How sensitive am I today?
I ask because Michael Erickson, a former NDP candidate, gay activist, and Toronto high school teacher (yes, the new holy trinity), is leading a campaign insisting that I need sensitivity training.
Not just me, but pretty much everyone at Sun News, because the TV station accepted adverts criticizing the Toronto District School Board’s new sex education curriculum.
The ads are powerful and are not for everyone, which is why you can do what conservatives and Christians have been told to do for years now if you disapprove — switch the channel.
The ads allege that children will be exposed to profound, confusing, and complex sexual issues long before they are intellectually and emotionally prepared.
I’ve looked at the curriculum, and at TDSB’s official guidelines, entitled Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide, and contrary to what is argued, the ads are not inaccurate. If people disapprove of them, they should be angry at the message — the curriculum and the guidelines — and not the messenger.
Yet a campaign began two months ago to remove them from newspapers and TV stations, and regrettably many media outlets gave in.
Sun News, however, has decided that the demands — that we all have sensitivity training, that our internal culture is investigated, that we donate money to gay causes, apologize for the ads and remove them, and accept without charge hours of pro-gay commercials — are absurd.
The station runs ads for numerous public advocacy groups and political parties. They’re controversial — the station doesn’t endorse the messages — and they have to be approved by Telecaster, as this one was.
These groups should respond to the ads by buying their own time, get their ads approved by Telecaster, and bring their own message to our viewers. We will, I am sure, accept them. This, and not censorship, is what democracy is all about.
What we didn’t realize immediately was that the man behind the campaign, Michael Erickson, is also one of the main writers of that pithy best-seller mentioned above. Naughty Mr. Erickson — detention for you.
It gets even more, well, sticky. Take a look at the website ratemyteachers.com, and look for our new friend. The website is subjective and anecdotal, of course, but also extremely revealing.
While some students obviously like Erickson, many others certainly do not. What they repeatedly claim is that he aggressively promotes his political ideas and sexual politics in the classroom to a degree that makes them feel acutely uncomfortable and — important this — that he exhibits pronounced bias in his marking. If you do not agree with his radical ideas, they claim, you may as well not bother submitting a paper. It could be sour grapes, but the number and flavour of the comments indicate otherwise.
Fortunately, we at Sun News don’t have to be marked by our new friend, and the only people who can give us a failing grade are the viewers. It’s called Canadian values, freedom of speech, the right to disagree, and open and fair debate, and we’re quite “sensitive” about it all.
Thank the Lord the sun still shines somewhere in this great, but besieged, country.