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CNN's Jessica Yellin Debunks Right-Wing Attacks on Kevin Jennings

Jennings

CNN's Jessica Yellin takes apart the lies being put forward by right-wing conservatives surrounding the Education Department's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Chief Kevin Jennings and an incident that happened over two decades ago with a 16-year-old.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously...
Under Attack from Right, Education Department's Kevin Jennings Releases Statement on Counseling Incident 21 Years Ago [tr]

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Comments

  1. Did she really debunk the problem? All she did was play the Fox News mouthpieces spouting off, and Jennings supporters supporting Jennings. She did little to diffuse the problem or show how the AFA is nothing more than a corporate bully. Typical of cable news; and let's keep it in the news endless news cycle until the next piece floats to the surface.

    Posted by: Rad | Oct 2, 2009 8:59:59 AM


  2. http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/06/obama-appointee-kevin-jennings-fisting-and-fk-em-to-the-religious-right.html

    Here you go --- second item that comes up on Google.

    The blog entry and comments are appalling.
    However make sure to scroll down and reading the statement of support from a wise adult and former student of Jennings.

    That open hatred for those who do not comply to religious sex laws is still so common is reason why Secularism must be defended.

    Our politicians are cowards who fear the America Streets and the peasants who vote out of hate.

    Posted by: walter | Oct 2, 2009 9:25:10 AM


  3. How long will be before Obama chickens out of this one and asks another good person to step aside to please the bullies.

    Posted by: Paul | Oct 2, 2009 9:36:22 AM


  4. Paul if Obama sold this man down the river for something he did 21 years ago as a young teacher dealing with his own confusion after a young life of anti-gay hatred directed at him --- we should riot at the White House.

    However I do not think Mr. Duncan would allow it to come to that.

    Obama - not impressed to date.
    Still better than a VP Palin in office.

    Posted by: walter | Oct 2, 2009 9:54:29 AM


  5. Pugs are funny. If they could prove a dem got busted for stealing a comic book when he was 8, they would hound them to their graves. They hounded Ted Kennedy for 45 years about Chappaquiddick, despite all teh good he had done since then.

    But do any of them want to talk about their own histories, even as recent as a few years ago? NO! That's off-limits. Ancient History. Not relevant.

    ...funny...

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | Oct 2, 2009 10:30:08 AM


  6. So Mike - It's OK to do something wrong/illegal 20 years ago as long as you do nice things after that? OK. Makes sense.

    The problem we are seeing with these appointments as Czars is that there are people who have made significantly bad choices in the past and have no remorse for these choices. This is not about Jennings being gay. If it were a 15 y/o girl who told him she was having sex with an adult male, there is no question that he would be asked to resign.

    I know a lot of us are desperate to get gay people in the public eye on a national level. But come on - let's find gay people who can stand on something OTHER than just being gay. We do not need to support people just because they are gay.

    This does not have to be a Repub/Dem issue. If this were a republican who did not report the situation, I would have the exact same stance. Isn't it about time we stopped joining in the left/right attacks and just make some decisions based on our own beliefs? This country is getting so divided by wing-nuts on BOTH sides, it is very scary. The thing is, we need each other. We need to find conservatives who believe in us and will support us - Yes they are out there, I know many. Continuing to yell and scream across the aisle will get us no where. Remember, the country is split in half +/- a few points on any given day. We need each other to get things done.

    Posted by: BC | Oct 2, 2009 12:16:23 PM


  7. BC, you are wrong. Kevin did the prudent thing by not outing this kid and putting him in danger. Can you imagine if the police and families got involved, he would be ostracized because the right wing always blames the victim. The kid's life would be ruined. Stop tdefending the right wing, they are a small minority with equal skeletons in their closets.

    Posted by: ty | Oct 2, 2009 12:40:52 PM


  8. "This is not about Jennings being gay."

    To you it isn't, BC. To Rush Limbaugh and his ilky ilk--it is.

    As TY just said, this incredibly far-sighted school counselor did what was best for this gay teenager, and the grown gay man who may have simply made a foolish mistake. If this was the grown gay man's one and only affair with an ALMOST ADULT teenage male, you still want to brand him a pedophile? Many of us on this blog have stated our attraction to adult men when we were boys. If we had seduced a grown man and he was punished for it, the guilt would be tremendous, and both lives ruined.

    Protecting a pedophile is wrong and illegal. Protecting a gay teenager and gay man-- who probably made a one-time mistake-- from homophobic vigilantes was the right thing to do.

    It would be a blessing to have more brave and non-judgemental gay people like Mr Jennings working with gay teenagers. Back in my day all we had were either closet cases or gay teachers who were terrified to give a gay teenager any advice at all.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Oct 2, 2009 1:04:09 PM


  9. @ Walter: I actually know the woman who writes as Atlas Shrugged. She's a total fuck nob. It's not worth reading anything she ever writes or says. She came to her ex-husband's funeral and started screaming at his new wife that she wanted half of the money or something. Crazy Crazy Bitch.

    Posted by: Jon B | Oct 2, 2009 1:49:45 PM


  10. TY @ Derrick...first off, someone is only a pedophile if they are attracted to a minor who is pre-pubescent. So that would not apply in this case.

    And again, we want separate laws for gay people? It is ok for a gay teenager to have sex wtih an adult male just because he is gay? COME ON. Again, let's say it is a 15 y/o girl and a guy in his late 30s or 40s. The reaction would be very different. I thought we want equal rights, not special rights. So to use your logic, it is OK for you to have sex with a closeted teenage boy? And we know NOTHING about the adult. We don't know if this was a one time mistake. Obviously the affair went on for a while b/c Jennings wrote about listening to several stories from the boy.

    The law is the law for a reason. As I mentioned in another post, as a therapist, I work with people who had been sexualized by an adult while in their teens. It typically turns out to be a bad deal. Teachers (as well as therapists, nurses, doctors, etc) are mandated reporters. By law they MUST report any SUSPICION - not even proof, but SUSPICION of child abuse/endangerment/neglect. There is no gray area. His own youthfulness as a teacher is no excuse. For gay people to be defending him just because it was a gay relationship is dead wrong. I know that if I, as a mandated reporter, covered up a relationship like this today and it was found out 20 years from now, my license would be taken away immediately.

    Posted by: BC | Oct 2, 2009 3:19:16 PM


  11. A gay teen confided a consensual sexual relationship with an adult to Jennings 20 years ago. Turning such confidential information over to the police and the student's parents at that time could have been assisted suicide. Most gay kids didn't have gay peers back then. Some of them turned to adults for sex. Jennings has admitted that as a young man himself--24 at the time--he may not have been fully equipped to deal with this situation in the best way possible. But, even if he made a mistake, outing a teen in the 1980s could have been devastating for that young man. If a teacher I'd confided in had done that to me, I would have felt completely betrayed.

    If only people who had never made a mistake were appointed to public office, we would have no public officials.

    As to BC's ludicrous suggestion that this has nothing to do with the fact that Jennings is gay, and that "this does not have to be a Repub/Dem issue." Complete bullshit. This has nothing to do with this particular incident, but it has everything to do with Jenning's gayness. He is being targeted because he is gay. Does anyone truly think that homophobes like Hannity and Co. have the welfare of gay teenagers in mind when they attack Jennings, or that the rightwing talking heads have the least interest in preventing anti-gay bullying in schools?

    The attack on Jennings is part of their carefully orchestrated effort to take down Obama appointees one by one. Because Jennings is gay and promoting the "homosexual agenda" (i.e. he is concerned for the welfare of vulnerable students) they are conveniently using this incident (which Jennings openly wrote about) to imply that Jennings himself is a pedophile and that the administration, by supporting him, is turning over the country to faggots and pedophiles. Don't take my word for it: Google Jennings's name and see what the right is saying. He is being directly compared to Mark Foley, never mind that Jennings, unlike Foley, had no sexual involvement with a teen.

    It's a pure smear campaign and purely political. The rightwing isn't in power so they resort to fact-free smear tactics, and the weak-willed Democrats and conservative gay Hannity-ass-kissers are allowing this disgusting practice to continue. The administration needs to say, enough is enough, and stand by Jennings's important safe-school work over the past 20 years.

    That fact that you, as a therapist, BC, see no "gray area" is astounding and frightening.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 2, 2009 3:29:09 PM


  12. BC, if I were a schoolteacher in your area, I would steer gay kids away from you.

    I suppose before 2003 if you worked in Texas or LA, you would report even adults for having sex with other adults of the same sex? It was against the law, therefore you must obey the letter of the law!

    As to the "sexualized children turning out badly" argument, that's pretty much a sex panic myth. Many "children" or pre-age-of-consent adolescents have no ill effects whatsoever, especially if they're male. Read Judith Levine. But you are all to happy to buy into it.

    It is indeed shocking to hear that you are a therapist. No sympathy whatsoever for the client. Only respect for "the law." In the 50s you would have been doing electroshock therapy for sure.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Oct 2, 2009 4:11:19 PM


  13. @Ernie - ok, i change my words - FOR ME this isn't a gay/straight, repub/dem issue. If I have a teenage client confide in me today about a sexual relationship with an adult, I MUST report it. That's it. There is no gray area in the LAW. I am not saying I 100% agree with it. But the law is the law. And actually, if you really listened to Hannity, Beck and other conservative people, they're pretty clear that this is about Jennings' judgment and lack of remorse. Don't just watch one soundbite on MSNBC.
    @ KevinVT - no, adult sexual relationships are different than adult/child. Mandated reporting only means that you report when there is suspected child physical/sexual abuse (in some cases, elder abuse). I cannot report any illegal activity done by an adult. Confidentiality forbids me from doing that - unless of course they are hurting a child. Someone can come to me and say they robbed the bank yesterday and I cannot do anything about it. I am not allowed to do anything about it. So it is very different Kevin. And Kevin, do you work with these adults that were sexualized early? I do. I see the damage. Yes, some deal with it and can move on. Others cannot.

    Answer this - why are people on this site condoning sex between an adult and a teenager? I just don't get it.

    Posted by: BC | Oct 2, 2009 4:29:55 PM


  14. BC, this is how Hannity/Beck etc. smears work:
    --Choose your Obama administration target, in this case an openly gay man associated with GLSEN, a group that helps young gay people and is therefore loathed by the right.
    --Find anything incriminating about your target.
    --Distort that information into lies by talking about pedophilia and conflating Jennings with creeps like Mark Foley. Say that it is all part of a radical homosexual agenda. (Because, to them, schools that are safe for gay teens are part of a radical homosexual agenda.)
    --Wait for the Democrats and/or the administration to cave into their misinformation and move on to the next target.
    If you don't understand this pattern, you're not paying attention.

    So this may not be a gay/straight issue for you, but it is indisputably a gay issue for the right. I didn't get this info from MSNBC, I got it from conservative websites and from Hannity's horse's mouth last night. The incident in question--which Jennings has written openly about--is the lever in a smear campaign that began months ago.

    As for sex between a teenager and an adult. That covers a wide territory, anything from a 60 year-old raping a 13 year old to a 16 year old having a completely consensual sexual relationship with someone a few years older than he is. To pretend that the response to everything within that range should be identical is, to my mind, very dangerous, particularly for a vulnerable gay teenager 20 years ago. While a 24 year old Jennings may not have done exactly the right thing (how many of us at 24 did?), who's to say that outing a teen--in a sexual relationship he wanted--to police and family would not have been far more damaging?

    What I don't get is why you consistently condone the propaganda put forth by people who despise gay people and that includes YOU gay guy. Kevin Jennings has worked hard to keep bullying, including ant-gay bullying, out of schools. Sean Hannity has not. I don't get how any self-respecting gay man could keep such homophobic company, yet--time after time--you do.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 2, 2009 8:39:23 PM


  15. @BC,

    The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16, as specified by Chapter 265, Section 23 of the General Laws of Massachusetts, which states: "Whoever unlawfully has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse, and abuses a child under sixteen years of age shall... be punished..." MGL, 265-23

    However, Chapter 272, Section 4 states:
    "Whoever induces any person under 18 years of age of chaste life to have unlawful sexual intercourse shall be punished." MGL 272-4

    The earlier statute is pretty clear. The latter, is problematic. Unless it could be proved that a 16 y.o. is "of chaste life" and was "induced" by an adult, i would put my money on the former.

    It is hard, BC, to eastablish collegiality when a poster's comments are little more than an apologia for right-wing hate groups and right-wing, sham-journalists and talking heads whose clear agenda is to destroy a good man whose own agenda has been to protect all students from hatred and bullying.

    Did you turn a deaf ear to the vid from 2:56 to 3:10? Why? Were you too busy preparing a defense for the right-wing bullies from Fake News?

    Posted by: nic | Oct 3, 2009 2:40:31 AM


  16. I'll try not to belabor this discussion here, BC, but as I said to you privately, one of the important things that Jennings has done and will undoubtedly do in this appointment is to make schools safer places for all kids, including vulnerable gay students. When kids are in a safe, bully-free environment they can be open enough to find other gay peers for friendship and dating. Accepted and appreciated gay teens are less apt to turn to adults for sex.

    The right, on the other hand, wants to continue to demonize homosexuality and keep gay kids unhappy, invisible, and desperately alone, which is precisely what puts them at risk of entering into unhealthy relationships outside their own age group.

    Standing with people who label efforts to nurture gay teens part of a "radical homosexual agenda" helps preserve a past where being young and gay meant hiding in shame. Don't buy into that propaganda.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 3, 2009 12:14:41 PM


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