I am always disappointed when a newspaper can’t seem to get the facts straight (pardon the pun), and then they wonder why the business of newspapers is dying. Really? The linked story is from The Desert News, a Utah based paper, I believe, so it isn’t surprising the spin they are trying to put on this.  I chose it to write about, partly because of this news bias, but also because of the larger issue where the intersection or collision of First Amendment rights meets public responsibility. Lastly, I work in Higher Education, and the issue of Social Media and teacher involvement is interesting to me.

His offense?

He said he opposed gay marriage on his private Facebook page.

This is the summary of the offense as the reporter sees it, but in reality, the offense was that the teacher violated an ethics agreement:

The portion of the code of ethics Buell is said to have violated relates to social media. The Orlando Sentinel said the school’s code told teachers their “private use of internet and social networking is not private.” The implication being, if he wouldn’t say it in the classroom, he can’t say it in private social media. The guidelines also said if teachers “feel angry or passionate about a subject … delay posting until you are calm and clearheaded.”

I think too that representing his comments as “opposed gay marriage,” is crazy thinking.  Here is what he said on Facebook:

 “I’m watching the news, eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came on and I almost threw up,” Beul posted. “And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool of whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?”

Those who oppose Marriage Equality are really just individuals who believe their personal religious views should control the legal rights of others, which on the surface seems ludicrous. So their only avenue for continued anti-gay rhetoric is to portray themselves as victims. That might deflect the attention away from the silliness of their assertions.

Personally, I think this teacher has every right to be opposed to Marriage Equality. And if he had said “I oppose same-sex marriage,” I have a feeling the outcome may have been utterly different.  But “I oppose same-sex marriage” and “when did this sin become acceptable” are far from the same statements. Not to mention the comment about the “cesspool of whatever.”

Personally I also question is a school district goes too far by trying to control what teachers can say in a public arena when she or he is on their own time using their own equipment. But I also appreciate the school district’s desire to keep the focus on Education. If the role of teachers is to teach all students, then introducing a teacher’s religious views which diminish and judge others stands in the way of accomplishing that goal.

Personal religious views are just that- personal. If same-sex marriage is opposed to a person’t religious views then, they shouldn’t have one. Salvation, which is the ultimate reason why Christians have faith and follow some doctrine, is an individual thing. What two men do in New York doesn’t harm this teacher’s salvation. He’ll still end up in heaven no matter what others are or are not doing. These personal religious views are what are protected in the First Amendment.

But the ability of some to control what others can and can not do, simply because this teacher or others don’t want to come to terms with that fact that everyone deserves to be treated equally under the law, is not Religious Freedom. It is religious bigotry.

via Teacher suspended for views on gay marriage | Deseret News.

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