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Watch And Learn

So this was posted to Zach In Tennessee's blog last night, by a friend of his:

Jun 18, 2005 1:25 AM

For everyone who reads Zach's page, here's an update on Zach. He has to do an extension for 6 weeks. So he wont be able to get online or anything. But he thanks everyone for their love and support. And he's doing okay. He's probably changed slightly because of being in that kind of environment for so long but he is still the awesome zach that we know him as....

I had a feeling that was going to happen. Predictable, I suppose. What with all the local publicity and messages of support, Brainwashing In Action could hardly afford to let Zach go before he was "cured". And now, of course, messages of hate are starting to show up in his blog comments.

He's a Poster Child for both sides now -- a fate worse than life, as a friend of mine used to say. I think the best thing now is to surrender him to the care of his close friends. They are the ones best situated to help him through his summer of hell.

But, as I said before, I was heartened by the messages of support from so many. Lots of good energy there. I hope people do something with it. All of us of a certain age must, of course, continue to fight the radical-right to save this country from them, but the fight will be a long one full of bitter set-backs and soul-testing defeats. It will go on for years. It won't be over after the next election, or the one after that, though we have to work with the intention of winning every election from here on in. More than that, it isn't just a matter of winning elections. It's a matter of winning hearts and minds.

It will take True Grit... of the sort we find in a high school girl -- now college sophomore at the University of Texas, Austin -- named Shelby Knox.

Next week the PBS series "P.O.V." will present the Sundance Film Festival Award-Winning documentary called The Education of Shelby Knox (check your local listings).

Shelby was interviewed during a segment last night on PBS's "NOW". Catch it on rebroadcast, if you can. It will make you want to catch the documentary next week.

From the "P.O.V." web site:

Into the culture wars steps feisty teenager Shelby Knox of Lubbock, Texas. Although her county's high schools teach abstinence as the only safe sex, Lubbock has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the nation. Shelby, a devout Christian who has pledged abstinence until marriage herself, becomes an unlikely advocate for comprehensive sex education, profoundly changing her political and spiritual views along the way.

Texas public schools have had abstinence-only sex education since 1995, when then-governor George W. Bush signed a law making Texas the third state to follow the curriculum....


In the fall of 2001, Shelby, then a 15-year-old high school sophomore, budding opera singer and politically conservative Southern Baptist, joined the Lubbock Youth Commission, a group of high school students empowered by the mayor to give Lubbock's youth a voice in city government. "We get no [sex] education at all in school," says Shelby in "The Education of Shelby Knox." "Maybe twice a week, I see a girl walking down the hall pregnant... It's part of normal life at my school. If a student asks a teacher about sex, the teacher by policy is required to answer with 'Abstinence is the only way to prevent STD's and teen pregnancy.'... If they don't, they're in danger of losing their job."


The Youth Commission decides to fight for comprehensive, fact-based sex education in the town's public schools. Shelby takes up the campaign with missionary fervor....


Shelby finds herself in a difficult position on the home front, too. Her parents are supportive, but they are also concerned about the stress the campaign is putting on her, and by Shelby's increasingly liberal attitudes. When they suggest she quit the commission, Shelby explodes, "I'm not dropping out... I have power there."

On the public level, the youth group is getting extensive media coverage but little attention from school officials. After repeated requests, the school board finally allows them to present their recommendations. Although the school board listens, the members are not persuaded, and it becomes clear that the district will continue to implement its abstinence-until-marriage sex education in the city's high schools. Again, Shelby refuses to give up.

Shelby now allies herself with a group of gay students who have been denied the right to form a gay-straight alliance in school, feeling it will galvanize her campaign. This is not a fight that Corey and the kids on the commission, afraid of adding more controversy to their already contentious agenda, want to join. Soon after, the mayor of Lubbock announces that he is considering doing away with the youth commission because of a city budget shortfall....


By her senior year, Shelby is committed to working with the gay teens, who have decided to sue the Lubbock School Board. She has also declared herself to be a liberal Democrat, a turn that shocks her Republican parents. But when an organization whose slogan is "God Hates Fags" comes to Lubbock to protest the gay kids' lawsuit, Shelby, along with her mother, joins a counter protest, carrying a sign that reads "God Loves Everybody," and affirming a belief that will guide her into adulthood: "I think that God wants you to question," Shelby says, "to do more than just blindly be a follower, because he can't use blind followers. He can use people like me who realize there's more in the world that can be done."

Does Shelby win her fights? I dunno. I haven't seen the documentary. I'll find out next week, I guess.

For all those young Americans who flocked to Zach's blog to post their comments of support, take that energy and do good with it. America can't survive on the fantasy of political power and activism  that comes with posting a heart-felt message to a message board. America needs an Activist Army ("Be all that you can be!") to fight the battles that have to be fought to save our freedoms. Those battles have to be fought the way Shelby Knox fights them: in the real world, at the cost of your blood, sweat, and tears.

If you are a friend of Zach's, if you came here by way of a Google search on gay+zach+tennessee, if you are a parent with a child approaching the age of political action and consent, if you are just somebody who believes that it is young America that will finally have to win this war for us, please pass the word (quickly, if you can) about the upcoming broadcast of The Education of Shelby Knox. Online activism is great for organizing, and emotional and psychological support, but without the kind of commitment and action epitomized by Shelby's story, we are going to lose. Watch the story of her struggles and learn.



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One of the gay groups suggested removing links to Zach's blog as long as he is in their hands. That probably would have been a good idea.

After all, one ought not give ammunition to the torturers.

Hmm. Yeah, probably. The thing is getting polluted now and there's no sense helping the bastards continue to flush. I will disable the links shortly.

The story of Shelby Knox reminds me of a piece on CBS's "60 Minutes" from a few weeks ago about the Silver Ring Thing, which is a Christian-oriented program aimed at convincing young people to maintain their virginity until marriage. Aside from the fact that many teens apparently take the term virginity to apply to only vaginal intercourse, I was absolutely blown away by the rhetoric claiming that condoms are not safe, etc. The show went on to explain that this information is being widely taught thanks to the federal government's abstinence-only approach to sex education, which basically requires sex educators who receive federal money to relay the half-truths and falsehoods about condoms to young people.

The current overwhelming urge to regulate sexual behavior in the US is both frustrating and scary. An entire generation of kids is being raised in this atmosphere of repression and intolerance.

The current overwhelming urge to regulate sexual behavior in the US is both frustrating and scary. An entire generation of kids is being raised in this atmosphere of repression and intolerance.

As bad: ignorance.

And I believe the abstinence program in the Shelby Knox film is the Silver Ring Thing exactly. In a scene from the docu shown on "Now", Shelby is shown "taking her vow" with a big old silver ring in her hand.

Ah the joys of living under an ever-more-repressive-and-oppressive moralistic, ignorant, non-reality-based regime.

So, Mike, how's that slush fund in Switzerland or Norway or Amersterdam coming along?

So, Mike, how's that slush fund in Switzerland or Norway or Amersterdam coming along?

Well, the recent confusion, or whatever you call it, regarding the fate of the EU and the Euro has set me to wondering about stuff. One of my best friends, a relatively monied Brit from London, will be visiting me the first part of July so I plan to discuss the matter with him. It's not like I, personally, have enough extra money to sprinkle it everywhere across the face of the planet so I kind of have to put more thought into this thing than I would actually prefer. The whole point is peace of mind. If I had the bucks I'd just ship, I dunno, $10K to a few places around the globe and relax. It ain't that easy, though.

It sure ain't. I told Rockgod about your idea and he really liked it--to the point that he started trying to think about ways we could rob peter to pay a swiss account, or buy land in Canada, or something.

But then we remembered the student loans and impending college education. Er, and the current one, as Rockgod's currently doing a BA. The only lawyers I know who are big with the cash at my age (well, I guess my level, since I'm a bit older than most 3d year associates), are those whose parents were also professionals and who didn't have to pay their way through or borrow their way through school. We're just now getting to a place where we are sort of solvent day to day, three years out of law school.

So we're just keeping the lines of communication open with our family in London.

It's a stepped process. First keep the overseas lines open while exploring ways to legally stash money over there, just so you don't have to do all the research in a big fat hurry. Then if things start to get really scary to you, you'll be ready to Leap Into Subtle And Measured Action, moving funds as you can, and as they seem (probably) less useful to you here.

Maybe the most useful and important step is letting yourself think about the need for all this. I think it's the people who won't let themselves think about it who could end up in the biggest trouble, worse comes to worse.

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