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    March 13, 2008

    Sally Kern's growing urban myth

    Posted by: Chris

    THREE UPDATES: At the end of the post.

    Remember the tape that surfaced of Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern railing that the "homosexual agenda" represented "a bigger threat" to America than terrorism and Islam and will be "the death knell of this country"? Well it's gone mega-viral, resulting in a cottage industry of rumor and half-rumor to sort through.

    First there was the allegation first made in the comments section of a local news story about the controversy that Kern and her husband Steve, a Baptist minister, have a adult gay son named Jesse who they tried to "scrub" from her legislative profile. The Kerns denied their son is gay, according to Queerty:

    Our son is not gay. We would still love him if he was, but that would not change the fact that homosexuality is a chosen life style and that we would pray for our son to have a change of heart. My heart goes out to the many parents who have lost sons to AIDs [sic] and other STDs. Those kinds of deaths are tragic because they could have been avoided.

    There was no sourcing by Queerty for the Kerns' alleged denial, just as there was no sourcing on the original rumor.

    Queerty nonetheless went on to report that a Jesse Jacob Kern, who may or may not be related to Sally and Steve Kern, was arrested for attempted oral sodomy in June 1989, a charge that was later dismissed. At least the charge and dismissal are sourced, although the connection between alleged son and parents is not.

    Separately, on page 112 in the comments section to another local news story about the Kern flap, someone identifying herself as Elizabeth posted a letter to Kern she said was written by her teenage nephew Tucker, whose mother was killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The long letter (available in the jump to this post here), is incredibly powerful to come from a teen, chastising Kern for claiming gays represent a greater threat than the type of terrorism that killed 168 people in Oklahoma City:

    Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

    That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.

    As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism.

    The letter was so powerful that it's been quickly posted on blogs like OMG, Pam's House Blend and Daily Kos, as well as the blogs for gay rights groups like the Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign. Unfortunately, no one has any sort of evidence authenticating the letter, much less Tucker and his aunt Elizabeth. Both OMG and the Victory Fund told me in response to inquiries that they have no idea if the letter is legit, and I have a similar inquiry into Pam Spaulding.

    To their credit, the Daily Kos diarist warned there was no verification and Pam's House Blend indicated the source was the comments section to the News 9 story. But more ought to be done to clear up whether the letter and these individuals are legit.

    It's really unfortunate, of course, if the letter is a fake. The points about the comparative risks of terrorism and the "homosexual agenda," and even the domestic threat from Islamic extremism vs. Christian extremists, would be perfectly valid even if they weren't made by a teenager who lost his mother in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.

    I'll update you if I learn more; in the meantime, all these good folks would be well served by a big fat disclaimer on the letter from "Tucker."

    FIRST UPDATE:

    Turns out Sally Kern is creating some urban myths of her own, particularly her claim to having received death threats -- which turned out to be false. (Via Joe!My!God!)

    On the "Tucker" letter, Pam Spauling confirms that someone named "Dagon" posted the letter on her blog and I've sent an inquiry to that person, whoever he or she is. This is starting to really smell…

    SECOND UPDATE:

    I've now heard back from "Dagon," who originally posted the letter from "Tucker" on Pam's House Blend. He indicated that he has no additional information that would validate the letter and in fact has "reservations" himself about whether it is legit.

    GayPolitics.com, the Victory Fund website, has added a bit of a disclaimer to its post on "Tucker's" letter, but the HRC blog has not.

    THIRD UPDATE:

    I contacted HRC about reservations concerning the "Tucker" letter and the org's blogger posted this somewhat vague update to his Tucker post:

    This week has seen an intense amount of coverage regarding Rep. Sally Kern's outrageous comments. Numerous sources have provided a wide array of information. As always, we've tried to keep focused on the very important facts and we're still trying to verify some reports.  We're trying to track down the origins of this letter we linked to in this post...as are a number of other sources.

    Do we think he's banned from using the "CC" word and linking here?  :)

    JUMP TO POST:

    This was the letter as posted on page 112 of the comments section to this local news story about the Kern controversy:

    A Letter to Sally Kern

    Today my nephew attempted to deliver a letter to Sally Kern but was stopped by a highway patrol man. With his permission I am distributing the letter to all news stations and thought I would include it here.

    Maybe we can all stand to learn a listen from this smart, loving, young man. He more than most has reason to hate. He lost his mother, my sister, in the Murrah Building bombing.

    Elizabeth

    Rep Kern:

    On April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City a terrorist detonated a bomb that killed my mother and 167 others. 19 children died that day. Had I not had the chicken pox that day, the body count would've likely have included one more. Over 800 other Oklahomans were injured that day and many of those still suffer through their permanent wounds.

    That terrorist was neither a homosexual or was he involved in Islam. He was an extremist Christian forcing his views through a body count. He held his beliefs and made those who didn't live up to them pay with their lives.

    As you were not a resident of Oklahoma on that day, it could be explained why you so carelessly chose words saying that the homosexual agenda is worst than terrorism. I can most certainly tell you through my own experience that is not true. I am sure there are many people in your voting district that laid a loved one to death after the terrorist attack on Oklahoma City. I kind of doubt you'll find one of them that will agree with you.

    I was five years old when my mother died. I remember what a beautiful, wise, and remarkable woman she was. I miss her. Your harsh words and misguided beliefs brought me to tears, because you told me that my mother's killer was a better person than a group of people that are seeking safety and tolerance for themselves.

    As someone left motherless and victimized by terrorists, I say to you very clearly you are absolutely wrong.

    You represent a district in Oklahoma City and you very coldly express a lack of love, sympathy or understanding for what they've been through. Can I ask if you might have chosen wiser words were you a real Oklahoman that was here to share the suffering with Oklahoma City? Might your heart be a bit less cold had you been around to see the small bodies of children being pulled out of rubble and carried away by weeping firemen?

    I've spent 12 years in Oklahoma public schools and never once have I had anyone try to force a gay agenda on me. I have seen, however, many gay students beat up and there's never a day in school that has went by when I haven't heard the word **** slung at someone. I've been called gay slurs many times and they hurt and I am not even gay so I can just imagine how a real gay person feels. You were a school teacher and you have seen those things too. How could you care so little about the suffering of some of your students?

    Let me tell you the result of your words in my school. Every openly gay and suspected gay in the school were having to walk together Monday for protection. They looked scared. They've already experienced enough hate and now your words gave other students even more motivation to sneer at them and call them names. Afterall, you are a teacher and a lawmaker, many young people have taken your words to heart. That happens when you assume a role of responsibility in your community. I seriously think before this week ends that some kids here will be going home bruised and bloody because of what you said.

    I wish you could've met my mom. Maybe she could've guided you in how a real Christian should be acting and speaking.

    I have not had a mother for nearly 13 years now and wonder if there were fewer people like you around, people with more love and tolerance in their hearts instead of strife, if my mom would be here to watch me graduate from high school this spring. Now she won't be there. So I'll be packing my things and leaving Oklahoma to go to college elsewhere and one day be a writer and I have no intentions to ever return here. I have no doubt that people like you will incite crazy people to build more bombs and kill more people again. I don't want to be here for that. I just can't go through that again.

    You may just see me as a kid, but let me try to teach you something. The old saying is sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, your words hurt me. Your words disrespected the memory of my mom. Your words can cause others to pick up sticks and stones and hurt others.

    Sincerely

    Tucker

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    Comments

    1. Geena the Transgirl on Mar 13, 2008 2:54:29 PM:

      Kern's comments are dumb enough to collapse on their own.
      There's no need to respond with made up stories or the weak and tiresome analogy of trying to frame someone as a Christian hypocrite. She's already done that.

    1. GregL on Mar 14, 2008 1:54:36 PM:

      As usual the militant leftists in the gay community lead with lies and distortion. Jesse Kern has NEVER been a part of the homosexual lifestyle. When he was younger he struggled with his gender identity and fought same-sex desires which conflicted with his faith. Now he successfully resists those impure impulses through a celibate life of metaphysics and spirituality. Homosexual men and women would be smart to look at Jesse's example of self-restraint and the possibilites of change in our increasingly immoral world: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleID=20080314_1__OKLAH67120

    1. Tim on Mar 14, 2008 2:27:12 PM:

      heh militant leftists... wait till they see the gay rugby players

    1. Brian Summers on Mar 14, 2008 2:46:05 PM:

      Interesting, GregL. Very interesting indeed.

      I think you, Ms. Kern, and all the self-righteous bible-thumpers who share your narrow opinion should read what I have to say here in my "Open Letter To Straight Bible-Thumping America."

      America,

      Does nobody in the far religious right think for themselves anymore? I find myself posing that question more frequently than ever these days, mostly because I've read so much pathetic propaganda scribed by folks old enough to know far better.
      That old adage, "live and let live," apparently no longer bears any credence; at least not to those who believe my life should somehow mirror theirs. But, since it doesn't, I and the vast innumerable others like me are swiftly judged as inferior. To be a homosexual, after all, is the ultimate abominable sin. God "hates" me. I am ultimately no better than a predatory sex-fiend, who lives only to spread disease and corrupt our nation's children. I deserve second-class citizenship and will, according to those who laughably presume to know me and my relationship with the Lord, burn in eternal hell-fire. If our God really is one of love, as we so often hear, why does society use his name to spread so much unnecessary ignorance and vile hatred? "I don't hate you," touts John Q. Public. "I just hate your sin."
      Are common people really that dense?
      These folks place so much stock in the Bible, a tome compiled by flesh and blood men whose bones have long gone to dust, and very foolishly attempt to pass off the writings within that text as "God's law." So, where exactly does that leave the Ten Commandments? What is there to say about those who would rather embrace a book authored by mortal men instead of allowing the Ten Commandments, believed throughout history to represent God's true law, to be posted outside our nation's courthouses and public libraries? I cannot honestly ever recall spotting one negative reference to homosexuality anywhere within our Lord's ten mandates. He never once professed, "Thou shalt not be gay." That false edict is strictly of man's own self-righteous design and has not the single slightest thing to do with how God views me as an individual. But I would have to be totally insane to believe I could ever convince those who vehemently insist otherwise of such obvious common sense. I find it shrewdly ironic that all the strangers who would casually condemn me in God's name are also the ones who have already murdered, stolen, committed adultery, and staged false witness against their neighbors.
      These are grown men and women who, time and again, have maintained that I deliberately chose to engage myself in a homosexual existence. I can and evidently should pursue the path of change to become more equal to my heterosexual counterparts, this according to "Exodus International," "Love Won Out," and several other like-minded "Ex-Gay" conversion groups. These organizations often tend to drive me into hysterical fits of laughter, primarily due to the fact that a great many still in practice have long been scientifically discredited. Attraction is what it is. You can't change who you are attracted to any more than you can hop in a time machine and change the past. Perhaps, if I and several gay friends opened an "Ex-Straight" ministry, the brainwashed right would finally begin to see their concept of change for the embarrassingly asinine waste of time it has always been.
      The stubbornness of ignorance, however, is not so easily educated. Any single person who endorses the sort of bigotry I've outlined here would rather carry their convictions to the grave before ever entertaining my point of view. Just within the last several weeks, I've read statements from certain parents who claim they will never teach their children to accept or tolerate the "deviant homosexual lifestyle." Anyone of that mindset should try voicing their opinion to Lawrence King's grieving mother and father. King, as many will recall, was a fifteen year old Oxnard junior high student who took a bullet through the back of his head from a classmate last February simply because he self-identified as gay. Kids killing kids, imagine that! Does anybody ever wonder where they get the inspiration? Prejudice is a behavioral quirk that no child is ever born with. A responsible parent plays a major role in determining the potential social conduct of their sons and daughters. Teach a child to hate, and he will more than likely go through life with a chip on his shoulder. Instilling him with love, however, will open his mind and allow him to appreciate the wonderful diversity that makes life so exceptionally unique and special. Why, for some people, is this picture postcard ideal so incredibly difficult to grasp?
      I harbor just as much frustration for those who, while unmercifully picking apart my life as a gay man, dare to label sexual orientation as a "bedroom topic." If that actually is what human sexuality all boils down to, then I never want to see another straight couple holding hands, exchanging hugs, or kissing anywhere in public again! It is quite hypocritical for one to declare that I am somehow "shoving" my life down society's throat when, by no small coincidence, it has been the millions of gay people living throughout the world who have had the "straight agenda" thrown in their faces from day one!
      America, please! We are all adults here, and this petty nonsense has persisted long enough. Please don't lash out at the gay couple living down your street because of several small passages you misinterpreted from the Bible, or because some venom-spewing false preacher says it's okay. Open your eyes to the world around you, toss aside all biased misconceptions, and start thinking for yourselves.

    1. Scott on Mar 14, 2008 10:23:48 PM:

      GregL, prove god exists. Prove anything happened because of divine intervention. You can't and never will. Because god does not exist. So stop imposing YOUR false beliefs onto others. Do you hear me?

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 18, 2008 2:52:33 PM:

      I deserve second-class citizenship and will, according to those who laughably presume to know me and my relationship with the Lord, burn in eternal hell-fire.

      I think Scott, Brian Summers, has nicely demonstrated the issue here.

      GregL, prove god exists. Prove anything happened because of divine intervention. You can't and never will. Because god does not exist.

      In short, Brian, you blast others for allegedly misusing the Bible that you claim to support, but say nothing about those of your sexual orientation who misuse that to promote and push bigotry and hate towards the very religious beliefs you claim to espouse.

    1. Nathan on Mar 19, 2008 12:54:41 AM:

      Greg: I'm just going to add to what everyone else has said...

      "Homosexual men and women would be smart to look at Jesse's example of self-restraint.."

      You right-wing fanatics are all the same...

      Speaking as a gay male, gay people aren't hurting anyone. It's not a "lifestyle choice" as Kern claims (is being straight a lifestyle choice? that's like saying being white or black is a lifestyle choice). What does "restraint" have to do with anything? I fail to see the relevance.

      What does anyone's relationship with their partners have to do with your life or anyone else's? It's none of your business what people do behind closed doors so don't make it yours. How does it affect your daily life?

      When you judge other people, it gives the impression that you're "better" than others. You're not, so get off it. You're just the same as anyone else, except you're more ignorant.

      If it's one thing I hate, it's right-wing nutjobs who try to tell others that they're so much "better" and that everyone should repent. You're a hypocrite & a bigot.

    1. Brian Summers on Mar 19, 2008 2:20:24 AM:

      North Dallas Thirty, I "blast" the people who misuse the Bible because they most often tend to deserve it. Their words and their actions speak volumes. Do you, perhaps, have any idea who Fred Phelps may be? He's a self-professed preacher out of Kansas, an alleged "Man of God," who travels across this country picketing the funerals of slain gay men and women....in full view of their grieving family members and friends. He does this in God's name, daring to preach to the entire world that "God hates fags." He, along with Jerry Falwell, actually blamed the 9/11 attacks on America's growing acceptance of homosexuality. That, alone, puts him in the same inhuman league as Sally Kern.

      Here's something else for you to chew on, as well. The last time I checked, we've never seen one case of gay people ever beating the average straight man to within an inch of his life. It's always a self-righteous holier-than-thou God-fearing hetero and 3 or 4 of his drunken friends cornering one lone gay man and putting him in the hospital. And for who, for what? The Bible does not preach that sort of malicious action, nor does the God women like Ms. Kern seems to worship, endorse it.

      God, if he or she does exist, doesn't hate. My parents always raised me to believe that God, our supposed creator, was one of love.

      So, where then did all this hate come from? Why does it even exist, and what ultimate point does it serve aside from keeping this nation and this world so unfortunately divided?

      People, biased one-sided people who can't see beyond their unnecessary fear of others and their bitter, outright detestable bigotry, have already been doing a fine enough job of hating upon their fellow citizens long enough.

      North Dallas, I have just as much right to my side of this matter as you do to yours. When you've lived a day in my shoes, when you're physically threatened by total strangers simply for being who you are, the way myself and many other gay men and women throughout this world have been, then I'll consider granting your input on everything I touched upon in my prior post some credibility.

    1. deb on Mar 19, 2008 5:04:00 AM:

      Hi Chris, You make a good point about the urban myth aspects of this story. I posted the Tucker letter a few days ago, too. In the past few days, there have been visits to my page coming from a Facebook account. I'll a link to this post and redirect people here.

    1. Ted on Mar 19, 2008 5:52:16 AM:

      Concerning the Tucker letter, at http://www.topix.net/forum/source/kwtv/TSG5B8P35IEIR7IMS/p135
      in post #2833 someone posting as Elizabeth (Tucker's aunt?) says the following:

      "I don't check here often but was told of the interest Tucker's letter has caused. I want to say first that I did not make that post saying Tucker was reading the letter on the Ellen Degeneris show. I don't know who did that.

      Tucker is not seeking national acclaim, he simply wants Sally Kern to know that she is very insensitive to real victims of terrorism and how her words have resulted in the abuse of gay students.

      I did gain Tucker's permission to print his letter and sent copies of it to various media outlets and everyone may do so.

      The sole purpose though is for Kern to see the letter and I am quite sure that has happened by now. But she has not responded to Tucker's emails or made any comment about it at all.

      Tucker called McVeigh a Christian extremist in the letter. McVeigh may've or may've not beein into God, it depended on who asked him whenever. There are times he claims to be with the Christian identity movement and there are other times he claimed to be agnostic. The point in this is calling Islam dangerous is wrong. Most Muslims are peaceful. Most Christians are peaceful. I hear all the time that Muslims hate Jews...well so do the KKK, Aryans, and lots of other Christians too.

      Sally Kern insensitively made remarks about gays being worse than terrorists in a city that next month will remember the 13th anniversary of a terrorist bombing in OKC. Kern came to Oklahoma a year after that bombing. The ones of us who were affected by that terror event are offended by her remarks.

      Kern is a cold, cold woman. That stone hard heart certainly won't get her anywhere close to Heaven."

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 19, 2008 2:30:23 PM:

      When you've lived a day in my shoes, when you're physically threatened by total strangers simply for being who you are, the way myself and many other gay men and women throughout this world have been, then I'll consider granting your input on everything I touched upon in my prior post some credibility.

      I rather doubt it.

      Worse, it's rapidly spilling over into the Saturday night informal celebrations that most gays have started frequenting instead -- as was made abundantly clear when about eight street toughs taunted my husband and I with calls of "faggot, faggot", said they would "kick our ass", and followed us for a block, flinging epithets.

      Thirty-two years in the buckles of the Bible Belt, and I had to come to San Francisco to get gaybashed.

      The difference is, Brian, that I blame the people who actually did it, versus your attempt to rationalize your patent and obvious antireligious bigotry by claiming Sally Kern's words caused it. That, I think, is why you don't give my words any credibility -- not because I lack the experience, but because I refuse to blame Christians as you do.

      Meanwhile, since you're claiming all Christians are like Fred Phelps, I think they should be allowed to claim that all gay people are like this:

      The Senate's legal affairs committee is studying a Harper government bill that would raise the age of consent from 14 to 16. It will almost certainly pass — no political party has opposed it — but queer and youth-led groups came out Feb 22 to insist on their sexual freedom.

      The proposed changes will have a disproportionate impact on gays, said Richard Hudler of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario.

      "My first lover was 17 years older than me. And this is common [among gay people]," he said.

      Or how about that the gays who have public sex at Pride parades, or take their two-year-old daughters to sex fairs dressed in slave gear to "show off", represent all gay people?


    1. Brian Summers on Mar 20, 2008 7:48:56 PM:

      "Meanwhile, since you're claiming all Christians are like Fred Phelps...."

      My good man, I NEVER said that. If you read my post, you would understand that I used Fred Phelps as an example of the specific and highly annoying few who, along with Sally Kern, are giving Christians a bad name. These are the types of people who preach to the masses and try to pass off the hilarious notion that I'm somehow corrupting their kids. And, yet, it's perfectly fine and dandy for Phelps and his wife to teach their children that gay people are abominations who deserve death simply because they believe God wishes it? What's the lesser of two evils here? What's the bigger threat? Two people who genuinely love each other, or somebody who is deliberately going out of his way to instill bitter hatred within his children?

      And, for the record....I am about the least anti-religious person you will ever want to meet. Seeing as how you do not know the first thing about me as a person, the wonderful man I've spent the last 16 years of my life with, or any average gay person in general, your immature and acidic rant towards does absolutely nothing. You are an absolute bonafide stranger to me. I could care less how anybody else outside me thinks or lives. But, you'd better believe, when any one person says or does anything to maliciously affect my life or those I care for...I'm going to react. That's as much my righ as it is yours.

      So, please, get off your over-sensitive misinformed high horse and quit turning this into some kind of personal attack against you.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 24, 2008 2:07:26 AM:

      If you read my post, you would understand that I used Fred Phelps as an example of the specific and highly annoying few who, along with Sally Kern, are giving Christians a bad name.


      Or, in other words, you're claiming all Christians are like Fred Phelps.

      Then I think it only fair that Sally Kern be allowed to cite the examples of gays arguing that thirty-year-olds having sex with fourteen-year-olds is "normal", that taking two-year-olds to Folsom Street Fair is an "educational experience", and the abysmal increase in HIV among teenagers and young adults, plus the hundreds of thousands of deaths it's already caused, as those who are "giving gays a bad name".

    1. zma on Nov 9, 2011 11:20:34 PM:

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