The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Western Star and Tim Hardaway

The Western Star in Bessemer, AL has once again published inaccurate information on its opinion page, in a column titled “Hardaway ban a bit extreme,” authored by editor Dale Jones. Most of you know that former NBA star Tim Hardaway recently said “I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people, and I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic (who knew?) I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.” In the column Jones asserts that “I, Dale Jones, DO NOT HATE GAY PEOPLE. (Emphasis his). I have acquaintances who are gay. I don’t hate them. I am in total disagreement with their choice of lifestyle, but I don’t hate them.” He goes on to comment on Hardaway’s apology, in particular Hardaway’s comparison between the bigotry that African-Americans experience because of race, and the prejudice against homosexuals. Jones counters that homosexuality and race can not be compared because no one has a choice about their race or sex.

Homosexuality is a choice.”

That is Jones’s statement on the issue. That is what I take issue with.

It is true that Tim Hardaway has a right to hate whomever he wants to, and to say what he wants to in this country. It is also true that Hardaway was stupid to make those remarks in a public forum, and maybe the NBA was right in not allowing a controversial figure represent them on a weekend that is supposed to be all fun and games. It is also stupid for this paper to defend him, even in the roundabout way that it did.

Many noted professional basketball players (and former players) including Charles Barkley have come out against Hardaway in this debate. Just because one person on ESPN says that the majority of players in the NBA feel as Hardaway does, does not make it so. I don’t doubt that homophobia exists in all professional sports, basketball included, but I doubt the majority feel that way, just as the majority of Americans don’t feel that way.

But my biggest beef is with Jones’s statement that homosexuality is a choice. The sentence, standing alone in his column, not surrounded by other sentences as part of a paragraph, is a gross and glaring example of this writer’s ignorance on the subject of homosexuality. If Jones had any friends who were homosexuals, he might understand. Oh he admits to having "acquaintances" but not any friends. Friends you talk to, you understand, you learn from. Any educated person in 2007 knows that there is a spectrum of sexuality and while various decision making processes may play a role in how humans express their sexuality, it does not play a role in who one is innately attracted to. If it were a choice to be homosexual, then it would also be a choice to be heterosexual. That would mean we all at some point had to make a choice of whether to be attracted to members of the opposite sex, or the same sex. So if you think it is a choice, think back to when you made your decision. Did you think, “Well let’s see, I need to be deciding which I’m gonna be….” I didn’t think so.

Certainly there are homosexuals who choose to behave in heterosexual ways, possibly even getting married and having children. And some heterosexuals find themselves in situations where they choose to have homosexual relations. But in these cases, the person is not choosing their sexual orientation, they are choosing their behavior. There is a big difference.

Jones says that Hardaway’s comparison of sexuality to race in unwarranted, because homosexuality is a choice and race is not. Mr. Jones, homosexuality, just like heterosexuality, is part of one’s innate being, just like race, gender, eye color and left and right handedness. The American Medical Association agrees, as does the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Psychological Association, and the American Psychoanalytic Association. Even most American Christian church denominations now agree that homosexuality is not a choice, while they may argue (wrongly) that the behavior is sinful, most realize that homosexuality is innate and can not be changed (if anyone wants my views on homosexuality and Christianity, I will be glad to share…drop me an email

It seems that Jones has gone out of his way to criticize homosexuality in the last few months. What is that really about? Aren’t there more important issues in Bessemer that The Western Star could be reporting on? I get more information from the Birmingham News Western Section on Wednesdays (thank you Robert Gordon) than I do from the Western Star. In this week’s Birmingham News we learned about Bessemer judges, about the school board’s plans for the new high school, about Eddie Bevelle returning to Downtown to open a new restaurant, about the utility board’s plan to buy out Coventa Energy’s contract, about certain streetlights being replaced and other actions of the city council. I hope The Western Star can return to printing relevant news that concerns our city and it’s citizens, and less inaccurate opinion and syndicated columns (especially when they express the opinions of writers who live 600 miles or so away from here).


Anonymous said...

Joe, I agree with your response to the Hardaway editorial. I just hope you didn't use too many words. Some people aren't capable of comprehending so many rational statements all strung together like that. ;)
I admire you for being out in Alabama. It's heartening that you think Alabama is "ripe for change". I hope you are correct. And I hope you will be safe.

Dale Jones said...

Let's set the record straight.
In November, Joe wrote a letter to the editor stating things he was thankful for (such as movies with Heath Ledger, and for Bobby, who makes his life special). Joe, in his editorial, WHICH WE PRINTED, wanted to make sure everyone knew he was gay. Fine.
The Marting Luther King editorial AGAIN was not an article that we printed because we agreed with it. Actually, it was quite the opposite. That is why we included the disclaimer after the editorial.
MY EDITORIAL in The Western Star, are MY OPINIONS. There is nothing inaccurate about my opinions.
Interestingly, Joe continues to talk about his NARROW defeat in the election, but if you investigate, what you find is a VERY LOW voter turnout. Had the turn out been larger, his margin of defeat would have been larger.
The Western Star CONTINUES to print FACTUAL news. Our stories are factual and straight forward.

Joe said...

Now let's set the record gay! I couldn't resist.

Dale, remind the folks that my letter was in response to your editorial in which you said you were thankful for movies with certain female actresses, and you named a female that made your life special. It was not my intention to make sure everyone knew I was gay, I am sure they already know.

The turnout was about what it had been 4 years ago, and if the turnout had been bigger, I would have won. I say this because I talked to so many voters (and non-voters, whose hiney I could kick).

Alabama and Bessemer are changing, for the better!

Anonymous said...

Let me add one other thing. Probably the biggest factor in my losing the election was because I tried to save the stained glass windows in South Highland Baptist Church just months before the election. This historic bulding was abandoned by its members when they merged with two other Bessemer Baptist Churches to build a new facility. I know of several, enough to change the election, who were members of these churches who did not like the negative publicity they got when I led the fight to save the windows. Well, we lost that fight, the windows sit in storage (the Baptists say they are going to use them when they build another new sanctuary) and the historic church building looks like a shell of a building with the beautiful stained glass removed.

Jennifer (Errett) Robinson said...

As for the stained glass at the church, the WS did feature this in the paper and I applaud that coverage. To me, I look at that beautiful historic structure and think that if it had a soul, then it would be crying b/c it has been raped of its beauty by those who were supposed to be its protector. At some point in history, God blessed them with that beautiful building to worship in. Now they don't value it but would God approve of it being degraded? Maybe if this had happened earlier then people would have recognized Joe for his efforts to protect our neighborhood that he wanted to represent. I just think people didn't know Joe like I know Joe.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jones has every right to express his opinions in The Western Star. As he points out, "it's a free country."
It's such a disappointment that Mr. Jones doesn't understand that when he--and other public figures--share their opinions in the press, their words have consequences.
For better or worse, Mr. Hardaway and Mr. Jones are seen as leaders in their communities. When they make declarations that demean people, their words give others permission to do the same.
In spite of Mr. Jones' support of "free speech," and his assertion that anti-gay bigotry is somehow less harmful than racist bigotry, I bet that he would take a different approach if Mr. Hardaway had said, "I hate Christians, so I let it be known. I don’t like Christians and they shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States." Would Mr. Jones still feel it's harmless to say someone doesn't belong in the world because of a "choice" they've made?
To set the record straight, hate and fear hurt people.