(August 26, 2012 - WWNC)

The President of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce is reviving an issue that many locals believed was dead - a ban on female toplessness in North Carolina.

Last February I broke down the utterly political infantilism surrounding this issue. For folks looking to catch up on the history, it's worth reading.

Yesterday, the Citizen-Times reported that Chamber President Kit Cramer brought the issue up at a meeting, as she listed the most-frequent complaints from downtown business owners - including cigarette butts, dog crap, and graffiti.

It is legal for women to bare their breasts in public in North Carolina, though other cities prohibit women from going topless.

Asheville City Council has said it can do nothing to stop the practice, and the annual topless rallies held at Pack Square, because of state law.

Chamber President Kit Cramer said Wednesday she doesn’t care who fixes the problem, as long as it gets done.

She has asked Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca, the chair of the powerful Rules Committee, to handle the matter. He represents part of Buncombe County.

“It is past time for it to have been dealt with, frankly,” Cramer said. “It is irritating that we have to address it at all, but apparently we do.”

The AC-T piece is little too charitable towards the Asheville City Council on this, in my opinion. You'll recall, the all-Democratic Council unanimously signed an open letter to residents and tourists:

“As citizens of Asheville and individual members of Asheville City Council, we do not endorse this conduct. We believe that it does nothing to help our community, and we recognize that it disappoints and embarrasses many of our citizens and visitors. We wish it were not happening.

"Despite our hopes over the past few months that this could be addressed by city ordinance, legal research indicates that this is a matter of State law, and that our city’s options are very limited. As soon as possible, we fully intend to seek legislation in Raleigh that will clarify the law and enable Asheville and other communities in North Carolina to respond more effectively. Please join us in urging our legislators in that direction."

They "wish it were not happening."

They wanted it "addressed by city ordinance" but note it's a matter of State law.

They asked people to join the Council in urging NC lawmakers to help them end the topless rallies in downtown.

This was a lie.

The Council members may have signed on to that letter, but they didn't believe in it. ESPECIALLY not during an election year.

(August 26, 2012 - WWNC)

When the bill was filed by NC Representatives Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe) and Rayne Brown, the local and state progressives went into full apoplectic outrage. They ridiculed the GOP and Moffitt - saying they hate women, are afraid of boobs, and should focus on creating jobs, instead.

The Asheville City Council did nothing. There were no signs of unity with the NC legislators. There were no appearances in Raleigh to support the proposal during hearings or debates.

Nothing.

The Council may have thought it political expedient to publicly frown on the topless rallies, but they found it more expedient to let the GOP take the slings and arrows. I suspect some on Council had quite a few chuckles over it all.

The Chamber did not help get it passed, either, by the way. Something Cramer acknowledged yesterday:

“We have lost the luster of being a family-friendly community and that concerns me,” he said.

Moffitt was criticized for writing the legislation, Cramer said, and the chamber should have backed him at the time.

“He got heaped with abuse,” Cramer said. “Shame on us for not stepping up and supporting him at that point.”

Indeed. Regardless of whether you agree with the idea of the ban, Cramer's admission is welcome in its honesty.

(Mostly men show up to take pictures. Equality! -- August 26, 2012 - WWNC)

Having it both ways

On the other hand, we have NC Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe).

According to the AC-T, Fisher "said it seems like a good idea" and that she'd follow the city's desire on this as long as it was constitutional.

Like Council, she was nowhere to be found on this debate last year when Moffitt ran his bill. She could've spoken up to her progressive base, but did not.

Maybe she could be forgiven for not knowing the City Council's position on this.

Seriously... what exactly IS City Council's desire?

We THOUGHT the City Council desired a change to State law.  Remember that whole open letter and all?

There's never been a vote on this issue. And despite that open letter, when the time came to support the legislation the Council claimed it desired, the politicians hid.

Why would the NC Republican legislators put themselves (and their GOP brand) through this again? In an election year?

It'd be stupid.

So, naturally, there are Republicans talking about doing it.

[Cramer] has asked Republican Sen. Tom Apodaca, the chair of the powerful Rules Committee, to handle the matter. He represents part of Buncombe County.

“It is past time for it to have been dealt with, frankly,” Cramer said. “It is irritating that we have to address it at all, but apparently we do.”

Apodaca said the General Assembly would take a new look at the issue when it convenes in May.

One solution is to reconsider a bill floated by Republican Rep. Tim Moffitt last year, he said. The other is to simply clarify the law to give cities more authority.

“If City Council doesn’t want to deal with it, we will,” he said.

Oh, dear Lord.

Here's some simple advice for the GOP: unless an uber-liberal Democrat takes the lead on resurrecting Moffitt's nipple ban bill - DON'T do it. The only way that bill should be brought back and passed is if it's got a progressive legislator to defend it.

Otherwise, just give cities expanded power and let them deal with it themselves.

THEN we'll see what the Asheville City Council really desires on the boob bill.

(The whole affair is a bit confusing.  August 26, 2012 - WWNC)

Also, if a bill is introduced, we should all expect it to include a ban on male toplessness - if Councilman Cecil Bothwell gets his way.

"I really do believe that if we're going to ban topless women then we've got to ban topless men," he said on a prior show. 

"If we're going to have a law that bans toplesseness in public we need a law that specifically bans human beings from being topless in public."