Tuesday, January 3, 2012

After Gay Teen's Suicide, Christian Right Backs 'License to Bully'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Anti-gay conservatives are working overtime to explain away the suicide of young Jacob Rogers. They dismiss all the name-calling and bullying at his high school. Instead, they claim it was Jacob's own fault somehow. In its latest radio report, David Fowler's F.A.C.T. concedes "it's wrong to bully people because of their sexual practices" but blames Jacob's death on his own alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorder. According to F.A.C.T., it's all "the rotten fruit of the all-about-me individualist culture that comes when we deny the existence of God and his image in us."

In correspondence with the Tennessee Equality Project, the state's main gay rights group, state Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, claimed gay people commit suicide at a higher rate than others and suggested Jacob's sexuality itself drove him to kill himself. Ragan asked whether the suicide could have had "more to do with his own proclivities and behavior than anything to do with schoolmate bullies ..."

Blaming the victim is necessary to prevent Jacob's death from damaging chances for passage of F.A.C.T.'s 2012 state legislative priority—a bill to make it easier for young bigots to mistreat gay schoolkids. This legislation brought by conservative Christians who oppose special protections for gay people actually gives special protections to homophobic bullies.

"If made into law, FACT would give students a 'license to bully' that allows them to hide their irrational biases behind an extreme religious belief," the Equality Project's Chris Sanders says.

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