Tuesday, February 26, 2008

They love to hate

-- by Dave

I'm not sure how this story slipped past my radar a couple of weeks ago, but this report from The Stranger is disturbing, to say the least:
Two teachers at Snoqualmie's Mount Si High School are planning to take legal action after they were formally disciplined for protesting Pastor Ken Hutcherson's appearance at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly in January. Last week, the school's principal, Randy Taylor, met with Dr. George Potratz and Kit McCormick—both English teachers at Mount Si—and presented them with letters admonishing them for their behavior during the assembly.

During a student-planned assembly on January 17, Potratz booed Hutcherson—famous for his virulently antigay lobbying and rhetoric—and McCormick, an adviser to the school's Gay/Straight Alliance club, asked the pastor to explain how his speech about equality related to his public stance against gay rights.

I especially noted the principal's rationale:
Taylor claims the teachers—who were protesting Hutcherson's presence at an assembly about equality—acted in an "unprofessional" manner, and, in his letter to McCormick, suggested she should have, among other things, submitted an editorial to the school's newspaper in advance of Hutcherson's appearance, rather than speak up at the assembly.

I can understand how booing would be considered unprofessional, but it is simply beyond my ken why standing up and asking a question that not only is perfectly appropriate, but absolutely necessary in a setting in which students are being asked to consider various sides of an issue.

Because Hutcherson, frankly, has never been able to answer that question adequately. It is an important one, as we've noted before:
We've heard this line before. Because being gay is a "chosen behavior," it is undeserving of civil rights protections.

It's the same reason given by many evangelicals -- and particularly black and minority evangelicals, and people who claim they support civil rights -- for not supporting gays and lesbians in hate-crime protections: "You can't compare being gay to being black. One's immutable, one's chosen."

Well, yes, this is true when it comes to race. And even ethnicity. These are, after all, two of the three main legs of anti-discrimination and hate-crimes laws.

But it's not true of the third leg of these laws: religion. Last I checked, this too was a "chosen behavior."

People like Hutcherson who are arguing that discrimination on the basis of a "chosen behavior" is acceptable are arguing in favor of religious discrimination as well -- and it's important for these students to understand that.

You have to wonder why Hutcherson was invited to speak in the first place. As the SPLC's Hatewatch notes, Hutcherson in recent years has been stepping up the virulent nature of his anti-gay rhetoric, including his recent declarations of "war" against gays and his prominent role promoting the violently anti-gay Watchmen on the Walls organization here in the Northwest.

More recently, Hutcherson said this in one of his sermons:
“God hates soft men … God hates effeminate men … If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.”

As the Rev. Anthony Robinson observes:
"That was a joke," Hutcherson said Friday, when I asked him about the comment. But it's not really funny, is it?

What it sounds like are the kinds of words that have paved the way for atrocities in such places as Serbia, Kosovo and Rwanda. You have to dehumanize somebody before you beat them up. Labeling some men as "soft" and "effeminate" and saying "God hates them" does that.

Yet strangely, so far the officials in this school district seem have been listening mostly to Hutcherson, who wants the teachers fired. He also wants the school's gay students club disbanded.

Black pastors like Hutcherson -- people who preach "civil rights for me, but not for thee" -- really ought to be ashamed of themselves. As I noted previously:
The odd thing about hearing this kind of lame rationale from Hutcherson is that he is an African American man. As it happens, I've listened to a sermon that used nearly identical logic -- that discrimination isn't about hate if God commands it in the Bible -- at least once before. It was delivered by the late Rev. Richard Butler at an annual Aryan Nations Congress in Hayden Lake, Idaho. And he was talking about black people.

Hutcherson is a hatemonger hiding behind his robes and his race. It's past time he was called on it, especially when he's preaching before a bunch of students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Teachers who do so should be lauded, not punished.

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