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April 27, 2006



I agree: It's great to be straight! (Although, I think the kid meant something else.) Regardless, the debate about the ninth circuit decision was extensive a few posts ago so I won't belabor that.

I don't, however, understand the hate crime analysis. If everyone has a race, and everyone has a sexuality, than there is not dispartate treatment of crimes among groups. Moreover, criminal law has always addressed punishment differently depending upon the motive for, or intent of, the alleged criminal act.


The above comment is Tommy - Athens Greece

Queer Conservative

Although, I think the kid meant something else.

So what if he did?

Scott A

I think it's the intension of wearing the shirt that makes the difference here. He didn't do it because he loves the poo-nani. He did it because he hates/despises/loathes the gay kids in his school. Don't let a fox into the hen house just because he's wearing a chicken costume. I've heard plenty of people give support to bigots like that kid just because they are getting off on a technicality where the message could be interpreted in a different light. I say don't let these kinds of things go on, if I say "You look really nice, TODAY", my intention is not to compliment you, it's to point out that you don't normally look nice. Get my drift? And so, how is this little episode any different than that? The kid can go around saying how great it is to be straight, but when he chooses explicitly to do it on DoS, he's not saying that, he means to convey another message, an arrogant attitude to assert that he is in the majority and to make the gays aware of just where they stand. And so I'm happy with the measures the administration took. It was hate-filled act. And no, I don't think you have to tolerate hate. You tolerate a crying baby, you don't tolerate someone who means to harm you in whatever form of aggression it takes, be it physical or mental.

North Dallas Thirty

The kid can go around saying how great it is to be straight, but when he chooses explicitly to do it on DoS, he's not saying that, he means to convey another message, an arrogant attitude to assert that he is in the majority and to make the gays aware of just where they stand.

Unfortunately, on DoS, there are also a lot of people going around wearing (metaphorically) T-shirts saying "It's Great to Be Gay". How do we know they're not doing it just to piss other people off?

And that's the whole problem here; we're asking for people to read minds and automatically assume that why somebody did something has to do with a predetermined agenda designed specifically to get us. Down that road lies Cynthia McKinney Land.

Scott A

I keep thinking: There are no easy answers blah blah... I wonder who said that... Unfortunately, I think I see what you mean... it's just as easy to make the opposing mistake.

North Dallas Thirty


I think Mal summed up the reason why best, though:

Muzzling, rather than engaging, those who disagree with us sends the clearest possible signal that we are too weak to defend our ideas and rights, or perhaps that our ideas and rights are indefensible to begin with.



Queer Conservative

Making them hide their beliefs and messages is what's dangerous. Let them speak. Let them yell. Let them rent billboards. Air their prejudice. The best disinfectant is sunlight.


I keep thinking: There are no easy answers blah blah... I wonder who said that... Unfortunately, I think I see what you mean... it's just as easy to make the opposing mistake.

Am I mistaken, or was that... a reasonable concession?

In the blogosphere...?

Scott A

Is it that uncommon? I guess I come from the school of rational thought, if you can explain something to me and I can see the facts and make the same conclusions then I'm compelled to agree and have no problem with doing so. I'd be silly if I didn't, hehe...

I guess I forgot that in the process of protecting students from hate, I'd also be voting for the continued festering of the sore, bigotry. I can see where it's important to let the public see those who would say that intolerance is the right stance to take.

There is a girl at my school, Ruth Malhotra, who is leader of the College Republicans, and she's suing the college for them not allowing her and others to speak intolerantly of homosexuals when programs like Safe Space report the common views of the major religions on issues such as sexuality. She claims it's her right to be intolerant and voice it. I've included a link below:


North Dallas Thirty

Not to shamelessly promote myself (ahem), but we had a major accident and fire down in the center of the Castro this evening; I've blogged the details.

Rev. Jack Malebranche

Well, Mal...since we've been known to disagree, I thought it would be tacky if I didn't quickly post a nod of agreement in this case.

It seems too often that what gays are fighting for these days is not so much equal treatment, but a bar on anyone disagreeing with them, or, more importantly, making fun of them.

It's like a large scale campaign to get back at kids who made fun of them in junior high school.

el polacko

i am generally in agreement that it's usually best to let the bigots have their say and to counter them with reasoned argument .. but i don't think that if say a white student were to show up in his klan sheets on mlk jr's bday that we would say that black students were asking for 'special rights' by objecting to his mode of self-expression. what worries me is that 'special rights' only seems to come up in regards to gay people. i've never heard any complaints about the hate crime law, for instance, for any of the other protected groups such as women or religions.
it's only when we are included that it suddenly becomes a problem.

Rev. Jack Malebranche

Oh...you just don't travel in the right circles...

You might find Jim Goad's "Redneck Manifesto" to be an interesting eye-opener.

A LOT of people think hate crimes laws covering those other minorities are rediculous and frequently abused. But people don't want to be branded 'racist,' or 'anti-Semitic' (for example), so they avoid making a case out of such things in public. Hate speech laws (which we fortunately have to much of problem with here in the US) are just censorship; they tend to give preferential treatment to minorities and chill valid criticism.

Yum Yum

He's not threatening violence to anyone. The message doesn't even put down gay people. He's simply sending a positive message about who he is. Sure, he wore it on the Day of Silence, but maybe he's just offering a helpful solution to the gays -- they wouldn't have to be silent if they turned straight.

Gosh, I thought I was being rebellious when I wore pajamas to high school and the teachers asked me not to wear them because it was too suggestive of the bedroom. I guess they were afraid I would go to sleep in their classes!

Yum Yum

I just read some of the other comments .... maybe the whole Day of Silence itself was just really meant to piss other people off.


Would the students who wore queer-positive messages be asked to leave the school too? What if it was a day of Straight Pride? What about other issues. German Pride (not Nazi) shirts on Days of Silence for the Holocaust? Maybe all schools should be restricted to uniforms and these problems wouldnt arise.


Once again, knee-jerk responses from the usual suspects. It seems that anytime someone tries to be an advocate for the underdog, the same voices can be counted on around here to deride and sneer at them.

Not one of you knows whether or not there were other instances of threatening behavior or speech from this kid, what his history has been, what sort of incidents may have happened at this school which predicated the observation of the DoS in the first place and what his involvement may have been, etc.

Even more disturbing is the fact that the article to which you link doesn't contain any of that sort of background either.

Those words on his shirt did not exist in a vacuum. If he had been an upstanding student whom the school administration had no qualms about with regard to the type of "message" he was trying to convey with that shirt, we would never have heard about it (of course, had he been that upstanding student, it's doubtful he would have worn the shirt in the first place).

The school administration knew what he was up to. They understood what he was attempting to instigate. And it wasn't a rational civil discussion on the benefits of the "straight" lifestyle.

I fully understand that this is "just a t-shirt" and "just some words" but it's a symptom of a bigger issue. I'm going to be crucified for saying this but here goes anyway:

"Special rights..." To be protected against harassment at school by thugs, to feel that you have recourse when you become the target of abuse, to have an axe to hold over the heads of morons who only respond to the most severe threats, to not have to be miserable because some asshole decides to make you a target...those are the types of "special rights" that you would deny these students.

And don't start with the "reading minds" and "predetermined agenda" crap--using sound judgment based on the past behavior and reputation of an individual does not require "mind-reading." And if adding an additional amount of protection and legal recourse for a minority group that is regularly the target of harassment and violence constitutes a "predetermined agenda," then sign me up and give me more "predetermined agendas" just like it.

And, a special note to you, Jack-Ass Malebranche--sometimes a minority needs "preferential" treatment because it's the target of "preferential" attacks. And sometimes the "criticism" deserves to be chilled, cuz it's not always valid.

You need to stop looking at the trees (this one t-shirt) so you can see the forest (the threats, harassment and violence). Seriously, do you not know what you sound like?


I just read some of the other comments .... maybe the whole Day of Silence itself was just really meant to piss other people off.

Yeah, ummm, maybe you want to actually find out what it's actually supposed to be about before commenting about it.

The Day of Silence "is a student-led day of action where those who support making anti-LGBT bullying and harassment unacceptable in schools participate in events to recognize and protest the discrimination and harassment—in effect, the silencing—experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies."

The intent is to make people think, not "just to piss people off." And frankly, I find the mere implication insulting. The idea is a peaceful protest against harassment and bullying of gays. That's it. Way to try and put a negative spin on a positive effort.

As it pertains to this thread, let's not conflate the issue of this kid's right to free speech (which is what I consider writing on a T-shirt to really be about) with some imagined agenda you would ascribe to this event. The boy has a right to wear what he wants on his T-shirt unless school policy specifically prohibits it. As I understand it, the high school I went to no longer allows ANY text OR pictures on T-shirts--and it's a PUBLIC school. They instituted a dress code to help ensure students are focusing on their educations, not who's got the coolest shirt.

Queer Conservative

And, a special note to you, Jack-Ass Malebranche--

Oooooo...back up everyone! Gay Bar Fight! Gay Bar Fight!

Rev. Jack Malebranche

And sometimes the "criticism" deserves to be chilled, cuz it's not always valid.

Sez you, Mussolini.

Seriously, do you not know what you sound like?

Do tell.

Queer Conservative

Jack sounds like someone who believes in free speech.

Ted sounds like someone who's looking for revenge for all the times he got teased when he was little.


Ted, you do understand the difference between allowing speech and agreeing with the content of that speech, don't you?

This whole exercise was a full day of protest sanctioned at a government school. Okay, fine. A dissenting POV was expressed in the form of a t-shirt. The message on that t-shirt was derived from a similar t-shirt worn by a number of the gay protesters, BTW, so I guess I at least tangentially agree w/ you that the t-shirt did not exist in a vaccuum. I do not assign pure motives to that kid, but his t-shirt was as non-violent as the DoS.

If the school wants to avoid the disruptive situation that results from that t-shirt, I agree with that completely. The t-shirt is the dissenting opinion from the protest already sanctioned by the school. If you don't want the disruption, don't allow any protests from either side. All in or all out.

The way it was handled was, by definition, preferential to the DoS protesters. As a result, I (a straight guy who advocates gay rights) will have a difficult time arguing that gays aren't looking for special rights when someone who disagrees w/ me levels that charge. All my adversary in that debate has to do is point out this action and a number of others like it.

Sorry Ted, you do not have a monopoly on free speech.


If I'd been the administrator in this case, I'd have let the kids wear the t-shirts and look like neanderthals instead of giving them free publicity. That said, high school students simply don't have the same rights of freedom of expression that the rest of us have. This in itself is an unfortunate fact, but it's a fact that cuts both ways. I recall reading, within the last couple of years, of other students (I don't remember whether they were gay or atheist or generically liberal) who were not allowed to wear t-shirts because they offended more conservative sensibilities. This is not a matter of gay students demanding special rights. It's a reflection that the normal array of rights is severely attenuated when you're a student.

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