Now an Anti-Pornography Bill; Uganda’s Plan B

According to this Afrik-News article, the Ugandan government is set to criminalize pornography. Scott Lively would approve. He told his Ugandan audience in March, 2009 that straight porn leads to homosexuality. Hon. Nsaba Buturo agrees:

“Pornography breeds homosexuality. I am happy that finally a bill to curb pornography in Uganda is out to punish the promoters of the vice. The draft bill is already in cabinet for discussion” Nsaba Buturo said.

According to the bill, any person found guilty of dealing in pornographic materials risks paying heavy fines or a 10-year jail sentence or both.

“The days of the homosexuals are over. The bill is good news to all morally upright Ugandans saying that pornography has contributed to moral decay and increased crimes among Ugandans,” he added.

While addressing the press in Kampala on Wednesday, the Minister of Uganda for Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo said that Pornography is the mother of vice and so there is need to stop it immediately.

Buturo may have to do his crusading as a private citizen since he was defeated in his party primary. Again according to the article:

Dr. James Nsaba Buturo attacked homosexuals who celebrated his defeat in primary elections for his ruling political party in his constituency, saying they “sponsored my rivals and even helped in cheating the votes. But I have appealed to the party electoral commission.”

It is funny to think there is a massive gay vote that could topple Buturo in Uganda. Be interesting to see how this plays out. Most of the rest of the article is flawed but I suspect that most of the quotes attributed to Buturo are correct.

If I can find a copy of the draft, I will post it.

The New Yorker almost reports on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

The New Yorker published online an article on The Fellowship, titled “Frat House for Jesus: The entity behind C street.”

The article is lengthy and I need to read it more thoroughly before I give an assessment of the completeness of the reporting but I am not encouraged by the author’s treatment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

Hunter brought Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the former African rebel who became Uganda’s President, and other key Ugandan leaders into prayer groups. When Uganda’s Parliament took up a bill last year that would have punished some homosexual acts with death, Hunter and his friends in the Fellowship felt they had the standing to urge the proposed measure’s defeat. Museveni appointed a commission that studied the matter and then recommended that the bill be withdrawn.

That’s it. While Peter Boyer’s purpose was to report on the Fellowship – in advance of Jeff Sharlet’s new book on the subject coming out soon – he could have at least mentioned that the bill was not withdrawn and that the mover of the bill is a main figure in the Ugandan prayer breakfast movement (The Fellowship).

This paragraph makes it seems as though the bill is history because of the American opposition from the Fellowship. If anything, the American and Ugandan prayer breakfast groups are still at odds over the proper policy regarding the bill. The bill is still alive in committee with Fellowship associate and Ugandan member of Parliament, David Bahati, still advocating the application of Leviticus in Ugandan law.

Let me hasten to add that the American Fellowship group woke up about the issue after Jeff Sharlet reported that David Bahati was a Ugandan associate. From that time, Fellowship associate and spokesperson Bob Hunter’s opposition has been strong and unwavering. Spiritual leader Doug Coe spoke out against the bill. The February national breakfast committee would not have allowed Bahati to attend. And Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton used their National Prayer Breakfast speeches to blast the Ugandan bill by name.

However, Boyer glossed over this history and current reality (did he talk to anyone in Uganda?) and the reader is left with the impression that the bill has been withdrawn or defeated because the American Fellowship used their “standing.” The American Fellowship group has used their influence but the Ugandan Fellowship group has not responded by withdrawing or urging defeat of the bill. My contacts tell me that the situation is no different than when I was at the National Prayer Breakfast in February and many of the Ugandan delegation were in favor of the bill.

Given this treatment of the Uganda situation in the New Yorker piece, I urge a cautious reading of the rest of the article.

For more on the current status of the AHB, see this post and most recently here.

Bullying prevention on CNN: FOF and GLSEN square off

Timothy Kincaid posted the link to this Anderson Cooper 360 segment on bullying prevention. Here is Candi Cushman and Eliza Byard discussing bullying policy along with author Rosalind Wiseman.

In the past I have favored laws which do not enumerate traits (e.g., race, religion, sexual orientation) because the context of bullying can be so diverse that a category could be left out (e.g., gifted kids). However, I think that enumerated laws are better than no laws at all and certainly understand advocates who believe listing is the way to go. I do favor numeration of categories for statistical purposes as bullying prevention programs are implemented. This approach provides a way to know where the problems are and if a district is improving.

Furthermore, I think implementation of bullying prevention often requires directly addressing various social issues, such as race and sexual orientation. If the school-wide assessment finds that gays are being harassed and disrespected, then you have to address the worth and dignity of sexual minorities. Wiseman and Byard are correct to note that silence on the issue sends a loud message – some disrespect is ok, while other disrespect will not be tolerated. Simply saying, ‘all people deserve respect and a safe learning environment’ is not enough and often does not generalize. Human nature being what it is, it is easy to allow bias to convince us that our prejudices are ok, as long as we don’t generalize them. Where a problem exists, it has to be named.

At the same time, I do think that school personnel have a responsibility to avoid stigmatizing religious people who do not approve of homosexuality. This is a difficult challenge and one which mirrors the problem we have finding ways to live together in a society polarized over many issues. However, we have to try.

Lessons from the True Tolerance website: Discuss sexual orientation

Titles are meant to grab attenion and perhaps that one will for those who have followed the worries of Focus on the Family about bullying prevention programs. Essentially, FOF is concerned that gay activists are using anti-bullying programs to infiltrate schools with political messages. To counter that perceived threat, FOF placed a list of bullying facts on their True Tolerance website. Given my interest and current involvement in bullying prevention, I checked it out. I will have a more extensive look at it next week but for now I wanted to post something I was surprised to see there.

As a reference for the contention that bullying of kids who are gay and perceived to be gay is not a big problem, the fact sheet lists an article from the Newsweek blog. First here is one of the FOF bullet points:

Statistics also indicate that race, ethnicity issues, and even opposite-sex harassment actually account for more bullying problems, than do homosexual-related issues.

As a reference for that factoid, the author of the sheet lists a Newsweek blog article by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, titled, “Does Labeling Bias as “Bullying” Hide the Real Problem?” The authors first describe the case of a young man, Alex Merritt, who allegedly suffered sexual orientation related harassment and then report the research of Stephen Russell on reasons kids report being bullied.

Russell went to public and private schools in California, surveying 235,000 kids in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades. Russell asked each student if he had been bullied within the past 12 months, and if they answer was yes, to describe the incident.

37.4% of the kids said that they had been bullied. 

Then Russell broke that data down by category.

14% of the kids had been bullied because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin. 9.1% of the kids said they’d been bullied because of their religious beliefs, while 10.3% said the bullying was gender-based. Like Alex Merritt, 7.5% said that the torments had been about their sexual-orientation – that includes kids who were actually homosexual, and those just perceived to be gay. Another 4.9% said that they were bullied because of they had a physical or mental disability.

By the end of his data analysis, Russell had concluded that 75% of all bullying came from some type of bias – racial, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

This article is apparently a reference designed to prove that anti-gay bullying is down the list of reasons why kids are picked on. I assume the reason for that point is to make a case that sexual orientation should not be discussed as a means of preventing bullying. However, that is not the message of the article referenced. Based  on the data, the Newsweek authors point out that bias is involved in the lion’s share of the bullying. The authors then raise the possibility that school personnel should be promoting discussions of the factors involved, including sexual orientation.

Dorothy Espelage has been analyzing the curriculum of the anti-bullying programs most commonly used in schools. She found that hardly any of the programs even addressed bullying relating to sexual orientation.

If the majority of bullying is bias-related, and yet we don’t even acknowledge this in anti-bullying programs, what does this mean? In the chapter of our book, excerpted in Newsweek, we presented evidence that demonstrated how many of us have assumed kids are race/color-blind, and thus we don’t need to talk about race with them – however, that leaves kids to their own devices on how they respond to racial and ethnic differences. Perhaps the same pattern is going on in other forms of bias. We think that we as a society are past making fun of people with disabilities, people of different religion or gender, etc. – and thus we don’t actively talk about these issues with our children. And that has inadvertently left the door open for kids to use these differences as the basis of torment. 

The implication is clear: at least in some schools, maybe most, we need to discuss the hidden elephants in the rooms, whether they be race, religion or sexuality. 

Looking again at the numbers, the 7.5% who were bullied due to sexual orientation is staggering. The prevalence of students who are gay or perceived to be gay is probably not much higher than 10-15%. That means a very high percentage of such children are getting harassed. In evaluating the meaning of the numbers it is not sufficient to simply rank order the reasons as FOF has done. One must also consider the prevalence of harassment in that population.

Schools differ and in some ethnicity might be the largest elephant in the room, but I suspect in many districts around the country and probably the corner, kids are being subjected to regular harassment based on real or perceived sexual minority status. In those situations, as this FOF referenced article reminds us, we need to talk about it.

Man accuses employer of making him go to New Warriors Training Adventure

Interesting case.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – An attorney says he was forced to quit his job after a law firm docked his pay because he refused to go to a seminar where he feared he would be “stripped naked, not allowed to leave, be required to discuss details of his sex life, handle a wooden dildo, and potentially allow other men to touch his genitals.” The lawyer claims his supervising attorney told him that the New Warrior Training seminar would help him “have closer, stronger, and better relationships with men.”

According to the article, the lawyer bringing suit searched the Internet and found the information about the NWTA which led to his refusal. Wonder what he read?

Voice of America TV2Africa on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Recent report from Voice of America TV2Africa  on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the context of the African Anglican Bishops’ meeting in Entebbe.

Note the interview with David Bahati, regarding the reason for the bill. He wants to define homosexuality in more specific terms in order to make the penalties clear. Also, you see a brief appearance by Martin Ssempa.

Please leave anti-bullying programs out of the culture war

It is time to go back to school and Focus on the Family is warning that anti-bullying programs may lead to gay promotion.

Gay-rights groups’ push for anti-bullying legislation and school programs is an effort to “promote homosexuality to kids,” according to a conservative Christian activist organization.

The accusation has underscored the conflicting attitudes among some politicians and parents who have lent their support to these policies after a string of deadly bullying episodes across the country.

Focus on the Family has accused gay-rights groups of using tolerance and anti-bullying programs to introduce curricula and books into schools that promote political aims such as same-sex marriage. The same groups, it says, lobby for gays and other minority groups to be specifically mentioned in anti-bullying legislation and try to depict Christians opposed to such treatment as bigots.

Being on a local committee to implement anti-bullying initiatives, I have already heard fallout from articles like this one. Please leave the culture war out of this.

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My concern is that Christians are not leading the way against bullying but rather are putting up barriers to the implementation of methods that work. I am on the local committee to roll out the Olweus program and I can tell you that I have heard fallout from similar articles as this one.

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Locally, the school district is implementing the Olweus program. I am on a committee to assist and I am very pleased to see it rolled out. I can tell you however, that I have encountered fallout from articles like the ABC article linked above, where parents fear the program due to concerns over gay promotion.

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North Jersey magazine says “Don’t blame mom”

I am quoted often in this article by Kathryn Davis on parenting, primarily mothering and various adult outcomes, including homosexuality and eating disorders. Her initial focus is autism:

In his book, Teaching Individuals with Developmental Delays, author O. Ivar Lovaas notes, “The number of proposed causes was limitless because professionals found it easy to be inventive, considering their ignorance of the etiology of behavioral delays. These delays already tend to be amplified by the parents’ guilt and anxiety over the possibility of having contributed to the problem (a characteristic of most parents regardless of the child’s problem).”

Lovaas was a behaviorist who taught George Rekers. Rekers adapted the behaviorism into his treatment of GID but did not follow his teacher’s skepticism of parental cause for childhood issues.