Last week, Maxim Lott of Fox News interviewed me for an article about the attacks on Obama appointee Kevin Jennings.
To tell the truth, knowing the reputation of Fox News, I was a bit fearful that I would be misquoted or quoted in a way to further smear Jennings.
Actually I found it to be an almost objective article . It even told the truth about "The Little Black Book" (although Lott omitted the fact that no students actually received the "Book") and the supposed "fisting/dental dams."
Of course our friends Peter Sprigg and Peter LaBarbera were quoted. But it was only fair that they would be.
One thing that I found interesting was that the original supposed "Fistgate" incident wasn't mentioned. Could it be this story was even too wild and vulgar for Fox? Maybe.
But I think Lott did go into a lot more detail than he had to about GLSEN's supposed "porngraphic reading list." One wonders if he was trying to induce discomfort rather than report. Media Matters adds some very excellent points about this:
Lott reported on passages from three of the books "targeted for children between Grades 7 to 12," two of which are from the same essays previously cited by The Washington Times as evidence that the books "clearly promote homosexuality and promiscuity," including "kids having sex with adults." But like the Times, Lott omited the portions of those essays in which the authors make clear that they are not promoting those practices.
Media Matters places these portions in their proper context, showing that they are not "promoting" anything but giving personal experiences. Some of these personal experiences are rather sad and illustrate that this country needs to suitably address the needs of lgbt youth.
If I were one for irony, I could easily point out that the constant barrage of negativity thrown at the lgbt community (and especially lgbt youth) by people like Sprigg and LaBarbera and the organizations they run with only add to conditions that cause lgbt youth to be placed in situations like those mentioned in the books .
Another thing which troubled me about Lott's s article was the recounting of the Brewster incident. It couldn't have hurt for Lott to have gotten some more quotes from Brewster regarding the incident. After all, the young man did compliment Jennings for his advice in the matter.
One point I would like to highlight before it's obscured by the hoopla of the supposed controversy is how clueless folks like Sprigg are regarding contemporary literature:
McEwen said that the attacks on Jennings and GLSEN were motivated largely by homophobia.
"There are a lot of heterosexual books that are just as explicit. In the first page of 'The Color Purple' [a 1982 novel that has caused controversy when assigned in schools], the character talks about being raped in graphic terms... what's in [GLSEN's] books is no different from what's in The Color Purple."
But Sprigg disagrees that books like "The Color Purple" are comparable to those recommended by GLSEN.
"We are not talking about 'The Great Gatsby' or 'The Grapes of Wrath' here," he said. "A lot of people who have only read the news and opinion pieces on this story, without reading the actual excerpts, may think that we are talking about the kind of sexual content that might, in a film, earn a PG-13 or R rating. We are not."
We certainly aren't talking about The Great Gatsby or The Grapes of Wrath. Weren't they both written before the 1940s?
But mostly I was glad to be able to throw out some very pertinent quotes in the articles:
"This is ridiculous guilt-by-association ... just another moral panic thought up by people who don't have any legitimate reason to oppose Jennings, so they've made a mountain out of molehill."
Of course some of the right-wing blogs might not think so. I've already seen one exclude the defenses of Jennings in the article and focus on the charges.
You just can't convince some people of anything.
UPDATE - Apparently there is supposed to be a "witness" who claims that Jennings was at the conference where the supposed "Fistgate" incident took place. The witness also claimed that Jennings was aware of the incident that took place at the workshop. But there are two problems of a minor and major category with this witness. Jennings may have given an address at the conference but there is no proof that he was at the workshop in which the incident took place.
And the big problem - we don't know a thing about the witness. It was a "taped" interview with an "anonymous" ex-teacher. For all we know, it could have been a member of Mass Resistance or a person dragged off of the street and paid. It's the same as taping an anonymous person accusing someone of murder. No court in the world would think that such evidence is admissible and the same goes for this nonsense.