14 responses

  1. Theo
    December 19, 2011

    The best thing we have going for us is the incompetence of the anti-gay orgs lawyers. With the exception of the ACLJ, they are generally really bad lawyers. This is no exception. That complaint is a mess. They don’t even identify the policy that they are demanding be enjoined.

    Also, all pleadings fall under a rule – Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 – which requires the signing attorney attest that he undertook a reasonable investigation of the facts and the law prior to filing. Paragraph 35 shows that the Center did not investigate the facts as to Clementi. Clementi’s sexual encounter with another man was not “posted on the internet.” It did not happen. Approximately 2 seconds of kissing was scene by Ravi and Molly Wei on Wei’s computer. Another several seconds of making out was later viewed on that same computer by Wei and several of her friends on the dorm floor. They saw no sex and no nudity and Ravi’s plan to video a second encounter never came to fruition.

    There is absolutely no evidence that Clementi ever felt ashamed about his encounter. On the contrary, he was irritated over the invasion of privacy and the indifference of the other people on the dorm floor to the intrusion. He was unsure about the right level of response to this violation. But in all of his internet postings, emails and IMs he never once expressed any shame or embarrassment over being gay or over having been intimate with a man.

    The TLC simply made all this up in violation of Rule 11.
    It is a contemptible filing, but I doubt that the school district will defend this as aggressively as it should.

  2. Erin
    December 20, 2011

    Thank you for pointing out one major point a lot of other people fail to bring up for some reason. We commonly point out how the religious right loves to spin these suicides as if these kids are ashamed of something they’ve done instead of blaming the torment others are subjecting them to based on ignorance and prejudice. But the point a lot of people fail to express when defending these kids is that the religious right loves to rush to the aid of the “poor oppressed Christian student who was silenced when he tried to say the homosexual lifestyle is wrong,” while conveniently ignoring the fact that 1) some of these kids may not have even been gay, just perceived as such. Indeed some on your list weren’t out, so the public won’t know for sure. And 2) These kids are all in their teens. While most of them identify as gay, knowing their age and the simple fact that it is rare for LGBT kids to come out while still in school because of the anti-gay hostility, the odds are very good that most of these kids have never had a homosexual experience. Most of them have probably never held another boy’s hand in a romantic way.

    I know I was called a dyke plenty of times in Middle School even though I was still in denial, and therefore not even out to myself. I came to terms with my sexuality by my sophomore year because I had a strong enough attraction to a woman I knew who was slightly older, that I just couldn’t pretend I was straight anymore. I was immediately ok with it, because I knew I never chose to feel that way, and that some people just must not be wired to like the opposite sex, but I didn’t dare tell anyone until senior year, when I told only two close friends, one of whom was another gay student who already came out to me. I knew the abuse that had subsided a bit since middle school would only come back ten-fold. Despite keeping my secret as an underclassmen, and not even ever so much as kissing another girl yet, a boy still felt the need to call me a dyke and tell me I looked like a boy out of the window of his classroom when I walked through the parking lot to a different building. Everyone likes to feel attractive and it hurts very badly when someone says you’re ugly or masculine when you’re trying to fit in in high school. I held it together at my class for ten minutes before I began sobbing uncontrollably and had to be excused to go to the lavatory, where I sat on the floor and continued to bawl my eyes out for most of the class. I walked home that day, and laid in my bed and willed myself to go to sleep. When a child wants to fall asleep alone in her bed in broad daylight after school, that is the height of depression.

    It took another 5 years after that before I shared my first kiss with a woman and dated my first girlfriend. It took another 5 years to finally have a functional relationship that my insecurities didn’t sabotage. My school experience destroyed my self-esteem and scarred me for a long time.

    My story and the stories of these boys raise another point I don’t often see argued as much as I would like: They claim we’re just making a lifestyle choice or that we’re suffering from mental illness. Yet my story and many of these other stories illustrate that sometimes the gay stereotypes are true. There is a significant number of gay boys who are obvious because of PHYSICAL effeminate features, like a lispy voice, or a slender frame. I have even seen gay men with soft, feminine facial features. There are lesbians who have masculine features. I have a nice shape to my body, but I don’t have a very feminine voice. I also really think I have a square, almost masculine jawline. I have the voice of a 14 year-old boy instead of a nice, feminine voice. I was also athletic and clumsy instead of having feminine mannerisms. Kids picked on these boys and girls like me because they could spot us a mile away. We could even be Christians who are actually ashamed like they want us to be and have full intentions to stay celibate for the rest of our lives or fake it in a heterosexual relationship, like so many on the far right expect us to. But they don’t actually ask those questions, because that’s not what they’re concerned with. They’re not calling us “sinners who need to repent,” they’re calling us “faggots,” “dykes,” and “queers.” The kids in my school who passed for straight and I’ve since learned have come out as gay weren’t subjected to that kind of bullying. They could have very well been sexually-active too. And before I digressed, I wanted to point out that the fact that many of us have physical characteristics that resemble the opposite gender’s and that they themselves use that to target us, is strong evidence against their bull about this purely being a choice or a mental pathology rather than a born trait influenced by genes and/ or prenatal hormones, and therefore something that exists naturally in the human race and not something we can change or should change.

    Anyway the severe bullying of the teens you referenced and others was what this teacher was speaking out against, and that’s a noble cause. Even some misguided person who really believes in his heart homosexuality is a sin knows it is immoral and disgusting to sling hurtful insults and physically assault people for their faults. But the students, deliberately made their distaste, in a deliberate disruption of class discussion, known for those bullied students. And this pathetic excuse for a law firm is doing the same now. The whole “I was just expressing my religious beliefs” argument was crap from start to finish and it is completely psychotic and/ or psychopathic. Psychotic because they may actually be deluded into thinking they have the moral high ground. Psychopathic because of the level of deceit and disgusting spin.

    I’m sorry for the long, post but this is something I feel strongly about and I wanted to also share my story because it helps me illustrate the true intent of the treatment of these kids.

    Oh, and the Clementi case is pending and there is a grand jury report or some other kind of court record. Can this law firm be charged with anything for blatantly slandering Tyler Clementi by characterizing his encounter as having sex when it is a known fact that he only made out with his date?

  3. Erin
    December 20, 2011

    Sorry for the length of my last post or any typos or redundancy. I typed it fast, and didn’t always read through as I went.

  4. Rob in San Diego
    December 20, 2011

    OMG, that article was so scary seeing all those faces at once. We’ve gotten to know all of them individually over the last couple of years. It really hit me just how many we’ve lost by seeing them all at once.

  5. Jay Jonson
    December 20, 2011

    The Thomas More (misspelled as Moore here) is indeed an evil place. I am somewhat surprised, however, given the knock you gave Lady GaGa for dedicated a song to one of the suicides that you are rehearsing the names of these kids here. Your theory was that focusing on the individuals would have the effect of making heroes out of the victims and that that would encourage copycats. I don’t know whether that is true or not, but I think that the Trevor Project and other suicide-prevention groups have also made that point. In any case, I think you should be consistent. These incidents are so painful. I don’t think we should, even inadvertently, contribute to the problem. But thanks for bringing attention to the Thomas More idiots.

  6. Timothy Kincaid
    December 20, 2011


    No that was NOT too long. It was beautiful.


    Thanks for the spelling correction.

    I did think about Trevor’s concern, but as the piece focuses primarily on TMLC, and presents the kids cumulatively, I think it avoids creating ‘heroes’ and – I hope – does not contribute to a copycat effect.

  7. Priya Lynn
    December 20, 2011

    Timothy said “[evil] is a term that is fraught with religious overtones. For our secular readers, it can seem gothic or irrelevant to modern discourse. Comical, even.

    Not to me. I don’t know where you get that from. There is evil and I do what I can to end it.

    Erin, thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m sorry it took you so long (as it did many of us) for you to accept yourself.

  8. Lynn David
    December 20, 2011

    McDowell should launch an affirmative defense, the kid didn’t know his own religion. The Roman Catholic catechism specifically says about gays: “they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

  9. Priya Lynn
    December 20, 2011

    “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

    I love that, Lynn. In other words there’s all manner of just discrimination against gays, in fact one can discriminate against gays anyway one wants as long as one defines that discrimination as just.

  10. StraightGrandmother
    December 20, 2011

    Despicable, they are simply despicable! This latest twist of many (not all) Christians as portraying themselves as victims is truly revolting. “My religious beliefs trump your civil rights, and common decency” makes me apoplectic. Religion is a choice! You have to be taught to hate.

  11. Regan DuCasse
    December 20, 2011

    Erin: your post was wonderful. I think I can speak for everyone that the length of a post is never a problem. I loved that you could and did share your story.

    I think we’ve all noted in all the NOISE about religious conviction driving such attitudes, NOWHERE in any of it are they as strenuous and committed in this simple teaching: To treat others as they’d want to be treated.

    That is from where the most moral and ethical of decisions and actions flow. THAT is why is such a profound directive of Christ himself.
    We might forgive the occasional failure of being able to think through that directive first, and with full consciousness.

    But in this particular subject there is ample and profound opportunity to wonder, to question, to engage that directive when someone gay is crying out in PAIN over the actions such Christians have taken.

    But all we get are excuses, blaming their target, denials and obfuscation in which to hide or shield their motives and their result.

    I don’t think I’ve seen MORE moral cowardice and intellectual and outright dishonesty than that which comes from people using their religious belief to commit injustice. And all without LISTENING, not EVER, to those they hurt. Nor to ASK after the needs of their gay brother and to see if being TRUE to the test of the pebble in the shoe, might actually do more good than harm.

    They don’t like being called bigots.
    Well, cowards, liars, control freaks, victim card players bearing false compassion are good names too.

  12. Erin
    December 20, 2011

    I wish I could make these kids see that if they’d just stick it out for a little while, they can be ushered off into the adult world where they’re free to meet people like them and not everyone is so uber about every part of their appearance and identity. If the kid I was could grow up to have decent self esteem and find happiness with a beautiful, kind, and intelligent partner, then it can happen for them too. I think these IGB videos are helpful, but it’s clear for some kids, they’re not helpful. That is frustrating and heartbreaking.

  13. Amicus
    December 21, 2011

    There are Catholic madrasses a plenty in the USA. If you are “devout”, use ‘em.

    Can’t support a “Tyler’s Army” t-shirt. A plain purple t-shirt (or dress shirt) is fine.

    Publicizing the events ex post facto (Facebook) was a poor choice, probably, if only because no one can agree what exactly happened that day in the classroom.

    Teachers taking a day off to show non-curriculum videos is a bad idea.

    People designing programs of this kind might do well to understand that religious kids need a kind of help, too. For instance, rather than a ‘suspension’, it might have been better to send them to a classroom with other ‘religious exception’ kids and let them talk out their feelings, with someone who is trained to lead that kind of discussion. (Most of these kids learn the hate from their parents, and a summary approach to disabusing them of it is not helpful.)

    People of goodwill solve these problems. Most of these first amendment cases are colossal wastes of time and money.

  14. Blake
    December 22, 2011

    No matter how stunningly ignorant, not well thought out, and poorly reasoned their arguments are; and even as offensive as they are to my concept of human dignity and life; I refuse to call these folks evil.

    Because, for starters, evil is complex. For example, the definition you cited in the article is the first half of the first paragraph of a 6000+ word article discussing evil in the Catholic Context. And, in my opinion, the definition does not make sense as provided (truncated & out of context).

    Evil is an exceptionally complex thing. Take evil actions for example. Evil Actions are seemingly easy to define. One working definition could be an Evil Action is one undertaken with the knowledge that the action will bring direct harm to another individual. Murder is an evil action. The Pinto scandal was an evil action. But even Evil Actions are more complex than first glance would lead one to assume. Take the old train shoving ethical puzzle for example: http://news.yahoo.com/kill-one-person-save-five-research-classic-debate-090500884.html

    Further, how do you define harm? What is the threshold of harm that must be crossed in order for an action to become evil?

    Evil People are even harder to pin down. For the life of me I cannot come up with a good working definition. Even if we limit the class of “Evil People” to “the people who commit evil acts”, which actors can be considered Evil People? Is the accountant who made the terrible (but to him, abstract) cost-benefit analysis an evil person? Is the executive who signed off on the analysis an evil person? Does it make a difference if he’s just incompetent and signs everything that’s placed before him? Or is he an Evil Person, regardless?

    In the case of the above I think the Thomas More folks are not well informed and the institutions which should keep them well informed consistently fail them by placing greater emphasis on conforming to their beliefs then on telling them the truth: http://wthrockmorton.com/2011/12/07/the-evangelical-blackout-of-research-on-sexual-orientation/

    The hazards of yellow journalism in the internet age, I suppose. But not evidence of willful lying.

    Finally their very actions in filing the complaint indicate the problems which arise when you start defining people as evil. I have to imagine they conceive of themselves as well meaning folks who think of “Gay People” as Evil People. In viewing gay people as evil people the opposition shuts down any hope of empathy. Why? Because they view us as evil: so why learn about us or try to see things from our perspective? If they abandon the news-sources that conform to their worldview in seeking other objective opinions then haven’t they abetted evil? Aren’t mainstream news organizations evil for not telling the “truth” about homosexuality? World Net Daily does, why can’t the New York Times? Oh, because the Times is “Evil”; or has been betrayed by “Evil” or is co-opted by “Evil”. So it makes perfect sense to an echo-chambered-evangelical(Catholic) that gay people are inherently ashamed of existing because they are inherently Evil. The calculation goes: they know in their subconscious soul that they are evil pawns of Satan so they… fill in the offensive blanks yourself.

    So lets not stoop to their level and shut out any meaningful attempts to understand their actions. If we just label them as Evil; then we think we understand their motivation. They’re motivated by Evil or hatred or pure rank animus. But they’re not. They’re motivated by fear (I’m going to expand on this underlying motivation on my blog; to launch shortly) and derivatives of the same.

    Which brings me to the: Why? as in Why Write & Post this article? There is no way these clowns are going to convince any court to take their side. As Theo rightly points out, their legal strategies boarder on incompetence. Why bring this up at this juncture(other than to try to convince people to your ideological position that “evil exists” and is easily identifiable)? If these folks are evil who else is? Who isn’t? And Why Does It Matter?

    If you convince us that we’re dealing with evil people; what good does that do for our cause?

    And why is it important to point out people in the opposition that you believe to be evil?

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