Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Has the Christian Right Jumped on the Wrong Campaign?

The story that went around the media, courtesy of a far Right fundamentalist group, was that a poor Christian high school student, Dakota Ary, was being picked on because he's a Christian who, of course, dislikes gay people intensely. Dakota, by the way, even with the long curly locks and a rather feminine-sounding name, is a boy.

The story that went out was entirely one-sided. It claimed that Dakota was sitting in class minding his own business when he was possessed to quietly make an anti-gay remark to another student sitting near him. We were told he did in a manner so as to NOT disturb the class, that it wasn't directed at anyone in particular, and all he was doing was expressing his faith.

I was waiting for more information until I commented, but I was already a wee bit suspicious. The first thing I had to wonder about was how the claim that he did this quietly so as to not disrupt the teaching or the classroom in any manner. If this were so, then precisely how did the teacher hear the remark and report the miscreant to the school, which then suspended him? After all, the fundamentalists insisted that the boy didn't speak loud enough to disrupt the class in any way. That would seem to imply he was so quiet that other students, except the one he was speaking to, would NOT have heard this. Yet, the teacher heard it at the front of the room, during a lecture. So, clearly the teacher could hear the remark over his own voice as he was speaking.

But, if the teacher heard the remark over his teaching voice, then it would mean that other students would have heard the remark over the teacher's lesson as well. And, if other students heard Dakota preaching louder than the teacher was teaching, then, ipso facto, Dakota did disturb the class, contrary to the claims his defenders were spewing to the media.

Having escaped from the clutches of fundamentalists some years ago I also know that they are always tempted to lie in situations like this, for the sake of morality, of course. So, I was suspicious that they insisted the boy also only spoke respectfully and didn't direct his remarks at anyone. I assumed, based on the odds, that this was an outright lie. I assumed, wrongly, that the remarks would be directed at another student.

After a week of the fundamentalist Right whining and crying over the alleged issue of "political correctness," some friends of the teacher are now coming forward to speak on his behalf. And the story that is emerging there is very different than the webs spun by the PR people for the misnamed Liberty Institute, the bigots behind the story.

The teacher and the school are forbidden to speak publicly about the matter while it is being investigated but some individuals have meet with the teacher privately to discuss the issue. His story is significantly different.

The class in question was a course on German and Germany. The teacher, not a student, had been the object of various anti-gay remarks made by Dakota and a few of his friends. They perceived the teacher to be gay and would make snide and snotty remarks directed at him, in his presence. The teacher, Kristopher Franks, is said to have reported these incidents to the school several times already, indicating it was a consistent patter by Dakota and his friends to disrupt the classroom by harassing the teacher.

On one occasion Franks reported that he had posted various German language articles on a board in the classroom. One of the articles mentioned gay politics in Germany and had a picture of two men in it. Dakota and his fellow harassers were seated at desks next to the wall where the article was posted. When Franks was not looking the article was ripped off the board and vanished. Apparently the fundamentalist defense team is not denying this but instead saying it violated the rights of the students by "imposing acceptance of homosexuality" on the classroom. The nonsense there is that "acceptance" can not be imposed. It is an inner state and not subject to the control of others. One can fake acceptance, but that doesn't make it real.

According to the friends of the teacher, who claim to have spoken to other students in the class, Dakota and his gang of friends frequently would burst out with anti-gay remarks in class under the pretense of "class discussion." But, it was reported that they did this even when the topics under discussion were not even remotely connected to the topic.

The Liberty (sic) Institute claimed that the discussion in class was on homosexuality. Not so, say others who were there. The topic, in fact, was about religious life in German with various students asking about what sort of religions were practiced there. Instead of whispering quietly to a friend, Dakota supposed said very loudly "Gays can't be Christians." (Exactly why they would want to be remains to be seen.) And, instead of the remark not being directed at anyone, the report is that Dakota was looking directly at the teacher and intended the remark for him.

Sadly this sort of dishonest representation is all too typical among Christian fundamentalists. It would be relatively easy to put together an entire book of the various lies they have told and continue to tell.

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