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First they came for the socialists...

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2009-09-29 -

Remember Van Jones, Obama's green jobs advisor? He resigned weeks ago under a torrent of media criticism and smears--via Glenn Beck, et al--for being a "truther," or a criminal, or a socialist. We might have guessed that a homosexual was next in line for the same FoxNews/WashingtonTimes treatment.

Alvin McEwan has a nice run-down on how that attack machine is focussing on Kevin Jennings, the founder of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Netowrk, who now works in Obama's Department of Education. The first national GLSEN conference was hosted in Salt Lake City in 1996. Utahns Clayton Vetter, Utah's first openly gay public school teacher, and Kelli Peterson, founder of the East High Gay-Straight Alliance, spoke at that conference. 

Jennings is accused of responding to a 15-year-old who admitted to having sex with an older man by saying, "use a condom." The smears get extra juice by claiming that a newly discovered audio tape from 2000 proves the condom accusation is true. 

The wheels come off this one really fast, folks, if you read just snippets of context.  According McEwan's piece, and Media Matters, the full audio sounds like this:

JENNINGS: And I said, "Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?" And he said, "Well, I'm tired." And I said, "Well, we all are tired and we all got to school today." And he said, "Well, I was out late last night." And I said, "What were you doing out late on a school night?" And he said, "Well, I was in Boston." Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, "What were you doing in Boston on a school night, Brewster?" He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, "Well, I met somebody in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him." High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn't know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly, so I finally -- my best friend had just died of AIDS the week before -- I looked at Brewster and said, "You know, I hope you knew to use a condom." He said to me something I will never forget. He said "Why should I, my life isn't worth saving anyway." 

Some far-right folks are still going to take issue with that--context or no context--and they have that right, but that comment is not shameful. If Jennings is shamed off the Obama administration like Van Jones was, then I pray for the future of our civil service. What person would want to go through this wringer if s/he had any other possible work choices? follow_jesse.jpg

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