Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"The Point": An Anti-Reality Show

Mark Hyman, like many ultra-conservative activists, has weighed in on a controversy in Lexington, Massachusetts concerning that evergreen bogeyman, “the homosexual agenda.”

The issue involves
the complaints of a father whose kindergarten-aged son brought home a book one day called “Who’s In a Family” that included (gasp!) references to same-sex parents.

Hyman’s editorial, however, is full of misstatements and falsehoods. Here are a few:

Hyman: The book in question “promot[es] homosexual themes.”
Reality: The book
talks about many kinds of non-traditional families, including single parents, divorced couples, extended families, etc. Same-sex parents are only one of the many kinds of families described.

Hyman: The book was part of the school’s “diversity program.”
Reality: This is true, but it’s also important to know that this program itself was voluntary (the whole thrust of Hyman’s editorial is that the child’s parents had no choice in the matter).

Hyman: When the concerned father came to the school to complain, he was arrested and charged with trespassing.
Reality: The father in question came to the school, demanded a blanket assurance that his son would never be subjected to anything touching on same sex couples again, and when school officials said they couldn’t give him such an assurance, he refused to leave the school grounds and had to be removed by police.

Hyman: The book initiated children of a “tender age” to human sexuality.
Reality: The book had nothing to do with sexuality. It merely presented different types of family units.

Hyman: The debate is between champions of parental rights and “homosexual advocates.”
Reality: The debate is between people (many of whom aren’t parents and don’t live in the school district) who think teaching children that same-sex couples exist is wrong, and those who think it makes sense (particularly in Massachusetts, which had recently legalized same-sex unions).

Hyman: Massachusetts law allows parents to opt out of having children participate in sex education.
Reality: True, but irrelevant. The materials in question don’t talk about sex.

Hyman: Another controversial book that’s part of the pushing of the gay agenda in Massachusetts is “King & King” which shows two princes “engage[d] in romantic physical contact.”
Reality: The book inspired a complaint by a parent of a 2nd grader in the same school district, but the “romantic physical contact” is not of an overtly sexual kind, but rather a single kiss at the end of the story. There is no more “romantic physical contact” then there is in the story of Snow White. Hyman is conjuring up images of pseudo-pornographic images to shock and horrify his audience.

Hyman: “King & King” shows a prince turning down princesses because they are overweight, have bad teeth, or are black.
Reality: By Hyman’s own admission, he hasn’t read the book. Nor have I. However, of all the reviews I read on the book, both positive and negative, none mentioned this. I also find it hard to believe that a book based on the theme of inclusiveness would champion overt prejudice.

Hyman: The parents’ complaints are “very reasonable.”
Reality: Massachusetts recognized the legitimacy of same-sex couples. Given that, it’s not reasonable to avoid the topic in classrooms where children, some of whom might have same-sex parents, are often asked to talk about their families. The parents’ complaints are no more “reasonable” than complaints would be by parents who didn’t want their children exposed to books suggesting that blacks were equal to whites, or women equal to men.

Hyman: The ACLU, in supporting the school district, shows that it “doesn’t support Judeo-Christian religious freedom.”
Reality: The fact that bigots defend their bigotry on selective readings of a handful of passages from “the Judeo-Christian” tradition does not mean that those who oppose such bigotry are against that tradition. On the contrary, a good argument can be made that by encouraging the importance of empathy, understanding, love, and family, the school’s position is more in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition.

as we have seen, the ACLU has fought valiantly for the rights of Jews and Christians to practice their religion unfettered by governmental intrusion—including individuals and groups who no doubt share Hyman’s views on the perils of accepting same-sex parenting.

In taking on this issue (and framing it in terms of a “battle”), Hyman is adding to an ongoing fire that’s developed because anti-gay activists from around the country (including the execrable Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist [sic] Church in Kansas) have decided that this local case is a good excuse for them to parade their narrow agenda before the world. A result is that school officials have been harassed and, in at least one case, resigned.

Remind us again, Mark: who’s desecrating the Judeo-Christian message?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.56


At 7:44 PM, Anonymous ks said...

Well done, Ted. This is a particularly sensitive issue for me, so I especially appreciate today's BS play-by-play. I have finally given up and now just plug my ears while screaming "la la la la la" when Hyman pops up on my set. Now, I get a MUCH more digestable version with specific, intelligent responses built in through The Counterpoint. I thank you. My blood pressure thanks you.

Yours in Sinclairland,
Bmore reader

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ks, I love the "la la la la la" while Hyman is doing the "blah blah blah blah blah", but I passed that level of anger and frustration years ago. Now, I frantically search for the remote and change the station from WLOS, the Sinclair ABC affiliate in Asheville, NC, to WYFF in Greenville, SC. Otherwise, I would be throwing the nearest heavy object through the screen.
Thanks Ted, and keep bustin' Hyman.
Mike B. in SC

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Thanks for the kind words,KS. Yeah, I'm sort of in the same boat as Mike. I think I've mentioned on the blog that my wife long ago banned me from watching "The Point" when it's broadcast (just before our bedtime) because it put me in such a foul mood. Now, I go to the website when I'm out of the house and after I've mentally prepared myself to subject myself to it.



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