Sunday, January 12

Cultural Snapshot of Opponents of Same Sex Marriage

My first assignment for Multicultural Education is to create a cultural snapshot, a "single story" of a group of people, and how they are presented in the media.  Our assignment is based off this TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie.

We were assigned to find 5-10 cultural evidences of a single story about an underprivileged group that has been misrepresented (based on race, ethnicity, poverty or social class, immigration status, gender, or sexual orientation). Then analyze them to find the single story told about them, and I have chosen to do something a little different, hopefully in keeping with the spirit of this assignment, to try and tell a little-acknowledged story of a misrepresented group.

I would like to discuss the representation of people that believe homosexualtiy is a sin, and that same sex marriage should not be legalized.  I believe that the media represents these people as intolerant at the least, and demeaning and tyrannical at the worst.  What the media says about these people is not kind or fair.  While busily lobbying for rights for same-sex attraction, the media ignores the right of other citizens to express their disagreements.

First, I would like to mention the interview conducted by GQ magazine with Phil Robertson and the subsequent outlash.  Though his comments were slightly explicit in their nature, the accusations about him have gone far beyond what he actually said, demeaning him and saying that the right to free speech is not justified in this situation.  The writer of the interview for GQ was not clean in his language or professional in his writing, which makes me question the article in the first place.  In his comments, despite his view of homosexuality as a sin, he is not calling for mistreatment of homosexual people, or expressing anything out of line with his religious and first amendment rights.

Here is the actual GQ interview (where Phil Robertson's quotes were probably edited already).

Here is a CNN response article to the incident, including A&E's actions.

Second, a court case in New Mexico is arguing for "rights" on both sides, for homosexuality and for freedom of religious expression against it. According to this Huffington Post article, The court ruling against Elane Photography is a win for human and gay rights.  The case is still set to go before the U.S. supreme court, as a violation of Elane Photography's constitutional rights.

The case is centered on an incident when Ms. Willock came to Elane Photography and asked them to be the photographer for a Commitment Ceremony between herself and her female partner.  Elane Photography refused, on the religious basis that they don't believe in same sex marriage and did not want to portray a positive image of it through their expressive medium of photography.

The freedoms of speech and religion should including voicing those opinions, but also not being forced (by laws with fines) to say things they don't agree with.  The New Mexico Supreme Court Case, of Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock is a prime example of rights for homosexual couples inhibiting the rights of other citizens who believe the practice is immoral.

Although the discussion is a little outdated, I have friends from California that have told me stories of ridicule they received in school because of their support of Proposition 8 (clarifying that marriage is only for a man and a woman).  They were harassed publicly in classes for standing up for what they believed is true, that marriage is for man and wife only.  They have confided in me that it was frightening and a worrisome time to be Christian, and especially LDS. Though I have searched for posts about this, I haven;t been able to find any.  But along with this, the social media Facebook pages can help us see the reactions high schoolers might have had to this issue. Though these pages are supposed to be in support of the issue on both sides, they are mostly dominated by posts from people for same-sex marriage and against Prop 8.  The ugliness of the Facebook pages makes me worry for our society as a whole.

You might think that this is a small thing to use as evidence, but Google's Zeitgeist for 2013 supports same sex marriage in their 1-minute-31-second recap of the year.  While this is support for same sex marriage, it shows how the media approves of people and views that support same sex marriage, and at best ignores people that disapprove of the practice for any reason.

Finally, the headlining story of protesters against the movie "Ender's Game" because of the author's activism for traditional marriage is a prime example of intolerance.  From proponents of same sex marriage, not from the religious people that oppose it.  This website, which is the 1st search result for "Ender's Game Protesters" calls him a bigot and extremist for politically expressing his views.

Through these and other media examples, we can see the media portrayal of anti-gay marriage citizens.  The media calls these people bigots, intolerant, offensive, and oppressive, when really all they are trying to do is express their religious beliefs and exercise their freedom of speech in the political sphere.

In a classroom, as a teacher, it is important to realize that the tensions of the parents can blow up with student because they are not as polite or self-controlled as adults. There could also be students in your classroom that have been raised by gay or lesbian couples, and other students that have been taught that the practice is an abomination.  This can lead to tension if those same students are not taught tolerance and love for all people and respect of other students' rights, to believe and to express their beliefs in a respectful manner.  However, students of certain religions could also be unfairly accused of intolerance and bullied for their beliefs, even if they have homosexual friends or support every person's right to human freedoms, but not same sex marriage.

It is essential for teachers to know how cultural groups are represented in the media so that they can help dispel the tensions and falsehoods in their classrooms.  We are responsible to protect all the students in our classroom from unfair prejudices, discrimination and denial of their rights.  No matter what their beliefs and values, we need to teach universal morals, and what true tolerance means.