aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, April 10, 2006
Intolerance of intolerance can get you sued
Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.
Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she’s a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.
Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she’s demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.
With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all.
The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical, frames the movement as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. “Christians,” he said, “are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian.”
When Christians talk about secular Americans being “tolerant” of Christian beliefs, they are misusing the word. What conservative Christians want is not toleration, but social control. Toleration takes place between two people who know one another, and is a feature of personal relationships. Social control is about who gets the power to dictate policy and law. Christians like Mark Joseph sometimes play the “tolerance” card as a way to present themselves as a disempowered group, but what it is about them that is disempowered is their ability to tell the rest of us what to do. And most of the rules they want us to follow are abstract--rules about how men and women should relate, rules about what families should look like, rules about what people should learn. The program, for Christian conservatives, is not essentially about faith or morality--those are elements in a larger program. The larger program is enforcing conformity…
Secularists...vehemently do not want to be dictated to by religious groups, and they do not want their children to be forced to go to religious schools (school where creationism is taught as science). They are alleged to be “intolerant” of Christians. But the secularists are rarely if ever saying “Do as I do”, they are saying “Leave me alone”. The Christians quite often are not only saying, “Do as I do”, but also “My right is to make you live by my beliefs, and if you resist me, then you are ‘intolerant’.”
NBC News’ consistency
The NBC newsmagazine “Dateline” agreed to pay a civilian watchdog group more than $100,000 to create a pedophile sting operation that the network plans to feature in a series of programs next month, network representatives and the organization’s founder said. As part of the sting, the network also went along with police officials’ deputizing of the group’s members, in effect turning “Dateline’s” made-for-TV operation into a law-enforcement action. The segments, taped last month in Ohio, have prompted news media observers and others to question NBC’s methods and criticize its practices.
“Dateline’s” orchestration of the sting crossed ethical boundaries and could place the network in an awkward legal position, they said.
NBC’s senior producer of the segments, Allan Maraynes, confirmed the arrangements but said that the network had no qualms about them. “We’ve raised the public’s consciousness of a very serious issue,” he said. “We think we’ve created a model [for reporting on Internet pedophilia] that accurately reflects what happens in real life.”
I’m no prude purist. I was fully supportive of the Times on the ethical issue of Kurt Eichenwald persuading Justin Berry to abandon his porn business. Equally, I supported the Spokane Spokesman-Review investigation of Mayor Jim West where they paid a computer expert to pose as an 18-year-old man in a gay chat room.
There is no question in my mind that when a group hires an agent to negotiate a contract with a news organization, its information becomes suspect. NBC should have said no and walked away. It won’t surprise you that I don’t like the deputization either.
Christian Coalition debt
It’s not just the U.S. that has built up a debt that imperils its future. From The Washington Post today:
The once-mighty Christian Coalition, founded 17 years ago by the Rev. Pat Robertson as the political fundraising and lobbying engine of the Christian right, is more than $2 million in debt, beset by creditors’ lawsuits and struggling to hold on to some of its state chapters.
In March, one of its most effective chapters, the Christian Coalition of Iowa, cut ties with the national organization and reincorporated itself as the Iowa Christian Alliance, saying it “found it impossible to continue to carry a name that in any way associated us with this national organization.”
Gays at the WH Easter Egg Roll
It had to happen: Washington’s culture wars have now reached the Easter Bunny.
Next Monday, some 200 gay families are planning to attend the annual White House Easter Egg Roll to showcase themselves to the nation and President George W. Bush. But some religious conservatives say the families are “crashing” the public event and exploiting children for political ends. [...]
The current hostess of the egg roll, Laura Bush, has adopted a neutral position.
“All families are welcome to attend the Easter Egg Roll, provided they comply with the rules,” Susan Whitson, Laura Bush’s press secretary, said Friday. “No more than two adults per group, and at least one child under the age of 8.”
Whitson would not answer questions about how the first lady felt personally about the attendance of the large group of gay families, who say they will wear rainbow leis to distinguish themselves. But in the past the first lady has readily responded to queries about whether she and the president have gay friends.
“Sure, of course, everyone does,” she said in an interview in 2004.