Is there more to the Dakota Ary story than has been reported?

In a comment posted here yesterday and at Towleroad, some potential new wrinkles in the Dakota Ary case were asserted. Ary is the high school Freshman, represented by Liberty Counsel, who was briefly suspended over comments made in a Fort Worth High School German class. The initial report was that Ary said he was a Christian and believed homosexuality to be wrong. However, a GLBT group is now claiming to have spoken to the teacher involved, Kristopher Franks, who paints a picture of harassment on the part of Ary and other classmates against the teacher due to their perception that the teacher is gay.

I will state the obvious: I have no idea what the real story is. I post this because the report from the teacher, if accurate, would correct the post I made last week.

Often, people look at a story like this and allow their biases influence them. If you are someone who believes religion is a victim of gay advocacy, you might side with Liberty Counsel. If you believe religion is used to harass GLBT people, then you might be inclined to believe this new report from the GLBT student group.

All I can say is that the reports we have are insufficient to be dogmatic. I have investigated many claims from advocates on both sides of the culture war and been disappointed that truth was not being told. Speaking about my community (evangelical), I can say that I have found some evangelical culture war groups engage in spin. I used to trust such groups to be honest and consider the impact of spin on public perception. As a matter of course now, I don’t accept things at face value.

For instance, recently the law firm representing Dakota Ary, Liberty Counsel, asserted that the American Association of Christian Counselors was a larger group of professionals than the American Psychological Association. This is flat out untrue. On the same day, Mat Staver told his radio audience that the AACC has produced ““the most definitive, most recent research that’s come out that says change is possible.” This is spin.

First, to my knowledge, the AACC has not paid for any research on sexual orientation change. Perhaps, they have and I am not aware of it — if so, I will correct this statement. AACC members Mark Yarhouse and Stan Jones released the first wave of their study at an AACC conference but the AACC did not produce it; Exodus International funded the research. Furthermore, the research showed that some changes took place for a minority of participants but calling the research definitive is a stretch.

Recently, the AACC journal Edification published a report from Mark Yarhouse and his students from Regent University showing that men and women in mixed orientation marriages described no change in sexual orientation. To my knowledge, the Christian culture war complex has not addressed this finding. In a journal, the AACC published research that stands in contradiction to the Liberty Counsel statement.

Some Christians take my skepticism as a character flaw or a sign that I have capitulated to the enemy (see what the culture war does to perception of out-groups?). They say that the opposition spins and manipulates data, so why shouldn’t we? I think the answer is obvious, so obvious that I will let that question sink in and not answer it.

I don’t know who is offering the most factual narrative in the Fort Worth controversy. I just know that right now, for me, the question is open.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    They say that the opposition spins and manipulates data, so why shouldn’t we?

    As a member of the opposition, I have to say that this is one area they’re not lying about.

    I’ve been guilty of over-simplification before now. I’ve tried to explain complex concepts in simple terms, and my Wittgenstein’s ladder is worn out from over-use.

    What the Evangelicals do is their business. Some are so blinkered they can’t see the truth even when it’s pointed out to them (Dr Michael Brown comes to mind). Others lie because it gets the money rolling in. That’s their concern, not mine. Sharks bite; Fundies lie; it’s what they do.

    I’m more concerned about “our side” having respect for the truth. In fact, I can’t even speak for “our side”, I can only speak for me. That means pointing out and critiquing distortions and spin no matter which side is guilty of them.

  • ken

    So I’ve been reading the follow up info as well. And if there has been a history of Ary being disruptive. or if it was clearly directed as an insult to the teacher rather than an aside to a friend, then I can see why the teacher would have simply sent him to the principal rather than deal with the comment in class. And, again, if Ary had a history of being in trouble like this, then maybe a multiple day suspension would have been appropriate, However, if that was the case, I don’t think the administration should have backed down on that.

    Also, I do think the Advocate piece (and it’s source) is unjustly attempting to vilify Ary as well. For example from the advocate piece Warren linked to:

    a local LGBT news source has printed an account alleging that the student and his friends had been harassing the teacher in question for months because they perceived him to be gay.

    months? Ary is a freshman, and classes didn’t start until the end of August, so I think the use of the term “months” is inappropriately deceptive. Additionally, the advocate piece implies, without any evidence, that Ary was responsible for vandalizing a post in the class.

    Frankly, I’m more than a bit worried that Liberty Counsel will try to turn him in to a martyr for their cause, while the pro-glbt/anti-bullying advocates will try to make him out to be some devil spawn. So I would like to urge the adults in this debate, to remember he is just a 14 year old kid.

  • F Young

    This is an article from the Dallas Voice that gives additional details on the story:

    http://www.dallasvoice.com/lgbt-groups-fort-worth-teacher-suspended-student-victim-anti-gay-harassment-1090417.html

    The Dallas Voice says it will have a still more complete article on Friday.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Warren can you kindly post a follow up article about 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer who completed suicide? It seems the bullying hasn’t stopped and the bullies are now bullying his sister. If you did a follow up on Dakota Ayer shouldn’t you also do a followup about Jamey Rodemeyer? I would not want to see bullies getting away with it, more coverage than victims of anti gay bullying.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2042576/Jamey-Rodemeyer-death-School-bullies-drove-gay-14-year-old-kill-chant-glad-hes-dead-sister.html

  • Michael Bussee

    Advocate report: Suspended Student Had Harassed Teacher

    Vann writes that the teacher, who has “a long and distinguished service record,” is currently under investigation by school administrators for “having the temerity to write a disciplinary referral against Dakota Ary, a student whom [he] reports publicly harassed him in class” because Ary and friends perceived him to be gay.

    Since both the teacher and the school district are unable to speak publicly while the incident is under investigation, Vann says he is coming forward with details of their Friday conversation because “only the student and his Liberty Institute lawyer’s version of the incident is being reported in the media.”

    http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/09/27/Report_Suspended_Student_Had_Harassed_Teacher/

  • David Blakeslee

    Warren,

    You are almost there man! You blended your transformation into the discussion of Dakota Ary.

    I think people know where you stand, implicitly. But step out man!

    Say it loud and proud!

    I am against “Spinning” in the name of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need spin.

    It is lying.

  • David Blakeslee

    I think this idea deserves its own lengthy post.

    It will create a framework for like-minded Christians to emulate.

  • Patrocles

    I’ve read the reports which promote the teacher’s point of view. I can’t find that his position becomes much better. (Even if I quite understand that a teacher in his situation loses nerve.)

    Ary’s comment was NOT off topic. Ary questioned the teacher’s ability to give reliable information about the topic (Christians in Germany) because the teacher, being gay, was no Christian.

    The argument is rather crude but not too much. The basic ideas are to be found everywhere in debates (not only at schooll) and have to be scrutinized. What I would answer is, first, that the Christian community was not created for the just, but for the sinners, so – even if being gay was a sin – sinning doesn’t prevent anyone from being a Christian, Secondly, that partisanship indeed endangers everone’s reliability, but everyone is able to overcome this danger, partly by personal conscientousness, partly by public control.

    You don’t get children to learn those things if you send them home.

  • ken

    Patrocles# ~ Sep 28, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    “I’ve read the reports which promote the teacher’s point of view. I can’t find that his position becomes much better. (Even if I quite understand that a teacher in his situation loses nerve.)”

    Because if Ary had a history of being disruptive, then the teacher could have seen this as Ary being nothing more than a smart-ass. So writing him up and sending him to the principal would have simply been a matter of shutting down such behaviour in class.

  • Gus

    On the particular day in which this incident occurred, Mr. Franks was opening class when the topic of Christianity in Germany was broached by one student, who asked what churches were there, another whether they read the Bible in English, etc

    Here is were my own prejudges are evident and why I do not have the patience to teach. I would have answered the Germans reading the Bible in English question with, “Yes, Johnny, Gutenberg printed his Bible in the only correct translation, King James English,” and moved on.

  • Patrocles

    Ken,

    from the reports I’ve learned that the teacher felt harrassed by just some or many students (more or less networking), even before Ary came to his class. So I understand that he was strained.

    On the other hand – I, as blogger, have often been confronted with spite, venom or smartassishness. Notwithstandig, my principle (and a sound principle) has always been: take an argument as an argument at its face value; independent from the emotions adhering to it; and try to respond to it in a purely rational way. (Admittedly, as a blogger, I can remain much more distant emotionally than a teacher. But it’s also a question of training and even of religious conviction: I’m convinced that reason and clear thinking are part of the “inner light” of a person.)

  • Jayhuck

    Patro -

    Ary questioned the teacher’s ability to give reliable information about the topic (Christians in Germany) because the teacher, being gay, was no Christian.

    What does the teacher’s sexual orientation have to do with whether he is a Christian or not? Are you assuming that just because he is gay he is not a Christian?

  • StraightGrandmother

    The teacher has been cleared but I can’t get Dallas Voice to load to read the article.

  • Jayhuck

    Patro -

    On the other hand – I, as blogger, have often been confronted with spite, venom or smartassishness.

    Believe me when I tell you this has happened to all of us.

  • StraightGrandmother
  • F Young

    This is the fuller article published in the Dallas Voice:

    http://www.dallasvoice.com/90930-1090930.html

  • Richard Willmer

    Glad to see that the full picture seems to be emerging.

    @ Patrocles : I entirely understand your point about avoiding overly-emotional responses, but we are dealing with a particularly emotional subject here and one that involves a lot of unpleasant ‘baggage’. LGB people have been, and are, on the receiving end of some pretty spiteful and untruthful stuff, and they and their allies might be forgiven for being somewhat ‘tetchy’ in response. When we lambast our homophobic foes, we do at least generally use their own words and/or actions as the basis for doing so, rather than making assumptions or false accusations.

  • Ken

    F Young# ~ Sep 30, 2011 at 8:00 am

    “This is the fuller article published in the Dallas Voice:”

    Unfortunately, this article doesn’t really provide much new information. It does say that Franks was exonerated in the investigation for unspecified allegations. The article also points out that the investigation WASN’T about the published incident with Ary. However, given that Franks wasn’t allowed to discuss his history with Ary, it leads me to wonder if Ary had anything to do with these unspecified allegations.

  • StraightGrandmother

    F Young or Ken, every time my browser tries to load the dallas voice the url flips to .m meaning I think mobile so it never loads for me. If you are accessing on a mobile device that is perhaps why you can see it and I can’t. If the article is not to long could you kindly re-print it here?

  • ken

    From: http://www.dallasvoice.com/90930-1090930.html

    FORT WORTH — Gay Western Hills High School teacher Kristopher Franks, put on paid administrative leave on Monday, Sept. 26, following allegations of improper behavior, has been cleared of all allegations and was set to return to work today (Friday, Sept. 30).

    Franks is the teacher who became the target of ire from the religious right after he sent a student in his German 1 class to the principal’s office for saying in class that as a Christian he believed “homosexuality is wrong.” The school’s assistance principal then suspended the student, setting off a controversy that made headlines around the country.

    That student, freshman Dakota Ary, and his mother enlisted the assistance of Liberty Counsel attorney Matt Krause in fighting the suspension on the grounds that Franks and the school had violated Ary’s right to freedom of speech.

    District officials quickly reversed their decision, lifting the suspension.

    But Steven Poole, deputy executive director for the United Educators Association of Texas, a teachers union, said Tuesday, Sept. 27, that the allegations leading to Franks being put on leave were unrelated to the incident with Ary.

    Franks, who had not spoken to the press previously on the advice of his union representative, said Thursday afternoon that he had just met with Fort Worth Independent School District administrators, who told him the nearly weeklong investigation had determined that the allegations against him were unfounded. He did not elaborate on the substance of those allegations.

    Franks also said administrators had given him the option of returning to teach at Western Hills High or transferring to another school in the district.

    “I haven’t made up my mind yet what I’m going to do,” Franks told Dallas Voice by phone Thursday afternoon. “I’m going to go back to work tomorrow, and I will talk to my boss [the district’s world languages supervisor], and see what she says and decide what’s the best thing to ­do from there.”

    FWISD Board of Trustees member Dr. Carlos Vasquez told Dallas Voice in a phone call Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 28, that any time allegations are made against a teacher, those allegations have to be investigated, and it is routine for the teacher in question to be placed on paid administrative leave.

    Franks said Thursday that he was pleased with the outcome of the investigation, carried out by an independent investigator, and that interim FWISD Supt. Walter Dansby was “very nice” when they spoke.

    “I think they did the right thing,” Franks said. “I can go back to work, which is great. But now I just have to figure out how to fix the damage this whole thing has done to my personal life.”

    Franks said since the investigation is closed, he is no longer being represented by a union attorney. He has, instead, retained the services of attorney Stephen Gordon to “represent me on any aspects of this whole thing going forward.”

    He also indicated that he and Gordon would be discussing what possible actions he might take against “those people who have lied and made false allegations against me.”

    While Franks had previously declined to speak to the media, Daokta Ary, his mother and Krause as their attorney went immediately to the press, telling their side of the story in several TV interviews and saying Franks and the school had violated the student’s right to freedom of speech. The case quickly became a rallying point for the religious right.

    Krause this week told Dallas Voice that he and his clients are satisfied with school officials’ decision to rescind the unexcused absences the suspension left on Ary’s record, but “we would still like for them [school officials] to completely vindicate him and say that he did nothing wrong. He should never have been written up for an infraction. He should never have been sent to the office, and he should never have been suspended.”

    Ary said in media interviews that he made the comment quietly to a classmate sitting next to him in response to a discussion going on in the class at the time.

    Dakota Ary

    But Franks told friends shortly after the incident that there was no discussion involving homosexuality at the time, and that Ary made the comment loudly while looking directly at Franks.

    Franks also told friends that the comment was only the latest in an ongoing series of incidents in which Ary and a group of three of his friends have made anti-gay comments to and about him.

    Franks told friends that the harassment by Ary and his friends began several weeks ago after Franks, who also teaches sociology, posted on the “World Wall” in his classroom a photo, taken from the German news magazine Stern, of two men kissing. The photo was ripped off the wall and torn in two at some point during Ary’s class, and Franks told friends he believes that Ary or one of his friends tore up the photo.

    During a later sociology class students upset that the photo had been torn up replaced it with a hand-drawn picture, and another student then covered that picture with a page bearing a hand-written biblical scripture from Leviticus calling sex between two men an abomination.

    Franks told friends that since that incident, Ary and his friends had continued to make derogatory and harassing comments.

    Franks’ friends also said that the teacher, a Fulbright scholar, has been the target of anti-gay harassment for at least the last two years, including having hateful messages left in his classroom and, in one case, having his car vandalized.

    FWISD teacher Martin Vann, spokesman for the group LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. that was formed about a year ago to help protect students and teachers in the district from anti-gay discrimination and bullying, said that Franks told his version of the incident last week, before the current investigation was launched and Franks was required to sign a statement saying he would not discuss the incident with other teachers, administrators, parents or students. Vann said Franks denied getting angry and yelling at Ary, as Ary had said, and reiterated that Ary’s comments were not pertinent to any discussion in the class at the time.

    Vann said Franks told him that another student had asked him what the German word for “Christian” was, and how, if he moved to Germany, he could find an English translation of the Bible. That’s when, Franks told Vann, Ary looked directly at him and said loudly that as a Christian, he believes homosexuality is wrong.

    It was not, Franks told Vann, a simple statement of belief or opinion but rather an intentional effort to insult and harass the teacher that Ary perceived to be gay.

    Krause this week again said that Ary did not direct his remark in class that day at Franks, and that Ary had nothing to do with tearing down the photo of the men kissing.

    The attorney also said that Ary told him he did not know to whom Franks was referring when he talked about Ary’s “three friends.”

    The Franks case comes in the wake of months of scandal over allegations by teachers that administrators routinely allowed some teachers and administrators to harass and bully students and other teachers, and that teachers who complained often faced retaliation.

    Vasquez, who is openly gay, said Wednesday that he believed the Franks investigation would be fair, that he would watch the situation closely “to make sure all the proper procedures are followed,” and that he believed Dansby would handle the situation fairly.

    “Considering all the problems we’ve had, I know he [Dansby] will be watching this closely,” Vasquez said.

    Vasquez said it is the school district’s responsibility to make sure there is “no harassment in our schools, whether it’s from the teacher to the student, or student to student or even student to teacher. I know that happens, sometimes, too.

    “There should be no harassment whatsoever in our schools,” Vasquez , himself a former teacher, said.

    Fort Worth ISD has been credited with having one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in the state, having adopted individual policies within the last year to include prohibitions against harassment and bullying, including that based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, for both teachers and students.

    This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

  • Teresa

    Zoe Brain:

    What the Evangelicals do is their business. Some are so blinkered they can’t see the truth even when it’s pointed out to them (Dr Michael Brown comes to mind). Others lie because it gets the money rolling in. That’s their concern, not mine. Sharks bite; Fundies lie; it’s what they do.

    I’m more concerned about “our side” having respect for the truth. In fact, I can’t even speak for “our side”, I can only speak for me. That means pointing out and critiquing distortions and spin no matter which side is guilty of them.

    David Blakeslee:

    Warren,

    You are almost there man! You blended your transformation into the discussion of Dakota Ary.

    I think people know where you stand, implicitly. But step out man!

    Say it loud and proud!

    I am against “Spinning” in the name of Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need spin.

    It is lying.

    David Blakeslee follow-up:

    I think this idea deserves its own lengthy post.

    It will create a framework for like-minded Christians to emulate.

    I think this idea can and should be discussed in this Post. Patiently waiting, reading, watching, standing apart to get some distance from my own ‘ying-yang’ of where the ‘truth’ lies in this particular instance … which stands as an example for all of us, in any ‘touchy’ subject … how do I respond in my search for the ‘truth’ (Truth).

    Oh, it’s far easier for me to be somewhat objective when it comes to sensitive topics I’m not personally involved with … where I’m not the subject of the topic, so-to-speak. I suspect that’s true for all of us. Can I be emotionally mature enough to see the ‘truth’ even when it hurts ‘me’ … my own ego? Can I (to use a paraphrase of Zoe’s last sentence) critique my own distortions and spin … can I set my own prejudices aside (or even acknowledge that that’s what they are) and be a ‘truth-seeker’, no matter the personal cost.

    I ask all of you, posters and readers alike, is it possible, truly possible to see the ‘truth’ of same-sex attraction … what it means to be a person with same-sex attraction … what the truth of that means to people, science, society, faith-beliefs … can we as a reasonably open free-speech society … ever have a ‘truthful’ discussion?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Teresa I have been missing you, I almost posted comment last night asking where you are and how you have been. It is so nice to see you contribute.

    And to answer your question,

    I ask all of you, posters and readers alike, is it possible, truly possible to see the ‘truth’ of same-sex attraction … what it means to be a person with same-sex attraction … what the truth of that means to people, science, society, faith-beliefs … can we as a reasonably open free-speech society … ever have a ‘truthful’ discussion?

    Sadly I do not think it is possible at this time Teresa. And the blockage is religion. With religion there is no discussion of the “merits” only obedience whether religion is right or wrong it demands obedience. I am very sour on religion at the moment, in fact the more I discuss Civil Rights for sexual minorities and bump up against the side FOR Civil Discrimination, the weaker my faith becomes. Sad comment that,isn’t it?

  • Mary

    T,

    Someone once asked me “If God made it mandatory that you were to be in a same gender relationhip, would you follow his commandmant?” I have often asked this of people who have never had any SSA. Sometimes, you can see them pause and sort of get a kind of inkling about what it is like to be on the other side of the table.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    I am unclear what the dishonesty is that you believe needs to be overcome in our discussions here. I think our discussion on this issue has been .. for the most part … rather balanced.. with people from both sides being cautious not to jump to conclusions. Both sides recognize the possibility of story spin from organizations on either side of the issue.

    There will always be a moral difference of opinion on the issue of gay marriage and gay sex .. if this is what you are referring to .. just as there will always be competing opinions on the moral question(s) of premarital sex or divorce and remarriage. I would hope we can disagree in an agreeable fashion and recognize that picking on or harassing others for their moral choices/beliefs or their orientation is wrong.

    Dave

  • Teresa

    Thank you, StraightGrandmother, for your kind words.

    Dave said:

    There will always be a moral difference of opinion on the issue of gay marriage and gay sex .. if this is what you are referring to

    I’m referring actually to what many Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Muslins,seem to think, voice, judge that simply being a homosexual is deviant, perverted, unnatural, worthy of condemnation. Has there been some progress in this, assuredly; but, make no mistake, in my opinion, there lies a large substrata of individuals who abhor gay persons … simply for ‘being’. Included in this group are those that maybe well-meaning, but hide their dislike of homosexual persons under the ‘speaking the truth in love’ guise of ‘str8′ng’ us out.

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    Teresa# ~ Oct 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm ….

    I’m referring actually to what many Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Muslins,seem to think, voice, judge that simply being a homosexual is deviant, perverted, unnatural, worthy of condemnation. Has there been some progress in this, assuredly; but, make no mistake, in my opinion, there lies a large substrata of individuals who abhor gay persons … simply for ‘being’. Included in this group are those that maybe well-meaning, but hide their dislike of homosexual persons under the ‘speaking the truth in love’ guise of ‘str8?ng’ us out.

    I agree .. this is an ongoing problem. Even tthe Dakota Ary issue shows how this is still a problem. And .. yes .. things are changing .. but it is .. sadly .. a slow process.

    Blessings and peace,

    Dave

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dave said,

    There will always be a moral difference of opinion on the issue of gay marriage and gay sex

    SGM= I have been thinking about what you wrote. Why? Why will there always be a moral difference of opinion? We got over the Biblical justification indeed Biblical command, for slavery. It is no longer a moral question it has been asked and answered, slavery is morally wrong.

    Why are you so certain that there will always be a difference of opinion on Civil Equal Marriage Rights for sexual minorities?

  • http://www.comingout4christians.net Dave

    SG ..

    I was speaking theologically .. for example .. there are still churches out there that believe in head coverings for women. So ..if some churches are still practicing that then I am sure there will be churches or denominations that have varied viewpoints on other issues.

    I think in the future much of the church world is going to look back at some of the shenanigans that were being done in the name of Christ in this area ( such as: lies, slander and so forth) and shake their heads in bewildermint (and perhaps some shame). But the moral questions concerning sexuality and marrriage (gay or straight) will probably continue in some circles.

    Dave

  • Jayson

    hi it is refreshing for me to see a christian who actually WILLING to be FAIR on this issue and acknowledge that either side putting spin on the truth is NOT OK.

    Because as a gay christian, i often get frustrated by how many retarded christians out there, who seem to have this mentality that if they heard something preached at the church, or talked about by other christians, it is automatically the truth. and completely ignores the truth. Just like i have came across so many christians who STILL believe we gays harms the kids and turn them gay, despite all the profession bodies stated they support gay adoptions because researches shows there are no truth to above claims. And yes, gays put spin on things too,

    but you would think people who know God would behave a little bit better.

    BTW are you a born again christian. sorry for asking the obvious, but usually born again believers are the most rabid when it comes to believe whatever the so called chrisitan organisations like family research council tell them.

  • http://www.protectmarriagemd.org Kathleen

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    I have been truly grieved to see you sell out to the homosexual agenda and receive no reprimand or discipline from your university. Regarding the Dakota Ary case, you admitted you did not know the facts, but the whole thrust of your blog was to question the veracity of this 14 year old boy. As the mother of a child who has been the victim and target of homosexual activists, I find it highly offensive. If you have issues with Liberty counsel, you should work those out in the manner instructed in the Bible. Your public attacks on Christian brothers are simply unChristian. You clearly have a chip on your shoulder against your Christian brothers and it is coming out in all the wrong ways. The major wrong way it is coming out is that you are taking the wrong side in the culture war, and it is grievous. I have a college bound daughter, and wish I could consider Grove City. But their failure to act regarding your constant public sniping at your brothers and tendency to side with homosexual activists over Christians is just simply too troublesome to me.

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    If you want a college where truth has sides, then Grove City would not be a good place for your daughter. Most of us here are conservative but are committed to getting the facts right no matter what they are. This post is a good example of that. The Christian group in this case, Liberty Counsel, deliberately spun the facts about the AACC, a group I belong to. Do you find that honorable because they are on your team?

    If you want a college where students are instructed to think critically and where the goal is to look for the facts, then today’s GCC would be a good choice.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Kathleen

    I don’t think Warren has been ‘sniping’; he is just asking questions, rather than assuming that just because someone says they are a Christian, she/he should always be believed.

    A big problem is that some who call themselves Christians have indulged in some really quite nasty AND PUBLIC anti-gay rhetoric, and this has deeply worried many of us who also call ourselves Christians. We think such behaviour is indivisibly wrong, regardless of any differences of opinion we may have ‘among ourselves’ over such issues as full recognition in civil law of same-sex partnerships (something which I personally do not see as being ‘anti-marriage’ per se).

    Warren concludes this piece by saying: “I don’t know who is offering the most factual narrative in the Fort Worth controversy. I just know that right now, for me, the question is open.” This strikes me a honest, fair and even-handed statement. I really don’t see how anyone can object to that.

    As for what you’ve said about your son: if you believe that he has been exploited or abused in some way by a particular individual or group of individuals, then that is surely a matter for investigation by law enforcement authorities.

  • Richard Willmer

    Incidentally, I don’t think that it is accurate to say that the ‘thrust’ of this post is ‘question the veracity’ of Dakota Ary. It appears that the situation that led to Ary’s being disciplined was perhaps more complex than originally thought, and this is what this post is about.

    I saw the initial post (http://wthrockmorton.com/2011/09/23/high-school-student-opposed-to-homosexuality-will-not-have-negative-mark-on-record/) on this controversy, and, at that time, questioned whether the disciplinary action taken was appropriate (my view then was that it was not). Since that post, further information appears to have come to light (see this post); that information certainly caused me to question my initial judgement, though, like Warren, I would want know much more before arriving at a firm view.

    (I take an interest as an educator myself – and one that it no stranger to having strongly held opinions expressed from time to time in my classes. Professionally, I have a ‘duty of care’ for all my students, including those who would be hurt by being branded as ‘wrong’ because of their sexual identity or orientation. Another point: in places like the UK and the USA, religious affiliation is genuinely a matter of choice, and those of us who are Christians should expect to be ‘disagreed with’ – that is ‘part of the package’, according to Christ himself; there is, however, a significant corpus of evidence that suggest that sexual identity and orientation are [at least in part] ‘intrinsic’ to a human person, and this, I believe, points to a moral obligation, under ‘natural law’, to promote respect and fair treatment.)

  • Pete

    Incredible!

    NEWSFLASH: The tiny but vocal gay lobby in your country have succeeded in making it impossible to even express an opinion about the morality of gay behaviour without being labelled bigoted/prejudiced/intolerant/politically incorrect, etc!

    What happened to freedom of speech? And how is it possibly harassment to express an opinion about morality? Dakota Ary’s comment was a statement of opinion about right and wrong, not even directed at the teacher. It seems obvious that HE is the one being harassed!

    The thing that makes this particular event ridiculous is that the rest of the world thought teachers in your country were primarily concerned about getting SHOT in the classroom, but it seems there is something worse- a 14yr old boy expressing his OPINION about a moral issue! Ooh, scary!

    Why has there not been any kind of discussion about the actual TRUTH of the matter- is it wrong or not? Shouldn’t the classroom be exactly the RIGHT venue for that? Where else are your kids going to learn to discuss contemporary issues in a safe, open-minded environment where everyone is free to voice ANY opinion and have it critiqued rationally?

    Or are gays and sympathisers subconsciously afraid that their behaviour may be WRONG, and prefer to squelch any discussion of the matter rather than come under scrutiny?

    In your culture, has TRUTH become irrelevant?

  • Richard Willmer

    Pete – you’ve completely missed the point of this post.

    The post is about reports that Ary did much more than simply ‘express an opinion’.

  • Patrocles

    The last article in the “Dallas Voice”, quoted by Ken, seems to maintain that Ary’s remark was off topic, only caused by the accidental use of the word “Christian”.

    But that’s not what Frank allegedly told his friends before. Frank (or Vann) had then said that Ary tried to devalue the teacher as a kind of insider authority on Christian affairs.

    That’s a legitime argument. The teacher speaks as a kind of authority and the pupil argues that the teacher, being a promoter of homosexuality and thus not a Christian, can’t claim this authority.

    - An interesting point in contemporary American thought is the inability to state positively wherefore (and thus, when) freedom of expression must be protected. (I’ve referred for that to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

    Now, people who express an opinion do nearly always “much more than simply express an opinion” (Willmer). If we have no clue what’s the positive use of freedom of expression, we will always judge a case by this “more”, the possibly negative byproducts of expression. And then there’s no core realm in which freedom of expression is protected.

    My personal idea is, that arguments are to be protected, And Ary’s remark (understood as an attempt to devaluate the teacher’s authority about Christianism) was an argument.

  • Richard Willmer

    Well, Patrocles, we’d probably need a full transcript of what was said in the class before we make a sound judgement on whether Ary’s comment was a ‘legitimate argument’!

    But this post is not really about a particular comment at a particular point in a particular class; it’s concerning suggestions that there was more to the situation than the comment.

  • ken

    Pete says:

    November 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    “What happened to freedom of speech?”

    Nothing happened to it. However, it is limited in a classroom setting.

    “And how is it possibly harassment to express an opinion about morality?”

    You don’t think expressing an opinion, based on specific biblical texts, that gays should be put to death could be considered harassment or even threatening? Note, Ary did not say claim gays should be put to death, I’m merely pointing out, using a more extreme example, how “expressing an opinion” could be considered harassment. In Ary’s case the issue is whether he was deliberately disruptive in class.

    “Dakota Ary’s comment was a statement of opinion about right and wrong, not even directed at the teacher.”

    What are you basing this claim on? There has been more than one account of what happened, so I’m curious as to which account you are referring to.

    “Why has there not been any kind of discussion about the actual TRUTH of the matter- is it wrong or not?”

    Because there really isn’t anything to discuss about it. Homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality, there is no “right” or “wrong” to it.

    “Shouldn’t the classroom be exactly the RIGHT venue for that?”

    Not according to the christian conservatives who kick up a fuss anytime the topic is raised in schools. However, as I mentioned in the AFA deceives parents thread, the “morality” of sexuality is not something that should be taught in school, just the facts about it.

  • Pete

    Ken said: “…there really isn’t anything to discuss about it. Homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality, there is no “right” or “wrong” to it.”

    That may be your point of view, as it is the view of gay activists, but as a statement it has huge logical flaws, no reliable evidence, and can and should be debated.

    Harsh treatment (such Ary’s suspension) of people who disagree with this viewpoint is unfair and smacks of thought control. While gay activists continually portray gays as victims to gain sympathy for their cause, the victim here seems to be a 14yr old Christian schoolboy, and the bully a gay teacher.

    Patrocles has interesting observations. I had assumed the classroom would be a legitimate venue for discussion of contemporary issues. But I suppose it would be naive to imagine this to be possible if the teacher has a personal interest in promoting one particular viewpoint.

    Humanity’s intrinsic egocentric bias makes it very difficult to have a completely impartial discussion of propositional truth.

  • ken

    Pete says:

    November 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    “but as a statement it has huge logical flaws,”

    What are the “logical flaws” in my statement about homosexuality being a normal variation of sexual orientation?

    “no reliable evidence,”

    there is a significant amount of research into the topic in the last 50 years which is why the APA (and several other related organizations) have said it is a normal variation of sexuality. And before you make any claims about that research how many of the original, peer-reviewed papers have you actually read?

    “Harsh treatment (such Ary’s suspension) of people who disagree with this viewpoint is unfair and smacks of thought control.”

    and if his original suspension was solely based on the one comment I would agree (and have in this blog). However, there is evidence to suggest Ary did more than make a single comment. Which leads me back to my question (that you never answered) about the source of your information about this case.

    “the victim here seems to be a 14yr old Christian schoolboy, and the bully a gay teacher.”

    How did Franks bully anyone?

    “I had assumed the classroom would be a legitimate venue for discussion of contemporary issues. ”

    I agree. However, it is not a place for students to disrupt the lecture/discussion by talking out of turn. And Ary himself admits he was not taking part in a classroom discussion, he says he was talking to a friend, loudly.

  • Reyn

    I have some respect for Dr. Throckmorton, he is one of the only evangelicals of any stripe that I have any respect for at all – and I thank him for having this blog.

    A note to Pete — while I do not question whether or not Franks is gay, there is no mention of that in any article I read as a factual statement. Ary PERCEIVED him to be gay, which is a very different thing. Perception is certainly allowed. I would, for example, predict that if you could be a mouse in his private space, you would find in 10 years time (assuming he is still in the body then) that even if completely hidden from public view (closeted) Ary will be having intimate relationships with men. Why? My perception is that the level of distaste for homosexuality, particularly clothed in religion that the boy evidences is almost always based on internal struggle. It is, contrary to what many here would say, a struggle that can never be won however. Religion doesn’t create that type of hate, unless the first victim of the hate is the self. That however is my perception, and while I think that experience (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this play out – including two classmates from high school who eventually while I was in college approached me when I was home visiting and asked me for sex. Both married by then I would note. I refused, but they found each other and are still on the down-low.) indicates that it will be true, I could be wrong. So could Ary on Mr. Franks.

    Regards,

    Reyn


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