That is So Stupid!

Mark at Chesterstreet directs a post to me again.  He copied a bit of a story about a little girl that landed in hot water for saying ‘that’s so gay’ when she was teased about her religion (which is wrong too). 

Mark asks:

Yes Kevin, free speech is alive and well. I wonder who has to pay this family’s legal fees?
Why not put your money where your mouth is and offer to pay the legal fees for any lawsuit brought about by this proposed legislation since your so sure it will not infringe on free speech? eh?

Now Mark and Don Wildmon have something in common here.  Both of them think that this is a taste of the future if hate crime legislation includes gays and lesbians.  Now it includes religion, gender, color and so on.  But what neither of them understand is that in this country, anyone can sue for just about anything.  ‘But can they win?’ is a whole another question.  If someone is sued over what they said, there isn’t much that can be done about it.  However, the results of the lawsuit is more important–no one can be punished for saying something (unless it incites violence).  That is the difference that Mark doesn’t seem to understand. 


You see, what Mark didn’t tell you in his post is that there is more to this story than he led us to believe.  Yes, I believe that girl didn’t mean to slam gays and lesbians when she said that.  As she says, she thought it meant "That’s so stupid, that’s so silly, that’s so dumb."  Now the mother had something else to say that makes me think there is more to this case than meets the eye:

In addition, the Rices say their daughter was singled out because of the family’s conservative views on sexuality. They are seeking unspecified damages and want the disciplinary notation expunged from Rebekah’s school record.

So did this girl say what she said because she was taught this by her parents (who imply that they are against gays and lesbians)?  What the mother has to say leads me to believe that there is something else going on.  Maybe the parents like to stir things up in their community by voicing their religious beliefs that gays and lesbians are sinners.  There is a gag order on the case, so we may never know.  I’m not sure if that even matters, however.

But regardless of that, it is my guess that the case will be thrown out and this family will get whatever money it is asking for (so Mark, the family will be able to pay its own bills and have a bit of cash left over–therefore I don’t have to send them a dime, since they will probably be able to now send little Rebekah to college with the money they will get).

Another thing that Mark didn’t tell you is that it was the parents who sued–they are the ones who started the legal battle.  They weren’t being sued–they sued.  Now I probably would have done the same thing as the parents did.  But I wouldn’t expect anyone else to pay for it.  It is too bad that they have to take this to court, but this is America.  People sue at the drop of the hat.  Is what she said harassment?  Is what the other kids who teased her harassment?  I’m not a judge, but it appears that the judge is not going to decide based on whether what she said was free speech, but whether she was attacking gays and lesbians.  My guess (and my hope) is that this is thrown out.  The girl was 11.  Kids say things all the time.  They don’t understand the ramifications, but they can learn.  Maybe her parents taught her the wrong thing.  Maybe not. 

Is this a good reason to not allow gays and lesbians into Hate Crime legislation?  Hardly.  The hate crime legislation is about violence, not speech.  People can lie all they want to about it, but it is there for all to see and understand if they choose to.  If the Hate Crime legislation had passed, she certainly wouldn’t be prosecuted under it and even if she were, it would be tossed out because of an over-zealous prosecutor.  It has nothing at all to do with violence. 

What Mark also didn’t tell you is that even the conservative Alliance Defense Fund agreed that saying ‘that’s so gay’ "carries a negative meaning":

Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, agreed "That’s so gay" carries a negative meaning and said he would not want his children to say it. But he said formal discipline is not the answer.
"Reasonable people should say, `Let’s put a stop to this kind of search-and-destroy mission by school officials for everything that is politically incorrect,"’ he said.

So Mark, the title of your post "That’s So Gay" is really quite negative, according to those in your chosen religion and political leanings.  I wouldn’t sue you for saying it, even if you said it out of spite just to hurt people. 

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