It seems the Water Cooler is taking criticism for a recent post regarding Safe School’s czar Kevin Jennings 1998 essay in the Advocate magazine, but what about the 1998 essay itself? A conservative response from gaypatriot.net provides an interesting point of view missing from the debate. Here is an excerpt of a post from Alvin McEwen at the LGBT blog Pam’s House Blend, which said the following of the conservative response to the 1998 Jennings essay:
Apparently my post on the new lie regarding Kevin Jennings - that he advocates murdering people if they call someone a ‘faggot’ attracted some attention from a few circles- most specifically from the site who wrote the original piece.
The piece came from the site Verum Serum. Via the original headline, it pushed the notion that Jennings did advocate murder. Jennings was actually saying that society is part the blame for school violence because it enhances gender stereotypes and extreme machismo in males.
After I posted my piece, one of the authors of the site accused me of not reading the entire post. The poster claimed the site was not accusing Jennings of murder, but rather unfairly blaming traditional gender roles for school violence. While I lodged disagreement with that assessment, I stuck with the main idea of my post - no matter what Verum Serum meant by what it wrote, opportunistic sites were using the post to claim that Jennings advocates murder.
Gaypatriot.net, however, sees the circumstances of Mr. Jennings 1998 essay differently than PHB. In a blog post titled, Does Kevin Jennings Believe Sonny Corleone Embodies Western Ideal of Masculinity?, writer B. Daniel Blatt says the following:
You see, Jennings seems to believe that an adolescent older brother was capable of “passing down the code of masculinity he’d been taught“
We need to own up to the fact that our culture teaches boys that being “a man” is the most important thing in life, even if you have to kill someone to prove it. Killing someone who calls you a faggot is not aberrant behavior but merely the most extreme expression of a belief that is beaten (sometimes literally) into boys at an early age in this country: Be a man—don’t be a faggot.
No, Kevin, it’s not. When you think it’s not “aberrant behavior” to kill someone who calls you names, you miss the whole point of Western masculinity. The lesson which the Greek heroes needed learn (many of whom through the actions and words of the goddess Athena) is not to react with disproportionate force, but to react in just measure. At the outset the Iliad, Achilles, filled with youthful braggadocio (likely similar to that of Jennings’s brother) draws his sword to strike Agamemnon dead in outrage at the disrespect the Mycenaen King showed him. But, the owl-eyed goddess sweeps down from the heavens in order to restrain him.
To become a man and realize his destiny, a hero must learn to restrain his battle fury, channeling it into just causes. And that is the essence of Western masculinity. A frenzied reaction (like that of Achilles before Athena’s intervention is the antithesis of the Western ideal.)
Perhaps, we should not fault Jennings for his ignorance. Bereft of myth, as all too many of us have been since the educational reforms of the 1960s and 1970s, we have, in large measure, lost sight of the Western ideal of masculinity, aggresssive action tempered by concern for its consequences. And the answer to that loss is not more politically correct mumbo jumbo, but a restoration of the classics to the proper place in school curricula.