Friday, March 09, 2007

Matthew and Ruth, Mostly Matthew

So, listen, my friend called me yesterday. He was going to go see the Who at the Verizon Center with somebody, and they backed out. So he had an extra ticket for tonight. Good seats, he said.

And what did I say?

No man, I gotta go to this meeting about the sex-ed thing.

Yes, it's true, I turned down good seats at a Who concert to listen to a series of evil people saying horrible things. The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum held a meeting at the Marriott conference center at Rio, in Gaithersburg, and some of us went.

I hope the papers in the morning have details of John Garza's legal plans. Well, it was late, they might have missed their deadline, maybe next day. He wants to spend a lot of money, depose a bunch of people, bring in experts from Harvard. But he doesn't have any money. Or enough lawyers. Anyway, a lot of journalists were there, and TV crews, I imagine somebody will have it.

The more interesting thing was my friend Matthew. When Matthew showed up at this thing, I told him he was "inappropriately cheerful." He said, "I'm always cheerful."

And actually, I can't think of a time when he wasn't making a joke or laughing about something. He is always cheerful.

But then, I've been to several of these CRC things, and he hasn't.

I'm not going to go through the whole nightmare meeting, just want to focus on one thing, to show you how this works.

One of the speakers was Ruth Jacobs. Ruth is an infectious disease specialist, a doctor, the CRC's rep on the citizens committee, and she l-o-o-v-v-e-s to talk about anal sex and AIDS. We've known her for years, and she just doesn't let up. She tells the school board, the PTA, she'll talk to anybody about anal sex and all the germs it spreads. Especially gay anal sex.

She gave the same talk she gave at Magruder a couple of weeks ago. She had the same unreadable slides, lots of white text on a white background, five or six different fonts on a screen, colors clashing.

I'm going to quote a couple of passages from her talk, to set a context for what followed.

She showed the Holt text, and said, "These lessons were written by a woman, as best I can tell, who had twenty years of special education teaching experience to qualify her for the tenth grade lesson..."

Later she showed a slide and said:
"The condom use lesson was taken from several FDA web sites, and this FDA web site was utilized by Montgomery County Public Schools. Right smack dab in the middle, what does it say? "Are condoms strong enough for anal intercourse?" Mmmm. The Surgeon General, this was Everett Koop, 1988, has said, "Condoms provide some protection but anal intercourse is simply too dangerous to practice." Why? It might be more likely to break, then the tears and bleeding allow disease to pass more easily."

A little later, we were back to this ...
"OK, as I've said, the lessons were written, the tenth grade lesson, Judy Chiasson, she's an employee, she's [unclear] Project 10, which is a gay advocacy group, she's not a health care professional, she's not a health care educator. Their mission is to ensure a safe, supportive, and welcoming campus, free from discrimination and harassment for sexual minority youth. I make a point -- we agree with this, we want everybody to be safe from discrimination, but their mission does not include protection against health risks of sexual activity and importantly, when you opt out, you have a new discrimination ... set ... you know? So, my concern is, let's have no discrimination for anyone in the school. Not ... just ... for ..."

And she tailed off.

I'm not going through all the speakers, just getting to one part that nailed it for me.

The evening ended with a Q&A session, and people in the audience -- there were between fifty and seventy-five people there, some were us, a lot were journalists, and about ten people left in the middle -- were outraged and shocked etcetera to learn about the gay agenda in our schools and so on.

And wouldn't you know, Matthew held up his hand. Immediately, Theresa from CRC went over to John Garza, who was managing the microphone, and they whispered back and forth, and Garza worked the other side of the room with the microphone.

Eventually he used up that side, and let a couple of people on our side talk. Soon he was standing right in front of us, but with his back to Matthew. Matthew kept his hand up, patiently.

It got ridiculous, Garza couldn't turn to his side because it would make it impossible to pretend not to notice Matthew.

Garza stood right in front of him, holding the microphone, wouldn't look at him, wouldn't pass it to him. He tried to wrap up the Q&A, and started walking away. Finally, somebody said something.

Garza looked around as if he were surprised. He hesitated, and Matthew just started talking. He said "I have a question, please."

Somebody said, "C'mon, John, don't be a coward, let Matthew speak."

Matthew said, "You stood right here for three minutes and you didn't acknowledge me."

Finally they decided to take one more question, and Garza passed the mike to Matthew. Matthew said, "Thank you, I want to ask a couple of questions here that it's important for us to hear some real answers to. Doctor Jacobs, you know full well that the Surgeon General never made that statement. And you know full well that the FDA web site that says that the statement was made is not proper. It was actually the Sugeon General's Understanding AIDS brochure that was sent to all Americans. And that statement about anal sex is not included in that brochure and you know that, so I'm not real sure why you continue to promote that statement.

"The other thing you also know full well is Project 10, that group in California that you so like to disparage, is an official organization of the Los Angeles school board, it's not a private organization. It is a function of the school board and it's important for people to know that.

"You also know that sixty five percent of all AIDS patients in Maryland are heterosexuals, but the vast majority of your time spent on the committee was talking about HIV and homosexuals. And I don't understand the disconnect there.

"And you also note there are whole sections on the health curriculum that talk about HIV and AIDS but yet every time we had a discussion about homosexuality you wanted to bring in HIV and AIDS, if for no other reason that I could tell, to try to teach people that HIV and gays are together and all gays are going to come up with HIV.

"And finally I thought it was interesting in one of the videos that you brought up had an African American man talk about Martin Luther King's civil rights movement. I doubt most people in here know that the man who organized the march on Washington for Reverend King was a gay black man."

Yes, I was proud of my friend. And did I mention, he is Director of the Office of Program Operations and Scientific Information in the Division of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome at the National Institutes of Health? And that he's eternally cheerful? Ah, yes, maybe I did mention that.

So how do you think Ruth Jacobs responded?

"You've been listening to Matthew Murguia, a member of the committee, who was a member for nine months before he did inform us that he was gay. And I don't believe ... [inaudible, somebody is saying "Oh my God, what does that have to do with it?"] ... full disclosure you can go to the FDA web site, the petition is on it, and on the petition is the access for the web site."

Matthew said, "If anyone wants the citation I have it right here for you so you can look it up yourself."

[Note: the FDA web site is HERE. See if you can find the Surgeon General's quote in the document they link to.]

Ruth kept going: "The citation is there, it is an up-to-date web site, it's in the middle of the web site. Mister Murguia when he was defending this said, y'know, smoking is a Surgeon General's statement and I really don't think that that has ever helped Americans."

Matthew hollered out, "Context Ruth, put it in context."

Ruth said, "Whatever it is necessary for him to say to match his gay agenda, he will say. And I have been very careful to stick to the CDC, the FDA, because I've known that there would be concerns."

And that wrapped up the Q&A section.

And that, in a nutshell, was our night at the CRC's meeting. On the way home I sang along with "Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer" at the top of my lungs, and my wife called me on my cell phone from Iowa, and it was great -- great -- to hear from her, even though her dad is pretty sick. And I was really glad to get home to those problematic, confused, self-conscious and perfectly terrific teenagers of mine. Dirty dishes and all.

Oh, and when I got home, I watched the news, and they interviewed Matthew, and in his ridiculously cheerful way he told them just what he thought about it all. And it was good.


Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Actually, Jim, I said, "C'mon, Johnny, don't be a coward. Let Matthew speak." I think it was the endearment of calling him "Johnny" that did it.

March 09, 2007 8:30 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Jim, to give up the Who for Ruth and Johnny G- you are the MAN(or crazy). I went out with a pretty poor specimen of a guy in college because the guy had tickets to see the WHO do Tommy(and yet, the guy was so much better than Ruth or Johnny). You would hope that the journalists who were there might recognize a disjointed speaker with bad slides- who may be a doctor but is a nutcase, obsessed with anal sex and homophobic. you might hope they would also check the "sources" she cited and also check to see that MCPS teaches a great deal about sexually transmitted diseases in the class. As to having money to sue- anyone who gives CRC money to sue is pathetic. If they are so concerned about kids, why not give the money to feed the 25% of Montgomery county kids who are hungry(My source for this statistic is Manna in Rockville). Manna provides backpacks with food on Fridays to kids who won't be getting school lunches and breakfasts on the weekend(but I digress)

March 09, 2007 8:33 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

To me the most interesting aspect was that after two hours of the usual PFOX/CRC lies, distortions and innuendos, to which we've become accustomed now since 2004, the tone changed. One could have, and many did, sit there, thinking this was all science, taking the speakers at their word. You couldn't read 90% of the Powerpoint, but if you had no background, and most of the parents didn't, you wouldn't know. Johnny Garza closed by spouting the usual "Love the sin, hate the sinner" nonsense, which offended the African-American woman, no friend of teaching about sexual orientation, in front of me whom Jim quoted. And then, for some strange reason, this group, which had just repeatedly been saying that they're not the bigots, they're not the ones who are intolerant, America is being destroyed by this new sense of tolerance (a very common trope these days on the right), launched a few videos. I forget the website, but Jim may have the link. They had earlier cut and pasted Robert Spitzer to make him sound reasonable about conversion therapy, but this was the "entertainment" part to rally the troops (There had been little enthusiasm before this moment).

The videos were pure and simple bigotry. One supposedly Jewish kid leered into the camera and said something to the effect "I'm a Jewish American and I don't think people should have special rights to have sex." Another said something like "the disability community needs to be protected but not homosexuals," as it faded to him in a wheelchair when he says he has cerebral palsy. The coup-de-grace was the clip Jim mentioned Matthew referenced of the angry African American senior citizen who defensively claimed he was insulted that gays dare to claim the mantle of civil liberties for themselves when blacks were enslaved for 150 years.

I apologize for not remembering the quotes, but what struck me was the hate and anger in those videos. And what was worse was that segments of the crowd cheered loudly.

So much for "We're not bigots. We don't want you if you're going to be a bigot," as Garza proclaimed at the start.

March 09, 2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Maybe all is not lost.

At one point, when Peter Sprigg mentioned gender issues, Rosemarie Briggs asked if the kids were taught that their birth certificate was classified based on their anatomy. The panel chuckled a bit, mumbled and then said, “No.”

I was curious as to what part of one’s anatomy she was referring – there are many, after all – so I approached her at the end of the program and we had a nice chat. I educated her about gender identity, intersex conditions,the multiple types of sexual markers (Chromosomes, genes, hormones, receptors, gonads, genitals, reproductive organs, body morphology, brain sex), revising birth certificates and the like. I was surprised when she offered to me that Jamie Lee Curtis is reported to be intersex.

I hope she learned something to me. She was polite and seemed genuinely interested. I have to wonder, then, why an intelligent woman such as she would be uncritical of the nonsense spouted by these groups. There is usually something very personal going on with those who make a career out of this, as was evidenced by a much older man who told both Chris and me that he had been groped once by a “ho-mo-sex-ual.” Chris asked him how old he was, he said “63,” so she replied that if he had been groped once in his 63 years, which he said was indeed the case, it wasn’t worthy of note. She, otoh, had been groped too many times to count by men, so he should give it a rest.

March 09, 2007 8:53 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Well, if I went to Ruth Jacobs and she started to talk to me the way she does at BOE meetings - I would run out of the office. I doubt her patients know anything about her. My most outspoken doctor gives her patients a list of fats not to eat and once called and left me a phone message about the only sorts of cookies I should eat(we had a discussion about animal crackers)

March 09, 2007 2:05 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I didn't see anything in the morning paper about Garza's legal plans but I took some notes during his opening session last night. He talked about marketing strategies he read in a 1990 book called, "After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's" by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. He said "tolerance is now a vice" and mentioned "this ridiculous idea of 'intolerance.'" Unlike State Superintendent Grasmick, he apparently isn't concerned with intolerance that leads to bullying and harassment, which are current problems in Maryland public schools including MCPS.

Garza complained that Blair High School had promised him a copy of the "debate" he taped for their "Shades of Life" TV show but never provided it to him and that Churchill High School's student newspaper hadn't corrected some misinformation about him.

Garza said he needs "lawyers, sons, and money." He needs lawyers because he expects to call 50 witnesses during a 6 week trial before the State BOE rules in July. He needs sons and fathers brothers because the entire CRC is made up of only women, except for himself and FRC's/PFOX's Peter Sprigg. He needs money to pay for:

$15,000.00 to pay for taking depositions from the members and chair of the CAC.

$6,000.00 to take depositions from the members of the BOE.

$20-30,000.00 to hire expert witnesses "from Harvard."

$10-30,000.00 to pay for signs, the website, and postage.

Maybe this need for up to $81,000.00 indicates Liberty Counsel won't be helping them this time Robert. I don't know.

After the program, I spoke with Peter Sprigg, who had complained that the framework for the curriculum didn't mention the word "marriage." I asked him if he'd ever checked the 8th and 10th grade curricula for Family Life and Human Development (FLHD) for the word "marriage." Apparently he hadn't. I pointed out to him that the framework is not what's taught to MCPS students, it's the curriculum. The existing 8th and 10th grade FLHD curricula ("...Current Curricula" on the RESOURCES page of this website) that will continue to be taught along with the new additional lessons on sexual orientation mention "marriage," "marry," or "wife" more than a dozen times.

Last night Michelle Turner said more than once that the existing curriculum was very good and should be offered by MCPS. She said, "there are a lot of kids in schools that are not going to get the information that they need from someone at home." I agree. I also think that the same should be said about the new lessons on sexual orientation; there are a lot of kids in school who are not going to get the information they need about sexual orientation from someone at home. All of this information -- from the existing curricula to the two new lessons on sexual orientation (and the condom demonstration in 10th grade) -- should be offered by MCPS.

March 09, 2007 3:53 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I don't udnerstand why Garza keeps talking about a "trial" at the state BoE. It will be a hearing, not a trial.

It seems that Garza and Co. don't have the funds to launch a real lawsuit. It wouldn't surprise me, since the last suit was filed in the heyday of the Christianist movement. Those days are long gone. Maybe they'll be able to hire one of those AGs who did Gonzalez's bidding at harrassing Democratic candidates before the last election, once thye're fired and indicted.

March 09, 2007 6:09 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

What, Ben Patton isn't a CRC member? What about the guy who had the nerve to say to Scott Davenport- " Don't worry, we hate the sin, not the sinner"- what about Tony C? They all dropped out?- so only the diehard loonies are left? Of course, Peter Sprigg basically gets paid to be a right winger.

March 09, 2007 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Garza complained that Blair High School had promised him a copy of the "debate" he taped for their "Shades of Life" TV show but never provided it to him and that Churchill High School's student newspaper hadn't corrected some misinformation about him.


Well Garza can tape his "air time" played on Chnl 34 if he is so interested in a tape to watch himself.

I guess threatening the GSA at Churchill over posters in past was "their fault" and not Johnny's?

Poor Johnny complaining about high schoolers.



March 10, 2007 3:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Johnny complaining about high schoolers.

Uh huh...Shades of Ida Rubin.

March 10, 2007 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they'll be able to hire one of those AGs who did Gonzalez's bidding at harrassing Democratic candidates before the last election, once thye're fired and indicted.

Maybe they'll even get a chance at Gonzalez himself when he steps down. As Senator Chuck Shumer just a said on Face the Nation, it's time Gonzalez realizes that he is no longer just Bush's personal attorney. He has a higher obligation than a personal attorney has. He's supposed to protect and defend the Constitution, not just his client.


March 11, 2007 10:44 AM  

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