Fox News Whitewashes Student Essay Calling For Gays To Be Executed
January 26, 2012 9:41 am ET by Carlos Maza
Last week, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported that Shawano High School in Wisconsin had apologized for running an extreme, anti-gay student column in the school paper that criticized adoption by same-sex couples. Todd Carlson, superintendent of the Shawano School District, issued a statement clarifying that “[o]ffensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate.”
Considering Fox News’ longtime efforts to trivialize anti-gay bullying while fearmongering about threats to religious freedom, it was only a matter of time before the network picked up the story.
On Wednesday, Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade mocked the school, claiming that the column’s author had “simply stated his opinion” on traditional marriage and same-sex parenting:
KILMEADE: You’re entitled to your own opinion except at this school. A student in Shawano, Wisconsin, now getting legal help from Christian activist group after he was nearly suspended for writing a pro-marriage piece in the student newspaper. How dare he? What’s with kids? In the article, that student simply stated his opinion that traditional marriage should be defended and same-sex couples should not raise children. He also cited passages from the Bible. At first, the school classified this piece as bullying but now seems to be backing down, instead promising more oversight on the student-run paper.
Hours later, America Live host Megyn Kelly hosted a segment suggesting that the schools anti-bullying policy had gone too far, even declaring that “freedom of speech” had been “suspended on school grounds”:
KELLY: [T]here has been precedent on this. There was a decision out of the Third Circuit, which is one of the courts of appeals at the federal level, that held that a very broadly worded anti-discrimination, anti-bullying policy may violate the First Amendment rights of the students. You check some of your First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door, but not all of them. And a school can’t just say, “You can’t say anything that might be perceived as bullying.” So this kid, he may have an argument that they’ve gone too far on this policy.
Both segments conveniently failed to mention that the student’s essay – which can be read in full here – included biblical passages that explicitly called for the execution of gay men:
Both Kilmeade and Kelly also failed to mention that the student’s essay relied on the widely discredited research of Paul Cameron to promote the myth that the children of same-sex parents are more likely to be “socially disturbed,” report sexual confusion, engage in substance abuse, and experience “emotional difficulties”:
Fox’s slanted and incomplete coverage of the story isn’t surprising. Both segments were based on an article written earlier this week by Fox News contributor Todd Starnes, who similarly failed to mention the student essay’s extreme anti-gay rhetoric. Instead, Starnes chose to spend his time highlighting statements made by Matthew Staver - founder of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel – who claimed that the author of the article was the victim of “intolerance”:
Staver said what the school system did next was absolutely outrageous. He said the 15-year-old was ordered to the superintendent’s office where he was subjected to hours of meetings and was accused of violating the school’s bullying policy.
“The superintendent called him ignorant and said he had the power to suspend him,” Staver said. “He’s using his position to bully this student. This is absolutely the epitome of intolerance.”
Staver said the boy’s parents were never notified.
“The superintendent wants everyone to accept homosexuality as normative and homosexual adoption as something that should be standard practices,” Staver said. “In doing so, he’s belittling the views and the biblical views of many people across this country. He is playing a zero-sum game. He’s not interested in dialogue. He wants to cram his view down the throat of everyone else and will not tolerate an opposing viewpoint.”
Staver said an apology from the superintendent may not suffice – and they may consider taking legal action.
“It was a very intimidating situation for this 15-year-old boy,” he said. “It was uncalled for. He crossed the line. It’s absolutely outrageous and he needs to apologize for his actions.” [emphasis added]
It’s unclear if Staver’s account of the school superintendent’s actions is accurate or not. The anti-gay group leader has a history of promoting wildly misleading anti-LGBT horror stories, most recently accusing Macy’s of covering up rapes that allegedly occurred as a result of the company’s transgender non-discrimination policy. Staver has also warned that President Obama is trying to become a global dictator and claimed that the “homosexual agenda” seeks to destroy Western civilization and lure children into same-sex relationships.
What is clear is that Kelly, Kilmeade, and Starnes were more interested in promoting a right-wing horror story about anti-bullying efforts than accurately depicting a case of anti-gay hate speech.