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Jewish World Review June 7, 1999 /23 Sivan 5759

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'It's Elementary' doesn't teach tolerance

(JWR) ---- (
A FEW WEEKS AGO a listener faxed me a copy of a letter sent out by two producers of a videotape about homosexuality called "It's Elementary." In discussing their efforts to get the tape aired on PBS stations around the country, the letter says, "We can assume that the right wing will continue its vitriolic efforts to censor 'It's Elementary' and will do everything in their power to try and stop these broadcasts."

The tape purports to be educational, to "promote respect in the very place where the discussion needs to begin -- in school, starting in the primary grades." Given that description, I wondered why the producers were so fearful that it would be censored. So I got hold of the tape and watched it. And I thoroughly agree that it should not be aired on PBS and certainly not shown to little children in the classroom.

The intent of the tape is not to promote respect. It does not simply instruct young children not to laugh at or physically hurt other children who may be homosexual or come from homosexual homes. Frankly, were that the true agenda, I would wholeheartedly endorse it. The point of "It's Elementary," however, is to indoctrinate children with the belief that homosexuality is normal -- not a deviant or morally wrong behavior, nor a personal or societal problem -- but rather a totally benign and acceptable variation of heterosexuality, and its equivalent in every way.

Now, I am in full agreement that children need to be taught respect, or (since all behaviors are not equally worthy of respect) at least politeness. So why not have a video that shows all the things that children often make fun of -- fat, big ears, red hair, religious observances, an accent, shyness, a seemingly "feminine" boy or "masculine" girl?

The point would be that we are all made in G-d's image, therefore we're all equally deserving of kindness and respect. Oops! Can't invoke G-d in the schools. Sorry about that. Well, let's see, maybe we could evoke empathy through role-playing that dramatizes how hurt children are when picked on and rejected.

"It's Elementary" makes no attempt to do that at all. As a matter of fact, this tape about "respect" features a small boy who says that Christians believe homosexuality is a sin. "So they torture and kill them," he adds solemnly. If the producers are fighting stereotyping and prejudice, how did they justify leaving this child's mistaken characterization of Christians uncorrected in the film? Might this not make Christian children feel bad, or stimulate hate and violence toward Christians?

I asked these questions on my radio program after viewing the tape, because the homosexual activist groups label ANY disagreement with the righteousness of their movement as "hate" intended to "incite violence." Where once we were asked to tolerate diversity, now we are being intimidated to accept deviancy. If we don't, we're hatemongers.

Well, the producers of "It's Elementary" must have been listening to my show, because they edited the comments of the misguided child out of the version of the show they are peddling to PBS. I know this because a listener sent a letter to her local PBS station asking the management not to air the tape and referred to that comment. Her local station responded saying that the tape would be aired, but that the section she referred to was no longer there.

In a plea for financial and moral support dated Dec. 1, 1998, the producers lament the opposition of the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, as well as some news services that "parrot the sensationalist rhetoric found in all the right-wing hate mail." Their letter associates the opposition with the "savage hate crime that took Matthew Shepard's life," ignoring the fact that most Christians oppose homosexuality because they believe Scripture defines it as sin. They are not motivated by hate; quite the contrary. Christians advocate love and redemption, not open season on homosexuals and lesbians.

There is no question that humanity has a hateful, dangerous undercurrent, especially prevalent in the mind-set of young males. This undercurrent runs throughout human history and has found its outlet in self-aggrandizement by exhibiting power over the poor, the weak or the different. But to link this evil with the beliefs and attitudes of Christians is preposterous.

All traditional religions view homosexuality as a sin. Thus, many Americans who make a commitment to a religious way of life do not accept the assertion that two men or two women constitute the foundation of a family equal to the covenantal relationship of marriage between a man and a woman ordained by G-d. So we don't want our children to be taught that it IS.

That doesn't mean that we are joined in a conspiracy to cleanse the country of homosexuals and lesbians.


06/01/99: Terrorism begins at home
05/24/99: His, mine, ours -- and priorities
05/17/99: Polluted waters of society are killing our fish fry
05/10/99:Good teachers offer more than 3 R's
05/03/99: Cybersex survey a travesty of science
04/19/99: Legal abortion not the salvation that feminists claim
04/12/99: Moral parents struggle against upside-down value system
03/31/99: Children need attention before they cry out for it
03/29/99: Family values fall victim to advertising whims
03/19/99: Snooping can be healthy if it saves a child in trouble
03/05/99: Traditional religions offer optimism to adherents
03/05/99: Tearing down foundations, brick by brick
02/26/99: With power comes obligation to lead by example
02/19/99: National Prayer Breakfast inspires public servants
02/12/99: Overcoming selfishness leads us closer to human potential
02/09/99: Youth's difficult lessons make us better adults
02/02/99: Rituals, icons remind us of our obligation to G-d
01/22/99: 'Consenting adults' don't always examine consequences
01/18/99: Day care no substitute for love of mom and dad
01/08/99: Don't use others' misfortunes to build your self-image
12/31/98: Tracking HIV-infected people makes good sense
12/24/98: How can we teach ethics without defining morals?
12/18/98: Parents afraid of firm values leave their children adrift
12/11/98: Spread righteousness by refusing to accept the 'code'

©1999, Universal Press Syndicate