Friday, June 23, 2006
Ooh, that's reasonable
Some preacher dude at some graduation thing said some anti-gay stuff. What is the title?
Homophobic Speech Sours Community Graduation Event
Now, I'm no expert on gay opinions, but asserting that the speech is "homophobic" implies a certain psychological aversion by the preacher dude, Rev. Manuel Scott Jr. What he said was that gayness is wrong, which, as I hope people know, is a fairly common opinion. To equate "anti-gay commentary" with "homophobic speech" is silly, and about the level of editorializing you expect in The Daily Planet's news section.
School board Director Nancy Riddle, who attended the ceremony as she has each year for four years, was appalled.
"I know some people have those religious beliefs, but it was still shocking to hear," she said.
Oh, there's plenty of shocking stuff to hear if you stop to listen. Try listening to some of your political activists. In fact, let's make it a contest. Find a shocking thing from a political activist or, better yet, a high school student that was publically said but received no such condemnation from Riddle.
"I do think these graduations are great, but I think there is no place for homophobic comments," [Gay Councildude Darryl Moore] said. "We in Berkeley appreciate the diversity of our community. I think the speaker could have been just as forceful without making these extremely negative comments."
Uh... how? Another contest. Find a way to forcefully say that gayness is wrong without making any such extremely negative comments.
BHS African-American Studies Department Chair the Rev. Robert McKnight, who is responsible for the event, stands behind the speaker.
"We do not censor anyone," he said. "We defend free speech for everyone. If it's right wing, if it's left wing or in the middle, it’s free speech."
Yes, a man with balls! Actually, this is the man who had the balls to say that reorganizing the African American Studies Department into the general social studies department was "the manifestation of white supremacy at its zenith." Actually, that's also pretty shocking, considering we live in a country where black slavery was once considered the proper social order of the world, so maybe that's the standard for the first contest.
On Wednesday, Board Vice President Joaquin Rivera, who is gay, said BUSD should clarify its role relative to these ceremonies.
"I know they may be community events..." he said, "but anytime there's that kind of hate speech, it's completely unacceptable."
An impressively low standard for "hate speech," and, for that matter, for what should be "unacceptable" in a theoretically-free country. Here's yet another challenge: Come up with some real hate speech, rather than merely telling folks "don't be gay." "We must cleanse the world of the sin of homosexuality" is a good start.
My personal opinion is that if this is the level you want to fight anti-gay attitudes on, there will be no victory in the fight. This is thought police. There is no way around it. When you step beyond rights and into opinion exposure, you make a huge number of enemies. This is what turns a great many people away from the gay rights movement. There are a large number of people out there who simply dislike gays, but still feel they should have equal rights. Actions like this put them on the anti-gay side, rather than the pro-gay rights side, where they belong. True tolerance is dealing with people you don't like in a civilized society.
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