Today's brush with ignorance comes from what often seems to be our local shrine to backwards religious nuts, the Springfield News-Loser.
Go on, brace yourself and read it. If you have a brain, it should hurt.
Anyway, I decided (while intoxicated) to crank out a response. Throw me any suggestions. It's probably a little more snarky than it should be...let me know if you think that.
Paul Summers Should Inhale My Penis*
by J.T. Eberhard
Before I dive into Paul Summers' letter, I will concede that I agree with him on one point: that all bullying is bad and should be discouraged. However, if one demographic is being abused with greater frequency, it seems only sensible that we give that group specific attention (after all, I’m against followers of any religion being fed to the lions, but that shouldn’t stop us from addressing specific examples).
Now for the abundance of places where I do not think Mr. Summers made sense. In his first paragraph he ascribes motivations to Sara Lampe that he could not possibly know without an intimate knowledge of the trappings of her mind. Nobody should be convinced by this. As for what could be identified as bullying, the measure would grant local school boards the power to make that call. If you want witnessing excluded (as I can only imagine it would be), simply make that known. The tenor of Mr. Summers letter is one of paranoia that gay people must surely be seeking some underhanded end, such as the suppression of faith, rather than just being protected from abuse. There is no reason to suspect that that is the case.
If a religious person lacks the character to realize that a person’s sexual orientation is none of their business and must approach the homosexual and attempt to impose their arbitrary standard on them…well, we cannot legislate tact or compassion. Now, if that conversation includes a negative assessment of their worth as a human being, I’d consider that bullying. Just as if I made it a point of approaching Christians in public school and calling them delusional bigots, that should also not be allowed.
I’m not sure where Mr. Summers got the idea that this measure had anything to do with interfering with churches (it probably stems from the paranoia I touched on earlier). It mentions nothing of the sort. In fact, it is very specific that this would apply only within public school grounds and property. Mr. Summers is frightened by only his own lack of information here, nothing more.
We then get this gem:
“If you do not want to be frowned upon, stop doing what causes the frowns. Grow up. Take some responsibility! If you do not want to be called "gay," stop what you are doing.”
There are several things to say about this, the most obvious of which is that if what they’re doing is not pathological in any way (and it’s not), why should the public schools tacitly endorse abuse over it? Later in his letter, Mr. Summers admonishes us that he does not want to see homosexuals bullied or degraded. How can we take him at his word when that guarantee is preceded by a statement like the one above, which clearly suggests that derision of homosexuals is acceptable until gay people change? Are you encouraging bullying? Well, despite your protestations to the contrary, yes you are.
The second thing to note is that Mr. Summers lacks the credentials to fly in the face of every credible psychiatric and medical body in this country (and the world, for that matter). That is precisely what he has done by insinuating that gay people have the option to change (or that they should even want to). The following is from the American Psychological Association, which is far and away the American authority:
“Human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. For most people, sexual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.”
Our most austere battery of medical minds, the American Medical Association, echoes the sentiments of the APA, and they take it a step further in regards to measures like the one in question:
“Our AMA will collaborate with the US Surgeon General on the development of a comprehensive report on youth violence prevention, which should include such issues as bullying, racial prejudice, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and similar behaviors and attitudes.”
This is the established opinion of the world’s most preeminent medical bodies, but Mr. Summers seems to be concealing a substantial reason to believe that they are all full of it. You can probably find the reason nestled within his one-book library.
The rest of his letter continues to disregard medical evidence and expert opinion. I’m sure that there are many people who will think that Mr. Summers' high level of piety absolves him from the normal constraints of what makes an opinion match reality. To the rest of us, it should be crystal clear that this man is scared of nothing. It is also not difficult to deduce that this man is attached to the idea of deriding normal people for imaginary crimes – his words suggest nothing else up until he assures us that he does not feel that way.
And this is the wisdom Christ has to offer me? If Christ is to be in conflict with not just reason but also compassion, I must take reason and compassion, as any decent human should.
* No, I'm not really going to use that as the title.