Monday, May 21, 2012


Jack Conkling is a seventh grade social studies teacher in Hutchinson, KS, population just over 42,000. In Hutchison they still like to brag about Tommy Thompson, an early to mid-20th century football hero now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They don’t, however mention one of their other native citizens, Ms.  Raquel Darrian, a 1990 Penthouse Magazine “Pet of the Month,” and later a successful porn actress. Such activities have no place in Hutchison. No, everything in Hutchison is quite orderly.

Safely landlocked in the middle of middle America, Conkling (below, right) also coaches women’s basketball at Buhler High School in Buhler, KS, a cozy bedroom community of just over 1300 people.  The most recent census says Buhler is 98.45 percent white. In his photos, Jack looks like any other average white guy,
but here’s what separates Jack from the pack. He wrote this on his Facebook page, where many of his “friends” are also his students:
Gay marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong. The Bible clearly states it is sin. Now I do not claim it to be a sin any worse than other sins. It ranks in God’s eyes the same as murder, lying, stealing, or cheating.”

Conkling’s post made national news and continues to be the stuff that blogs are made of from coast to coast. I found Conkling’s email address and decided to drop him a line:
Dear Mr. Conkling:
Gosh, I can’t help wondering what your gay students felt when they read on Facebook that because of their sexuality they are just like murderers -- “in God’s eyes.” You do know that if you teach seventh grade long enough, the odds are that you will have gay students in class, don’t you, Mr. Conkling? Then I couldn’t help wondering what it must be like to live in Kansas and know what the world looks like through God’s eyes.  Could you tell us more about that in your next Facebook post? By the way, I’m sure you know that Kansas is one state where the death penalty is still legal.  So, since being gay and being a murderer are equal in God’s eyes, do you believe it would be most efficient to execute gay people? And listen, if so, you better hurry, because you know the Kansas legislature, as we speak, is debating House Bill 2323, which would abolish the death penalty.  Hope to hear from you soon…
Paul A. Greenberg

Oddly, I haven’t received a response from Mr. Conkling.

Meanwhile, almost 800 miles away in tiny Braxton, MS (population 181, and no that is not a typo), MS State Representative Andy Gipson (left) has been busy with his own Facebook page, on which he quoted the Bible last week:
“Leviticus 20:13 reads: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

It’s worth mentioning that Gipson references the Old Testament. I was wondering if he happened to see the part where it says it’s acceptable to sell your daughter into slavery.  Oh, and Andy, did you see where Leviticus says I’m supposed to “hate any animal in the water that does not have fins or scales?” Fess up, Andy…you know you eat Gulf shrimp over there in Mississippi.  I’m pretty sure the Old Testament also says the world is flat and prostitutes must be stoned to death.  

Andy Gipson needs to be reminded that he was elected to serve all of his constituents fairly and equally, including those who are gay. I want to remind him that his job is to help create and pass laws. The job does not include promoting any particular religious view, and passing moral judgments on constituents is way outside the boundaries of his job description. I would remind him that the basic tenet of Judeo-Christian philosophy is respect for the dignity of human beings – all human beings. While he has the right as a private citizen to interpret the Bible, that privilege does not come with his elected position. Now that he has advocated death for gay citizens, I believe he should be compelled to step down.

Similarly, Jack Conkling should pay close attention to the wave of gay teen suicides in this country. He should realize that as a middle school teacher he wields great influence over his young students, and again I would remind him that some of them are gay.
To equate their inborn sexuality with the crime/sin of murder should be grounds for his immediate dismissal from his profession. I base this on the fact that he is working with impressionable, vulnerable youth, and his expressed attitude may cause some of his students lifelong self-doubt or worse. His ill-conceived Facebook post implicitly communicated to his students that they are not and cannot be good enough to live in our society.

Now that the President of the United States has publicly endorsed marriage between gay people, the anti-gay rhetoric is amping up to an unreasonable volume.  When a seventh grade teacher in Kansas and an elected official in Mississippi each find it acceptable to publicly denigrate all gay people based on biblical scripture, going so far as to compare sexuality to murder, we have lost our cultural sense of reason. It serves to remind us that there is something in the human condition that just causes some people to need extreme affiliation with their "own kind," and extreme superiority over those who are not just like they are. I’m not about to try to figure out what that need stems from, but I am sure such individuals do not belong in our public school systems or legislatures.


James Madison said...

I was reading about what you wrote about the coach Mr. Conkling and am a bit discouraged over your email. For one we are to go out and preach the gospel and if people don't want to accept it then that is up to them. We have the freedom of speech and religion so he can post if he likes. If students get offended by his posts they don't have to read them and can just believe as they believe since that is their freedom. When you made the statment of "how wounderful it must be to see the world in Gods eyes" maybe he can see it that way because he has a personal relationship with God and he allows him to see the world from a Christian view. Then you talked about the death penalty and made him seem like a sick man that might want gays to be killed. He knows he has sinned like everyone else and our government has set the death penalty up because if you take a life the government sometimes see that it would be fare for the murders life to be taken. Besides he did not make the death penalty so there is no need to be rude. I don't want this to turn into a fight but you said what you think and I am just saying what I think.

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Kansas Pride said...

Racquel Darrian, the Penthouse Pet turned pornstar mentioned earlier in the article, also had OVER 100 lesbian partners on-screen and off as well as nasty magazines like Hustler. She also spread her legs for black guys, so pretty sure they don't want her up on the hometown parade floats waving to the crowds. LOL