Thursday, March 13, 2008

The appalling bigotry of Sally Kern

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It didn't get much attention when it broke a few days ago, not nearly enough attention -- the national media are alternatively oblivious and complicit with respect to the right-wing agenda that drives the news -- so here's the story:

At a recent event in Oklahoma, Republican Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern gave a speech in which she claimed, among other things, that homosexuality is "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam" and that proponents of "the homosexual lifestyle" "want to get [children] into the government schools so they can indoctrinate them." She also made the remarkable, and remarkably stupid, claim that "no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades."

Note that she referred to Islam as a threat in and of itself. Note, too, that she thinks that gays and lesbians are more of a threat to the United States than terrorists. As for her claim that societies that embrace homosexuality don't last long, societies are only now coming to do so, of course, and I suspect that my country, Canada, will be fine, as will other countries, like the U.K., Spain, and Germany, that have adopted equal rights for -- or, rather, recognized the equal rights of -- gays, lesbians, and others outside the heterosexual "lifestyle."

But why bother responding at length? Kern is an idiot and a bigot. She did not realize her hateful speech was being recorded -- yes, this is what (some) Republicans talk about in private, when they don't think anyone's listening -- but recorded it was, and it made its way onto the Internet, including YouTube (see below). The media didn't pick up the story -- too busy have they been sensationalizing the Obama-Clinton race (and the relatively tame Powers and Ferraro comments, the former much tamer than the latter) -- but some smaller outlets did, as did some in the blogosphere, including Crooks and Liars. Meanwhile, Chuck Wolfe of The Bilerico Project posted an open letter to Kern, and, on the whole, voices were raised in opposition to this appalling bigotry.

But Kern refused to apologize for her remarks -- indeed, she continued to defend them after the fact, claiming that she "said nothing that was not true" and "said nothing out of hate." And it's not just that she made those claims. From what I can tell, she genuinely believes that she was speaking the truth. And therein lies the problem. These bigots, bigots like Kern, actually believe in their own honesty and righteousness. For them, such bigotry just isn't bigotry at all.

What is concerning as well is that Kern is an elected official, not just some crazy bigot spewing hatred from some remote corner of the blogosphere. She is a former social studies teacher who promotes creationism. As a legislator, she is chair of the House Social Services Committee and a member of the Education Committee, and a promoter of creationism, bringing religion into the schools, and anti-gay legislation. (On this last point: "[T]he very first act of this sad, delusional and obsessed woman when she managed to get into the legislature in 2005 was to introduce a bill, H.R. 1039, which urged library officials to restrict children's access to books with homosexual themes. The following year she introduced H.R. 2158, which would have mandated the state to withhold funding to any library that refused to 'segregate' books with homosexual or sexually explicit material from children's sections.")

And on Monday she received a standing ovation from her fellow Republicans in Oklahoma's House of Representatives. Rather than censuring her, which is what she deserves (at a minimum), her colleagues are celebrating her. Yes, it seems, Kern's bigotry plays well with like-minded bigots.

Pam Spaulding has more here, here, and here. (Thank you, Pam, for covering this story so extensively.)

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  • FYI, Sally Kern has a gay son whom she disowned and disavowed, story here.

    Her extremist position is in part a "reaction formation" to events within her family, and her behaviors should be understood within this context. However, this comment is not to be interpreted as dismissive. The depth of her rage is truly disturbing and dangerous ... and pathological in every sense of the word.

    By Blogger Swampcracker, at 8:09 AM  

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