114. ignorance

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‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.’
— Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits

Full disclosure: I am angry right now.

If you follow GLBT news at all, one of the big items in Minnesota is the announcement on Tuesday[1] that the Anoka-Hennepin school board is considering an alternative to the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy[2] that’s in place right now. This is the home district of Michele Bachmann, the anti-gay congresswoman whose husband Marcus(ss) runs the [Pray-Away-the-Gay] counselling clinic[3].

In case you aren’t familiar, the current policy prohibits teachers and administrators from talking about or interfering in matters concerning a student’s sexual orientation—including a student being bullied—the purpose being (and I’m speculating here) to protect school officials from being sued over insinuating that a teen is gay. What it’s created, however, is a culture in which GLBT teens have little recourse from bullies, and a culture in which nine students have committed suicide in the past two years, some of whom were gay or merely perceived to be gay.

Again, this is the home district of Michele Bachmann. And, not surprisingly, the Parent’s Action League, an ultra-conservative group, is protesting the new policy[4], stating that it is “being used as a pretext to advance a much broader agenda: the legitimization of homosexuality and related conduct to impressionable schoolchildren [and] will undermine the academic focus of this district and open the door to pro-homosexual and related conduct materials in the school curriculum thereby exposing students to concepts hostile to their religious faith and or moral convictions.”

So, “school safety” = “pro-homosexual.” Simply astounding.

MinnPost reported in an article on Thursday[5] that these parents also requested that, should this new policy be instituted, students also have access to information about conversion (i.e., “ex-gay”) therapy, a form of psychological terrorism that has been denounced and derided by every reputable therapist. They also demand that (and I’m not making this up) officials “provide the history of gay-related immune deficiency (GRID), AIDS, and the medical consequences of homosexual acts” and “provide pro-family, ex-homosexual and ex-transgender videos to secondary media centers.”

GRID, in case you don’t know, was the name initially proposed for the disease that became AIDS. In 1982.[6] It was promptly discarded for its inaccuracy[7]. Yet here it is again, in 2012, being referred to in a proposal by a bunch of right-wing, religious, anti-gay parents.

In Michele Bachmann territory.

This comes in the same month that the Tennessee General Assembly is meeting about the HB229 (a.k.a., “Don’t Say Gay”) bill[8] that’d make it illegal to even mention homosexuality in a public school, even though another 14-year-old committed suicide[9] this past week after he was relentlessly bullied at his school for being openly gay.

And we need to prohibit teachers from talking about homosexuality, as if that will stop kids from turning queer.

Just like we need to keep telling teens not to have sex before marriage, which is obviously going to stop teen girls from getting pregnant—just like it’s stopping them in Texas, which has the third highest teen birth rate[10], and the highest repeat teen birth rate[11], in the country. That’s one race you don’t want to come first in.

I am angry that there are still anti-sodomy laws[12] in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Montana, which means the police can technically arrest you in your own home for having “gay sex.”

I am angry that Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Reynolds is attempting to push new DADT legislation[13] that would ban GLBT citizens from openly serving in the National Guard (even though a similar measure was attempted in Virginia last year, and the federal government responded by threatening to cut their entire budget)[14], a measure that Rick Perry lent his support to by encouraging Christian Oklahomans to mobilize.

I am angry that a 16-year-old atheist student [15] in Rhode Island received violence and death threats after she sued her school to have an overtly Christian banner taken down. (This is supremely ironic, considering that Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams in 1636 as a haven for religious freedom.)[16]

I am angry that an Oklahoma Republican, State Sen. Ralph Shortey, is actually pushing a bill that would (according to the website Talking Points Memo):

outlaw the use of human fetuses in food, because, as he says, “there is a potential that there are companies that are using aborted human babies in their research and development of basically enhancing flavor for artificial flavors.”[17]

Yes. Soylent Green is a tasty food additive made from dead babies.

I am angry that Rick Santorum (among other things) is publicly saying that he thinks that women who become pregnant after being raped should “make the best of a bad situation” and carry the fetus to term as a “broken gift from god.”[18] (This coming from a privileged white guy who will never have to face that scenario himself.)

I am furious that Tennessee Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) said that it’s “virtually impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.”[19] Tell that to the 12 million women living with AIDS in 2009 in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared with 8.2 million men. (More on women living with AIDS globally at http://www.avert.org/women-hiv-aids.htm.) Tell that to the children—born of heterosexual parents, mind you—who were infected at birth.

I am furious that the Catholic Church still advises against condom use[20], in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas where it could save millions of lives, under the notion that condom use will encourage fornication and prevent procreation.

I’m fucking angry.

That is all.


References:

  1. Baca, Maria. “4 of 6 on Anoka school board back new policy on sexual orientation.” StarTribune. 24 Jan 2012.
  2. Anoka-Hennepin School District. “Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy.” 9 Feb 2009.
  3. Benjamin, Mark. “The Truth Behind Marcus Bachmann’s Controversial Christian Therapy Clinic.” Time Magazine, 15 Jul 2011.
  4. Lindquist, Bryan, and Michael Skaalerud. “Concerns & Demands.” Parents Action League, 09 Jan 2012.
  5. Hawkins, Beth. “Learning Curve.” MinnPost, 26 Jan 2012.
  6. Altman, Lawrence. “New Homosexual Disorder Worries Health Officials.The New York Times, 11 May 1982.
  7. Altman, Lawrence. “Outlook on AIDS is Termed Bleak.The New York Times, 13 Jun 1988.
  8. Towle, Andy. “Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill is Back for Another Try.” http://www.towleroad.com, 17 Jan 2012.
  9. Huffington Gay Voices. “Phillip Parker, Gay Tennessee Teen, Commits Suicide After Enduring Bullying.” Huffington Post, 23 Jan 2012.
  10. 50-State and National Comparisons.” The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Nov 2011.
  11. Lowering the Teen Birth Rate in Texas.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 Jun 2011.
  12.  Murphy, Kevin. “Gay groups angry Kansas anti-sodomy law remains on books.” Reuters, 24 Jan 2012.
  13. Wright, John. “Oklahoma lawmaker seeks to ban gays from serving openly in state’s National Guard.” DallasVoice, 10 Jan 2012.
  14. Nolan, Jim. “Cuccinelli: Va. could exclude gays from National Guard.” Inside NoVa, 31 Jan 2011.
  15. Goodnough, Abby. “Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer.” The New York Times, 26 Jan 2012.
  16. Rhode Island.” Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jan 2012.
  17. Rayfield, Jillian. “Oklahoma GOPer Proposes Bill To Outlaw ‘Aborted Human Fetuses’ In Food.” TPM. TPM Media LLC, 25 Jan 2012.
  18. Graff, Amy. “Rick Santorum: Rape babies are gifts from God.” San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc., 24 Jan 2012.
  19. Gittleson, Wendy. “Tennessee Rep. Says It’s ‘Virtually Impossible’ To Contract AIDS Through Heterosexual Sex.” Addicting Info. 26 Jan 2012.
  20. Bowcott, Owen. “Catholic church tries to clear confusion over condom use.” The Guardian. 23 Nov 2010.

2 thoughts on “114. ignorance

  1. Not to make you angrier, but the one the thing chafing me the most right now is that my state (North Carolina) has an anti-GLBT amendment coming up for vote May 8.

    I’m visiting via the Atheist Blogroll and have a secondary motive for leaving a comment … I’m after recruiting pinners for the Atheist Blogmap I maintain. Please consider checking it out and submitting your details. It’s not going to drive huge traffic or anything, but I get a little satisfaction every time I get to put another pin on it. You’d be the first Minnesotan. (And there are some fine blogs on there … near me for instance is Eric Shepherd’s.)

    • David

      Thanks for checking out the blog! I submitted all the pertinent details on the site. And yes, I know about anti-GLBT efforts in NC, and yes, it makes me pretty upset. I just have to have hope that eventually public opinion will sway enough that the politicians will no longer be able to ignore the fact that not all Americans are terrified and bigoted. It took decades, but we overcame miscegenation. I have to think that gay marriage and gay rights will turn around faster.

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