I don’t usually weigh in on stuff like this; I find society in general to be pretty dangerous and upsetting in itself, and more or less steer clear of issues of an even remotely political nature. However, something came to my attention this week that, frankly, shocked me. This happened earlier in the year, so I apologize if this is already familiar to anyone, but given the lack of obvious coverage, I felt the issue needed to be raised.
Back in February, Krystal Myers, a student at Lenoir High School in North Carolina, had the audacity to write an article for the school paper called No Rights: The Life of an Atheist. The potential for disruption this article had is frightening; students across the school might suddenly have begun wondering what atheism is, questioning their beliefs, or worse – thinking. However, disaster was averted: the school’s principal, Steve Saint-Armand (what a good, Christian name – it’s got the word ‘saint’ in it) happened to see the proposed article, and prevent it from being published. A collective southern conservative brow was wiped.
But wait – there’s more! Despite the relief at having thwarted the wayward atheist in their midst, it happened again – only this time the nature of the crime was far more horrifying: being gay.
That’s right; in May, the high school’s yearbook was edited, published and released containing the offensively-titled article It’s Okay to Be Gay. Student Zac Mitchell, the subject of the article, is – unsurprisingly – gay. Now, there wasn’t a whole lot that could be done about that, but it sure was important to make sure no one found out; after all, he only came out four years before, so chances are no one at the school had really had time to notice.
The true heinousness here, though, is the fact that, unlike Ms. Myers’ article, this one managed to be published. Because despite a school paper and yearbook being written, edited and published by the students themselves, at least one teacher had to have supervised and approved these articles. And who exactly is this monstrous fiend? English teacher James Yoakley. Here he is:
You can almost see the horns. This terrible man, it appears, not only approved, but in fact encouraged, the students to write and publish these articles. Rather than doing the right thing and convincing them to forever hide their sins, he openly pushed them to discuss their heresy and sexual deviancy. It should come as little wonder, then, that there was a sudden and great clamor to have him burned at the stake. Panicked school boards issued summons to prevent Mr. Yoakley from teaching; petrified parents sent acid-tongued letters to the teachers about the devil spawn they had allowed to twist their children’s young and impressionable minds. Chances are, an angel died somewhere. Maybe it was a gay angel. Finally, though, sanity was regained through a man named Van Shaver, an authority from a neighboring school district, who put into words what all were feeling:
If an individual wants to be a homosexual, that’s their own decision and they will have to live with the consequences of that decision. What I am intolerant of is an adult, a teacher no less, inflicting their personal beliefs and sexual orientation decisions on impressionable students.
It all makes sense: James Yoakley is a homosexual atheist whose sole purpose in life was to lead pure children away from the paths of righteousness. It was too late for Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Myers, but they could at least banish him from the school district so he might not ever taint the young again. Parents were enamored. A Facebook page was created in support: they’ve had a whopping 88 likes since May.
Now of course, there will always be those few that, in their own misguided way, believe that what Mr. Yoakley did was not entirely reprehensible; that – unthinkable though it might be – he might even have been doing something incredibly touching, supportive and inspirational for these two students. Those unfathomable people started their own Facebook page: to date, a measly 1,789 likes.
The good news is that these aberrant supporters have little far-reaching influence, and this won’t ever become a major issue. For example, the New York Times seems to have absolutely no record of this incident. Nor does the L.A. Times, or CNN; even the unimpeachable source of trustworthy news, Fox, has little to say on the matter. They do, however, have several thousand articles relating to the Aurora shooting – an event that, according to some who study these things (sorry – lost the reference), ought not to have been publicized outside of local news for fear of inciting further killings.
Ironically, there is a little more publication about the earlier atheist scandal – it got all the way to Knoxville, Tennessee – but that’s okay, because of course atheism isn’t quite so bad: at least they acknowledge that they chose to follow the path to eternal damnation. But gays…their stubborn refusal to admit that they chose to be how they are obviously places them as one of the most dangerous threats posed to our society today. Imagine if all the world was filled with people who said it’s not a choice: all the murderers would be set free (I had no choice); all the politicians would lie to us (you gave me no choice); every doctor would be free to pull the plug on vegetative-comatose patients (there certainly was no choice there). No – it’s best we keep this sort of danger under wraps.
So if you’d like to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t continue to happen, please don’t discuss this with your friends and family. Please don’t head over to the Facebook page of Mr. Yoakley’s defenders and click like. Please don’t post, retweet or reblog. Certainly don’t send an email to Steve Saint-Armand or Van Shaver and tell them what bigoted, ignorant pigs they are. After all – we wouldn’t want more gay atheists thinking it’s okay to be themselves.