For those of you who don’t live in California or have been under a rock for the last 6 months, Proposition 8 is a proposal to amend the California Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage and recognize only marriages between one man and one woman. Voting ‘Yes’ on Proposition 8 would effectively ban gay marriage; a “No” vote would allow it.
Again, this is an education site – the issue here isn’t for or against Prop 8. The issue is a cup of education reporting, a dollop of honesty and a sprinkle of irony. Stay with me here, you lewd and lascivious types. It gets saucy at the end. [Note: "NSFW" = a link is "not safe for work."]
In “If Gay Marriage is Allowed, Will Schools Promote It?” NPR looked at the ad campaigns on both sides. In one popular television spot [YouTube link] features:
“…a young girl who brings home a book called King & King.
“Mom, guess what I learned in school today,” she says in the ad. “I learned how a prince married a prince, and I can marry a princess!”
The ad was based on the real-life story of Robin and Robb Wirthlin, a Mormon couple living in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal. Two years ago, their son’s second-grade teacher read King & King to the class.”
Some say the ad is baseless fearmongering; others say it reflects the everyday reality of a legal redefinition of a societal norm.
In “Schools dragged into marriage debate,” Katy Murphy of The Education Report, a blog about Oakland’s schools, wrote:
“Whether you’re a campaign hack or just selling a home alarm system (or tires, or antidepressants, or disinfectant), scare tactics can really come in handy. And there’s probably no easier way to freak people out than to make them think their kids will be in harm’s way if they don’t vote a certain way or buy a certain product.”
One need not commit one’s life to textual exegesis to understand Murphy’s implication: supporters of Prop 8 are dishonest fearmongers [as are tire salesmen and those profit-hungry doctors, too?]. There are certainly over-the-top campaigners on Prop 8; Murphy, however, neglects to point out that those types are on both sides. Murphy cites the NPR article:
Murphy is disingenuous once more. Education hasn’t “become swept up” in the Prop 8 debate; education is helping to push the broom – to the tune of $1.25 million from the California Teachers Association.
… and that was it. No mention of the Wirthlins’ MA case – despite it being explained clearly in the NPR piece to which she links – or any of a number of uncomfortable challenges that have either popped up already or surely will in the future. Murphy would like you to believe that the ad is a scare tactic based on irrational, hateful fundamentalism. She links to the YouTube response:
“Here’s the TV ad that prompted the story, followed by a response from State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.”
The ad is more than just a “response from State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.” It’s not a public service announcement by a state official; it’s a paid political advertisement produced and purchased by No On 8, Equality for All.
They write about the ‘scare tactics’ on their sister sites, too.
But what of O’Connell’s claims? Back to the NPR article:
“O’Connell says if Proposition 8 is defeated, that will have no bearing on the state’s education code. “There is no requirement, no mandate for any school in the state of California to have this [gay marriage] required as a course.”"
Very true, Superintendent O’Connell – though no one mentioned your straw man of “a course” being taught about gay marriage. One can assume safely that legislative decisions about society make their way into most classrooms implicitly or out of necessity. Consider that schools don’t have “a course” explaining how stealing private property is illegal, but it’s a lesson of our society, supported by law, that frequently pops up in schools. It will be no different [nor should it be, if Prop 8 is defeated] with a state’s legal ruling on marriage.
Murphy, seemingly horrified at any assertion for Prop 8, concludes:
“Do you think Prop. 8’s defeat — or passage — would have any real impact on education in California?”
Murphy could have peeped at her own website if she wanted to understand the concern some have when education and family values collide. When I accessed Murphy’s article, the right sidebar advertisement – just below that shiny, traditional apple-on-the-desk – was for Perry Mann’s 29th Annual Exotic Erotic Ball. Here’s a screenshot [click here for full-sized version]:
In case you haven’t attended, the Exotic Erotic Ball is “A Celebration of Flesh, Fetish and Fantasy,” and billed as “The World’s #1 Wildest, Sexiest Party.” You can view a generously tame [but still NSFW] photo gallery of the 2007 event here. OvaHere.com has a less-artistic, more realistic dump of [NSFW, either] photos from 2006′s Ball.
But this isn’t about Exotic Erotic Balls-past, it’s about what you get when you click an ad on The Education Report – for example, an ad on a disingenuous post about schools and values:
- Pricasso, the Penis Painter
- A dog with a sex toy in its mouth
- Dozens of barely-censored photos
Click the link and add to the list yourself.
Reading about public education on a news site [Bay Area News Group] and one click later you’re staring at a dog chewing on a dildo.
Ms. Murphy, you let me know if you or anyone at the Bay Area News Group would like to have a conversation about why some parents are worried about what their children encounter in even the most benign arenas.