:: Monday, January 24, 2005 ::
Not Stupid, Just Evil
Dave Neiwert has some interesting things to say about the whole dust-up over everyone's favorite absorbant, yellow, and porous sponge. From what Dave can tell, the Spongebob is being used as a convenient cover to attack the Southern Poverty Law Center.
We all know about the kinds of people the SPLC works against, because we've all known them since we were little kids ourselves: Bullies. And when they grow up, they become haters.
It's worth remembering that the work of the SPLC's Tolerance.org is aimed primarily at having an effect on people when they are young, before the attitudes that form the basis of so many hate crimes and acts of intolerance become embedded. Nearly the entirety of its work involves providing materials for enhancing curricula and school environments to produce people who are more inclined to tolerate (and indeed celebrate) differences. In many regards, this work is closely associated with the work to prevent school bullying, which should not be a controversial effort.
Indeed, most of its mission should be not only acceptable but embraced by any conservative concerned about the demise of traditional values in our schools, because it actively promotes some of the oldest of these: respect, fair play, fundamental human decency. It focuses on helping educators and communities foster these values among young people.
Fairly typical in this regard is the "Respect Policy" formulated by officials at Mariner High School up the road in Everett, cited by Tolerance.org as a model of its efforts:
"Respect is the cornerstone of all our interactions and behaviors," it begins. "We acknowledge the dignity and worth of one another, and strive never to diminish another by our conduct or our attitudes."
What is happening here, though, is that for some people, "traditional values" are only about respect, fair play, and fundamental human decency for people who are just like themselves. To be fair, this is a "traditional value" of sorts as well, but over our nation's history, it has been responsible for many of our worst atrocities, from slavery to the genocide of Indians to the internment of Japanese Americans.
In this case, religious proscription of homosexuality (scriptural evidence for which is not, incidentally, nearly as abundant as those prohibitions regarding divorce) are being touted as the source of the "traditional values" under attack from the forces of tolerance. This is not terribly surprising. After all, the Scripture has in the past been cited as the source of such "traditional values" as slavery, lynching, and segregation, as well as laws against miscegenation.
In other words, the efforts of secular democratic society to promote its own best interests -- particularly equality of opportunity and participation, enabled by embracing diversity -- have run headlong into an age-old enemy: bigotry wearing the guise of religious belief and claiming the mantle of traditional values.
Of course, if there's anything a bigot hates, it's being identified as a bigot. (That's why the Scripture ruse is so popular.)
As always, one should go over and read the entire post - these people are attacking some of the core values of our modern society, and they're actually getting airtime for it.
:: The Squire 6:53 PM :: email this post :: ::