Monday, December 10, 2007

Thou Shall Not Lie?

There is an unsurprising Christian uproar over Senate Bill 777, a California law that will become effective in January. SB 777 will make it illegal for schools to offer instruction or activity that "reflects adversely upon persons" because of race, gender, color, creed, handicap, national origin, and more. And by more, I mean sexual orientation.

Christian intolerance, lying, and fear-mongering, enter stage right.

Now, the intent of the law is to protect various groups of people from school-taught discrimination. But don't take my word over what the law says, read its text yourself here:

Existing law prohibits the State Board of Education and the
governing board of a school district from adopting for use in the
public schools any instructional materials that reflect adversely
upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap,
national origin, or ancestry.

This bill would revise the list of prohibited bases of
discrimination and the kinds of prohibited instruction, activities,
and instructional materials and instead, would refer to disability,
gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation,or any other characteristic contained in the definition of hate
crimes that is contained in the Penal Code. The bill would define
disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and
sexual orientation for this purpose." [emphasis added]

To begin, I think that one could make a valid criticism of this law on free speech grounds. I'm not sure I would agree with such criticism, but that's a debate for another day.

Today, I want to focus on how it is NOT acceptable to lie about the law in order to scare people into opposing it.

Yes, I do have an example in mind.

Predictably, anti-gay "Christians" (yes, the quotes are on purpose) are spreading lies amongst their sheeple regarding what exactly this legislation does and says.

Observe this article from WorldNutDaily:

"'With the passing of SB 777, a Christian parent cannot, in good conscience, send their child to a public school where their child will be taught or coerced into a lifestyle or belief system that is contrary to the faith they hold dear,' [conservative Christian homeschooling organization spokeswoman] told WND. " (empashsis added)

Before I begin, are any other Christians or former Christians angry about the hate-mongers who have hijacked Christianity and who now deign to (a) speak for all Christians and (b) define what true Christianity is?

Now, read the whole article and corresponding quotes for some real dishonesty and fear-mongering. Like this:

"Evidently, some are beginning to wake up to the fact that their children are no longer receiving true education, but are being clandestinely recruited into sick social movements threatening to tear families apart at the seams," she wrote.

"When it comes to actively promoting sin to public school children, the homosexuals are light years ahead of adulterers, fornicators and substance abusers, who haven't yet implemented student-run organizations to convince children that such lifestyle choices are normal," she continued.

You know, I've been gay for many years. My whole life, actually. And I have yet to receive my Gay Agenda and Recruiting Manual.

But I digress. Back to the lying "Christians"... A law that says the school board cannot adopt "for use in the public schools any instructional materials that reflect adversely upon persons because of their" sexual orientation suddenly means that gay people will be allowed to recruit and coerce schoolchildren into Teh Gay.

Knowing that some "Christian" groups are lying about this law, the school Superintendent has even tried to clarify what the law actually says and does:

According to him,

"SB 777 simplifies and clarifies existing civil rights protections for California students. It does not expand civil rights protections in the California Education Code, but it does clarify just what those protections include by providing a clear and explicit list of all the prohibited bases of discrimination in publicly-funded kindergarted through grade twelve schools."

A reasonable response, considering:

Fact: The Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 already banned discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation.

Fact: Under one section of the Education Code, students are already protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation in all publicly-funded educational institutions. Yet, other nondiscrimination provisions in the Education Code governing certain programs and activities do not explicitly include sexual orientation. At the same time, these other, non-inclusive, provisions fall under the section of the Education Code where sexual orientation is included. Thus, there is a legal ambiguity.

SB 777 updates and explicitly lists all the prohibited categories of discrimination in publicly-funded educational institutions and standardizes this list throughout the Education Code.

Yet, consider this quote from one anti-gay advocate who shows, yet again, that fundies truly are masters of projection:

"[The Superintendent's letter] is nothing less than an attempt to confuse the public about the true intention of SB 777"

And "the true intention" I suppose is that California's legislators intended to enable gay people to recruit and coerce innocent schoolchildren into homosexuality. I suppose there's absolutely nothing confusing about that "Christian" message.

Now, I'd like to preserve my faith in humanity by working from the assumption that when people lie they at least do so for a reason. And so I asked myself, "Self, why would someone lie about this bill and scare Christian parents into thinking that this bill would cause teachers to teach children to be gay"?

And that's when I saw at least one motivation: Sometimes a lie can make somebody a buck.

Like, perhaps, the Christian homeschooling organization called Considering Homeschooling who definitely has an interest in Christian parents removing their children from schools. Also, to be fair, this organization is a 501(c)(3) organization. Which means (a) guess who supports it! and (b) its mission is not profit-oriented. That's not to say that nonprofits do not try to make money, however. Their very existence depends on making money. Otherwise, there's no way to pay people's (sometimes very large and sometimes very small) salaries.

Okay, so there's one possible explanation.

That still leaves a bunch of other so-called Christian groups who blatantly lie about gay people and legislation affecting gay rights for which I have no explanation yet.

Which begs a more important question, if they're so fucking religious, why do they have to lie all the time?

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