Saturday, September 01, 2012


Bully For Them

Rob Boston at Americans United for Separation of Church and State's blog, Wall of Separation has a post, "Equal Rights For Bullies," about how the Righteous Right is trying to keep the nationwide concern about teenage bullying from limiting their little darlings' "right" to harass other children who are, or are perceived to be, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or the like.

For instance, in Michigan, the state Senate passed a measure to deal with bullying in public schools, but it included an exemption for anyone who acts out of "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction." The good news is that, after a national uproar, the legislation passed without an official exemption for religious bullies.

Now Focus on the Family (FOF) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have come out with something called the "Anti-Bullying Policy Yardstick," which will supposedly help public school officials formulate policies that respect the "rights" of Christian students.

By all means, go over and read Mr. Boston's critique. But I think he missed something. The last provision of the FOF/ADF "yardstick" is:

A bad law expressly provides that it applies to private schools, or fails to include a provision limiting it to public schools. Applying anti-bullying laws that mandate instruction on bullying to private schools is problematic, as they would infringe on the schools' rights to set their own curriculum, and on parents' rights to have their children educated according to a non-public-school program.
Now, of course, society has the right to set the minimum standards of education that parents must provide their children ... just as it can set the minimum standards for the medical care parents must provide or the minimum food, clothing and shelter that parents must provide. And we call the failure to provide those minimums "child abuse."

The Religious Right is free to teach their children that:

If a man also lie with mankind, 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. Leviticus 20:13*
What they are not free to teach their children is that it is perfectly fine, in a free society based on laws respecting the rights of all, that it is okay to bully, harass and harm others simply because you think God finds who they are or what they do is "icky."

And, yes, we, as a society, can insist that children ... whether they are in public schools or not ... must be taught that, despite what their religion may say, they are not free to abuse others ... just as we can insist that they know that it is not acceptable to stone to death a man who lies with mankind.

Otherwise, what is even the point of calling it a "society"?


* Interestingly, if your read Leviticus 20 in its entirety and apply standard Christian exegesis, it is clear that, in the Old Testament at least, lesbianism was not condemned. When you think about it, it is not even surprising. In a society where ... what was the phrase that idiot from National Review used? ... ah, yes ... "high status males," like Abraham, David and Solomon, kept harems (so much for "one man, one woman") the focus was keeping other males away from the wives. Who cared if the girls were diddling each other?

You know, when I read this stuff about concern for students expressing "sincerely held religious beliefs" I have to wonder if the religious right has even read any of the anti-gay bullying stories that ended in suicide. Nothing in those stories sounds anything like "expressing sincerely held religious beliefs." Then again they probably don't care.

We've all been to high school. The kid who always has his nose in a bible (you know who I'm talking about) isn't the one harassing gay kids. He's getting called Jesus Freak by the same guys who call the gay kids fags.
Then again they probably don't care.

I think their real concern is that their kids will be told and believe that LGBT people are just normal people like them and nothing to fear or loathe. The real focus is not on allowing their kids to beat up gays, it is to "protect" their children from learning that gays are just like them.
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