This is old news, but instructive nonetheless, for its issues are astonishingly and disturbingly persistent. I ran across it just now on an inactive blog called “dotmoms.”
A friend of mine told me this true story. She teaches at an elite private school, and her kids attend it as students. One day she and all the other parents received an unsigned letter in the mail. The letter “outted” two longtime faculty members; their names were not omitted. The anonymous parent wrote that these two teachers should be removed from their posts because they were setting a bad example for the kids.
Here’s how the principal handled the situation. First, she submitted the letter to the FBI Hate Crimes Division. Then, she wrote a letter to all the parents. She made several emphatic points:
- The two faculty members attacked in the unsigned letter are exceptional educators, among the best in the city. They are exactly the kind of role models our children need and deserve.
- Discrimination is illegal. Therefore, this letter has been turned over to the FBI.
- The author of the letter and any family who sympathizes with its contents should remove their children from the school immediately. We do not condone intolerance.
- Diversity strengthens our community. Love opens us to new people, new ideas, and new experiences.
After all the anti-gay legislation this fall, I feel heartened by this story. I hope that as my daughter Pearl grows older, we will be able to find and/or create such a nurturing community.[From DotMoms: Hate is not a family value]
There are many ways to approach homosexuality. We could take a positive moral approach based on knowledge from Scripture and natural law, which both show us that we’ve been designed for heterosexuality. Or we could come at it from the perspective of those who support gay rights, and ask how well they practice what they preach. Do they meet their own ethical standards? If not, then what shall we say about their imposing their standards upon the rest of us?
In this case only have one side of the story, so let’s take it with a grain of salt (Proverbs 18:17). But it’s what we have to work with, so I’ll make my observations based on what it says.
- Unsigned, anonymous attack letters are cowardly. Based on the information we have here, a letter like this, broadcast to all parents in the school, seems really hateful.
- We don’t know what kind of “bad example” these teachers were setting for the students. If they had never been “outted” before this letter was written, and if no one knew about their homosexuality, then they weren’t setting any sexual example at all. If that’s the case, then the letter was arguably hateful on that count, too. (If they were openly gay, then this blogger misrepresented the case.)
- It’s possible the tone of the letter was genuinely vituperous, but I don’t think so. If it had been, this blogger mom would have said so. Her only objection seems to be that some anonymous parent wanted these teachers removed.
- Granted that the tactic of sending a letter this way was hateful and wrong, and granted that its contents bothered some people: since when did that become a federal crime? Did I miss some legislation to that effect? Why should the FBI be involved? It sounds to me like the principal was using an illegitimate scare tactic of her own.
- “Discrimination is illegal” is false. If it were generally, unqualifiedly against the law, then this dotmom blogger would be breaking the law herself. She’s discriminating against an anonymous letter-writing parent or two, and people who agree with their letter’s contents.
- Discrimination is not even wrong except in certain circumstances. Of course some of those circumstances, especially those involving race, have had huge significance for decades upon decades, so they loom large in our minds. Still, to think that discrimination is always wrong is sloppy thinking.
- Diversity and tolerance seem to be great virtues for this principal and this mom, but with a limited scope. They apply to various sexual practices, but not to diverse beliefs about sexual practices.
- Hate is a great fault in their minds, but its meaning too has limited scope. Apparently it’s hateful to call for two teachers’ removal from the school, but it’s not hateful to drive out anyone who sympathizes with the idea.
- Does diversity strengthen a school community? Always? I can think of exceptions. Diversity must be (ahem) discriminating; otherwise it would welcome anyone and anything without distinction. My daughter’s school is terribly picky about things letting armed thugs in the door. Doesn’t that limit diversity?
- Maybe it’s just my lack of imagination, but I’m having particular trouble figuring out how “diverse” it is to lock out anyone who won’t submit to sexual-orientation group-think.
- If love indeed “opens us to new people, new ideas, and new experiences,” are all new people, ideas, and experiences helpful, healthy, and conducive to learning and character? I can think of some that wouldn’t be.
- What if there were new people, ideas, and experiences that involved persons who disagreed with homosexual practice? Does love open us to them? If not, why not?
- I can’t say this for sure, but I’d be willing to bet this dotmom blogger believes the letter-writer was terribly self-righteous. I’d be even more willing to bet she doesn’t recognize the same thing in herself.
I do not excuse the anonymous letter-writer. The approach he or she took, based on the information we have, was cowardly and wrong. But I have two closing questions for the dotmom blogger:
- Are you not displaying hate, intolerance, and rejection of diversity yourself toward people whose opinions differ from yours?
- Or is there some definition for these three terms by which you are innocent of fault?
For any reader here: what is there in the definition of tolerance, diversity, and hate that makes it hateful to disagree with homosexual practice and virtuous to exclude such “haters” from “nurturing communities;” but not hateful to disagree with people who disagree with homosexual practice, and virtuous to include only people who approve of it?
Christians and other social conservatives get accused of imposing our morals on others. If we do that self-righteously or hypocritically, that’s wrong. There is a better way than that. Meanwhile gay-rights advocates are trying their hardest to force their morality on us. Their self-righteousness in that is exceeded only the inherent self-contradictory impossibility of the values they claim to practice.