The Great American Double Standard

Back in the 1960’s, a revolt began in the United States. Christianity, which had dominated American culture up until that point, met its match in an ever-growing group of tolerance-loving hippies. They called for free love while they used mind-altering narcotics to reach a new plane of consciousness and tried to expand their horizons to understand other religions, ideals and cultures. The lovefest quickly went sour, though. Hippies unable to put the brakes on ended up in league with hate groups – extremists who didn’t just want to broaden their horizons, but wrest control from the religious types. They wanted to see the religious people suffer. Somewhere in the different phases of the movement an unspoken middle ground was discovered and by the time I hit my teenage years, the movement to undermine Christian influence in America was strengthening.

Nowadays, it’s an all-out legal war and there is no such thing as fairness.

I once watched the principal of my high school walk out to the flagpole on See You At The Pole day and tell a teacher who had joined us to either leave the group and go inside or be fired. Since then, such attacks have evolved. Now we have students being attacked by teachers at all levels of the educational system. We also have students attacking teachers. In nearly every instance, complaints revolve around so-called “hate speech” and students have seen their transcripts ruined while professors have lost their careers in the arguments.

This week, Dr. Ken Howell was fired from his position as a professor of Catholic studies at the University of Illinois. During an email exchange with a student, Howell wrote, “Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.” The student was offended but did not complain. Instead, a friend of that student complained to the department head, and Howell was fired from his teaching job as well as his position in the Catholic student center. The complaint was that Howell was engaging in hate speech.

I disagree. He was providing his personal opinion, which was based on his religious beliefs, to a student who asked for said opinion. I saw nothing hateful in what he said. Howell wasn’t calling for gays and lesbians to be stoned, hung, or imprisoned the way we are in other parts of the world. He was simply stating his view that homosexual sex goes against the natural order of things. Technically speaking, he’s right. The natural order calls for procreation, and same-sex couples cannot do that naturally. I dare any person to logically argue that he’s wrong scientifically speaking. Whether or not it is morally wrong is another issue, one I will address in another post. Either way he had every right to express his opinion. If I were his student and he said that to me, lesbian or not, I would not have taken offense for the simple fact that I disagree and would not want to be told that I’m not allowed to disagree.

That hasn’t been the only instance. In 2008, LA Community College student Jonathan Lopez was presenting his speech class assignment – a speech on any subject and/or issue of his choosing, with no boundaries – when his instructor, John Matteson, interrupted him by calling him a “facist bastard.” Matteson allowed other students to shout Lopez down and then refused to grade the speech. His subject of choice? Why CA Proposition 8 was right. I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that a speech class wasn’t about teaching politics. I always thought it was about teaching one’s students to be able to present a speech publicly that was proper, confident and had a good flow. When did politics require that a speech student understand that “prostheletizing (sic) is inappropriate in public school” in the instructor’s estimation. Matteson wrote “ask God what your grade is” on the evaluation sheet and reportedly later threatened to have Lopez expelled for complaining.

That same year, a little closer to home for me, an occupational journalism professor at Paradise Valley Community College (which is where I took my EMT courses and will soon begin paramedic studies) refused to allow Sara Sloan to graduate. The reason offered by the instructor and his panel was that, “you identify yourself as a Christian in your bio, and that certainly comes through in the bias of this article. . . . I believe it would be a turn-off to any religion editor or reader who wasn’t a born again Christian. . . . I would have found a way to make this article relevant and inspirational even to readers who aren’t hard-core Christians.” The ACLJ had to get involved to convince the school that such things were not to be considered when deciding whether to allow a student to graduate. I was unaware that the course Sloan was taking was meant to prepare her to enter into a religion-free workplace. If it had been designated a trade course that included a need to check her faith at the door, I somehow doubt Sloan would have enrolled.

Again, that year, Suffolk County Community College student Gina DeLuca was delivered a blow that her 3.9 GPA might never have recovered. An unnamed philosophy professor required – he didn’t request, he required – that all Christian students question whether or not God actually exists in order to participate in his class. DeLuca reportedly made high marks in the class until her faith became known to the professor and she was subsequently labeled “closed-minded,” “uncritical,” “hurtful,” and “blinded by belief.” Were such a requirement made of a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist student the mainstream media never would have let go of the story. Since it was a Christian being targeted, it was acceptable.

I have yet to find a single similar story of such abuses on the ACLU’s website. Christians can’t get away with that sort of thing today.

Most of the gay people reading this missive will want to ask me if any of the students I’m naming would care about my rights. Whether they care about mine is, to me, irrelevant; I care about theirs. Even if they would want to see anti-sodomy laws written into the criminal code again I doubt they would want to see me treated like an animal simply because I’m not like them. If I were to attack their rights to the point that those rights were removed, the same thing could one day happen to me, too. The fact that I may disagree with some of the things they believe shouldn’t matter. Hate speech laws and all that leads up to them are a double-edged sword. What we enact to stop our opponents today will be used against us tomorrow.

I am completely unwilling to allow any person in America be targeted for these things, regardless of how much I may disagree with them. I would even fight for the right of the new KKK to stage their demonstrations. I would fight for the rights of a gay group to have a pride parade and festival, as long as these events did not include nudity, public sex acts and/or violence. I would even fight for the right of a group of Christians to hand out literature outside a gay pride event. I don’t care how hurt you’ve been by a particular ideal; you should be adult enough to either debate in a civil manner or politely decline and walk away.

Today, however, we have gay rights groups and other liberal organizations demanding tolerance while being entirely incapable of giving it. They’re not asking for tolerance nearly as much as they’re demanding acceptance. There’s a distinct difference, one that needs to be learned before we end up shooting ourselves in both proverbial feet.

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9 thoughts on “The Great American Double Standard

  1. I commend you on being fair-minded.
    I was expecting all gays to have a knee-jerk reaction that Dr. Ken is an evil man and deserved to be destroyed. Thank you for pleasantly surprising me. Everybody should be very concerned about this case, not just Catholics and Christians, everybody.

  2. @Grace:

    I am a gay man. Maybe because I am gay or maybe not, I recognize there are no Rights in this nation that protect anyone from being offended or having their feelings hurt.

    I’ve heard some very homophobic comments in my days. I am sure I’ll hear some more in the future too. So what? I don’t think such talk should be censored or banned. Rather it should be debated.

    When you suppress speech or try to, what you are really doing is giving credibility to what that person is saying.

  3. It’s not just about being fair-minded; it’s about doing the right thing. In America, a free country, we cannot explain away taking away any person’s life just because we don’t agree with them. I think Dr. Ken and I could probably have a good conversation about a great many things. The only reason I believe that is that I have no trouble disagreeing calmly about certain issues. It isn’t difficult to be a rational adult in a situation like this. Besides, if everyone agreed with everyone else the world would be a dull, bland place.

    I’m glad you have found that we’re not all the same. There are quite a few of us that understand the gravity in what’s going on. In the end, it’s about how you see the world. Do you see it emotionally or rationally? I think the gay people like the two students who cost Dr. Ken his job are the types who see everything emotionally. Rather than giving their logical opinion, they react with their feelings and that gets in the way.

  4. Mel, in fact the doctor’s opinion about homosexuality is also not quite spot on with the religious teachings of the Catholic Church. Or, rather, he vastly oversimplified them.

    Homosexuality – as in BEING gay – is understood to be a thing that one cannot control. It is acting on the homosexual impulses which the church condemns.

    But the church also condemns pre-marital sex, abortion, and even birth control for married couples.

    I think that a conversation between someone like you and the Professor would be tremendously interesting and enlightening for both sides.

    Which is the whole point that people like the whining students miss.

    People also seem to forget that “tolerance” doesn’t mean love and celebrate everyone. It means deal with the fact that even if you don’t like someone/thing, they still have a right to exist and have an opinion. And if you’re “tolerant”, you’ll deal with it as an adult even if you don’t agree.

    Great post, Mel!

  5. You’re far more noble than I am, I’ll admit. I honestly would NOT care for these students’ fate considering their likely opinions on my sexuality. Though you are correct, such laws inevitably end up biting one in the ass eventually. It’s just I can’t work up any personal compassion for people with such views.

  6. How’s this, Gunsmith Kitten? “You’re far more noble than I am, I’ll admit. I honestly would NOT care for these students’ fate considering their likely sexual perversions,etc.” You are so typical of gays now. If the situation were reversed, as it once would have been, what then?…I find that people like you lead me to believe that most gay posturing about “rights” is just demanding to be on top and the hell with everyone else. To me, it is all to human but deeply illiberal and deeply unAmerican. Eventually the victim becomes a tyrant. And I am, btw, a total homo who is ashamed of my people’s willingness to abandon support for free speech and free expression now that they have gained the coveted victim spot.

  7. This has nothing to do with being noble. It’s not about trying to be better than anyone else. He is entitled to his opinion as long as that opinion does not directly result in harm. If his opinion is that gays and lesbians should be beaten and/or killed, and one of his students commits that sort of crime, then we’re getting into criminal territory for which he should be held accountable.

    As long as he’s being civil – which he is – then it’s not our right or anyone else’s to ruin his entire life. That is exactly what happened, and it was done purely out of spite. That’s not tolerance.

  8. @EssEmm: I am anything but typical, sir. Left wing gays and lesbians have been keen to remind me of it all too often for my support of and donating to Pink Pistols.

    Also, would you please quote me correctly? I said nothing about THEIR sexual proclivities nor would I care. I said I can’t personally work up compassion for people who, likely, would show me little or no compassion for my sexuality. Did you miss the part where I agreed that their free speech should not be stifled? I still do. What I’m talking about is a personal feeling and only that. This thing is bigger than them, and bigger than us too. I’m willing to allow viewpoints from people I personally dislike.

  9. Mel, being able to accept other people and recognize them as human beings is definitely noble behavior, so yes you are noble.

    You are able to see – hm, not necessarily the gray shades – the many colors in the world. I love reading your defense of Christians and your outrage at liberal bigotry. You can agree to disagree without letting the disagreement offend your very existence. Liberals interpret disagreement as a savage and personal insult. They lack any self-confidence whatsoever.

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