The Shawano High School in Wisconsin recently decided to run a pair of opposing student editorials on the topic of gay adoption. The student who wrote against gay adoption used some very strong language and cited Biblical passages, as reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette:
The student newspaper column against same-sex couples says: “If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment.
“A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure. In a Christian society, allowing homosexual couples to adopt is an abomination.”
This outraged a gay parent whose adopted son attends the school, and asked his father about the editorial. The adoptive father declared, “this is why kids commit suicide.”
Uttecht told school district officials he thinks the piece opposing gays as parents is hateful and should not have run. He worries the strong language will hurt his children and could lead students to bully gay classmates.
“When I saw this I was in shock,” said Uttecht, who is raising four children, three who are his biological kids and the biological daughter of his partner. Three are in the Shawano school system; the youngest is 4.
“I talked to the school superintendent; he said he was shocked,” Uttecht said
Uttecht said he’s worried about the lasting impact of the column.
“I’m worried about how this is going to affect my kids,” said Uttecht, who also is an elected member of the Menominee Indian Head Start Policy Council. “And I’m worried how gay students in school will be treated. It took me a long time to come out, and I think this just really sets things back by being so closed-minded. This sets things back 20 or 30 years.
“I know there are at least three openly gay families in the district, there’s probably more. What effect is this going to have on my kids? And how are other people going to react?”
Uttecht’s complaint did not fall upon deaf ears, and once they overcame their shock, the offending opinion piece was duly denounced and censored… because the superintendent of the school district thinks it constitutes “bullying.” You might have heard a lot about “bullying” lately. It is among the darkest evils to lurk in the shadows of our schools, and has been the target of a crusade by no less than the First Lady of the United States.
Fox News relays the superintendent’s thoughts on the matter:
The school district released a statement apologizing for the story.
“Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District,” the statement read. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future.”
Todd Carlson, the superintendent of the Shawano School District told Fox News & Commentary he was shocked by the article.
“We do apologize,” Carlson said. “We have a responsibility as a school district to make sure we create a positive school climate and culture. This article probably didn’t go along with the policies and the guidelines and the practices that we have as a school district.”
But the school district only took issue with one of the opinion pieces – the one opposed to gays adopting children. That’s because Carlson said the essay is a form of bullying.
“It is a form of bullying or disrespect to a group of people – that’s right,” he said.
It’s rather telling that, according to the Fox piece, the district wouldn’t even “comply with a request to read the entire essay” before hauling out the censorship axe. They also wouldn’t say whether the young author would be punished. Life gets tough quickly when your opinions place you in the path of an oncoming crusade.
I was able to track down the editorial in its entirety, although I feel uncomfortable linking to it, given the age of the author, as well as the author of the opposing editorial. These kids have enough controversy swirling around them already. I hope I might beg your trust in accepting my description of it, in lieu of a link or screen capture.
Although the Green Bay Press Gazette describes the column by saying it “cites Bible passages and calls homosexuality a sin punishable by death,” and other accounts have more directly insinuated that the author is personally calling for the death of homosexuals, in fact it would have been far more responsible for the Press Gazette to say it “cites a Bible passage that calls homosexuality a sin punishable by death.” This happens at the very beginning:
In the United States only 11 states allow same-sex marriage. Most do not because our government is generally based off of religion and the Bible. Also, if one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin filled environment. Leviticus 20:13 states “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guilt is upon them.”
(Transcribed verbatim from the original, although there seems to be some kind of typo or typesetting issue around the phrase “blood guilt,” making it hard to read.) Different versions of the Bible render this passage with different language, but the general thrust is that homosexuals are guilty of a crime and shall surely be put to death. The passage is redundantly quoted again, near the end of the essay, along with another selection from Leviticus.
Nothing in the remainder of the editorial is couched in threatening language of any kind. It’s mostly citations of magazine articles and opinion polls, mixed with the author’s opinions, which is generally acknowledged as the point of an editorial. For example: “A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure necessary for raising a child.”
One may disagree with this, perhaps strenuously, but to censor it as “bullying” and erase it, as an artifact of intolerable evil, is simply Orwellian and oppressive. This child is being taught that his opinions are unacceptable, indeed illegal, and so is his religion. A verse from the Bible, or any other book, could be quoted to menacing or intimidating effect – for example, by writing it on the wall of their house with blood-red paint. Such verses could also be surrounded by other language to make them into an imperative. That was not done here.
Now, the student newspaper may have editorial standards that preclude the quotation of Bible verses on the editorial page, or the use of this particular verse. Editors reject or modify submissions all the time. (I have no direct experience with this myself, but that’s what I’ve been told.) The author might have been asked to trim his work for length, leave out the provocative Leviticus passage, or leave out all of the Bible quotes and simply provide a broad description of what they say, to buttress his point about the tension between Christian faith and gay adoption. None of those things happened.
This particular essay passed those standards and was actually published, at which point a gay parent took offense and demanded censorship. That is exactly what is happening here. There’s nothing ambiguous about it. Those who disagree with this editorial are not arguing with it, in the healthy exchange of ideas that one might hope for in an academic publication. They are suppressing it, and salting the earth above its grave by declaring the expression of these ideas to be a thoughtcrime.
Furthermore, the young author’s work is being twisted and misrepresented to fit him into the “bullying” crusade, so the cowards involved can climb on their high horses and pretend to be oh-so-enlightened about it. No one is worried about the entire school establishment “bullying” the student who wrote this essay, other Christian students, or students who disapprove of gay adoption for the non-religious reasons cited by the author.
Where are the noble champions of free speech, who should be rushing to this student’s defense? As quoted by the Press Gazette, David Hudson of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group First Amendment Center offered this meek objection:
“Bullying is a serious concern, and I don’t take it lightly. But I hope it doesn’t lead to squashing different viewpoints. I do think (gay adoption) is an issue people are deeply divided about. Hopefully student journalists don’t have to fear they’ll be squashed if they take a controversial view.”
You hope it “doesn’t lead to squashing different viewpoints?” Too late for that, Mr. Hudson. Different viewpoints have indeed been squashed. What else have you got?