On Sunday, Feb. 19, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ran an opinion piece by James Hochberg titled “Law Aimed at Bullying in Schools Poses Threat to Freedom of Speech.”
In his article, Hochberg called on the Hawaii Legislature to reject the 'Hawaii Safe Schools Act,' claiming that it “is a mechanism for imposing a pro-homosexual, state-mandated orthodoxy on students and teachers.”
Charging that the Legislature's efforts to protect all public school students from harassment and bullying would be an infringement on the First Amendment rights of those with “different philosophies or religious tenets,” Hochberg portrayed this modest measure as an act of “an oppressive government” and used the mean-spirited right-wing rhetorical tactic of referring to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as “practitioners of a sinful behavior” rather than as human beings deserving of dignity, respect and full and equal treatment under the law.
While the Star-Advertiser innocuously identified Hochberg as “a Honolulu lawyer and an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney,” it gave him a prominent platform to decry the so-called “homosexual agenda” without providing full disclosure of what these affiliations might mean about his own personal agenda. Nor did it offer readers an alternative point-of-view, a standard journalistic practice on sensitive, and timely, political issues.
Hochberg's Alliance Defense Fund was established in 1993 by a coalition of “traditional values” advocates who have the dubious distinction of sitting atop a list of powerful anti-gay hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center for the “demonizing propaganda they pump out about homosexuals and other sexual minorities.” These advocates include such legendary right wing zealots as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ.
Hochberg's own personal anti-gay agenda is further hinted at in an article featured prominently on his legal firm's web site. Titled “Reparative Therapy, Homosexuality, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the article promotes the idea, discredited by the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other professional organizations, that sexual orientation is changeable through Christian therapy and counseling. This incendiary article also declares that “the normalization of homosexuality simply cannot be accepted by anyone committed to biblical Christianity.”
If the Star-Advertiser truly wanted to inform its readers about, and help communities overcome the pervasive problem of school bullying, not-to-mention anti-LGBT bigotry and discrimination, it would invite one or more of Hawai'i's many dedicated safe schools, LGBT, labor, and/or faith-based advocates to discuss their views on the subjects and share information about their work toward fairness and equality for all.
It would also cover important events, such as the very successful LGBT Youth Safety Net Conference recently held in Honolulu, and sing the praises of courageous and unheralded young people in the communities it serves, particularly when they garner prestigious national equality awards, such as the Out In The Silence Award for Youth Activism, recently won by the Farrington High School Gay Straight Alliance!
And it would help to promote activities that provide opportunities for Hawai'i's residents to engage with families, friends and neighbors in ways that build, rather than divide, their communities.
A few important upcoming events include:
Sponsored by the Lambda Law Student Association
at the UH William S. Richardson School of Law
Sponsored by the Hawai'i People's Fund
at the Honolulu Musicians' Building - Studio 909
Sponsored by Pride at Work Hawai'i
Honolulu United Public Workers Union Hall
Learn more at: