Hutcherson and Barber Talk About the Day of Silence and Reveal Hutch’s Paranoia
April 24th, 2008
Rev. Ken Hutcherson spoke with Matt Barber on a Concerned Women for America podcast about Hutcherson’s protest of the Day of Silence. Barber and Hutcherson both make some claims that do not seem to be fact based and, in Hutcherson’s case, appear to demonstrate paranoia:
- GLSEN is an “adult homosexual activist group” that uses children as “pawns to futher their very deceptive agenda”.
- some Christians are taking a “very soft approach” to the Day of Silence rather than “challenge it head on” because they want “the path of least resistance”. [I assume this refers to the Golden Rule pledge]
- kids who are kept out of school on the DOS may make up an excuse rather than “stand up”.
- he was invited to speak at Mt. Si because it was “a great time to ambush the Christian”.
- he’s been labeled the “number one homophobe in the United States”. He told “them” that as long as Dr. James Dobson is alive then Dobson’s number one and he’s is number two. [I can’t find any reference anywhere to Hutcherson being labeled as the number one homophobe, much less that he responded in any way to “them”]
- there is a million dollar award out for information that would destroy his ministry.
- the minute his daughter introduced him on MLK day, white teachers booed [although news reports indicate that one teacher booed, Hutcherson repeated referred to “white teachers”, plural]
- the school promised him that there would be nothing controversially done about his appearance
- four or five teachers run the whole school, along with the principal and assistant principal and they are all afraid of the homosexual agenda
- if you look through the Bible you cannot find one word in the Bible that relates to tolerance
- the reason Jesus didn’t condemn the woman at the well was because was “set up to sin” and the man she committed adultery with wasn’t also brought. He implied that otherwise Jesus would have condemned both of them.
Barber also seems to imply that Hutcherson should engage in violence against the school authorities. Hutcherson said, “now you’ve got an angry dad”, to which Barber replies, “I don’t blame you and I seem to recall that you played a little football”. [Hutcherson played in the NFL in the 70’s].
All in all, I have to conclude that Hutcherson is either paranoid or not particularly concerned about the accuracy of his statements.
(hat tip to Good-As-You)
T-Shirt Wars: A Temporary Victory for the Mean Spirited
April 24th, 2008
Alexander Nuxoll sued his school district in order to be allowed to wear the slogan “Be Happy, Not Gay” on a t-shirt on the Day of Silence. Twice now courts have upheld the school’s right to ban insulting and discriminatory messages.
But now the Naperville Sun is reporting that appeals Judge Richard Posner has validated Nuxoll’s right to wear his message of condemnation – at least until he has his day in court.
But on Wednesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reversed the lower courts’ rulings against Nuxoll, saying the district court must order Neuqua to suspend its ban on the shirt while the civil rights lawsuit filed by Nuxoll and Neuqua grad Heidi Zamecnik proceeds.
“We cannot accept the defendants’ argument that the rule is valid because all it does is protect the ‘rights’ of the students against whom derogatory comments are directed,” states the court’s opinion, authored by Judge Richard Posner. “Of course a school can – often it must – protect students from the invasion of their legal rights by other students. But people do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or for that matter their way of life.”
Now that everyone can wear “criticism of beliefs” on their t-shirts, I wonder how Nuxoll would feel if he showed up to his class on the “Day of Truth” and found that all of his other classmates were wearing t-shirts that criticized his beliefs. But I don’t recommend that… it wouldn’t be the way I’d want to be treated.
The Golden Rule Day: Just What We Need — Another Platitude
This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
April 24th, 2008
The authors at Box Turtle Bulletin do not share consensus on this issue. For another perspective, please see Timothy Kincaid’s commentary.
Tomorrow is the much-talked-about Day of Silence, a commemoration organized by students across the country to illustrate the pressure that many LGBT kids feel to remain silent in the face of violence, torment and general hostility. This year’s Day of Silence is dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King, the 15-year-old Oxnard, California student who was fatally shot twice in the head by a classmate because he was gay.
Anti-gay activists are clamoring for a strong response to the Day of Silence, but all of their suggestions ignore the very real problem of violence against LGBT students. Instead, they’ve turned their outrage over merely bringing up the subject into a political attack against all things gay, threatening to pull their kids from classroom, stage walkouts, and organize noisy protests in front of schools. They say that calling attention to the fact that kids can actually be murdered is “disruptive,” presumably more disruptive than their own disruptions. But I wonder: how disruptive was Lawrence King’s murder to his classmates and family?
There is one response to the Day of Silence which is unique and notworthy. It is Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s call for a simultaneous Golden Rule Day. The idea behind the Golden Rule Day is that “Christian students” should grab the spotlight by handing out cards printed with the Golden Rule. The cards read simply:
This is what I’m doing:
I pledge to treat others the way I want to be treated.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).
The Golden Rule is one of Christendom’s highest tenets. It’s how we all should seek to live. And the Golden Rule represents everything that all of us have ever asked for in our lives, gay and straight alike.
And I am happy to see that one of the expressed statements offered by Dr. Throckmorton in promoting his Golden Rule idea is that
GLBT students and peers as well as other who appear different have been the target of harassment, violence and scorn. We believe this is wrong. The church should lead the way in combating violence and harassment in schools. [Emphasis his]
I’m glad to see that that Dr. Throckmorton has gone straight to the heart of the problem. I believe that he is sincere in his motivation for proposing the Golden Rule Day. I agree that the church should lead the way in combating violence and harassment. And I am happy to see that a few groups are truly taking his suggestions to heart by reaching out to LGBT groups on campus to address this very issue.
I’m glad that Dr. Throckmorton and a few very specific groups have taken on the challenge of discussing anti-gay intimidation and violence. But if people of good faith are willing to talk about anti-gay violence, the Day of Silence was already there as an invitation.
But I am concerned that the Golden Rule Day will go forward without those direct conversations far more often. And under this more likely scenario, I believe there are four critical problems with the Golden Rule Day as it is conceived right now.
A Tool of Division
First, the proposed Golden Rule Day is to be held on the very same conflicting day that LGBT kids are trying to raise awareness to the problems they face, including violence, ridicule, and even death threats. By doing this, the Golden Rule Day too easily becomes a competing counter-event which draws attention away from the very problem that LGBT kids are trying to highlight. At least the organizers of the horribly misnamed “Day of Truth” have the courtesy of holding their event on a different day so as not to appear to infringe upon the Day of Silence. With the Golden Rule Day, LGBT kids don’t even get that.
Second, because the Golden Rule Day is a competing counter event as a response motivated by opposition to homosexuality, it places the Golden Rule itself — one of Western Civilizations most cherished precepts — in opposition to homosexuality. If the Christians are “for” the Golden Rule, then it follows that those who are participating in the Day of Silence aren’t following it. It’s appalling see the Golden Rule become a tool of division, but this is precisely the implications of using the Golden Rule this way.
And this leads directly to my third objection. By framing the Golden Rule Day as a “Christian response” to the Day of Silence, it perpetuates the false Christian vs. Gay dichotomy. I know that it galls a lot of people to suggest that it’s possible to be gay and Christian, but thousands of gay Christians are doing it anyway. But in several parts of the country where Christian identity is paramount and everyone else is worse than terrorists, this can set up a very dangerous dynamic with gay kids caught in the middle — the very dynamic that Dr. Throckmorton seeks to prevent.
And finally — and this, I think, is the biggest problem — the Golden Rule card doesn’t address violence at all. It’s very open ended, allowing it to be exploited in any number of ways. And I do believe it will be exploited because there is a long history of positive sounding messages being turned against us. There is no mention of violence and harassment anywhere on the card, and there is no expectation that such a specific conversation will actually take place.
We’ve heard the “love the sinner, hate the sin” being used to justify the notion that because I really love you, I must condemn your sinful ways, tell everyone you’re caught up in an evil agenda, repeat all sorts of slanders about people like you, and even make harassing phone calls while uttering the most vile accusations.
Too many people believe this is how the Golden Rule works. Incredibly, I’ve even heard non-gay people say that if they were gay, they’d want someone to do everything possible to force them to “stop being gay.” I’m sure Sally Kern believes that pleas to follow the Golden Rule needn’t be directed toward her.
The Golden Rule is one of those wonderful aphorisms which serve more as a Rorschach test than a standard. It can mean whatever anybody wants it to means, allowing it to a provide a “nice” cover for those who have no intention of changing their attitudes or behavior. It’s too easy for the Golden Rule Card to become a sanctimonious, self-righteous and passive-aggressive reaction to the Day of Silence. It allows them to claim the moral high ground — a high ground which by their definition is not a level playing field.
Days and Days of Silence
More than a year ago, I attended a Love Won Out conference in Phoenix put on jointly by Exodus International and Focus On the Family. That’s where I heard Focus’s Mike Haley address anti-LGBT violence in a Q&A session:
I think, too, we also have to be just as quick to also stand up when we do see the gay and lesbian community being come against as the Body of Christ. We need to be the first to speak out to say that what happened to Matthew Shepard was a terrible incident and should never happen again. And that we within the Body of Christ are wanting to protect that community and put our money where our mouth is…
That was a real “Wow!” moment for me. I thought finally, someone gets it. I can’t tell you how encouraged I was to hear Mike Haley say that. It was an ultimate Golden Rule moment. And I can’t begin to describe how disappointed I’ve been since then.
One year later, Lawrence King was killed in cold blood on February 12 in front of his teachers and classmates. Since then, conservative Christians leaders have celebrated seventy-three consecutive Days of Silence.
I’ve searched for Lawrence King’s name on Focus On the Family’s web site and CitizenLink. Guess what? There’s nothing but silence. I’ve searched the Family Research Council’s web site. More silence. Same with American Family Association’s OneNewsNow, the Christian Post, Christianity Today, the Christian Newswire and the Baptist Press. Nobody has raised their voice. Instead, we’ve had days and days of silence all around.
Exodus International, one of the principal sponsors of the so-called “Day of Truth,” has joined this perverse Days of Silence observation as well. I haven’t been able to find any statements of concern or condemnation from Exodus president Alan Chambers, vice-president Randy Thomas, or youth assistant Mike Ensley.
Believe me, I’ve been looking for it because I’d love nothing better than to be able to write a post and say, See? They really are concerned. But none of them could be bothered to put down their instruments of cultural warfare to say, “This was a terrible incident and should never happen again.”
But we do we hear from those who profess to follow the Golden Rule that we are part of an evil agenda, that there is a war between us and them, and that protecting LGBT youth is “worse than the holocaust.” We even hear preachers make light of anti-LGBT violence from their pulpits and threaten teachers who provide a safe place for gay kids to meet.
Oh yes, these people we hear loud and clear. No silence from them at all. And you can bet that each one of them thinks they’re following the Golden Rule.
So forgive me if I see this whole Golden Rule Day in a cynical light. A whole trainload of well-designed cards with yet another scripture quote won’t paper over the problem of anti-LGBT harassment and violence. And using Christianity’s highest ideal as a salve for Golden Rulers’ consciences won’t cut it either. Based on my past experiences with others passing out similar messages, if someone handed me a card like this today I would just throw it in the trash and roll my eyes. I’ve seen too many wonderful statements like this that have turned out to be empty platitudes, and I now find myself suffering from yet another case of déjà vu.
My question is this: what happens the day after everyone has handed out their Golden Rule cards and gone home? Will a conservative Christian leader somewhere suddenly decide to remember Lawrence King? Because I’m still waiting.
If you really want to know how I would have you do unto me, there’s my answer.
Hutcherson to Annoy Mt. Si High School Again
April 23rd, 2008
Rev. Ken Hutcherson is determined to be a general nuisance and all around pain in the ass.
He has opposed Washington’s non-discrimination laws. He’s threatened Microsoft with a hostile take-over because they support their gay employees. But now he’s set his sights a bit lower – Mt. Si High School where his daughter attends.
He has tried to get two teachers fired. He’s tried to get the Gay-Straight Alliance banned. He harassed and threatened the librarian. And now he’s going to be protesting the schoolkids who observe the Day of Silence.
Oh yeah, while kids on the inside are silently bringing attention to bullying, Hutcherson will be outside presenting himself as a screaming ranting example of the type of threat that gay kids face.
On his church’s website he says
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Prayer Warriors, it’s time to put on your knee pads and start praying! I am organizing a protest of Mt. Si High School and the Snoqualmie Valley School District. We will be protesting at Mt. Si High School on the Day of Silence, April 25 at 10:00 am. We have taken out a huge ad in the Snoqualmie Valley newspaper which will run next Wednesday. Please pray that over 1,000 people will participate.
Enough is enough. We have tried to work with the School District and they will not hear us. They will hear this protest. Pray it up! It’s time to make a moral stand in our public schools.
Please, no one tell Pastor Hutch that by next Wednesday the event will be over.
The Monday radio program that featured Hutcherson claimed that several high schools in and around Seattle are trying to stop the event from happening. All of the schools contacted by The Stranger, however, including some of those mentioned on the program, said the activity is going forward—sponsored by students and without interference from school administrators. “Of course we would hope that there’s tolerance of other people and other lifestyles, on any day of the year and not just one day,” said David Tucker, a Seattle Public Schools spokesperson.
Fortunately, the Reverend Ken Hutcherson will not be the sole voice of Christianity or community to be heard by gay kids at Mt. Si
A group at Tolt Congregational Church in Carnation plans to run an ad beside Hutcherson’s in Wednesday’s edition of the Snoqualmie Valley Record reading, “We are One in The Spirit,” and pledging to support the GSA. Another group, called “Friends of GSA,” is encouraging Snoqualmie residents to confront Hutcherson’s group outside of Mount Si on Friday morning, although McCormick isn’t thrilled about that. “A school is not the right place for this,” she said.
Poor Hutch. His efforts to stop the Day of Silence are not going to be any more effective than his bid to remove domestic partners insurance from Microsoft. But at this point I doubt that he has any illusions about his effectivity; he just likes to see his name in print.
Golden Rule Day Gathers Steam
This commentary is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
April 22nd, 2008
NOTE: The authors at Box Turtle Bulletin do not share consensus on this issue. Watch for further commentary.
Friday will be the Day of Silence, observed by schoolkids across the nation to remind their peers that LGBT kids are often silenced by homophobia and acts of violence against them. This year, the DOS will be in honor of Lawrence King, a 15 year old kid shot in the head by a classmate for being gay.
At the initiation of the Day of Silence, anti-gays became furious. They saw this as an effort to encourage students to think favorably of homosexuality. And rather than risk a reduction in the cultural rejection of homosexaulity, they harshly objected to any effort to draw attention to the verbal and physical violence that gay students experience every day.
So they started a rebuttal, the Day of Truth. As Daniel illustrated, there’s little truth expressed by DOT, but that’s not important to them. Their primary purpose is to make certain that gay students know that they reject the DOS’ efforts to reduce violence and discrimination against them.
Further efforts to counter the Day of Silence include a call to parents to remove their children from school that day lest they find merit in the anti-violence message.
Often this response leaves gay people and their friends confused. “Shouldn’t Christians be the first to oppose violence and cruelty?”, they ask.
Well that message is finally finding a home. A joint effort by Warren Throckmorton, psychology professor at Grove City College, and Michael Frey, a director with Campus Crusade, seeks to support the message of non-violence.
Throckmorton and Frey are encouraging conservative Christian students to join the silent protest, but to also let their classmates know that it is because of their Scriptural belief in the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It now appears that they are finding support from some Christian kids who were a bit uncomfortable with the message of rejection and condemnation.
Some bridges are being built. For instance, a Campus Crusade for Christ group at Slippery Rock recently entered a dialogue with a gay support group on campus and will help lead the call for respectful treatment of all students on campus. Randy Veccia, student leader, says the efforts of both groups will serve “to raise awareness that everyone deserves to be loved.” Christian students in high schools in Greensboro, NC are going to reach out in ways not contemplated before.
And the effort now has the support of Rev. Bob Stith, Gender Issues Strategist for the Southern Baptist convention.
I have long thought Christians were missing a great opportunity by not being more vocal in helping to make our schools safe places for all kids. It doesn’t require that we compromise our beliefs. Indeed it can give us a great opportunity that we might not otherwise have.
What a wonderful opportunity to express our convictions in a way that is positive, loving and redemptive. What a wonderful opportunity to train our children to care about all people, to model the example of Jesus and the woman at the well.
Who knows but what this could even be the beginning of a movement that will turn the tide of school shootings and violence in the hallways?
I have no expectation that any of those involved in this effort will change their theological objection to sexual activity between individuals of the same sex any time soon. Nor do I think that is a reasonable demand to make of them.
Further, I hope that we are all careful that efforts are not made to dis-identify those individuals who are currently being targeted for bullying and violence, thus diminishing the message that these specific people – gay kids – are worthy of decency and love.
But I welcome those conservative Christians kids who are willing to stand up against mistreatment of their gay fellow students, whether or not they are convinced of their salvation. And I believe that as conservative Christian students begin to see their gay classmates as children of God and worthy of respect, and as gay students begin to see conservative Christians as allies rather than oppressors, common ground can be reached.
We can all at some point make our theological arguments on their merits once peace is established. But in the meanwhile lets agree to join forces to fight against the common enemies of violence and brutality.
T-Shirt Wars: Appeals
April 5th, 2008
For some reason, some culture warriors believe it is their Christian duty to condemn gay people. One favorite method is through T-Shirts in public schools.
Heidi Zamecnik, 17, of Naperville, and Alexander Nuxoll, 14, of Bollingbrook, are students at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville.
In response to a National Day of Silence event in April 2006, Zamecnik wore a shirt to school that read “MY DAY OF SILENCE, STRAIGHT ALLIANCE” on the front and “BE HAPPY, NOT GAY” on the back
She was told that she could wear a t-shirt that supported heterosexuality, such as “Be Happy, Be Straight”, but that she could not wear one that denied the happiness of fellow gay students.
But oh no, Zamecnik and her straight alliance don’t want to promote a pro-straight message, just an anti-gay one. Zamecnik has graduated and thus lost standing, but Mr. Nuxoll has stepped in the battle on. He, too, would like to express his contempt.
And the ever eager ADF, of course, is fighting for Nuxoll’s right to be obnoxious.
“Christian students shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” attorney Nate Kellum said in a statement Friday.
I’m assuming that “their beliefs” could also include their contempt of other religions or other sects as well, but Kellum didn’t talk about that.
The anti-gays lost the first round but appealed.
A three-judge panel heard testimony Friday in a Naperville high school student’s appeal to wear a T-shirt expressing opposition to homosexuality.
Young Nuxoll is hoping a decision is made in time for him to wear his neighbor-condemning shirt on the Day of Silence, April 28.
Sometimes I wonder if the ADF isn’t secretly an anti-Christian organization dedicated to making those who practice the faith look like a bunch of hate-full buffoons. They certainly are having that effect on youth.
Anti-Gay T-Shirt Wars
February 13th, 2008
The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal arm of the social conservative movement. They are also the founders and promoters of the Day of Truth, an effort on school campuses to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda”. The DOT grew out of efforts to oppose the Day of Silence, a program by gay students and their friends and allies to bring attention to how heterosexism and homophobia silence the voices of the LGBT minority.
The Day of Truth walks a careful line. While they talk about “tolerance for opposing viewpoints” (their anti-gay viewpoints, primarily) and claim that there is “freedom to change”, they stop short of outright attacks on gay students.
But this is not because they want to avoid such attacks. Indeed, the Alliance Defense Fund would like little more than to teach hostility to homosexuality and silence anyone who disagrees. But school boards have restricted the ability of anti-gay students to publicly condemn their fellow students.
ADF is not happy.
The best known of these cases is that of Tyler Chase Harper. Young Mr. Harper wore a T-Shirt to his school in the Poway Unified School District in response to the 2004 Day of Silence. His eloquent message was Homosexuality Is Shameful, Romans 1:27″. That didn’t get Harper enough attention, so the next day he ratcheted up his message to “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned.”
On the second day, school administrators told him that he could not wear a message that was overtly hostile to other students and asked him to remove the statement – which had been added to his plain black T-Shirt with masking tape. Harper refuse and, with the help of ADF, sued his school. (One can’t help but wonder what Harper would have worn the next day if this message did not get his desired result).
The judge found that Harper did not have a case. ADF appealed.
In 2006, a three judge appeals panel found that “the school is permitted to prohibit Harper’s conduct…if it can demonstrate that the restriction was necessary to prevent either the violation of the rights of other students or substantial disruption of school activities.” But they did not rule on the case itself.
In August 2006, the Ninth Circuit appeals court denied en banc review (review by all of the judges). This time the decision was in more direct language.
“Hate speech, whether in the form of a burning cross, or in the form of a call for genocide, or in the form of a tee shirt misusing biblical text to hold gay students to scorn, need not under Supreme Court decisions be given the full protection of the First Amendment in the context of the school environment, where administrators have a duty to protect students from physical or psychological harms.”
In their quest to equate the statement “treat all students with fairness” to “condemn some students based on one’s own religious beliefs”, ADF continued with their lawsuit to overturn restrictions on hostile messages in an environment in which attendance is compulsory. But by the time that the case made its way to the US Supreme Court, Chase Harper graduated and the decision was moot.
However Chase Harper’s little sister Kelsie discovered that she too had a burning drive to condemn her fellow students and the lawsuit was transferred to her.
ADF asked the judge to reconsider his ruling throwing out the case. U.S. District Judge John Houston issued his ruling today. Not surprisingly, he hadn’t changed his mind.
He wrote that a school “interest in protecting homosexual students from harassment is a legitimate pedagogical concern that allows a school to restrict speech expressing damaging statements about sexual orientation and limiting students to expressing their views in a positive manner.”
Interestingly, the ADL is supported by that organization most hated by social conservatives, the American Civil Liberties Union.
David Blair-Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, said the case is troubling. The ACLU filed a brief in support of Harper’s speech rights – siding with the religious groups that they are often at odds with.
“This theory is a novel and extreme expansion of a school’s rights to limit speech,” Blair-Loy said. Schools potentially could ban any speech they say is “psychologically damaging.”
“And let’s face it: What about high school is not psychologically damaging?” Blair-Loy said. “This student wore a T-shirt that expressed an idea. It’s an idea we don’t agree with at the ACLU, but that is the essence of free speech. It’s not just for ideas you like.”
In the midst of this battle in the Great American Culture War Against Gay People, I think something is being forgotten by both sides. Any ruling that allows social conservatives to attack gay people… also allows other students to attack religion.
If messages are allowed that condemn homosexuality on religious terms, then would not messages that condemn religion on terms of orientation be allowed? Surely they could not disallow “Christianity is a Hateful Religion and those who follow it are Homophobes and Bigots”.
And is it then a far reach from “Homosexuality Is Shameful” to “Catholicism is Idolatry” or “Speaking in Tongues is Satanic”? Would Jews be accused of “killing our Savior”? Would a school with a small Muslim minority be force to subject those students to T-Shirts attacking their faith?
This is not without precedent. In 1984 religious activists pushed the Equal Access Act through Congress so as to allow Bible Clubs on school campuses. It said that if a school allows ANY non-curricular organizations to meet, it has to all ALL non-curricular organizations to meet. This is the piece of legislation that protects Gay-Straight Alliances from being banned by homophobic school administrations – a consequence that Bible Club backers did not intend.
I doubt that ADF or those who support them have thought about the eventual results of their efforts. But, then again, this is a great fund raiser for ADF and I doubt they much care. After all, an anti-Christian T-shirt on some campus would give them another lawsuit for which to request funds and issue press releases.
Day Of “Truth”?
April 9th, 2007
April 18th is the annual observance of the Day of Silence, a student-run even to bring awareness to the silencing effect that anti-LGBT bullying and discrimination has in the schools. Anti-gay groups are countering that with a so-called “Day of Truth” to be held the following day. Truth Wins Out has released a brand new video featuring Ex-Gay Watch’s Daniel Gonzales which examines the “truthiness” of the “Day of Truth” web site.