Saturday, October 03, 2009

New attack against Kevin Jennings - the 'NAMBLA' connection

Apparently some on the right are blowing off the embarrassment of their recent unsuccessful attack against Education Dep. appointee Kevin Jennings because they are starting a new one. The following nonsense (which is better described by the World Net Daily piece) is currently running on several blogs and sites.

Hannity will probably grab it next week:

A transcript from a 1997 speech shows Office of Safe Schools chief Kevin Jennings in the U.S. Department of Education expressed his admiration for Harry Hay, one of the nation's first homosexual activists who launched the Mattachine Society in 1948, founded the Radical Faeries and was a longtime advocate for the North American Man-Boy Love Association, NAMBLA.

"One of the people that's always inspired me is Harry Hay," the transcript shows Jennings saying, "who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society. It took him two years to find one other person who would join.

"Well, [in] 1993," Jennings continued, "Harry Hay marched with a million people in Washington, who thought he had a good idea 40 years before."

However, according to Media Matters, the speech had nothing to do with NAMBLA:

Media Matters contends that Jennings was referring to Hay's pioneering work with lgbt rights; something that several obituaries also did when Hay passed on.

What's happening here is innuendo by association. I also admire Harry Hay's work for lgbt rights but I certainly don't like his support of NAMBLA.

So am I a pedophile now?

Many Americans list George Washington as one of the greatest Presidents this country ever had.

But Washington did nothing to stop the slave trade nor did he do anything to get women the vote.

So do the Americans who admire Washington for how he led this country at its founding support slavery and keeping women away from the ballot box?

This entire thing is ridiculous and the root of it is homophobia, pure and simple.

I wish the right would have the guts to admit it.

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1 comment:

Bose said...

The infuriating thing about conservatives using children and youth as fodder for political gain and character assassination is that they refuse to help protect them today.

In California and Maine, the rallying cry has been that gay marriage would be "taught" to 2nd graders. The truth has always been that some 2nd graders would find out that some of their peers have 2 moms or two dads, and it isn't a scary thing.

In effect, the anti-gay forces promote the idea that keeping the kids of gay parents safe in school is less important than protecting their kids from learning that families with lesbian and gay parents exist.

In 1988, Kevin Jennings and his 16-y/o student were both stepping through minefields every day of their lives. One inadvertent but honest disclosure could cost a teacher his career, or a youth his home. Both lived in the shadow of AIDS when too little was known about it and effective treatment was a decade away. Jennings' simple acknowledgment and nonjudgmental support of the student gave the kid a shot at surviving, knowing he wasn't alone.

Where were the conservative anti-gay folks then? Working to ban gay teachers? Ignoring people with AIDS? And where are the anti-gay folks to be found now? Fighting against gay-straight alliances that help to support 16-y/o students. Battling against ENDA.

Now we see the anti-gay folks backtracking 10 years or so to resuscitate false implications that "gays love NAMBLA." They're hanging their hat on Harry Hay, who was born in 1912. He lived in times when gay love was a criminal act, children were property of their parents, and federal child labor laws were decades away.

Hay's life doesn't translate directly to the terms and concepts of life today. He self-identified as gay at 11, had sex at 14 with a 24-y/o man, and was quoted in the 1980s making comments about child sex which were as incendiary then as they are today.

But here we are again, deflecting outrageous claims about lgbt folks and children, made by the people with a long history of refusing to acknowledge the existence and the needs of lgbt youth and families.