Ever have deja vu? Ever have it so hard it made your head explode? Well, I’m still scraping my skull off the floor. Two months ago (almost to the day) I posted an article about Michigan’s Anti-Gay Bullying Law that literally made it OK to bully gay kids if you’re a Christian. Well, never one to be outdone on religiously inspired bigotry and hate, Tennessee has seen fit to introduce the same kind of “exemption” but take it so much further.
The proposed bill would amend the state’s current anti-bullying laws to specify that the anti-bully policy should “not be construed or interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students and shall not prohibit their expression of religious, philosophical, or political views” as long as there’s no physical threat or threat to another student’s property.
So not only can you verbally abuse gay kids if you’re a Christian but you’ll be able to do it if you’re a Republican or even just “philosophically opposed.” This means you can come up with any reason at all to abuse homosexuals and the state will give you carte blanche to do it. Tennessee is the same state that tried to pass the “Don’t Say Gay” law that would have prohibited teachers from speaking about homosexuals in the classroom, so they’re no stranger to unreasoning hatred.
To make it all so much worse, unlike Republicans in Michigan, the GOP in Tennessee wants to amend an already existing law. Michigan was attempting to pass its law when conservative bigots tried to gut it by including the “exemption” language (they later dropped it in a compromise bill). Tennessee already has an anti-gay bullying law on the books and the new language is to be added. Apparently taking away the ability to torture and harass gay kids is an intolerable affront to liberty.
The freedom to drive children to suicide is not a freedom at all. It’s granting special privileges to those who practice hate as a lifestyle. In contrast, you can say bad things about homosexuals in general. You can hold anti-gay parades. You can go on Fox News and tell the sheep that gays are destroying the world. You can make fun of Barney Franks’ homosexuality because he’s a public figure. These are all protected forms of expression, distasteful as they are. But the second you direct it a private citizen and do so repeatedly, you are engaged in an assault and you are NOT protected by the Constitution nor, it would appear, your conscience. Such behavior should never be tolerated in a society that supposedly cherishes diversity. But, then again, the Right has never cherished differences, it demands conformity and always has. Gays are just another “Other” for them to hate.