Alex Blaze

Any questions?

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 14, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: black, dave burk, faggot, Fox News, national endowment for the arts, New York City, picture

And this is your brain on Fox News:

Hunter said during a lecture on tax dollars on Oct. 5, Geneva High consumer education teacher Dave Burk started talking about the National Endowment for the Arts, asking his students, "'How would you feel about your tax dollars going to pay some black fag in New York to take pictures of other black fags?'"

Conservatives never liked the National Endowment for the Arts, mainly because they think that the side of a Happy Meal box is as much visual stimulation as people can have before it's technically sin. That and the fact that they'd sacrifice having a culture to save about 50 cents in taxes.

The article says that this teacher actually planned that comment in advance, and, while he is prohibited from making racial slurs in class, the student handbook doesn't ban those based on sexual orientation. It does ban harassment based on sexual orientation, though, but it doesn't prescribe a punishment.

So what should happen to this teacher? Is an apology enough? Should be be suspended? Fired?

Update: The school district came to a decision last night as to what to do:

Geneva School Board members voted Tuesday night to issue a warning against a Geneva High School teacher, who a student claimed made a homosexual slur in his classroom last week.

The notice against teacher David Burk states that any further improprieties could result in dismissal.

Geneva High School senior Jordan Hunter, who is gay and said he was personally offended by the remark, did not think the board's action went far enough. He believed Burk should have been fired.

"I'm just disappointed," Hunter said. "I'm shocked, really. This is not an acceptable end result."

I think they could have gotten a little more creative than a resolution, like you all did in the comments.


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Suspended, yes. Publicly ridiculed, yes. Fired, no. Other than elected officials, I'm always leery about calling for someone's job. They called for my job in Homer, IL because I didn't fit in, which they thought was a pretty legitimate reason to call for my job. They got what they wanted.

Its tough to be a teacher, and you make mistakes. Teachers are human--and they need to work hard to be role models--but like all humans, teachers are allowed to grow and change and make mistakes too. They're allowed to screw up, apologize, be corrected and move on.

He's wrong, but give him a chance to grow and learn.

I think that he should be required to have a rainbow flag in his room for the next year, be the teacher sponsor for the GSA group for a year and has to march in the nearest Pride Parade.

I assume you're being a bit facetious in your answer here, but having this ass sponsor the GSA would only punish the students in the GSA.

I'm with Phil and Monica. Firing is to be done with caution - we have to remember that queers can get fired if they bring up sexual orientation issues in classes and, for that matter, so can straight teachers who do the same. Lefty teachers who dare criticise capitalism can be fired, and on and on. Firing him for a comment will only make it easier to fire others for similarly "unpopular" comments.

Make him do everything Monica suggests, and more. Quiz him about his sexuality. Get him to read and discuss John D'Emilio's "Capitalism and Gay Identity." And Adrienne Rich's "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence." And while we're at it, we should get the GSAs and all other students to read these as well - so that this instance doesn't just become yet another moment for mere tolerance.

I like Monica's suggestion!
It is positive and provides a learning experience.

I mulled over the "black fag" comment and think that he should also be made to read James Baldwin (anything) and Patrick E. Johnson's book Sweet Tea. He's near Chicago, so he might even be able to attend a performance of the latter.

Since he's so interested in not paying taxes, dock his salary. Then he won't have to pay as much.

"Conservatives never liked the National Endowment for the Arts, mainly because they think that the side of a Happy Meal box is as much visual stimulation as people can have before it's technically sin."

LOL, great quote, Alex. I bet the "endowment" part made them squirm too.

I'm interested in hearing more about the intersection of race and sexual orientation and sexuality, and whether there is a specific resonance here. Accusations of hypersexuality is a particular method of race-baiting that has been used effectively for a long time. It has resulted in much harassment and violence against African-Americans and other minorities. A black fag taking pictures of other black fags isn't the same as a white fag taking pictures of runway models or flowers. What makes it particularly odious that the gay person be a black man? Who takes pictures of other black men, possibly in a sexual way? I sense a lack of recognition of the racist implications of this comment. It's not wrong because the teacher referred to the person's race. It's wrong because the teacher intended to reinforce a particular view, unstated though it may have been, of black men and black gay men in particular. A warning as discipline totally misses the point.

It is never appropriate for a teacher to proselytize their viewpoint in a classroom setting. They are not evangelists but educators. In some school systems he would have been in violation of the non-discrimination policy as a number of systems add sexual orientation and gender identity to their non-discrimination policy and have for many years.

I would not fire him if he is tenured and otherwise a quality educator and a REAL teacher with an education degree, not alternately certified or Teach for America. There are too few real teachers now in the classroom and not many willing to do high school. If he is a career educator he may be salvagable.

I would not require him to sponsor the gay/straight alliance although I would require him to attend the meetings of that and similar groups as part of an extensive professional development program he would be required to engage in. GLBT kids do not need a hater as a sponsor. Their self esteem would be in danger. He needs considerable sensitivity training and counseling to improve his attitude toward minorities which is probably negative across the board not just against gays. Most likely he dislikes minorities of any description, including special needs students, but is banned from saying so in class. Therefore, he should be required to work with colleagues of other races and orientation regularly and be mentored.

He might be salvageable if this is not a religious problem. Otherwise he will choose not to become enlightened because he will be afraid of going to hell. He may also need mental health counseling as many people, including teachers, have been stressed out by the recession and conservatives remain upset about our having a black president. Conservative churches and organizations feed into this stress in order to increase their donations by saying the very kinds of thing that the teacher intoned.

His lesson plans should be monitored and administrative visits frequent for the next two years, including turning on the intercom when he does not know it.

To summarize:
He might be salvagable if
1. He is a real career teacher who is tenured.
2. He consents to sensitivity training and is mentored and monitored.
3. His comments are not part of his religious beliefs.