“So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, “Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.
Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok? You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male. And when your daughter starts acting to Butch you reign her in. And you say, “Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.”
You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?”
Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.”
The immediate gut level response is to be outraged. Justifiably so (the whole transcript is here). Harris issued a notpology in which he said he was only joking about beating your children if they start acting like faggots, dykes and queers. That’s a tired one and conservatives trot it out far too often. “Sure, I played the song Barack the Magic Negro ten times a day for six weeks, how can you accuse me of being a racist, I’m only joking.” It’s what we hear too often when people realize they’ve said or done something truly awful and it’s not convincing. He did, however, add this important snippet:
“If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt,” Harris said Tuesday. “Those weren’t planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I’m not going to compromise on that.”
Sure, cause we all joke about beating children into submission. Acting like a nelly screaming queen makes the baby Jesus cry. Nobody tell Rick Perry that.
Jeremy at Good as You rejected Harris’ notpology, writing:
The thing is? There are certain words that should never be on (or even near) a person’s tongue. There are certain ideas that should never strike a person’s brain. There are certain views that should never find their way to one’s bank of consideration. There are certain jokes that are never funny. There are certain sentiments that should never have the opportunity to spill out of one’s mouth as the sentiments are too out of the ballpark of possibility to ever make their way to verbalization.
Threatening violence against LGBT children falls firmly in that latter category. Especially when said violence is encouraged in a church. Especially during a sermon deliberately designed to foster discrimination (i.e. negative message in to LGBT people) via a proposed state marriage ban. Especially when the violence-fomenting sermon comes from a pastor whose church also operates a school.
The real problem isn’t that Harris is a bigot and a bully. It’s not that he delivered a fire breathing sermon in which he told parents to beat their children until they engage in gender normative behavior. It’s that he’s entirely representative of a whole class of American fundamentalists who embrace the idea that 1950s gender roles and specific types of behavior were ordained by god and that any behaviors or attitudes that vary from those specific gender roles or behaviors anger god.
Suddenly, then, we’re not talking about normal variation in human behavior and attitudes. Suddenly, the whole discussion is distorted by the idea that God is watching us and is judging us. And you can’t have a rational public discussion if the consequences of making the wrong choice is going to hell. That, as much as anything, is what should outrage us about Harris’ sermon.