After 15-year-old gay teen was bullied at school by his teacher, he decided to fight back. Read interview here.
Recently, "Rev." Keith Ratliff Sr., president of the Iowa -Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, expressed his contempt that gays are demanding civil rights, as though they are actually human beings or something.
According to an article in the Des Moines Register, Ratcliff stated that gays are "hijacking the Civil Rights Movement," and emphasized that there is "no parallel" between the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the gay rights movement. Making such a comparison is "an insult" to black people. He concluded that “Deviant behavior is not the same as being denied your right to vote.”
His words tarnished an organization that has tried, unsuccessfully, to damper the homophobic bigotry that is so pervasive amongst minority groups. The most recent expression of it was President Obama's election day victory. As throngs of minorities flocked to the polls to vote into power a minority candidate for president, those same minorities also voted in California to strip the gay community of their right to marry. (Proposition 8)
But alas, I'm not going to denounce "Rev." Keith Ratliff Sr. I'm actually going to agree with him in some respects. It is simply a fact that the oppression gays experience is nothing like what ethnic minorities experience. It is, in fact, much worse for gay people. Gay people are decades behind in gaining their god-given, inalienable rights.
Blacks got the right to serve their country in the 1940s. Actually, that's only when the military was desegregated. They've actually served since colonial times. Gay people only got that right in the past couple of months. Black people got the right to marry in 1967, when the supreme court ruled in "Loving v Virginia" that interracial couples cannot be denied the fundamental right that is marriage. And again, they could actually marry long before this - just not to white people. Gay people have only had marriage rights in a small handful of states for a few years - and these marriages are still not federally recognized.
Blacks have had the right not to be harassed and murdered by hate groups since the passage of the 1969 Federal Hate Crimes Law. It was considered to controversial to add gay people to that law, until the recent passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.
And while it is still legal to fire someone for being gay, discrimination in employment based on race has been prohibited since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
So gay people are very far behind. And the kind of discrimination gays face is quite different as well. When a black kid comes home from school after having been called a "nigger" by some racist white kids, he can talk with his sympathetic parents about it - parents who very likely know exactly what their son or daughter is feeling. When a gay kid comes home after having been called a "faggot," he keeps the incident to himself, less his or her parents send him to a concentration camp to be tortured by religious bigots. [Oops, sorry, that should read "conversion camp."]
Has a black kid ever been sent to a conversion camp? Has a black kid ever had his minister tell him that due to his race, he is an abomination before god? Has a black kid ever been kept from his prom, because the school doesn't want to encourage that "lifestyle choice?" Does a black kid have to sit in class and listen to his fellow students debate whether or not he should have the same rights and privileges that everyone else enjoys?
Furthermore, black kids know about their own oppression. They can learn about slavery by reading their American History textbooks. Where do gay people turn to learn that Hitler targeted them in the Holocaust, and forced them into the death camps? Not in history textbooks, as it's too controversial.
So, I'm sorry that "Rev." Keith Ratliff Sr. feels all offended that someone has compared the humanity of gay people to the humanity of black people. I'm sure when Matthew Shepard was being bludgeoned to death with a pistol, hung to a fence, and left to freeze to death in the middle of the night, he was thinking: "Gosh, I hope the gay community doesn't make this into a big deal. After all, blacks should get their rights first."
"Rev." Keith Ratliff Sr. should be ashamed of himself. And if the NAACP wants any street credibility as it reaches out to the gay community, it can start by denouncing and firing "Rev." Keith Ratliff Sr.
In the meantime, I sure hope that "Rev." Keith Ratliff's kid is not gay, because if he is, he has a much greater likelihood of committing suicide due to the pervasiveness of hatred and bigotry against sexual minorities in this country. I'm sorry if that fact disturbs, insults, and demeans the good "reverend."
Copyright © By Jay Jordan Hawke, March 20, 2011.
Read full story here.
I'm not sure I entirely understand the sacredness of the First Amendment to the constitution in America. As far as I can tell, it is simply a tool used by the cruel and bigoted majority to harass, torture, and terrify a minority. Maybe my lack of appreciation for fundamental rights comes from the fact that I am a minority and hence don't know what it's like. I've never experienced the joy of being able to call someone a name, and relish the power I have over them as they begin to cry. If I called someone a "breeder" in the town I grew up in, I wouldn't be here today. If I expressed even an inkling of my true beliefs, life would have been even more intolerable for me than it was.
Alexis de Tocqueville expressed in best in his class work, Democracy in America.
Chains and executioners: such were the crude instruments on which tyranny once relied. But civilization has today brought improvement to everything, even to despotism, which seemed to have nothing left to learn. Princes made violence a physical thing, but today’s democratic republics have made it as intellectual as the human will it seeks to coerce. Under the absolute government of one man, despotism tried to reach the soul by striking crudely at the body; and the soul, eluding such blows, rose gloriously above it. Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you… You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
Not surprisingly, de Tocqueville coined the phrase "tyranny of the majority."
Several recent news stories in the past couple of weeks have reinforced my fear and suspicions of the exalted First Amendment. A high school newspaper in Wichita, Kansas, published an opinion piece calling on gay kids to be executed. School and district officials defended the piece by appealing to the almighty First Amendment. Case closed. Discussion over. About a week later, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment was so sacred that anti-gay demon, Fred Phelps, could spew his hatred at a soldier's funeral. And yesterday, the Advocate published an article about a school in Arizona that arrested a bullied gay 5th grader for saying he wished he had a gun to use against the bullies who ruthlessly savage him on a daily basis.
When the law protects the cruel and the vile, and exonerates such abominations like Fred Phelps and other anti-gay bullies, then I will not worship it. I'm a second class citizen in this country. A piece of filth like Fred Phelps has more rights than I do. So, forgive me if I don't give a crap about his civil rights being violated right now. When I am at least equal to his ilk before the law, then maybe I'll start to worship the precious First Amendment.
Read the article that sparked today blog here.
Copyright © By Jay Jordan Hawke, March 12, 2011.
Jay Jordan Hawke is the host of On the Edge and author of the awarding winning Two-Spirit Chronicles, which includes: Pukawiss the Outcast, A Scout is Brave, and Onwaachige the Dreamer.