Montel Williams challenges Bill James on Twitter: I wonder if you are fit to serve, have a soul

Former talk show host Montel Williams.
Former talk show host Montel Williams. AP

Former TV talk show host Montel Williams says conservative Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James blocked him on Twitter after he challenged James’ comments on transgender students.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last week put on pause new rules that would have given transgender students access to school bathrooms and locker rooms based on the gender they identify with.

James tweeted that CMS “puts tranny bathroom policy on hold – requires boys in drag to men’s room,” with a link to a WSOC story. “Tranny” is sometimes considered a slur.

Williams, who has called House Bill 2’s provisions on sexual orientation “eerily similar to Jim Crow,” read an Observer editorial that was critical of the tweet. On Monday night he responded to James on Twitter that his “stunning lack of decency leads me to wonder if you are fit to serve, but further if you have a soul ....”

James then “blocked me in less than a min rather than defend his ideas,” Williams tweeted.

“If someone says something that I find inappropriate, then I will block them. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes (depending on the offense) permanently,” James told the Observer by email Tuesday. James said it’s impractical for him to debate people on Twitter.

“Mr. Williams took exception to my use of words but I have said that as long as Tranny’s themselves use that word as a greeting then it is OK for the remaining 99.7% of us to use. I won’t settle for another ‘double word’ (one that is OK for some group but not for the rest of society).”

In direct messages to the Observer, Williams said James was the third elected official in North Carolina to block him over comments related to HB2. The law sets a statewide definition of protected classes of citizens that excludes sexual orientation and gender identity. It also struck down a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

“If you have to block large numbers of people as someone in the public eye, you might be doing something wrong, fine to have controversial opinions but at least defend them,” Williams wrote. “ ... Perhaps he found what I wrote him that offensive, but I doubt it.”

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

Related stories from Charlotte Observer