Standing Up For Each Other

Last month Jay McDowell, a teacher Howell High School in Michigan, was suspended for telling an anti-gay bully to shut it. At a recent school board meeting, a student, openly gay 14 year-old Graeme, came to McDowell’s defence with this well articulated speech:

 

After McDowell was disciplined for telling a student, who said “I don’t support fags” to remove a confederate flag belt buckle (because it represented racism) while defending the purple clothing of Spirit Day, Howell administrators insisted McDowell was at fault for infringing on students’ First Amendment rights.

Not cool, Graeme declared in front of the school board at a packed meeting on Monday. Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Graeme told board members about how their district isn’t just home to the KKK (Grand Wizard Robert Miles lived nearby before he died), but to intolerant students who drove him, at the age of nine, to attempt suicide.

What McDowell tried to do, says Graeme, was move the needle ever so slightly in the other direction and defend LGBT kids who have found hallway torment to be status quo. "The best thing you can do right now is just give him his pay for that day, and just reverse the disciplinary actions," he told the school board. "He did an amazing thing. He did something that’s inspired a lot of people. And whenever — ever — I have a teacher stand up for me like that, they change in my eyes. I support Jay McDowell, and I hope you do too."

Other students also supported McDowell at the meeting — an estimated 100 attended, many clad in purple — though it’s not as if the school board’s president had much of a response. [via Queerty]

  

151 thoughts on “Standing Up For Each Other”

  1. Graeme — a very brave 14 yo to be openly gay in that type of environment and to stand up publicly for his teacher to that school administration. Good for him. ‹(•¿•)›

    1. P.S.: After watching how well Graeme spoke and how articulate he was, I was wondering why there was no applause after his great speech.

      Well, on YouTube, there IS applause. here’s the link:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC5veY34sIY
      (This one is either more compressed or is lesser resolution — the file is approx. half the size as above.)

      Also, why is everyone else (particularly the ADULTS) so stoneface sober? Normally, you would see smiles or hear some remarks favoring Graeme or any other brave 14 yo speaking out like that.

      ‹(•¿•)›

        1. I think you said it very well and I can easily believe that …… and add the fact that they are probably too shameful to admit to that fact.
          ‹(•¿•)›

          1. dont defend the adults so much please…. *eye roll*

            im sure most of them were impressed, your judging just as much as the people who judge us do

            1. I’m not. Re-read my last post. I said [probably] they [adults] were too shameful to admit to Graeme’s articulateness and bravery. ‹(•¿•)›

    2. I think you’re missing the point that the teacher tried to push his agenda on students by telling a student to remove something he was constitutionally allowed to wear. This country is founded on a marketplace of ideas, and to say some are allowed and others aren’t, especially to impressionable kids, is sick. I don’t agree with the confederate flag’s symbolism, but I’m not willing to let my country convert to fascism by censoring it. Imagine if a teacher told gay students to remove gay pride apparel, would you want the teacher to go unpunished? You can’t hold a double standard in a free, fair country, and I think its time the gay community realizes it can’t act above the law because they have ideas that conflict with other’s.

  2. Only in America could there be a school board so blind.
    Only in America could there be a kid with such clear vision.
    There IS hope for the future!!

    1. this is not a matter of stopping progress and openess of gay students in public schools

      its an issue of whether the kid is allowed to wear a confederate flag on his belt, and he is. (i think it should be illegal to display a flag of a traitor nation) but it isnt, and the schoolboard has no right to tell the kid to take it off.

      if he hurt graeme, it would be a different story, but he didnt, its not illegal to be racist, its illegal to act on it

      graeme speaking out bravely like that is awesome and inspires the class im sure, but the schoolboard isnt doing anything wrong here

      1. As much as I’d hate to admit it, but you’re right. The teacher infringed on the bully’s rights.

  3. What an amazing young man, such courage at such a young age; but what a sad state of affairs when schools no longer support or defend their pupils and even condemn their teachers for doing so…

  4. It is really heart warming to see kids fighting back with the support from a teacher. I wonder if the male teacher is now suspected of being gay or a pedofile.

    1. im getting disgusted with every remark on here, seriously listen to yourself.

      your being judging, just as we expect others not to judge us. this hatred doesnt progress anything. if we want others to understand us, we have to understand them and not assume they are all gay-hatred people

      ann arbor is an extremely liberal area and there is no sign of gay hatred here (other than the misguided kid who doesnt like fags, but thats just his upbringing, dont torment the kid, make him understand)

      and the board is giving graeme the time of day and respect that they would give anyone who had something to say to them. you expect them to stand up and clap? they dont do that for anyone, its standard

      and the teacher was out of line to tell the confederate kid to remove a belt buckle because it had a flag, its just against the rules, like em or not. your allowed to wear want you want

  5. YOU GO GRAHAM!!! And please don’t EVER consider suicide again. The gay community and the world desperately need courageous, intelligent, and articulate people like you! Remember, for every hater you encounter in your life there are many like me who love and support you. Hugs.

  6. He is my hero! He had the courage of standing for his ideals and comming out of the closet at the age of 14! Hope the teacher gets his salary back.

  7. OK i ain’t gay but i do accept and tolerate how other people want to live their lives but I do not think that a 14 year old would know their sexuality as they are still going through puberty and hormonal changes and that most guys and girls at 14 go through a phase where they question but it is usually around the age of 17 or 18 when they make the decision.

    I’m just saying

    1. Some kids may be questioning their sexual orientation at 14, but myself and many others knew they were definitely gay at an early age.

    2. Well darn, I thought I was bisexual at 14. Four and a third years later I guess I’m still just going through a phase.

    3. @omega_maniac:

      OK, so WHEN did YOU notice YOUR body getting excited and quivery (you know, like those spontaneous and embarrassing erections) when you looked at or thought about certain GIRLS? Are you really trying to say that YOU couldn’t possibly have found GIRLS more attractive than boys when YOU were 14 yo?

      It always amazes me when the straights are so adamant about gays never knowing or understanding who they are attracted to at any age lower than 17 or 18 and that it’s ALWAYS SOME “PHASE” — are all you straights STILL going through “some phase” as you date girls, marry, have children (and so quite often, DIVORCE and go through that entire cycle OVER AND OVER AGAIN)? And, oh yes, just exactly WHEN did you CHOOSE to PREFER girls over boys?

      ‹(•¿•)›

    4. I had went through puberty at age 9, so I do believe he knew what was going on, I think your just using an example of where you grew up ..be it yourself or people you know, each person has different experiences in different parts of there life…be it early or late..

    5. Would you say that a 14 year old boy that expresses interest in girls is just confused and should probably wait it out because he might turn out to be gay?

      I slept with my first boyfriend at 13, and 15 years later, I still like both guys and gals. You won’t admit it, but you obviously feel that the only valid romance exists between those of opposite sexes.

    6. Disagree. I am bi, and have known it since I was 10 when I had fantasies about both the boys and girls in my class.

      Yeah the early teens are a confusing time, but that does not mean people in that age group can’t find any solid understanding of themselves either.

      1. I think of myself as bi. But in the 2nd grade I had an intense attraction to a blonde boy with a sweet smell to his hair and skin. He always chewed grape buggle gum which added to his scent. Although I did not understand my feelings at the time, I was crazy about him. By the age of 13 I new I was different. By the age of 15 I began a three year secret love relationship with a beautiful blonde boy. Although I went on to live my adult life as a heterosexual, I never really got over my high school boyfriend. Although I have had some real love relationships with some beautiful women, I always longed for a girly young blonde guy, So am I bi or gay? I’m still not sure. But my attraction to guys was never a choice for me. It was just always there.

    7. Believe me, 14 y/o boys can and DO know their sexuality at that age…I’m just saying…truth…

    8. if you aint gay, then you dont know– most people here will say they knew by the time they were around 12, difference is alot dont admit it to themselves until their 17, 18 because of peer pressure. thanks for understanding though

  8. Bravo Graham! This is another incidence of the mind set in our school system and throughout the country. Why it is that way has been discussed before. What to do about it is the important thing. This new generation is the key to the shift in perception.

    @omega-maniac : that is the current institutional thinking. I think it is wrong. I think much of what psychology and medicine attempts to explain is heavily biased in societal traditions.
    I cannot say for Graham or anyone else, but I can for myself. I knew very early that I was attracted to males. And that was before the hormonal curve.

  9. @omega-maniac
    I strongly believe that our sexuality is more of nature rather than nurture.
    We are born as who we are. If our sexuality is a choice, then somebody can ‘cure’ you and make you a straight.

  10. I kinda agree with omega-maniac
    i mean honestly most people wouldnt choose to be discriminated against and would probably not want to deal with coming out and stuff

    also you have to keep in mind that people develop at diff rates both mentally and physically and others beliefs that disallow them from realizing these things wit their hormones and stuff where some know at 14 and others 12 and other 20
    i mean i didnt know until i was 15
    finally there is the cold hard closet most call denial
    were the person spends ages and doesnt even realize it themselves or do but choose to deny it tho it makes them unhappy

  11. What a courageous young man to stand up for a teacher that believes in equality.
    Bullying has to stop.

    Btw, I knew at 10 yrs old that I was different and attracted to boys but at that time, didn’t understand what being gay was. All I knew was it was an attraction that carries on to this day. I just never came out to tell anyone about it. Such is life.

  12. I saw this yesterday, and I just had to think what an incredible young man. It is hard eunff for LGBTQ
    Youth to stand up for them selves, and Grame Taylor did it for a teacher in front of cameras, in a open form. I think he made a great well thought out speech. If this boy can do it for a teacher, then I hope that teachers will start standing up for kids, against bullies too.

  13. I hate to break the circle-jerk, but according to the First Amendment the child wearing the Confederate belt buckle had just as much right to wear it than the child wearing purple. Just because he found it offensive doesn’t mean he can tell the child with the belt to remove it.

    I don’t condone his actions, and I think Graeme is an inspiring person etc but he technically WAS breaking his First Amendment rights.

    1. I was getting ready to agree with you, technically, but then I re-read BOTH [linked] articles. Now, I’m not so sure — it truly seems to have entered the gray area of First Amendment rights and how it’s administered in schools. It could go either way.

      Please re-read both linked articles and you may begin to see the question of whether the [anti-gay] student’s rights have actually been violated. According to the school, hate speech is disruptive and it appears that’s why the teacher told him to leave. As for his belt buckle, it also appears that the teacher was only comparing the [anti-gay student's] “speech” [belt buckle] with his own “speech” by wearing the purple T-shirt. [According to both articles.]

      This could be an interesting legal case. A prime question: Does Howell Public School District’s Code Of Conduct trump the students’ literal First Amendment rights? I can’t say either way even though, obviously, I would like to see it in the teacher’s favor because of this particular incident.

      ‹(•¿•)›

      1. American courts have ruled that expression or speech that might be protected outside of school but which poses a threat to overall school safety is not protected within the school. So, Penboy would be correct that many schools do have codes of conduct that prohibit clothing that may incite others or contain hateful ideology, etc.

        1. your right, but there has also been cases where school rules were overturned for constitutional rights.

          unless the kid was invoking threats or violence, i dont see a reason to force him to be removed. by just stating your views your not causing a disruption, we state our views through our clothing all the time, why is it illegal if someone does it who doesnt agree with us?

          not everyone is going to agree to the same thing and its no different a right for them to declare they dont like queers as it is for us to say we support queers. i dont like it, and i definitely want schools to teach understanding, but there isnt much of a case here if you ask me

    2. Yeah, I agree with this. It’s one thing to tell the anti-gay person to stop disrupting the class or bullying students but the belt buckle seemed completely unrelated and I see no reason why he shouldn’t have been allowed to wear it.

    3. The American constitution sucks anyway. Should be scrapped and replaced with something modern, like in most western countries.

      1. @William:
        Exactly how would you define your country’s peoples’ inalienable rights that is purely OBJECTIVE?

        I personally think the U.S. Constitution is pretty damn good. Unfortunately, sometimes the courts can get it wrong because they can (and do) bend to the will of the “political party” or religion they are a member of. I agree that can be troublesome, but before you condemn OUR Constitution, what EXACTLY are YOUR laws based upon and, I think you will see problems with your own “constitution” or method of making laws. No one government is perfect.

        1. The problem with the constitution of the United States is its non-detailedness (and the second amendment, and that it can only be amended). Eg the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

          Freedom of religion/speech/press/assembly in one sentence? \o/ Someone has to interpret that sentence, which gives courts and the public way too much power. Actually, that is always the case in common law systems, which is why common law sucks. :)

          A constitution should, in my opinion, be a detailed (just as detailed as any law in civil law) “law package” explaining how the state should function, the relationship between the state and its people and it should explain the meaning and extent and limits in regard to important things like freedom of speech.

          The Swedish constitution consists of four “laws” (law packages). They are all very detailed “laws” (the Swedish constitution is probably a hundred times longer than the American… or at least 20-30 times longer, I don’t know exactly) so there’s not much room for interpretation. If the law makers (ie the parliament) (or the public) dislikes something then the constitution can be changed (it’s more complicated than changing other laws as it takes a qualified majority and two decisions with a general election in between). That is, no ad hoc things like Miller tests and no perpetual battles over the Supreme court and whether or not the right to privacy means the right to have an abortion. Anyway, you can read an English translation of the Swedish constitution here: http://www.riksdagen.se/templates/R_Page____6357.aspx

          (Natural or inalienable rights are nonsense on stilts, if you know your Bentham.)

          1. But that’s also the beauty of the American Constitution; because it is not overly specific it can grow and evolve with the nation and changing times without having to be amended constantly.

            1. With the consequence that courts are being “politicized”. And that people are discussing irrelevancies; in Sweden (for example), if someone want abortion (just as an example) to be illegal, they say so. In the US they try to argue that the law (constitution) ALREADY “forbids” abortion (or at least doesn’t allow it). Whereas those who’re in favour of legal abortion argue that no, abortion is legal according the constitution. They discuss “Roe v. Wade”: should it be overturned or not? Which isn’t (oughtn’t be) the important thing here. The issues themselves aren’t being discussed. In this case: what leads to the best consequences: making abortion always illegal, sometimes legal, always legal (which I think is an issue not belonging in a constitution, that is, I’m in principle in favour of overturning R v W)? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to discuss that, and if consensus is impossible to reach then perhaps a compromise (legal to week 12-20 perhaps, as in most western countries, but illegal after that).

              It leads to a more stupid debate climate where people throw around phrases like “it’s against the xth amendment!”, “we must defend our constitutional rights!”, “I’m a constitutionalist!”, “according to the constitution…!”. Some treat the constitution like The Bible (probably not a coincidence, there’s something with the US and holy texts) and seem to believe that the constitution is objective, that it’s about Natural rights. Yeah right.

            2. I really think you are over-complicating the role of constitutional arguments in the abortion debate. pro-lifers don’t want to ban abortion just because they believe the Constitution prohibits it. They believe its murder. And pro-choicers don’t oppose bans on abortion simply because they think it is guaranteed by the constitution. They believe that people have the right to make this decision for themselves.

              The issue certainly IS being discussed. The Constitution is simply the only format upon which to debate the issue. It is the platform available to both sides. As far as a compromise, there I think you have turned to over-simplification. It’s hard to see where a middle ground may be found when one side believes that any and all abortion is murder and the other side firmly believes that the choice is only that of the woman and leaves no room for the possibility that government or society may intervene.

        2. our constitution is aimed to protect the people for the government,

          and dont take such a negative and pessimistic view of our judicial system, its rock solid.sometimes they get things wrong, but its just nature and i wouldnt call it a problem with the system or political prowess

      2. William — be careful what you ask for. An American Constitutional Convention would be a huge disaster both for America and the world. We are seriously flirting with fascism in this country, and I shudder to think of what the right wingers could do if we “scrapped” the Constitution and “replaced it with something modern”. Be afraid, be very afraid of that idea.

        That said, I was very interested in your idea that specificity is desirable. I am a big admirer of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is much broader and specific than the American Bill of Rights. (I am a big admirer of Canada in general. I think it is the country that America should be.) One problem with a more specific, and more easily changeable constitution, as you describe the Swedish Constitution, is that it will tend follow the political trends of the moment more. That probably isn’t much of problem in Sweden, because my impression of the Swedish population is that you are much steadier and thoughtful than the American population. Imagine what would have happened if George W. Bush (who has admitted to international war crimes on television, by the way) had been able to ram through his policies as amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He tried, and failed, to get a “marriage is for only a man and a woman” constitutional amendment passed.

        In defense of our current system, there are two different ways to change our constitution, one hard and one easy. The hard way, the formal amendment process, is used only for major changes. The easy way, the common law interpretations by the Supreme Court, of course just requires five out of the nine Justices to give a ruling. That tends to handle the minor details. In other words, it handles the specificity that you see lacking in our system.

        I understand your point about specificity. It probably fits Sweden very well, and overall Sweden obviously has a very good society. Common law, however, also works well. It has certainly worked well for England and the Commonwealth countries. I asked a Canadian once just what were they — were they “citizens” or “subjects” or what? They looked at me as if they hadn’t really thought about it. So I asked, “Well, what is Canada? Is it a republic, a democracy, a kingdom, a parliamentary something or other?”. They replied, “Well, we’re called a ‘Dominion’.” I said, “O.K. What is a Dominion?”, and they said, “Oh, I think it is just a word they made up in 1862 to describe whatever it is we are.”

        P.S. If George W. Bush ever visits Sweden, would you please arrest him and send him to the Hague.

    4. Which is why some people argue that Free Speech goes a bit far in the US. Rights should be limited at the point where they are used to try to impair the rights of others, and I think wearing a confederate belt to promote slavery is calling for a quite a bit of impairment.

      There should be no such thing as tolerance to intolerance.

          1. but doesn’t he have the right to say that?

            (that part was meant for josh, the rest of this is a reply to all of you)

            the tolerance of intolerance is what makes free speech free speech!

            your allowed to be a racist jerk, thats the beauty of it. whats to say our views are correct and theirs are not? everyones views are equal as long as they dont disrupt the wellbeing of others.

            should we prosecute christians because they believe in god and we find that intolerant to our views?

            messing with freedom of speech is what can lead to a disaster. the strictness of the constitution to say “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” is what makes it solid

            what is your grievance with that clause? why shouldnt we be allowed to say whatever we want to say without fear of prosecution.

            dont forget that the constitution is a protection for the people of the government. we need as many rights as possible for the government to be forced to abide with us than have the ability to fight against us.

            watch law and order people lol

            and to the guy who talked about how conservatives would ruin the constitution and hell would break lose, im glad the conservatives are here, because they have very sound political beliefs when it comes to government involvement with the people. very sound, their religious views aside, the constitution was built on conservative beliefs

            most of the conservatives outrage in the US history have come over constitution political disputes, not social disputes

            civil war was not about slavery, it was about the states rights to make their own laws.

            gay marriage is not about the acceptance of gays, its about the churchs right to marry who they wish

            although in god we trust is actually unconstitutional, and i dont see why the state cant marry gays, and there are bigoted people. the political conservatives who you speak of are very well founded politically, as well as the liberals.

            im rambling here, but im rambling about understanding, and we need more of it if we expect people to be understanding of us

            there are rational reasons why people believe things, get to understand them and the world, the government, the constitution will make alot more sense

            this world is just a big place where we all live together, it needs to governed just enough to ensure we can all live the way we wish to live and thats the goal of constitutions of every nation. the sole goal

            1. The American Constitution was NOT a conservative document. The conservatives in 1776 were the Royalists, who supported staying with England and loyalty to King George. Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and the other American founding fathers were on the cutting edge of liberal thought of the time. They were implementing the ideas of Locke and Montesquieu, among others (including, surprisingly, the Iroquois League) . Matter of fact, the reason that the American Revolution led to a radically new form of government that has survived so well, was that the founding fathers were so thoughtful and understood the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment so well.

              The current conservative movement in America is simply a cynical manipulation of working and middle class Americans, using social issues as the distraction, by major corporations and the rich. I guarantee you, that the founding fathers never, ever, intended that corporations should have the same rights as a person. Yet that is exactly what the current right wing majority on the Supreme Court just ruled in the Citizens United case. It is the ultimate proof that the true people in power in this country, Dick Army, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, and their corporate backers, don’t give a flying f**k about the U.S. constitution. George W. Bush even called the U.S. Constitution “that goddamn piece of paper”. They also don’t really care about abortion, school prayer, anti-gay legislation, or any of the other conservative social issues they claim to care about. They are just using those social issues as a way to get working class Americans to vote against their own economic interests. What they really care about are tax policies that favor the rich, poverty level wages, union busting, free trade so they can ship jobs overseas to China, lax environmental laws and other issues that line their pockets.

              Try really listening to Sarah Palin talk. She says “constitution” and “patriot” over and over again, but she doesn’t really say anything. There are no real ideas there, just “constitution good, liberals bad, patriotism good, taxes bad”. Whenever she is asked any real questions about implementing actual policies, which is very rare because she doesn’t give interviews to anyone that might actually ask such a question, she just parrots the same empty phrases, saying nothing of substance.

              The real manipulators of conservatives in America, Dick Army, Fox News, and so on, are using classic fascist techniques. One of those techniques, of course, is the “Big Lie”. They have promulgated so many Big Lies in the last ten years it is staggering. “Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq”, “America is over taxed”, “Obama is a Muslim”, and so on and so on and so on. One of those many “Big Lies” is “the American Constitution is a conservative document”.

              I’m being kind of hard on you, 17oOo. I don’t intend to be mean. You seem to be young, but you are obviously very politically engaged. My strong advice is to question everything, absolutely everything, you believe, especially current American conservatism. The major social advances in America have almost always been based on liberalism — abolition of slavery, elimination of child labor, woman’s suffrage, minimum wage, social security, civil rights, feminism, and gay rights — all liberal movements vehemently opposed by the conservatives of the time. That is why conservatives are so adamant about revising history. While your characterization of conservatives as thoughtful and well-intentioned may have been true in some earlier periods in our history, and still may be true of some rare conservatives today (such as George Will), current American conservatism has descended into dangerous, nascent fascism.

            2. they were conservatives by todays standards. john quincy adams was called a monarchist for instituting the US post service. political scale was alot more conservative then from now, those considered liberals then are considered conservatives now. thats evidence of a gradual shift

              as for your take on the political strategy of conservatives, they strongly believe, as most americans do, that being economically conservative is the best for the overal flow of money (a good economy) its not a “backing corporations” its a philosophy that business spurs growth which benefits everyone. its been proven effective in history just as much as liberal economic policies. its not corruption, its an idealogy. respect their beliefs. and you may be right that they take a strong position with social issues to gain stronger support, but believe me, there are more libertarians than their are social conservatives. they get alot of votes from people who disagree socially but agree economically. they main reason the republican party hammers these points is because its something the party wants to see in policies

              and i find your opinion on conservative propoganda to be mislead, but mostly irrelevant to the philisophy debate. liberals and conservatives have different idealogies, the tactics that palin, beck and such people use are to convince the undecided voters (the biggest idiots on the planet) i wouldnt take head to political beliefs from this hersay. as long as anyone can vote, politicans will try to win them over, nothing wrong with it, just have to know your own beliefs

              and im failing to see a connection to how the conservatives present their beliefs to their actual disdain for the constitution. they uphold the constitution not because its history, or something the liberals want to change, its because they believe strongly in protecting the people from the government. they dont want the government to have the power to take their lives from them. but you are right, the country has graduated to be more liberal (in social policies mostly, but thats a good thing, a sign of progression and acceptance) the economic and constitutional debate hasn’t changed much, just had its ups and downs due to “whats happened lately” the conservatives (social) want to get back to the good old days when their social conservative beliefs were unquestioned, thats all

              and a political debate is not supposed to be mercy filled back and forth of compliments. im always glad to hash out political beliefs back and forth with someone. it helps gain more understanding of others views and learn more about yourself.

              and conservatism is not nearing fascism, neither is liberalism reacing communism, and the partisianship is not increasing either. its just hersay, its been going on for years, just the natual chain of events and human behavior.

            3. 17o0o — I’m getting more and more impressed on how thoughtful and politically aware you are, and how much you obviously like history. I underestimated you in my earlier postings.

              What you say about the motivations of sincere social conservatives is accurate. I suggest, however, you look beyond the motivations of the sincere conservatives to the actual behavior of the conservatives in power in the United States. During the six years of total Republican control (2000 to 2006) very little conservative social legislation was actually passed. Abortion, school prayer, widening of gun access and a host of others issues made relatively little progress considering the nearly complete control the conservatives had in government. Even all the “marriage is just between a man and a woman” laws and state constitutional amendments, which were very successful, were mainly used as a get-out-the-vote technique. Instead, the Republicans concentrated on tax cuts benefiting mainly the wealthy, elimination of government protection against corporate malfeasance (called “deregulation”), and an absolutely insane infusion of money into the military and weapons industries to fund one questionable war (Afghanistan) and one totally unnecessary war (Iraq). The Supreme Court Justices could overturn Roe vs. Wade tomorrow if they wanted. Instead, they pushed through the absurd Citizens United case that solidified corporate “personhood”, throwing out most restraints on corporate contributions to elections, and therefore giving them the ability to secretly buy U.S. elections. The Citizen’s United case is one of the most cynical perversions of the U.S. Constitution since the Dred Scott decision.

              Much of what you say is true, on the surface. But it is not what is really happening in our country. Nothing, absolutely nothing, would help America’s economy more than redirecting the money that is now being wasted on useless weapons and unnecessary wars into research and infrastructure investments that create and support new private sector industries at home. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will help the American consumer more than well-managed regulations that stop predatory mortgage and credit card practices, and force big banks to start making solid long-term investments again.

              The fundamental error of conservatives in America right now is their lack of awareness that they are supporting the very forces in government that will exploit and oppress them.

            4. @17o0o:
              “[im] rambling here, but [im] rambling about understanding, and we need more of it if we expect people to be understanding of us”

              No offense, but yes, you were rambling in several of your responses. As well as the fact that you need to understand American History just a bit more — particularly regarding the Civil War. Please re-read some proper articles and/or books about this major event in our history.

              But the above quote speaks well to point out the importance of using correct English grammar and correct sentence structure. Some of your remarks were interesting, but because of your poor writing, it can be too difficult to properly understand you. More importantly, with your own words [above], it shows that we, Americans and other English speaking people need to write properly if for no other reason, than to allow the others here who DON’T speak English as their native tongue [as well as write it] to understand and also, as an English learning tool. (Some have even stated that they are looking for and needing “practice” with their English skills.)

              For those of you who enjoy responding to these threads but continue to use numbers (2 [to, too] and 4 [for] are most popular) and other “Internet abbreviations” to write with, show, quite honestly, just pure laziness and ignorance of how to properly put forth your ideas which could honestly be worth listening [reading] to — if we could only understand you without using some lazy man’s lexicon’s book just to decipher these ridiculous abbreviations (not to mention your grammar).

              And, how about some REASONABLE PROOFREADING after you write your responses? We all make mistakes (most assuredly, myself included) but with a little judicious proofreading, those can be minimized and make your responses appear as to have come from an intelligent English-speaking person. This can get so bad that I’ve seen several of these “simple errors” in only a “one-liner” response. Only a few words and you can’t even write those properly? How hard is it? (These criticisms are directed toward the Native English speaking as well as those who [supposedly] learned English when young[er] and those who have some secondary education [like College/University] and have written several papers in English for various reasons.)

              Why is it so damn difficult for AMERICANS to write comprehensively? Or, more appropriately, why do you think you need to be so damn “trendy” (or IS IT you’re just too damn lazy?) to abbreviate NEARLY EVERYTHING you write?

              When some of you get into very detailed responses and when you insist on writing English in that way, it gets to a point that others simply can’t understand you or, like me, just give up reading what you have written simply because it can’t be properly understood.

              To: 17o0o (and others), you appear to be old enough to have graduated from high school and you “fly” the American flag. So, why not show us that you graduated with SOME intelligence regarding your own language? And even if you haven’t yet graduated, most of you I suspect are at least in some high school (9th grade and above), so you can also show some intelligence instead of this ignorant lazy trendiness.

              Again, YES, I do make some mistakes — I’m not saying I’m perfect by any measure — and I don’t mind when many of you make an OCCASIONAL mistake either. But at least I TRY to make myself understood when writing my replies.

              Thank you. ‹(•¿•)›

            5. PenboyX – I seem to be attacking everyone in this blog and I really don’t mean to be hurtful. However, I just couldn’t resist making this comment: Please re-read your fourth paragraph, starting with “For those of you … “. It is a single, incredibly complex sentence, with two parenthetical remarks, three uses of brackets, and one use of the dash in the sentence structure. That paragraph really needs to be simplified and clarified.

              That said, English is a very hard language to speak or write well. I am so glad I’m a native English speaker, because I shudder when I think of the difficulty of learning it as a second language. I’m amazed at the quality of English used by most of the posters on this blog from non-English speaking countries (or should that be: “…most of the posters from non-English speaking countries on this blog”?). (or should I have used a parenthetical remark in the previous sentence?) (Or should I have capitalized the “or” in the previous parenthetical remark?) (And what about the use of four punctuation marks in a row “?). two sentences ago?) (Or in the previous parenthetical remark should I have enclosed the four punctuation marks in a row in double quotes, “”?).”?) (ACK!)

              Who cares if someone wants to use 2 and 4 as substitute words. It’s a generational change brought on by the introduction of social networking and cell phone texting. What does adding 2 as a spelling matter when we already have “to”, “too”, and “two”. Or 4 when we already have “for”, “four”, and “fore”. English spelling is so atrociously inconsistent that any changes are probably for the better. By the way, I had to use the spell checker for both “atrociously” and “inconsistent” in the previous sentence, because I misspelled them both while typing.

            6. “Please re-read your fourth paragraph, starting with “For those of you … “. It is a single, incredibly complex sentence, with two parenthetical remarks, three uses of brackets, and one use of the dash in the sentence structure. That paragraph really needs to be simplified and clarified.”

              First, it’s actually MY THIRD paragraph, the “first” only being a quote by someone else.

              Second, yes, it is complex, but you can still UNDERSTAND what I’m saying. I’m talking about really BAD grammar and abbreviations that it’s nearly impossible to fully understand. (And I clearly stated that I’m not perfect.)

              Also, regarding 2 or 4 instead of using understandable English (as well as other types of “short-hand”). When some of you write several long paragraphs/comments and you decide to use “2” instead of “to” or “too?” That’s pure ignorant laziness. You have the energy to write a multi-paragraph reply but are too lazy to add JUST ONE CHARACTER OR TWO for a word, but instead think it makes you look “kewl” or otherwise to use such abbreviations? Not in my book.

              And I, also use a spell checker for all of my responses (but, admittedly, I still can make a mistake or two). And assuming that EVERYONE uses Josh’s editor for their comments, it underlines the words it doesn’t recognize in RED, so at the least, BEFORE SOMEONE CLICKS ON “Submit Comment”, they can at least see SOMETHING isn’t “kosher” with their reply.

              I’m not asking everyone to be perfect or display some type of college professorship when writing, but, please, proofread it before sending and THINK of WHAT, HOW you write — particularly those who DO speak and write English. That’s all.
              ‹(•¿•)›

            7. He said he was rambling. To me that excuses everything that happens after. ; ) Sometimes, we just need to let it all out.

              I proofread everything – and you still don’t like the way I write. I haven’t lost any sleep over it, yet.

            8. yea, i was just putting my thoughts on the page lol

              and i am very well versed in american history. i think you should re-read the civil war. slavery was not mentioned as the cause until lincoln wrote the emancipation proclamation, which was questioned at the time and effectively did nothing. it only set the purpose of what the north was fighting for. not just preserving the union, but ensuring freedom, even though thats not what angered the south. (the political south) the emancipation was more of a tool for lincoln to rally the troops of the north and a call to blacks to fight alongside the north. the south political figures were fighting for states rights. the south is and always has been strong for defending their beliefs. they did not want to be bullied by the federal government, they wanted to be treated as seperate entities strung together into a nation for strength, they didnt see it as one nation seperated into divisions. it was a dispute of philiosphy on constitutional construction, not on whether blacks had the right to be free or not. it was whether washington could tell alabama what laws they can and cant make. disbelieve it if you want, but thats the true motive. the dumb south may see it as a war of racism because thats what rallies them, but the people in charge had no intent of that.

              and sorry for not proof reading, i dont get a very large box to work with here. nor do i really feel like stopping my self in the spur of the moment to go back

              sorry lol, its a blog

  14. @omega-maniac

    I knew I was gay at 8 years old. We had a new kid walk into our class one day at school and my first thought was “He’s cute.” So, yeah you don’t need to even be going through puberty to know your gay.

  15. I liked what he said. Unfortunately I saw the video on their local TV network news. There were thousands of comments most of them so hate filled, and beyond imagination. This country is full of hate!!! Myself, I grew up in a time when most of us didn’t know what a homosexual was. In going back through my childhood I know that I had that inclination as early as the 5th grade, give or take a year.

  16. A lot of us, my friends and I, knew we were gay at an early age.
    I had a crush on one of my classmates in the first grade. He was so beautiful and I would sit and stare at him, imagining what it would be like to kiss him.
    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was gay. It wasn’t until first grade that I learned to be scared that people would hurt me if they knew.

  17. Just something on the legality of this case. In America the Supreme Court has granted limited free speech rights to students. Usually, the question settles on whether the student’s speech, including writing or symbolic speech, disrupts the classroom or otherwise interferes with the ability of the school to carry out its educational mission. The teacher, Jay McDowell, was certainly acting appropriately to ask the student to remove the Confederate Flag belt buckle, because that is a clear symbol of racism in America. The teacher could also appropriately object to the use of the word “fag” in the student’s speech. However, if the student said “I don’t support homosexuality”, as part of a reasonable class discussion, then the student would be protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The school, and the teacher, are also certainly allowed to support Spirit Day if they determine it is within the educational objectives of the curriculum, and supporting tolerance is clearly a valid educational objective. So Jay McDowell was certainly acting appropriately. The big question is whether the school could support something like “White Pride Day” or “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin Day”, if it decided that was something it wanted to teach. From the behavior of the adults in the room, I think that is essentially what they want to teach, but, of course, they just do it tacitly. If all this sounds incredible to the non-U.S.A. readers of this blog, please remember that the school system in America is incredibly decentralized. The Federal, State, and even County or City governments can put very little pressure on a local school board, which are elected for that school district only, by the local residents of that district only. Although the subjects taught and various graduation requirements are determined at the State level, the local school boards have almost absolute power over how a subject is taught in their district and how school discipline is maintained. I’d love to hear how this differs from the speech rights and educational systems in other countries.

    I’m a retired Community College teacher in Illinois. One of my students enrolled at my community college because he didn’t want to attend the local community college for his home town of Effingham, Illinois. (Effingham is also a hot bed of the Klu Klux Klan). He was white and straight, but he was very liberal in his thinking and he dressed Goth (extremely rare in central Illinois). He told me of the harassment he got in his high school from both students, faculty, and administration alike. It was close to the harassment that many openly gay students suffer, just for dressing Goth. I can’t imagine what an openly gay student would go through in Effingham, Illinois. Other communities, such as Urbana, Illinois, populated by a large number of University of Illinois faculty, are much more liberal and reasonable. Central High School in Urbana recently put on a production of the musical Hairspray. It included a boy playing the role of the mother, which is traditionally done in drag.

    1. Scott: Excellent reading! I tend to agree with everything you said, but I think this case may just be dragged in their court system at least through the Appellate Court. Those red-necks and religious just never seem to run out of $$$ to attempt to prove their point.

    2. Well said, Scott. I wish I read down this far before I posted above. You said it much better.

    3. your correct in saying the teacher was right in removing the kid for using faggot. definitely degaratory, offense, harmful and disruptive. just as much as the n word would be. and your correct in that the choice for spirit day is allowed if its inline with whats the school wants to teach, which is tolerance, an admirable goal anywhere.

      although doing something like “love the sinner, hate the sin” promotes a religion or a view, something the school has to be nuetral on as a public institution. spirit day is not a view, its just tolerance.

      your incorrect in that the confederate flag represents racism. the confederate states did not even represent racism. it represents opposition to the US constitution on grounds of states right. thats what the civil war war about, not slavery. and thats an expression of free speech. your allowed to speech in opposition to our government.

      the hate speech is the only thing that this kid did wrong, and the only thing the teacher did wrong was ask him to remove the belt buckle.

      1. [the confederate flag] “represents opposition to the U.S. constitution on grounds of [state's rights]. [That's] what the civil war [was] about”.

        This is a standard right wing racist talking point. Saying the American Civil War was not about slavery is simply absurd. Yes, there were some other issues, but the southern states seceded and created the Confederate States of America for one overwhelming reason — they felt that their slave-based economy was threatened by the election of 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected. The Abolitionist movement was growing steadily through the 1850’s, and it was obvious from the election of 1860 they would have enough political power to severely limit slavery.

        “State’s Rights” was also a code word to oppose integration during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. I remember it well. It is just a sugar coated phrase. No right winger would use the phrase “State’s Rights” as a way to support the American states that have passed same-sex marriage laws. They seem strangely silent on that particular “State’s Right”.

        17o0o — if you are young, you are being seriously mislead by your elders. It is time to start thinking for yourself. If you are an adult and you really want to continue to insist that the Confederate Flag does not represent racism in America, you are, quite simply, a racist yourself.

        1. southerns are not dumb, they know what the believe and they have reasons for believing it. the people who ran the confederacy were not hicks. hicks are the ones that are symbolized as southerners. alot of southerns, educated or not, may view the blacks and gays as inferior. but if you talk to educated southerns, what pisses them off most is people telling them what to do. they dont like government, and they want their rights. and they feel their states should have rights to create laws in their state that the federal government cant infulence their own ideas on.

          you may think that the “states rights” argument is just a cover for their rascist ways. but this argument has been shown in cases where their was no social injustice. its the principle that matters to them. they may have reversed slavery quicker if the federal government didnt force them. they are stubborn to let others control them. its their nature. it was that way all the way since the first national congress. they wanted to be treated evenly among the other states without a federal government. thats why they broke away, because they want to rule themselves

          look, im not a rascist, im queer, the attrocities commited by the southern hicks disgust me jsut as much as anyone else, but its just the hicks buying into that this is about slavery. slavery, gay rights, black rights, womens rights are just pawns in the game of states rights vs. federal authority. once i understood that, you can see that the hostility is not well founded.

          and yes i am young, im 19. but please dont assume anyone agreeing with something a conservative says has been brain washed by conservative parents or talk show hosts. i look at both sides and make coherent decisions. my family is split polticially, both socially and economically. i hear the points each side makes and agree with the side that has the most sound argument.

          maybe its time you get out of your shell and listen to the arguments the other side makes and see where they are coming from. every opinion has well founded belief, and it takes a idiot to be rascist, not a conservative.

          1. You should start all your comments with “I know I’m rambling” because your ideas – some of them seemingly intelligent, if a bit misguided – are getting lost in your disjointed style.

            You say: Southerners “wanted to be treated evenly among the other states without a federal government. thats why they broke away, because they want to rule themselves”

            As I have said before, no other issue other than slavery had the force of ideals or gravity of the moment to cause a split in the country. No legitimate historian will dispute that.

            You also say: “you may think that the “states rights” argument is just a cover for their rascist ways. but this argument has been shown in cases where their was no social injustice”

            Can you give an example of these other cases prior to 1865 not related to slavery? And, don’t say tariffs because that was all about goods produced by slave labor.

            1. im not righting an essay, its just a blog. sorry if its confusing, but a blog is supposed to be the raw ideas

              you make a good dispute to states rights, but i have a counter…

              for one, the construction of the constitution was heavily argued about states rights vs. a centralized government. the articles of confederation were all about the argument. the supreme court case of mccoulagh vs. maryland was a huge precedent set against states right http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCulloch_v._Maryland
              and the tariffs that you mentioned were definitely a huge NON SOCIAL dispute prior to 1865. it was about the south’s economy. just because the cotton kingdom was driven by slave labor doesnt mean that they wanted to protect their trading so they could keep slaves. THEY WANTED MONEY! thats the motive here, the biggest profit as possible. and they didnt want the federal government to be able to influence their economic policies on them.

              and slavery was the dividing issue because it was the most passionate for both sides. of course northerners are outraged and are continually pressing the southerners, who are stubborn to be giving in to federal demands. the hick south fought back thinking it was all about slavery and the political south used their enthusiasm to their advantage in the political battle. but dont be detered, it was always about principle for the southerns pulling the strings on seccession

            2. This is the SECOND TIME you “excuse” your rambling and confusion along with very poor writing skills on “being a blog” — as if a blog isn’t any place to accurately and decently show your opinion. And, “a blog is supposed to be the raw ideas”? Where do you get that from? Of course, with your writing skills, you certainly prove your “rawness” — so much so, that I’ve stopped reading everything you “write” and just dismiss it. Sorry, but with your own admission of you being only 19 yo — there’s no way that you fully understand our politics and, it appears, U.S. History. And if you continue with these abysmal writing “skills,” I will probably dismiss you entirely since you show no respect for a blog such as this to even present yourself with enough intelligence to show you actually graduated from high school and can write even a basic opinion, let alone a serious paper for ANY presentation.

              And I have to agree with, “start all your comments with ‘I know I’m rambling’ because your ideas … are [getting - let's delete that word] lost in your [EXTREMELY] disjointed style.”

            3. Now, this I don’t understand!

              Why, Penboy, do you need to take such a dismissive and and insulting tone? I completely agree with you that the rambling nature of this young man’s comments do not best serve his arguments – and I have said so, but they are his comments and he can choose to present them as he sees fit. And, they are not “abysmal,” they simply lack coherence and structure, at times.

              Lighten up. Do you really think he cares whether you read his comments?

            4. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one as we seem to acknowledge the same set of basic facts but interpret them in very different ways.

              I will say that you are very knowledgeable. I appreciate that. Yet, I do think that your arguments would be much better served by more clarity in your writing. I know, it’s a blog not the SAT’s but their your words, your ideas, and your viewpoints and you care enough to share them here on your own, not is some forced essay for school. So, dress them up and show them off; don’t just throw them out there.

              Of course, it is a blog and they are your words so, ultimately, you need to do with them what you feel is best.

              I look forward to reading your comments on other posts and topics in the future.

            5. cmon penboy, lighten up huh?

              dont tell me you cant derive the point im getting at from my posts. can you give me your take on that and not my scattered life style?

              but idk, maybe you guys are right. i think i get to enthralled in what im writing to stop and spew it out coherrently

              but thanks onenorth for the mature reply ;)

              and yea, even historians cant come to agree on the civil war and history surrounding it, its just something you can view in alot of different ways

          2. 17o0o–I realize that this comment will be hanging around somewhere near the bottom of the comments column, but I am responding in a general way in support of your comments rather than to any one in particular. While I haven’t agreed with everything you have said (but I have agreed with very much of it), I completely agree with your open-mindedness and ability to think for yourself with whatever information you currently have on hand, which means that you also are probably willing and able to change your opinions as more information comes in, which, unfortunately is an extremely RARE quality these days. Somebody wise (I wish I could remember who) once said that that you can’t rationalize a person out of an opinion that wasn’t rationally put in there. I really like that and it is so true.

            I was born in the South (but mostly grew up in California) as a member of what for all practical purposes can be called a “Southern aristocratic” family (look up the “Biltmore House” on Google and you will see the kind of people that my relatives at the time socialized with…in other words, they were more or less in the same social class) and all my life have detested the general belief of non-Southerners that all of the south is “Bubba”. And there has always been such a sense of self-righteousness among what a friend of mine calls “Yankees”, one that is entirely undeserved.

            What no one here seems to have said (or, probably, understood) was that the North and the South had entirely different economies. The South, with its fertile farmland and milder climate was agricultural, whereas the North depended more on manufacturing and trade. The way to incredible wealth in the North was ship-building and international trade (whaling fits in there, too; whale oil was the primary lighting fuel before petroleum’s use was determined), whereas in the South it was huge agricultural plantations. So, when it came to slavery, there happened to be a symbiotic relationship between the two regions. It was the North that had the ships that brought the slaves in from overseas and carried them to market in places like Charleston. And as cruel as Southern slave owners supposedly were, whatever cruelty may or may not have existed, none of it could have equalled the horror of actually being on one of those Northerner’s slave ships. At the worst, to a Southern slave owner, slaves might have been considered at slightly higher than the level of cattle (although the truth is that they were known to be far better than that, as many of the slaves were highly advanced craftsmen), whereas to the Northern slave traders, they were considered at the level of, say, coal…a mere “product” to be packed into fetid holds. I forget the exact statistics, but I believe it was something like only a third of those slaves captured in Africa actually made it to this continent alive, conditions on those ships were so awful. Mothers who gave birth during the voyage would throw their newborns overboard if they had a chance. A female professor and poet friend of mine wrote a poem about such a mother having to make the decision to throw her baby overboard in order to save it from certain misery and her poem was so horrifying and blood-curdling that one couldn’t read it without bursting into tears and vocally crying. So, Northerners as a group do NOT have a stronger moral leg to stand on when compared to the South.

            Slavery wasn’t very useful to the Northern economy, but it was essential to the Southern one, at least until the invention of the cotton gin. It was not morality that brought an end to slavery, but industrialism. The economies around the world that had long required animal labor (horses, llamas, camels, oxen, yaks, water buffalo, and elephants) also in many cases required human labor (usually prisoners of war), but both animal and human slave labor is dropped when machines are made.

            So again, the “morality” of stopping slavery when they had no use for it is not much for the Northerners to be proud of or a reason to feel superior to the South.

            The South had numerous reasons to want to secede from the Union, where the federal system was balanced in favor of the needs of the North and against them. The truth was that while the South could do perfectly well without the North, the North needed the South and, again, it wasn’t that Lincoln was some moral giant, but that from his Northener point of view, the “Union” needed the South. And while he was in general compassionate toward slaves (but then, so was Thomas Jefferson, who nevertheless still had them), he really didn’t care all that much about them. He actually wrote that his only interest in freeing the slaves was that to do so would BREAK THE BACK of the South. As far as the slaves, themselves, went, he wrote that “the Negro” was like a child and could not live in our society on its own, and was worried over how they would live once they were freed. He opined that the best thing for them would be to send them back to Africa.

            Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively about how if the Union did not serve any of its members, then those members had not only the right, but the duty to secede. One must understand that when the Constitution was adopted state by state, that the STATE was the sovereign, not subservient to the federal government. The whole point of the federal government was to ease trade among the individual states and to deal with foreign nations as a whole. Lincoln violated that basic principle by using a war machine to interfere with the Southern states’s right to order their affairs however they saw fit.

            Something else people probably didn’t know…Lincoln asked Robert E. Lee to be the general of the UNION army, but Lee thought about it and determined that his loyalty lay with the state of Virginia rather than with the United States. Underscore this: that the General Lincoln MOST RESPECTED and whom he wanted to lead the Union forces was the very man who chose to be the general for the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee was no “bubba”. Because of Lee’s choice, after the South lost the war, Lincoln had Lee’s manor and plantation confiscated and that became the grounds for what is now Arlington National cemetery in Washington, D.C. (Robert E. Lee’s mansion is somewhat uphill from President John Kennedy’s grave and the Eternal Flame, if I remember my visit to Arlington correctly). So this is how Lincoln treated a gentlemen whom he had supremely respected.

            Going back to this issue about the Confederate Flag (on a belt-buckle, or flying on a pole above Alabama’s statehouse), it is a complex, complicated symbol that has many meanings. To some it means “rebel” (that’s probably why that boy in this story wore it), to others it carries with it that whole “the state is sovereign, the right of a people to determine their own lives without government interference, etc.”, to others it MIGHT mean “racism,” but it is really a very poor symbol for racism if that’s what people are trying to communicate. Some kind of “white power” symbol or maybe a Nazi swastica serves that purpose much, much better.

            I remember how as a family we would often go back to Asheville, North Carolina for glorious summers with the relatives, and we would excitedly buy Confederate flag beach towels. We were expressing the heritage that we were justifiably proud of, certainly not racism. Racists? My grandfather, who was (among many other things) a real estate developer, built a housing development where blacks were welcome, the very first in North Carolina. Many of his friends were flabbergasted, saying, “Blacks can’t live in new houses, they would ruin them! They will rip up the carpets and drill holes in the floor so that they can hose them out in order to clean them!” My grandfather replied, “They take care of OUR houses, don’t they?” And then, during the Depression, when people couldn’t pay their mortgages or their rent and they were being thrown out of their houses, my grandfather (who held the mortages on the communities he developed) wouldn’t foreclose on his buyers or evict his tenants when they fell behind in their payments due to being unemployed. Again, other landlords he knew would say, “If they can’t pay, you have to throw them out!”, but my grandfather responded, “How can a man get back on his feet when he doesn’t even have a place to live? And what good does an empty house do me? No, I forgive them of all their payments until they get a job again.” He was a truly remarkable human being. You know about municipal bonds? Asheville was the ONLY city in the entire United States that refused to default on their municipal bonds during the Depression. It took them until the mid-70s to completely make good on all those obligations, but they managed to do it. My grandfather had something to do with that policy. So call us “racist” because we had Confederate flag beach towels? I can’t image that level of unawareness of the truth of things.

            Anyway, much praise goes to you, 17o0o, for your free-thinking.

            1. Absolutely excellent analysis, thomasdosborneii. You certainly weren’t using your Confederate Flag beach towels as a racist symbol during those summers in your youth. However, I would question your motives if you bought those same towels now. What you don’t address in your analysis is how the meaning of symbols change over time. Specifically, the Confederate flag over the last twenty years or so has become a clear symbol of racism to most Americans, especially African Americans. I think that if you ask a neutral question such as “What does the Confederate Flag represent to you?”, most black people would include racism in their answer.

              The real question is why is the Confederate Flag is so important if a significant proportion of the population, especially the Southern black population, considers it offensive. Let it go on the scrapheap of racist symbols with black lawn jockeys and earlier versions of Aunt Jemima. web.wm.edu/amst/370/2005F/sp6/auntjemima_history.htm
              The South has plenty to be proud of, including Southern cooking and it’s excellent literary heritage, without clinging to a flag that wasn’t even the official flag of the Confederate States of America. (Our current “Confederate Flag” was one of a number of battle flags, and not that important until after the Civil War. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_flag#The_Confederate_Flag

              I’ll answer my own question here. The reason it is so important is, quite simply, psychological denial. If you can successfully deny that the Confederate Flag is racist, you can deny the racism that it represents, and, in may cases, your own racism.

              Interestingly, we have a nearly identical situation here in central Illinois in the Chief Controversy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Illiniwek Even worse than Cheif Illiniwek, is the Cleveland Indian’s Chief Wahoo, a clearly racist symbol if I’ve ever seen one. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Indians Scroll down and take a look at the 1946 to 1950 version of Chief Wahoo where he has a big, pointy nose. That is one screwed-up racial stereotype.

              So, I’ll return to my original assertion so many postings ago on this topic. The Confederate Flag on the kid’s belt buckle was a clear symbol of racism, and the teacher was certainly acting properly when he insisted on its removal. This is independent of the motivation of the kid, by the way, who very well could have been wearing it as an act of rebellion without understanding its full meaning. The “teachable moment” would actually come as part of demanding the removal, thereby demonstrating how serious it is to introduce a racist symbol into the classroom.

            2. scott,

              but thats the pride of the southerns. they stick to their principles when they know what they mean by them. just as they didnt succumb to drop slavery because the north called them racists when they knew that wasnt the issue, they aren’t about to succumb to peoples incorrect perceptions now.

            3. i normally dont have the patience to read such long posts haha, as you can all tell from my writing style

              but i .. love you.. haha

              the history your presenting is extremely interesting, as its not something you hear much about or think about in the grand scheme of things. (the companies that transported the slaves i mean) you hear about the terrible condition, but not who exactly was responsible for the transports

              and i love your economic view. people dont understand that the way the economy goes is the way the world, politics and our lives go. just as it was with the civil war, it is today, economic laws run the way the world is run because its what allows us to live our lives the way we desire.

              ” those members had not only the right, but the duty to secede” EXACTLY
              but even though the South had the right to preserve their sovereignty, lincoln made the right decision. he said something to the effect that to save the union the constitution had to be violated.

              and yes, i did know Lee rejected Lincolns request. Lee is one of the most respected figures in american history, hes evidence of how strongly the south held to their principles, a desirable trait.

              and being a southerner, do you know the history behind the confederate flag? was it a symbol of the south before they seceded? because ive seen it as a symbol of traitor almost and havent liked seeing it associated with southern state governments in present day. i respect that people should be able to flag it around as a protest to the government at worst. but should the state government of south carolina be able to protest as traitors against the federal government? is there something more to this argument than the perception it has in the north?

              thanks for your compliments and stories, no one can tell it as well as that. pretty much sums up that we’re all not so different

            4. This is a great piece of background on the Civil War and North-South relations. Very thorough and generally accurate. Though, I do think that much of it is – or, at least, should be taught in most high school U.S History classes. It was in mine. I hope it still is.

              Also, I don’t think any of this does much to refute that slavery was the only issue that could have cause secession and, subsequently, war.

              You did make one glaring error, as well. The cotton gin – although Whitney intended it to end the need for slaves – had the exact opposite effect. The invention of the gin vastly increased the need for, price of, and number of slaves in the South.

            5. scott, 17o0o, and OneNorth–While some of us were asked to not do this anymore (or take it elsewhere), I think it would be rude for me to not answer you three. Not to have the “last word”, but to honor your statements. I’ll try to keep my final comment brief (since I realize that none of this is of much interest to non-Americans):

              I came across two interesting websites–one about the Confederate flag and one put out by the Anti-Defamation League on hate symbols:

              http://www.usflag.org/confederate.stars.and.bars.html

              http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/default_graphics.asp

              I very much appreciate the point of view of the person putting out the “flag” website, that groups who use the Confederate flag as a racist symbol do not represent the South, but have co-opted the flag as a symbol and have therefore desecrated the Confederate flag. This could also be true of some other hate symbols, such as the Celtic cross, various runes, and the sacred (I think Hindu) symbol of the Swastica, all perverted to Nazi use. I appreciate what the ADL said about these symbols, that it is the context of the use of some of them that declares them as hate symbols, not the symbols themselves. (Obviously, some symbols were designed from the get-go to be hate symbols, but the Confederate flag is not one of them.) To be complete, the ADL includes two black-power hate symbols against whites.

              Unless a news report stated that the boy wearing the belt buckle wore it as a racist statement, I don’t believe the boy wore it as a racist symbol, but to represent “rebellion” or even that he, himself, was from the south. He probably wanted to shake some people up, such as if he wore a drawing of a marijuana leaf on his belt buckle, I don’t think racism was his motivation. I disagree with the concept of homophobia being “racist”, the principles behind and the motivations for racism and homophobia are entirely different in reasoning and psychology (even though both are probably rooted in a deep feeling of personal inferiority and a desperate need to find anyone that one might think is fundamentally inferior to them…or else fear of the “other”).

              I myself, have no desire to be offensive to anybody and would not, for example, bring a Confederate flag beach towel to the beach in California (I don’t even have one, any more). My beach towel shows brightly-colored tropical fish swimming in the sea! I think what you said, Scott, at least for me, here, is valid: to consider the Confederate flag in the same light as lawn jockeys and the original Aunt Jemima (that was obviously created as a positive image of a beloved figure, not to hurt anybody). (And nobody would chose an “Indian Chief” as a symbol for a sports team because they thought it represented “inferiority,” but instead, “great valor in battle.”) Various sensibilities are becoming clearer to us in our society and I believe that we (some of us?) want to be welcoming and inclusive, not divisive. And that requires certain compromises. On the other hand, being reactionary is not useful; it is sometimes foolish to be offended when no offense is meant. To constantly declare that whites are racist at every turn is apt to ultimately harm the progress…it’s just crying “wolf” and then when the wolf really does come, everybody will be deaf.

      2. I totally agree with you that we need to tolerate all points of view and try to convince others of our views through civil discourse and not by attempting to ban or limit the expression of their views.

        I have spent a day or two in the classroom and I have had to challenge intolerant views and expressions. It seems to me that this teacher may have, as some others have pointed out, missed an opportunity to exploit a teachable moment and discuss the history and vitriol behind symbols and words instead of “forcing” a student to remove a symbol that some found offensive. I, personally, don’t have a problem with a “stars and bars” belt buckle, but I tend to shrug off alot of things that others might find offensive. So, no, I don’t think he had the right to “make” the student remove his belt buckle. But, I think the incident was complicated by the student’s use of the derogatory term “faggot” and it seems as if we are missing some of the details of the whole story. How, for example, did the teacher ask or demand or request or require the student to remove the buckle?

        Of course, their are limits to tolerating intolerance – especially within a school. Clothing can not can be given a completely free pass to express whatever ideas students feel may be appropriate. A shirt that read “Die Teachers” would certainly not be tolerated. Some local school boards, as Scott points out above, may decide that the Confederate Flag is a symbol that crosses that threshold. Within the last few years, the flag has been removed from state capitol buildings because of its power as a symbol of hate and bigotry.

        While I suppose that the leaders of Confederate states would say that their efforts did not represent racism and they were fighting to defend the supremacy of states’ power over that of the federal government, they were without a doubt fighting to preserve a system that necessitated one race’s superiority over another. The Civil War was most certainly fought over slavery. No other issue possessed the gravity to make states’ rights matter. Virtually all disputes regarding states’ rights where directly related to the issue of slavery and any that weren’t would never have lead either side to war to settle the question.

        I hope that the consequences for this teacher are not too severe and that everyone in that community and others around the country learn something about discussion and civility as a way to bridge our differences of opinion. But, I fear that the added focus on the incident may just drive a bigger wedge between all sides of the issues.

        1. :)

          the best political approach is understanding. its the best approach to life, learning and understanding human nature. the status quo is the status quo for a reason.

          but yes you are right, tolerance has to be taught in schools. i dont know if i made it in this post, but i posted it somewhere here lol

          and yes your also right. its disgusting to me that the south would use something like slavery to defend their stubborness to succumb that this is one nation, not just a collection of states. i dont agreee with the south seceding from the union, but i respect their ability and beliefs in doing so even though the union must and shall be preserved.

          1. Just curious, why do you say that the “the union must and shall be preserved” if you continually champion your “respect for their ability and beliefs” in states rights? Don’t you see this as a bit of a contradiction? If a state, with its rights being supreme over the power of the federal government – as you maintain, chooses to leave the union; shouldn’t this be permissible?

            1. no, to be clear I’m understanding the souths reasons for secession to be of principle not racism, even though i disagree with their decision to actually secede.

              and it should not be permissible because when they ratified the constitution they choose to be apart of this nation. they still thought we were living under the articles. Lincoln needed to establish that this is one country, not a collection of entities.

  18. I knew I was gay when I was twelve years old. Growing up near Howell, MI I have even been to a Klan rally when I was in High School many years ago. It was an interesting experience to say the least. Basically a bunch of rednecks having a barbeque complaining about minorities, gays, Jews, and catholics. I went to the rally with a friend whose parents were active.

    Now I don’t agree with their opinions and I have never cared to go back but they have a right under our constitution to their beliefs. Everyone posting on here from other countries complaining about our constitution needs to reexamine their opinion. Our “outdated” piece of paper has shaped a country that freed all of your countries from the grips of Germany twice in the last century. The USA gives more money in AIDS relief then the rest of the world combined. For all of Europe’s talk their is very little action on their part to spreading Democracy and freedom to the rest of the world.

    Back to the original topic…….A class discussion of the American Civil War and Civil rights movement would have benefited this teachers class much more than asking the boy to remove his belt buckle. Shame on this teacher for not seizing an opportunity to educate his class and instead just causing bad press for his school. On the same note Bravo to Graeme for at 14 yrs old having the courage to do what many of us here did not, be openly gay at 14.

  19. How awesome is this? I really like the way an adult, a teacher, stands up and does his job, but gets suspended for doing what he is supposed to. What kind of message is that to send to the kids and parents? As much as parents complain about teachers NOT doing their jobs, here you have one doing his and getting suspended, while the ones who could give 2 shits sit around collecting a paycheck as some poor kid gets the crap beat out of him. They need to get it together!!!

  20. I don’t give a stuff about the US Constitution- not being American- but I think that a teacher has got a right to challenge a student who wears that belt buckle- (even if perhaps he doesnt have the rignt-it seems- to get him to remove it).

    Graham was incredible- when I was at school (which was many years ago) there would be no way on earth that I could have come out of the closet- let alone advocated gay rights as he has done- I got bullied enough at my school as it was. Clearly this is a boy with real leadership qualities- very much hope to hear more about him in the fullness of time.

    1. @bergamot:
      “I don’t give a stuff about the US Constitution- not being American”

      Well, we (over here) could just as easily say, “We don’t give a “stuff” about the Magna Carta — you know, not being British and all,” but in actuality, is part of the basis of our Constitution — in the sense that the Charter was an important part of the extensive historical process that led to the making of our own constitutional laws.

      Add to that fact that just about every school [over here, mind you] teaches us about this important document, your Magna Carta. I’m sure a lot of our original Constitution wouldn’t have come about without the knowledge of your Magna Carta. And since we respect your important documents, is it too much to ask of you to respect ours? You might learn something from us as we have learned things [history] from you. Thanks.

      ‹(•¿•)›

  21. It would be nice if the video from that female’s camera was released to the public so we could see it from that camera’s perspective — with a lot more of Graeme’s face with his expressions and intensity.
    ‹(•¿•)›

  22. I don’t think I could admire anyone more than I admire this kid right now. What an amazing and courageous human being.

  23. Wow, what a truly courageous kid & brave teacher to stand up to the intolerant and narrow mindede school board.
    Graeme and McDowell make me belive there is still goodness in the human species. <3

    1. Thank you for that link.

      Here is another student, Matt Letten speaking for Jay McDowell and gay tolerance. He speaks just before Graeme Taylor and you can see him behind Matt, nodding in agreement, and applying chapstick to his lips in preparation for his speech. And there are 2-3 other students behind Graeme waiting to talk, presumably to also defend the teacher.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uchaglIQ9Uw&feature=related

      ‹(•¿•)›

  24. In your various rants against the United States Constitution (your favorite descriptor seems to be “it sucks,” which probably wouldn’t be very useful in a court of law), you demonstrate a misunderstanding of the Constitution, its purpose, and its use. You seem to think that Sweden has a “better law”, because your “Constitution” is 100 times longer than ours! That’s like saying that the “Golden Rule” (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) “sucks”, because it has only eleven words versus, say, the Mahabarata, which as 1.8 million words? If all you need are eleven words to comport your life properly (and some would argue that one rule IS all you need), then who needs 1.8 million? And besides, we already have millions of words of other laws, whole law libraries full of them. The Constitution is a document of certain overriding principles to be applied, not the entire substance of the country’s laws.

    The purpose of the Constitution is to describe the basic structure of the FEDERAL government (a legislative branch with one house to represent the states and another one to represent the people), an executive branch to administer the legislature’s laws, and a judicial branch to keep the other two in line (has the federal government overstepped its bounds), which it wants to limit very carefully. A main “Golden Rule” of the Constitution is “the people are free to order their own lives without interference and without interfering in the lives of others; the Federal government is to ONLY have certain powers necessary to keep the common peace at home and to deal with foreign governments.” The Federal government will stomp over the individual rights of the people or the states only when there is a very definite and legitimate interest to do so for the general welfare. This requires careful balancing and can NOT be done by “rule” of the majority of the people, because this is a republic, not a democracy. As Mark Twain so succinctly said, “A democracy is two wolves and one sheep voting over what’s for dinner.” Suppose in America that the legislature of the state of Utah passed a law that declared “since homosexuals are particularly vulnerable to catching and then transmitting AIDS, they are a public health hazard and therefore must all be put to death as an effort of disease eradication.” And 99.9% of the Mormons would say, “Yes, that is a very good idea, actually, we wonder why nobody ever thought of that before?” So, if such a thing were brought to a vote in a democracy, it very well might be upheld. Oh sure, there will be a few who might vote against it, such as the girl who thinks, “Well, gee, my brother is gay, I don’t want him put to death even if he IS a health hazard.” But you can see how in a democracy that sort of thing actually COULD happen. “Majority rules” happens to be a very BAD idea…for the minority. So, how DO you protect the rights of a minority?

    Such a law could be brought before the Supreme Court and there the justices would make a Constitutional ruling on it…basically, they would have to determine which was stronger in the balance, the right of homosexuals to live, or the argument that homosexuals were a danger to the society as a whole. Who knows what they would decide, but there would at least be a CHANCE that they would decide that the whole “health hazard” argument was a “crock” and that protecting the lives of homosexuals was the greater need, in which case, Utah would have to get rid of that law.

    There has been a lot of discussion on this board lately about bullying of gays, and apparently much of that bullying is actually verbal. So, Americans are allowed to say whatever they want to say, there is no dictator telling them to shut up about certain things. However, verbally taunting a gay person interferes with THAT person’s right to live peacefully and free of harm. So which right supercedes? In a republic, you wouldn’t want to put this to a vote, because, again, like the wolves and the sheep and what’s for dinner, the majority of the people would probably rather not have limits on their ability to say whatever they want whenever they want. Only a minority would want such harmful speech stopped. But you CAN’T very well simply make a general law that says “All speech that hurts somebody is illegal.” That really WOULD be too intense of a gagging of everybody’s speech. The Supreme Court would have to decide what speech was just SO harmful that it MUST be limited.

    Roe v Wade is a Supreme Court ruling that attempted to find the balance between a woman’s right to have her body be under her own control versus the state’s interest in the life of her unborn child and also the state’s interest in the health of both the mother and child. This issue is complicated if for no other reason than we’re talking about two lives in one body (or at least one actual life and one potential life, depending upon what one believes) and that second life doesn’t get a “say so”, which is why the state stands up to speak for it. Also, people throw their religious beliefs into this mix, which complicates it all even more. The Constitution serves as a basic guide and then the court’s ruling says what can or can not be done based on that guide.

    The “common law” is simply how conflicts were solved before and is to be used in the absence of any statutory law. While it may be currently unjust to simply follow what has been decided before, especially if now “we know more” or “see it differently,” the common law DOES represent humankind’s accumulated wisdom, which I suggest may be more valid and fair than ONE judge’s decision, or the decision of “twelve reasonable men and women of one’s peers”. But these concerns seem basic to human life; there will always be conflicts and disagreements and it is very difficult to figure out what would work best for all people concerned.

    1. “A republic is a form of government in which the people or some portion thereof retain supreme control over the government, and in which the head of government is not a monarch.”

      Anyway, slavery? Where was your constitution then? The fact that “sodomy” (defined as anal and oral sex or just anal sex, in some states just between people of the same sex) was illegal in all but one state until the 1970s and in some states until 2003, how’s that possible if the constitution says that “the people are free to order their own lives without interference and without interfering in the lives of others”? In no (other) western country was “sodomy” illegal in 2003.

      1. William: Oh boy do I love this: The Swedish Slave trade:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_slave_trade

        People LOVE to talk about America and its slaves, as if it were the only country in the world involved in this. Slavery existed in the world since the beginning of time. It STILL exists in the world! What one must remember about America is that, yes, it had slaves, but it ultimately STOPPED its slavery. Oh, and in case you don’t know, very, very few people in the United States owned slaves. Slaves were economical only if you had a huge plantation, which meant you had to be very rich. So to view slavery as something to ascribe to the American people as a whole, it’s as if you excoriated us all for having private Grumann Gulfstream jets.

        And I remember reading about a gay pride parade in Stockholm recently (perhaps a year or two ago) which was entirely broken up by skinheads attacking the participants. I was horrified to read that “gentle, understanding” Sweden had violent skinheads as much as one might think to find in, say, Berlin, or in British “football hoodlum” pubs. (To my knowledge, there has never actually been VIOLENCE at any gay pride event in America. Maybe a handful of people picketing, if that, but mostly the events are safe and unmolested.) The attempt to harmonize and equalize people will always end up a failure. It’s like clipping a hedge; a few days later, unruly fronds always begin to make themselves known. Personally, I far prefer unique individuals rather than massive homogenous societies.

        Socially and politically, Sweden has one advantage and that is that it is very small. The people there are mostly all Swedes. The United States is huge in size and massive in population. We have every kind of people in the world living here, and continually clamoring to come here. The country has been remarkable in its ability to function when there are so many extremely different people living here with so many different ideas and beliefs.

        It wasn’t TOO long ago that (due to Sweden’s political neutrality) the arrival of Iranian immigrants into the Nordic majority in Sweden nearly destroyed the social fabric of the entire country. Their ethics didn’t match your ethics and all of a sudden, the “we take care of our own” philosophy was thrown out the window, since these people WEREN’T your own, but only there to take advantage of the advantages but not give anything back in return (or provide it first, and then justifiably reap the reward later). So, your socialistic system was voted out for an election cycle or two.

        In the U.S., the country has been dealing with difference since the beginning of its history. Sometimes not very well, but where else in the world was it done better? It’s all a steep learning curve for everybody.

        And finally, it is nothing but a boring expression of ignorance to continue to jabber on about how “religious” the United States is. Yes there are religions here, yes there is a minority that is the Christian right and they do have some voting power particularly in the Bible Belt, which encompasses, perhaps 1/8 of the population. But I don’t see religion as having any power over anyone I know, live near, or work with. The only time any of us ever go into a church is attend a wedding. Those people who DO go to church regularly seem to do it only out of habit or perhaps for the social connection. Other than that, it is meaningless in their lives.

        Sweden has churches too, you know. They’re mostly empty, whereas ours seem to be clamouring for people to come in. Fewer and fewer young people want to enter the priesthood or the ministry. In short, it is something that is slowly dying here, and has been slowly dying for quite a while.

        On the whole, from an American point of view, we like Sweden and the Swedish people. We may actually hold you in higher esteem than you hold yourselves (Swedes sometimes seem to be morose and overly-self-critical). There is much to admire there and in many ways you put us to shame. But you know you are far from perfect, as we, too, also are. In any battle against “the bad”, we are allies.

        I have been to Sweden several times, and have driven from as far north as beyond the arctic circle into Swedish Lappland, and as far south as Malmo. It’s a gorgeous country. I have NOT been to the western side of Sweden, though, and would like to see that someday. I LOVED Stockholm. I had an uncle who used to live in Stockholm (but he also lived in Helsinki, was constantly taking the Viking Line back and forth), who was a photographer and an artist. One of my best friends is Swedish (lives in Umea) and I am the godfather of his son.

        In short, I really like Sweden. Just don’t insult our Constitution, especially without really understanding it (I wouldn’t blame you for not understanding it, though…I am impressed that you are interested in it at all!).

        1. Yes I know there was a Swedish slave trade in the Caribbean (I don’t think it was legal in Sweden proper though), I didn’t mean that Sweden was more moral than the United States (it continued longer in Sweden so it’s probably the opposite), just that the US’ constitution can be “interpreted” any way you wish.

          If religion’s so unimportant for most people, how come there’s just member of Congress (Pete Stark) who’s openly atheist? The religious right doesn’t support Democrats so why don’t atheist Democrats dare to be open about it? I’m not saying that the ideal situation is one where all atheist politicians make a big fuss about it. Ideally, religion is kept out of politics, and it’s just assumed that most politicians don’t believe in a heavenly father (and if they do, that’s something they should keep private). (This is almost the way it is in Sweden, for example, the former PM was a christian, the current is an atheist or agnostic; most (?) people probably don’t know this since they almost never talk about it: there is (usually…, unfortunately some muslims like to change this, and have succeeded somewhat) a quite strict separation of religion and state (which is totally different from, and reality almost the opposite of, separation of church and state (when Sweden was as most secular we still had a state church))). And it’s not just that atheists aren’t open, politicians don’t seem to miss an opportunity to remind us they’re Christians.

          But I assume we agree on this and that it’s problematic. :)

          1. @William:

            Well, your second paragraph is a bit jumbled between “godliness” and atheism. But I’ll try to wade through it with respect to USA.

            The religious right doesn’t support Democrats so why don’t atheist Democrats dare to be open about it?

            That’s a major double-barreled question. Let me explain it this way. I think we all know why any of us or any other homosexuals (or bisexuals that may be more prominent towards their own sex) hesitate SERIOUSLY before “coming out” and announcing to others in their social structures their same-sex preference — even to their family members, best friends and any others that may have some “control” over their decision. Do you agree with this — are we on the same page here?

            So, for many of us who don’t or may not have any or very few “understanding” persons within your/their social structure, it becomes a MAJOR ISSUE on whether to “come out” and declare yourself against the majority social structure — so much so, that MANY (MOST?) will just prefer to keep this inside for what can be many, many years — even decades. Are we still on the same page here?

            Well, Atheists (in any country where the religious are in the absolute majority) are very much like avowed homosexuals in the same sense that “coming out” and declaring yourself against the majority can be so much “against the grain” that at least 95% of all Atheists/Agnostics simply won’t do it and just keep their disbelief of god or their skepticism of same to themselves. Rationally, it becomes easier to deal with said social society by just keeping quiet and trying go through life appearing like the vast majority. Do you see how this is EXACTLY like a gay person feels about coming out to a society of heterosexuals? OK, then MAGNIFY this by about 100 or so because (in USA) there are so many “believers” or at least church-goers (just to keep up this charade of “believing”).

            Well, U.S. politicians are exactly the same but instead “more concentrated” in their social structures with regard to “religious” v. Atheists (and to the public they’ve been sworn to represent honestly — and that’s a whole new ballgame). In our “House” there are currently 435 members (who represent the People) and our “Senate” there are 100 members (who represent the States). Now, if you’re an Atheist, think of 434 in the House and 99 in the Senate who are religious and MAYBE the 2 (1 of each) who are “DECLARED Atheists.” Now, with those odds and their well-established attitudes of anti-Atheist, what would YOU do if in that situation? Like nearly every other Congressperson before you, you keep your mouth shut. Only just a couple have been “brave enough” to “come out” to the others. (Very much like we say of gays that come out.)

            That’s it in a nutshell. So, please tell me, are we reading through the SAME PAGE on this?

            ************************

            Ideally, religion is kept out of politics, and it’s just assumed that most politicians don’t believe in a heavenly father (and if they do, that’s something they should keep private)

            Well, here in USA, that statement is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of OUR Politics v. Religion arguments. IDEALLY, that statement is “true” and everyone should live up to it. But in REALITY, it ain’t so. The far conservative/religious right are trying EVERY SECOND OF THE DAY OF EVERY YEAR TO DESTROY what’s in our Constitution regarding keeping the SEPARATION of church and state. And that is NO EXAGGERATION. So the Atheists and a great deal of the common sense public do all we can just to maintain the Constitutional “status quo” — as it is written. It is an uphill battle — much like they always said about the Viet Nam War: “We keep going up this hill and taking it just to be shot back down the same hill. And we keep doing this day after day.”

            ************************

            And it’s not just that atheists aren’t open, politicians don’t seem to miss an opportunity to remind us they’re Christians.

            Multiply that by 10,000 and you will see what’s happening over here — day in and day out, AD NAUSEUM.

            So, have we read the SAME PAGE here? Have we even read the SAME BOOK? I hope this explains what’s going on in USA RELIGIOUS politics — and they keep mixing it together. And I haven’t even touched on the results of what happens if you EVEN TRY to run for office as a “declared Atheist.”

            1. PenBoy–how many of those politicians do you think are REALLY religious? And by extension, how many people in the country? I don’t mean that they “say” they are, or even that they “go to church,” I mean are actually truly religious in belief and behavior. It used to be that “Christian” was charitable, kind, accepting, loving, and moral…they followed what Jesus said and attempted to live by a very high standard of ethics. Do you see a MAJORITY of people living like that in our country these days? If you do, I’d like to move to live where you live. I think the people of the US have a god, but that god is Mammon. Certainly among politicians that is so (there may be one or two exceptions).

              It seems to me that about the only time anybody brings up religion is to “prove” that homosexuality is wrong and that abortion should be made illegal in all cases. In other words, it is used ONLY for politics. So what about all the rest of it? How many Americans even try to keep the Ten Commandments, for example?

              In Sweden it is interesting, because most of the people seem to live a “Christian” life while actually being atheist. Of course, religion isn’t necessary for a moral, ethical life, but if one ISN’T living a moral, ethical life, what on Earth is religion FOR? Well, yes, I do suppose that maybe there ARE those people who believe that all they have to do is say that they “accept Jesus Christ as their Savior” and then they’ve done all they ever need to do. Such horrifying ignorance. Oh boy would they be surprised to (a) find no heaven and Jesus in it at all, and (b) if they did, to have him say, “You, who are you, I don’t know you at all.”

  25. Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the teacher or school board, I have graet admiration for the boy for speaking up for what he believes.

    The one thing that greatly concerns me, is that he tried to commit suicide because of his sexuality aged 9, and he has a youtube account – the greatest haven of moronic hate mongers apart from break.com. I really really hope his dad has prepared him for the shit storm that’s gonna come his way…

    1. I really appreciate your thoughts here, pyxiii. It is truly horrifying how people, usually wonderful, talented, engaged, creative, thoughtful (and sometimes idealistic) young people, are treated by many of the people who make comments on YouTube, which you perfectly described as “the greatest haven of moronic hate mongers….”. Even though those posting their videos can intellectually understand that these people ARE moronic and that they should ignore them, in actuality it must be very wearing and ultimately quite abusive for anybody to be continually subjected to that. Fortunately, there always do seem to be some supportive comments to help counteract the bad ones.

      1. You’re so right thomas, it is usually the lovely types who are pushed to suicide. Sadly, for some people, it doesn’t matter how much positive energy thet receive, the hate devastates them. Personally, I’ve spent my whole life grdaually building up my immunity, and even one person can still bother the hell out of me. :-(

        1. Me, too, pyxiii. It’s always kind of a shock that people are “miswired” that way. While I may be sitting there with tears in my eyes over the beauty of something that somebody says or does, there’s someone else calling him a dirty faggot.

      1. Ha ha :-) Thanks. Crossed wires. No I meant, in what place in Michigan does he teach. I wanted to send him an email. But actually I found out it’s Hartland school in Ann Arbor.

  26. Here are the emails of the superintendent of michigan’s dept of edu, the district’s superintendent, and the district’s board members. be polite and respectful…

    Michigan Dept of Edu’s Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office
    mde-supt@michigan.gov

    Superintendent Wilson
    ron@howellschools.com

    Board Members
    drickd@howellschools.com
    routta@howellschools.com
    literske@howellschools.com
    yenshawm@howellschools.com
    dayw@howellschools.com
    reparker@parker-and-parker.com
    moloneym@howellschools.com

    SOME MORE OF THE STORY

    Release from Board of Education, including Written Reprimand
    http://www.livingstondaily.com/assets/pdf/C6166296111.PDF

    …Release from Jay McDowell
    http://www.livingstondaily.com/assets/pdf/C6166315111.PDF

    Release from MEA
    http://www.livingstondaily.com/assets/pdf/C6166321111.PDF

    Release from Superintendent
    http://www.livingstondaily.com/assets/pdf/C61668941117.PDF

    1. I really don’t think it’s a good idea for outsiders to email the elected officials of this community.

      Also, the fact that is teacher – as revealed by the interesting documents you have provided – turns out to be the president of the local teachers’ union (and, thus, a natural antagonist of the school board) casts this whole dispute in a very different light.

  27. Most of you are missing the point entirely.

    So what if he told the other boy to take off the Confederate flag belt buckle? He did this as a response to the boy’s intolerance and hate, clearly to show him that turnabout was more than fair play. And of course now you’re all jumping to his defence? Asinine!

    Schools do have garment guidelines, and typically symbols of hate and intolerance are not allowed. Also, I must note, the rights given to minors are…minor, indeed.

    Stop trying to defend the actions of a schoolboard and personnel who are clearly in the wrong here. Standing up against bullying is something that needs to happen, and I for one am sick and tired of idiots getting support because they yell out ‘first amendment rights!’ or ‘I have my rights!’, when the whole thing was them infringing upon another’s rights to dignity and living without harrassment and doing it first.

    So before you leap to the defence of someone who requires none, think about how wrong that is. This isn’t about ‘protecting his rights’…this is about bigots attempting to abuse the Constitution and the laws of the land to defend their irresponsible behaviour, and it should not be tolerated.

    Period.

    1. Here, here. So often we lose sight of the tree for the forest. Just as it was wrong for the Christian college student to claim her First Amendment Right and Right to Practice her religion by calling gays disgusting names, screaming invectives and wearing anti-gay hate speech on her t-shirt. She violated the First Amendment both in fact and intent. Too often these people have learned to throw a smoke screen by demanding rights that contradict anothers.

    2. “clearly to show him that turnabout was more than fair play”

      I’m not sure I agree with this “eye-for-an-eye” approach. I don’t think making the bully the bullied is what we should be aiming for. You say a derogatory word, you express an opinion of hate and intolerance and now I – because I am the teacher, the authority figure – am going to make you remove your belt buckle, which had nothing to do with the real issue at hand.

      The kid’s intolerance and hateful words were the issue and a chance to address them was missed because the teacher unnecessarily broadened the fight. As I have said in earlier comments, schools do have dress codes and each community will decide what falls into those guidelines. I personally don’t agree with banning most symbols based on some people’s perceptions of what they mean. I think this needlessly empowers those symbols and the people who display them. So, I would have just ignored the boy’s belt and not given him the attention he had hoped for.

      His words, however, were inexcusable and should have been dealt with. Unfortunately and ultimately, it seems as if they were not because of the brouhaha over the buckle.

      As someone else already pointed out and I have echoed, an opportunity to handle this the right way was missed. That said, I don’t think the teacher should be disciplined beyond a mild reprimand – depending on the specific details of his interaction with the student.

      I think all of these students deserve our defense, as their minds are young and able to be shaped. We need to counter the thoughts ingrained in them by their parents and communities with reasonable discussion, teaching of tolerance, and discourse – not with challenges.

    3. > He did this as a response to the boy’s intolerance and hate, clearly to show him that turnabout was more than fair play.

      I dunno that I agree with this line of reasoning. So if the kid had hit someone, it’s okay for the teacher – the supposed moral authority in the class – to hit the kid to make the point that violence is wrong?

      I really admire Jay McDowell for standing up for decency, and trying to instill tolerance in his students, but sometimes you DO have to play the game by their rules, just so it doesn’t descend into this kind of chaos.

      I have respect for the perspective that it’s about the intent, not the details, but the fact is, by steping outside the rules, even marginally, Jay has handed his detractors the tools they need to muddy the issue. Unless his intent was to provoke a national debate and become a martyr, in which case he’s succeeded spectacularly!

    1. I think his father should be ashamed of himself, allowing his demonstrably emotionally vulnerable son to become the poster child for this debate. If the boy had always been this incredibly resilient boy, even then, I’d think twice about raising him this prominently into the firing line, but for christ sake, the boy already tried to commit suicide once. This whole issue is looking increasingly devisive and disingenuous.

    2. @corba:
      Thank you for that! I’ll try to record it. I want to see him from different angles and to see how he talks “normally” and not just as he did in front of a microphone addressing school board members.

      And, pyxiii, I understand what you’re saying (and why), but I’m pretty sure Graeme agreed to being on Ellen. While sometimes national exposure can be bad, it can also be good. And whether you see it or not, this young teen has a chance and will probably be a very well spoken “spokesperson” for anti-gay bullying (if that video is any indication).

      ‹(•¿•)›

      1. I didn’t mean for one second that Graeme won’t be an incredibly articulate advocate of tolerance. I’m sure his presence will do great good for the tolerance message. I do wonder if he’s been coerced or indoctrinated by his father, just as we see the haters indoctrinated by their parents. I just don’t think he’s emotionally ready to be a soldier for the movement. I’m concerned about how he will cope with the inevitable negative backlash that will be directed to him by some haters through his unfiltered public channels – youtube, myspace, facebook, etc. I really don’t want the little guy to have to take a bullet for the movement. He’s already paid too high a price for his sexuality – just let him be a normal boy a bit more.

        It would be great if someone youtube a copy for those of us who don’t get that show.

        1. “I do wonder if he’s been coerced or indoctrinated by his father, just as we see the haters indoctrinated by their parents. I just don’t think he’s emotionally ready to be a soldier for the movement.”

          Well, you should realize when someone like Ellen calls (her representatives?), it’s a difficult decision to NOT be on her show in front of the nation and others. But I feel reasonably sure that his father explicitly sought his full acceptance on whether to appear on her show. And I generally disagree with you about whether Graeme is emotionally ready ready for this. I think he is very much like Greyson Chance in this respect — yes, different “subjects,” but the same with regard to appearing on a national show.

          “I’m concerned about how he will cope with the inevitable negative backlash …”
          That can be a very real concern. But again, I have a feeling he can handle it with the help of his parent(s) and I’m pretty sure he will be counseled BEFORE he makes his physical appearance on her show regarding these concerns. I think he’s emotionally stronger than you may give him credit for. After all, he put himself in the public’s eye to speak up for that teacher and that was no small feat for one his age. I’m sure he realized he didn’t really have to do that but he’s the type to feel compelled to speak his opinion when it can matter most.

          ——————-

          “It would be great if someone youtube a copy …”
          If I knew exactly how to do that, I would consider it. If I get it recorded, it will be on DVD (digital), so it will be only a matter of transferring it — but I’ve never done that before [DVD -> computer). (There’s some technology I haven’t “mastered” yet.)

          ‹(•¿•)›

          1. In moments of emotional high charge we often feel compelled to take action whose consequences we may not be remotely prepared for. Do you really think that Graeme has considered that as a result of his stand, he may be forever recognised on the streets of America as “that brave kid who stood up for what was right”, or “that faggot from the TV”? Perhaps he simply thought that he was going to a neighbouring town to do what was right. Maybe he didn’t even realise there would be cameras present, and now his involvement has taken on a life of its own, launching him to a level of celebrity or infamy that he never intended.

            But I really hope that you’re right, and that his family and friends are gathering to surround him with a cocoon love and emotional re-inforcement that makes him totally impervious. Time will tell. I suspect that this won’t be the last anyone hears of him…

            1. I fully understand your concern, about the environment of this situation and what you wrote was very good. But ………

              “he may be forever recognised on the streets of America as ‘that brave kid who stood up for what was right’, or ‘that faggot from the TV’? ”

              BOTH, unfortunately. For us and other intelligent bystanders, it will be the ‘brave boy at his age.’ But for a small legion of the religious right and homophobes, it will be the latter, which will only show their total lack of respect and intelligence.

              “Do you really think that Graeme has considered that as a result of his stand …”

              Yes. Since he’s admitted to being bullied before and that he attempted (and for us, I’m so happy he failed this one time!) suicide, I feel pretty sure he knew what he was doing and BECAUSE of his personal experiences, he has taken the stand to show respect for his fellow person that also demonstrates respect. (I don’t know for sure, but I feel that his father is a very supportive person since his failed suicide attempt and is truly trying to guide him — but still allowing him to make his own decisions.)

              “Maybe he didn’t even realise there would be cameras present …”

              My opinion? No chance. I think he knew — on several levels. Also, immediately after walking into that room before he took his seat, I’m quite sure he saw the cameras, tripods and people handling this equipment. When you see these at a PUBLIC event, would YOU think, “oh, are these for some home movies?” ….. NO, YOU KNOW they are there to document/record a PUBLIC event for at the least, LEGAL REASONS. I feel sure he knew the same.

              I’m just pointing out what I think is his logic — because of the way he spoke in the above video. Even though he slightly stumbled on a few words, he did an excellent and very intelligent presentation and I also feel he is one of awareness around him (since his previous situation) and knows how to apply common sense and intelligence, even if the school board finally rules “the other way.”

              ‹(•¿•)›

            2. I totally agree with Penboy on this one. This kid knows what he is doing and I, for one, applaud him for it. He’s already been at the depths of despair because of who he is and now it’s turn to ride the highs for being who he is. I think this kind of civic participation and outspoken championing of what’s right is how we all should teach our kids to act.

    1. Thank you very much for those links. Good man! But I’ll try my best to get it recorded to DVD this afternoon.

      ‹(•¿•)›

    2. Thanks a lot for the upload.
      Well, I stand happily corrected. Graeme is a remarkably self-possessed, and incredibly likeable young man. Talk about handle everything in his stride.

      Jeez, if ever there was a positive poster child for gay youth, it’s him. What a total champion.

      1. “Graeme is a remarkably self-possessed, and incredibly likeable young man. Talk about handle everything in his stride.”

        After watching him on Ellen, I think it’s clear he LOVES the limelight and he was just as an articulate speaker on her show as he was in the original video.

        “if ever there was a positive poster child for gay youth, it’s him. What a total champion.”

        Most definitely.

        ‹(•¿•)›

    3. I’m a little confused or maybe I wasn’t listening carefully enough. Didn’t Graeme say that the teacher in question had counseled him when he was younger, at age nine I think, as he contemplated suicide? Then, on Ellen, he said that he drove an hour away to speak at the board meeting in support of the teacher. Did either Graeme or the teacher move at some point? I had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the father taught, as well, in a separate school district? Does he, in fact, teach in the same district? The incident took place in a high school, correct?

      I’m sure none of this is too important, but I’m curious nonetheless. Can anyone shed any light?

      Thanks.

      1. The teacher in question works for the Howell school district and had no contact with Graeme (except perhaps at the school board meeting). Howell is about one hour north west of Ann Arbor.

        Graeme’s father is a teacher in the Hartland school district, about 40 minutes due north of Ann Arbor.

        Graeme, and family, lives in Ann Arbor. He goes to Pioneer High School. From his age I assume he is in his first year at that High School.

        Ann Arbor is a very liberal area. The University of Michigan is there.

        Howell and other rural areas around it are extremely conservative areas – think Ku Klux Klan and John Birch society.

        I live in the rural area, though more to the east. In local elections nobody ever runs as a Democrat, consequently whoever wins as Republican in the primary wins the general election. Someone I know in Ann Arbor tells me it is the exact opposite in Ann Arbor.

        1. So, basically this kid went to a board meeting for a school district he had absolutely nothing to do with and insulted a town he doesn’t live in while defending a teacher he doesn’t know based on an incident he had nothing to do with, either directly or indirectly, and about which he couldn’t possibly have had all the details – as I don’t think, after all the media attention – any of us really do?

          To be sure, Graeme is an impressive speaker and an admirable young man, but the more I understand about the overall incident, the less I am compelled by it.

          1. Which is EXACTLY why I thought the kid was a pawn in someone else’s game all along.

            I mean, maybe he felt the need to stand up for someone who stood up for what was right – and that’s admirable no matter what, but I have thought all along, that this was the kid’s dad manipulating him. And I thought even more, watching Ellen, that the dad gets off on being “father of the hero”.

            1. I did catch that he went with a group of people from the “Neutral Zone”.
              http://www.neutral-zone.org/

              So he may have learned about what happened either from his father, who is a teacher, or from the Neutral Zone, which has a program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning youth. In the school board meeting he implied he learned about it from his father. This leads me to believe Graeme is the instigator, not the pawn. Having a large support group in the Neutral Zone probably helped propel things forward. I can see that a group of like minded individuals are going to feed off of each other. I can also understand that they have probably been talking about the high gay suicide rate.

  28. Твой парень медлит с предложением руки и сердца? Сомневаешься в искренности его чувств? Покажи ему положительную тест-полоску, скажи, что беременна, и он уже никуда не денется. Рекомендуют использовать этот же метод для возвращения в семью мужа.

  29. Развитие и продвижение личного сайта действие не простое да и кроме всего весьма востребованное. Однако условиях нынешних алгоритов ранжирования Yandex данная задача заметно усложнилась. Социальные закладки и каталоги предприятий уже не канают, а бывает, что даже и усугубляют показатели ранжирования ресурса. Покупка ссылок в агрегаторах дело затратное. В помощь блогеру остались Facebook и само собой форумы
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  31. The house is 50 years old and assuming it has been going “out of level” for much of that time, the effects of the shifting have been fixed over the years.

    1. @ LaxWaltshatly
      Barring Graeme being right or wrong he’s indeed the adroit little speaker.
      But may I ask, what do the above Russian comments have to do with anything here as they have absolutely no relevance to the post or what anyone is speaking about.
      And LaxWaltshatly, what house are you speaking of pray tell, please?

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  33. A cat may look at a kingKnowledge makes humble, ignorance makes proudLookers-on see more than playersTo know everything is to know nothingBusiness is businessHear all partiesNever judge from appearancesA good beginning is half doneAll that ends well is wellEat to live, but not live to eat

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  37. Au cœur de Kiev, dans le camp retranché des groupes d’autodéfense qui campent toujours sur Maïdan, un couple prend en photo son garçon qui n’a guère plus de 5 ans, devant une des barricades de la révolution de novembre. Le gosse est déguisé en militaire, casque et arme automatique en plastique, treillis «taille enfant» et ruban jaune et bleu, aux couleurs de l’Ukraine. A Maïdan, cette scène qui glace le sang passe presque inaperçue. L’heure est à la mobilisation après l’entrée des troupes russes en Crimée et jusqu’à Kershon, en Ukraine continentale. Chacun s’attend à ce que «Poutler» (le surnom donné à Poutine en l’associant à celui d’Hitler) suscite des provocations à l’est du pays et jusqu’au centre de Kiev, pour justifier une intervention militaire.

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