Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The "Don't Say Gay" bill

New from the "Let's Ignore Reality, Maybe It Will Go Away" department, Republicans in Tennessee are backing a bill that would prevent teachers up through ninth grade from mentioning homosexuality.

Because, after all, that's how that works, right?  A kid in third grade hears someone say the word "gay."  He says, "What's that mean?"  A teacher says, "It's when a man is attracted to another man."  Fast forward to eighth grade, and the kid is going through puberty, and suddenly remembers what the teacher said, and thinks, "Wow!  Gay!  I remember that!  I think I'll be attracted to guys!"  And suddenly, there he is, a flaming homosexual because of what a teacher said.

I am frequently appalled at how politics has become a fact-free zone.  Let's look at the facts, okay?  If the tacit assumption behind this bill is correct -- that kids exposed to information about homosexuals are more likely to be homosexuals themselves -- then you'd think that children raised by gay or lesbian parents would be the most likely to be homosexual, because not only do they know about it, they live with a couple who is openly expressing that orientation.  And you know what, Bigoted Morons Of Tennessee United?  That turns out to be untrue.  Children of gay or lesbian parents have exactly the same likelihood of being gay or lesbian themselves as the background population.

But you don't really care, do you?  Because that's not really what this is about.  This is about marginalizing and dehumanizing a group that you really detest.  The facts don't matter; this is the political version of "la-la-la-la, not listening."  If you were forced to reconsider your basic assumption -- that homosexuality is no more a choice than heterosexuality is -- then you would kind of have to revamp your whole position, wouldn't you?  And there's no way you'll do that.

And they can't really come out and call it "The Marginalization of Homosexuality Bill."  So it's been given a sanitized name; the "Family Life Curriculum Bill."  Which is worse on a number of levels, because it implies that gays and lesbians can't be a family.  It's like the "Defense of Marriage" Bills that continue to cause rancor in a number of states -- the implication is that we have to Defend Marriage, because if we allow homosexuals to marry, the entire institution will crumble, and pretty soon straight men will be rushing out, zombie-like, to marry other men, and eventually you'd have people tying the knot with various species of marine invertebrates.

Where does all of this anti-gay rhetoric come from?  The bottom line for most of these folks is the biblical prohibition of a "man lying with another man," from Leviticus.  Well, you know what?  If you are getting your morality from the bible, you'd better read more carefully.   How about the following examples of high-flung morality?  Genocide, including the killing of children, pregnant women, and the elderly, as commanded by god (Joshua 6:21 is only one of a number of examples).   A deity whose representative on earth, the "holy man" Elisha, summoned two bears to kill forty-two children who had teased him about being bald (2 Kings 2:23-24).  A law commanding a woman who had been raped to marry the rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29).  A direct statement that women should not teach, nor have any authority over men, and in fact should be silent (1 Timothy 2:11-14).  And so on and on.

So, to put it succinctly; what we have here is people using a document that, if it were actually followed to the letter, would sanction slavery, rape, genocide, and subjugation of women, being used as the justification for ignoring a group of people into nonexistence because of something that is entirely outside of their control.  The people who use the bible to defend a political stance can't be consistent; when it comes to biblical laws that would allow the mistreatment of their own wives and daughters, when it comes to god sanctioning the cold-blooded murder of children, they just close their eyes to most of the uncomfortable passages.  But the stuff about homosexuality?  Gays and lesbians are already a minority, a group that is marginalized in many ways, so they make an easy target, and give the holier-than-thou crowd a way to indulge their bigotry while claiming that all they're doing is following god's word.

The elaborate game of Let's Pretend currently going on in Tennessee will have only one effect that I can see; further relegating gay and lesbian teens to the fringe.  And speaking of ignorance of the facts; homosexual young adults have one of the highest risks of suicide of any demographic.  If they are now to be subjected to the additional indignity of nine years of "You Don't Exist," I can't imagine that number will do anything but increase.

And the kicker?  The whole thing is being cast as being about "moral behavior."  All I can say is that if you think this legislation is moral, you have a far different definition of the word than I do.

1 comment:

  1. The ignorance of our southern brothers (not all but the ones that are in fact religious bigots) make me wish that we never became a country with them.