As the author of two diaries, here and here, taking issue with Garden State Equality’s response to the Viki Knox situation, Scott Weingart might like to reply to this. But I wanted to frontpage Steven’s response diary asap. Can there be two more important issues for us to concern ourselves with than discrimination and free speech? – promoted by Rosi
A bit more than 32 years ago, when I was a junior in high school, my classmates and I went out to dinner toward the end of the year with one of our teachers. At the dinner, the teacher spewed anti-Semitic hate that left us in shock. My classmates and I, joined by our parents, led a campaign asking the school to take action, and within a couple of weeks, the school let the teacher go.
Our teacher had the First Amendment right to free speech. So, too, did the school have the right to act. The school believed the teacher’s hateful comments compromised the ability of students to feel safe and comfortable in the teacher’s presence.
Fast forward to 2011, when Viki Knox, a teacher at Union High School, posted this on Facebook: “Homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation. I know sin and it breeds like cancer! I/we do not have to accept anything, anyone, any behavior or any choices! I do not have to tolerate anything others wish to do.”
Facebook, of course, did not exist when my teacher had dinner with us students in 1979. But the situations are parallel, except that Ms. Knox’s invective reached more students, and she stated she teaches it. As Ms. Knox wrote amidst the anti-LGBT invective she posted on Facebook: “THAT’S WHAT I TEACH AND PREACH.” The all caps are hers.
In calling for the strongest possible personnel action to be taken against Ms. Knox, the Star-Ledger wrote in an editorial: “She fired up a computer, identified herself as a Union High School teacher and posted bigoted remarks on Facebook – more than once. She might as well have hopped on a soapbox across the street from the school and screamed her anti-gay rant into a bullhorn. She created a fearful, hostile environment for students. That’s unacceptable.”
More after the jump.