Quote of the day
"We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing. "
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Washington State Senator Ed Murray's letter to Randy Taylor
Principal Randy Taylor Mt. Si High School
8651 Meadowbrook Way S.E. Snoqualmie, WA 98065
Dear Mr. Taylor,
Today, every American is familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King’s great leadership in the fight for civil rights for African Americans.
However, Dr. King’s example was not simply limited to the tireless quest for equality. It was also found in the manner in which he treated his opponents, embracing them with respect and without vitriol – even while they denigrated and insulted him. When we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, we would do well to remember this, too.
One man’s own personal experience of racism, while certainly regrettable, is not enough to qualify him as a spokesperson of Dr. King’s values. To truly uphold Dr. King’s example, one must also uphold his humility and his fundamental objection to derogate those who disagreed with him.
Rev. Ken Hutcherson decidedly does not follow in these footsteps.
Here is a man who, in his battle against equal rights for gays and lesbians has said: “You know how the Bible says, ‘Turn the other cheek?’ Well, I did that. But I’m not giving them the big cheeks.” These kinds of degrading remarks about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens are simply obscene.
Here is a man who, after viewing the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’ told a reporter that the Jews were responsible for killing Christ: “The truth is that they did push to have Christ crucified. That’s just plain truth… that’s Biblical truth.” This libel has resulted in the suffering and death of millions over twenty centuries of Western history.
Intolerance and contempt are objectionable enough. Using Christianity to support them – to use, in other words, the tools that Martin Luther King developed not to extent rights but to deny them – is a cynical order of magnitude worse.
History has taught us that we must speak out, and speak out vigorously, against these slanderous attacks. There are many leaders in the African American civil rights movement, including some who oppose my position of sexual orientation, who would have better represented the example of Martin Luther King.
As an agent of intolerance and contempt, Hutcherson should not have been invited to speak at your school’s Martin Luther King Day event. I have no doubt that he has very painful stories of the inequality he has experienced in his life. But his story today is about perpetuating inequality among gays, lesbians and Jews. And that cannot and should not be condoned.
A member of your staff thought as I do, and, at the end of Hutcherson’s remarks, respectfully questioned him about his commitment to the values of acceptance and respect as they apply to gays and lesbians. I was shocked to learn that you issued Hutcherson an apology as a result. This – and your subsequent “fact-finding” inquest into your staff’s actions – only adds insult to injury.
Although a minimal amount of circumspection alone might have helped you determine that inviting a known bigot to speak on Martin Luther King Day may have offended members of your student body, staff and faculty, I am heartened to know that you plan to examine your policies and standards related to speakers and presentations at your school.
However, to not disavow Hutcherson’s presentation at your school will continue to amount to an endorsement of his views and values – neither of which follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King.
Sen. Ed Murray