Earlier today while perusing the news for blog fodder, I ran across the story of Jerry Buell. Mr. Buell is a teacher of American History at Mount Dora High School in Mount Dora, Florida. Mr. Buell has been suspended by school officials in Lake County, for posting statements on his personal Facebook wall in strong opposition to gay marriage. Since then, pages have been created on Facebook, both in support of Jerry Buell getting his job back, and in support of the decision to fire him.
My personal feeling is that the Lake County school board went overboard, and may have violated Mr. Buell’s right to Free Speech when it took the action against him, so I “liked” the page supporting his reinstatement. In the process of reading through and commenting on some of these posts though, I really get the picture of the opposing sides in this debate!
On the one side, you have neo-conservative types including Mr. Buell himself, some of whom bandy about their bibles and quote scripture after scripture in support of their position, while at the same time using tactics like namecalling and personal attacks against people to whose arguments they are opposed. Not very “Christian” of them, is it? The way I’ve read MY copy of the KJV, NASB and LIV, we’re supposed to love the sinner, and hate the sin. The players in this debate on the religious right however, seem to be using vitriolic rhetoric and outright hateful words against those they consider the “sinners.” Doesn’t the Bible also tell us that we should be good stewards in our witness for Christ? It’s no wonder that so many people looking in from the outside see Christians and modern-day Christianity as something they want no part of; a hypocritical, “has-been” religion whose adherents are so self-righteous and narrow-minded that it is no longer workable.
On the flip-side of this sour pancake, we have the ultra-liberals. People like the Lake County school board, who would apparently seek to stifle and deny freedom of speech, and punish those exercising this right. People who camp in the message boards, and poke fun at the neo-cons, calling them foul names as well.
People, this is why we can’t get anywhere in this debate. Neither side follows Hoyle when it comes to fair debating and open, honest dialogue. BOTH sides are guilty of hurling the insults. The difference that I can see is the right bases their position on some conception of “Godliness.” Seemingly, it’s perfectly cricket for them to hurl the vitriol, because it’s done from righteousness and the idea that they’re “not perfect, just forgiven.” The left must look to the LAW to back them up. The only problem is that the left often takes that just as far over the line as the right, such as the school board’s actions against Jerry Buell.
This my friends is an epic tug-of-war that will not be decided for quite some time. It is a battle being waged in the school district board rooms, in the Facebook pages and groups, in courtrooms across America and in the living rooms and at the dinner tables of homes everywhere.