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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Operation Completion

Last Friday, I attended an Operation Completion rally at the Sacramento capitol with my sister and dad. Operation Completion’s mission is “to provide constructive support for our troops and reinforce the mentality that we need to defend America and to support the War on Terror to Victory.” All of the rallies were planned by teens and youth.

At the rally, my family listened to songs performed by the Right Brothers, who have been promoted by Hugh Hewitt, and who play what they describe as “political, issue-based country music.” The speakers included a man who spoke about his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a Californian politician, among others. Also, fellow Western Alliance member Craig DeLuz acted as the MC.

But anyways, Operation Completion will hold a series of rallies all over the country, so please click here to see if there is one near you to support our armed forces and conservative youth.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Reflections on the Day of Silence

(All right, I realize that this is very late. However, I’ve been working on school projects and finishing up the year, so if you could please just think of it as extra early for next year, I would appreciate it. : ) Also, if you have not yet heard about the Day of Silence in Sacramento high schools, please click here, or scroll down to read my first post on this subject.)

I believe that the reactions to the Day of Silence and following events were based on miscalculations and misunderstandings among all parties involved.

First, let me voice what I believe to be the miscalculations among the anti-gay students and community. They misjudged the reaction to their shirts. As Christians, they are called to love their enemies, but also explain sin when they see it, in order that it won’t happen again. If their intent is for others to change their opinion, and “sin no more”, it was not reached by having the word ‘gay’ with a circle and a line through it. Even though I don’t believe the students to be “gay-haters”, since as Christians they are against the sin, not the sinner, the shirts let people label this effort as such. Thus, every effort should have been made to differentiate between the sin and the sinner, so that people would be able to understand.

A better alternative would be through the Day of Truth. The Day of Truth is a day that presents an alternate, Christian viewpoint. In all fairness, I did see students at Mira Loma wearing Day of Truth shirts while protesting. However, because there can be nothing objectionable about these shirts, those who oppose the Day of Silence need to wear them in school, and attempt to clarify their opinions to those who presuppose and misinterpret them as intolerant.

Secondly, the San Juan School District has misunderstood student rights. These rights are already clearly spelled out under California Educational Code Section 48907. Why a school district would try to create a policy with differing regulations is a mystery to me. It is a direct set-up to a major lawsuit, either now or sometime in the future. It would benefit the school district and students to simply follow the rules that are already laid down. That way, there are no conflicting regulations, and the school district would be much less likely of losing in court.

Thirdly, the pro-gay section is very ignorant of Christianity, as evidenced by their handout (here). Anyone who thinks that the Bible might be possibly against inter-racial marriage or fun on a Saturday needs a refresher course. And, contrary to popular opinion, there is no such commandment as, “Thou shalt not judge”. Jesus’ comment (Judge not, that you may not be judged… Hypocrites, cast out first the beam out of thine eye, and then thou shall see clearly, that thou mayest pull out the straw from they brother's eye.) is clearly against hypocrites, not against thinking that actions are wrong or right (judging). In fact, the Bible frequently encourages speaking out against sin (or in liberal terms, being judgmental): “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them...” (Eph 5:11).

Fourthly, I think there is a major misunderstanding today in our society. People are simply unable to understand the difference between tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance means simply recognizing and respecting the beliefs and practices of others. Acceptance involves approval. We are not required to approve of everything, but we must tolerate other opinions in the public realm. Thus, one can tolerate gays, but can still say that homosexuality is wrong. Yet, in our society today, if someone disapproves, that person is automatically intolerant or hateful. Now, that is not to say that some people who disapprove are not hateful. However, in this incident, every single person that I interviewed was unable to list any times when they saw a instance of abuse against gays at school. They only spoke of a general disapproval, yet believed that it equaled “intolerance” or “hate”. Thus, strangely enough, because they wanted to exclude an disagreeing opinion that they mistakenly viewed as intolerant, they are actually being intolerant themselves (thus my t-shirt, mentioned in the previous Day of Silence post).

In my opinion, you learn more than math and science in high school, because it is the time period in which a child transitions into an adult. However, that learning cannot be taught- it comes only from experience. If we as a school community do not allow any disapproval or disagreement to be shown, we as students will be unable to deal with it when we do come across it later in life. I know, personally, that everyday that I spend in an environment where 99% of the people are outspokenly liberal, I learn much more about dealing with people than I normally would. Therefore, intellectual diversity is essential to a teenage learning environment.

So, in summary, the California Educational Code Section 48907 makes it very clear that a student has the right to express their opinion in their public high school. This provides an intellectual diversity that is essential to an environment where people learn to be adults.
However, these rights, like any, have certain conditions. In this case, no opinion may be stated that is “obscene, libelous, or slanderous... [or] incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.” Schools need to stick by this to the best of their ability, which will save them from most lawsuits. On the other hand, students need to be aware of these restrictions and do as much as is possible to clarify their intent and message to those who are inclined to misinterpret them. Lastly, our country as a whole needs to recognize there is a difference between acceptance and tolerance. Tolerance is allowing differing beliefs, but acceptance involves agreement. We are required to be tolerant, but we are not required to accept or agree. And, when we are required to agree, that is intolerance towards us by definition.

Friday, May 05, 2006

"'Baby Killer' tells teacher's side in Loretto firing"

Here's an item of interest:

Anita Creamer: 'Baby Killer' tells teacher's side in Loretto firing
By Anita Creamer -- Bee Columnist

Published 2:15 am PDT Friday, May 5, 2006
Story appeared in Scene section, Page J1

Marie Bain insists she's a private woman, the kind of person who keeps her opinions to herself. But she's also an entertainer.

Which is why, she says, she developed "Baby Killer," a one-woman show based on her experiences last fall being fired from teaching drama at Loretto High School because of her previous tenure as a Planned Parenthood volunteer.

Nothing like a shocking title to jump-start the controversy again. So much for a quiet, private life.

"I come from show business," says Bain. "You need to get people's attention. The title comes from ... what they scream at us at the clinics. Extremists say horrible things to everybody. People don't get that.

"The play is about one year in my life. It's about when and why and how I started volunteering, through my hiring and firing at Loretto. In the play, I sing and dance. It's entertainment. I'm not giving a speech."

On a cool morning, we're sitting in the Sacramento home that belonged to her late parents. The house is filled with Bain's quirky, frog-themed collectibles. Her cat sits at our feet.

Bain, 51, is a dancer and actress who's appeared in "Gilmore Girls" and several low-budget movies. For now, she's teaching cardio kickboxing at American River College. But she'd like to take "Baby Killer" on the road after its brief run (starting Saturday, continuing May 13 and 20) at Sacramento's downtown YWCA.

"This play is about the First Amendment," she says. "It's about how someone has the right to stand on a sidewalk screaming hate speech, but I'm not allowed to express my beliefs before I was even hired.

"I said nothing to anybody at Loretto - not to the kids, not to anybody - about my beliefs. Nobody knew my beliefs on anything because I kept my personal beliefs private. But I was fired, and it became a media event."

Hired Aug. 24, Bain was dismissed seven weeks later, after a student's mother - an anti-abortion activist who'd seen Bain escorting clients at a family-planning clinic months earlier - raised objections, first with Loretto administrators, then with the local diocese.

Bishop William K. Weigand ordered Bain fired, and Loretto's president complied. Subsequently, school administrators expelled the student from Loretto, and her family was banned from campus.

All in all, a mess. A public relations disaster for Loretto, certainly, but also a very public nightmare for a self-proclaimed private person.

Imagine, if you will, how weird it is for a private citizen to find herself the subject of strangers' vitriol, expressed in letters to the editor, on radio call-in shows and all over the Internet.

"I've never dealt with anything like this," Bain says. "The level of hate out there is surprising and shocking and disturbing."

After she sued Loretto, she received an undisclosed settlement.

But for a while, the debate continued. For some reason, it came as a surprise to a vast number of local parishioners that non-Catholics teach at Catholic schools - and that a well-regarded private Catholic high school such as Loretto prides itself on the tolerance and open-mindedness it instills in its students.

Strangest of all, decades after the passage of federal employment legislation, people also seemed surprised to learn that employers are barred by law from asking job candidates about their personal lives and religious and political beliefs.

On the other side, many people - including Bain herself - were surprised to learn that many Catholics are progressive rather than conservative.

"Since I was fired, I've run into a couple of my students' parents," she says. "They come up and say, 'We're so sorry.' "

It's the strictly conservative strain of Catholicism, of course, that's helped fuel the unfortunate rise of knee-jerk Catholic-bashing, which seems rampant in American society.

"Baby Killer," the title of Bain's play, seems to pander to the Catholic bashers among us.

"You can't not court controversy on this topic," she says.

Granted. Writing about anything related to abortion is like walking through a minefield: Danger lies in every direction.

In a sense, the extremists have already won the debate: They've polarized the nation. And they've largely shut the rest of us up, because we know quite well the toxicity that will spew in our direction if we don't agree word for word with their views.

And so the fringe rules, despite the fact that for decades polls have shown that Americans support reasonable access to abortion rights.

If nothing else, then, let's give Bain an A-plus for bravery.

"My story is bizarre," she says. "That's why this is entertainment. I have a play to put on, because I have a very weird life."