My boss’s boss has scheduled a Habitat-for-Humanity team-building event next Thursday. The cause is worthy, but my initial reaction was decidedly less so:
A 90-minute drive and I’ve got to be there by 8am? [whine] To do manual labor? [whine] And as the group’s resident tall man who works out, guess who they’ll ask to dig the ditches and lug the heavy stuff? [whine].
Part of that’s just because I dread any disruption of my routine (sad, but true). Fortunately, if experience tells me anything, the day will be satisfying and fun, and I’ll be glad we did it.
Assuming my company doesn’t hire Frank Turek to run the team-building activities.
Frank Turek is the latest anti-gay martyr, an independent contractor who runs leadership and team-building exercises for big corporations. Both Cisco and Bank of America cancelled contracts with him after their employees discovered he’s an anti-gay activist and author of a book opposing marriage equality. NOM, of course, is all over this. He’s the first poster boy for their new project against gay-sponsored oppression: Fired just for believing in traditional marriage!
As usual, the truth is more complicated. I don’t have Turek’s book, but he’s done us the courtesy of summarizing his thoughts online. The lowlights:
- Turek declares homosexuality is morally wrong and objectively harmful.
- He uses thoroughly discredited research by Paul Cameron to spread lies about gay men (Paul Cameron has been booted from many professional organizations after scientists complained he distorted their research to promote anti-gay slander).
- Turek claims gay parents regards their adopted children as trophies.
- He repeatedly lumps homosexuality with murder, rape, and incest.
- He tells us a gay man can be romantically attracted and committed to his partner, but cannot truly “love” him. He actually begins his reply to “But Same-sex marriage is About Love” by saying “Even if that were true…”
That last one is especially dehumanizing.
But there’s more. Here’s a video of him explaining homosexuality is part of humanity’s universal weakness for depravity. And another of him speculating that gays hate Western Civilization and the Declaration of Independence.
NOM, for some reason, doesn’t mention all that. Nope, Turek is just “someone who was fired for holding a traditional marriage viewpoint.” And to enhance his aura of martydom, this anti-gay author and lecturer actually had the nerve to say — on the radio! — that he was fired for his privately-held beliefs.
Enough background. The issue is whether Turek is the victim of (to use the Vatican’s phrase) unjust discrimination.
No, he’s not.
Turek isn’t offering courses in some technical area like software training or bioassay analysis. He teaches leadership. Team-building. Issues that focus on respect and trust. How can he demonstrate respect for — and the gain the trust of — employees he’s characterized as immoral, depraved, America-hating creatures comparable to murderers and rapists, who reduce their children to trophies and cannot love their partners?
No one is shutting Frank up. He’s exercising his freedom of speech (in an irrational, dishonest way), and Cicso and Bank of America are reacting in a perfectly sensible way.
Seriously: If you were putting yourself out there, going on the radio, writing books, and working as hard as you could as a public figure spreading thoroughly-debunked lies that advance your political agenda against a group of law-abiding citizens…
…it would be reasonable for a business to decide against having you teach team-building and leadership to the employees you have publicly defamed. It’s a rational decision, and this would be true whether the slander were directed at gays, straights, men, women, Catholics, atheists, evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, blacks, whites, Asians, or any other company staff.
This has been with me for a while, always in a distant, intellectual way. That changed when my department scheduled its own team-building activity. First I thought idly, What would I do if I showed up and Frank Turek were leading the day?
Then, during my hour-long commute, I had time to vividly wonder: My god, what would I do if Frank Turek were leading the day?
The idea was horrendous. My imagination swept me up and I began trembling with anger at the prospect. Respect, trust, ethics, science-based thinking — these are my company’s stated leadership attributes. Turek is disrespectful, dishonest, unscientific. Would I silently eat my anger? Or would I break in with snarky comments about hating Western Civilization? Which of these would contribute best to the team-building exercise? Would I have other options?
Yes — I could go to my boss or his boss right away and explain. And that would scare the hell out of me.
Our opponents have this vision of gay people as aggressive victims, seeking out — even hoping for — opportunities to flog normal people with our grievance. But that’s not how it played out in my head.
My boss’s boss has put aside the staff’s daily work to gather us for a good cause and bring us together as a team. She’s allocated a chunk of her budget for Turek as a facilitator. It’s the morning of the event, too late to cancel. And here I am, telling her I cannot participate — even if Turek never says a thing about gays, even if he mouths all the right words and plays his part perfectly, I can’t be there because I could never accept the leadership expertise of a man who publicly defames me and my relationship, who would be a pure fount of hypocrisy if he dared speak of respect, trust, ethics, and science-based thinking.
I work for a gay-friendly company. But that shit does not go down well. Executives hate it when you mess with their plans, disrupt the work of all your colleagues. No matter how good you are at your job, no matter what else you accomplish, you’ll always be the guy who fucked up Habitat-for-Humanity day. You’ll carry that load for as long you’re there.
Then I snapped out of it. My company (valuing respect, trust, ethics, and science-based thinking) would never hire Turek to teach leadership. For a moment, though, I got a sense of what it would be like if they did. The folks at Bank of America and Cisco? The ones who reported Turek and got him released from his contract? They’re not professional victims. They have guts. They stood up for their dignity. They’re heroes.