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27 October 2011

FollowUp 2: Viki Knox, anti-gay teacher

On 17 October, I wrote about Ms. Knox's hateful writings on Facebook; writings that Garden State Equality was kind enough to save and place on-line after Ms. Knox removed them from her page.  After a "Lesbian Gay Bi Transgender History Month" bulletin board was put up at Union High School in New Jersey, Ms. Knox wrote about how perverted homosexuality is and how she does not have to tolerate anyone.

One of the latest coming to her defense is Eugene Delgaudio, the self-styled Public Advocate of the United States.  In an e-mail sent today, he writes

The Radical homosexuals are determined to run Mrs. Knox out of her school and out of a job.  Their radical supporters are staging aggressive protests at her school to frighten her into quitting.

No.  The goal is to have teachers who accept all of their students.  Ms. Knox wrote radical statements, words that condemn LGBTQ students.  I would be much happier if somehow Ms. Knox would grow beyond her bigotry and welcome students who do not follow her narrow beliefs.

Outrageously, Governor Chris Christie has come out against the Family in this fight, calling Mrs. Knox’s Christian beliefs “disgusting.”   It’s no wonder that he has publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for president, who has had more positions on the Family than Newt Gingrich has had wives.

No.  Governor Christie said that he found her comments "disturbing".  I find Ms. Knox's comments disgusting.  She can believe whatever she wants, so long as she keeps from attacking any of her students, including verbal attacks on Facebook, particularly LGBTQ students.

A much more nuanced argument is being offered by Mark on 21 October at Here I Blog, an explicitly Christian website.  (I am not going to add this site to the Hate Groups list as a quick look around his site shows a very different focus than animosity toward others).

Union High School officials missed a great opportunity to teach the students about tolerance and First Amendment rights of those who have differing view points.

The school’s employment policy not withstanding, an opportunity was missed with . I have no idea what employee code of conduct Knox may have agreed to, but she was posting on her personal Facebook account.

The students could have been taught:
  • Tolerance: Instead of calling Knox’ positions “hate” it could have been explained that her positions are that of most Christians (IMO) and tolerance calls that she be treated respectfully while disagreeing with her views.
  • First Amendment: Instead of calling for Knox’ firing they could have been taught that she and others have First Amendment rights to share their views in the same way the protesters have a right to protest.
Once again it seems that those calling for equality and acceptance only want to do so on their terms. A Christian like Knox who expresses her views, however winsomely or poorly, is not allowed a seat at the table. Is this how high school students are taught to engage controversial issues? Call the opponent’s position one of hate and rally against them until they are silenced?

I discussed the code of conduct in my first post on this topic:

The following is from the Township of Union Public School System Code of Conduct & Core Values

We believe that this can be accomplished when:
 * Teachers, parents, administrators, and other adult members of the Union Township Public School community, model respectful and respectable behavior toward one another in support of our core  ethical values;
 * Individuals acknowledge differences, demonstrate a respect for diversity, and recognize the worth  of each individual;
 * Individuals communicate concerns and/or suggestions in an appropriate and direct manner;
 * Individuals utilize effective problem-solving and conflict-resolution strategies; and
 * The dignity of every individual is protected and maintained.

It appears to me that Ms. Knox is in violation of this Code of Conduct.

Back to Mark's blog post.  Yes, we all of First Amendment rights, including religious and speech rights.  However, neither of those rights includes a guarantee of keeping a job.  One cannot be imprisoned for being of any faith or saying almost any words (there are a few limitations when it comes to speech that is threatening or inciting violence).

The seat at the table is an excellent point.  I believe that it is fair that Ms. Knox has a seat at the table, but which seat.  Saying that "homosexuality is a perverted spirit" does not model respectful behavior.  Ms. Knox did not "demonstrate a respect for diversity".  She wrote in a way that did not respect "the dignity of every individual".  It is important to remember that a Facebook page is not a private conversation, but a public statement.

So, yes,  I believe that Ms. Knox should have a seat at the table.  I think it is an excellent idea for her to participate as an invited guest of the school for a discussion such as Mark suggests.  She should not be in a position where she is the role model for all students, particularly we do not need role models who publicly denounce others based on their nature.

One last quote from Mark:

This idea that Knox’ views promote bullying could have been another opportunity to teach the students. The lesson could have been that ideas do not necessarily lead to violence anymore than a group of people gathered and chanting against someone holding signs with the word “hate” on them does not promote violence. Sometimes irrational people who really do hate others act out physically against those they hate, but there is no evidence the Knox has called for bullying those with whom she disagrees.

The problem here is that bullying is encouraged whenever a group of people are demoted to second-class citizens, as people who are somehow less than human.  It is difficult for most people to attack a fellow human, but if the victim can be seen as less than human it is possible.  Ms. Knox depicts homosexuals as evil, as opposed to God, and implies that we are pedophiles.  These depictions are demeaning and do lead to bullying and sometimes to teen suicide.  One does not need to explicitly call for bullying to condone and enable it.

17 October 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post

19 October 2011, FollowUp 1


  1. By claiming that Knox's comments are definitively Christian rather than an example of poor behavior, the blogger you are quoting is making, in my opinion, quite a nasty anti-Christian bigoted statement himself.

  2. Since I am not, and do not pretend to be, a Christian, I need to be careful in my response. In general, Evil I, I agree with you that in defending hate and bigotry, those who profess to be Christian are placing a stain upon their faith. In reading Mark's blog, he claims to be a Southern Baptist who is studying for a Master of Divinity degree, so it is not his intention to be anti-Christian. It does appear to be the result nonetheless.


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