Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Oonga Boonga?

I think I'm deciding that the Brown Daily Herald is an odd publication. I don't quite understand it. Today isn't the first time I've read a BDH story that made a very surprising claim that it didn't treat as surprising. Today's story is about politics in one of my home states, Michigan. So back in Michigan, there's a conservative state representative from Kalamazoo named Jack Hoogendyk who found out that Michigan has some liberal public universities. He's taken a look at the titles of courses that those schools offer, and he's decided that some of them are inappropriate uses of public funds. The University of Michigan's ENGL317 Section 002, "How to be Gay", seems to be the worst offender to Hoogendyk, but he's put together a much more impressive -- and indeed, surprising -- list. A story from the Central Michigan University paper indicates that among allegedly objectionable classes there are HUM 430: Self and Identity in American Life, and SOC 411: The Family. But that's a digression. I'm here to talk about arguments against "How to be Gay". Of course there's the usual anti-gay rhetoric. "We're indoctrinating deviant lifestyles," "homosexuality erodes traditional family values," "a majority of Michiganders (god do I hate that word) think homosexuality is wrong," etc. But the BDH story also includes some much less usual anti-gay rhetoric. Here, it quotes Gary Glenn, director of the American Family Association of Michigan:
['How to be Gay'] "legitimizes behavior that literally puts the lives of young people at risk," Glenn continued, adding that homosexuality was a lifestyle choice, as opposed to race, which was unchangeable. "There are no former African Americans," he said.
Emphasis and clarificatory block-quote by me. Avoid the temptation to argue with the second claim, and focus on the first one. I've helped you by italicizing it. What's Glenn talking about? Is he worried that gay men might become the victims of hate crimes? And why would the BDH print a statement like that without giving it a little bit of background, or context, or justification, or refutation, or anything? Like the Patriot Act story, linked above, I haven't found any other news source reporting this feature of the story. This time, of course, the surprising statement is a quotation, and so I have to conclude it actually occurred. But seriously, folks: huh????

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