UPDATED: Morrissey should have been silent on Jennings and just been thought a fool
Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
Apparently, the anti-gay natives are restless over at Hot Air - Ed Morrissey today claims that he has gotten "a lot of email asking why I haven't written about" the right-wing's trumped-up witch hunt against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, and explains: "To be honest, the story is so shocking that I haven't quite grasped how to approach it." Rather than leave it at that, Morrissey goes on to demonstrate that he lacks even the shakiest grasp of the claims that the right has been making about Jennings.
Morrissey claims that throughout Jennings' 13-year tenure as head of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the organization "offered sex education seminars to young teenagers within the framework of public education" that included explicit sexual discussion. What the rest of Morrissey's ilk have been alleging is that at one GLSEN conference in 2000, such a discussion happened during a workshop.
Morrissey claims that "Margot Abels, who got fired by GLSEN after the content of the seminars became known, says Jennings and others at GLSEN knew the content of their curriculum and approved it." A couple of problems:
1) Even Jennings' most fervent opponents have acknowledged that Abels worked for the Massachusetts Department of Education, not GLSEN. Jennings didn't fire her, though he did criticize the content of her seminar when he became aware of it.
2) While the right has claimed that Abels said that Jennings "knew" in advance about the content of her seminar, the statements they have pointed to only show that she said her immediate superiors at the Department of Education were aware, not that Jennings or GLSEN were.
Morrissey then purports to provide the explicit "handout material GLSEN provided for these classes." But the image that he shows is from the booklet conservative activists have claimed was passed out to students at a separate GLSEN conference - in 2005.
Oh, and in reality, a community health group -- not GLSEN itself -- reportedly said that it had mistakenly "left about 10 copies" of the booklet on an informational table it rented at the conference; the group reportedly apologized for doing so; GLSEN stated that if it had known the booklets had been at the conference, it would have demanded they be removed; and the local school superintendent reportedly said he believed no students had actually taken the book.
But other than that, Morrissey's "approach" to Jennings is worth the wait.
UPDATE: Newsbusters' John Stephenson is offering up Morrissey's post to those "unfamiliar" with Jennings "outrageous background." Boy, will they be surprised when they find that even the rest of the right-wing nuthouse isn't on board with Morrissey's take.
Better conservative media critics, please.