Dedication of Dr. King Memorial and Discrimination Against LGBT
You may have heard about Viki Knox, the Union Township, New Jersey teacher who referred to homosexuality as "a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation," and a "sin" that "breeds like cancer" on a Facebook thread about her school's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) pride month.
The comments started appearing last Wednesday afternoon, after the school erected a display of "famous gays" like Virginia Woolf, Harvey Milk and Neil Patrick Harris. “I’m pitching a fit!” Knox wrote, before sounding off with more insensitive comments like "I/WE DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT ANYTHING, ANYONE. ANY BEHAVIOR OR ANY CHOICES! I DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE ANYTHING OTHERS WISH TO DO. I DO HAVE TO LOVE AND SPEAK AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT!"
It's unclear right now whether Knox was at school, at home or both when she made the comments. Garden State Equality, along with Union Township lawyer John Paragano, are calling for the Board of Education to fire Knox. Even the ACLU, who is defending Knox's right to free speech, said: “Because her postings raised questions about her conduct within school, the school district can and should investigate whether she is performing her job in accordance with school policies and the state’s Law Against Discrimination.” Union Chief School Administrator Patrick Martin said the district is investigating the incident.
Time will tell whether Knox violated any laws, but that is not the point. As I have previously written on my workplace ethics advice blog, it is wrong to discriminate in the workplace because of one's sexual orientation. Moreover, it is wrong to do so in all aspects of life especially in our schools where young people are so impressionable and the bullied may not have a sense-of-self sufficiently well developed to ward off the attacks.
From an ethical perspective I have to raise the question: Why should we, as a society, care about what happens to individuals who are LGBT? We should care precisely because being an ethical person requires that we should be caring and compassionate individuals and not judge someone based on the color of their skin or sexual preference. It is not for us to judge what is right or wrong for another person. We have our own lives to deal with and our own challenges, and I, for one, would not want someone else to tell me how to lead my life. The test of a good person is what is in his or her heart; how he or she treats others; and whether that person tries to leave the world a better place to live in.
Martin Luther King said it best in his remarkable “I Have Dream Speech” delivered on August 28, 1963, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination. One line will live on forever and should shine as a beacon of hope for all who seek the ideal of equality in all aspects of life.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
How ironic it is that yesterday was the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C. We all can learn a great deal from Dr. King’s legacy. I do not believe this man of great character and vision would want any individual in our society to be on the receiving end of the vitriolic rhetoric spewed by the likes of Viki Knox.
Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on October 17, 2011