10/31/2009

Teacher Suspended Over Scientific Article

We all know that “unnatural sex” is a cornerstone of the bigots argument against allowing LGBT citizens to have their full civil rights. In fact, it’s usually the argument religious leaders put forward when whipping their parishioners into a frenzy and calling for violence and murder. (I’m thinking here of a certain pastor in Phoenix, AZ.)

So, imagine their chagrin when high school students are allowed to read a scientific article that reports natural homosexual behavior and tendencies in over 450 species. You got it, they went ape-shit and started calling for blood. Of course, a terrified school district that puts “getting along” with the ignorant ahead of education immediately sprung into action:

A Southwestern High School English teacher has been suspended after reports he had students in his classes to read an article about homsexuality (sic) in the animal kingdom.

Dan Delong of Carlinville acknowledged his suspension but declined to comment further until he spoke with his union representative.

Delong is said to have allowed students to read the article “The Gay Animal Kingdom” from the June 7, 2006, edition of Seed magazine. Seed magazine is a science and culture publication.

The article by Jonah Lehrer talks about the research of Joan Roughgarden, a biology professor at Stanford University who said she has documented homosexual societies among the more than 450 animal species.

School district secretary Pat Milner said a special School Board meeting has been set for 6 p.m. Monday at the district office in Piasa to discuss personnel/employee discipline.

Superintendent Larry Elsea was unavailable for comment Wednesday and Thursday, as was Macus Albrecht, the union representative for the Illinois Education Association that represents the district’s Southwestern Education Association members. (source)

Mr.. Delong teaches an English class, so you may be wondering why he allowed students to read that article in a scientific journal. The reason is that he was teaching a unit on critical reading and students were reading non-fiction work to assess their point of view and the validity of the writer’s thesis. In short, Mr. Delong was actually asking students: “Do you believe this research?”

Of course, the religious right and their puppets in the school administration don’t see it this way. Never mind the article was about animals and not people – any thought of homosexuality causes their heads to explode.

On Facebook, there is a Facebook group started by his students that already has over 1,000 members.

If you’re disgusted by yet another school board putting religious dogma, fiction and ignorance ahead of educating our children about the real world, please send a COURTEOUS note to Larry Elesa, Superintendent at lelsea@piasabirds.net.

10/19/2009

A FOX News “Boycott”

A couple days ago I was chatting with a friend and the subject of Fox News’ effect on the national psyche came up. He related how his family had seemed to go completely crazy on a steady diet of FOX paranoia, racism, and run of the mill crazy. He talked about a brother who is convinced there is a coming “war” and is preparing for it. He talked about his mother who is convinced that the President of the United States is going to slip into her house and kill her in her sleep.

It’s so sad you almost have to laugh. Were it just his unfortunate family I might say “Oh well, too bad, but maybe they’re just nuts.” But it’s not just his family. It’s many, many people who are fed this noxious stew of hate, paranoia, racism, pseudo-religious mania, and homophobia daily and often as the price of working or doing business in the public square.

Recently, a couple we’d had to our home in the past began spouting similar craziness. “Obamacare is just the Nazi Final Solution updated!” “Something’s gotta happen because of this guy and we’re going to be ready!” (Note: both are gun lovers.)

It was enough for me to say I didn’t care to have them in our home again. I don’t like having guests to dinner when I have to worry they might pull a gun should someone suggest a need for health care reform or, God forbid, Glen Beck is not a saint and brilliant mind.

As we chatted, I had one of those “Aha!” moments. I recalled having to take our car in to be serviced at the local CarMax several months ago. In the waiting area the television was tuned to FOX news and their talking heads were spinning the news to the right with a fury. People came into the room to wait and were subjected to that propaganda the whole time they were there. There was no remote to change the channel. Likewise, workers sitting at the counter were barraged by this propaganda during their shifts. They had no choice. Their employer was telling them they had to watch an ultra-right wing network to work there.

Then I recalled FOX News playing on large screens at the bank I used back in South Carolina. If you were in the lobby you had to listen to their right wing extremist messages. If you worked in the bank, you had no choice but to absorb this propaganda at the expense of all other news sources for a minimum 8 hours a day.

Not too long ago I was in one of the newer “upscale” McDonald’s. Normally, I do the drive-thru but for some reason had gone inside. There in the restaurant was a large screen TV broadcasting FOX news to the diners and employees. I couldn’t imagine having to sit in the restaurant and be subjected to watching this network and ruining my meal. So, I took my food to go.

It seems that many businesses and franchises have decided that they will use their place of business to beat customers and employees with this propaganda arm of the Republican Party and other even more extremist politics such as the “Tea Party” groups, anti-gay religious zealots and overt racists.

But, it goes a long way in understanding why people are going insane around us. When people are subjected to this radicalized agenda during their entire workday with no voice of reason to counter the false claims and sensationalized paranoia, they absorb the messages as truth and reality. They slowly become radicalized.

So, I have decided that from now on when I go into a business where FOX news is required viewing, I will ask that the channel be changed to MSNBC while I am conducting my business, eating my meal, or waiting for a service. I will ask for a manager and state my belief that as a customer I should not be forced to view a network I feel strongly is at the root of our current inability to function as a nation and whose subtle messages are creating a corps of paranoid and delusional anti-government, anti-gay, anti-liberal extremists who are armed and dangerous.

If the business refuses to change the channel I will then take my business elsewhere. I will not be a party to the indoctrination of customers and employees to a dangerous agenda that is inexorably pushing at risk people toward violence and mayhem.

I urge you to do the same thing. If enough people speak up these right wing managers and owners will have no choice but to stop this political indoctrination or see their profits suffer.

Sure, there are lots of FOX boycotts out there. Most are aimed at advertisers of the network. While I support those, I also know that they are limited and don’t get to the root of the indoctrination problem. I also believe that FOX has a Constitutional right to broadcast its filth and poison, but I also have a Constitutional right not be forced to watch it as a requirement to eat a meal, make a deposit in my bank, or get my car fixed.

The employees at these companies cannot insist they not be forced to swallow this extreme ideological agenda because, face it, an owner or manager who supports FOX news will see nothing wrong with firing an employee they consider “against them.” So, it is up to us, the consumer, to help employees stand up for their right to be free from radical politics, homophobia, racism, and religious extremism in their workplace.

I hope you’ll join me in my “boycott” of forced FOX News viewing. If you’d like to stand up for your rights to be FREE OF FOX, please sign the pledge to quietly take action in your own community.

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