CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you live in the Queen City and were on Facebook on Monday, you couldn’t have missed it. A satirical take on anti-LGBT Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James cast the leader in a new, more compassionate light, documenting James’ Easter weekend change of heart toward minorities he often pillories in public.
For those familiar with James, the April Fool’s Day write-up by local real estate agent Scott Lindsley was easily recognizable as a satire.
Lindlsey said he wrote an April Fool’s Day “article” last year, focusing on a “scoop” for an absurd new condo project downtown.
“I ended up getting calls from developers outside the state with questions, local folks, local real estate heavy-hitters,” Lindsley told qnotes via email. “My site was bombed with about 7,000 hits. It was really fun so I took a break last year and decided to work on another this year. I wanted to do something a little different and Bill was an obvious and easy target. At first it was going to be more ‘full council’ oriented but as the writing progressed it just evolved into a James piece.”
This year’s satirical article, “Commissioner James Surprises County with New Initiatives,” documents James’ realization over a long Holy Week that many of his views needed to change. The satire pictures James eating a meal with members of Johnson C. Smith University’s drum corps and dancing the “Harlem Shake” with fellow Commissioners Vilma Leake and George Dunlap. James later comes out in favor of equalized school funding and a massive flip-flop on mass transportiation.
The piece also recounts James’ fictional visits to a Passover meal, a Friday fish-fry in Belmont and James’ visit to a “Saturday night covered dish drag-show and Easter bonnet contest” at the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.
Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, the city’s first openly gay or lesbian elected official, also makes an appearance in the article.
“That was the biggest change I saw in James,” Lindsley “quotes” Mayfield as saying. “He just seemed happy, like he was actually enjoying something. He gave myself and my partner huge hugs, toasted a glass of sweet tea and said his hopes for the city and county had never been so high.”
James is taking the satire in stride.
“I think spoofing me is pretty much part of the DNA of those on the left,” James told qnotes via email. “It is so interesting to me that of all the conservatives in this area (or even the State), I seem to cause the most interesting reactions.”
Lindsley said it took about two hours to write the satire. He admits James was “an easy target” over more vociferous anti-LGBT voices in Charlotte.
” I think Bill ‘needs’ attention and thrives from it,” Lindsley said. “He doesn’t do much else … and loves to make his controversial statements to get in the news and to stir up his following. That makes this type of satire or parody much more fun, pointing out the absurdity. … For that reason it’s also more fun to think of him actually dancing, having a good time, loosening up and possibly — if that ever were to occur — realize that life doesn’t have to be hateful and resentful and it can be enjoyed, as can the diversity found everywhere.”
Lindsley said he meant to send a message about James’ extreme positions.
“I also see photos of Bill out there with a Bible in his hand .. and find it ironic that anyone who deems themselves religious can still fail to take heed to Christ’s numerous and constant teachings regarding fellow man, love, helping the poor, etc.,” Lindsley said. “Mr. James stands for exactly the opposite and keeps himself in a bubble that also claims to believe in the Bible yet publically pushes an agenda completely the opposite.”
Still, the fun and satirical parody was meant to be just that. “[T]his wasn’t intended to be mean, just a little prodding,” said Lindsley.