Here's the weird part: Buell is a natural teacher with a passion and dedication that is not often rivaled. He clearly loves teenagers, which is a miracle unto itself. He is at home in the classroom and has a gift for skillfully allowing students to tackle controversial issues and learn the art of sorting them out with decorum and civility. He guides them to do the right thing, and he looks out for them. He gives. He is teacher of the year for many good reasons.
What's strange about it? Jerry Buell, Teacher of the Year last year in Mount Dora, Florida, posted his disagreement with homosexuality on his Facebook page. For that, the school district suspended him from teaching. What Ms. Ritchie can't figure out is how such a hateful bigot could be a pretty good guy at the same time.
HIs Facebook posting was rather a rant, to be sure. I wouldn't use all of the same language he did; but then, it was an upsetting moment. New York had just passed its law permitting unions for gays that would be called "marriage," as if calling it that could make it so. So it's hard to judge him for all that he said, even if a couple words in it were less than well-advised.
Anyway, here's what Ms. Ritchie doesn't get: it's possible to be a loving, skillful, passionate person and hold to moral standards at the same time. In fact, there was a time when we all knew that moral standards were essential supports behind all those other virtues.
She has moral standards of her own, of course. and apparently she thinks hers are more proper and consistent than his. Clearly she is against bigotry:
This is still America, and every bigot breathing gets to hate homosexuals as much as they want. That's a given.
Oddly enough, though, she wrote that just a couple sentences after this:
Now, it seems that every guy nervous about his own sexuality has crawled from under a rock to defend Jerry Buell.
She's expressed more than a tad bit of bigotry of her own there, in the form of highly prejudicial sterotyping.
Surely Ms. Ritchie must sense some dissonance in her own views on this. If anyone who supports Christians' rights to speak our beliefs "has crawled from under a rock," wouldn't that include this skillful, giving teacher, a man described as having unrivaled passion and dedication, with "near miracle" love for teenagers, who models decorum and civility, who looks out for students and guides them to do the right thing?
I'd camp under a rock with a guy like that any day.
Ms. Ritchie writes,
Brett Winters, the former class president and prom king who complained to the school district, said "hateful" remarks like Buell's fuel bullying and heap even more emotional pressure on students struggling to sort out their own sexuality. Things are tough enough in high school — students shouldn't have to wonder if a teacher will treat them unfairly because he is repulsed by people like them.
I'm trying to imagine what would have happened if my daughter's school had suspended the teacher there who seemed disgusted by Christian students. She made my daughter and some of her friends wonder if she would treat them unfairly. Some of these students would say they don't just wonder about it, they know.
I'm also trying to imagine how deserted schools would be if "wondering if he would treat me unfairly" always constituted grounds for dismissal.
Here's what's really weird about this. Virtue is being redefined, so that some people can't see it even when they see it. Hate is being re-defined, so that only one kind of attitude is thought to deserve that label. Priorities are being flipped over, so that a teacher's care for students depends on whether he'll encourage them to feel comfortable outside the classroom, ignoring their homework together in pairs of any kind with their clothes off.
The school had so much good to say about Jerry Buell, but not enough. He wouldn't support one attitude in the schools, and for that he was labeled a hater and suspended. Under a rock, indeed.