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This is How You Know They’ve Lost

This story, more than almost anything else, should convince the anti-gay bigots that they have lost the battle over equality. A Catholic school in Seattle fired a popular assistant principal when they found out he’s gay and hundreds of students from several Catholic schools in the city staged a huge protest. It may not get him his job back, but it’s pretty much the final nail in the coffin of bigotry. It’s all over but the shouting now. They can’t even keep the private religious school students on the reservation. They lost. And that’s a very good thing.

Comments

  1. Joey Maloney says

    I saw the story on one site where a commenter said, “They should just expel all those students, that’ll teach them!” And I thought, yep, that’ll teach them: expel the better part of the student body and then you’ll have to shut down. And the sooner the better.

  2. Trebuchet says

    I don’t see it on the linked site but my recollection is that the school had known for years that Zmuda is gay, but only took action when he got married. Because, you know, defending marriage and all that.

  3. hunter says

    Trebuchet: yep, according to all the reports I read, it was his marriage that finished him off.

    Another PR black eye for the Catholic hierarchy.

    What I find amazing is 1) the number of students who walked out (about 450 out of a student body of 600) and 2) that the protest has spread to other schools.

    Warms my cockles, it truly does.

  4. MikeMa says

    @Trebuchet
    I saw the same story. Not weapons grade hypocrisy but an admission that their position is weak.

    The Utah decision may or may not stick but judge Shelby’s (sp?) opinion that hetero marriage was and is unaffected is the real death knell. If Utah, of all places, cannot show harm, no way any other state can win on that argument.

  5. John Pieret says

    While I certainly commend those students, American Catholics have been off the reservation of conservative religion for quite some time now. Contraception, abortion, gay rights are issues that the laity have long ignored the church about. In New York, a heavily Catholic state, the bishops bigots couldn’t mount much of campaign against the same sex marriage law.

    The kind of demonstration these kids put on is important socially but does not demonstrate that the bigots have lost merely because they lost control of religious schools. It demonstrates that the whole idea of bigotry against people we know and like has lost among the very young people who will, all too soon, replace us old farts.

  6. hunter says

    John Pierret:

    I think the most important part of this is visibility. True, most American Catholics have ignored the bishops on “social issues” for a long time, but they weren’t making noise about it. This is very public, and very “up yours” to the bishops. That’s what makes the difference — the hierarchy’s authority is being challenged openly, and by kids in Catholic schools, no less.

  7. Michael Heath says

    Trebuchet writes:

    I don’t see it on the linked site but my recollection is that the school had known for years that Zmuda is gay, but only took action when he got married. Because, you know, defending marriage and all that.

    I thought the Catholic position was equal to the conservative Episcopalian position. I know the latter, not sure on the former. That position is that there’s nothing inherently sinful or immoral about being homosexual, but instead the sin starts when one acts as a homosexual; though it is considered a defective attribute. From this perspective being gay is the cross gay people have to bear, similar to other Christians who are prone to behaving in a way considered sinful by the authoritative dogma of that denomination.

    So from this perspective, this teacher is susceptible to discipline not when it’s revealed he’s gay, but instead when he acts out as a gay person. I.e., getting married to a same-sex individual.

  8. demonhauntedworld says

    Commendable, but as per Greta Christina’s post, people really need to ask themselves why they still identify as Catholic. Supporting such an institution should be unthinkable.

  9. cptdoom says

    @ Michael Heath #7 – I may be confusing this story with another one regarding Catholic hypocrisy in firing a gay teacher, but I’m pretty sure the school knew he was gay because he brought his partner to school events.

  10. Michael Heath says

    cptdoom writes:

    I may be confusing this story with another one regarding Catholic hypocrisy in firing a gay teacher, but I’m pretty sure the school knew he was gay because he brought his partner to school events.

    Which illustrates my description, it doesn’t necessarily challenge it. It would challenge my framing only if romantic behavior was expressed by the teacher and his partner.

  11. steve84 says

    And with knowing that he had a relationship, they also knew they had sex, were affectionate, etc. So your spin is complete BS. He didn’t have to do PDA at the school to violate Catholic dogma.

  12. Trickster Goddess says

    “They can’t even keep the private religious school students on the reservation.”

    Hi Ed, I would like to engage you in a bit of consciousness raising if I may:

    The idea of someone “going off the reservation” has been in use for so long that most people probably aren’t aware of the origin of the phrase. But if you stop and give it some thought you might realize that it is a rather racist reference. Consider: what people where forced to live on reservations? Native Americans. Who got upset if one of them refused to be a “good Indian” and stay put on the reservation? Their conquerors and colonial masters.

    This is the racist origin of “going off the reservation”. Now that you are aware of that, I hope you will choose different phrases to convey a similar sentiment in the future.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  13. Michael Heath says

    Trickster Goddess writes:

    . . . if you stop and give it some thought you might realize that ["off the reservation"] is a rather racist reference.

    The term is not by default a pejorative as you claim. Here it certainly isn’t. It can and is used to laud some people’s behavior.

  14. lofgren says

    My googling returned a lot of people assuming that “off the reservation” is a Native American slur, but no actual evidence. The phrase itself does not require that the historical context of Native American reservations in order to be understood (the way that e.g. “sold down the river” makes no sense without the context of slavery). It could just as easily refer to any type of reservation, e.g. wildlife or game. In addition as Heath points out it is not by default derogatory. It merely refers to the fact that a person has strayed outside of the borders of orthodoxy for their group.

    Safire’s Political Dictionary says that it refers to “off the reservation” being a lonely and dangerous place for Native Americans, not a suggestion that they are refusing to be a “good Indian.” However, he cites no source for that claim.

  15. lofgren says

    One more thing that makes me think that “off the reservation” is not a slur against Native Americans:

    The phrase is typically used in one of two ways. It can be used as Ed does here, by somebody outside of the reservation who views leaving the reservation as an escape from improper boundaries. Or it can be used by somebody within the reservation who views leaving the reservation as a betrayal.

    The is the polar opposite of what we would expect based on Trickster Goddess’ interpretation. If her interpretation was correct, then those outside the orthodoxy would use “off the reservation” to refer to people who have strayed into territory they should not, while those inside the reservation would view going “off the reservation” as, if not laudable, at least as an escape from unfair restrictions. So in my opinion Trickster Goddess’ assertion is not supported by historical evidence, current context, or necessary inference.

  16. laurentweppe says

    It’s all over but the shouting now

    There’s still one way for the bigots to become the dominant force again: hundreds of students protest? Shoot the students, pull a los Zetas, tell the world to do what you order them to do otherwise you’ll kill more innocents that there are people like you.

    And don’t even delude yourself into believing that bigots are not thinking along these lines right now

    ***

    people really need to ask themselves why they still identify as Catholic

    Seriously, after all the shit done by the US over the years, why are so many US citizens still identifying themselves as US citizens, can’t they see that the american republic has grown so corrupt and wicked that it can’t be fixed and the best thing to do now is to forsake it and openly hope for its demise?
    /Sarcasm

    Just because You consider an institiution you’re not a part of beyond any hope of redemption doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with you in order to demonstrate that they are intellectually capable.

  17. Trickster Goddess says

    lofgren, your suggested alternate origins for the phrase are just idle speculation and ring weak. Why would someone leaving a wildlife reserve become a metaphor for going outside the bounds of official control? Don’t try so hard to hand wave away the the origin.

    It isn’t that the phrase was ever used as an insult or epithet against anyone. It describes an unwanted behavior from the point of view of the European settlers. After the Indian Wars and signing of treaties, Native Americans of the plains were settled onto reservations and expected to give up their lifestyle of nomadic hunters and become farmers. This didn’t work out for a lot of them so some would return to the old hunting ways, sometimes conflicting with the new settlers.

    If you are still unconvinced of that origin explanation, consider this usage:

    Matthew Yglesias watches Andrew Sullivan not only go off the reservation, but start burning farmsteads up and down the entire Upper Missouri Valley

    Seeing it as a positive term in the context of this article is irrelevant to its origins.

    Using the term is nothing to be ashamed of or defensive about. You are not a racist if you use it and no one will think you are. The fact is that we use many idioms that derive from attitudes and practices of the past that we find reprehensible today. Some are obscured by history while others reference groups that are long gone. I’m sure if someone of the proud Vandal peoples time traveled to the present that they would be offended that we have a whole category of crime named after them.

    However the Native American and First Nations peoples are still here and many of them still live on the reservations where they were corralled and confined. And it is to our continuing shame that reservations make up _the_ poorest postal codes in both the US and Canada.

    I’m not on a “crusade” (see? — there’s another one) to police anyone’s use of the phrase. I’m just wanting people to be aware of its source, because it is still too soon to be forgetting that part of our history.

    Besides, there are over 50,000 words in the English language. Surely we don’t need to rely on cliches to express ourselves?

  18. Michael Heath says

    Trickster Goddess:

    I’m not on a “crusade” (see? — there’s another one) to police anyone’s use of the phrase. I’m just wanting people to be aware of its source, because it is still too soon to be forgetting that part of our history.

    No one demonstrates they’ve forgotten the source of the term, ‘off the reservation’. Nor do others using the term ‘crusade’ infer they too are, “forgetting that part of our history”.

  19. dingojack says

    Trickster goddess asked “…. Why would someone leaving a wildlife reserve become a metaphor for going outside the bounds of official control?

    Not ‘someone’, ‘some animals’. (Not just Amerindians live on ‘reservations’ you know. Don’t assume the US is the only place).

    Dingo

  20. Trickster Goddess says

    Michael, you are right. I sidetracked myself a bit into the not forgetting part.

    To return closer to my main concern, the phrase references a racist policy of cultural genocide perpetuated on a particular group of people in order to build our current North American society and still has repercussions today on the descendants of the original victims. Pay a visit to the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota sometime.

    I don’t like seeing that racist reference becoming normalized as an everyday metaphor.

    I brought this up just to let Ed and anyone else know that the phrase is a bit problematic. I would think that most well-intentioned people would just go “Huh, I hadn’t thought about that before” and then try to avoid using it in the future. I’m a bit puzzled that some put so much energy into rationalizing and arguing for their continuing use of it despite now being aware of its odious origin.

  21. lofgren says

    I brought this up just to let Ed and anyone else know that the phrase is a bit problematic. I would think that most well-intentioned people would just go “Huh, I hadn’t thought about that before” and then try to avoid using it in the future. I’m a bit puzzled that some put so much energy into rationalizing and arguing for their continuing use of it despite now being aware of its odious origin.

    I don’t agree that just because a term has an odious origin, we should discontinue its use. “Hysterical” has an odious origin but modern usage is so far removed from that origin that there is no reason to stop using it now. It simply does not mean what it meant then anymore.

    My alternate explanations for the phrase weren’t about its origins. If they were, they would be just as much speculation as your own, seeing as you haven’t remotely proven your claim. This is what I mean by “historical evidence.”

    My point is that a “reservation” is a proscribed boundary, and being “off” the reservation means being outside of that boundary, and this would be equally true even if human beings had never been placed on reservations. That is what I mean by “necessary inference.”

    Further you repeatedly claim that the phrase is intended to describe undesirable behavior by those on (i.e. Native Americans) to those off (i.e. Europeans) the reservation, yet this is exactly the opposite of the way the phrase is actually used. This is what I mean by “current context.”

    Based on these three criteria, I see no reason to think that this phrase means what you say it means.

  22. Michael Heath says

    Trickster Goddess:

    . . . the phrase references a racist policy of cultural genocide perpetuated on a particular group of people in order to build our current North American society and still has repercussions today on the descendants of the original victims. Pay a visit to the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota sometime.
    I don’t like seeing that racist reference becoming normalized as an everyday metaphor.

    I think you’re making an arguable point. I think many of us should be more careful when using this term, perhaps not using it all. I crossed out the one sentence because you continue to presume readers are ignorant, with no demonstration this is true. Insensitive perhaps, but not necessarily ignorant.

  23. says

    The phrase, “Off the reservation” , has been used frequently in thrillers of all sorts when someone has “gone rogue” and is breaking the rules.

    That the phrase has a deeper, pejorative connotation to certain groups is not lost on me. I don’t use the phrase often, not out of any sense of being PC but because it’s become a cliché and somewhat banal.

    ” “They should just expel all those students, that’ll teach them!” ”

    I guess that’s “growth”.

    Forty years ago they would be shouting that they should be ex-communicated.

    Four hundred years ago they would have been screeching that they should be exorcised AND executed.

  24. freehand says

    Trickster Goddess, speaking as someone who left a fundamentalist upbringing and social prison in adolescence, I speak admiringly of anyone who “goes off the reservation”. This is not a claim that “home” as a concept is odious but rather that the restrictions imposed by the “official” authorities can be an immoral and stifling barrier. If a church authority used the phrase, he (and it would be a he) would speak of it in anger and fear. I would use it approvingly.

    If anything, I would be afraid that the phrase would in time be diluted by overuse (e.g. “awesome”), especially by those of us who have not faced the dangers that a nineteenth century First Nation rebel would. (And again, he or she would be rebelling against the oppressors, not the tribe or home culture.)

  25. whheydt says

    Getting back to the topic at hand… It has now come out that, not only was the Vice Principal fired (the school claimed he quit), but he says he was given a choice of being fired or dissolving his marriage.

    And here I thought the Catholic Church was opposed to divorce…

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