Monday, April 02, 2007
Whatever happened to the First Amendment?
Apparently, in some towns it's illegal for gay people (or their supporters) to stand on public sidewalks....

Hey, when we say sidewalks, we mean it!

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posted by Mike Clawson at 7:50 AM | Permalink |


At 4/02/2007 08:27:00 AM, Blogger PrincessMax

Interestingly, the large Evangelical para-church organization that I work for blocks SoulForce's website as "Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Interest." This did not happen a couple of weeks ago when you first linked to SoulForce.

Apparently, when we say no gays allowed, we mean it.

(I won't be here much longer.)


At 4/02/2007 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Sorry about that Princess... my college used to block anything even potentially pornographic. Used to make it really difficult to do online psychology research if you were looking for statistics on "adults". ;)

The gist of the story was that police in this Kentucky town harrassed the Soulforce riders by insisting that they couldn't stand on the sidewalk, they had to keep moving - which they did by marching up and down in front of the school for several hours. However, when one of them stopped to talk with two students that wanted to converse the police nabbed them.

I ask you, how is that not blatant discrimination and a clear abuse of power? And what ever happened to the right to peaceably assemble on public property?



At 4/02/2007 02:04:00 PM, Blogger Richard Wade

The article describes several U of C students expressing sympathy for the Equality Bus cause, as well as feeling intimidated by the prospect of expulsion or other persecution. My question to them is, "Why do you continue to attend such a college?" When you buy their education you support their policies. There are plenty of other places you can get a good education. There's an old saying from the Civil Rights and anti Viet Nam War era: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."


At 4/02/2007 05:34:00 PM, Blogger Julie

Well - one reason could be that that is the only place their parents would agree to pay for. I encounter this a lot. Parent's control their child's school choice by only agreeing to pay tuition at certain schools. The child is faced with a free education at a school of their parent's choice or a ton of debt. And honestly, these days I wouldn't pass up a free education.


At 4/02/2007 09:53:00 PM, Blogger The Christian Heretic

Thanks for making us aware, Mike.


At 4/04/2007 02:16:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

Most respectfully Julie, think about what you're saying.
If college students are still children, they don't belong there. Let them work for a couple of years with people who will never have an education. Then they'll really appreciate it. Let them negotiate with their parents, take a stand and live by it. They're selling their souls to the devil for a free education at a college that treats people inhumanely and punishes those who disagree. Is that going to be the first step in their professional careers? Expediency over ethics? If so, they'll eventually be the ones threatening students with expulsion.
I got two masters degrees on my own money, sometimes one class at a time. It took a long time but it was entirely my own, and I never once had to compromise my values. My education has given me influence, prestige and affluence. My principles have guarded me from ever misusing them. If I had bought my degrees by selling my ethics, I'd just be another monster in a three piece suit.


At 4/04/2007 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Richard,

I don't think Julie was saying she approved of parents forcing this choice - just that it was a reality for a lot of students. It's a difficult decision, and with 4-year college costs going over $100,000 these days, it's not always realistic for students to work their way through school anymore. (Especially if their parents are too affluent for them qualify for much financial aid.) Anyway, it's complicated - not always so black and white.

Another possibility is that a lot of students at these conservative schools undergo a transformation in their views while they are there. This happened to Julie and I while at Wheaton College. When we started there it was the perfect school for us and we agreed with most of it's attitudes about that kind of stuff. However, while we were there we were influenced by more progressive profs, peers, and books and gradually began the process of transformation that has led us to where we are today. By the time we graduated from Wheaton I don't know if we would have still chosen to go there if we had it to do over. As alumni we still agitate for change with the administration and alumni association from time to time.

On the other hand, everything is a mixed bag. Even conservative schools have things about them that make them worthwhile for the students that go there. Some students decide that the positives outweigh the negatives and choose to just live with the things they don't like (and maybe work to change them).

I mean, it's not like you're ever going to find a perfect school. For instance, Julie briefly attended a big state school back home in between semesters at Wheaton, and she's said that she experienced more academic freedom in her field (literature) at Wheaton than she did at the secular state school. At Wheaton the profs encouraged looking at multiple viewpoints and differing theories in their discipline, while ironically at the secular school the profs were rigid about adhering to the particular academic orthodoxy their department supported.

Anyway, there are lots of reasons people would choose to still go to a school whose policies they don't support. However, I wouldn't recommend it in general, and to be honest, there weren't many progressive students at Wheaton. Most came in already agreeing with the college. The few that didn't typically stood out as different and radical - which is probably why Julie and I gravitated toward them. :)



At 4/04/2007 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Julie

okay, so Mike just said most of the stuff I was going to say.

I do want to add that there are an equal number of secular parents I've know that control their kids in the same way. They will only send their kid to the school they graduated from or refuse to pay for a Christian college.

And I don't think student are stupid or "children" for not wanting to acquire a huge pile of debt. I know that it is trendy to do that to live the American Dream, but I think its wrong. It is also very very hard to actually get an education (as opposed to taking the minimum number of classes and earning the minimum grade and therefore a diploma) when one has to work full time. But I've had enough people lecture me about bootstraps, and protestant work ethics, and blah blah blah to really want to go there.


At 4/05/2007 02:40:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

I guess people fight for the causes that they really care about. Those students who said they sympathize with the gays but weren’t willing to risk the consequences of joining in just didn’t care that much. Okay, I would only hope they’re honest about it. Your values are indicated only by what you do, not by what you say.

I understand that young people today face very high tuitions and all the other complex pressures around them. However life aint supposed to be easy. If you choose to be a person of principle it’s never easy. I chose the harder route and though I’m not as rich as I might be, I can live with myself. I passed up promotions because they required me to use my skills against things and people I believed in. I’m not saying I’m a martyr, but I am saying I’m a man. Whining about how much money you’ll lose if you do the right thing doesn’t impress me. That’s too damn bad. Get the money honorably some other way.

I’m not putting up a comparison between religious and secular colleges, or religious and secular parents. That has nothing to do with it. I’m saying wherever you go you are going to be pressured to compromise your values, to ignore injustice, to praise the unworthy and to condemn the blameless. To the extent you do that, you’re a worm. Each generation seems to have fewer individuals who are willing to stand up and object to the unethical, the inequitable and the unjust. We don’t have leaders any more; we have salesmen.

The idea of working within a corrupt organization in order to reform it is fraught with danger. I once had a friend who got a management position in a company notorious for mistreatment of its workers. He didn’t like that and he said he’d help change it from the inside. As the years passed, I’d say, “Well when are you going to change things?” He’d say that he needed a little more power, a little more clout, then he’d do it. Well, by not making waves he rose higher and higher in the company but had less and less interest in making any waves. Needless to say we’re no longer in contact.

Mike and Julie, I’ve said elsewhere that I admire what you are doing here and in your church. For instance you post these terrific articles about wanting a fair shake for gays and women. I know you go out on a limb just by writing what you do. You take a stand and I’m sure you pay for it. But don’t come up with sympathetic excuses or rationalizations for those who secretly say they care but won’t take a stand. Things are not going to get better for gays or women because of people who whisper, “Well I really do care about what you’re struggling with, but I’ve got my school/parents/money/job/reputation to think about.”

I remember a story about some guy a very long time ago who went unflinchingly against the status quo again and again. He came to an unpleasant end, but he changed a lot of things.

I’ll shut up now; I’ve probably said too much already.

Your pain-in-the-ass atheist friend,


At 4/05/2007 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson


I definitely agree that we need more people of integrity who are willing to make sacrifices for their convictions. And I agree that those students at that particular school should have had more courage of their convictions. It's kind of lame that they were so afraid of a backlash from their school. But only hearing a few lines reported in an article I really can't judge the whole situation or their motivations. I know what I would have done, but each person has to make their own choices.

Trust us, we have taken plenty of stands. We've been fired (well, "encouraged to resign") from a church who couldn't handle our progressive views. We've seen people walk away from our current church because we didn't take a stand on their pet conservative issues. I've even recently gotten some nasty letters from former church attenders because I dared ask for prayer for my friend on this Equality Ride. Julie and I are tired of hiding who we are and what we stand for and we're not worried about the consequences anymore.

But I do remember what it was like to still be in process - questioning, uncertain of exactly what I believed, and afraid of the consequences of going against the flow - so I can sympathize with these students to a degree. College is a time of life when a lot of young people go through a transition in their beliefs, and I don't expect someone in transition to react with the same force of conviction that someone further down the road might.

Anyhow, we're on the same side with this. I do want to see more people take a stand for justice despite the consequences. Maybe the difference in our approach is due to our professions. My job as a pastor is to be a catalyst for change in others (and hopefully in society too). I have to have the patience to guide people through those transitions, to take them from where they are to where I hope they'll be. (Not saying that I always have enough patience. I struggle with that.) I have to think about what approach will be the most effective to bring about that change in people - and usually it's not a frontal assault on people's current beliefs. Love, dialogue, and subtle subversion takes longer, but tends to be more effective in the long run, in my experience.

Anyway, we're both wanting to see the same thing my friend - I've just committed myself to being an agent of change from within the system. You're right that it's dangerous. I just don't know any other way to bring about the change we both want to see. The way of power tends to just turn oppressed into oppressors themselves and perpetuate the same problem in a different guise - so I figure that I might as well give the way of love a try instead.




At 4/05/2007 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Richard Wade

You’re right in that I should be less harsh in my judgment of those young people. They’re still trying to figure out who they are, let alone where they stand. I just worry that as the twig is bent so grows the tree. My best friend teaches ethics to well established businessmen. That is not an easy task. Once expediency becomes implanted as a character trait it grows like a tumor to supplant the others.

I can afford to be a hard ass about ethics because having been fired so many times for being a stickler about right and wrong, I’ve ended up working for myself. My customers love what I do because the boss and his employee (both me) agree on not cutting corners on quality and service.

Believe it or not I don’t always bash people over the head with the truth. Over the years I’ve learned from others (most recently you) the value of tact, finesse and patient persuasion. Maybe the topic of college stimulated memories of my warrior days.

Keep up the good work. I’ll do the same.
My best regards to your remarkable wife Julie as well.


At 4/05/2007 11:02:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

"My best friend teaches ethics to well established businessmen. That is not an easy task. Once expediency becomes implanted as a character trait it grows like a tumor to supplant the others."

Too true. Looking at the corporate world these days it's hard to believe any business people have any ethics anymore.

I'm glad (though not surprised) to hear that you do, and that you've stood by your convictions. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of business are you in?


At 4/06/2007 01:29:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

My first M.A. was in art with concentration in sculpture. To eat, I used to build models and patterns of products for industrial design companies and special effects props for the movies. My best work has all been blown up. Then with a second M.A. in Educational Psychology and a Marriage and Family Therapist license I worked for several years as a counselor, mostly in addiction medicine for a major HMO. It was very tough, heart-wrenching work, and also very high volume. I got to know 10,000 patients very intimately. I saved several lives (according to them) and watched many more die. Now I travel around performing shows about science for children in libraries and schools. It's not nearly the steady income, but much more fun. I get to finally use all my schooling; I can make all my own props for the shows and I know how people learn. I use a lot of humor and interaction and the kids love it. In my spare time I donate figurative sculptures to decorate our local theatre.


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