shame. Certainly no sense of irony. Justice? Forget about it.
Meanwhile, the NCAA, caught red-handed, as it were, decided it’d better apologize publicly.
Too little, too late, jerks. It’s not possible to be so obviously discriminatory without making an effort and knowing you’re doing so.
As for the N.D. Republican legislators, they made their actions on the ERA look effortless.
But they also made themselves look mighty guilty in the process.
As Prairie Action ND Executive Director Amy Jacobson pointed out, they not only fast-tracked SCR 4010, but also “…changed the rules to cast their votes in secret by using a voice vote (an unrecorded vote) to avoid accountability and to show their total disregard of the legislative process in the people’s House.” Read Jacobson’s complete communication here.
So it goes when you’re the supermajority.
Finally, one last irony –
The state capitol building where this despicable miscarriage of justice took place? It might just as well be the 21-story, 242-foot, stone-carved phallus it resembles, given the testosterone that rages around the place, the rock-headed attitudes that reign there and the fact that North Dakota has proven, once again, that the majority of its people are still in the Stone Age.
Featured image via google.com/maps