Toughness is not being a bully. It’s having backbone.
Mother Jones has an article up this morning on Kevin Jennings, former head of the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free schools. It’s worth a read, but especially for this…
Here are some of the lies that conservative activists, fundamental religious groups, and Fox News commentators like Sean Hannity spread about Kevin Jennings during his two-year tenure as head of the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free schools:
He promoted fisting in schools. He told kids how to cruise leather bars. He was a pedophile. He promoted porn in the classroom. He ignored the sexual abuse of a teenager. He supported the North American Man Boy Love Association.
The nasty attacks even prompted 53 Republican members of Congress to demand that President Obama fire Jennings. In October 2009, they wrote that he was unfit for the job thanks to his playing “an integral role in promoting homosexuality and pushing a pro-homosexual agenda in America’s schools—an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children.”
Jennings, ironically, had joined the administration to help combat bullying in public schools only to find himself a target of relentless attacks himself. The Jennings hatred on the right ran so deep that Federal Protective Services began monitoring death threats and advised him to assume that every time he went out, someone was following him.
President Obama backed him. But more importantly to Jennings I’m sure, his other half did too. With this:
“There were moments when I wondered why anyone goes into public service in America.” But his partner Jeff Davis told him, “You’ve spent your whole life fighting bullying. You’re not going to give into bullies now.”
This is something you almost miss in the story of Kevin Jennings and the Furious Right. The reason the anti-gay industrial complex was so fanatically determined to get Jennings if not canned outright, then at least neutralize his ability to combat bullying, wasn’t just for the sake of all their dear little grade school brownshirts. They were still playing the old schoolyard game themselves. In all anti-gay activism, and particularly the kind that gets people listed in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate groups list, there is that unmistakable element of school yard thuggery lurking just under the surface. Hey faggot…
And there, in the story of Kevin Jennings, is also a story about bullies never growing up, never changing their stripes. No, instead they form groups like FRC and NOM so they can get a paycheck for bullying. Or they take to the pulpits and trade their clubs for the bible. Or they get elected to public office and trade fists for the force of law. But the mindset hasn’t changed, and more specifically, the glee at seeing the impact in the target’s face, the pain rendered in the victim. What do anti-discrimination laws take from them other then the happy sight of a livelihood lost, a dream of a better life kicked apart like a sandcastle. What does same-sex marriage take from them besides the shear pleasure of pissing on someone’s most perfect happiness. Anything that forces them to keep their hands off of us, takes an important element of joy from their lives.
Hence the notion that by fighting back against hate, we are attacking them. It’s a old story…the bully that finally pushes their victim beyond the breaking point and then the victim swings back, and the bully runs crying to the school principal. That isn’t just a schoolyard script, grown men and women play it out every day in the halls of congress and on the TV talk shows, fighting, fighting relentlessly, for the basic human right to keep kicking that gay kid in the face. Lest their own importance be diminished, their own lives a little less meaningful. Once a bully, always a bully.
And wouldn’t you know, just as I posted this I see over at Good As You that Linda Harvey is railing against the entire concept of keeping gay kids safe in school…
“This grant seeks to establish in school policy the myth that there is an inborn “gay, lesbian or bisexual” human identity, but it’s not true. There’s only behavior, which God has told us is an abomination.
Yes Linda. Gay kids are an abomination in the eyes of God…and you’re not a bully…