Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mad Dad's Two Minutes

They are loving it at the anti-gay sites. Their poster boy, David Parker, got the two-minutes human-interest segment on last night's ABC evening news. Article 8, for one, posted a press release touting the interest of that network and a Los Angeles Times reporter.

They will have to spin the results of mad-dad coverage a bit though. Both reports point out his intransigence and contrast it with the reasoned response of the school system. You can see a preview of the spin even before today's trial date on trespassing; "Lexington Superintendent Paul Ash repeated the canard - which Parker has consistently denied -- that Parker intended that the schools silence kids in their conversations."

The silly trial may never occur. The mad dad's lawyers say they have cut a deal with the Middlesex DA Martha Coakly to drop charges, without Parker admitting guilt. Coakly's office would not comment to the Globe before today's scheduled trial.

We can certainly understand why the commonwealth would tire of such a pissant charge eating up a prosecutor's time. However, Lexington superintendent of schools, Paul Ash, also does not like the idea of encouraging any parent to stage sit-ins at a school when he could not control the content of lessons.

The tenor of both the LA Times and ABC reports were similar. Both accurately note that the mad dad forced his arrest by refusing to leave the school and chose to spend a night in jail rather than post a $40 bail. His proponents like to claim that he was arrested and jailed for defending his religious principles, when in fact, the simple trespassing charge for which he insists on an expensive jury trial was solely by his choice. He wanted the drama but does not want to take responsibility for this disruption.

The LA Times concludes with:
Because their dispute became public, the Parkers said they felt they had to tell their older son about homosexuality much earlier than they would have liked. They told him he should never make fun of anyone. But they made clear that they believed a family with two moms or two dads was wrong.

They say they will keep fighting to make sure that's the only message their son hears.
Indeed, that remains the central issue. As the TV report asked, "How much control should parents have over what happens in the classroom? Should five-year-olds be learning about same-sex marriage?"

ABC quoted a parent on the diversity side as noting that in a state where same-sex marriage is legal and increasingly common, not mentioning that it exists in discussions of families is unfair to all. This leads to what the ABC report (aptly titled Culture Wars) called two main issues:
  1. Is teaching Kids about gays and lesbians tolerance or propaganda, and
  2. How much control do parents have over what their children are taught.
Superintendent Ash commented, "We will work with parents. We cannot assure what a child is going to say and that we can immediately stop a discussion that you find objectionable." Such is the nature of public education, one might add.

In contrast, Article 8's Brian Camenker did a cameo and commented, "This is sort of lunacy to have same-sex partners discussed in a first grade or kindergarten." So, he and the mad dad stand on the concepts-themselves-are-dangerous-unless-tightly-controlled camp.

The mom representing Lexington CARES and supporting teaching kids about diversity may have had it right when she commented, "I don't see a middle ground."

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