The Kids Are Alright

Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune tells us about an attempt by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to rally young people around “traditional marriage” as a political cause.

I’m not sure what the archdiocese expected to happen at this mandatory assembly for seniors at DeLaSalle high school, but I’m sure they didn’t expect anything as awesome as what did happen.

DeLaSalle kids have a few words with archdiocese at marriage talk,” Tevlin reports:

“The first three-quarters of the presentation were really good,” said [senior Matt] Bliss. “They talked about what is marriage and how marriage helps us as a society. Then it started going downhill when they started talking about single parents and adopted kids. They didn’t directly say it, but they implied that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a ‘normal’ family is the best family.”

“When they finally got to gay marriage, [students] were really upset,” said Bliss. “You could look around the room and feel the anger. My friend who is a lesbian started crying, and people were crying in the bathroom.”

Bliss was one of several students who stood up to argue with the representatives from the archdiocese. One girl held up a sign that said, “I love my moms.”

It’s not just that the students argued with the priest and the married couple there representing the archdiocese — it’s that the students won the argument.

And best of all — my favorite thing about this story — is that these kids had each others’ backs. The adopted kids stuck up for the LGBT kids. The LGBT kids stuck up for the kids from single-parent families. And the few kids whose families fit the archdiocesan emissaries’ definition of normal and normative stuck up for their friends in the “abnormal” majority.

“People were upset,” said student Lydia Hannah, “and we weren’t just going to sit there.”

And they didn’t. Good for them.

“I don’t think they expected the response they got from the students,” Matt Bliss said.

They were so upset that the priest and school officials abruptly ended the assembly. Students who were angry were allowed to stay there and talk with the archdiocese volunteers. It was more civil, for a while, but the more questions the presenters tried to answer, the worse it got.

“It was a really awful ending,” said Bliss. “It was anger, anger, anger, and then we were done and they left. This is really a bad idea.”

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  • Nathaniel

    I do hope at least one of those funny hatted goobers realized that they were hearing the death of their anti-gay campaign or of their church.
     

  • Lori

    Then it started going downhill when they started talking about single
    parents and adopted kids. They didn’t directly say it, but they implied
    that kids who are adopted or live with single parents are less than kids
    with two parents of the opposite sex. They implied that a ‘normal’
    family is the best family.” 

    Let me see if I have this all straight. Adopted kids are less than and “sociologically unstable” and a family formed through adoption is not as good as a couple having a “normal” family with their “real” kids. That’s a pretty shitty thing to say, especially coming from the sort of people who are always going on about how terrible it is for women to have abortions instead of giving birth & giving the child up for adoption.

    I ask, not for the first time, can we stop pretending that these people aren’t hateful liars now?
     

    Also, speaking as an adoptee, the priest, the volunteer couple and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis can all stick where the sun don’t shine. Sideways. 

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

     That “sociologically unstable” line jumped out at me, too. It’s hard to say out of context, but my guess is that they were leading in to an attack on gay adoption. The anti-gay adoption case usually turns into an anti-adoption-in-general case because there aren’t really any arguments against gays adopting that wouldn’t apply to straights as well. Of course, it’s also possible that the folks sent by the archdiocese were simply awful people.

    Also, if you’re looking for some explanation as to why “pro-lifers” would make those arguments, I’d direct you to George Carlin’s comments on preborn v. preschool.

  • Lori

      That “sociologically unstable” line jumped out at me, too. It’s hard to say out of context, but my guess is that they were leading in to an attack on gay adoption. The anti-gay adoption case usually turns into an anti-adoption-in-general case because there aren’t really any arguments against gays adopting that wouldn’t apply to straights as well. 

    This is my assumption.

    They really don’t have a coherent argument. They just say whatever they feel they need to say to prop up whatever bigotry they’re pushing at the moment. If that undermines part of some other “teaching” they’ll deal with it later. So adoption is wonderful and life-affirming and creates a family (with no physical or  emotional cost to the birth mother) when they’re attacking a woman’s right to choose, but adoption is unnatural and abnormal and creates freaks when they’re attacking gay families.

    Liars. Hateful, horrible liars.

  • Michael Pullmann

     Yeah, what Lori said. If I had been in that audience… well, I’d probably have gotten suspended for the things I said.

  • fraser

     The temptation to ask why the church opposes homosexuality when its actions show it’s okay with molesting children would have been irresistible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    I really hope that one of the more sarcastic or evil kids said “You take orders from an eighty year old Nazi in a dress. I won’t take orders from you”.

  • Karen Cox

     I’ve seen this argument before, and had the same thought.  So, if adoption is bad for kids, and living with your unmarried mom is bad for kids, and having stepfathers is bad for kids (there’s actually a little bit of evidence for this one, but a lot of it is from studies of other primates.) and abortion is just bad for everyone, what, exactly is supposed to happen?  Should the the government assign men and women to each other?  I’m sure that will work well.

  • Anonymous

    Ever read The Giver? 

    If you haven’t, here’s a quick summary of the pertinent stuff: Everybody gets assigned a job at age…11, I believe. Pills are given to teenagers to suppress sexual urges. When you want to get married, you go to the people in charge and apply for a spouse. If you want children, you go apply for them. You can have one boy and one girl.

    Certain girls are given the job of birth mom; they get three babies and then they become manual labor. 

    Yeah. That system sounds about like the logical end of this argument. 

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    Good gods, I’m not the only one who thought of The Giver as an example of what these people’s “perfect” society would look like.

    Or maybe some combination of The Giver and The Handmaid’s Tale. That’s…really kind of frightening.

  • Anonymous

    Certain girls are given the job of birth mom; they get three babies and then they become manual labor.

    Wasn’t it six? Even so, that doesn’t make much sense: you’d still need to have a third of all girls be birth mothers.

  • Anonymous

    Which would supply most, it not all, of the necessary physical labor as well. Remember, no colors or music means no fine arts programs to worry about.

  • Guest

     That’s exactly what came to my mind as well.

  • Lori

     

      I’ve seen this argument before, and had the same thought.  So, if
    adoption is bad for kids, and living with your unmarried mom is bad for
    kids, and having stepfathers is bad for kids (there’s actually a little
    bit of evidence for this one, but a lot of it is from studies of other
    primates.) and abortion is just bad for everyone, what, exactly is
    supposed to happen?  Should the the government assign men and women to
    each other?  I’m sure that will work well. 

    One thing you’d expect them to do is push to bring back restrictions on divorce, but oddly they don’t. Some of them pushed for the creation of “covenant marriage”, but that’s voluntary. Funny that.

  • Anonymous

     Well,………………….*if* she had an abortion, then she could be executed or imprisoned, and there’s be no messy adoption ‘problem’.

    I’m not saying that that’s their position, but………………………..

  • Karen Cox

     Oh, and I totally agree with where the officials of the archdiocese can stick their arguments, but I’d pour Tabasco sauce on the arguments first.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Awesome, kids. Just awesome.

    (Any chance those speakers are going to pull their heads out of their arses? No? Really?)

  • Kiba

    Any chance those speakers are going to pull their heads out of their arses?

    My magic 8 ball says “No.”

  • Anonymous

    (Any chance those speakers are going to pull their heads out of their arses? No? Really?)

    Well…

    Jim Accurso, spokesman for the archdiocese, said most of the presentation went fine. But during a question-and-answer session, a presenter used “an unfortunate example” to answer the question and made students upset.

     

    Apparently the only problem they could imagine is that some students were unhappy when they compared gay people to animals, and I’m going to take a wild guess and say that they probably think the comparison was a little tactless and impolite, but still perfectly accurate. No real acknowledgement that some of their audience were adopted and/or gay kids themselves, of course, or that some of the students were in tears. Nope. Aside from that little wrinkle where some students stood up for the humanity of themselves and their friends, the Archdiocese seems to think it went pretty alright, even if it wasn’t as successful as it had been at other schools. Yup. 

    Of course, the article quotes a vice principal as being rather supportive of the visiting group, talking about a follow-up session the next day that, he feels, a lot of good came out of, that the students there had been respectful. He refused to comment on how appropriate he thought the Archdiocese’s comments were, referring them to the Church spokesperson. So that’s nice. Of course it’s a good thing that the students were polite to the nice priests who had directly insulted them. Obviously. You’re supposed to be respectful towards priests! Even when they make your friends cry! Especially when they make your friends cry. Just because your school is officially hosting bigots and bullies, that doesn’t mean you should be rude about it. Gosh, no. 

  • Anonymous

    I bet the priest and volunteers weren’t expecting that much push-back.  It must have been a very uncomfortable experience for them.

    A little discomfort can be a good thing. *heh*

  • Persia

    Back when I was in college, we had a conservative speaker who was actually doing pretty well with the audience until she started showing her disdain for single mothers and mothers on welfare. She forgot she was at a public college, where plenty of students had single mothers, and some of the students themselves were on public assistance to help them get through college.

    I have never seen a crowd turn on a speaker so fast. I suspect this event was similar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     Back when I was in college, we had a conservative speaker who was
    actually doing pretty well with the audience until she started showing
    her disdain for single mothers and mothers on welfare.

    This is why I have naked burning contempt for the Forced Birth movement (I will never dignify them by accepting the preposterous lie that they are “pro-life”). They want to abolish abortion and at the very same time want to abolish all support for mothers struggling to raise children that weren’t planned for. I genuinely believe that most members of this movement don’t give a damn about “the children” and are doing it all to punish women (including married women) who take pleasure from sex.

  • steph

    This, along with “pro-life” catholics insisting that the woman must not even get an abortion to save her life, is why I’m not “pro-life” anymore.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira


    Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune tells us about an attempt by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to rally young people around “traditional marriage” as a political cause.

    That wouldn’t have worked when I was in school 20 years ago! How old and out-of-touch ARE these people? They dissed adoption? That’s — there are no words. 

    When your so-called moral position is anti-love, I guess this is where you end up. 

  • hapax

     

    When your so-called moral position is anti-love, I guess this is where you end up.

    I don’t know when this assembly took place, but it seems especially weird during Holy Week.

    The whole point of the Easter message — the whole point of the Christian message — is no matter what, LOVE WINS.

  • Tricksterson

    To on the one hand push adoption as an alternative to abortion (by itself not a bad idea, unfortunately it comes attached to a lot of other crap) and then call adopted families inferior to “normal” ones, is just plain illogical.

    And in any case they just don’t get that the ideal they promote is, to the dubious extent it ever exsited, dead.  They could sell it when people lived in enclaves that had sociological barriers a mile high but those are crumbling on a daily basis.  Katy Perry, who was raised in a seriously fundie household put it best when she said she couldn’t be that kind of Christian anymore (she apparently does still consider herself Christian though) when she “actually met some Jews and gays and realized that they weren’t bad people.”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    To on the one hand push adoption as an alternative to abortion (by itself not a bad idea, unfortunately it comes attached to a lot of other crap) and then call adopted families inferior to “normal” ones, is just plain illogical.

    Nah… it’s logical enough, taken on its own terms. The implication is that being adopted is better than not being born, but not as good as being raised by your birth parents, which is consistent. That may not be true, but it’s logical.

    Personally, my real problem with this sort of behavior is neither its logic or its truth, but the way it gets used to justify ill treatment of the other.

    That is, suppose I woke up tomorrow in some alternate magical world where it was clearly true that the world was improved by every birth, and clearly true that it was even more improved by every child raised by its birth parents. In that world, I’d be justified in concluding that adoptive families were worse off than non-adoptive ones, since they lacked that additional benefit.

    It follows that in that world adoptive families need more support and love to make up the difference. To instead decide in that world to give adoptive families more censure and difficulty and abuse is utterly unsupportable.

    I can accept that some people believe that we actually live in such a world. I think they’re wrong, but that’s OK, we’re all wrong about something. But to then attack or withhold support from adoptive families on that basis is unconscionable.

  • WingedBeast

    “It follows that in that world adoptive families need more support and love to make up the difference. To instead decide in that world to give adoptive families more censure and difficulty and abuse is utterly unsupportable.”

    You’d think.  But, throughout history, how often has the idea of being kind and loving really caught on?

    When we punish people for doing the wrong thing (such as being in the wrong kind of family) we feel powerful, we feel strong.  Instinctively, we don’t measure power in accomplishments, but in relation to what we can do to other people.  Hense the applause of the sheer number of people put to death in one year… that wasn’t a group of people somberly coming to the conclusion that this was regretable but necessary.  That was the joy of a people who felt “yes, I am powerful for I was a part of the entity that killed these people that I don’t sympathize with!”

    Kindness is difficult, with many setbacks, and often makes us feel weak for that which we cannot accomplish.  Cruelty is easy and makes us feel strong for what we can do to other people.

    This is such a small, yet pervasive part of our lives, that we don’t notice it.  We see “adoption < natural parents" and the "feel powerful" programming to say "punish the abberations", because that's an easier place to go than "what can we do for these people".  One is a tiny piece of definately accomplishable cruelty, the other is a large piece of completely uncertain kindness.

  • Tom S

    Spontaneous, righteous anger and resistance to the institutionalization of bigotry- coming from young people- is exciting as hell. I guess this is what happens when you actually fucking know people instead of just deciding what they’re like from your literal cloister 

  • http://profiles.google.com/anoncollie Anon Collie

    Until the end of December, I was teaching in a Catholic High School; theology for 9th and 12th grade. And while I’m generally “liberal” as Catholics go, I kept my class to basic Catholic doctrine, while emphasizing a devotion to service for others. While that may appear to be bordering on the evil “social justice,” it was nothing the Church didn’t teach.

    I’ve been since fired. Not for not being able to teach, but because I was “not working out” at the school, and my nutter of a department chair who would fit right in with these presenters in Minnesota. What he, and they don’t get is that you cannot teach any subject and not expect to be challenged. An educator will welcome challenges and passion from students; an instructor will quash it, telling them this is the way it has to be.

    And for the record, he was of the latter stripe. I had his former students express concerns to me at the beginning of the year of his inability to deal with logical objections to what was being taught, choosing to not entertain in class what were honest queries that might not conform with Church doctrine. I, on the other hand, chose to welcome that dissent, and was willing to respect students for their stances, so long as they could defend it with good arguments. It wasn’t my job to test their devotion to the faith – it was to educate them on Catholic ideals. It was their choice to accept those ideals for themselves or not.

    But then again, that’s not what my department chair was looking for.

  • Cradicus

    The criticism of adoption is a dog whistle term for homosexual relationships, right? Either way though, these dudes can cram it with walnuts. Seriously.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    The criticism of adoption is a dog whistle term for homosexual relationships, right?

    Yep.
    At the moment, with marriage equality being hotly debated in Australia, a whole bunch of Catholic bishops are arguing against it because “kids deserve a mother and a father”. I feel like going “…and that has what to do with marriage equality?”

    (BIG Disclaimer:
    – “kids deserve a mother and a father” is also a faulty argument in many, many other ways
    – same-sex couples should definitely be allowed to adopt – and that right should be guaranteed them under marriage laws
    – I just find it rather amusing that they’ve given up on all the other “against” arguments, and are stuck with going after adopted kids because that’s the best they’ve got)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    At the moment, with marriage equality being hotly debated in Australia, a whole bunch of Catholic bishops are arguing against it because “kids deserve a mother and a father”.

    Not to mention that the head honchos in a couple of states issued an instruction to their priests to read out an anti-marriage equality statement at masses on Palm Sunday*. Didn’t go down so well with a big chunk of their parishioners. My bishop wasn’t one of those in on this but I mentioned to my priest the other day that we better not see this bullshit at our church, or there will be a scene. He’s a good guy but the assistant priest is quite the reactionary, so there’s always a risk he’ll show too much initiative…

    *A support/advocacy group for victims of clerical sexual abuse have since circulated their own letter condemning the shitty response of much of the church establishment to this actual terrible crime, asking for it to be read out in similar fashion. Good on them…but natch the aforementioned bishops are not impressed.

  • Tricksterson

    At the moment, with marriage equality being hotly debated in Australia, a whole bunch of Catholic bishops are arguing against it because “kids deserve a mother and father”.

    I’ll concede this when they concede that a congregation need a spiritual mother and father, that is to say, a priest and priestess.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll concede this when they concede that a congregation need a spiritual
    mother and father, that is to say, a priest and priestess.

    Mother Church is the spiritual mother, though. Haven’t you been paying attention?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Disregarding ethics for a moment, this just seems like a bad idea on a pragmatic level.

    I mean – in a group of high school kids, these days, you’ll have a few adopted kids, tons with single parents, at least a few QUILTBAG kids, and a couple with gay parents. Did they really think telling these kids that this stuff was harmful was going to go down well?

  • Ursula L

    They were against adoption?  I thought adoption was all sunshine and roses and wonderful and why a woman never needs an abortion ever, no matter what the complications with her pregnancy?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    No, it’s more complicated than that. It goes like this:

    When arguing against abortion: adoption GOOD.
    When arguing against gay marriage: adoption BAD.

    You’ve got to keep up with the nuances.

  • Tricksterson

    So adoption is a floorwax and a dessert topping?  Got it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I doubt very much that *they* would interpret what they said as being “against adoption”. It’s important, if you want ot understand why the catholic church does the dumb-ass things it does, to understand that the idea of hierarchy *is intrinsic to how they think about the universe*.  I would bet they *didn’t* say that adoption was “bad”. I bet they said something like “is more difficult than” or “is not as aligned with what god wants” — or maybethey really were boneheaded enough to say “inferior”, but they didn’t actually *mean it that way*. That’s why the school’s apology seems so wrong-way-round: to their thinking, being a step lower on the hierarchy *doesn’t* mean adoption is “bad” or that adoptive parents are bad parents or anything like that, so to their minds, they “misspoke” in that they gave that impression — since they are trained to think in hierarchical terms, it would never occur to them that the students might *quite rightly* take “your same-sex parents are a rank below adoptive parents are a rank below single parents are a rank below married biological parents” to mean — well, the thing it actually does mean. To them it’s a statement that carries the same kind of moral judgment as “A private ranks below a corporal ranks below a sergeant.” The root of their problem is not that they think less of those kinds of families, but that they see nothing wrong in *ranking* the different kinds of families. Because their *entire universe* is hierarchical. All the way from the smallest lepton, up through all the various inanimate objects, then on to the simplest protist up through all the plants, and then through all the animals, then to humans, all organized in one long ranking system through the sinners, then the saints, with the centroid of men a bit higher than that of women, then up through nine ranks of angels, and on up to God.

    Which leave them with no way to make sense of what went wrong; as far as they’re concerned, of *course* one kind of family has to be better than another: you can only have one “best”

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That makes a lot of sense. It’s a pre-Enlightenment way of thinking — the lord ranks higher than the serf, and is far more important than the serf, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything *wrong* with being a serf, so long as you aceept your lot and, above all, don’t try to change anything. 

    It’s a way of thinking I find repugnant when used in our own times, but it’s good to understand it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I think it depends on what use they make of their hierarchical worldview. The church definitely applies this hierarchical view in ways it shouldn’t, but there are ways they _could_ (and often _do_) apply it that could be beneficial (perhaps not the best way to achieve those ends, but _a_ way).

    For example, back when I took Pre-Cana (and I went into Pre-Cana expecting to hate the hell out of it, but I ended up being like the one person on the internet who actually found it valuable and helpful), there was a section in the course materials about interfaith marriages. And they basically said that interfaith marriages were permitted, but that maintaining a healthy interfaith marriage was a lot harder than a healthy same-faith marriage, and yo should maybe think twice and make sure you can’t find a nice catholic girl to marry instead — bascially the same kind of “These marriages outrank those marriages” thing — but the conclusion wasn’t “So therefore interfaith marriages should be oppressed/restricted/stopped” but “If you’re having an interfaith marriage, you’re starting out at a disadvantage. So make sure you get extra help and support,” along with a list of resources, and a note that you should take the Special Deluxe Pre-Cana class instead of the regular no-frills one. (They said something similar about remarriage and marriages between people who already have children: “It carries with it a lot of extra difficulties, so you shoudln’t take the basic Pre-cana class that’s going to teach you a bunch of stuff you probably already know; we’ve got a special advanced one for people inthat situation.”).

    So I thinkthat the church can (and in many instances does) leverage its hierarchical worldview not toward “So these people are better than those” but instead toward “So those people need more help and support than these”

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    It doesn’t have to lead to that kind of thinking though.  It’s only if you insist on the hierarchy containing at least as many levels as there are things to put into it that it’s even possible to think of things that way.

    It’s like with nine ranks of angels, there are more than nine angels.  So you know that some angels need to be of the same rank.  (Pigeonhole principle, which well never be used to state the non-obvious.)  If you don’t subdivide the angels within a given rank then the angels in a rank are equal to the other angels in the rank but you’ve still got a hierarchy there.

    It should be possible to have some kind of grand hierarchy of the universe without dividing family types that way.  Family could be its own rung on the ladder (or share a rung with something else) and thus all considered equal, or one could divide them in ways that actually make sense (abusive families are worse than non-abusive ones) but there’s no reason that hierarchy in itself needs to result in thinking that different things can’t be equal.

    Hierarchical thinking means that not everything can be equal but that doesn’t mean that nothing can be equal.

  • Amaryllis

    Yes, I’m sitting here reading along, thinking, “adoption? But…adoption is, or used to be, one of the major areas for Catholic Charities to be involved in!”

    Then I remembered just why the Church is getting out of the adoption business. Sigh.

    Anon Collie: I kept my class to basic Catholic doctrine, while emphasizing a devotion
    to service for others. While that may appear to be bordering on the
    evil “social justice,” it was  nothing the Church didn’t teach….It wasn’t my job to test their devotion to the faith – it was to educate
    them on Catholic ideals. It was their choice to accept those ideals for
    themselves or not.

    You sound like the teachers I had in my Catholic high school, where that attitude was taken for granted. Social justice was given much more emphasis than anything else in the Religion Department curriculum, and the teachers were not expected to function as an arm of the Inquisition. Of course, that was back in those golden days when Vatican II was still taken seriously. I continue to be amazed at how much the schools have changed for the worse these days.

    Although, even in my daughter’s much more recent experience, I think a presentation like that would have been considered out of line at her school.

    (Under the previous couple of bishops, anyway, although I was not particularly a fan of the most recent. But I’m not very hopeful about the new one. In fact, I’m starting to feel like a character in a Trollope novel: if the bishop is for it, I’m against it.)

  • Joamanova

    My first response was to applaud wildly. And then i started wondering: wait. They made these kids sit there and listen while these people insult them and their friends to their faces? And my brain just went “what is this i don’t even…” and stopped. They never even stopped to think that this is, pardon, a rather silly thing to do to get votes? What the ….. I don’t even.

  • rea

    The Church doesn’t think in term of votes.  Hell, it’s only 150 years or so since the Pope denounced democracy as heresy.  No, people ought to do what they are told by persons in positions of god-given authority–that’s how the church works.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Good for those kids, banding together.  It is always frustrating when people can’t see that it isn’t a series of disparate attacks– the same villains are attacking women, attacking gay people, attacking poor people, attacking atheists, attacking…well, everyone who isn’t happy being a second class citizen.

  • http://www.crochetgeek.net/ Jake

    In spite of the mounting tensions on the racial and gender fronts, it’s cheering to see just how quickly the ice is cracking on on gay rights and general social acceptance thereof. With more and more openly gay people in all walks of life, they’ve become really quite difficult to “other”. Still a long way to go, of course, but things are progressing far more rapidly than these changes often do.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    So I asked myself, “What would Jesus do?” because that seems the kind of question that people ask.  What would Jesus do when he thought a religious institution was wrong?  I’m not sure whether he would have argued, or gone straight to driving them out with a whip.

    Anyway, it’s nice to hear about the students doing the right thing.

    If I had been in that audience… well, I’d probably have gotten suspended for the things I said.

    I’d like to think that I would have had the courage to stand up and speak my mind if I’d been in those student’s place, but I have a feeling I’d have been too afraid to do much of anything.  Maybe after it was clear that there were a lot of people who felt the same way I’d be able to do something, but if you think about what happened, while the anger of the students was apparently clear in general, it was only a handful who actually spoke up.

    I’d like to think I would have been one of them had I been in their place, I have serious doubts.

    Jim Accurso, spokesman for the archdiocese, said most of the presentation went fine. But during a question-and-answer session, a presenter used “an unfortunate example” to answer the question and made students upset.

    That’s like the universal sign of the asshole.  It doesn’t matter what’s being discussed, if you ignore major wide ranging substantive complaints in favor of one or two specific things that can be passed off as simple errors in judgement, you’re an asshole.

    It seems to cut across all topics.  Here we have it in a case of homophobia and whatever the words are for being against adoption and single parent families.

    Limbaugh did it with pretending that the only things wrong with his attacking Fluke for days on end were two of the words he used.

    Another, totally unrelated, example that happened at my university is probably why I have this on my mind.  There was a protest because a lot of things involving the university are fucked up: the president is demanding the academic side make deep painful cuts because she spent more money than she had to the tune of 7 million dollars, while giving raises to her friends and having the teachers work without a contract, the daycare (which was too small, as evidenced by its year long waiting list) was shut down, tuition is too high, the quality of education is dropping, and many many more things.  The administration’s representative walked away pretending the only reasons people were angry were that it was harder to find a trashcan and a certain building didn’t have any drinking fountains.  (Some people are somewhat annoyed by those things, but they’re hardly central.)

    I also think it’s a good sign of exactly where priorities are.  The spokesman for the archdiocese makes clear that their primary concern isn’t with the students, who know that that’s a lie and will be pushed further from the archdiocese by it, but instead with onlookers unfamiliar with the situation, who might be convinced that the only objection was to one badly chosen example.

  • Michael Pullmann

    “I’d like to think that I would have had the courage to stand up and
    speak my mind if I’d been in those student’s place, but I have a feeling
    I’d have been too afraid to do much of anything.  Maybe after it was
    clear that there were a lot of people who felt the same way I’d be able
    to do something, but if you think about what happened, while the anger
    of the students was apparently clear in general, it was only a handful
    who actually spoke up.

    I’d like to think I would have been one of them had I been in their place, I have serious doubts.”

    Wow, it’s not just a name.

    Seriously, though, in my case, I’m an adoptee, like Lori, so it’s not just an abstract or sticking up for other kids. I’d be sticking up for myself and my family. And I can get downright violent when I’m defending my family.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Actually it is just a name.  Where it seems to apply well is usually due to coincidence more than anything else.

    In this case it’s really about fear.  A crowd you can hide in.  Even if you’re one of the people being attacked unless the attack is on race, gender, or something else with visual indicators it’s usually the case that no one knows you are but once you step away from the crowd then you, specifically, can be targeted.  I’ve had that happen to me enough even when I was trying to blend in that drawing attention to myself in a hostile space, which that would be, is very difficult.

    There have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to speak up but couldn’t make myself.  I think.  My memory sucks, so specific examples are hard to come by and tally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    I’m thinking back to my own high school years (1989-1993 in the brass buckle of the Bible Belt) and if we’d had a “hate the gays and kids from single parents” rally, there is no doubt in my mind that anyone from those groups would have been ostracized and ridiculed for the rest of their school days because a religious authority figure said it was okay. Nice to see that some things HAVE changed, and for the better, in the last two decades.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    I find it interesting that at a Catholic school they have a student who held up a sign saying, “I love my two moms.” I hope the student is allowed to graduate with her class, and is not now being advised that maybe Catholic school isn’t the best fit for her.

  • WingedBeast

    Please tell me somebody taped this assembly and put it on youtube.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Adults:

    As a former teenager, and apparently the only one of you who has any memory of BEING a teenager, perhaps because I was such a royal pain in everyone’s ass that it even seeped over into my hormone addled brain, let me share a secret with you.

    If you get a bunch of teenagers together and lecture them about how THEY don’t know jack, and how YOU really know best, it doesn’t matter WHAT your message is.  Your message could be sunshine and lollipops and it ain’t going to stick.  There is literally nothing a teenager hates more than being told by an adult that adults ‘know best’ and all their friends are idiots.

    Seriously.  Won’t ever work – but keep trying it, I beg you – because what you do is prove to every teenager who ever becomes an adult that everything you ever said was probably horseshit.

  • Ursula L

    Jim Benson, a vice principal who was at the gathering, said that “90 percent was received well. The majority of the kids focused on the 90 percent, but some responded to the last 10 percent.” 

    In other words, if you spend 90% of an assembly telling kids “families are awesome” don’t be surprised when they reject the final 10% when you tell them ” but your family is awful.” 

    You can’t be “Pro-Family” while actively harming and rejecting actual families.  

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    The whole point of the Easter message — the whole point of the Christian message — is no matter what, LOVE WINS.

    But they’ve talked themselves into believing that they’re on the side of “Love”.

    In other words, if you spend 90% of an assembly telling kids “families
    are awesome” don’t be surprised when they reject the final 10% when you
    tell them ” but your family is awful.”

    Is sort of almost horribly funny.

  • hapax

     

    But they’ve talked themselves into believing that they’re on the side of “Love”.

    Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I
    will lay down my life for you.”  Jesus answered, “Will
    you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before
    the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
    (John 13:37-38)

    :-(

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I just want to sigh and wonder how it is that someone, in 2012, could still think it would be in any way acceptable to show naked bigotry in public.

    Signed,
    A QUILTBAG individual.

  • Emcee, cubed

    The temptation to ask why the church opposes homosexuality when its
    actions show it’s okay with molesting children would have been
    irresistible.

    Please don’t. I understand what you are trying to say is why is the church against this harmless thing when it is okay with this other harmful thing. But the false implication of if you are okay with child rape you should be okay with homosexuality creates a sense that there is some connection between the two. Not a good idea.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Since (some) Catholics apparently believe being a QUILTBAG person is just as morally offensive as being a pedophile, why not call them on the obvious hypocrisy of sheltering pedophiles at the same time as they vociferously attack QUILTBAG people?

  • Mary Kaye

    Dave wrote: 

    It follows that in that world adoptive families need more support and
    love to make up the difference. To instead decide in that world to give
    adoptive families more censure and difficulty and abuse is utterly
    unsupportable.

    Yes, that’s the pattern, isn’t it?  Never mind actually helping people; the only real goal is punishment.  And, often, punishment for the “crime” of making the comfortable folks uncomfortable.

    I was raised by my mother alone because my birth father had such a severe gambling problem that he was literally threatening our survival–we didn’t have enough money for food, and when my grandmother tried to provide some, he threatened her for interfering in his marriage. 

    This situation sucks, there is no doubt of it.  But there is no way any person with any kind of functioning moral sense should look at this situation and conclude that it would be improved by restricting my mother’s access to jobs or health care or church membership or any other good thing, or by in any way harassing me or making my life harder.  It’s not like harassing my mother could retroactively cure her marriage problems.  No, the idea is to make people like her hide, go away, perhaps drop dead, because they make the comfortable people uncomfortable.  They might require charity and compassion.

    My mother was persistent and lucky and managed to get a Church annulment of her marriage (she was Catholic) so that she could remarry.  She chose wisely and raised a wonderful family with my stepfather.  But if she had lived in the wrong city or had fewer resources, she might have been permanently banned from the sacraments of the church and from remarriage within the church.  *So* helpful….

    I wonder if the whole horrible turmoil in the US today can be boiled down to the need of an entrenched segment of society not to have to feel compassion.  That is the monster that is oppressing us all.  It has to be hurting those who embody it too.  Humans need to be able to offer mercy or they are blocked from receiving it.  I am not a Christian, but one parable I feel in agreement with is the one about the servant who wouldn’t forgive a debt against him, so his own debts couldn’t be forgiven.  I think that’s not just about external justice, it’s a fact of human nature.  If you can’t give love eventually your ability to receive it dries up.  If you can’t care about others, in the long run you will never believe that others can care about you.

  • Anonymous

    I saw this yesterday, but didn’t have time to comment on it since I’m caught up in the midst of prepping and sermon writing for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil and Easter Day (yeah . . . just a little busy).  But I wanted to comment on the bit about adoption:

    Hannah, who is adopted, said one of the presenters said that adopted kids were “sociologically unstable.”

    While many commenters here have rightly focused on how that viewpoint is wrong since so many people are adopted, or that it makes no logical sense to be anti-abortion and anti-adoption, there’s a huge theological point that needs to be made with regards to this viewpoint being spouted by the Catholic Church.

    Through our baptism, we are adopted into God’s family and the life of the Church.  In Galatians 4:1-5, Paul writes about being heirs of the kingdom, being adopted as God’s children.  Augustine says that Paul used adoption in order to understand that we are sons [and daughters] through God’s generosity, as opposed to Jesus who was God’s son by nature.  And Ambrosiaster (an early Christian who authored a commentary on Paul’s epistles) says that Jesus was sent by God “so that he might provide a way by which sinners . . . might be adopted as God’s sons . . .”

    The theological conclusion here is that all baptized Christians have been adopted as sons and daughters into the household of God.  Therefore, according to the presenters’ statement, all baptized Christians are sociologically unstable.

    There’s a lot I could say about that, but I’ve wasted enough time avoiding putting together my Easter Day sermon.  Instead, I’ll just say that it really sucks when you’re talking to the mirror.

  • Anonymous

    You would think, wouldn’t you, that the Catholic Church hierarchy would maintain a period of modest silence where questions of childcare are concerned. But I suppose that despite getting the whole issue of children abused by its clergy so continually and catastrophically wrong the Church’s teachings are still “infallible”.

  • Rakka

    Am I the only one who dislikes the pope being called a Nazi because of the Hitler Jugend thing? That was obligatory for all of the good Aryan kids. He may hold disgusting views and have a creepy similarity to Palpatine, but I really don’t like people who aren’t/weren’t Nazis being called as such. It cuts too close to blaming ALL the kids who were in HJ for the evils they couldn’t have had any say about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think it’s a little unnecessary too. It’s so easy to go after him for the things he’s said and done completely voluntarily today — it’s really not necessary to demonize 12-year olds because they failed to stand up to the Nazi regime.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Since (some) Catholics apparently believe being a QUILTBAG person is
    just as morally offensive as being a pedophile, why not call them on the
    obvious hypocrisy of sheltering pedophiles at the same time as they
    vociferously attack QUILTBAG people?

    I’m not disagreeing with calling out the hypocrisy, but by specifying homosexuality, you make it sound like you are saying that homosexuality is a component of molesting children. It can be taken to mean either “How can you be against lemons when you are for lemonade?” or it can be taken to mean “Why are you against these perfectly good lemons when you are for rotten eggs?” And with all too many people who want to hear the lemons/lemonade version, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to bring it up that way. I think it would be better to go with a more general statement of “Why should anyone accept your moral judgement on anything when you think harboring pedophiles is okay?” or in this case even “How can you condemn our families when your organization protects child molesters?”

    I guess what I want to say is that it needs to be clear that you are comparing harm or “morality” (for want of a better term), and not the specific things. In this space, it’s not a big deal, because I think we all understand the intention. But at this assembly? I think certain people would see it as a tacit admission that homosexuals are child molesters (and since the Vatican has already tried to blame the whole scandal on gay priests, I don’t think this is an unfounded assumption.)

    Note: I hope this explanation makes sense outside of my own head. I’m not always good at transferring concepts to words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     I get what you’re saying, but I think the original poster was saying, “Some Catholics equate homosexuality with pedophilia — they imply that they’re either the same thing or that both are equally evil — but they are comfortable sheltering and enabling pedophiles while condemning and persecuting homosexuals. If they really think that the two are the same, they shouldn’t privilege one over the other since, according to that mindset, the two are morally equivalent”.

    It doesn’t mean that homosexuality is an aspect of or related to pedophilia in actuality, only that, for those who do make the argument that the two are equally evil then it makes little sense to condemn one but enable and coddle the other.

    That is, their argument falls apart even if you accept the idea that homosexual people and other QUILTBAG people are bad, which just makes the whole thing even more appalling, actually, since it suggests that some Catholics believe that two people of the same sex getting married is actually worse than the rape and torture of children, since they are able to tolerate the latter but fear and revile the former.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I know I would have spoken up, and I know a lot of my classmates would have as well. We didn’t know that there were QUILTBAG people among us (or, rather, didn’t admit it), and I can’t think of anyone in my class who was in a single-parent family until my own parents divorced when I was 16, but there were plenty of kids with stepparents in our high school. And my sweet, brilliant little cousin was adopted. (That she’s now an adult and looks like a particularly gorgeous movie star is something I cannot wrap my brain around.) I would have been utterly outraged, and shown it — in some ways, I was braver when I was a teenager than I am now. Teenage immortality, I guess.

    Most people have it in them to be better than they give themselves credit for. We can be stopped, temporarily, by “what if” and people in authority telling us to sit down and shut up, but as soon as one single person stands up, ally after ally joins them. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    In other words, if you spend 90% of an assembly telling kids “families are awesome” don’t be surprised when they reject the final 10% when you tell them ” but your family is awful.”

    Not to mention the kids like me who had a mom, dad, and a really awful family – one that become much better once Mom chose to be a single parent.

  • Karen Cox

    Good points Chris, Ross, and llira.  My husband’s family of origin was Catholic; I’m Presbyterian.  (Steve doesn’t do religion anymore, which is not at all uncommon for adults who were raised in rigid Catholicism.)  My in-laws simply could not get their heads around the category “human” including everyone.  Men HAD to be better than women and the clergy HAD to be better than the laity.  They simply didn’t understand that anyone could think differently, even though I obviously did think differently.

  • Matri

    The one bright spot in this is that it’s heartwarming to see the students sticking together and standing up for each other. Some of their fellow students were being insulted and de-humanized by a supposed “moral authority”. Did it matter what their background or orientation was?

    Not one bit.

  • Aguilaoro88

    Oh, I’d love to be in a crowd that turned on a speaker…

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    Just shut these pretend Catholics schools down.  Or next you will be paying for the sexual escapades of these ungodly students thanks to Obamacare!  Obviously these ‘Catholic’ students don’t want or deserve a Catholic education.

    Close the school. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m not seeing a logical connection between these thoughts.

  • Matri

    I am: right-wing.

    A brief, 1.5-second glance at linked twitter tells all.

  • Matri

    I am: right-wing.

    A brief, 1.5-second glance at linked twitter tells all.

  • Lori

     

    I’m not seeing a logical connection between these thoughts. 

    It seems pretty straightforward to me. The school must not be a Real True Catholic school because it allows students to think things that are not Bishop-approved and accepts students from families that are not Real True Catholic. The Right wing answer to deviation is always desctruction. If the school is not Real True Catholic enough to produce the desired culture warriors, then it needs to cease to exist. After all, if the Church can’t keep everyone in line they might lose the war against being expected to follow the law when acting as a secular employer. Can’t have that.

  • Lori

     

    I’m not seeing a logical connection between these thoughts. 

    It seems pretty straightforward to me. The school must not be a Real True Catholic school because it allows students to think things that are not Bishop-approved and accepts students from families that are not Real True Catholic. The Right wing answer to deviation is always desctruction. If the school is not Real True Catholic enough to produce the desired culture warriors, then it needs to cease to exist. After all, if the Church can’t keep everyone in line they might lose the war against being expected to follow the law when acting as a secular employer. Can’t have that.

  • Grey Seer

     I… wait. You’re actually being serious here, aren’t you? See, that post right there contained so many buzzwords and illogical statements that I initially assumed it was a parody. Only… judging by the twitter account, you really believe it.

     So tell me. Where in the Church’s doctrine does it say that one is supposed to stand idly by and allow the persecution and discrimination against one’s brother to continue? Because I seem to recall that Jesus fellow making some fairly persuasive arguments about compassion and standing up for each other, regardless of what the social norms would decree…

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    No place.  So I hope you don’t stand around allowing the abortion of unborn children….the greatest evil in our times. 

  • Anonymous

    Assuming for the sake of argument that abortion is evil: what are you doing to prevent it? Providing comprehensive sex education, so no one thinks she can’t get pregnant the first time she has sex or that a Diet Coke douche is an effective contraceptive, to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus the number of abortions? Providing free condoms and contraceptive pills, to minimize the number of unwanted pregnancies and thus the number of abortions? Providing free prenatal care, to minimize the number of fetal abnormalities and the risk to the mother and thus the number of abortions? Providing economic or financial assistance to mothers, to minimize the economic and financial pressure to end an unwanted pregnancy and thus the number of abortions?

    Or are you just making abortion that doesn’t risk the mother’s life and health and future fertility an increasingly difficult thing to get, and thus affecting the abortion rate not one bit?

  • Grey Seer

    Putting aside any argument over the accuracy of the term “greatest evil in our times”, I’ll admit that I come down on the pro-choice side of that debate. Though its somewhat irrelevent here, given that I’m not a Christian, and thus don’t much care what the doctrine of the Church says I’m meant to do.

     The children at this Catholic high school, however, are indeed Christian, at least theoretically. And in that light, I commend them for sticking to their religion’s principles of love and acceptence. Actually, I commend them for upholding the generally positive qualities of love and acceptence, and find it pleasant cooincidence that such behaviour also satisfies the dictates of their religion.

  • Grey Seer

    Putting aside any argument over the accuracy of the term “greatest evil in our times”, I’ll admit that I come down on the pro-choice side of that debate. Though its somewhat irrelevent here, given that I’m not a Christian, and thus don’t much care what the doctrine of the Church says I’m meant to do.

     The children at this Catholic high school, however, are indeed Christian, at least theoretically. And in that light, I commend them for sticking to their religion’s principles of love and acceptence. Actually, I commend them for upholding the generally positive qualities of love and acceptence, and find it pleasant cooincidence that such behaviour also satisfies the dictates of their religion.

  • http://twitter.com/LaCatholicState la catholic state

    No place.  So I hope you don’t stand around allowing the abortion of unborn children….the greatest evil in our times. 

  • Grey Seer

     I… wait. You’re actually being serious here, aren’t you? See, that post right there contained so many buzzwords and illogical statements that I initially assumed it was a parody. Only… judging by the twitter account, you really believe it.

     So tell me. Where in the Church’s doctrine does it say that one is supposed to stand idly by and allow the persecution and discrimination against one’s brother to continue? Because I seem to recall that Jesus fellow making some fairly persuasive arguments about compassion and standing up for each other, regardless of what the social norms would decree…

  • Anonymous

    At my office, the elevators play content from a business-oriented, rather conservative (“Opinions that Matter”) network. Even they, recently and without comment, mentioned “David Hyde Pierce and his husband”. The LG portion of QUILTBAG, at least, really has gone mainstream.

    Also: You could totally look at Jesus’ story and say he had a stepfather.

  • Tricksterson

    One who raised him up to be a good man.  While his biodad let his priests nail him to a piece of wood.


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