A few years ago, many years after I graduated from my small-town high school, I followed a big controversy involving my alma mater. Apparently, horror upon horrors, a lesbian couple was photographed and placed on the "couples page" in the school's yearbook. Oh. my. gawd. You would have thought, by the reaction of parents and community members, that the high school yearbook had published pictures of fully nude, young lesbians swathed in rainbow flags while burning the Bible. Instead, what was pictured, was a lesbian couple holding hands. *gasp* An emergency school board meeting was called where parents, students and community members expressed their outrage and threatened to protest and sue the school district for amounts ridiculous enough to make you roll your eyes back in your head. The school district was forced to print new yearbooks (no, I'm not kidding) and from then on, all yearbook publications were to be fully approved by not only the yearbook teaching staff (who saw no problem with including the girls to begin with), but also by the school board itself. The "safety" of our children, of course, trumps any duty we may have to support freedom of speech. (Did you gag yet?)
In another high school, within the past few weeks, a student expressed his right to free speech. The title of this young man's editorial, "Homosexual teens alienated by current societal trends", is misleading as far as what you may think the article includes or discusses. Young Mr. Johnson feels that homosexual relationships "just are not normal". Okay, cool. I've heard worse. Then Mr. Johnson goes on to proclaim that same-sex dating should not be allowed because (wait for it) there is legislation preventing same-sex marriage in our country. I find his logic clever in a way. He's clearly spent lots of time thinking about the gays and our lives.
Then Mr. Johnson pulls out the Bible verses...because really, that's the true way to justify your homophobia and prejudice. Ain't no way to validate your views like a Bible verse. He writes (in regards to his, and others, opposition to same sex relationships):
"Also, less commonly cited, is the death penalty called for in another Bible verse, Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with man, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” These are the most common arguments against homosexual marriage and/or dating."
He wraps his editorial up by calling same-sex relationships a "social disruption".
Wait, did he call for my death? *shrug*
Do you think he would have been allowed to call for the death of African Americans? Or would that have been going too far?
I'm being dramatic, for no reason but to allow myself to really process what this KID has said. Does free speech include the right of a person to imply that an entire group should be put to death? (I'm not asking for you, I'm asking for me) Is there a difference between publishing a picture of a lesbian couple holding hands and a young man using Bible verses to call for the death of homosexuals?
I'd like to say, "Yes! There's a difference!" How dare this kid be allowed to write what he did, in a high school where surely some of the students are struggling with their sexual orientation!
But, I can't say that. He has a right to express his beliefs and views. And I believe that it is very important that we, as a progressive society, hear and become fully aware of exactly what types of people and views we are working against.
I find his opinions predictable, simplistic (always gotta quoth the Lord) and yes, disgusting. I'm not so sure his opinions would have stood had he railed against black people, women, Jews, Mormons, the disabled, etc. etc. etc...... What I find more disturbing is that someone shaped his opinions. His parents? Have they sat around the table discussing the fact that "teh gays should die, die, die"?
He writes a well-researched editorial. He supports his views with well-documented sources. (heh) Hey, maybe he has a future in this. He's already garnered this much attention. Maybe I'll recommend him to Newsmax or Fox News.