Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Critiquing the Texas House--Satirical Version (because the devil hates to be mocked)

The other day, the Texas House of Representatives approved a budget bill requiring that public universities which fund GLBT student centers (that is, centers within student affairs offices that serve gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students) must extend the same resources to creating an equivalent “traditional values” student center. In attempting to understand the impact of such legislation on college students in Texas, an intrepid imaginary reporter here at The Piety that Lies Between tracked down Billy, a faux student at the University of Texas law school, who is an active member of one of the conservative groups promoting the legislation.

TPTLB: As you see it, what is the purpose of this new legislation?

Billy: Well, it’s clearly unfair that the people with…those…sexualities get to have an entire student services center devoted to them while the rest of us are left out. This legislation calls for parity.

TPTLB: So you want a student office that is specifically devoted to the unique needs of heterosexual students on campus?

Billy: That’s right. It’s only fair.

TPTLB: What kinds of services would such an office offer? I mean, if we’re talking about needs that are unique to heterosexuals, does that mean the center would operate like a kind of campus-based Planned Parenthood?

Billy: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (There is a long pause while Billy composes himself.) This is supposed to be a traditional values center, not some den of iniquity handing out free love instruction manuals and murdering babies.

TPTLB: I see. So what services would they provide?

Billy: Well, for example, they could bring speakers to campus who would defend traditional values.

TPTLB: Like loving your neighbor? Caring for the poor? That sort of thing?

Billy: Well, I suppose if they wanted to that would be okay. But the point of the center is to stand up for traditional sexual values.

TPTLB: Traditional sexual values? Like limiting sex to the context of marriage?

Billy: Yes, for example.

TPTLB: So does that mean the center you envision would advocate for same-sex marriage?

Billy: What?!? Why the &*$^!#!@ would you think the center would do that?

TPTLB: Well, as it stands, same-sex couples are systematically denied the opportunity to participate in the institution of marriage. This means that gays and lesbians can’t restrict their sexual expression to the context of marriage even if they wanted to.

Billy: What the crud are you talking about? The whole point of the traditional values center is to condemn those %^$#$!@ perverts.

TPTLB: Oh, so what you’re proposing is a special center on campus specially created for the purpose of condemning gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities. Is your idea that if there’s a center on campus designed to serve the needs of a minority group that faces marginalization and abuse, it’s only fair that there be a center devoted to perpetuating that marginalization and abuse?

Billy: No.


Billy: It’s not about perpetuating marginalization and abuse. It’s about standing up for God’s law.

TPTLB: Oh. So what you want is for the State of Texas to publicly fund religious centers whose sole aim is to promulgate religious teachings which explicitly condemn homosexuality? You think the “no establishment of religion” clause should be repealed from the constitution?

Billy: No! You’re just being a &!#$@. I want comparable centers so that universities aren’t being biased. That’s it.

TPTLB: Well, okay. Then let’s think about what a comparable center would look like. GLBT student centers exist to serve the distinctive needs of sexual minorities. These needs are uniquely tied to the consequences of growing up and living in a society whose norms and expectations make little or no room for their sexuality. Because of their differences, they are more frequently targeted for systematic physical and psychological abuse, euphemistically called "bullying". Some are beaten severely, even to the point of death, just because they’re gay. They experience systemic social marginalization by being excluded from participation in marriage, one of the basic institutions of our society. They are told by religious conservatives that their very sexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” that their very desires (whether they act on them or not) are always “sinful, impure, degrading, shameful, unnatural, indecent and perverted,” and that if they ever act on their romantic impulses by making a loving commitment to another person, they will be making a commitment to sin. As a result of all of this, sexual minorities often suffer from depression and even suicidal impulses. In fact, gay teens are up to four times as likely to kill themselves than their heterosexual peers. In recognition of this reality, universities have created student centers responsive to the distinctive needs of sexual minorities—for counseling services, for advocacy in the face of social prejudice, and for protection from various forms of abuse. How, exactly, would a comparable institution for heterosexuals look?

Billy: Well, maybe straight people like me who stand up for traditional values are beginning to feel a bit…what was the word you used? Marginalized. I mean, maybe we’re starting to be abused for our beliefs. I wouldn’t be surprised if some good Christians are feeling a touch suicidal because of all the intolerance.

TPTLP: Is there evidence of such...intolerance?

Billy: Well, for example, if I were to walk through UT law school with a shirt on that said, 'Homosexuality is immoral,' if I were to do that, there would be an uproar. People would be upset, and it would be considered out of place and not acceptable to do that. I'd probably get a talking to.** I mean, can you imagine that? A talking to? I bet you none of those gays and lesbians you’re so protective about ever got themselves a talking to! I’m a victim, I tell you! I poor, suffering victim! I NEED A CENTER!

TPTLP: Um, my gay best friend has been beaten for his sexuality. Numerous times, in fact. He’s woken up after being knocked unconscious, his head bloody. After coming out in high school, my gay cousin had his home repeatedly vandalized, including having "fag" scrawled on his driveway. Have you been beaten up for being straight? Had your home vandalized for it?

Billy: You’re missing the point. Those of us who oppose homosexuality are beginning to feel more and more like a minority on college campuses. We aren’t allowed to call homosexuals gross abominations against God without having our views challenged. People actually have the audacity to tell us that our beliefs are wrong and that announcing them by sporting them on our fashion choices is inappropriate! I mean, that's practically censorship! Talk about social marginalization and systematic abuse! We need a publicly funded center on campus to stand behind us, to tell us that our beliefs are right and to stand up for our efforts to drive homosexuals back into the closet! We need a center on campus that prints “Anti-Gay and Proud” T-shirts for us to wear! And it’s high time that our public universities stand up for my right not to get a talking to when I publicly condemn other people for doing things that, because of my heterosexual orientation, I’m not tempted to do! I mean, do you realize how good it makes me feel to fixate on homosexuality as if it were the worst of sins? It feels great, because then avoiding sin is easy! It’s just a matter of avoiding sex with people I’m not even remotely attracted to! Wow! Couldn’t get any easier! I can keep on ignoring the plight of the poor, enjoy my privilege, and yet still feel great about myself because at least I ain’t no homosexual!

TPTLB: Um. Well. And you don’t think there’s any similarity between a center like the one you’re describing and, say, a white supremacist center on campus funded for the sake of creating parity in the face of the African American Student Affairs office?

(At this point Billy is so offended by the comparison that he storms away.)

**The words that appear in italics before the double asterix are the actual words of Tony McDonald, a law student at UT Austin and an officer of the Young Conservatives of Texas, a group that worked with Republican Representative Wayne Christian on introducing the recent Texas legislation. The hyperbolic elaborations (as well as everything else attributed to Billy) are purely my own invention.


  1. You aptly capture the absurdity of the discussion that ensues by even dignifying these people with a response.

    My favorite quote on this subject is by Wanda Sykes: "If you don't believe in same-sex marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex!" ... and that should be the extent of anyone's involvement in the issue.

    It says a lot about people who are so bothered, especially those who are so beside themselves they actively spread hatred and oppression.

    This is a generation of people who has managed to end DADT, and that gives me hope for the future. We are not going to change everyone's minds, but we can work to change the norms.

  2. I don't think a desire to adhere to traditional views ought to be stopped anymore than adhering to other points of view. Certainly groups formed to defend traditional views ought not in any shape or manner should be hate groups. The amount of hate out there is quite frightening. I would not live in a state where this hate is so abundant. I would flee to either the east or west coast. The middle of this nation is just bizarre.

    Sometimes this is not possible. By the way, my sibling did all the signs for the M. Shephard (sp) film. He owned a sign shop along with a group of Christians. It was tough for their company as all of them are very traditional and yet seeing such hate on their own signs was very upsetting. This does prove not everyone who holds traditional values hates others. The collective group of people who owned this small business had many discussions prior to accepting the contract from the filming company.