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Thomas Sowell makes a point or two worth considering about bullying

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

October 25th, 2011

Economist and conservative commentator Thomas Sowell has a new complaint out about the efforts to end gay bullying. Oddly, I find that while our reasoning and perspectives are far apart, he says some things that we should consider.

The premise of his column is that media attention and activism follow trends and popularity rather than even handedly reporting facts with context and perspective enough to allow the customer to see the full picture. I hardly think that is worth debating; we all have felt frustration over what has and what has not received media attention.

Sowell compares the attention given to gay kids being bullied to that of Asian-American kids being beaten in Philadelphia. I don’t know much about that situation, but it appears to be localized, a year or so old, and does not appear to have resulted in suicides. And Sowell’s general snittiness and petty whininess discourages any sympathy that he might have otherwise elicited.

The school authorities can ignore the beating up of Asian kids, but homosexual organizations have enough political clout that they cannot be ignored. Moreover, there are enough avowed homosexuals among journalists that they have their own National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association — so continuing media publicity will ensure that the authorities will have to “do something.”

Had Sowell used google, he would have discovered the existence of the Asian American Journalists Association. Or he could have glanced at a news station to see some avowed Asian Americans with his own eyes.

And had he been even peripherally aware, he would know that the anti-bullying stories were home grown, finding life first on gay blogs and then through efforts to send messages of encouragement to our own and only after paid advertising by a socially responsible corporation did America really take note of the problem.

But, despite the inaccuracies and false comparisons, what Sowell said next is interesting and worth a careful look by our community.

But political pressures to “do something” have been behind many counterproductive and even dangerous policies.

A grand jury report about bullying in the schools of San Mateo County, California, brought all sorts of expressions of concern from school authorities — but no definition of “bullying” nor any specifics about just what they plan to do about it.

Sowell is right on several points.

The programs put in place by schools to “address it and move on” do not seem to be significantly reducing the abuse. Often they are just the process the administration goes through in order to deflect blame or criticism. And even those schools which care and in which administrators genuinely and sincerely are trying to stop the bullying, the programs have not proven to be as effective as we would like. The problem of bullying is a cultural problem and one which needs to be addressed on a grander scale.

And (though this may anger some readers) sometimes our goals fall victim to a emotion/reason divide in which we have an abundance of people who feel and care and love and support but not too many who are cranky but make tough decisions, plot out strategies, and know how to effect change in real and tangible ways.

We have a narrow window before the public gets bored and the latest and newest urgent issue fad sweeps bullying into the corner. We simply don’t have the time to let our feelings drive our response.

We need specific definitions; we need exact and evenly applied consequences; we need to let the greater community know what it is that we are trying to accomplish with clear and specific language and get their support; we need to set aside hostilities and partner with the churches in town including the most conservative – as tempting as it is to believe otherwise, they don’t want gay kids to be bullied into suicide and if we don’t make this about taking sides then they could be our most powerful allies.

I am appreciative of the support our kids have gotten from the President to the small town citizen who all offer encouragement. And I’m thankful for the efforts of those who have worked tirelessly on this issue long before it came in vogue and will continue to do so when attention is elsewhere. Let’s take this opportunity to corral our energies behind them and bring about real structures of change.

This is a rare moment – lets use it to change the culture and teach a new generation that choosing to bully will come with social consequence: visibly disappointed family (and that is a tough role for parents who want to rush to their child’s defense), religious condemnation, and social rejection. If all of society tells a child that bullying has no supporters or defenders, if his peers consider bullies to be jerks, then this can be beat.

And that message will not only save the lives of gay kids, it will make the beating of Asian American kids in Philadelphia less likely. So even if Thomas Sewell is the one to inspire it, let’s make it happen.

But finally, Sewell discussed in his concluding paragraphs an issue that I have been reluctant to address. I’ve started and stopped a dozen times in my mind and even drafted a few times. I know this is not going to be popular and may well be seen as traitorous, but I think I need to say it.

First Sewell:

Meanwhile, a law has been passed in California that mandates teaching about the achievements of gays in the public schools. Whether this will do anything to stop either verbal or physical abuse of gay kids is very doubtful.

But it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted. Our schools are already too lacking in the basics of education to squander even more time on propaganda for politically correct causes that are in vogue. We do not need to create special privileges in the name of equal rights.

Bullying is too important and the consequences are too real for this issue to be squandered on political grandstanding and organizational fundraising. And that is what California’s Senate Bill 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, seems to me to be.

California’s laws are about as inclusive as it is possible to be. Other than marriage – about which the legislature can do nothing – gay and lesbian (and to a great extent transgender) Californians have full civil equality. In much of the state social equality is a given and in some places religious equality is the norm.

And while that is great for gay Californians, it isn’t so great for the employees of gay organizations who don’t want to go out of business or for politicians who rely on the contributions and votes that come with being “your champion in Sacramento”. It isn’t even good news for anti-gay activists who need to have a good scare to stir up the masses.

And consequently, in the past few years we have seen the California legislature deal with the establishment of Harvey Milk Day and SB48. They were created expressly for the purposes of giving State Senator Mark Leno a pretense of defending the community, giving the Democratic super-majority an opportunity to demean the minority party, giving extremist Republicans a chance to pander to the base, and giving Equality California a reason to ask for money.

And so they did. Especially Equality California, who emailed me about the need to defend the legislation from “enemies of equality” who were employing “every dirty trick in their handbook” so please send money. Repeatedly.

Harvey Milk Day is unnecessary. It does nothing, it mandates nothing, it impacts nothing. But at least it is benign. There isn’t much harm in naming a day after someone, even if the motivations were an example of politics at its most cynical.

But the FAIR Act is not symbolic. It changes what will be taught in public schools and does so with arrogance and intentional disdain and in language so blatantly biased that when I first read the bill I thought they had to be kidding.

Sewell is not being hyperbolic when he said “it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted.” That is exactly what the bill says.

Specifically:

  • Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and a study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.
  • A teacher shall not give instruction and a school district shall not sponsor any activity that reflects adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.
  • The state board or any governing board shall not adopt any textbook or other instructional materials for use in the public schools that contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220.

Actually racial minorities already had law requiring inclusion and banning discrimination. This bill makes two changes: it adds LGBT Californians and changes the prohibition from “discriminatory bias” to “reflects adversely”.

Ignoring the complete nonsense of lessons about the numerous and significant contributions of LBGT Americans to the early history of California, and setting aside the political cover provided by pretense that this only addresses matters which are “on the basis of” a characteristic, we can readily know what this bill does in real terms and practical application.

A teacher should introduce role models, successful politicians, admirable persons, and celebrities so as to or reference his minority ethnicity or that she is lesbian. However, should any person be discussed who is disreputable or a villain, any mention of their ethnicity or orientation should be discouraged.

And this is to be done so as to accomplish the goal of contrasting the positive contributions of ethnic and gay groups with their “role in contemporary society”.

I suppose it could be more blatant. After all , the bill does not seem to mandate that membership cards be distributed or a collection plate be passed to assist those organizations who represent such groups in their current “role in contemporary society”.

And though I share Sewell’s doubt that this law will reduce bullying or even improve self-esteem, it is certain to further increase division and to give a tangible example for those who scream that ‘homosexuals are trying to brainwash our children.’

But what is most frustrating to me is that by prioritizing their own personal goals, Leno and Equality California ignored a real problem and squandered an opportunity to draft a law that could significantly impact the way in which gay people are viewed by society. Rather than attempt to draft soldiers for the Great Culture War, they should have focused on what is perhaps our society’s greatest example of heterosexist presumption: the whitewashing of the sexuality of the people whom these kids already have in their textbooks.

Although it serves partisan politicians, there is little real value to extolling the virtues of Harvey Milk, to whom our community owes a debt of gratitude, but who ultimately was a politician with a checkered history and questionable ethics. And placing emphasis on the social role of groups shifts the focus from education to activism.

However, I think it would be of tremendous value for school kids to learn about Alan Turing, Isaac Newton, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leonardo DaVinci, Oscar Wilde, Alexander the Great, the Sacred Band of Thebes, Sapho, Virginia Wolfe, William Shakespeare, Baron Friedrich von Steuben, Frida Khalo, Jane Addams, Bayard Rustin, Socrates, Hadrian, Daniel (of lion’s den fame), Francis Bacon, Richard the Lion-Hearted, E. M. Forster, Truman Capote, Nikolo Tesla, Savador Dali, and Luca Pacioli. These people, who did not live the heterosexual lifestyle, gave contributions that make Milk and the “early California contributors” seem inconsequential.

And this is an off-the-top-of-my-head listing. A comprehensive listing on “not heterosexuals” in history would truly shock most Americans. And it would add to the recognition that sexual minorities have always been a part of society and as individual contributors have disproportionately provided the sparks of genius that have propelled society forward.

But they threw this away. And for nothing.

As far as I can tell, no one was clamoring for SB 48. If any gay Californians had ever felt any need for a bill that mandated propaganda, they kept it a secret.

And even though Equality California tried to create an artificial emergency, it didn’t work. No one passionately defends a bill they don’t need, didn’t ask for, and which has no positive impact on their life. And I certainly can’t be the only gay Californian who finds the idea to be an affront to their concept of liberty.

And now Equality California is in complete disarray. Their new executive director has resigned and their time as the advocate for gay Californians is at an end. And as they fade, Sen. Mark Leno loses his biggest cheerleader.

But there’s a lessor for us here as well. Perhaps we can have higher expectations of our activists and leaders. Perhaps we can let them know that they exist to advance the needs of our community, not the other way around. And perhaps we can recognize that as we come into our place in society, we need to be cautious that we do not reverse roles and become callous careless oppressors.

But if we are not yet ready to recognize that risk, folks like Thomas Sowell will be there to remind us. Let’s determine not to make him right.

Comments

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toyotabedzrock
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

We need to make sure we don’t criminalize kids because that will only create more hate.

That is my concern about the new laws.

Muscat
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

The change to “reflects adversely” (from “reflects discriminatory bias”?) certainly has disturbing implications. Clearly it should be changed back to the previous language.

Other than that, insofar as the law is simply adding sexual orientation to other groups which should be included in school curricula, I don’t see what the big deal is.

Stefano A
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

However, should any person be discussed who is disreputable or a villain, any mention of their ethnicity or orientation should be discouraged.

because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or because of a characteristic listed in Section 220

And just why would you want such persons introduced because of?

The only conceivable reason I can imagine for doing so would be an attempt to insinuate, imply or suggest a fallacious correlation that somehow that personal attribute was a cause for their disreputable or a villainous actions.

As such, as in news reporting of criminal actions, etc, such personal attributes are, indeed, irrelevant, unless it’s made relevant, for instance, in the sense of descriptors given to help identify a suspect that’s on the lam. It is only the relevant personal characteristics which led to them being despots/villains which are rightfully emphasized not those characteristics which had nothing to do with why they did what they did.

Whereas the converse, the introduction of positive role models is to dispel such myths that, for example, blacks are violent, thieving, thugs, because they’re black; LGBT people are devious liars, predators, mentally imbalanced and physically unhealthy; lesbians kill men because they’re male haters; Hispanics are lazy and, like blacks, thugs and thieves, because they think they’re somehow entitled without having to work for what they get.

In other words, the positive introductions are to demonstrate despite of certain social stigmas which could be considered undesirable, not because of those personal attributes enumerated, such persons are role models, in addition to those personal characteristics being directly relevant in the case of the American civil rights movement as to why they did what they did.

Stefano A
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

The problem of bullying is a cultural problem and one which needs to be addressed on a grander scale.

It would seem to me that things, such as the FAIR act would be a part of addressing the problem on that grander scale, in the same sense that people are encouraged to be “out” to demonstrate the commonalities of people and how we are neighbors, friends, co-workers, sons, daughters, parents, doctors, ministers, physicians… and not despots and villains that need to be kept in the shadows.

Stefano A
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

Just for clarity…

I concede that as to exactly whom should be emphasized as important historical figures is arguable on an individual by individual basis. That I do not take exception to.

Ryan
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

It says pretty clearly that teachers should not give instruction that reflects poorly “on the basis” of race, ethnicity, etc… That doesn’t mean if a black or gay person in CA history does something bad or negative, it can’t be taught in school. It means it can’t be taught that the person in question is bad *because* of his/her race, ethnicity, orientation, etc. I don’t see what the problem is.

Also, EQCA, is right to warn about the enemies of equality. (aka–the GOP). They still exist, and they still could hurt us in the future. Look at New Hampshire. The enemies of equality won big in 2010 and they’re about to strip away marriage equality and even gay civil unions there.

Stefano A
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

It means it can’t be taught that the person in question is bad *because* of his/her race, ethnicity, orientation, etc.

Exactly!

Ray Harwick
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

Whitman and J. Edgar Hoover? Harper Lee? James Buchanan? Possibly Abraham Lincoln?

Oh boy, this is a complex topic. I’m moved to agree with Timothy on the view that gays who are already in the history book should be brought forward for emphasis. No mention of either World War II or the foundation of computer science could be complete with presenting Alan Turning.

I’m not as quick-thinking as you youngsters so I’ll lurk until I get my land legs.

Thanks Timothy. It’s not to controversial for thoughtful people to debate and I hope for and expect greater light to be forthcoming.

Ray Harwick
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

Crap. Typo above. I meant to say, No mention of either World War II or the foundation of computer science could be complete withOUT presenting Alan Turning.

Stefano A
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

Just one other comment re: the criticism of the FAIR Act …

Bullying is too important and the consequences are too real for this issue to be squandered on political grandstanding….

California’s laws are about as inclusive as it is possible to be. Other than marriage – about which the legislature can do nothing – gay and lesbian (and to a great extent transgender) Californians have full civil equality. In much of the state social equality is a given and in some places religious equality is the norm.

As with the bullying policies… the legal aspects is helpful as a recourse in the instance of an injustice which requires a legal access for restitution, but doesn’t do much for the more mundane day-to-day encounters with discrimination.

That alone is not enough.

And the point toward the end of the commentary which appears to be being made is one for the need for public outreach and education to bring about desired social change.

So, again, it seems to me that the FAIR Act would be a direct outgrowth from such public education campaigns and efforts not to have us written off or erased from public exposure, not some whimsical effort tangential to that effort.

Ryan
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

“I’m moved to agree with Timothy on the view that gays who are already in the history book should be brought forward for emphasis”.

And? What part of SB48 precludes that from happening?

Ray Harwick
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

Ryan,

Nothing I see precludes it from happening. But compared to forcing, say, Harvey Milk to the forefront (as significant and inspirational as he is) the emphasis on bringing attention to those who are inextricably tied to the greatest achievements of our nation and world seems a far wiser approach to de-bodlerizing the history of gays and lesbians.

Ray Harwick
October 25th, 2011 | LINK

(spelling “bowdlerizing”)

mikenola
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

The author, and the snarky conservative wit Thomas Sowell, have chosen to target a MAYBE problem instead of the real problem.

As others have posted the FAIR act is written to discourage teachers saying a Billy the Kid or Hillside Strangler historical person did the bad things because they were gay instead of just because they were criminals.

They both overlook a statistical fact, Texas has the largest buying power of school text books in the nation. And the publishers, at the behest of Texas school boards and the extreme religious right, have been systematically rewriting history, science and sociology texts to wipe out progressive facts and replace them with emphasis on biblical proponents, or at least those they can tailor to be “christian soldiers”.

If you have spent any attention at all to this dastardly behavior you would already know that examples such as G.W. Bush has been glorified over discussing Turing, Salk, or Linus Pauling as a “great mind” in our history.

Creationism is being forced into science texts and Christ into math books using WWJD math problems over loaves and fishes.

With their power as a buyer, text book writers pander to the Texas school boards to a much greater extent than they do to California school boards.

The FAIR act creates a dynamic that prevents CA schools from purchasing many of those books and forces the publishers to create editions that don’t focus they way the more radical Texas School Board members would insist upon.

So to me the author, Timothy, is out of bounds and is blinding himself to the reality of our nations school text books.

I don’t think that anyone should be glorified because of their sexuality, race or religion.

I do think that the mentioning that a person of fame who was black(asian/hispanic/indian), christian(muslim/jew/etc) and gay sets in motion a learning opportunity that helps overcome cultural stigmas that are often used to denigrate some individuals.

It is really difficult to change cultures on a grand scale. Time takes time, and efforts like the FAIR act are small steps on the path.

Stefano A
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Ray Harwick:

With regard to the subject of whom is emphasized, that is dependent upon what type of history is being taught.

There is World History, American History, and State History. People such as Harvey Milk fall into the latter category and would be discussed with regard to classroom time devoted to California State history, not “forced to the forefront” for say, World History or even American History.

(As a caveate, I would say that even in this discussion Milk is singled out to the forefront as an example in discussions for a couple of reasons… his immediately name recognition and already his high recognition profile outside of the “gay community”, as well as, not necessarily because of his own accomplishments, but how he fits into and the large gay civil rights movement in California symbolically.)

As has been previously mentioned, nothing about the FAIR Act precludes raising the profile and bringing to the forefront other historical figures when studying history beyond California.

@mikenola:

Yes. You’ve raised an excellent point with regard to the politics driving text-book publishers.

tristram
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Sowell, not Sewell. I think there’s a kind of implied disdain in (not bothering to) spell someone’s name correctly that weakens the argument.

That said, this whole discussion is quite interesting – worthwhile points being made on both sides.

Pacal
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Sowell is a fanatical ideologue convinced, like so many that “Conservatives” and “Christians” are persecuted. He is not above lying and distorting.

How the hell did you miss the obvious implications of the following:

“But it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted. Our schools are already too lacking in the basics of education to squander even more time on propaganda for politically correct causes that are in vogue. We do not need to create special privileges in the name of equal rights.”

What we have in the above is the “Gay Agenda”, the implied notion that negative views of Homosexuality should be spread, the usual chant of “politically correct” tyranny and “special privlidges” better known as “special rights”.

All in all the usual “Conservative” “Christian” code language of distortion.

Donny D.
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I have to believe that was a hasty post in comparison to your usual. The misspelling of Thomas Sowell’s name half the time, including in the title, suggests there wasn’t much editing.

One thing you said in the earlier part of the post was jarring, and I think is due some attention:

We need specific definitions; we need exact and evenly applied consequences; we need to let the greater community know what it is that we are trying to accomplish with clear and specific language and get their support; we need to set aside hostilities and partner with the churches in town including the most conservative – as tempting as it is to believe otherwise, they don’t want gay kids to be bullied into suicide and if we don’t make this about taking sides then they could be our most powerful allies.

In response to your statement that even the most conservative local churches don’t want gay kids bullied into suicide, I have to ask, “All of those churches? Are you sure?” Because when the leadership of a church does everything possible to inhibit implementation of a school policy against the bullying of young people for being LGBT and offers nothing that’s useful instead, I have to conclude there’s some likelihood that church might be fine with kids being driven to suicide by anti-LGBT bullying. If church leadership says anti-LGBT bullying is a good thing because it discourages kids from becoming gay, bisexual or transgender, then it’s highly likely it has no trouble with anti-LGBT bullying suicides. If the subset of conservative churches that has no interest in curtailing anti-LGBT bullying never turns our way, too bad, they’ll be in the minority and we’ll get what we need in the political arena over their inadequate opposition.

I don’t understand the need to give away the store to those most against us. If they want to be in coalition with us, they have to show they actual share some goals with us. I don’t see the most anti-LGBT churches doing that.

I do agree with you, though, that we should seek agreement with reasonable non-allies who might be amenable to more conciliatory approaches.

As to the LGBT history bill, I recall that there was a study which showed that when history was taught inclusively, all kids, including non-LGBT ones, felt safer. For that and other reasons, I don’t accept that this new law will have little or no effect on anti-LGBT bullying or resulting suicides. At very least the explicit mention of the LGBT nature of notable historical figures could help alleviate the feeling that so many of us had growing up that we were “the only one”.

Timothy, I can’t share your concern about the hostility SB48 might cause among straight people. Anti-LGBT activists had an opportunity to make that hostility politically effective, and they couldn’t do it. They weren’t able to collect enough signatures to put a repeal initiative on the ballot, and couldn’t collect enough money to pay petition gatherers to help get those petitions. The loudest champion of the repeal initiative was one of the few anti-LGBT groups that SPLC considers a hate group. All of which suggests to me the anti-LGBTs couldn’t garner sufficient interest among ordinary people to make this fly. So why is that going to change after the bill is enacted?

As to specific problems with the wording of SB48, it can be amended by the legislature if there is enough of a perceived need to do so.

Marauder
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

When it comes to the sexual orientation of historical figures, I think it should be mentioned where it’s relevant, regardless of the particular orientation of each person. It’s relevant that John Adams was married to Abigail Adams, because Abigail is something of a historical figure in her own right; it’s not necessarily relevant that Teddy Roosevelt first married Alice Lee and then after her death married Edith Carrow. It’s relevant that E. M. Forster was gay, because it relates to how he portrays gender and attraction in his novels; it’s not necessarily relevant that Francis Bacon was gay, because his historical contributions have more to do with science.

I’ve got to disagree with you on a couple of points regarding Harvey Milk; first, I think there is real value in extolling the virtues of Harvey Milk insofar as he was dedicated to the equality of all Americans and helping marginalized groups to have a voice in government. Did he have a checkered history and questionable ethics? Yeah – his alliance with the Peoples Temple was self-serving and an exercise in bad judgment, and he was under investigation by the FBI at the time of his death for possibly misappropriating funds. However, Martin Luther King cheated on his wife and plagiarized his doctoral thesis, as well as potions of his “I Have A Dream” speech, and he’s still (rightfully) deemed historically important because of his civil rights contributions. It’s true he got more done on a practical level than Harvey Milk did, but hey, you can’t pick when you’re going to be assassinated. Harvey Milk Day doesn’t do much in practical terms, but that doesn’t mean there’s little or no value in talking about Harvey Milk in the context of twentieth-century American history.

I agree with you that it’s problematic to mention the GLBT-ness of heroes and ignore the GLBT-ness of villains. If we want equality, we have to be willing to take the downsides as well as the upsides.

Jay Jonson
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

This is a very short-sighted commentary. I am not surprised that Thomas Sowell would regard SB48 as granting “special privileges” or encouraging “propaganda” but I am surprised that you are agreeing with him. I suspect your commentary will soon be picked up by groups like Concerned Women of America saying that “even militant homosexuals don’t want the education of our children sexualized.”

But quite apart from the political fallout, there is a real need for our schools to recognize the achievements of gay people and to acknowledge the diverse sexualities of historical figures. This isn’t a matter of progaganda–it is a question of honesty. That this honesty will have positive effects on the self-esteem of glbtq students is simply a positive outcome.

Allen
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D., while I largely agree with you, I don’t think it’s fair to say that a “there’s some likelihood a church might be fine with kids being driven to suicide by anti-LGBT bullying”.

Please understand that I’m not in any way condoning the attitudes of churches that are, very likely, fine with anti-LGBT bullying as a way to discourage kids who are LGBT from coming out. And yet I think that all but the most abhorrent, intensely anti-LGBT churches (I’m thinking specifically of Westboro Baptist, although there may be a few others) could accurately be described as being “fine” with kids committing suicide.

Instead I think the larger problem is the number of churches who don’t see a connection between their attitudes and the suicides of LGBT teens and children.

I realize it’s a very small distinction to make, and it’s possible I’m being overly generous, but my concern is that dismissing them as not caring about the suicides of young people risks alienating people who might feel differently if they understood the connection between their words and those suicides. And crazy as it seems I don’t think we can necessarily expect people to have recognized that there is a connection.

Reed Boyer
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

The act specifies Californian and American history. Of that laundry list, von Steuben, Bayard Rustin, and Truman Capote would qualify – and Milk, certainly, as he was a significant figure in both (although he one of those pesky transplants to California).

Let’s see how this shakes down, shall we? California will (once more) lead the way, and some time down the road (after interference from anti-gays in other states) New York will sweep triumphantly to the fore. Allow us to try this thing and see what wrinkles need smoothing, what bugs must be killed, and what complexities addressed.

Then let the nit-picking and refining begin.

Thomas Sowell, forsooth. (and they wonder why I went mad)

Oh, and stylistically (typos aside), if beginning a section with “But finally,” please wrap things up in a paragraph or so. Do NOT sprawl on at a length that exceeds the first portion. Perhaps this would suit: “Sowell, does, however, raise a final point that is worthy of lengthy examination.”

Glad to see Timothy’s back in full contrarian bloom. I had worried that he’d gone all twee and mellow of late.

Priya Lynn
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Sewell is not being hyperbolic when he said “it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted.”.”.

Right, just like whether or not blacks are inferior is one of those subjects on which words of only one side are permitted – that’s been such a terrible thing.

Mikenola and Donny D really summed up nicely whats important on this issue and this point in particular was key:

“As to the LGBT history bill, I recall that there was a study which showed that when history was taught inclusively, all kids, including non-LGBT ones, felt safer. For that and other reasons, I don’t accept that this new law will have little or no effect on anti-LGBT bullying or resulting suicides. At very least the explicit mention of the LGBT nature of notable historical figures could help alleviate the feeling that so many of us had growing up that we were “the only one”.”

Maurader said “I agree with you that it’s problematic to mention the GLBT-ness of heroes and ignore the GLBT-ness of villains.”.

No, its not problematic – I think you must have missed what an earlier commenter said. There is a stereotype that LGBTs are immoral trainwrecks and it is a valid goal of schools to dispel this myth. Mentioning the LGBT-ness of LGBT heroes counters that myth by showing we are successful as a group despite what people say about LGBT-ness meaning a person is mentally ill. Mentioning the LGBT-ness of villains perpetuates the myth that LGBT people are immoral trainwrecks. This is no different than the black community having “Black history month” and highlight black heroes to counter the myth that blacks are inferior. Do you want the black community to go out of its way to demonstrate where black people have been inferior and criminal too?

Regan DuCasse
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t think it would matter WHAT kind of approach to reduce bullying, and especially anti gay bullying.

People like Sewell would turn it, and the STATED agenda and motive behind it into something else altogether.
If you see the comment threads that his article generated in TH, the paranoia and ignorance and hostility of gay people is FURTHER entrenched.

He’s one of many that perverts the intentions of gay people, no matter what gay people say. He’ll encourage his readers so see a sinister conspiracy in it. And make the accusation that gay people aren’t being honest about their mission.

Meanwhile, having no ideas, or solutions himself on how to address this very urgent and serious problem.

Personally, I think that GSA’s and having PFLAG or institutions like the Museum of Tolerance help develop interactive programs for students, parents and teachers would go a MUCH longer way than this approach.

Also getting law enforcement involved with the impact of bullying as a CRIMINAL issue. Verbal and physical assault has a criminal definition. And no child, nor their parents should allow it to be blown off because it involves kids.
Another part of the problem is that young people and their parents are NOT taught or understand the gravity of their acts and should.

All of these approaches might be more effective in the long run.
ESPECIALLY requiring parents to participate in seminars and teaching them courses.
If they don’t like it, they can withdraw their child, and home school them for all I care.
But ignorant and fearful parents shouldn’t be allowed the deciding factor of what gets taught to their children when the results are acts of violence against another child.

If parents think they deserve THAT much control, then it’s evident they don’t HAVE as much control over their children anyway if this kind of bullying is going on to begin with.

enough already
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

I think we need to completely reevaluate our approach to discipline.
All this zero-tolerance politically correct nonsense has failed.
Not letting gay kids defend themselves has to have been one of the stupidest decisions ever made. Of course the bullies know exactly how to play the victim card.

Jerry
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Another example of a member of the majority whining because his privileges are being curtailed because another group is given access to civil rights simply because they are citizens of the nation.

Jonathan Oz
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

American History is not merely the history of white, straight, Christian men. American history is the history and story of people of all classes, sexes, sexual orientations and ethnicities. To the extent we allow history to become merely the ability to name the Presidents from Washington to Obama, we oversimplify history by turning it into simply story of the lives and contributions of the high and mighty. That vision excludes and dismisses the contributions of vast swaths of our collective ancestors, alienating us from our own history.
To the extent we expand our view of history to embrace and describe the full diversity of our people and their experiences (good and bad), we affirm, through example, that we are all legitimate heirs to a rich historical heritage.

As Langston Hughes said “I am America too!” That’s not some minor point, Timothy.

Jim Hlavac
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

There are “hazing” laws on the books on 44 states, the other six use “assault and battery” laws — and bullying is nothing short of hazing, ergo, this practice is already illegal. However, as I have maintained for decades — gay folks don’t really need more laws for us, or about us, for we’re just not “more special” — we just need to be included in the laws that already exist such as the hazing, assault and battery laws — and furthermore, nearly all our progress for acceptance and decency have come about without any laws whatsoever, but our patient explanations to our own friends and families; which is why we’ll win in the end anyway.

And yes, it is Sowell, and spelling a man’s name right is a plus.

Shaed
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Timithy Kincaid fails at reading comprehension. Not being allowed to say that someone is bad because of (neutral quality) is not propaganda.

Ben In Oakland
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Regan and Priya–

both excellent comments and a lot of what I was going to say. can’t write much becuase my back went out.

Priya Lynn
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

Hope you feel better soon, Ben.

Donny D.
October 26th, 2011 | LINK

The American Family Association seems to feel so good about Sowell’s article that they have reproduced it in its entirety with no accompanying commentary:
http://onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=1465198

As I’m sure y’all know, AFA is an SPLC-certified hate group, and is associated with Bryan Fischer.

Carl
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Kincaid,
There’s no law that could be passed that would ever do more for me than the simple act of getting to know gay people, virtually and in real life. I’ll explain…

I grew up in the environment that many of your readers find revolting: very conservative, fundamentalist church where the teachings of Dr. Dobson were venerated nearly as much as the literal interpretation of the Bible. If you would have known me then, you would have found me utterly unsympathetic if not totally hostile.

As I’ve gotten older (I’m 40 now), I’ve had my own bout of disillusionment with the church. Part of my recovery from religious fundamentalism has included actually getting to know others who are different from me, including (gasp!) homosexuals.

I’ve gotten to know gays in my workplace and socially. I stumbled upon this blog somehow and for the last year or two I’ve read everything written here at BTB (never commenting until now). And you know what? I’ve reached my own conclusions.

I don’t need a law to teach me or my kids that gay people are simply that–people–who are not the degenerates and monsters I was taught as a youth. The more I listen, the more I learn that most gays just want what I want. They aren’t out to take anything away. And many do things I actually admire. I’m still a registered Republican (and I don’t see that changing), but I daresay you’d find me a friend and supporter of what you want.

I will teach my kids the same thing and lead by example. People who want to pass laws should understand this. It might make them feel better, but it won’t make things better. People don’t argue with their own conclusions. Discrimination should be addressed by law. But the cultural change you seek cannot be legislated. It comes through real-life interactions and exposure to logical, honest, and respectful interaction, like what I find here at BTB.

Keep up the good work. You might be surprised how many straight, white, middle-age Republicans are reading and agreeing.

Marauder
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

Priya: I don’t think people should go out of their way to point out GLBT villains unless their sexuality is relevant to studying their historical contributions – the same as for GLBT heroes. I didn’t miss what anyone said earlier, I just didn’t agree with it.

A GLBT history month is a great idea, but if somebody has a more negative role in history and their sexuality – regardless of what their sexuality was – is somehow related to that role, I don’t think teachers should decide not to mention that person’s sexuality if that person is GLBT and a negative figure.

Priya Lynn
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for your support Carl.

Marauder, I can’t conceive of circumstances in which a gay person’s sexuality was relevant to their negative role in history.

The reason for pointing out gay hero’s sexuality is to counter the myth that gay people are necessarily bad people. Pointing out gay villain’s sexuality would promote that stereotype. It is a valid educational goal to do the former and not the latter.

Timothy Kincaid
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

A good many folk lept at the “because”. However, that is a comfort that exists only in the confines of website rebuttal.

But that isn’t a reality. Because there is a presumption that any inclusion of anything that “reflects adversely” on a member of a group is based in animus towards that group.

(To be fair, I’m trying to think of situations in which an adverse reflection of a minority group did not get treated – in and of itself – as evidence that the person making the reference held ill will. I’m sure there are some, but I can’t recall a good example.)

In practical terms, the legislature banned all matters that could reflect adversely. Completely.

That may please some here. I am not among them.

And, lest there continue to be argument over the point, please note that to make certain that their intention was unambiguous, they changed the language to remove the words “discriminatory bias”. Even the best intentioned of educators, the least bigoted, the most even handed, cannot go there if someone is going to feel that there is adverse reflection. And someone always is.

And as instinctive as it is to look for a way to defend something that comes from “our side”, it’s wiser to face reality.

Timothy Kincaid
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

Donny,

Thanks for bringing this up. I was hoping someone would.

I have to ask, “All of those churches? Are you sure?” Because when the leadership of a church does everything possible to inhibit implementation of a school policy against the bullying of young people for being LGBT and offers nothing that’s useful instead, I have to conclude there’s some likelihood that church might be fine with kids being driven to suicide by anti-LGBT bullying.

Yes. All of them (okay, with maybe a very few crazy exceptions).

Because none of these churches are fighting the policies due to a desire to see kids die. It’s a battle in the Culture War that they are fighting for two reasons: 1) they see it in terms of “sides” and winning or losing, and 2) they are afraid that it will be used to demean them or undermine their influence with their own kids.

You make a mistake that is common in today’s hostile political climate and which, ironically, is shared by those who oppose the bullying efforts. Your statement rests on the assuption that those with whom we disagree do not have the same basic human goals, the same basic human needs, the same shared fear of threat, the same contempt for evil, the same instinct to protect children that we do. Being “them” and “the other”, they aren’t quite human and so we can believe just about anything about them. (Just as an anti-gay would assume, “The homosexuals don’t really want to marry; they’re just trying to destroy Western Civilization.”)

You say, “If church leadership says anti-LGBT bullying is a good thing because it discourages kids from becoming gay, bisexual or transgender…” and I would agree. Except they aren’t saying that.

Yes the wild extremists who go to gay websites to “witness to them atheist homosexuals that they’re going to Hell, praise God” might. And folks like Laurie Higgins will say that the culture should condemn homosexuality to discourage kids from being gay – but even Laurie insists that she does not want kids to be bullied (it’s a distinction without a difference in my mind).

But few churches, if any at all, teach that bullying is good. They know it’s wrong and they will all say so. They just aren’t convinced that it’s real instead of some sneaky plot for liberals to indoctrinate their kids.

And they have a point. Some programs have decided that this was a good time to teach children that “homosexuality is perfectly moral and good”. And any agreement that could be reached about bullying was sacrificed to their desire to teach that those churches are wrong and bad.

And as long as we make it all about us (but homosexuality IS moral) and them (but they ARE attacking our faith) then it isn’t about the kids.

And all the protestations that I sometimes hear that “the kids need to hear that they are not immoral” are excuses created so that we don’t have to do the hard task of sacrificing our own beloved Culture War and our cherished animosity in order to place the kids first.

Here’s something to consider: the gay children who are being raised in church don’t want us to “win”. They don’t want to have to choose between their innate orientation and their parents. We do them no favors by making defeating the church, or being right, or by telling them that their parents are wrong and bad.

They want to stop being picked on.

And like parents in a bad divorce, we have to stop using the kids as ammunition and instead smile broadly at that bastard of a cheating-lying-ex-spouse-from-hell and make sure that the kids are put first.

And we we need to convince the conservatives that this is our goal. We are looking out for the best of kids. And we have to show them that the programs don’t have to be a threat (and make sure that they are not), and find a way to have them buy ownership in solving the problem.

And in reality, it is their kids. The bullies don’t care in the slightest if the kid goes to church or not. Christian gay kids are beat up right along with the rest of them.

This isn’t gay v. religion. It’s kids v. suicide.

And once we (both sides) decide that kids are more important than a win in the Culture War, we can find a message that is united. If we (both sides) insist on acting as though arguing over the “morality of homosexuality” is more important than agreeing on the morality of bullying then we put our own validation ahead of the lives of children.

Even conservatives can understand that. And while in most places the anti-gay instigators have muddied the waters and the churches are reacting out of fear, in some places the conservative churches have been part of the solution and the whole community speaks with a common voice. And the kids who go to those churches aren’t left in confusion about what they are supposed to do but instead support and defend the gay kids (whether or not they are sinners) because that’s what their church told them was the Christian thing to do.

As to the LGBT history bill, I recall that there was a study which showed that when history was taught inclusively, all kids, including non-LGBT ones, felt safer.

Yes. Exactly.

Sadly SB 48 isn’t the LGBT history bill. It’s the “be careful what you say” bill that places discussions of groups as its focus instead of inclusion.

And for me, “the gay community has contributed to California’s history in positive ways” is a useless and meaningless lesson to teach. Surely the last thirty years have taught us that kids ignore efforts at social programming. But real tangible examples of real people who are not brought up as the “gays are good” example but are contributors in their own right is real inclusion, not tokenism. And real inclusinon can change perspectives and then, yes, everyone is safer and happier.

And finally, Donny,

As to specific problems with the wording of SB48, it can be amended by the legislature if there is enough of a perceived need to do so.

Yeah. But they just did amend the specific wording. With this bill.

It went from

No teacher shall give instruction nor shall a school district sponsor any activity that promotes a discriminatory bias …

to

A teacher shall not give instruction and a school district shall not sponsor any activity that reflects adversely …

I’m not hoping for any amendments from the California Legislature that addresses what I see wrong with this bill. (And I hope that sentence doesn’t reflect adversely on policians.)

Timothy Kincaid
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

I seldom do this, but what the heck. I’ll try to address specific comments.

And the publishers, at the behest of Texas school boards and the extreme religious right, have been systematically rewriting history, science and sociology texts to wipe out progressive facts and replace them with emphasis on biblical proponents, or at least those they can tailor to be “christian soldiers”.

And it’s dispicable. And it’s sad. They’ve chosen culture war over education, they’ve chosen worldview over knowledge.

Let’s not make the same mistake in the opposite direction. The response to propaganda on the right should not be propaganda on the left. It should, instead, be establishing a reputation for honesty.

As has been previously mentioned, nothing about the FAIR Act precludes raising the profile and bringing to the forefront other historical figures when studying history beyond California.

No, it doesn’t preclude it happening in some schools. But having passed the FAIR act, it allows the legislature to ignore that problem. They’ve already “solved it” by this bill, you see.

I think there’s a kind of implied disdain in (not bothering to) spell someone’s name correctly that weakens the argument.

Sure, sometimes. Or it could also be a typo. This time it was a typo.

Just like your misuse of “implied” in this case is incorrect. For something to be implied, there is a measure of intention. And that assumption of intention, precludes “not bothering to” which is passive.

(Or, I suppose there’s the “I don’t know the right spelling but I’ll intentionally not look it up so as to imply disdain”. But that’s a pretty big leap and I won’t infer that from your comment.)

Not bothering to use the right word could suggest disdain. Or, more likely, it’s just a gramatical error.

The misspelling of Thomas Sowell’s name half the time, including in the title, suggests there wasn’t much editing.

Sadly, no. When I win the lottery, BTB will have an editor.

Til then I’ll try to catch the typos as I see them. I really missed them this time. But this wasn’t exactly a hasty composition.

All in all the usual “Conservative” “Christian” code language of distortion.

Yes, indeed. But that he’s mean spirited and arrogant in his heterosexual presumptions of superiority doesn’t mean that he’s wrong about the bill

I suspect your commentary will soon be picked up by groups like Concerned Women of America saying that “even militant homosexuals don’t want the education of our children sexualized.”

You’re probably right.

But quite apart from the political fallout, there is a real need for our schools to recognize the achievements of gay people and to acknowledge the diverse sexualities of historical figures.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

And if you read my commentary again, you’ll see that this is one of the reasons that SB 48 is so frustrating to me. Not only is it pointless and likely to result in greater division, but it ignores what really should be done. Rather than the pragmatic (“This guy, right here in this picture, invented the computer. Oh, and without him we would probably have lost WWII. But he was gay so his government chemically castrated him and took away his clearance to work on the projects that he set up for them and drove him to suicide.) and instead emphasizes the role that the gay community plays in culture. Did any of those social science “roles that this community plays” lessens have the slightest impact on anyone when you were a kid?

Oh, and stylistically (typos aside), if beginning a section with “But finally,” please wrap things up in a paragraph or so. Do NOT sprawl on at a length that exceeds the first portion. Perhaps this would suit: “Sowell, does, however, raise a final point that is worthy of lengthy examination.”

Good point. I’ll try to keep that in mind for future commentaries.

Right, just like whether or not blacks are inferior is one of those subjects on which words of only one side are permitted – that’s been such a terrible thing.

I’m certain that “reflects adversely” goes quite a bit further than “blacks are inferior”.

There is a stereotype that LGBTs are immoral trainwrecks and it is a valid goal of schools to dispel this myth.

As an atheist, you may wish to reconsider that position. It is not the goal of schools, nor should it be, to teach opinions about morality. I don’t think you would much care for the logical extension of where that thinking would go in a good many school districts.

And while we are discussing race, if we are officially (or socially) forbidden from talking about real problems in real communities lest it reflect adversely, then we also can’t find solutions. I believe that black gay men have been greatly disserved by the fear that everyone has of coming right out and saying that it is this subset of a subset that is having the greatest struggle with HIV/AIDS. Not by a little bit but by something like nine times the rate of white gay men. While I don’t know the solution, silence and fear of adverse reflection isn’t it.

Personally, I think that GSA’s and having PFLAG or institutions like the Museum of Tolerance help develop interactive programs for students, parents and teachers would go a MUCH longer way than this approach.

I agree.

Also getting law enforcement involved with the impact of bullying as a CRIMINAL issue. Verbal and physical assault has a criminal definition. And no child, nor their parents should allow it to be blown off because it involves kids.

You get two gold stars.
To the extent we expand our view of history to embrace and describe the full diversity of our people and their experiences (good and bad), we affirm, through example, that we are all legitimate heirs to a rich historical heritage.
As Langston Hughes said “I am America too!” That’s not some minor point, Timothy.

I agree.

But Langston Hughes should be included not because he is “America too” but because Hughes earned and is worthy of inclusion. Not as a token bogus effort that implies that we are only including him out of some drive for diversity, but because the rich historical heritage stands on its own as being of value.

Kids see through BS pretty quickly. And the African American contribution to my State and Country is legitimate, real, and unquestionable. I value its inclusion on its merits and know that the only reason it would not be included is due to bigotry.

Timithy Kincaid fails at reading comprehension. Not being allowed to say that someone is bad because of (neutral quality) is not propaganda.

Okily dokily.

can’t write much becuase my back went out.

Did it have a good time?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I hope you feel better and are able to give us your perspective soon.

There’s no law that could be passed that would ever do more for me than the simple act of getting to know gay people, virtually and in real life. I’ll explain…

Absolutely true.

And thank you for being part of our community. I am often surprised at who reads us, but I am truly happy at the diversity.

I can’t conceive of circumstances in which a gay person’s sexuality was relevant to their negative role in history.

I think that there have been more than a few instances in which a gay person’s sexuality was very instrumental in their role, both good and bad. Statistically, we have disproportionately more geniuses … and disproportionately more serial killers. And while “being gay” doesn’t lead to one being either, issues surrounding shame, rejection, expectations, and being “other” can exert tremendous pressure.

While Jeffery Dahmer chose his path, I’m sure that some contributors included his orientation and his community’s attitudes. And undoubtedly Da Vinci accomplished more in his life than what a wife-and-children domesticity would have allowed.

Priya Lynn
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “As an atheist, you may wish to reconsider that position. It is not the goal of schools, nor should it be, to teach opinions about morality. I don’t think you would much care for the logical extension of where that thinking would go in a good many school districts.”.

No as an atheist I don’t want to reconsider that. Part of the goal of schools is to help create good citizens. No doubt some school districts would (and do)take that to mean children should be indoctrinated in religion but I’m prepared to live with an imperfect world in order to make the best one we can have. Science has a lot to say about morality and it is something that can be debated and choices made as to what leads to benefits all in an equal fashion. Relgiously based morality is hopelessly complex and contradictory, one based on what helps individuals the most is a great deal more clearcut. I’m thrilled to debate what is the best morality with religionists, their viewpoint cannot compete in rationality and logic with one based in maximizing the benefit and minimizing the negative for all in an equal fashion. This is why religion continues to lose influence, the crude morality of bronze age peoples doesn’t stand the test of time and is naturally being replaced by more rational thinking.

Timothy said “I think that there have been more than a few instances in which a gay person’s sexuality was very instrumental in their role, both good and bad. Statistically, we have disproportionately more geniuses … and disproportionately more serial killers. And while “being gay” doesn’t lead to one being either, issues surrounding shame, rejection, expectations, and being “other” can exert tremendous pressure.

While Jeffery Dahmer chose his path, I’m sure that some contributors included his orientation and his community’s attitudes. And undoubtedly Da Vinci accomplished more in his life than what a wife-and-children domesticity would have allowed.”.

I fail to see any connection between anyone’s sexual orientation and their good or negative contributions, particularly with Dalhmer. As far as Da Vinci goeas his orientation was irrelvant. If as you say domesticity would have inhibited him it would have done so regardless of whether or not his domestic partner was male or female. In the scenario you paint free time was what was important, not sexual orientation.

Priya Lynn
October 27th, 2011 | LINK

Da vinci could have been heterosexual and single and had every bit as much free time to make his accomplishments.

Priya Lynn
October 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “Sewell is not being hyperbolic when he said “it will advance the agenda of homosexual organizations and can turn homosexuality into yet another of the subjects on which words on only one side are permitted.”.”.

I responded “Right, just like whether or not blacks are inferior is one of those subjects on which words of only one side are permitted – that’s been such a terrible thing.

Timothy said “I’m certain that “reflects adversely” goes quite a bit further than “blacks are inferior”.

That may be, however the point is that whether or not blacks are bad people or inferior is one of those subjects on which words of only one side are permitted but we never have people like you complaining that that’s a bad thing. Somehow its supposed to be different with gays, somehow its important to let people feel okay about badmouthing gays when we don’t think people should feel okay about badmouthing blacks. Somehow many people seem to think homophobes deserve more respect than racists do – that’s most certainly not the case.

Timothy Kincaid
October 28th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

Clearly we have very different perspectives on what it means to live free.

I’ll stick to my own set of values, ethics, morals and principles and will continue to share them here at Box Turtle Bulletin. And you are, as ever, entitled to your own opinion.

Priya Lynn
October 28th, 2011 | LINK

“I’ll stick to my own set of values, ethics, morals and principles and will continue to share them here at Box Turtle Bulletin.”.

I’m sorry to hear that. Ultimately morality is about what helps us thrive and what harms us and that is a scientific question we need to answer to have the best possible world.

Donny D.
October 29th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid wrote,

Donny,

Thanks for bringing this up. I was hoping someone would.

And then, after you express some disagreement with what I actually wrote, you spend much of your post knocking around a straw man that has nothing to do with my position. Obviously the position contained in the straw man part of your post was something you felt needed addressing, but to be honest I don’t appreciate you using something I wrote as an excuse to do that.

When I write of likelihood, I meant exactly that, that there was a possibility that the leadership of a particular activist anti-LGBT church might have no problem with LGBT young people killing themselves. That’s all. If you think that is synonymous with ascribing with certainty and without further evidence a particularly egregious anti-LGBT position to a group of people who may very well not hold that position, you misread what I wrote.

I could go on in this post to reply to your substantive disagreements with what I wrote, but I don’t want to blunt the impact of the two paragraphs above.

I think the straw man argument is one of the most destructive logical fallacies for online discussion. That’s why I’m making it a point to object to your misreading of what I wrote. I’ve found that if that isn’t done in cases where the misreading is derogatory toward me, as I feel this one is, others might believe that I think what you claim I think. That misapprehension needs to be nipped in the bud.

Timothy Kincaid
October 29th, 2011 | LINK

Donny,

I don’t want to misrepresent your views. I know what that is like; my views are regularly treated to straw man treatment. (I once had someone who not only told me what my views were and why they were wrong but went so far as to inform me that they were the result of my skin tone and hair color AND then informed me of what that hair color and skin tone were. That they were wrong on every point didnt make it any less frustrating).

So if I misrepresented your opinion, I apologize.

That being said, I am not certain of what you think I distorted.

In my commentary I said we should work with churches to have a common and universal condemnation of bullying. I said that they share our goal of saving lives.

You countered by challenging that assertion.

If your intention was to suggest that such a church exists, then that’s likely true. But that would be an irrational rebuttal. That A church hopes for suicide would not matter in a nation with tens of thousands of churches. Working with those church’s, as a general policy, would still be wise.

So I assumed that you were suggesting that so many churches support gay teen suicide as to be relevant when considering with whom we work.

But the real issue here, I suspect, is that you don’t want to work with conservative churches (and give away the store). I understand and appreciate that disinclination… I just happen to think that the kids are more important

Donny D.
October 31st, 2011 | LINK

I’m really tired right now, so for now I’ll just say this:

Timothy Kincaid wrote,

But the real issue here, I suspect, is that you don’t want to work with conservative churches (and give away the store). I understand and appreciate that disinclination… I just happen to think that the kids are more important

You suspect wrongly. I think we should work with those conservative churches that we can. That fact that there are some genuinely malevolent and hateful churches out there doesn’t mean we can’t work with the big majority that aren’t.

Donny D.
November 1st, 2011 | LINK

This article is about to pass off the home page. Does anyone want me to go into more length about about the ways in which I believe Timothy misunderstood my first post of 10/26 in this thread? I’m not sure how worthwhile it would be if no one is going to read it. My question is for Timothy as well as others, perhaps for him most of all.

Timothy Kincaid
November 1st, 2011 | LINK

Donny,

I’m becoming more confused with each exchange.

It appears that we are in more agreement than I had thought. You agree that we should work with conservative (and other) churches that share our goal of reducing suicide. I agree that genuinely malevolent and hateful churches exist (though in small quantity).

Beyond that, I’m not sure what is our point of contention.

If you want to share with me where I’ve misunderstood you, I’ll be happy to read and learn. I know that clarifying a point to someone who clearly isn’t getting it (me, in this case) can be a chore though, so I’ll leave that decision to you.

Donny D.
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Timothy,
I can summarize by saying that I was ONLY challenging your assertion that ALL conservative, apparently anti-LGBT churches were against LGBT school kids killing themselves. I was SOLELY disagreeing with that assertion, and not with the broader argument that you had put it into, that we should work with conservative churches.

I wondered how you could have gotten any other impression, but after re-reading what I had written, I could it that it was possible to interpret what I had written as being a challenge to your overall statement that we should work with conservative churches. I still can’t say if that interpretation was a stretch or not, but I clearly had failed to put in any disclaimer saying I wasn’t challenging the broader argument. I just hadn’t expect that interpretation of what I’d written.

That’s the main thing, I think. We don’t have any points of contention, just differences in a few areas.

Timothy Kincaid
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Donny,

I am glad that we are not in dispute.

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