Sideshow Bob Hege and his lesser-known colleagues got trounced on Tuesday, but the push for Senate Bill 351, which would ban felons from running for sheriff in the future continues. What I want to know is, why are they only considering a ban on felons serving as sheriff? Better we should ban felons from holding any elective office. Show me a convicted felon who should ever be allowed to serve as a legislator, a judge, a governor or what have you, and I’ll show you a felony that shouldn’t be a felony. Fix that instead.
This is only the latest of a series of “don’t throw out too much of the bathwater” reforms that seem to be the rule rather than the exception in this state. Here are some other examples of reforms enacted as though the General Assembly’s heels were stuck in tar:
- In 1995, we went shall-issue, allowing a person with a concealed carry license to carry anywhere he wants, except where he can’t, which is almost anywhere in the state.
- That same law exempted CHP holders from our infamous, Jim Crow era law requirement that any prospective gun purchaser obtain a discretionary permit from his local sheriff to purchase the gun, but did not reform or otherwise amend the permit requirement itself. So while I, as a CHP holder can walk into any gun store from Asheville to Nag’s Head and walk out with all the guns I can afford, my next door neighbor can’t purchase any guns at all without visiting the local sheriff first, in person, and asking him to please, please, pretty please give him a permit to buy one gun. And the sheriff will have nearly unfettered discretion to turn him down.
- All but seven U.S. states have had the good sense to abolish the common law tort of alienation of affection. North Carolina is easily the best known, and probably the most egregious, example of the “but seven.”* In 2007, Clemmons dentist Kirk Turner killed his estranged wife Jennifer, a killing prosecutors argued was motivated in part by an alienation of affection suit Jennifer had filed against his girlfriend. Last August, Turner was ultimately found not guilty by reason of
the jury’sSBI’s insanity. The General Assembly responded not by finally the rest of the civilized world in abolishing the infamous tort, but merely by restricting to conduct that occurred prior to separation. The current suit against the girlfriend goes forward, and if the next alleged homewrecker so much as winks at the next Kirk Turner one day before he moves out, that case will go forward too.
- North Carolina has one of the most oppressive annexation laws in the country. Residents of an area targeted for annexation, who may have deliberately chosen that property because they did not wish to live in a city, have no voice in the annexation process at all. The leading “reform” bill, House Bill 524, purports to address this by allowing a referendum, but only if a petition is signed by 15% of the registered voters in the combined area of the existing municipality and the area targeted to be gobbled up by it. Even if that insurmountable hurdle is miraculously met (bear in mind that 15% of the population of the combined area will often exceed 100% of the population of the targeted area), the referendum itself calls for a vote of the combined populations, as well. And even this illusory “reform” remains highly controversial, only barely passing the House last year. The real reform bill, SB 494, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
- As one of those quaint states that still have dry counties, it should come as little surprise that we have socialized alcoholism too. Lately our government-run pushers have been plagued with scandal, so our governor has kicked around the idea of … um … trying a baby form of privatization most ABC customers won’t even notice.
Given this long track record of preserving bath water on the off chance there’s a baby somewhere, I guess I should be thankful that the current proposal would cover all felons, rather than just the ones who committed their felonies in the course of their duties at the very office they now seek, and then only if they previously put prisoners in pink cells, slapped cheesy front plates on all of their cop cars, filmed reality shows and generally acted like all-purpose douchebags before they became convicted felons.
*The other “but six” are Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota and Utah. By way of comparison, Mississippi finally got around to abolishing slavery in 1995.
UPDATE: Two commenters (albeit with a shared IP) argue that I’m wrong about the Turner case, and that Kirk did indeed act in self-defense. Admittedly, I haven’t followed the case nearly as closely as they seem to have done, so I can’t rule out the possibility that they’re right. I don’t believe, however, that this affects my greater point about alienation of affection suits in general, or the one against Turner’s girlfriend in particular. For one thing, I think the odds of the lawyers for Jennifer’s estate advancing the theory that their own client was a would-be murderer (or at least a would-be Lorena Bobbitt) are extremely remote. For another, no matter who you think the aggressor was, it’s plain as day there was no love lost between the Turners, and therefore, no affection for anyone else to have alienated.
UPDATE x2: Given the more recent reports about the State Bureau of Investigation’s grossly unscientific behavior in this case and others, I hereby retract my allegation that the Turner jury was insane. Any case that depended too heavily on “evidence” produced by that back of Mike Nifong wannabes has reasonable doubt written all over it.