Some Thoughts on Pastor Sean Harris’ Hatefilled “Beat your sons till they’re straight” Sermon and His “Just Joking” Defense

By now,  Sean Harris’ sermon has made its way around the intertubes. A partial transcript of his comments:

“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.

  1. #1 by cav on May 5, 2012 - 10:03 am

    Which is worse: Eternal Damnation in the Afterlife or a broken wrist today?

  2. #2 by Larry Bergan on May 5, 2012 - 10:11 am

    Don’t ever let anybody tell you what is, when it isn’t.

    It’s a law of nature.

    cav is precious!

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on May 7, 2012 - 10:58 pm

    Seems to be a lot more intentional “slips of the tongue” this election season. The racist,, homophobic, anti-immigration and generally intolerant are losing and they know it.

    I wouldn’t want to be one of them when we finally start winning with verifiable election systems. Sooner or later, it’s coming because the tragedy and farce is obvious.

    • #4 by Glenden Brown on May 8, 2012 - 9:00 am

      Larry – part of what’s happening is what happened with the end of segregation – with one key difference. The segregationists weren’t prepared for the end of segregation, they never thought it possible and their political descendants (sometimes the same folks who fought for segregation) were prepared for a battle over same sex marriage.

      Bloomberg this morning:

      This battle will ultimately end, and anyone with a passing familiarity with the American story knows how. We have entered the final stage, where opponents theatrically vow to maintain segregation, or its marital approximation, now and forever.

      Marriage, like every successful social institution, changes with the times. When President Obama was born, interracial marriage was prohibited in much of the nation, and public support for it registered in the low single digits. Today, in roughly one-quarter of American marriages, wives earn more than their husbands, some of whom stay home to care for children. Such arrangements — including the 10 percent of marriages that are interracial — are no more “traditional” than gay marriages. So what?

      The advance of gay rights has been driven largely by culture, with each decade bringing new levels of empowerment. As the latest ballot measure in North Carolina suggests, the political arena has generally been a lagging indicator. President Obama can help change that dynamic by putting his moral authority squarely behind the right to marry.

  4. #5 by Larry Bergan on May 7, 2012 - 11:15 pm

    I quit taking phone pols when I realized that my answers could always be used against my beliefs. I guess the only people who can pol you have enough money to make you look like a fool.

    The corporate voting machines have the same ability. They make Americans look like the goddamned idiots we are for allowing them to count our votes.

  5. #6 by brewski on May 8, 2012 - 10:06 am

    Going back to the topic of kabuki theatre, we all know that Obama is going to come out formally in favor of gay marriage very soon. The only question is whether it will be before the election or after it. That’s the only suspense. All the speeches by Biden and Duncan are for are to soften up the beachheads and get the strom und drang over with before the general wades ashore to glowing accolades like MacArthur in the Philippines. Obama has always been in favor of gay marriage, as well as income redistribution, blame America first foreign policy, the Amero currency, and expanded government power over every facet of our lives and pretty much every other Bilderberg goal you can think of. He just can’t be too public about his goals and still get elected, so he either hides his goals, just winks and nods about his goals, or has his proxies test his goals for him so he doesn’t have to do the hard work himself.

  6. #7 by Larry Bergan on May 8, 2012 - 5:52 pm

    Still kind of hard to believe that Obama was able to end don’t-ask, don’t-tell. Big accomplishment.

    Tony Perkins, of the “Family Research Council” actually said that the recent CIA sex scandal – which had not one thing to do with homosexuality was caused by, (heavy paraphrasing here) societal decay caused by homosexuals.

    These weirdos are going off the edge.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: