Ryan T. Anderson: Public Enemy #1

 

RTAndersonI’ve met Ryan Anderson, infamous opponent of marriage equality. It was a terrifying experience. The eyes. Those crazy eyes.

I’m joking, obviously. Ryan is a perfect gentleman and clearly entirely sane. He also has a fancy education and no grey hair. (He’s around my age, I believe, so not easily dismissed as a nostalgic old codger who can’t quite get with the times.) Those combined factors make him deeply offensive to the left. In his way, I’m sure he’s far more offensive than your garden-variety Westboro Baptist, because he tricks people into supposing that young, intelligent and reasonable people can still regard marriage as an intrinsically procreative institution involving a man and a woman. Even in 2015.

Ryan is a graduate of the Friends School of Baltimore, an academically rigorous school affiliated with the Quakers. Last week, a Washington Post profile of Ryan was linked on the school’s Facebook page. Naturally, people went crazy.

I’ll post the absurd message from the school principal below. Apparently it is not possible to have a “safe” and “nurturing” school environment while admitting that a graduate is public supporter of traditional marriage.

We’ve seen a fair amount of this craziness in recent weeks and months, but this is particularly personal. Ryan is an alum of the school, and apparently his four brothers were also students; his family invested quite largely in this private school. But it’s still verboten to acknowledge his national reputation with a Facebook link. Not even a personal appearance or book signing. He is banished to the realm of the Cannot-Be-Named simply because he supports traditional marriage.

I hate to be a pessimist, but I suspect the impending Supreme Court decision will make this all worse. For progressives, that victory-by-judicial-fiat will only serve as one more infuriating reminder that you can’t disappear millennia-old cultural and philosophical views with the stroke of a pen. It wouldn’t be so bad if we’d just be the crude, wild-eyed reactionaries they want us to be. Instead we have jerk-wads like Ryan Anderson pretending to be intelligent, reasonable people with good manners. Nothing worse than a well-behaved bigot, right?

 

Matt Micciche Head of School

Members of the Friends School Community,

As many of you know, this morning, we posted on the Friends School Facebook page a Washington Post article that profiled a Friends School alumnus who is a prominent national opponent of same-sex marriage. Earlier this evening, I removed that post from our page, and I’m writing to provide some background on this decision.

I want to begin by expressing my sincere regret to those for whom the posting of this article called into question our school’s commitment to honoring their identity and their rights. Though I should have anticipated the anguish and confusion this posting would cause, I did not. For that lack of sensitivity, and the pain that it has brought about, I apologize to all the members of our community.

By far, the most important factor in my decision to remove this post were the voices of students and alumni who felt that by posting this article, we were, as a school, validating (if not tacitly endorsing) the views that Mr. Anderson put forth in the article as he described his work opposing same-sex marriage. While that was not our intent, as we often point out to students, it is the reception, rather than the intent, that matters. I can understand why the belief that Mr. Anderson’s views were being endorsed by the school would be deeply troubling to some members of our community. The nature of these views goes beyond the realm of abstract political ideology and calls into question the fitness of same-sex families to raise children and the right of gay and lesbian citizens to marry the person they love. While Mr. Anderson undoubtedly has the right to express such views, by posting this article we created legitimate confusion as to whether or not they were being validated by the school.

And yet, the decision to remove the post, once I had heard the deep concerns it was causing, was not without conflict for me. I found myself torn between two seemingly opposed aspects of our School Philosophy. We believe, as we say in that document, that “Quaker education is a pilgrimage–a continual seeking after Truth. The search for truth requires a willingness to listen openly to the ideas of others, even in fields of controversy.” I take very seriously our responsibility as a school to encourage the free and open exchange of all ideas, from across the political spectrum. I firmly believe that we must support, foster, and celebrate divergent thinking to the greatest possible extent. There can be no “party line” in a truly great educational institution, no sense that there is only one acceptable view on any complex topic.

We also affirm in our Philosophy that “Friends School seeks to live the conviction that there is that of God in each person. At Friends, we work together to build and sustain a community that is inclusive, respectful, and supportive of all people; we value diversity and cherish differences.” With this ideal in mind, the celebration of divergent viewpoints is not, and cannot be, without boundaries. When the views that a person espouses call into question the full humanity or the full access to human rights of others, based on their very identity, the active harm that the espousal of these views causes outweighs the opposing value of freedom of expression.

My decision, in other words, places a priority on the very real and human sentiments of the actual members of our community (as expressed to me in the wake of our posting of this article) over the more purely philosophical commitment to the free flow of ideas. Those of us in the majority – in this case, the heterosexual majority -have the luxury of treating the debate about same-sex marriage as an issue of abstract ideals. That luxury is simply not available to those whose humanity and civil rights have historically been degraded in this area and many others.

I believe that Mr. Anderson is entitled to hold the views he does, and I respect his educational and professional accomplishments. As the article remarks, he is seen as a “fresh face” for the anti-gay-marriage movement largely because of the civil and reasoned manner in which he presents his arguments. I hope that his ability to respectfully disagree with his opponents has at least some root in his experiences at Friends School. That said, as a Quaker school, we strive to create an environment where “that of God” in every person is acknowledged and respected. By choosing to highlight an article about an alumnus whose work is based on a set of beliefs that begin from an assumption of inequality and that argue for the denial of rights to an entire segment of the population based on their identity, I now realize that we erred. I promise that we will draw on this experience as a tool for learning about how we can help to create a sense of acceptance and well-being for all, while also providing for the open and respectful exchange of ideas. We can and must do better in the difficult work of balancing these competing ideals.

 

 

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There are 24 comments.

  1. Member

    Why can’t Mr. Anderson be a supporter of traditional marriage on this Facebook post? Someone from the same school could post their support for polygamy, and that would be OK? Sheeeesh!

    • #1
    • April 20, 2015, at 12:46 PM PDT
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  2. Member

    … whose work is based on a set of beliefs that begin from an assumption of inequality and that argue for the denial of rights to an entire segment of the population based on their identity…

    That sounds to me like his mind’s made up and he refuses to engage the actual ideas Anderson espouses. He’s bought the SSM crowd’s argument which by design allows for no debate or actual consideration of the opposing view. Acknowledging a difference does not equate to inequality.

    • #2
    • April 20, 2015, at 12:53 PM PDT
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  3. Member

    I agree, Ryan Anderson is a very dangerous man. I’ve yet to hear a single, reasoned, coherent refutation of his arguments.

    • #3
    • April 20, 2015, at 1:18 PM PDT
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  4. Member

    Chilling. Thank you for sharing this with us Rachel.

    I am not a pessimist, but I feel confident that you are right that it will soon be much much worse.

    • #4
    • April 20, 2015, at 1:47 PM PDT
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  5. Inactive

    Would love to hear Ryan on one of our podcasts.

    • #5
    • April 20, 2015, at 2:32 PM PDT
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  6. Inactive

    Only someone on the left, like this headmaster, could get away with saying he wants an open exchange of ideas in a letter explaining why he is dissociating with someone who has different ideas. Precious.

    • #6
    • April 20, 2015, at 2:34 PM PDT
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  7. Inactive

    Wait, I just realized – I went to a Quaker Friends school …. maybe if I tell them my political views, they’ll stop asking me for money!

    • #7
    • April 20, 2015, at 2:36 PM PDT
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  8. Inactive

    J Flei:Wait, I just realized – I went to a Quaker Friends school …. maybe if I tell them my political views, they’ll stop asking me for money!

    So their bigotry can be put to some use!

    • #8
    • April 20, 2015, at 2:38 PM PDT
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  9. Member

    The fatuousness of Mr. Miccichi’s message is quite astonishing. Quakers used to be somewhat nonconformist.

    • #9
    • April 20, 2015, at 2:40 PM PDT
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  10. Member

    “Denial of rights based on their identity.”
    There’s the rub. Homosexuality is not an identity. It’s a desire that advocates and the courts are trying to turn into an identity. The problem is.that if one desire equals identity, all desires equal identity and are therefore protected by law. Pedophilia, anyone?

    • #10
    • April 20, 2015, at 4:47 PM PDT
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  11. Member

    Preston Brooks:“Denial of rights based on their identity.” There’s the rub. Homosexuality is not an identity. It’s a desire that advocates and the courts are trying to turn into an identity…..

    That and marriage is not a right.

    Besides, no one is prevented from actually doing anything whether civil marriage excludes sames sex couples or even whether civil marriage exists at all.

    • #11
    • April 20, 2015, at 5:00 PM PDT
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  12. Inactive

    Preston Brooks:“Denial of rights based on their identity.” There’s the rub. Homosexuality is not an identity. It’s a desire that advocates and the courts are trying to turn into an identity.The problem is.that if one desire equals identity, all desires equal identity and are therefore protected by law. Pedophilia, anyone?

    Watch out Preston. The problem with expressing it this way is that it is too easy to confuse desire with choice. I fully believe that most homosexuals do not choose to be attracted solely to the same sex. Human desires and even needs can be innate, they can even form part of one’s identity. The question is does one’s identity confirm special protections or punishments under the law.

    This is the crux of the whole SSM debate. SSM supporters view SSM as a right, whereas opponents of SSM don’t view marriage as a right (or a second option, where marriage is viewed as a right but only a right that is conferred between one man and one woman).

    Even if you believe that marriage is not a right, by definition not allowing SSM is discrimination. The question is if it is legal (or proper) discrimination.

    • #12
    • April 20, 2015, at 6:05 PM PDT
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  13. Member

    When the views that a person espouses call into question the full humanity or the full access to human rights of others, based on their very identity, the active harm that the espousal of these views causes outweighs the opposing value of freedom of expression.”

    And yet, this same man probably tolerates a great deal of anti-white-male trash talk. Sometimes I wonder what these people are smoking. You can hide being gay, but you cannot hide being white. This just goes to show that leftists only care about hostile environments when they are the victims of them.

    • #13
    • April 20, 2015, at 7:25 PM PDT
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  14. Contributor

    “While that was not our intent, as we often point out to students, it is the reception, rather than the intent, that matters.”

    And the award for slavery to subjectivity and moral relativism goes to – Matt Micciche!

    • #14
    • April 20, 2015, at 8:13 PM PDT
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  15. Contributor

    “…the right of gay and lesbian citizens to marry the person they love.”

    I liked gay activists so much better when they used to say who they loved was none of my business.

    The last thing on my mind when I marred my wife was whether anyone else gave a damn about it. The infallible Dred Scott boys on the court can make any decision that feels good to them, but I will never care about who loves whom.

    I’ll be busy minding my business.

    • #15
    • April 20, 2015, at 8:21 PM PDT
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  16. Contributor

    “By far, the most important factor in my decision to remove this post were the voices of students and alumni who felt that by posting this article, we were, as a school, validating (if not tacitly endorsing) the views that Mr. Anderson put forth in the article as he described his work opposing same-sex marriage.”

    And by removing it you are not validating (if not tacitly endorsing) the views of the other side?

    Is this fellow suffering from the delusion that his actions are neutral here?

    • #16
    • April 20, 2015, at 8:24 PM PDT
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  17. Contributor

    “Those of us in the majority – in this case, the heterosexual majority -have the luxury of treating the debate about same-sex marriage as an issue of abstract ideals.”

    A baker having to pay a $150,000.00 fine for not making a gay couple a cake can now be a debt satisfied with an abstract bank check.

    • #17
    • April 20, 2015, at 8:29 PM PDT
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  18. Contributor

    “I take very seriously our responsibility as a school to encourage the free and open exchange of all ideas, from across the political spectrum.”

    Up next – the Charles Manson respect for life rally!

    Good grief.

    There is no way this guy typed the above sentence with a straight face.

    • #18
    • April 20, 2015, at 8:32 PM PDT
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  19. Inactive

    I had no idea that Quakers were all in on buggery. Was William Penn unavailable for comment?

    • #19
    • April 20, 2015, at 11:10 PM PDT
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  20. Member

    Z in MT:

    Preston Brooks:“Denial of rights based on their identity.” There’s the rub. Homosexuality is not an identity. It’s a desire that advocates and the courts are trying to turn into an identity.The problem is.that if one desire equals identity, all desires equal identity and are therefore protected by law. Pedophilia, anyone?

    Watch out Preston. The problem with expressing it this way is that it is too easy to confuse desire with choice. I fully believe that most homosexuals do not choose to be attracted solely to the same sex. Human desires and even needs can be innate, they can even form part of one’s identity. The question is does one’s identity confirm special protections or punishments under the law.

    I fully believe that pedophiles do not choose to be attracted to children. So what?

    • #20
    • April 21, 2015, at 5:04 AM PDT
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  21. Member

    Your colleague Joseph Bottum has a great piece about Anderson up at TheFed today. Great read.

    • #21
    • April 21, 2015, at 7:47 AM PDT
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  22. Inactive

    Miffed White Male:

    Z in MT:

    Preston Brooks:“Denial of rights based on their identity.” There’s the rub. Homosexuality is not an identity. It’s a desire that advocates and the courts are trying to turn into an identity.The problem is.that if one desire equals identity, all desires equal identity and are therefore protected by law. Pedophilia, anyone?

    Watch out Preston. The problem with expressing it this way is that it is too easy to confuse desire with choice. I fully believe that most homosexuals do not choose to be attracted solely to the same sex. Human desires and even needs can be innate, they can even form part of one’s identity. The question is does one’s identity confirm special protections or punishments under the law.

    I fully believe that pedophiles do not choose to be attracted to children. So what?

    I agree with you. What I was trying to say is that choice or innateness is not the dispositive factor. The question that needs to be answered is does society view a behavior as harmful to other individuals or society as a whole. Pedophilia is definitely harmful and requires the full weight of criminal law to punish. Homosexuality also used to be viewed as harmful, however only a minuscule shrinking minority at this time would view homosexuality as something requiring criminal or civil sanction.

    The fight here is over teleology. Marriage is a privilege bestowed upon a relationship by a community that serves as an explicit approval by that community of that relationship. Homosexuals are pressing for community approval not rights.

    • #22
    • April 21, 2015, at 8:11 AM PDT
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  23. Contributor
    Rachel Lu Post author

    The King Prawn:Your colleague Joseph Bottum has a great piece about Anderson up at TheFed today. Great read.

    Thanks for posting! I was just about to put up a link myself. Bottum is a curious character to be sure, but his prose is always delightful.

    • #23
    • April 21, 2015, at 9:11 AM PDT
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  24. Member

    This is absurd. Micciche greatly overestimates the importance of his Facebook postings. The Washington Post, you know the big national newspaper, published the Anderson piece. Micciche simply called attention to it via Facebook. Micciche may have removed his link to the article (which no doubt caused Micciche’s more casual Facebook “friends” to go read the WaPo piece), but the WaPo piece is still posted for all to read.

    And, the WaPo piece isn’t a puff piece by a sympathetic reporter. Although Anderson comes across favorably, the article cites unnamed “opponents,” calling him out for “muddy logic,” “cherry-pick[ing] social science,” and “circular reasoning.” This is not the sort of thing you find in overly friendly articles.

    Students at the Friend’s School should be able to read the WaPo piece, and see that Anderson’s primary goal is to convince opponents that supporting traditional marriage does not require hatred, or even dislike, for gays. Such a message should be welcomed by Quakers.

    • #24
    • April 21, 2015, at 10:05 AM PDT
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