By Tom Rhodes, 4/19/12
The Day of Silence (DOS), is an attack on free speech and yet another reason why the government should get out of the public school business. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), sponsors Friday's "Day of Silence". Their goal is to have thousands of public high school and even middle school students to be silent for an entire day. The protest is to promote GLSEN's socio-political goals. The goal is simple and strait forward, destroy traditional values through the suppression of freedom of speech and religion. The purpose is clear and is not to promote tolerance, but is to undermine traditional beliefs including the eons old belief that homosexuality is immoral.
GLSEN is not proposing disrupting school instruction time, saying that Students do not have a right to remain silent during class time if a teacher asks you to speak. This position by GLSEN is the only acceptable position they have. The libertarian position is the toleration of their other positions, not a call for them to be silenced.
Schools which assert that DOS merely promotes acceptance, never define what the students are accepting. If it is to accept diverse opinions and beliefs then time should be given to those who opinions and beliefs are more traditional. The actions of schools who permit instructional time to be interrupted and degraded by the DOS, are saying that the opinion that homosexuality is moral is more valuable and deserves promotion even if it interupts instructional time than the opinion that homosexuality is immoral. It is a clear moral teaching by the school system. It is clearly appropriate to teach acceptance, if that means teaching that we should treat all people equally and with civility. But is it totally inappropriate to even suggest that students should or must accept the view that homosexual conduct is moral - Legal yes - Moral Not! It is also totally inappropriate to even suggest that students cannot nor should not express strong moral opinions.
Most Americans take the libertarian stance that people are free to do as they please so long as they don't infringe upon the rights of others. The vast majority of Americans tolerates and in fact is non-judgmental of homosexuality. Like sleeping around with lots of people, smoking dope, or hanging around with lawyers and bankers, most Americans think it is immoral but tolerate and such behavior and are not judgmental about it; Americans clearly don't want laws making such actions illegal. This is the rub, GLSEN and the LGBT community, don't want tolerance, they want acceptance. They want everybody who chooses to engage in homosexual acts to not just be tolerated but not even feel "uncomfortable" about their choice. They want to silence all those who would make statements which morally condemn the practice and make them feel "uncomfortable". They are trying to redefine comfort as safety. Saying that when students make moral statements about homosexuality is the equivalent of discrimination, harassment, and bullying, and that those statements of moral conviction should not be allowed for reasons of "safety." GLSEN says the goal is to foster "respect difference within the school community and society as a whole." The truth is that they do not want any respect or tolerance of differences if those differences reflect a moral conviction they don't approve. The promotion and support of the DOS is an example of how GLSEN is actively working at silencing differences they don't approve.
If school administrations consistently applied the logic and reasoning of GLSEN, then every single statement that disapproved of anybody's activities would be prohibited. There is a clear double standard on freedom of speech. While I and all Libertarians, support the right of GLSEN to promote the DOS and would do nothing to try and make the DOS illegal, this is not acceptance of their position. I strongly disagree with the goals of GLSEN, but I will defend to the death their right to have them, promote them, and say them. The difference is that GLSEN and a large part of the LBGT community don't share the American belief in Freedom of Speech. Not only will they not defend the rights of people to publicly make moral statements they don't approve, they try to suppress speech they don't approve.
Pro-gay statements and open acts of homosexual affection, makes many people with traditional values feel uncomfortable and bullied to remain silent. GLSEN and other groups like them are bullying those who don't agree with them. Although GLSEN has the right to free speech, anybody in America who values that right should not only not support them but should actively work at counter protesting the DOS; making it clear that silencing ideas you don't agree with is not tolerance; silencing ideas you don't like is un-American; silencing ideas you don't like will is not an acceptable solution.
The issue here isn't gay rights, nobody is campaigning or calling to make activities between consenting adults illegal. That is not the same as condoning such activities or accepting them as moral and proper. Regardless of how you "feel" about prostitution, it like homosexual activities is an action between consenting adults, which is legal in much of the world including parts of the USA. That doesn't make prostitution a morally or socially acceptable activity. The legal activities of our Secret Service in Columbia should be condemned on moral and social grounds, and those agents should be held accountable to their employer if they in fact broke contractual rules of their employment or contractual obligations to another, like their spouse. If they in fact broke no laws or contracts, then there should be no legal consequences to their actions. They should however be publicly condemned as immoral, unthinking rubes and socially ostracized. Condemnation of immoral activity without legal consequences should be the appropriate response to immoral but legal acts.
How do you think it makes an alcoholic feel if he hears somebody condemning drunkards? How do you think it makes a adulterer feel when they are exposed on "Cheaters"? How do you think an metabolically challenged person feels when they see pictures of similar people showing rolls of fat at the "People of Wal-Mart" website? Do you think that it makes them feel "uncomfortable"? Do the way drunks, cheaters, and gluttons feel about having their sins exposed either directly or indirectly justifies silencing the speech of others to talk about those sins? If it does then, every environmentalist who denounces owners of BIG SUV's should be silenced because it may make SUV owners feel uncomfortable. Every PETA member should have their speech curtailed because their intolerance for meat-eaters makes meat eaters feel oppressed, harassed, and bullied. Those are absurd examples, but that is exactly what gay rights activists support; suppression of freedom of speech. To sum it up. if I cannot say things that make you feel uncomfortable about your life choices, then you can't say things that make me feel uncomfortable about my life choices.
Libertarians believe that prostitution, like homosexuality should be legal, that position does not even infer that they are morally or socially acceptable. We believe that freedom and liberty should be protected, even the freedom of speech of those we disagree. The same cannot be said for statists, and especially for a huge part of the LBGT community as represented by GLSEN, who believe that speech they don't like, or that makes them feel "uncomfortable", should be suppressed. Freedom of belief, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion are the issue. Those who would suppress the speech of others and label mere speech as harassment or discrimination and attempt to outlaw such speech with significant consequences, just because they don't like that speech are the people we should denounce.
The solution to GLSEN's campaign to suppress speech they don't like, isn't suppressing GLSEN, but more speech. Make no doubt about it, the DOS is not about protecting gay rights it is about suppressing the free speech rights of those who don't conform to the LBGT agenda. Homosexuality is a sin, just like prostitution, being a drunkard, cursing, gluttony, etc. Because none of these activities involve force of fraud against another or infringe upon another's rights they should be and are generally legal (prostitution is legal so long as you trade dinner, a show, drinks and maybe a nice pair of ear-rings for sex instead of cash). It doesn't mean that people who engage in legal but immoral behavior have the right to suppress the condemnation by others. Just because an action is legal doesn't grant those who engage in that action the right to silence criticism by those who don't.
Our government run schools should neither support nor suppress the DOS, and should be neutral on student's opinions of legal actions including homosexuality. Supporting either a pro or anti position on homosexual activity, is in fact establishing a religion. Government schools supporting homosexuality and its moral acceptance while suppressing the speech of those who believe that it is a abominable sin and should be condemned, is in effect establishing a religion and is the suppression of both freedom of speech and freedom of religion of others. Forcing texts and curriculum to support homosexuality as the moral equivalent of heterosexuality is clearly forcing the suppression of religious beliefs and opinions. This is just another example of government schools, and the government in general wanting control over the people, even as to what they think and what ideas they are allowed to express.
Support of the DOS is supporting suppression of free speech. In protest to this, I urge every parent to encourage their high school student to verbally make as many moral condemnations of the abominable social behavior of homosexuality, during the DOS, even if you just don't care about homosexuality, do it to fight suppression of free speech. Such statements as "Homosexuality is a Sin" are not discriminatory, not harassment, not illegal, and not even uncivil. Such statements are constitutionally protected. To promote free speech have your kid, wear an American Flag on Cinco de Mayo, wear a T-shirt with pictures of armed soldiers carrying big guns at memorial Day, wear a PETA shirt (People Eating Tasty Animals) on World Vegan Day, November 1st, wear a black arm band to protest the wars, wear T-shirts with controversial bible verses any day they can, or even wear T-Shirts with controversial Islamic verses, etc. etc. etc. Freedom of speech is worth defending, say something, wear something, express something somehow that will stir up statists who want their speech heard but not those they oppose, but don't do nothing.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." ~ Edmond Burke