Obama fired Van Jones, and now the wingnuts (does anyone else think the plural of "wingnut" should officially become "angry mob"?) smell blood. Who should be their next target? It's looking like Kevin Jennings is fresh to receive some false outrage. Why the hell not, it's not like Fox News and the Washington Times have anything better to discuss.
I posted about Kevin Jennings earlier this year - he was the man picked for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, an office he's particularly qualified for because of his work with and founding of GLSEN, the LGBT org behind gay-straight alliances, the National Day of Silence, and a few valuable studies on the safety of LGBT students in public schools. The FRC ran a full-page ad pretty much accusing him of being a pedophile (of course he is, he's gay) in the Washington Examiner. GoodAsYou and TPM did some research and found out that most of the claims were either exaggerated or false.
A few of the things he said were meant to be understood as things he believed when he hated himself for being gay before he came out, some are some really uncontroversial, yet not-hysteric-enough-for-FRC statements about drug use, and one story about a teenager who told him that he was propositioned by an older man and that he didn't care about living.
Apparently, since Jennings didn't grab the teen by the arm, drag him down to the police station, and make him describe in detail what happened to him and make a police sketch of the older dude, Jennings loves pedophilia.
Here's what the Washington Times had to say about him:
A new outrage in Washington shows how far distinctions have been lost at the highest reaches of power. Kevin Jennings, President Obama's "safe school czar," is revealed to have once failed to aid a 15-year-old boy who came to him for help after he was enticed into sexual relations with a man in a bus station restroom.
Mr. Jennings, who was then a high school teacher, not only did not report the incident, but told the boy to make sure "to use a condom" with the man. When another teacher scolded his conduct as "unethical," noting that statutory rape is severely punished by the law, Mr. Jennings threatened to sue his colleague for slander. He recounts the episode in his book, boasting that the boy "left my office with a smile on his face."
Here's what Kevin Jennings originally said in his book, in its original context:
And I said, "Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?" And he said, "Well, I'm tired." And I said, "Well we all are tired and we all got to school today." And he said, "Well I was out late last night." And I said, "What were you doing out late on a school night." And he said, "Well, I was in Boston..." Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, "What were you doing in Boston on a school night Brewster?" He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, "Well I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him." High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn't know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly so I finally said, My best friend had just died of AIDS the week before. I looked at Brewster and said, "You know, I hope you knew to use a condom." He said to me something I will never forget, He said "Why should I, my life isn't worth saving anyway."
I cannot remain closeted; I cannot allow the next generation to feel the way I felt"
Personally, I think it would have been a terrible idea to take a teen in that state to the police station and force him to draw a sketch of the man he had sex with. He already has enough internalized homophobia, and, if Michelle Malkin et al. actually cared about the kid (which they don't), they'd at least stop using homophobia, the very reason this kid wanted to die, as a political football to advance their agenda.
If Brewster was a closeted teen back in the 80's, I doubt he would have wanted to go to the police and described, in detail, how he had sex with a man. His family and his school would have found out, so I imagine he just would have refused to go. Plus Massachusetts had a sodomy law at the time, so he would have been confessing to a crime. That would have shown him he had no one to confide in, which would have made him more depressed and possibly more suicidal. And, in my book, his language that points to suicide is more troubling than the fact he had sex. But that's just my fucked up morality.
That's part of this idiocy. Would any of these Captain Americas who say Jennings should have handcuffed and dragged Brewster to the police department to make him testify against the "homosexual child predator" have done the same themselves back at the same time the incident happened? Or would they have just said "Get the fuck away from me, faggot!" and tried to forget what happened? Something tells me that it would have been the latter, and that they would have no regrets about it today.
Media Matters also says that Jennings was mistaken at the time, the teen was 16, which was the legal age of consent in Massachusetts at the time (as it is today). I don't know what's true, but I sure as hell know that the Washington Times, which started this round of hysteria, doesn't have any evidence to contradict that.
But this isn't about the fact that Jennings didn't report a crime. And this isn't about the teen possibly being hurt and these folks are swooping down to his defense (remember their entire "Mark Foley's chats were with totally-legal 16-year-olds" argument?). And I wouldn't even say that this is entirely about people's discomfort with intergenerational lovin'.
What this is about is throwing a pie in Obama's face and getting another one of his appointees fired. And why not. Obama already showed he has no backbone when it comes to a hissy fit and that he'll fire whoever they want as long as they stomp their feet long enough. It's not like they actually want to discuss policy with the rest of us.
The fact that Jennings is gay - one could even call him a "radical homosexual activist" because of his effective and invaluable work with GLSEN - is entirely coincidental, of course. Just like Van Jones's and Jeremiah Wright's skin color.
BTW, here's the Dept. of Education's response:
"21 years later, I can see how I should have handled the situation differently. I should have asked for more information and consulted medical or legal authorities. Teachers back then had little training and guidance about this kind of thing. All teachers should have a basic level of preparedness. I would like to see the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools play a bigger role in helping to prepare teachers."
"Kevin Jennings has dedicated his professional career to promoting school safety. He is uniquely qualified for his job and I am honored to have him on our team."
How much you wanna bet Jennings will be "mired in controversy" over a "child sex scandal" by next week in even the most reputable news sources? Powerful liberals will probably even be calling for him to be fired because they think, contrary to all evidence and experience, that if they just go along with this hissy fit, the angry mob will stop. But they won't; they'll just find another target and move on. It's how they roll.