Jerry Buell Doesn’t Deserve to Be Suspended

***Update***: I wrote a follow up piece to this post here. Turns out Jerry Buell hasn’t kept his beliefs private after all…

When I first heard what Jerry Buell said about gay people, I wanted to join in on the backlash. But the more I read about him, the more sympathetic I become.

Here’s the story so far: Buell is a former Teacher of the Year at Mount Dora High School in Florida. He’s a Christian. And he said the following things on his personal Facebook page:

“I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up. And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”….

“….I will never accept it and refuse to condone it or shut my eyes to it. It is an insult to the marriage between my wife and I. We are married, don’t know what the heck those people call it but it ain’t a marriage…

Ok, so the guy’s a bigot.

His views are really no different from most mainstream Christians… or from many teachers in public schools all over the country. People are rightfully upset with what he said — myself included — but should he be punished for it?

Keep in mind: there’s no evidence he acted on these beliefs in the classroom. He never cast an evil eye on gay students in class. He didn’t give gay students lower grades than straight kids for the same work. He wasn’t preaching to his social studies students. On Facebook, he wasn’t demeaning specific students of his. This was private speech made outside the classroom, the kind of speech you hear Christians pastors say on a regular basis.

I’ve been in a position like his before. I’m *very* public about my atheism outside the classroom and I’ve said things about religion on this site that would no doubt make Christian students uncomfortable. But it never affects my classroom — I would never treat an openly religious student any different from an openly non-religious one. My job is to teach them math, not convince them that their parents’ religious beliefs are full of shit. When a Religious Right group encouraged parents to remove their students from my classroom, my administration stood up for me precisely because they knew I didn’t bring my activism into the classroom. Whether they agreed with me or not on the social/political issues was irrelevant.

I’m sure there are gay students, now aware of Buell’s private beliefs about homosexuality, who might feel uncomfortable around him. But as long as he treats them with respect at school — and there’s no evidence that he does anything but that — his private views should not matter.

I’m sure there are religious students I’ve had in the past (or will have in the future) who know (through various means) about my atheism. Should I be punished because they feel uncomfortable about it? Absolutely not.

Buell doesn’t seem to be getting them same opportunity. He’s already been punished, “reassigned to administrative duties while comments on his Facebook page are investigated.”

I hate defending Liberty Counsel on anything, but the Christian legal group put out this statement… and they have a point:

The school district’s response to Buell’s comments is unconstitutional, violating his right to free speech. Mr. Buell is being investigated and punished for communicating his mainstream objection to homosexual marriage, an objection shared by a large majority of his fellow Floridians who have outlawed homosexual marriage through a constitutional amendment. If the First Amendment does not protect Mr. Buell’s right to voice his personal opinion, on his personal time, from his personal computer, on his personal Facebook page, then the First Amendment means nothing.

Buell did make one lapse of judgment that the school ought to criticize him for:

Buell’s Facebook page was private, so only approved friends could view his comments. Buell has more than 700 friends, including many current and former Mount Dora High School students.

My personal policy has always been not to “friend” students currently at my school. (We now have a district policy that says the same thing.) Once they graduate, of course, the school’s not keeping tabs on them, and they can Facebook friend you and no one will care. It’s an easy way to keep in touch and see how they’re doing. Some teachers I know friend students after they graduate. Some don’t. It’s a non-issue, though.

If Buell was making his comments around current students, I can understand how people could have a problem with it. If that’s the case, and there’s no official policy against friending students, the administration should have a talk with him about the problems with that. (Basically, if the school can’t keep tabs on your conversations with current students and their parents, you’re opening the door for all sorts of trouble, even if nothing shady is happening.) According to WKMG Orlando, “other Central Florida districts have completely forbidden teachers from befriending students online.”

That has nothing to do with the comments he made.

The student who reported Buell graduated from high school nearly a decade ago, in 2002.

Brett Winters, the former class president and prom king who complained to the school district, said “hateful” remarks like Buell’s fuel bullying and heap even more emotional pressure on students struggling to sort out their own sexuality. Things are tough enough in high school — students shouldn’t have to wonder if a teacher will treat them unfairly because he is repulsed by people like them.

If Winters is going to criticize Buell for this, then he needs to criticize every teacher who attends an evangelical church in the area, because they believe the same things (if not worse). The only concern students and parents should have is what goes on in the classroom, and no one is saying that Buell is a bigot inside the classroom. End of story as far as I’m concerned.

A teacher’s personal beliefs should not come into play at work. There are teachers who are Creationists, polyamorous, Jewish, swingers, drug-users, Republicans, atheists, and homosexuals. None of that matters as long as it doesn’t affect their teaching. No doubt some of your own teachers held views that you find abhorrent, but you have no right to complain if they’re doing their job at school. Save the energy for anti-gay teachers who pontificate in the classroom instead of doing their jobs.

There’s a Facebook page that says “DON’T support homophobic Jerry Buell. Keep him suspended.” I hope you don’t join that because he shouldn’t be suspended. There’s also a page in support of him, but I’m not eager to join it, either, since it’s become a page focused on Jesus instead of free speech.

This is a free speech issue. You don’t have to like what Buell said — I know I don’t — but everyone has the right to believe what they want, even if it’s crazy, untrue, or harmful. As far as we’ve seen, when Buell entered the school, he left his private beliefs at the door. That’s all we can ask for.

Now, stop picking on this poor bigot and let him get back into in the classroom where he belongs.

***Update***: Reader fred5 points out some potentially damning evidence that Buell may not have left his beliefs at the door when he went to work. A Google Cache of the school’s website (from August 10th) shows Buell’s very godly biography (click to enlarge):

First and foremost, I am a man of God. I try to teach and lead my students as if Lake Co. Schools had hired Jesus Christ himself. That doesn’t mean I give a sermon and serve communion each day…what it means is I try my very best to teach and serve and minister to my students as a teacher led by and connected to the Creator of the Universe…

Lake Co. Schools and Mt Dora HS tell me what to teach; God guides me in how I do that, and it is all done with a Servant’s heart, to the best of my abilities.

That bio has since been purged from the school’s website.

That doesn’t mean he was preaching in class, but Buell’s certainly not doing himself any favors — and someone’s trying to cover it up. It makes me wonder what else he’s hiding…

(I’m also *really* curious how that bio slipped through the school’s website and IT staff for FSM-knows how long. No one saw anything wrong with that before?! Who manages that site?)

In any case, the bio isn’t a smoking gun for me. He’s saying exactly what most devout Christians would say — they won’t preach in class, but they try to be a good “servant.” It’s just Christianese. At least someone figured out it shouldn’t be there.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Bpesta22

    Cool post / I agree.

  • Carpus

    You’re right, but you’re about to get a lot of nasty comments …

    • GentleGiant

      Or, you know, well thought out comments that disagrees with his view. Especially since new information keeps coming up that shows this isn’t the firste time Mr. Buell has made similar remarks. In public.

    • GentleGiant

      Or, you know, well thought out comments that disagrees with his view. Especially since new information keeps coming up that shows this isn’t the firste time Mr. Buell has made similar remarks. In public.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more.   His comments  are rightly condemned, but there is no indication that it has any bearing on his position as a teacher.  Too bad there is not a Facebook page titled “Jerry Buell’s Homophobia Isn’t An Automatic Reason To Suspend Him For Expressing His Common, Bigoted Views. “

    • Vanessa

       I tried to make a Facebook page titled that, but it exceeded their character limit. :(

    • Miss

      The fact that he violated the ethics policy Lake County Schools has set for their employees most certainly has bearing on his position as a teacher.

  • GentleGiant

    Erm no, it’s NOT a free speech issue. He has every right to say what he want, no one is taking that away from him. But he also has to bear the consequences of that speech and he has no right to keep his job when he violates the terms of his job (the school has a social media policy).
    The guidelines include things like this:
    ‘The guidelines warn teachers if they “feel angry or passionate about a subject, it may not be the time to share your thoughts in a post” and to “delay posting until you are calm and clearheaded.”‘
    Also, free speech, as in the First Amendment, is only when it comes to the federal government prohibiting it and prosecuting him, which hasn’t happened.
    Buell also posted a second comment on his Facebook page:”If one doesn’t like the most recently posted opinion, based on Biblical principals and God’s law, then go ahead and un-friend me. I’ll miss you like I miss my kidney stone from 1994.”

    And, when he has current students on his Facebook page it’s an entirely different matter, then it calls into question of whether e.g. gay students will feel comfortable around him.
    Hemant, you say that you’re open about your atheism. That’s fine, you’re not spouting the same garbage that Buell did (cesspool!?!), thus no one would feel uncomfortable around you.
    Teachers are, and should, be held to higher standards than a lot of other people, they are to act as role-models and someone kids should be able to trust. This flies in the face of that.
    Oh yeah, this isn’t the first time Mr. Buell has uttered such things, even in class:
    ‘Former student Bryan Blaise, 26, said Buell’s anti-gay ideas did in fact make their way into the school campus.
    Blaise, who had Buell as an instructor for two years, remembers the teacher once remarked that gays should be allowed to serve on the front lines of the military with no support.“You’re sitting here saying you think people should be murdered for who they are,” he said, remembering the comment.Blaise said Buell was a capable teacher but often pushed personal opinions and beliefs into lessons. His Facebook comment was disrespectful and harmful, he added.“I think his phrasing does not create respect for an individual,” he said. “It doesn’t validate simple humanity of another human being who happens to be different from him, and overall it does not create an environment of safety and love that is essential for intellectual growth.”’http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_education_edblog/2011/08/new-groups-back-suspended-mount-dora-teacher.html

    • The Captain

      There is a lot of dangerous thoughts in your post.

      “thus no one would feel uncomfortable around you” Who are you to claim that? Are you the final arbiter of what people can find uncomfortable, and if so how did you get the job? My point here is we do not get to decide what others find comfortable or not, we can not define feelings for other people. Some christians may be “uncomfortable” just being around an atheist (silly, and stupid, but it is true), thus Hemant may be fired for expressing his views on this blog if the standard of “uncomfortable” is used. Also the schools social media policy may be unconstitutional, and I would hope so. If things like this stand, then there is no limit to who can be punished for holding any particular view. Companies could fire employees for putting out an election sign in their yard for a democratic candidate for instance. 

      Also the idea that teachers should “be held to higher standards than a lot of other people” is completely arbitrary. Teachers are the same as any other citizen and should have the same rights, and privileges as anyone else.

      • GentleGiant

        My point was that there’s a difference between communicating one’s beliefs in general (I would have no problems, nor would the school I think, with Buell posting something like “Christ is Lord” on his FB page) and the hateful remarks that he did post (“almost threw up”; “cesspool” etc.). The first doesn’t really discrimate against anyone and, although some might feel uncomfortable about it, there would be no grounds for legal or punitive action, while the second instance clearly does and is being handled as such.
        Private businesses can fire people if they want to (unless covered by certain laws, such as sex, religion etc.), they are not beholden to the First Amendment, especially if employees break company policy in their contract, so your other example isn’t applicable.

        And no, I don’t think it’s arbitrary that teachers should be held to higher standards in some circumstances, just like e.g. judges are. There’s also a reason why it’s not OK for educators to date students. They are placed in a place of trust by the community.
        When Buell accepted his position he also agreed to conduct himself in a way that’s coherent with the school’s standards. Same as some schools don’t allow e.g. student athletes to act inappropriately when wearing the schools uniform.
        When Mr. Buell accepted the friend requests of current students (or their parents) he also accepted that he functioned as his capacity of a teacher and representative of the school on his FB page. If he had kept it totally separate from his work it probably wouldn’t have been a problem (although still bigoted, but it would only have been seen by his close non-school related friends)

        • The Captain

          Actually in most cases companies cannot fire you for speech outside of work. In cases (states) where they can, this is highly immoral. You are advocating the libertarian idea that companies should be the final authority of peoples rights, and can demand the removal of constitutional rights as a condition of employment. This amounts to nothing but contractual blackmail of ones rights. Like I said before this position you are advocating would allow for companies to for instance, fire someone if they express their atheism, (or muslim, jewish, ect.) outside of work. That is not a country I would want to live in. Your attitude would allow for a factory owner to fire any employee who campaigns for someone he does not like, how is that advancing “freedom”?

          “the hateful remarks”, once again who are you to decide what is considered “hateful”???? what my be hateful for you, is not for others, and what you say others my find hateful, why are you the one who decides whats over the line? The simple fact is you are not the decider in such matters (and neither is any of us) that is why we do not have a right to not to be offend. 

          Also as Hemant has noted, what you are advocating would also mean that he could be fired for this blog!

          • Kevin S.

            Erm, that’s not a libertarian idea.  At all.

          • GentleGiant

            First, Florida is an “At-Will-Employment” state, so yes, companies can indeed fire you for pretty much anything (excepting the big ones, sex, religion etc.). So no, don’t worry, it’s not a country you are in danger of living in (if you live in the US – as it happens, I don’t live in the US).
            But other than the big issues, companies can indeed fire you for either breach of contract or if you act in ways that can harm the image of the company you work for. Examples have been Coca Cola employees drinking Pepsi in public and similar stuff.
            Not sure where you get the idea that that’s a libertarian idea and why you think I’m a proponent of it.

            Second, the issue isn’t that Mr. Buell expressed his religious views, but that he expressed discrimination against people who might be among his students in clear breach of the code of ethics he’s supposed to uphold (he signed a contract where he was presented with this code).

            As for hateful remarks… are you saying that calling something a “cesspool,” remarking that it’s vomit inducing and that it’s an insult to his marriage (even though it doesn’t affect his marriage in any way at all) aren’t hateful remarks?
            I don’t know why you’re harping on as if I have declared myself as the great arbiter of morality, I’m just following common sense and what courts of law seem to classify as hateful and discriminatory (disparaging remarks about minorities in society).

            If Hemant posted directly discriminatory remarks against protected classes, then you are right, he could be fired if that’s against any social media or ethics codes he might have signed. But again, it would be because he violated those rules, not because he posted atheist articles.

            • The Captain

              “Hateful remarks” is SUBJECTIVE! There is no one definition of “hateful”. What is hate for to you or me, may not be to others, and visa versa. It’s just like defining what is “offensive”, you can’t do it since everyone has their own internal definition. My mere existence as an atheist is “offensive” to many religious people, does that mean they have a right to punish me for being “offensive”. Many religious people think saying there is not god is hateful, do they get to punish me then for saying that? No, of course not, just like you do not get to punish them for saying things you do not like. 

              We can only act upon a persons actions in relations to others. If this man did nothing within his class to make it a hostile environment for a student then that is all we can go on. If he did, then that is a different matter, but only his actions in class should be judged. Not his opinions outside of class which by your SUBJECTIVE opinion you find offensive. (which by the way, I also find offensive, but I am not arrogant enough to force others to live and do by my personal preferences).Also one thing I have learned over the years is that “common sense” is neither common, or sensible, that is just an empty phrase used to justify forcing others to follow ones own definition on subjective matters.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

        “Also the idea that teachers should “be held to higher standards than a
        lot of other people” is completely arbitrary. Teachers are the same as
        any other citizen and should have the same rights, and privileges as
        anyone else.”

        Nope.  One, it isn’t arbitrary, we are trained with the fact that we are held to higher ethical standards than just any job off the street.  It is a fact of life for teachers.  They can be fired for having online pics of them drinking a beer.  They can be fired for having a pic of them kissing a bikini-clad woman they aren’t married to. 

        Teachers, like doctors and many other professions with positions of power have strict ethical guidelines that go above and beyond the law. 

        One thing you have to give up to be a teacher is any expression of bigotry.  Another one is any public example of adult-only behavior.  This is done (rightly or wrongly) because teachers are role models for children. 

        • The Captain

          Strange, I have read the constitution several times and cannot find any references to it not applying to teachers. 

          Sorry, but just about everyone I know who is a professional is in a field that believes it’s members are of a “higher standard”. Yet none of them have to give up their rights to speech when they get off work.

          • Miss

            The first amendment of the constitution guarantees that the GOVERNMENT can not infringe on one’s freedom of speech. It says nothing about EMPLOYERS’ policies on speech by employees. If an employee has violated an ethics policy set by his employer (which is the case here), the employer has the right to investigate him.

            • Bob Becker

              He is employed by the government. He teaches at a public [i.e. government] school.  

              • Miss

                You’re ignoring my point. The Lake County School system has an ethical code of conduct for which Jerry Buell is supposed to follow. The fact that he has first amendment rights does not dismiss the fact that he is expected to follow the ethical code of conduct established for him as an employee. He violated the ethical code of conduct set by his EMPLOYER, and thus has every right to be investigated by his EMPLOYER.

        • Bob Becker

          “They can be fired for having online pics of them drinking a beer.  ”
          Can you cite examples of this that have been upheld?

    • Bob Becker

      You wrote: “Also, free speech, as in the First Amendment, is only when it comes to the federal government prohibiting it and prosecuting him, which hasn’t happened.”

      Don’t know where you got that idea, but it’s flat wrong.  Since the XIV amendment, the prohibitions of the bill of rights the previously applied only to federal action have applied to the states as well, and all agents of the states, which includes public schools. 

      • GentleGiant

        My wording might be slightly off, but how is it flat wrong?

        And again, his First Amendment rights aren’t being infringed, the First Amendmendt doesn’t give him any rights to keep his job if he violates the school’s policy (not to mention his contract, which I’m sure forbids him to discriminate against people because of their religion, sexual orientation etc.). If he had been thrown in jail over this or the school had tried to shut down his FB page, I would agree with you, but that hasn’t happened.Also, if he hadn’t shared it with any students, then this wouldn’t have been an issue (worrisome, yes, but technically not anything he’d be suspended for, since no one at his school would know).He’s free to keep his free speech, he just can’t do it as a teacher at the school, that’s the consequence of his free speech in this case.

        • Bob Becker

          Ok, let’s take each of the points you make:

          And again, his First Amendment rights aren’t being infringed, the First Amendmendt doesn’t give him any rights to keep his job if he violates the school’s policy (not to mention his contract, which I’m sure forbids him to discriminate against people because of their religion, sexual orientation etc.).

          I haven’t seen anything yet that establishes that he’s violated school policy [people are only speculating that it forbids staff to friend students on Facebook]. And off the job, he can discriminate against anyone he pleases whose religion he doesn’t like or sexual orientation, etc. His contract can ban him from that kind of discrimination at work, but not in his private life.

          If he had been thrown in jail over this or the school had tried to shut down his FB page, I would agree with you, but that hasn’t happened.
          If he works at a public school, he is employed by an agent of the state, and the state cannot discriminate against him or punish him for exercising his right to free speech outside of the workplace. It can limit his speech on the job, but not off it, however unpopular his opinions might be, the state or its agents cannot lawfully punish him for that speech. Not any more than it can punish The Friendly Atheist for his after school off campus
          website because students may read it and if they’re ardently religious feel
          uncomfortable about possible discrimination against them by an atheist
          teacher. We can’t protect M’s right to speak freely off the job… or mine
          or yours or anyone’s…. if we can’t protect this guy’s.

          Also, if he hadn’t shared it with any students, then this wouldn’t have
          been an issue (worrisome, yes, but technically not anything he’d be
          suspended for, since no one at his school would know).

          That’s true if the school has a policy banning staff from friending
          students on Facebook. If not, he cannot be punished because students
          voluntarily choose to go to his Facebook site and asked to be friended there
          and given access. If he made it a requirement, or even said he’d post
          homework assignments there, you’d have a point because that would make the
          site job-related and he’d be in violation. But so far as I know so far, he
          didn’t do that.

          He’s free to keep his free speech, he just can’t do it as a teacher at
          the school,

          Absolutely true. But so far as has been established so far, he didn’t do it
          “as a teacher at the school.” He did it on his own time after work on his
          Facebook account. Once again, if the school finds credible evidence that
          he was spouting off in class, he’s toast and should be. But that’s not been
          shown yet. Absent that showing he should not be arbitrarily suspended for
          his private speech on his own facebook account off school grounds and after
          work.

          • GentleGiant

            Lake County Schools issues statement on teacher investigation

            Lake County Schools began an investigation this week into a possible code of ethics violation by one of its teachers at Mount Dora High School.Contrary to some media reports and public comments received by the District, no disciplinarian action has been taken in this case; however, while the investigation continues this teacher has been temporarily reassigned to a non-student contact position. Temporarily reassigning staff until an investigation for a code of ethics violation is completed is a common practice by Lake County Schools.The School District is reviewing a number of facts during the investigation. All facts in the investigation are confidential by law until it is complete. Disciplinarian action, if any, will come as result of the facts as they apply to the Code of Ethics presented in the completed investigation.Lake County Schools respects everyone’s opinion on this subject. Please direct comments regarding this investigation to (352) 253-6515 or comments@lake.k12.fl.us. Having comments about this case grouped in one location will help aide District officials in its investigation.Classes begin for the 2011-2012 school year on Monday, Aug. 22. The number one priority for Lake County Schools is the safety and well-being of students and staff attending school. School District officials kindly ask everyone to respect the educational setting as students, parents and staff begin arriving at school campuses Monday morning.

            http://lake.k12.fl.us/lakeschools/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=498263

            • GentleGiant

              The introduction to the school district’s Code of Ethics:

              An effective educational program requires the services of men and women of integrity, high ideals, and human understanding. Members of the Board, Instructional Personnel and School Administrators, as defined by F.S. 1012.01, and all other employees of the District, regardless of their position, collective bargaining status or role, because of their dual roles as public servants and educators, are bound by this policy.  All employees acknowledge receipt of this policy, which is designed to create a culture of honesty and integrity that will help the District meet the goal of providing a safe environment and high quality education to all of the Districts’ students.

              These two parts are especially important, IMO, concerning this case:

              (3) All Administrative, instructional, and non-instructional personnel shall familiarize themselves with the  Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees  as set forth in F.S. 112.311, et seq. All employees shall abide by the Code at all times, 
              and shall be held to the standards of the Code in all matters related to their employment with the Lake County School Board.
              (4)  No District employee shall engage in conduct unbecoming of an employee of the School Board that brings the District into disrepute or that disrupts the orderly processes of the District.

              http://lake.k12.fl.us/16511031094951697/lib/16511031094951697/Policy.6.301_72811.pdf
              If Mr. Buell had been any other employee at e.g. a private company, then there might not have been an issue (barring any similar contractual ethics code by the company). But he’s a school teacher and as such has a higher ethical code to follow.
              When he decided to accept the requests of current students, he shared his private life in a public setting and invited extra scrutiny pertaining to his interactions with current students.
              HE made that choice, he didn’t have to accept any friend invitations from students and should have followed Hemant’s suggestion of never doing so.

            • Bob Becker

              Thanks for posting the statement. I’d say all looks proper…. except [at this point] removing him from the classroom. That’s seems an excessive precautionary reaction since what’s alleged does not involve [so far as we know] immediate danger to a child in the school [e.g. he's not been accused of violence or sexual molestation etc.] I wonder if the school would react the same way [including removal from class and contact with students] if it was alleged he was sharing his belief that Jesus is Lord with students in class? Or teaching Creationism. Both would require inquiries by the school, but I doubt such allegations if made by one or two students would end up in a precautionary removal while the investigation proceeded.

              Thanks again for posting the press release. Hadn’t seen it elsewhere.

              • GentleGiant

                One would hope similar actions would be taken, since that would also constitute a breach of conduct (especially the teaching of Creationism). Otherwise I agree that it would be unfair and bordering on hypocrisy.
                I think it’s sound policy to remove anyone under investigation from their position and either suspend them temporarily, pending the outcome of the investigation, or, as the school has done, put him on administrative duty.
                One could even argue that it’s also in Mr. Buell’s best interest, since he could be accused of “tampering” with the investigation if he had complained about the situation to his current students (accusations of bullying students into silence etc. could be possible). Since current students might be heard in this matter, it could be seen as him having an undue influence on them if he had continued his work (although the school year officially doesn’t start until tomorrow (Monday) it seems).

          • http://fred5.myopenid.com/ fred5

            If you haven’t seen anything that indicates he violated school policy then please read this document for the social media policy that the school district expects people to abide by.

            http://www.cfnews13.com/static/articles/images/documents/Social_Media_Guidelines-final-0816.pdf

            Interesting document. Especially this:

            You do not have control of what others may post on social networking sites;
            therefore, be aware that your conduct in your private life may affect your
            professional life.

            While the use of these sites is becoming commonplace, it is important that, as an
            employee of Lake County Schools, you conduct yourself in an appropriate manner to
            avoid any unintended situations that could adversely affect your professional standing
            with the District.

            Seems to be very unambigous to me.

            • Bob Becker

              It does not seem so to me. The portion with rules that must be followed is the portion dealing with people conducting district business on social network sites, or representing themselves as representing the district on such sites. Those rules are unexceptionable and anyone violating them is properly subject to discipline.

              The part relating to personal use of social networking sites is quite different. It’s offered as a set of guidelines, not rules binding on all employees. Much of it is common sense, I think we’d both agree. And it suggests that personal actions “may” affect professional careers. That too is common sense and unobjectionable.

              But there are portions of the guidelines regarding personal use of social networks [not work related] that I don’t think have a hope in hell of surviving a constitutional challenge on first amendment grounds. For example:

              • Employees should be respectful and professional in all communications by word,
              image or other means. Employees should avoid use of obscene, profane or vulgar language on any social media network…
              o Posting of photographs or documents, regardless of the content, which could
              be considered offensive to other parties….

              However unhappy it may make some people, you have the right to say things in
              your capacity as a private citizen [again, not at work] that others find
              offensive. And “nothing offensive” is so vague a standard, it provides no
              reasonable way for the person posting to know in advance what will be
              offensive to why and when. I’m absolutely certain M’s Friendly Atheist
              posting some images are offensive to many. [We know this. They post
              comments saying so.] Should that mean his job should be in jeopardy because
              the school district insists all its employees not post anything that might
              be offensive to anyone ever? I don’t think so.

              The guidelines regarding personal postings not work related, not done at
              work or in pursuit of some work responsibility, and not done on public owned
              equipment could not, I think survive a first amendment challenge.

              • http://fred5.myopenid.com/ fred5

                Much of it is common sense, I think we’d both agree. And it suggests that personal actions “may” affect professional careers. That too is common sense and unobjectionable.

                You will get no argument from me  on that however, the first amendment does not give people the absolute freedom to say anything that they want without consequences.

                A case that illustrates the consequences of the right to freedom of speech recently ocurred in the state I live in. It is summarized here.

                Given that it was never shown that he made any of the posts while on duty would you agree or disagree that the had the first amendment right to participate on that particular forum without consequence to his career? 

                • Bob Becker

                  Ah, one of the police/KKK cases. And an interesting one, out of Nebraska. Much of it turned on arbitration procedures under Nebraska law, but the court finally did address the “free speech” issue and concluded reappointing a policeman who’d joined [then resigned from] a KKK group violated public policy in Nebraska, and no contractual arrangement that violated public policy could, under Nebraska law, be enforced. Not a clean first amendment ruling, but a tangential one,.

                  The dissenting judge recognized the potential problem involved in the majority decision: “Finally, I am concerned that the majority understates the significance of the arbitrator’s finding that Henderson’s  discharge violated his First Amendment rights.   Again, while we may disagree strongly with this finding, we are bound by it in the procedural posture of this case.   That being so, the result reached by the majority necessarily implies that it is willing to ignore the State’s violation of Henderson’s constitutional rights because if he were reinstated, the public may perceive that he may violate someone else’s rights in the future, despite the arbitrator’s specific findings that he has never done so in the past.   In my view, this apparent subordination of individual constitutional rights to the “greater good” poses a far greater risk of harm to the public policy of this state than reinstating one misguided trooper….”

                  I think he may have a point. Be interesting to see what would happen if the officer brought a case in federal court on pure first amendment grounds.
                  Interesting to me, and the dissenting justice, that the police made no
                  claim that the officer, before he joined the KKK, had engaged in racial
                  discrimination in the conduct of his duties. Nor did it offer any evidence
                  to show that his having joined [and then resigned] would impede his ability
                  to do his job, work with non-white colleagues, etc. I think the dissenting
                  judge is right: when the issue is curtailing a constitutionally protected
                  individual liberty, the burden is and must be on the state agency seeking to
                  curtail that liberty to show on the evidence [not simply to assert or
                  assume] that leaving the liberty in place would [to use this incident as an
                  example] create disruption at work, render the officer incapable of doing
                  his job, lead to discriminatory actions by him, etc.

                  In any case, there are several things that make this case I think a poor
                  parallel for what happened to the teacher we’re discussing. Here’s the most
                  important one: the court’s decision rested substantially on historic
                  evidence that regardless of KKK claims to be law abiding, it was not. No
                  one has alleged the teacher associated himself on his facebook page with a
                  group that has historically even to the present been an encourager of
                  terrorist acts including arson, murder, etc. or in fact an encourager of
                  any illegal actions.

      • Miss

        The point you are missing is that the first amendment only protects citizens from the GOVERNMENT (as a whole), not from their EMPLOYERS. If an employer has an ethics policy about speech and an employee violates that (as has happened here), the employer most certainly has a right to investigate the employee. Most employers don’t make up policies for fun. They have policies for the protection of others who may be affected by one’s behavior (in this case, students were affected).

        • Bob Becker

          Didn’t miss the point. The teacher works for a public school, i.e. a government school. He is employed by government.

          • Miss

            The employment of individual teachers is controlled at district levels, not at state levels. If the district (or the county) sets a policy and a teacher violates that policy, the district has a right to investigate the teacher based on violation of that policy. “The right to free speech” does not undermine policies set by employers for employees, regardless of whether or not the employer is funded by the government.

            • Bob Becker

              Any school district, county, municipality, etc. is created by state law, and is then subject to the same limits on its authority as a government unit that applies  to the state.  

              And therefore, any state policy [or policy of any agency of the state, which includes counties and school districts] that violates the Bill of Rights cannot be enforced. The question is whether the policies of this particular school regarding private postings after work not on school equipment violates the free speech rights of employees. I think it does. 

              • GentleGiant

                Once again, he is free to keep his free speech rights. No one is claiming otherwise.
                But he has entered into a contract where these policies are in effect and if he wants to exercise his free speech with disregard to those policies he’s free to do so, but then he must also bear the consequences of breaking the contract.Nothing in the first amendment says that you’re guaranteed a job!He voluntarily entered into an agreement that spells out that there might be disciplinary consequences to using his free speech in ways that might harm his professional position. He can’t claim otherwise or claim that his free speech is curtailed, since he voluntarily agreed to not break the policy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

      “Also, free speech, as in the First Amendment, is only when it comes to
      the federal government prohibiting it and prosecuting him, which hasn’t
      happened.”

      That’s just not true.  No government branch, be it federal, state or local can let him go due to his use of free speech.  It isn’t just limited to the Federal government. 

      However,
      “he has no right to keep his job when he violates the terms of his job (the school has a social media policy).”

      This is an extremely important point.  If he has violated school rules, then ousting him is just.  Many schools don’t even allow teachers to have Facebook pages.  When you post something that his hate speech or shows yourself to be a bigot, then there is a problem for any job where you will be in authority positions over children of that minority.  Like others had said, if he had racist rants no one would blink twice about removing him from the classroom.

      Teaching is supposed to be a profession, and there are rules of ethical conduct more strict than our laws. 

      • GentleGiant

        It’s true that the establishment clause makes it pertain to all levels of government, as you said. I apologize for not making that clear in my post (my fault for just using the word “federal”).
        However, it’s still not a free speech issue. Sure, he used his free speech, which is his given right, but that free speech violated the schools policy, thus he’s being investigated on those grounds, not because of free speech.
        But I think we might basically be agreeing on that point. :-)

  • Jeremy Milne

    I agree. But if I was a gay student in his school, I would
    have given him a good private ranting in his office. People don’t always
    realise that not everybody in this world is a stubborn douche; there are in
    fact people who have the capacity to change if they are forced to face the
    issue with real life circumstances.

    Why use a thermal nuclear weapon, when a fly swatter will do.

  • Anonymous

    I expect the best solution would be some sort of reprimand for having students on his Facebook page, but to reinstate him. He’s a bigot, but as long as he’s not preaching his bigotry in the classroom, that should not impact his job.

    • GentleGiant

      Well, he has apparently preached his bigotry in class before, so…

      • Annie

        How do you know this?

        • GentleGiant

          See the edited links I put in my first post. A former student of his tells of one such encounter.

      • Resident Iconoclast

        Big surprise. There are distinct differences between anti-gay bigotry and most other forms of bigotry. For example, garden-variety racists know they need to watch what they say, but gay-haters — especially the self-aggrandizing Christofascists — consider their bigotry a virtue and the preaching of their bigotry a calling. They generally do a pretty poor job of disguising their homophobia. I would be shocked unto death if a pervasive stink of homophobia did not emanate from The Teacher of the Year. (And who proclaimed him such?) 

  • A1208537

    What if he had posted a rant about how Jebus hates them darn blacks and hebes so much that they don’t deserve equal rights?  As a citizen he has the right to free speech, but there has to be a point where his intolerance and hate make him unfit to teach children.  This seems like it goes beyond that point.

  • Sailor

    I agree with Hermant. But if Gentle Giant is right, it does seem that he may have broken the schools social media policy. This is not entirely clear, because Gentle Giant does not give it in full. However, if he was keeping his opinions out of the schoolroom, it would seem to be a breach that does not demand suspension from teaching. The problem is schools hate to be embarrassed. But freedom of speech outside the workplace should be protected.  This is a case of “you are  a bigot, but while I absolutely disagree with what you say, I defend your right to express your opinions”

    • GentleGiant

      Yeah, I forgot to put in the link I originally read about the story, I’ve edited my first post with the link. :-)

    • Bob Becker

      Whether the school’s social media policy can stand first amendment muster seems to me doubtful.  If it prohibits out of school contact on line between a teacher and students, that’s one thing. But to say a teacher cannot post his opinions on public policy on his face book page is quite another, regardless of what we may think of those opinions.  And the excerpts posted above from the school’s social media policy ["'The guidelines warn teachers if they "feel angry or passionate about a subject, it may not be the time to share your thoughts in a post" and to "delay posting until you are calm and clearheaded."'] seems more like advice [good advice, but advice none the less], not a flat prohibition. Doubtful it could stand up to a first amendment challenge as a flat prohibition. 

      • GentleGiant

        He’s indeed free to post his opinions publically, no one is saying that. So I don’t see how the school’s social media policy shouldn’t be able to stand First Amendment muster. It probably discourages teachers to do anything that isn’t well thought out, in public. His contract might contain passages about discrimination, so if he breaks those, they are free to let him go on grounds of contractual breach. No First Amendment breach there.

  • Kevin

    How does degrading the pupil not effect the pedagogical effectiveness of the teacher?

  • Resident Iconoclast

    “there’s no evidence he acted on these beliefs in the classroom.”Yet. But who has looked for such evidence?He’s an arrogant, self-righteous prick who said he teaches in such a way that the district would think “they had hired Jesus Christ himself.” I find it almost impossible to imagine his bigotry never showed up in class. I’ve taught with homophobes for 30 years and believe me, no one is collecting evidence. A lot of kids agree with homophobic remarks, and damn few would want to be whistleblowers and bring the focus of homophobia on themselves.  I had one  busted teacher (one of the incredibly few) tell me very frankly that he made homophobic comments in class because it made the jocks like him.  He, too, was a very popular teacher. A little gay-bashing makes more fans than it alienates among a teenage audience. Comedians know it, filmmakers know it and so do the Christers. Buell made no effort to restrain himself when talking to student “friends” on Facebook. I doubt he was the picture of discretion in class.  He’s exactly where he belongs — out of the classroom and under investigation. If the investigation is appropriately thorough rather than a cover-up, I would bet on some nasty in-class behavior from Mr. Just Like Christ Himself.

    • Bob Becker

      “there’s no evidence he acted on these beliefs in the classroom.”Yet.
      That means so far no evidence. And absent that evidence, there seem to me to be no grounds for suspending him.   If someone turns up credible evidence of his having brought those opinions into the classroom, that would be another matter. So far it seems no credible evidence has turned up.  Unless and until it does, he should be back in the classroom.

      • Resident Iconoclast

        His anti-gay rants to current student “friends” is sufficient cause to remove him from the classroom pending investigation.  If the investigation reveals  an in-class pattern of such bigotry — as has already been attested to by former students — he should be permanently removed. The  supposed free-speech rights of a teacher to voice his despicable bigotry is not more important than a student’s right to attend a non-hostile classroom.

        • Bob Becker

          If the school social media policy does not prohibit faculty “friending” current students, and he’s not expressing his bigotry in class, he should not be removed.   Students have to ask to be friended; they are at his site voluntarily. If the school does not prohibit faculty accepting such friend requests, I don’t see how his removal is justified.

          Again, if it can be credibly established that he’s bringing that venom into the classroom, he’s toast and should be.  Sorry, but uncorroborated allegations a decade old from a  former students isn’t enough.  If there’s credible evidence from current students that he’s doing it, he’s gone and should be. I’ve seen none produced yet. 

          His ideas I find despicable. But he’s as free as you or I are to express them on his own Facebook page to whoever chooses to read that page [again, provided that the schools policy does not prohibit staff from friending students].

          • Resident Iconoclast

            Bob, you need to shop elsewhere for a martyr. This guy is not it. He has not been fired. He is guaranteed a job with the school district and he has one. He hasn’t lost any pay. The district can place a teacher in any position they feel is best for “district needs.” He has no “right” to a particular classroom job. He has not been punished in any material way, there has been no punitive action against him, so he’s got nothing to complain about and neither do you.

            • Bob Becker

              I didnt offer him as a martyr. Just noted that if a school can remove from the classroom for saying something it doesnt like after wk on his own website then we cant protect M from being removed for his pvt friendly atheist site. reprehensible tho this guys views are he has the same rt not to be punished for them by a govt entity that we all have.

              • MakeTheMostOfLife

                This guy saying and thinking what he does about gays is in no way comparable to views expressed on this friendly atheist website by it’s host.

                This teacher in question hates people who are gay because they are gay pure and simple. It is no different to racism and it does not = disagreeing with someones point of view or beliefs, like you infer.

                • Bob Becker

                  There are religious people who consider TFA’s posts “hate” speech and discriminatory.  I think they’re wrong about that, but establishing as a standard for suspension posting anything some people may find offensive is way too loose a standard. 

                • MakeTheMostOfLife

                  Swing and a miss……

                  There are right and wrong answers to these questions, and just because some bone head calls something ‘hate speech’ doesn’t make it hate speech and discriminatory even if they perceive it to be so.

                  You really devalue people who are the victim of genuine hate speech by categorizing it all together as you do.

                  Lets try and find your standard of ‘common sense’

                  You are interviewing a teacher who meets the requirements for the job, however confesses to you during the interview that they:

                  Are a:

                  Racist, black hating, jew hating, disabled hating, homophobe,

                  Is it too ‘loose a standard’ to use this information in regard to judging the applicants suitability for the job even though the rest of the criteria for the position is met?

                  These are specifically not hate views on beliefs or ideas. Specifically views based purely hating the person because they were born that way and nothing else.

                  It may be that they may not be arrested for saying that, because of being protected by free speech, but this is not the same thing.  This person is looking for a job being responsible for children.

                  If Jerry Buell was the interviewer, should he be legally protected by free speech be open about his views and deny someone a job specifically because they are black, gay etc.

                • Justin

                  People devalue themselves and basic civil rights by claiming to be victims of speech.

                • Bob Becker

                  The point is, where I live [Utah] there are a great many people, many of them on school boards, who would consider a confession of atheism on a webpage a far more serious indication of bad character than a statement that homosexuals violate god’s law. These people sit on school boards, etc. If the standard we set up is “if you say anything people may find offensive you can be suspended ” then TFA can be suspended for his atheism as you want to suspend this guy for his believing and saying gays violate god’s law.
                  Permitting people to be suspended by a school or school district for statements off the job that some people find offensive sets a risky precedent, seems to me. Once again, if he’s doing it on the job, in the classroom, he’s toast and should be.

                • MakeTheMostOfLife

                  You keep repeating it like its the same thing, but it’s not and I have already outlined why so will not bother again. In my opinion your failure to see the distinction makes a mockery of free speech.    There are already limits on free speech with regard to employment law & this is what is applicable in this case. It’s telling in your last post, you defend the Christian Bigotry on the bases that if you don’t defend it, the Christian’s can persecute the atheists even more. Atheist = choice. Black, Gay not choice.  One is attacking a belief/idea, one is attacking a person because of the way they are born.  Do you not think it is possible to make the distinction between the two?

          • Miss

            The school social media policy does limit what a teacher should say in a public or partially public situation in which he is representing the school system. He violated Lake County School’s policy, and gave them reason to believe that he may say the same things in the classroom as he said online. (He obviously had no problem saying it on Facebook to students still attending his school, so why not in class?)

            • Bob Becker

              There are many many things I say on line that I would never, but never, say in class because saying them in class would be clearly inappropriate.  I don’t know if he thinks the same way, but it’d be wrong to simply assume because someone says something on a private website off the job that he would have no compunctions about saying the same things before students in a classroom. 

               I remind you that TFA has written several times about his taking care to keep his atheism advocacy well away from his math teaching.   And rightly so. 

              • Miss

                It isn’t considered a private website if he is friends with over 700 people, several of whom are current students at the location he teaches. Given the way that Facebook is set up, people who are friends with his friends would also be able to see some of the comments he posted, opening the comments up to even more students in the school. The fact that he is willing to say inappropriate things in front of his students over the internet is a cause for reasonable concern, considering the students may still have to attend his class.

      • GentleGiant

        One former student has already come forward and said that Mr. Buell has voiced similar opinions in school before. Does that count as credible evidence?

        • Bob Becker

          How long ago?  Ten years or so, wasn’t that it?  Something like that?  If so, the answer is no.  And one student?  No. That’s an uncorroborated charge, even if it comes from a current student.  We shouldn’t be firing teachers on the uncorroborated complaint of one student.  That’s enough to trigger looking into it, but not a suspension.   

          If he’s doing it in the classroom, and there are credible allegations that he is, and the school looks into it and determines the allegations are valid, he’s toast and should be.  None of that seems to have happened yet. 

          • GentleGiant

            One of the problems with corroborating witnesses in this case is that those people who have to come forward most likely have to have felt angered by or disagreed with his remarks at the time he made them or at least felt that they were out of place. Unfortunately, gay-bashing (even the verbal kind) is kind of “cool” and not out of the ordinary in a lot of schools, so most people probably just let it slide, were afraid to speak up or agreed with him.
            But we’ll see if more turns up.

      • Miss

        Just because the school board isn’t releasing evidence doesn’t mean there isn’t any. They’re keeping it private until the investigation is closed. 

        • Bob Becker

          “Just because the school board isn’t releasing evidence doesn’t mean there isn’t any. ”  This may be true.  My comments, and others, have been based on what we know to be so so far.  

          “They’re keeping it private until the investigation is closed.”    Do you know this to be so, and if so how?  Or are you simply assuming it to be so?   

          Once again: if it turns out he’s been peddling either his faith or his views about gays in the classroom, and that can be credibly established, he’s a goner and should be. 

          • Miss

            I sincerely apologize for not providing the resource to my claim. The Lake County Schools issued an official statement themselves. Read it here:

            http://lake.k12.fl.us/lakeschools/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=498263

            “All facts in the investigation are confidential by law until it is complete.”

          • GentleGiant

            “They’re keeping it private until the investigation is closed.”    Do you know this to be so, and if so how?  Or are you simply assuming it to be so?

            It’s not just an assumption.From the press statement I linked to further upthread:

            The School District is reviewing a number of facts during the investigation. All facts in the investigation are confidential by law until it is complete. Disciplinarian action, if any, will come as result of the facts as they apply to the Code of Ethics presented in the completed investigation.

            • Bob Becker

              It’s not an assumption that they’re investigating. It may be that they’ve uncovered other stuff and are holding it back. That’s what I meant.

              • GentleGiant

                It seemed like you questioned whether Miss knew that they had found something or whether Miss was just assuming so/making it up.
                Whether they have found something or not isn’t really an issue, at the moment, since they are keeping it confidential either way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/billyup Jesse Jones

    Marriage is an unneeded archaic ritual anyway. I disagree with him on the fact that anyone should be excluded from something everyone has a right to. But yeah, until it can be proven his personal beliefs have gotten in the way of his teaching every student in the same manner no matter their orientation, he’s got my go ahead to say whatever he wishes on the internet.

  • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

    I’m no expert on US law and whatnot, so I won’t comment on the free speech issue.
    However, I would like to comment on your implied equivalence between the potential discomfort caused to religious students by your atheism, and that caused to LGBT (not just gay!) kids by Buell’s homophobia.
    As has been pointed out time and time again, religions are worldviews and sets of opinions. Sexual and gender orientations are intrinsic to each of us. Knowing that a person disagrees with my opinions and beliefs is an entirely different thing to knowing that that person is disgusted by my very existence.

    • Oohmeohmy

      throwing more wood on the fire here. So your not “disgusted” by this mans very existence? Sure sounds like it to me. Censure one, censure all. Hard words hurt everyone somehow, but who has the right to decide whats considered to hard to hear? I don’t like the rant or the message to some point, but i am starting to understand the rage the man felt at the time he said it. I really have to wonder just how big a deal this would have been if someone would have approached the man himself and pointed this out to him personally and asked for an apology? At what point will people become “hardened” to the words of those who would have his job and his head over a matter of this small a thing? yup he was rude n obnoxious and perhaps wrong even, but he had a right to say it just as much as some of the horrible, vengeful things that have been said about him the last few days. i haven’t heard of  anyone  getting censored or fired over that though, have you?

    • DanCobbb

      I agree with you.  What really concerns me is how largely unaware most of the commenters on this site are and how little they understand the laws of their own country.  Quite shocking, really.  Even the original article consists only of personal feelings and conclusions.  The law on this is quite developed and quite insightful.

      Mr. Buell’s first amendment rights are not an issue here.  His rights were never abridged since he was never prevented from speaking his mind.  And, he is free to continue to describe the details of his disgust for homosexuals on his Facebook page.  The government will not revoke or erase his Facebook account, his access to the internet will not be scrambled, his right to his opinions is not abridged.    Some of you are conflating the right to free speech with the right to “free speech AND a right to his job”.  There is no such Constitutional right.

      I think it is illustrative to imagine the controversy about something other than gays.  So often people will support/not support a person like Buell based on their hatred/affection for gay people  –and they will then rationalize what should happen to Buell based on their like or dislike of gays.  Let’s take it completely out of this milieu and let’s suppose that Mr. Buell had repeatedly and continuously make disparaging remarks/and racist remarks and/or sexist remarks about the principle of the school where he taught.   Again, all such comments being made on his own time on a public forum. 
      Or let’s say you, dear reader, were to make disparaging remarks about your boss all over the internet, on your Facebook page, and on your own time.
      Would your boss be precluded from firing you?  Obviously not.  Why?  Because your mere presence at the workplace is divisive probably puts a lot of people on edge, especially your boss.   You certainly have the RIGHT to say what you will about your boss, and you can say it anywhere you like!  But you don’t have a right to your job if you cause interference with the mission of the workplace.
      The author of the column  –an athiest– fails to see that Mr. Buell’s comments can be seen by other students as an imprimatur of authority that “puking on gay rights” is desireable and commendable, godly even.   Is is so hard to see that a straight, anti-gay student might pick up and run with the comments that Buell made and harass and even harm a gay student at that school? 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s clear that he is *not* being punished for the fact that he said it on Facebook while many “friends” who would see it are students; that may indeed be the pivotal point. The complaint that led to the school’s decision came from a graduate who also was one reporting that current students are among the instructor’s Facebook friends. Unless there is a statement by the school specifically pointing out that the decision was made regardless of whether online friends were students, I see no reason to assume otherwise. It would be my assumption that the complaint specified that students were directly exposed to this in a relationship which clearly started in the classroom, and would therefore naturally play into the school’s reaction.

    Do you have reason to believe otherwise?

  • JulietEcho

    I’m with you, Hemant.  I do think that it’s good policy to *not* friend current students.  When my mom got started on Facebook, I noticed that she had friended a few current students at the K-12 school where she works as a guidance counselor, and I advised her to stop.  Since then (not directly relating to her at all), I think the school has set a policy that teachers aren’t to friend students on social media.

    I think that’s just common sense.  I wouldn’t friend my boss on Facebook, and I wouldn’t friend a 12-year-old kid I was hired to babysit.  There are just some common-sense boundaries in those situations.

    *If* he has brought this into the classroom though, or *if* the school already had a social media policy that he violated, then I absolutely think he should face consequences.  Public remarks that were made outside school and without context implying that he spoke as a representative of the school should also be protected.  Any time he talks to a current student of the school though, in class or out, he should be leaving his bigoted beliefs 100% at the door.

  • Everettattebury

    When he respects my right to marry my husband, I will begin to respect his free speech rights.  As long as he considers my relationship illegitimate, I will consider his wife to just be a woman that he fucks.

    • Pseudonym

      I’m going to assume for the purpose of this comment that what this guy did was within both the letter and the spirit of the law. Given the comment above about the school social media policy, and the fact that current students were “friends” on Facebook, this isn’t a given, but we’ll assume it’s so for the sake of argument.

      You are not the government, and therefore you don’t have to respect his free speech rights if you don’t want to. But his free speech rights are also your free speech rights.

      The very notion of free speech presupposes the existence of speech that you find loathsome and detestable.

      • Bob Becker

        Yup.  Exactly. 

  • Anonymous

    Good post. Don’t really have any comments on the story, but I would like to comment on how cool your administration must be to defend you like that. I’m not so sure my school’s governing body would do that. But then, I don’t know because the issue’s never come up.

  • JustSayin’

    Would someone more articulate than I please respond to the (at present) single, ignorant comment at the Orlando Sentinel site?  (It’s the second link at the beginning of Hemant’s post.)

    • Anonymous

      Just Sayin’:
      That was my initial reaction as well, but I have learned that direct responses to such drivel only give credence to the person and do nothing to change their thoughts on the matter. the person is a troll, a dyed-in-the-wool bigot, both, or worse, and from the context, wording, and use of caps, is probably spoiling for a fight. If there is concern that, unanswered, readers may believe the twaddle, then a separate post, as much as possible ignoring the initial comment and instead addressing readers, laying out some basic facts on the matter, would be the correct manner to treat the situation, IMHO.

    • GentleGiant

      The comment poster at the link is a troll, he has posted the exact same rant at other places where the story has been reported. It would also appear that he’s a far right, tea-party homophobic. Just do a google search on the name associated with the comment and you’ll see similar utterings.

  • Pseudonym

    The word “mainstream” appears twice in this post. In neither case is it accurate.

  • Lisasheek3938

    Well, I’ve had a few glasses of wine tonight, so maybe I should just keep my fingers off the keyboard. But I’m not gonna… so here goes.

    Fuck him. Fuck him and his closed-minded pathetic disgusting rant. I’m a straight woman, married and very much in love with my husband and my greatest hope is that EVERYONE – gay and straight alike – can find the person in this world that gives them comfort, that loves them every day for who they are, that makes them able to wake up every day and face this fucked up world with a hand to hold and a sense of strength. If everyone could be as lucky as me, the world would be a happier, friendly place… and if this douche bag feels it’s his place to condemn other people who are looking for this simple happiness, then fuck him.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dale.cope Dale Cope

    I must say I agree, as long as his views didn’t get into his teaching, it should not matter.  I am sure many of my previous teachers held strong religious beliefs that I didn’t agree with, but they never brought them into the classroom and that is how it should be.

    • Mihangel apYrs

      I think that someone with so much contempt for gay students, while maybe not articulating that hatred, will not be a good teacher for such students.  And for such a student, if you became aware of the contempt in which you were held, having to be in that class would be intolerable.

  • Valerick

    Once again, Hemant throws gay kids under the bus for the sake of atheist PR. Put a bigot in the classroom where he belongs? Did you really just write that?

  • TheBlackCat

    I think suspsension pending an investigation is valid.  If he made such comments knowingly in full view of his students here, it not impossible, in fact probably likely, he would make them in front of his students in other contexts as well, such as the classroom.  Therefore, keeping him away from students until it can be determined whether this is an extension of his in-class behavior seems to me to be a valid approach.  They don’t have proof that he has been doing this in-class, but I think they have probably cause to suspect it is and therefore it is their duty to properly investigate it.

    If credible evidence can be found that this was occuring in classrooms, then he should be fired.  If not, then he should be re-instated — under close watch with the warning that if he ever says anything like this in class he will be fired immediately.

    I don’t think it should be restricted to current students, though.  Current students have to worry about reprisal from their peers who agree with the teacher’s views.  I would say any student who has graduated within at least the last 5 years should be fair game.  If he made statements to students within the last 5 years in-class, and made statements like this to students out-of-class, I think the administration has proper cause to think this is an ongoing pattern of behavior.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    I fully agree with the school’s actions. Since he had current students friended on facebook it’s only reasonable that they suspend him and investigate the issue further. One thing all this discussion has showed us is that there are a lot of unknowns and possible breaches of his contract. Suspension until everything is sorted out sounds entirely rational.

  • Felix Smit

    I really like the tone of your post and of your opinion!

    But let me introduce myself – I’m a “Christian” (I hate that label though) who happens to be gay.

    But let me also say that I’m not here to stir, but rather broaden my horizons. :-)

    I’ve also been hurt and disillusioned by the church and the so called christians.

    I’ve stumbled across this site and started reading. I’ve been pleasantly surprised! It’s indeed a
    friendly place, and no chips on shoulders here!

    But I think the thing that struck me most was the amount of respect that is shown to others, like this teacher! The post comes across as being balanced and not just a knee jerk, emotional reaction!

    This world would be so much better if we could all learn to respect each other’s opinions instead of bashing people with our beliefs!

    I look forward to an exciting adventure here!

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      Perhaps you are a gay person that happened to be born into a Christian family and culture so you have thus far considered yourself Christian.  Welcome aboard.  We welcome all perspectives.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    He proved that he held potential students in contempt “..when the story about New York okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up…” so how could a gay student feel equanimity in his class?Let’s try “…when the story about New York okaying nigger unions came on and I almost threw up…”

    Still okay with the bigotry?

    • Bob Becker

      I’ve just reread this thread.  I don’t think anyone who’s posted here so far is “okay with the bigotry.”  

  • Ted

    Please know that students of Jerry Buell are now coming forward and talking about how does in fact preach his religion in the classroom, including religious language in his syllabus. In the classroom, he joked about if gays want to serve in the military, they should march to the front of the line. His Facebook settings were such that not only his student Facebook friends could see his disgusting comments, but also the friends of friends.

    • Bob Becker

      “Please know that students of Jerry Buell are now coming forward and talking about how does in fact preach his religion in the classroom, including religious language in his syllabus. In the classroom, he joked about if gays ”
      If  this is so, he’s toast and should be. 

  • MakeTheMostOfLife

    “I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York okaying black unions came on and I almost threw up.
    And now they showed blacks kissing after their announcement. If they
    want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s
    marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as black people union whatever! God
    will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”….“….I
    will never accept it and refuse to condone it or shut my eyes to it. It
    is an insult to the marriage between my wife and I. We are married,
    don’t know what the heck those people call it but it ain’t a marriage…
    Would this grate any more by changing it to blacks instead of gays.  Should the outcome of his hearing be any different?
    In my eyes it is the same thing.  If you don’t you, need you conciseness raised.
    A teacher is a public figure in charge of children & posting his views on Facebook is fair game for scrutiny.  Again just raise the game if you doubt this.If he posted he sympathies with Nazi’s on a Facebook post, would you defend it saying…. It’s ok as long as he doesn’t bring it into the classroom & treat the Jew’s any differently.I read posts like this and it is really such a cluster fuck when everything just circles around the sodding 1st amendment like its a sacred as a biblical text.  Common sense can really just go out the window and then wanky battle lines are drawn on both sides.A teacher in charge of children should not publicly express those kind of bigoted views….. End Of

    • http://www.facebook.com/benjcano Benjamin Cano

      “If he posted he sympathies with Nazi’s on a Facebook post, would you
      defend it saying…. It’s ok as long as he doesn’t bring it into the
      classroom & treat the Jew’s any differently”

      Yes. That’s exactly what I’d say. That’s what it means to defend free speech. You have to defend the speech even when it’s abhorrent.

      • MakeTheMostOfLife

        Arg this is not about free speech.

        OK…… In your view our fictional character has the right to say he thinks the Jews should be exterminated etc as a citizen without being arrested.

        That IS Free Speech.

        But you think it’s ok for him to be a TEACHER potentially teaching Jew’s he believes should be exterminated and then what…… be shielded by the school, after publicly expressing these views?

        If you honestly think beliefs don’t have consequences, case made…… Common sense out the window.

        Incidentally thanks for proving my point about wanky battle lines being drawn on both sides over the free speech issue. 

        Back to the case in point

        This is not a free speech issue, Jerry Buell is not being arrested for expressing these views on gay marriage.  He has however brought new information to light that is relevant about his suitability as a teacher in charge of children’s education and therefore has to face the consequences for expressing his beliefs

        • http://www.facebook.com/benjcano Benjamin Cano

          Same post as below:
          A bit of followup. I’ve been reading into a few
          Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment rights of teachers,
          and this one is of particular note:

          Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968): in the absence of proof of the teacher
          knowingly or recklessly making false statements the teacher had a right
          to speak on issues of public importance without being dismissed from
          his or her position.Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006):
          The Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that because Garcetti’s statements
          were made pursuant to his position as a public employee, rather than as a
          private citizen, his speech had no First Amendment protection. The
          corollary, of course, is that if a person who is a public employee makes
          remarks as a private person, those remarks are subject to First
          Amendment protection.

    • http://www.facebook.com/benjcano Benjamin Cano

      “If he posted he sympathies with Nazi’s on a Facebook post, would you
      defend it saying…. It’s ok as long as he doesn’t bring it into the
      classroom & treat the Jew’s any differently”

      Yes. That’s exactly what I’d say. That’s what it means to defend free speech. You have to defend the speech even when it’s abhorrent.

  • Alantas

    If other peoples’ marriages can affect the meaning of his, then his marriage had little meaning to begin with.

  • Tinkergr

    We are never going to change the minds of these bigots. But, if we take the highroad, perhaps we can change the minds of those that they teach. The children of people like this are the ones that see the front line bigotry and if they see us following a moral compass that is different and more tolerant of our differences then maybe they will learn to think for themselves. 

    • GentleGiant

      I disagree. Giving carte blanche to bigots and “turning the other cheek” (if you’ll excuse me for borrowing that expression) just teaches them and those they influence that they are free to act as they please and say what they will, with no repercussions.
      I’d rather teach them that it’s the right thing to do, to stand up to bigotry, hatred, backward thinking, intolerance and so on.

      • Tinkergr

        I am not saying to ‘turn the other cheek’ (something I have never seen a Christian do) but to take the highroad. Lead by example. Show everyone that all we want is for the rules to apply to all equally. This bigot does have the right to freedom of speech.

        It seems that everyday we lose more freedoms and the reason quite often seems to be security or the employer has the right to fire you if they disagree. I am starting a new job on Monday. The owner of the company is a Christian (his views are known and made public on his weekly blog). I will avoid expressing my views where he may see them and connect them to me because he may fire me for being an atheist. If he wants to express his views on his blog that is his freedom of speech. Same if I do, but I don’t dare.

        If we continue to let others know that his behavior is wrong then maybe one day I can come out and let the world know my views without hiding behind a pseudonym. But we will never change the behavior of these bigots.

        Very few people outside of the South realize that the south is NOT full of bigots. Everyone from up north seems to assume that suddenly after the civil rights marches the majority of people became clear thinkers. This is not true. there were a lot of people in the South that saw the injustices and helped to change the way other thought about it. But those few that wanted to  keep the white supremacy dream alive were then and always will be bigots. We never were able to change their minds. Those people that were open-minded enough to allow free thought in did change their minds and that is happening today with the LGBT and atheist communities. Eventually the young people will get into power and they will come around. But only if we take the highroad and show the way.

        • Miss

          We all have a right to freedom of speech as citizens, but we also have the obligation to follow ethics codes set by our employers. Jerry Buell violated the ethics code of Lake County Schools. That is the issue here, not freedom of speech.

          By the way, the first amendment guarantees that the government cannot interfere with citizens’ freedom of speech. It makes no mention of how employers should handle a violation of ethics codes.

  • Meohmy

    so, its ok to teach that its “ok to be gay” in our schools and in our lives but its NOT ok to teach that its NOT ok to be gay in our schools and in our lives? Hows that work?

    • Josh

      Because it is ok to be gay and it is not ok to hate people for something they can’t control even if they wanted to?

    • Erin W

      Easy, the same way we teach that it’s okay to be a person of color, disabled, or non-Christian.

    • TheBlackCat

      so, its ok to teach that its “ok to be black” in our schools and in our lives but its NOT ok to teach that its NOT ok to be black in our schools and in our lives? Hows that work?so, its ok to teach that its “ok to be a woman” in our schools and in our lives but its NOT ok to teach that its NOT ok to be a woman in our schools and in our lives? Hows that work?so, its ok to teach that its “ok to be jewish” in our schools and in our lives but its NOT ok to teach that its NOT ok to be jewish in our schools and in our lives? Hows that work?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    Here’s my wife’s experience: Her high school hired her last year to replace a more experienced English/journalism/publications teacher. The former teacher (Call him “Adam”) was a goof-off who let the kids do whatever they wanted. Adam insisted the newspaper and yearbook are purely “student-run” publications, which meant Adam simply left the room and worked on his own online master’s degree during that period. Predictably, the publications sucked and never made deadline.
    My wife (call her “Eve”) had 15 years professional newsroom experience. She already had her master’s, and enforces strict deadlines and copy editing.
    Predictably, her students love Adam, who was moved to another school, and hate Eve, despite the fact that faculty and staff have all commented on the dramatic improvements in school publications (her English students’ scores all went up, too).
    We recently discovered that Adam is Facebook friends with a large percentage of his old (and my wife’s current) students, especially the ones in publications. Adam hates Eve (obviously, she got his job and now is making him look bad) and Adam has clearly been coaching her students on ways to argue with her and even sabotage the publications.
    Eve, as a new teacher, doesn’t want to complain and seem petty. I think she should complain, even if it means pointing out the FB relationship in an anonymous letter to the Board of Education.
    I don’t think her system has a FB friending policy, but it ought to. It’s a really frustrating thing to watch.
    What would you do?

    • Bob Becker

      She should bring it up… but non anonymously.  [I really dislike anonymous complaints.] And bring it up in the context of “This district doesn’t have a policy regarding teachers contacting students on Facebook.  Perhaps it should.  Here’s an example of what can happen when there is no policy.”  Etc. 

      But not anonymously.  

    • Heidi

      So basically, this guy is manipulating students to get back at the teacher who replaced his incompetent ass?  Yeah, she needs to speak up, because that is not acceptable in any way.  And it’s in the children’s best interest that they not learn to emulate his behavior.

  • Resident Iconoclast

    Hemant, PLEASE correct your totally misleading headline. From what I’ve read, Buell has NOT been suspended.

  • http://fred5.myopenid.com/ fred5

    And the cover-up attempt begins:

    Compare this page:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:rtiTf3lS3gAJ:lake.k12.fl.us/1684205514622307/+http://lake.k12.fl.us/1684205514622307/site/default.asp&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=opera&source=www.google.com

    With the current page:

    http://lake.k12.fl.us/1684205514622307/site/default.asp

    I wonder who blanked the page Buell himself or the school district.

    From Google’s cache we find the page contained, among other writings,  the following statements:

    First and foremost, I am a man of God. I try to teach and lead my students as if Lake Co. Schools had hired Jesus Christ himself. That doesn’t mean I give a sermon and serve communion each day…what it means is I try my very best to teach and serve and minister to my students as a teacher led by and connected to the Creator of the Universe.

    Lake Co. Schools and Mt Dora HS tell me what to teach; God guides me in how I do that, and it is all done with a Servant’s heart, to the best of my abilities.

    Doesn’t sound as if he was too concerned about keeping his religious views out of the classroom to me.

    Oh, and if you want to see the contempt he held some of this “friends” that complained on facebook about his comments this is what he told them:

    In response to some complaints from Facebook friends about his anti-gay comments, Buell wrote, “If one doesn’t like the most recently posted opinion, based on Biblical principals and God’s law, then go ahead and un-friend me. I’ll miss you like I miss my kidney stone from 1994.”

    Source: http://www.thechurchreport.com/index.cfm?objectID=136710

    What a great guy.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    Sorry, but he’s a bigot, and bigots do NOT belong in a position of power over children. Fire him.

  • Anonymous

    Urg, I’m not patient enough to sort through all the comments, so I apologize in advance if mine lacks some needed context provided above.

    I agree that his private beliefs and activities should not affect his job. I can’t neccesarily say that it was illegal, because as I understand it some contracts actually do cover the things teachers can and cannot do even in private and I have no idea if he was in violation of that. However as long as he kept it outside the school then no action should be taken against him. It’s frankly a little nuts how teachers are sometimes expected to be paragons of virtue with all the interest of unseasoned oatmeal. You get stories about teachers in trouble for unpopular political opinions, for lifestyles outside the norm, hell I read a story about one teacher suspended for having a relationship with a former student who was an adult and in college at the time.

    Teachers are not nuns nor monks and they should be allowed to have private lives and opinions, even unsavory ones (and yes, I’d say the same about a racist or sexist) as long as they are within the law. If I knew a biology teacher was a creationist I wouldn’t like it, but I wouldn’t support firing them without evidence they advocated creationism in the classroom. At most I would advocate keeping a watchful eye on teachers whose activities or opinions seem likely to bleed into the classroom, and take swift action when that does happen.

    • Valerick

      I would fire a biology teacher for not understanding the basics tenants of biology.  Public teaching is not some government go-to-work program that guarantees employment to all who enter (or at least, it shouldn’t be). A biologist that doesn’t believe in evolution is no more qualified to teach than an electrician who doesn’t believe in electricity. They’re welcome to spout their nonsense all they like, but they’re not welcome to a tax-payer supported position doing it.

      • Bob Becker

        “I would fire a biology teacher for not understanding the basics tenants of biology.”
        Absolutely right. But I’ve seen nothing posted to suggest that this particular teacher was ill informed about the subject he was teaching, so that seems a poor parallel for what seems to have happened [so far as we know so far] in this case. 

  • Anonymous

    Chriastian Post is now reporting on the “unlikely” fact that Hemant is arguing that Buell should not be suspended:

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheist-defends-teacher-suspended-for-anti-gay-marriage-facebook-post-54258/

    • Valerick

      The quotes Hemant provides in the article are poised to do far more damage to gay teens than anything this teacher ever said. Gay teens are used to oppression from the religious right- they are steeled against it and hold to the hope that “it gets better”. But when a prominent spokesperson for “reason” speaks in favor of bigoted teachers, what hope is there?

      In his race to be the new atheist Uncle Tom, he gives the impression that there is no evidence that the teacher applied his religious principles in the classroom, when a day’s worth of comments reveal that it’s clearly there (as common sense would have suggested) and he simply didn’t look for it. He saw the opportunity to take a position contrarian to his community’s, well-calculated to land precisely the kind of interview that is in the linked article, and set up the lightning rod. 

      He is so desperate for page views and headlines that he offers up the First Amendment as a sacred cow, without any of the legal context surrounding public education and draws a legal conclusion that serves everyone’s interests except for gay youths’. But as long as atheists get to look reasonable and conciliatory, it’s worth it, right?

       I’d be disappointed if Hemant didn’t recently hold a donation drive to support a gay conversion ministry for more atheist PR. But he did that, so I suppose I’m naive for coming here and not expecting more of the same.

      • ThatOtherGuy

        I gotta say, Hemant.  I usually love your work, but Valerick’s comment is 100% spot-on.  You threw gay kids everywhere right under the bus, twisting the knife in their back in the process.  I mean, yeah, gay people get hit by the right wing nut-jobs all the time, we’re used to it.  But to see you pull something like this cuts WAY deeper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjcano Benjamin Cano

    A bit of followup. I’ve been reading into a few
    Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment rights of teachers,
    and this one is of particular note:Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968): in the absence of proof of the teacher
    knowingly or recklessly making false statements the teacher had a right
    to speak on issues of public importance without being dismissed from
    his or her position.Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006):
    The Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that because Garcetti’s statements
    were made pursuant to his position as a public employee, rather than as a
    private citizen, his speech had no First Amendment protection. The
    corollary, of course, is that if a person who is a public employee makes
    remarks as a private person, those remarks are subject to First
    Amendment protection.

    • GentleGiant

      Sorry, no comparison. The case was about a letter to the editor about school policies. Mr. Buell made derogatory remarks about a protected minority. Huge difference.

      Pickering case:

      In February 1961 the Township Board of Education asked the voters of Township High School District 205 to approve a bond issue to raise $4,875,000 to erect two new schools, which was defeated. In December 1961, the Board again submitted a bond proposal to the voters for $5,500,000 to build two new schools, which passed and the two schools were built with the money. In May 1964, the Board proposed and submitted to the voters an increase in the tax rate for educational purposes, which was defeated. On September 19, 1964, a second proposal to increase the tax rate was submitted by the Board, and was similarly defeated.

      After the proposal failed, Marvin L. Pickering, appellant and a teacher in the District, wrote a letter to the editor in response to the material from the Teachers’ Organization and the superintendent. The letter was an attack on the Board’s handling of the 1961 bond proposals and its subsequent allocation of financial resources between the schools’ educational and athletic programs. It also charged the superintendent of schools with trying to prevent teachers from speaking out against the proposed bond issue. Pickering was dismissed by the Board for writing and publishing the letter.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        Protected minority? But Buell is in Florida, which does not consider sexual orientation to be a protected class.

        • GentleGiant

          Unless you count federal employment and sexual orientation with regards to hate crimes (which Florida does recognize).

  • Nate

    I’m with Hemant here, and it’s pretty clear why.  If this was something he said in the classroom, then he should be punished.  If there is evidence that his classroom behavior and treatment of students is discriminatory, then he should be punished.  Otherwise, there is no basis for disciplinary action.  I offend people on a daily basis, simply for existing, but I have rights, and I’m not mistreating people I work with because I think their faith is nothing short of stupid.  

  • MakeTheMostOfLife

    Wow these threads get too small have a reply discussion on :( In 2 discussion I’m getting dragged into a free speech argument, but this is not about what you are legally aloud to say.  As I said before it about suitability for the job in hand.  This man is a teacher in charge of education of children.  The views he expressed on Facebook are aloud by free speech but do make him unsuitable for his job.

    If Jerry BuellIn believes he is suitable for teacher state education, I would like to ask him his view, if his Pastor was caught on Facebook, declaring that he was:

    A closet gay atheist.

    Would he be happy for him to continue as his Pastor as long as he ‘don’t bring those views into the church’??  In this case I would agree with him….. This guys is NOT a suitable pastor, like he is not a suitable teacher in a state school.

    No one is being arrested for these views, free speech is in place, but beliefs have consequences.

  • Kristinap815

    It may partly be a free speech issue, but because he is friends with current students (which should be against district policy and I hope the school board addresses it soon) it then became a bullying and harrassment issue. If this were a teacher I looked up to, befriended and later found out he thought this way about me and others like me, I would not want to set foot in his classroom again. Facebook may be “private”, and he may have done this on his personal time from his personal computer, but by opening his profile up to former and current students (and anyone else for that matter) then he opened it up to be a public forum, and his comments were public indeed. He may (under the 1st amendment) have to right to say them, but others will be offended and I believe others rightly see his comments for what they are: hateful and hurtful. He may have the right to say this garbage, but I feel bullied, as I’m sure many others did. And THAT IS NOT OK.

    • Bob Becker

      I don’t think FAcebook pages are “public forums” as defined by law.   I agree the school should have a policy banning teachers from friending current students.  But apparently it does not. 

      • GentleGiant

        If you haven’t set your privacy options right (it’s set to open by default), then your Facebook page is open for all to read. I’d call that pretty public.

      • GentleGiant

        If you haven’t set your privacy options right (it’s set to open by default), then your Facebook page is open for all to read. I’d call that pretty public.

      • GentleGiant

        If you haven’t set your privacy options right (it’s set to open by default), then your Facebook page is open for all to read. I’d call that pretty public.

      • MakeTheMostOfLife

        It’s irrelevant whether this mans views came into the public light from Facebook via a student, or from his mother. 

        It’s the same if you say something to somebody, and they give evidence in court as to what you said.  It doesn’t matter if it was a reporter or your best friend you told a secret to.  It is what you said and therefore think that is important.

        It is relevant information we have found out, and someone with those views are not compilable with being a teacher in charge of (potentially young gay) children.  In the same way children are protected from ‘potential’ child molesters, this students need to be protected against this ‘potential’ gay hater.

        You defend this guy so hard.  Based on what he wrote, the further stories coming forward, the evidence you can draw from scripture from this clearly pious Christian about his thoughts on Gay people. 

        Do you really really honestly believe that this man is worth all this brain fuel you are wasting, and insulting free speech, by using that very phase to shield this bigot from an employer deciding if an employee is suitable for a position?

        • Bob Becker

          You are m.istaken. i havent defended him or his views. what im defending is his right to express his rel beliefs off the job on his own time and expense w/o being punished be govt employer for it. its an imp principle i think that protcts not only him but TFA and me from the same potential 4 retaliatory acts. U did not find a word from me defending his rel driven loony homophobia.

          • MakeTheMostOfLife

            It does not & should not be that anybody can express anything to
            anyone in any place at any time and not expect/deserve any consequences.

            This situation with the teacher is not the same thing TFA and you(?)….  Your only fooling yourself if you believe in this ‘ultimate’ free speech banter.  You have taken it one step further.  Free speech means to are free to say what you like with out being arrested.  You however want that to encompass, making it illegal, for people or institutions to re-act or make any judgement on what they say no matter what.

            Like I already wrote:

            I don’t think Jerry Buell is any more suitable to be a teacher, then if his Paster was caught on Facebook declaring that he was a Closet Gay Atheist.

            Clearly a a gay atheist is not the best candidate for preaching gay hate speech from the pulpit, once this information comes to light.

            He has found out to be the wrong person for the job in hand.

            Do you think Jerry Buell and his ‘kind’ should be forced to keep a Gay Atheist for a Paster?

  • Ohmeomy

    People calling the man a “homophobic” and saying that because students ACCUSED him of something that the accusations are taken as fact? Witch hunt? Homophobic sounds like the man has a disease. I have always felt this word to be a way for someone with much hatred in their heart to harm someone that they disagree with, and to shame them into accepting their own beliefs as right. Much like the words “fagot” and “queer” are. It never ceases to amaze and shame me how people are so intolerant of others views of our world. Exactly what has this man done that has not been done before by the “other side of the coin”?

    • ThatOtherGuy

      Are you for bloody real?  Gay kids are killing themselves after enduring years of misery in school, and your heart’s breaking for the poor poor people who caused their suicides, because they’re called a word that is neither a slur nor offensive?  Shall we stop calling the KKK racists because we might hurt their widdle feelings?

      Crawl back under your rock, I’ve no time for such stupidity.

  • Anonymous

    I do not sympathize with Bull, he’s supposed to be an educator not a bigot!! I just hope he’s not able to teach for the rest of him life.

  • Anonymous

    People say they are so called “Christians” but they sure don’t act like it. GENTLE GIANT..I hope you don’t have children either. You are worse! God help you!

    • GentleGiant

      A personal attack on me. How… Christian of you.
      Would you like to explain why you hope I don’t have children either? Why I am worse than Mr. Buell?
      Besides, your god doesn’t seem to be willing to help all the children who die of starvation around the world today, so I’m pretty sure he’ll do nothing to help me. But then again, we still haven’t seen any evidence of his existence.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRMLOB3EEHNAV3MDWRJPUXMG4Y The Tom

    Ordinarily, I’d agree with you, assuming your following two statements were correct:

    “This was private speech made outside the classroom”
    “no one is saying that Buell is a bigot inside the classroom.”

    Apparently, however, they’re not.  According to EqualityFlorida, students of Buell’s have been quoted as saying:

    “I looked up when he said he supported gays in the military, stunned by the answer. He immediately followed that comment with the statement that we should then put them on the front lines, and pull back.”

    And…another student quoting Buell:

    “I teach God’s truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, ’cause I ain’t changing!”

    These are students in the classroom, so that changes things for me.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I wrote an update in which I talk about these things

  • Brawny71

    From what I read, he clearly was putting the Christian in the classroom from the students’ first days to their last.  Let him work at a Christian school and turn out some bigots there.

  • Brawny71

    P.S.  He looks like Walter from the show “Maude”.  I’m sure Bill Macy (who once appeared in the raunchy polysexual play Oh, Calcutta!)  is not happy about that!

  • Lee

    It’s too bad he compares himself to Jesus Christ, who preached love and never said anything bad about homosexuality (or if He did, it’s not in the Bible).

  • paulalovescats

    “It is an insult to the marriage between my wife and I.” *cringe* *cringe* *cringe*


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