Human Excommunication: Stolen Labor and BBQ

Well, this erupted over the atheosphere about a half hour ago. Turns out a BBQ place in OK had agreed a month ago to do a fundraiser for Camp Quest Oklahoma. It was one of those nifty things where you bring in a flyer and part of the proceeds of your meal goes to the organization of your choice. Always been a fan of those.

Well, the kids spend 2-3 weeks handing out flyers for this place, they go there, set up their table, eat dinner, and then after they have all eaten and paid, and pulled aside by the owner to be told that he found out that they are a camp run by humanists, and donating would be against his “Christian philosophy”, so he’s closing down the fundraiser aspect of things.

Camp Quest Fundraiser is cancelled: Oklahoma Joe’s regrets the facilitators of Camp Quest Fundraiser did not fully disclose their beliefs. These beliefs do not align with the Christian philosophy of our organization and we can not financially contribute to their cause. We will provide service to anyone. Joe Davidson, Founder

Camp Quest Fundraiser is cancelled: Oklahoma Joe’s regrets the facilitators of Camp Quest Fundraiser did not fully disclose their beliefs. These beliefs do not align with the Christian philosophy of our organization and we can not financially contribute to their cause.
We will provide service to anyone.
Joe Davidson, Founder

Davidson, of course, claims that he wasn’t aware that they were atheists. Plenty of people have pointed out that the flyer that he signed off on says both “humanist” and “free thinker” on it, but I’m going to assume for a second that the guy doesn’t know what those mean. However, you’ll notice the timing on all of those: he waits until after they have all given him their money, until they have dedicated weeks to advertizing for his restaurant, after he has wrung every last bit of cash and effort out of these kids, then he drops the bomb that he’s not going to give them the money he promised.

There are three points that I think really need to be addressed.

1. Even if he did just find out that Camp Quest is run by humanists, so fucking what? I mean, he was entirely behind it as a science camp when he presumably thought that good Christians were running the place. Does science change based on whether it’s being taught by an atheist or not? Let’s put creationism and climate change denial aside for a moment and pretend that we’re talking about a science camp for kids that doesn’t talk about religion in the slightest and just encourages children to be active in scientific pursuits. Is there somehow a difference if those people who are not going to talk about religion at all believe in the same floating magician as Davidson?

2. Joe Davidson continues to insist that they were not kicked out nor was anybody refused service. While this is in contention based on reports from members of CQ – OK, let’s say for a minute that that’s true. What does he want? His parade’s in the mail for being such a stand up guy that he’ll take money from atheists, even if he won’t help them raise it. Bravo, Joe! You’ve proven that your principles only apply to outgoing cash, not incoming. What an awesome person you are.

3. Let’s not pretend that this is anything other than it is: Davidson is stealing from children. They did work for him advertizing his restaurant and rather than pay them the 10% of proceeds that he promised, he closed down after all of their work was already done. The man is not just a liar, he is a thief, one with absolutely no scruples who is delighted to hide behind the skirts of Scripture when it comes time to pay up. This man (and his wife) stole from underprivileged children who wanted to attend science camp.

You know what? That deserves a Human Excommunication. I don’t know what kind of a human being knowingly steals from poor kids, and perhaps my imagination is too limited to be able to fathom such heartless cruelty.

JT has a little more on this, including screen caps from the now deleted Facebook fan page and an update where Joe has changed his story, and Hemant has details on how you, yes you, dear reader, can donate to Camp Quest Oklahoma since it’s clear that they’ve just wasted a month of fundraising time on people trying to take advantage of them.

You don’t steal from children.

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I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means

A little while ago, Pastor Sean Harris of Barean Baptish Church in Fayetteville, NC decided to preach a sermon. Not particularly impressive, I know. However, let’s see what it was that he decided to preach about:

So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.

Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting to Butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?”

Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that

Don’t believe me? Good for you for being skeptical! Now go watch the video so we’re on the same page.

Predictably (and thankfully) this produced quite a bit of backlash that prompted Pastor Harris to issue an “apology”. He made this “apology” public and even took to Twitter to explain how very upset he was that people simply don’t believe his “apology”

He’s very surprised by this.

The reason why I continue to quote the word “apology” is that Pastor Harris seems to have no idea what that word actually means. He is under the impression that to apologize is to find reasons why what he did wasn’t wrong.

I emailed the good pastor today. For the sake of completeness, I will reproduce it here:

Pastor Harris,

With all due respect, your apology for the deplorable sermon you gave is hardly worth the word. I’m not sure what you believe you’re doing, but it’s important to once again point out that you actively encouraged child abuse. You’re now following up with an apology that doesn’t say that you don’t condone the beating of children perceived to be gay, but only that you wouldn’t have said so in light of the consequences of your actions. These are not the words one expects from somebody who claims any sort of moral authority over other human beings and I hope that you will take some time to actually consider your words, though I suspect you will instead shrug off any criticism, tell yourself you’ve apologized, and perhaps take some time to bathe in your own sense of self-righteous martyrdom [KN: Please compare this sentence with the above tweet for evidence of my own prophetic abilities]. I could be wrong about this, but I suspect that I’m not. In the meantime, should you decide to act in a manner befitting human beings, might I suggest trying your apology again, and this time without it being primarily self-defense and perhaps even recognizing that what you did wrong was give permission to your congregants to beat their children and not simply offending people.

Yours,

Kaoru Negisa

I have no doubt that Pastor Harris has received a number of these sorts of emails, so I am not offended or even particularly surprised to have received the following automated message:

If you are writing about Sunday’s sermon please give me a chance and
read my point of clarification at http://pastorseansblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/important-clarification-to-sundays.html

So I did. I thought perhaps the media had taken him out of context, or he was being unfairly represented. Nope. His “clarification” is nothing more than a list of reasons why he didn’t do what he did, statements that he wished he hadn’t been caught, and justifications for his atrocious behavior. In the interests of time, I’ll simply copy my email reply to him here as well. Since this is longer and as I don’t want to italicize the whole thing, I’ll simply separate it out differently than above. I know, bad blog formatting, but…so there!-

——–

Pastor Harris,

Thank you for getting back to me. I’ve read the link you provided and something immediately jumps out at me.Your clarification is a string of excuses. Let’s break it down a little.”Clearly, I would like to have been more careful with exactly what I said, but sometimes I say things without enough clarity.”

No, you were perfectly clear. Any behavior that doesn’t meet your idea of what a specific gender should do should be violently beaten out of the child. That was made abundantly clear when you said, “Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch.” That is a remarkably clear and direct statement. In fact, you make sure to ask, rhetorically, if you could make it any more clear. No, I think this is about as clear as you can get. There is no amount of clarity that makes that anything more than abominable.

“For the record, I want to ensure everyone that I do NOT believe physical force is capable of fixing effeminate behavior or homosexual behavior.” Then what on Earth would posses you to say so? What could have been possibly running through your mind? Were you “moved by the Spirit” to speak in this manner?

“I would never advocate for such discipline or actions on behalf of a father or mother” That’s a lie. Not only *would* you, you actually *did*. Explicitly. You may “never again” do so, but let’s not pretend that your character makes it impossible to ever happen since it did actually happen.

Either Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 are true and we should communicate the truth in love for fear of not entering the Kingdom of God or the entire Bible cannot be trusted to be the Word of God.” Well, it can’t be, but putting that aside, you’re missing a rather obvious third option: you don’t speak Greek. Your quote is a horrible mistranslation that didn’t show up until the 16th century. I can understand your confusion, but I would hope as a pastor you would have bothered to at least attempt to read the texts in their original at one point. And that’s only one of many possible, better explanations.

Those in the opposition are suggesting all sorts of hateful things and using ungodly and profane words. Those who speak of the love of God are using the most hateful terms I have ever read. We must never resort to such language.” In my experience, those who speak of the love of God often do use the most hateful terms. However, this excoriation against language is rather laughable in light of what you’ve said. This is nothing but a tu quoque argument, albeit somewhat well hidden.

“I want to stress just how much I love your children and my desire is only to see them glorify God in the lives they live in obedience to God’s will for each of them as revealed in the Word of God. I believe I communicated that in the sermon as well.” No, you didn’t communicate that well. What you communicated was that you want parents to beat their children for acting gay. Stop trying to defend yourself and just apologize.

“As I emphasized in this sermon, as well as the week before, we must not be hateful toward those whose behavior is an abomination to God.” Let’s use this same construction, on the off chance that you’ll understand why it’s ridiculous: “I really wish you the absolute best in life, even though you’re a complete asshole.” See how the second part negates the first? You cannot call somebody an abomination without simultaneously being hateful. I know, it’s a long shot pointing this out, but I thought I’d try anyway. And before we get into the “behavior” argument, the same applies (i.e. “I think you’re absolutely amazing, even though you act like a prick constantly” is still a ridiculous thing to say).

“The opposition is revealing their complete lack of toleration toward those do not approve of the LGBT lifestyle or agenda.” This argument always makes me laugh. Precisely what do you expect? That we’re just going to roll over and take the abuse we receive at the hands of you and yours? Yes, we are intolerant of your intolerance. You cannot get away with legislating against people and advocating that they be beaten (as children or adults) without pushback. Not any more. And calls to “tolerate” that is basically asking people to please not squirm so much, it makes landing the punch harder.

Perhaps I’m coming at this from the wrong place. Maybe you simply don’t know what an apology is. It’s an admission of guilt, potentially coupled with an explanation of how a person plans to make amends. It is not an extended attempt to excuse one’s behavior, which is exactly what you did with your “clarification.” You are not saying you’re sorry, you’re protesting that you’re misunderstood. You’re not showing remorse for your actions, you’re justifying them and trying to blame people for not knowing you well enough to know that you don’t actually mean it when you advise parents to beat their kids.

My experience has shown that I’m likely speaking to myself, but I sincerely hope that you’ll consider the nature of remorse and how the problem wasn’t that you offended people, it’s that you advocated for the beating of children based on their perceived sexual or gender orientation. There are no qualifying actions for that, nothing that makes that ok in any respect. You’re approaching your actions as if they should be weighed against all of your other ones, and it doesn’t work that way. No matter how many charitable donations I give, it doesn’t excuse my robbing a store.

So I emplore you, Pastor Harris, to try again. Apologize for what you did without qualification and without trying to defend yourself. Show some genuine remorse instead of just providing public relations materials and hoping this will blow over.

Yours,
Kaoru Negisa
———

And that’s what it boils down to. Spending more time trying to justify your actions and make them seem like the proper course of action than expressing regret for having done so is not an apology. Expressing regret for having offended people rather than for what you actually did is not an apology.

An apology requires that you stop trying to pretend that there are circumstances by which what you did could have been considered correct. Doing this inevitably runs into one of two problems: either the contrived situation is so unlikely as to be pointless, or it’s likely but still not what happened.

Pastor Harris, you said these things. You advocated for child abuse. You specifically, explicitly, and in no uncertain terms gave your congregants “special dispensation” to beat their children until such time as they act in a fashion that best pleases you. It’s time to stop pretending that you’re so misunderstood (*sigh, hand to forehead*) and just admit that you advocated for something absolutely terrible, stress that violence is never a proper way to ensure obedience (I would hope that you would instead encourage parents to teach their children to question authority figures, but that’s probably asking too much), and do something good in order to make amends, like donate some time and/or money to a charitable organization that deals with abuse victims. Here’s one. Here’s another, and it even has cis gendered kids on the main page. I’m sure you can find something with more than the 10 second Google search I did, preferably not your own church or the church of a friend of yours who’s made similar statements.

However, short of that, no, nobody is going to believe you’re sincere because you’ve given us no particular reason to do so.

Update:  So, it turns out Pastor Harris has issued a retraction and tried to apologize again. And, unsurprisingly, has failed miserably. He got two sentences in before he started lying again, claiming that he “never” endorsed child abuse or abuse of LGBT persons. That, of course, is a lie. He did, it’s on video. The rest is just more of the same “I was so misunderstood and I’m not wrong” whining bullshit.

Ok, I’m now done talking about this vile, monstrous creature. I only hope that he’s lying about getting nothing but support from his own congregants, because if so than the entirety of Berean Baptist Church are nauseating bigots and I sincerely hope they don’t have children.

Human Excommunication: Timothy Dolan

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan is the most evil man alive. The Great Old Ones recoil at the sheer level of wicked, inhuman behavior that this man displays. I have no words to accurately describe what a living pile of snake excrement he is with any sort of accuracy.

Now, let’s discuss why.

Currently, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is filing for bankruptcy. You see, there was this issue where they, unsurprisingly, hid pedophile priests over a period spanning about 60 years. As a result, they’ve lost a lot of money to legal claims when victims and the families of victims tried to receive some amount of compensation for the mental and physical violations they suffered. Also, times are tough, even for the Church.

The thing is, in the leadup to these filings, the Archdiocese moved $125 million to newly created trusts in order to avoid having that money count toward paying victims, a part of their settlement in the abuse cases. A forensic accounting firm was hired to find out what happened to that $125 million and whether it was legitimate in the bankruptcy case, and they found it was.

This took a slightly different turn recently as the Church argued that people coming forward with abuse claims after the statute of limitations ran out were incapable of making those claims. They say that they made a good faith effort to inform people of their opportunity and published the names of potential abusers in 2004, making it possible for people to file claims then. Which is entirely fair and literally legal. Except, according to the first link, sealed documents show that the Church didn’t publish over 8,000 incidents of reported abuse by 100 Church employees, 75 of which were clergy.

What does this have to do with Timothy Dolan? He was the Archbishop of Milwaukee during this period, while the Church was moving money to avoid having to pay it to abuse victims and publishing incomplete lists of abusers. That’s right, the man about to be named Cardinal hid even more child rapists while pretending to be complying with the law.

Does everybody understand that? He released a partial list of abusers so he could hide other ones, hid money so it couldn’t be used to pay victims, and now his old archdiocese is trying to screw abuse victims out of money they were rightfully owed by claiming they didn’t meet the statute of limitations on the cases where he didn’t publish the information.

This, for once, is not a widespread excoriation of the entire Catholic Church. Four priests from the archdiocese banded together with abuse victims to demand the Church have more transparency and to support their claims. These priests are both very brave and genuinely good people. Lots of Catholic clergy are. Timothy Dolan is not.

I’ve complained a number of times about Apple Cheeks’s hateful and bigoted statements. This is a guy who compares gay marriage to incest and makes slippery slope arguments. This is a man who lies about being “forced” to provide same-sex marriages (which has never, never, never happened despite the number of states that have legalized it, but why let facts stand in the way of fear), being unallowed to provide adoption services (another lie, since the Church still can, just not with public funds), and who was willing to sue over New York voting for marriage equality.

This is a man who continues to push the lie that “religious liberty” means “making you follow my religion.”

This is a man who, last week, refused to comment on the odious retraction of a 10-year-old apology by his predecessor, Cardinal Egan, about the handling of abuse cases under his watch. Why would he not say, “This is an incredibly disappointing decision by Cardinal Egan and I hope that the Church continues to vigorously pursue accusations of abuse”? Would that have been so hard? Not for anybody with a hint of human feeling.

But this is a bridge too far. For all the claims of Dolan and his ilk that they are “moral leaders” and the only guide for people to live lives of goodness and purity, they seem to also be the most cowardly group of ass-covering fucks on the planet. This egomaniacal jackass, this holy barbarian, this grasping, clawing scum from the Dark Ages has the audacity to tell people how they should live in a moral fashion. I would sooner ask a wife beater the secret to domestic tranquility than believe a word this depraved hollow body utters.

I’ve said this a number of times, but I’ll say it again: religion does not teach morality. Evil men like Dolan will continue to be evil and find justifications in their faith to do so. He brought this with him to the clergy, and he will retire just as blinkered, black-hearted, and brazen as he is today.

If the Church cared about abuse on its watch, they would stop his assencion to the rank of Cardinal. They would fire him on the spot, make him leave the Church and find employment elsewhere. Or, even better, they would insist that authorities look into his complicity in covering up child rape.

Though I suspect I have no readers at the Vatican, I will still make this open plea that you punish this loathsome, vile man. Separate yourself from him and make it clear that that sort of behavior will not be tolerated. He would not be the first supremely despicable person in history to be given a red hat, but we now live in the 21st century and know that this sort of behavior is never, never, never acceptable. If you raise him to the rank of Cardinal next week as opposed to firing him tomorrow, you will be demonstrating only that no mere mortal can express this level of moral bankruptcy. For that, you would have to be a Prince of the Church.

Human Excommunication: Laurie Higgins

“Humanity” is an interesting word. Technically, it describes a biological factor: the totality of beings in the taxonomic classification homo sapiens. However, as homo sapiens, we can’t be happy with this, so instead we’ve attached an emotional component to it. “Humanity” is less about the biological fact of being human and more about the emotional impact of the actions that we take. To “show some humanity” is to express virtues that we consider to be good, true, and right, things like compassion, generosity, empathy, love, and kindness.

And that is why I cannot help but wonder if Laurie Higgins is genuinely human.

You can see the scales if you look close.

A little background to begin.

You might have seen recently a new Rolling Stone article circulating around the internet about the Anoka-Hennepin school district, a place where for almost two decades teachers have been unable to address LGBT issues or help students with them due to a policy that currently promotes “neutrality” in regards to queer issues. What this means in practice is that gay issues cannot be addressed and homophobic bullying continues unchecked by a school district where teachers risk their jobs when they say, “there is nothing wrong with being gay and you shouldn’t pick on him/her for it.” Instead, it allows milquetoast assurances about “we don’t say that sort of thing here” and the like, but it cannot allow for teachers to humanize gay students. The irony between that and the premise of this post is not lost on me.

Essentially, the policy doesn’t give students a reason why they shouldn’t bully their LGBT classmates, just tells them not to do it. And we all know how well teenagers take to being told to do something for no other reason than an authority figure said it.

No, I’m serious. We all know how well they take to it. They rebel. They ignore. They give platitudes and go right back to what they were doing. I know it, you know it, the members of the Anoka-Hennepin school board know it, the members of anti-gay Parents Action League know it. In fact, I suspect that the latter two on that list are counting on it. Teenagers, hearing in their homes and churches how evil the gays are and why, then coming to their schools and getting meaningless drivel when they act on those lessons with no counter-argument, have no reason to show respect or treat their LGBT classmates as anything other than the depraved sinners they are portrayed as elsewhere.

This is intentional. This is the point. Groups like the Parents Action League want this to happen, bringing them one step closer to the Biblical utopia they crave. That, or they are so apathetic to the death of children that it simply doesn’t factor into their rhetoric, which I’m not sure if that’s better or not.

I know that sounds harsh, but I’ve wracked my brain and can think of no other reason that the school board would react by trying to defend themselves rather than acknowledging the problem. Sorry, but when you have 9 suicides in two years, your attempts to fix it need to move a little faster, and dragging your feet in this manner only leads to more deaths. Again, the school board is aware of this. You’d have to be dense beyond human capacity not to be.

But the real point of this article is not even the locals. They’re at least there and while some of them have grotesque ideas of what is right and wrong, they can comment on specifics that affect them. Many even believe that what they’re doing is saving children from the “destructive homosexual lifestyle.” They believe this because they’re idiots, but they’re honest idiots.

Not so with the Illinois Family Institute, which responded via the execrable Laurie Higgins.

Mrs. Higgins, attempting to ape the Rolling Stone article headline, declares Rolling Stone’s “war on Anoka-Hennepin school district.” You see, the common response of a human being, when hearing about the suicides of children in record numbers, many of which were the result of bullying, would be to express concern, call others to action, show some amount of compassion for the families of the victims and demonstrate your dedication to not letting this happen any more. It’s standard, it’s polite, and it’s a very human thing to do. Even rabid anti-abortion groups condemn the murders they inspire after they happen, at least pretending that there’s no cognitive dissonance between calling somebody a mass murderer and being shocked when somebody kills them.

Higgins isn’t willing to do any of that.

Instead, we get a press release that discusses how the Rolling Stone piece is not only unfair, but a direct attack against Christians, specifically Evangelicals. Let’s take a look at some of what is in Higgins’s piece.

For the past couple of months, I have been working with a dedicated, courageous, and tireless community group from the Minneapolis suburbs: the Parents Action League (PAL). They live in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, which has been facing a relentless campaign by homosexual activists and their “progressive” allies to use their public schools to normalize homosexuality.

 

These activists pretend their ultimate goal is to end bullying, but only the naïve or ignorant believe that whopper.  The truth is that they are exploiting legitimate anti-bullying sentiment in order to implement their politicized anti-bullying programs, all in the service of achieving their ultimate goal: the eradication of conservative moral beliefs about homosexuality.

Hold on, I’m going to stop right there because I need to address a point about that last sentence. You see, the thing is, it’s true, at least in my case. I do want to get rid of the conservative moral beliefs about homosexuality. They’re terrible, discriminatory, and entirely irrational, based primarily on their interpretation of a collection of Bronze Age myths and what they think the invisible sky pixie wants from them. They are disgusting, grotesque, and an insult to all that is good in the world. Yes, I want to get rid of them, and I’m right to want to get rid of them. The fact that Higgins believes stupid things does not make my wanting her and others like her to not think stupid things some sort of assault. Anti-bullying programs are designed to educate people so they don’t believe idiotic notions, and if that is the political motive behind them, I say let’s have more of it.

Original quote from John Ragan, rep from, you guessed it, Tennessee

Continuing.

If they can’t achieve that doctrinaire goal, they will reluctantly settle for bullying conservatives into silence.  They will accept an America in which it is politically, legally, or socially impossible for conservatives to express the moral beliefs homosexual activists can’t eradicate, leaving homosexuals and their allies free to gambol about the public square with all  their  First Amendment rights intact–rights they seek to diminish for conservatives.

Typical confusion on the part of people like this. I’ll clear it up. Ahem.

The First Amendment prevents the government from silencing you. There is no provision in the First Amendment that keeps people from treating you like a pariah for being an asshole. You can choose not to be an asshole. Queer people cannot choose not to be queer. You being an asshole affects other people. Queer people being queer has no material effect on you. This is why you deserve to be scoffed at and ignored when you express your First Amendment rights to lie about gay people, and gay people don’t deserve to be scoffed at and ignored when they tell the truth about themselves.

She continues on discussing how if the policy weren’t in place than conservatives would be under fire to expressing their views in school. And you know what, she’s probably right about that too, and it’s just as it should be. If you’re lying to a classroom full of students, you should be called out on the carpet for it no matter what your idiotic beliefs are. Again, that you believe something does not make it right or legitimate. The standard for what teachers should discuss in school should be whether what they are teaching is true, or at least true as far as we know currently, and a policy that demands “neutrality” demands that teachers avoid truth in favor of political consideration. This is a bad standard.

Yep, sounds like the PAL and Anoka-Hennepin school board

Higgins follows up with some number listed thoughts. I’ll respond to a few of them here. I want to remind you that she has said nothing thus far expressing concern for the deaths of nine students in this school district, but mindless lashing out at Rolling Stone.

1. Rolling Stone writer Erdely claims there were nine suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin District and yet mentions only seven.  The district claims there were seven. My point is not to discount the heartrending tragedy of the loss of these seven lives.  My point is to question Erdely’s account.

OK, now you’ve recognized it’s a tragedy, but only in such a way as to cast doubt on Erdely’s piece. You’ve failed to not discount the deaths of seven students by basically pointing out that it was “only seven” rather than nine. Does it matter? Would it matter if it were one?

3. Of the remaining six that Erdely discusses, two were called anti-“gay” epithets.  It should be pointed out that, contrary to Erdely’s claim, being called an anti-“gay” epithet does not necessarily mean that a teen is being perceived as “gay.”  As Erdely surely knows, epithets are hurled around with little concern for their content or accuracy.  If a term has acquired negative connotations, bullies often pay no attention to their actual meaning.  If they think a term is negative, they use it indiscriminately.  How many kids have been called “retards” when they were neither mentally challenged nor perceived to be.

This is the dumbest of her points. Words mean things. If I called Higgins a “heartless cunt,” that would mean something. Claiming that that isn’t a gender-based insult designed to imply not only that she was bad, but that she was bad because of a comparison to women who are inherently bad, would be obtuse at best, dishonest at worst. Which is why I prefer to call her a “heartless fuckwit.” Either way, why do these kids think that “gay” is a negative term, unless they’ve been taught that being gay is bad, therefore calling somebody gay is also bad?

4. Not once did Erdely suggest that the bullies were Evangelicals or motivated by Evangelical beliefs about homosexuality, which, by the way, are simply orthodox Christian beliefs widely held by the finest contemporary Protestant and Catholic theologians as well virtually all theologians  in the history of Christendom until the late 20th Century.

I have a number of problems with this point, the first being that calling on theologians to determine the rightness or wrongness of something is basically the same as calling on Browncoats. They’ve dedicated their lives to the interpretation of stories and how those stories affect us as people. Don’t get me wrong, I have an English degree and the study of literature is largely the interpretation of stories to find clues as to the nature of humanity and how we should live. However, the difference between a lit major and a theologian is that lit majors search for suggestions and reflections left by the author, whereas theologians attempt to derive empirical truth from a collection of fairy tales. Honestly, it doesn’t matter any more what they think than it does what a dedicated scholar of Middle Earth thinks.

Let's ask what they think about gays, too.

Moreover, the implication of this point is both to say that there’s no proof that the bullies are Evangelicals, but even if they were, theologians support their bullying. I’m not sure what Higgins was attempting to get across with this, but I sincerely hope it wasn’t what it reads as.

Finally, the orthodoxy of your beliefs is meaningless to this conversation. Being perfectly in line with bigoted beliefs doesn’t make you not a bigot. It makes you part of a system of bigotry. I know enough people who would argue your theology, but that seems like a pointless exercise.

Most of the rest of the points are variations on the question, “But how can you be sure it was Evangelicals?” Not only is this sort of blatant ass covering nauseating, it reveals a lot about the writer. She is more concerned about the appearance of her preferred in group than she is for the lives of children. Each one of these points is made absolutely meaningless by her statement in point 4, which is that Christian theologians would approve of bullying on Biblical grounds. Whether the bullies were Evangelical or not doesn’t matter since she has stated that Evangelicals who follow the Bible via the interpretations of learned scholars of the text should be doing this. The reality of whether or not the students in question identified as Evangelical or not becomes moot when you consider that according to Higgins, a good Evangelical is required to behave in that fashion.

Whether or not that’s true, which I don’t believe it is, the very nature of this article is abhorrent. Rather than acknowledge a problem, Higgins nitpicks without citing sources and engages in a sort of rhetorical ju-jitsu in which she attempts to protect Evangelicals from criticisms while simultaneously asserting that their anti-gay views are correct. There is only a passing mention that child suicides are even a problem, the rest being an attempt to cast doubt on the article in question with rhetorical questions designed to imply answers (i.e. I have no doubt that Erdely did check on the stories she was told, and asking if she did is a weasel way of implying that she didn’t).

This sort of empty rhetoric is what I’ve come to expect from the anti-gay crowd who continually attempt to cast themselves as victims, cruelly discriminated against because of their faith. It’s not their fault that the Lord wants them to inform gay kids of their sin. They’re stuck between God and a hard place, and these mean liberals are making it worse.

That’s not true. While I’m sure most people who believe these things are simply ignorant, having grown up in a bubble where only those who agree with them can be heard, people like Higgins are steeped in the events of the day. She knows why the things she is asserting are bunk. She chooses to ignore that knowledge, though, because it’s important for the perfect world she and her supporters want that gay kids do remain closeted or kill themselves. There is no way to compromise the idea that a kid shouldn’t kill themselves but should think of themselves as an abomination that God hates.