What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Ichor
Using current vernacular, the issue I’m about to discuss is “gay” (read: stupid, idiotic, absurd, etc.).
Rebekah Rice, a high school freshman in California and a Latter-day Saint, was harassed (you might call it “hate speech”!) by fellow classmates about her religion. Evidently ignorant to the fact that Mormons do not practice polygamy, the classmates asked Rebekah such questions as “Do you have 10 moms?”.
Rebekah’s response: “That’s so gay.”
While her response was void of wit and sagacity (which can only be expected of a freshman), Rebekah’s response was no more “hate speech” than were the religiously-saturated comments her classmates were sending her way.
But who got in trouble? The Mormon girl that said the word gay.
Those three words landed the high school freshman in the principal’s office and resulted in a lawsuit that raises this question: When do playground insults used every day all over America cross the line into hate speech that must be stamped out?
After Rice got a warning and a notation in her file, her parents sued, claiming officials at Santa Rosa’s Maria Carillo High violated their daughter’s First Amendment rights when they disciplined her for uttering a phrase “which enjoys widespread currency in youth culture,” according to court documents.
Testifying last week about the 2002 incident, Rice, now 18, said that when she uttered those words, she was not referring to anyone’s sexual orientation. She said the phrase meant: “That’s so stupid, that’s so silly, that’s so dumb.”
But school officials say they took a strict stand against the putdown after two boys were paid to beat up a gay student the year before.
One might do the school officials a favor and inform them of the many persecutions Mormons have suffered at the hands of religious bigots. Clearly a young Latter-day Saint such as Rebekah deserves to be equally defended. Where are the officials and their “strict stands” when it comes to religion?
“The district has a statutory duty to protect gay students from harassment,” the district’s lawyers argued in a legal brief. “In furtherance of this goal, prohibition of the phrase ‘That’s so gay’ … was a reasonable regulation.”
The teachers aren’t apparently hip to the latest jargon, otherwise they would know that “that’s so gay”, as Rebekah stated in her court hearing, has nothing to do with homosexuality. While such language shows a lack of intellect, it is far from vitriolic and persecutory. Would these teachers react similarly upon hearing another slang term such as “that’s so jewish”? Why is it that sexual affiliation has received any greater weight and protection than religious affiliation?
In recent years, gay rights advocates and educators have tried teaching students that it is hurtful to use the word “gay” as an all-purpose term for something disagreeable. At Berkeley High School, a gay student club passed out buttons with the words “That’s so gay” crossed out to get their classmates to stop using them.
Here’s an English lesson for the gay student club at Berekely High School in an effort to help them understand the nature of this “all-purpose term”:
gay /geÉª/ -er, -est
1. having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2. bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
Put that on your buttons, kiddos.
Rice’s parents, Elden and Katherine Rice, also claim the public high school employed a double-standard because, they say, administrators never sought to shield Rebekah from teasing based on Mormon stereotypes.
In addition, the Rices say their daughter was singled out because of the family’s conservative views on sexuality. They are seeking unspecified damages and want the disciplinary notation expunged from Rebekah’s school record.
While it’s sad that a lawsuit is required in order to bring attention to this issue, Rebekah’s parents are right to observe a double standard and blatant hypocrisy on the part of these school officials. As the Congress-controlling democrats continue to push their hate speech legislation, we’re bound to see more threats to free speech. I applaud the Rice family for taking a stand for conservative values and the license to tout them just as freely as their opponents tout theirs (could you imagine what kind of ruckus a polygamy club on a high school campus would cause?!)
Eliza Byard, deputy executive director of the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said nearly nine out of 10 gay students her organization surveyed in 2005 reported hearing “That’s so gay” or “You’re so gay” frequently.
So? I was made fun of all the time in school for being LDS. Life is difficult, people are mean, and not everybody agrees with your moral and religious persuasion. Get over it! This is hardly any reason to enforce punishment for mere words.
“The job of a school is to deal proactively and consistently with all forms of bullying, name-calling and harassment,” she said.
So our compulsory education system is also an arm of the police state entity? That’s so gay. Oops, I just said it!
Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, agreed “That’s so gay” carries a negative meaning and said he would not want his children to say it. But he said formal discipline is not the answer.
“Reasonable people should say, `Let’s put a stop to this kind of search-and-destroy mission by school officials for everything that is politically incorrect,'” he said.
Ah, finally, somebody with a good head on their shoulders. As Lorence mentions, school officials are hardly worthy advocates for policing children, enforcing PC language, defending the minority, and promoting the ideals coming from the appointed boards and institutions (such as the liberal NEA).
They’re educators, not enforcers!
Or are they?