As a Tullahoma native and Tullahoma High School graduate, the well-being and success of my hometown and home county has always mattered a great deal to me — despite choosing to leave the state for college and my current adventure moving to New York to work in magazine journalism.
I’ve always believed that one cannot forget where they came from, and part of that commitment for me has always been a commitment to care about the young people who are born in Tullahoma and move to Tullahoma after I am gone.
Visiting Facebook over the last couple of weeks, it has sickened me to discover the homophobic, Islamophobic and racist bigotry of District Attorney Craig Northcott’s actions, words and policies, which will undoubtedly negatively impact those same generations of Coffee County young people for years to come.
In particular, as a LGBTQ native of Tullahoma who has not only spent three years writing about sexual violence, but also experienced sexual violence myself, I found the video of Northcott arguing for less protection for gay folks in domestic cases to be alarming — not only for its inherent bigotry but also its false claims.
His statement that there is “no marriage to protect” in the context of same-sex marriages and domestic assault is unequivocally unconstitutional and based in false facts about the Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) that declared same-sex marriages legal in all states in 2013. Rather than being a personal, socially-motivated decision by the Supreme Court justices (whom he offensively terms “five people in black dresses”), the court case was constitutionally grounded in our country’s 14th amendment: the same amendment that granted citizenship to former slaves after the Civil War and provides all citizens “equal protection of the laws.” Northcott’s unwillingness to understand Supreme Court precedent, and enforce laws per the Constitution, speaks volumes about his inability to hold public office in the United States.
It also speaks to his unwillingness to believe in the “separation of church and state,” another idea established by our Founding Fathers. Northcott’s religious beliefs have no right to interfere with his governing capabilities; the Constitution, and not the Bible, is the law of our land. And the Constitution declares that all people, no matter their sexual preference, have the right to marriage and the protections marriage provides people.
When all of this is combined with Northcott’s previous comments about Muslim people on social media, in which he states that all people of Islamic faith “must kill anyone who doesn’t accept their lie,” it is clear to me that the District Attorney is unfit to prosecute anything within Coffee County without unfairly punishing or looking over innocent LGBTQ people and Muslim folks.
As stated previously, I believe that Coffee County and Tullahoma can be a loving place that exhibits open arms to anyone who finds themselves within our town. Northcott’s blatant hatred for certain groups of people, masked in religious fervor, is not representative of anything I was taught, or that many of my friends were taught growing up, whether at home, at school, or in church in Tullahoma.
I sincerely hope that folks in the area will speak up and speak out against a man who not only is actively introducing hate into a place we all love, but also bragging about his authority and power: “We can choose to prosecute anything, or we can choose not to prosecute anything up to and including murder — it’s our choice.”
Do you want a District Attorney who believes he doesn’t have to prosecute even a murder in our friendly town? I’ll let you decide.