When we first saw this letter in the Purcellville Gazette (from “William A., age 10”) it brought to mind another western Loudoun family in which the adults use children to promote their own anti-gay proclivities. In one instance, two young siblings were dressed up as a “bride” and “groom” to illustrate their parents’ disdain for same sex couples and marriage equality. My guess is that these two families have a relationship, as the parents seem to have similar notions about the use of their children for this purpose.
McDonald’s Corporation has been supporting the gay society. I don’t think that what they are doing is right. Homosexuality is wrong. I am not going to spend my money on their food anymore. I don’t think anyone should spend their money at McDonald’s because what they are doing is bad for our society.
I’m asking everyone who agrees with me to participate in a boycott with me until September 1, 2008. I am collecting signatures of people joining me in the boycott. You can also join a boycott on line at AFA.net.
William A. (age 10), Round Hill
The response to this letter has been remarkable, and can be summed up, more or less, as “that poor kid.” Everyone recognizes that the children in these situations are not to blame; objections are to the behavior of the parents.
In addition to this week’s editorial (those who bring us the Purcellville Gazette were “disturbed” by the letter, and suggest that young William find something to do of his own choosing instead), there are nine letters to the editor from people who find this parental behavior troubling. My personal favorite is the one that quotes these infamous lines from South Pacific:
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught…You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught!
You can read all the letters and the editorial below the fold.
I don’t at all mean to suggest that children shouldn’t be listened to or can’t have valid opinions. Much of the testimony in favor of marriage equality, in fact, is from children who don’t understand why their family is being singled out for unfair treatment. The difference is that these children are speaking of something they know about – their own families. One of the glaring problems that anti-gay activists have in general is this: In advocating for our own equality, GLBT people and our allies only need to talk about ourselves. In advocating against our equality, anti-gay activists need to talk about…us.
This is not exactly a good strategic position for them.
I also can’t help wondering the same thing asked by the Gazette editor: Did young William’s parents teach him about homosexuality? If so, what specific information was involved? Typically, people with these views are opposed to children of Williams’s age learning anything about sexuality at all – so how is it that he would have even a rudimentary understanding of the term he used?
It doesn’t sound as if the “boycott” of McDonald’s is going especially well. Concerned ‘Woman’ for America Matt Barber illustrates the sort of goofy language being used to promote this project, describing the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce as:
an extremist, “gay” activist organization that lobbies for leftist causes, such as “gay marriage,” and pushes for other policies that would grant special privileges to certain individuals who define themselves based upon unhealthy, traditionally immoral and changeable sexual behaviors.
I suggested (only half facetiously) to our discussion list that we should compile a helpful list of other corporations that the American Family Association ought to boycott for promoting such “special privileges” as equity in the workplace. As it happens, one of the letter writers had the same idea. Here is her list, which is a good start:
AT&T, Best Buy, Chrysler, MasterCard, Fannie Mae, Ford, Gap, Macy’s, Sprint/Nextel, Starbucks, IBM, Kraft Foods, Met Life, Nike, Pepsi, Sears, Anheuser Busch, and Yahoo (all from HRC’s Corporate Equality Index). The AFA may also want to consider boycotting electricity, gas and water. California public utility giant PG&E is contributing considerably more than McDonald’s to the campaign to defeat Prop 8, and is spearheading the formation of a business advisory council to oppose the discriminatory initiative.
Perhaps the “A.” family can work next on answering this question: Why do anti-gay activists hate capitalism?
I am Going to McDonalds
What an interesting juxtaposition of the views, priorities and efforts of youth in our community: one (an Eagle Scout candidate) asking this community to support his efforts to enhance the helicopter rescue pad he has already constructed to aid in the medical airlift of members of our community who are in extremis – no matter what their race, religion, gender, political creed or sexual orientation; the other (an unbelievably precocious and activist ten year old) calling this community to support his boycott of McDonalds because the corporation “has been supporting the gay society.” Reading young William’s note of alarm, I was at first afraid that McDonalds might actually be providing food and jobs to our fellow citizens who are homosexual. Consulting the AFA website, however, I found that McDonalds Corporation’s support of Gay Pride Day, same sex marriage and a “diverse workforce” is causing this boy to make the sacrifice of giving up food from McDonalds.
Thank you to the Gazette for presenting me and my wife with these youthful calls to action! This gives us the opportunity to quickly and firmly express our beliefs and priorities. We believe in two well known dictums: (1) Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (2) We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that ALL [humans] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Based on these beliefs, and in response to the calls of these youth, we hereby pledge to donate immediately to Alex Kenny’s project and we hereby pledge (although we almost never buy fast food) to purchase at least two breakfast meals at a McDonalds every weekend from now through the end of September 2008!
John D. Tew, Purcellville
McDonald’s is Not the Problem
I am writing in response to last week’s letter from William A. (age 10) of Round Hill. William (or more likely William’s parents) urges community members to boycott McDonald’s because the company allegedly “has been supporting the gay society.” While there may be good reasons for boycotting McDonald’s, the corporation’s stance on the gay community is not one of them. As a worldwide franchise, McDonald’s is responsible for representing a much wider pool of consumers than most. It is also obliged to attempt to reach out to all religions, races, genders, age groups, etc. in order to increase its sales. McDonald’s provides some funding to LGBT, as well as to scholarships for children, obesity research, and many other groups. Boycotting McDonald’s for its charitable contribution to one group is narrow-minded and unproductive, as it hinders all of the other charitable acts that McDonald’s can perform.
I also find it interesting that this letter came from a ten-year old child. From my observations, children of this age scarcely understand their own sexuality, much less adult sexuality, whether it be hetero- or homo-. It seems to me that this child’s parents are responsible for the sentiments expressed in the letter, and, as a teacher, I find this discouraging. In our school systems we encourage children to learn about and accept others’ choices, regardless of their own convictions. Accepting others as they are does not consist of condoning or participating in the activities or choices of others; it merely means attempting to respect and understand people’s individuality. The child who wrote this letter is clearly being taught the opposite. Statements such as “Homosexuality is wrong” illustrate that the child has learned to express his opinion as fact.
This puts me in mind of a song in the beloved musical, South Pacific, which deals with this exact issue: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You’ve got to be carefully taught…You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught!” If this is what we are teaching our children, then we have more to worry about than McDonald’s.
Amy Lanham, Middleburg
Parents To Blame?
How sad that a ten-year old child has such a close-minded view of the world. Then again, a child lives what he learns and is mirroring what his parents have taught him. I am not gay but was raised in an environment where I was taught a tolerance and acceptance of other cultures and lifestyles. Shame on the parents for filling this child’s head full of hatred. Shame on the Purcellville Gazette for publishing such rubbish that was obviously a coached letter by an adult. Would this letter have been acceptable if “gay” had been replaced with “black” or Jewish”?
If there was a way to cancel a subscription to your newspaper, I would be doing so today. Perhaps writing “return to sender” and having the return postage charged to Purcellville Gazette is the best way to respond.
David Fisher, Purcellville
(Editor’s Note: Should we be selective on all our letters to the Editor, if so, which ones and who decides? Based on the public outcry opposed to this letter, we are pleased by the opposition.)
I was deeply saddened – on several levels – to read the letter in the July 25th issue of the Gazette from “William A, Round Hill (Age 10)”. First, and foremost, I question the judgment of the editor in printing such a thing. We can imagine all sorts of dreadful things being written on all sorts of horrible subjects. If such letters were sent in as attributable to a minor, would they all be printed? If that letter had been written by an adult (presumably written in a more mature manner; but then again probably not, given the subject matter), would it have been printed? If the object of the attempted smear had been to disallow black people the right to dine in or work at McDonalds, or the denial of the same to Muslims, or Jews, or pick-a-minority-any-minority, would this letter have been printed?
But beyond the questionable decision to print such ugliness, one does, as a parent, have to wonder where such an ignorant opinion may have come from. And if the author was indeed ten years old – and that is unknown since the paper declined to print this person’s full name – it is not difficult to draw the line right back to this poor child’s parents. Looking around this country right now, it is sometimes difficult to believe that the year is 2008, and that so many human beings still have such trouble with tolerance and acceptance, not to mention minding their own gd business. And looking in the environs of this particular area, the thinking mind is sent reeling with the possibility that intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and fear mongering will be the wave of the future. The influx of people into this area some years ago is what sent my family out of this town and up over the hill to Clarke County. We’d lived here on 29th Street for more than ten years, and watched with great trepidation as certain influences seemed to be welcomed into our little town with open arms. Well, here’s the product of those influences, I think, and I am profoundly glad that I don’t still live here, since I have things to occupy my time other than blowing mental gaskets every week or so. Yet, I still work in the area, and have many dear friends here, and therefore feel justified in responding to this atrocity even though I’m not a resident here any more.
I am the parent of 14 year old twins. I am well aware of the barrage of nonsense that these children are subjected to on a daily basis. We live now in a farming community that is uniformly white. The vast majority of the children they’ve been in school with are Caucasian, and this has caused me some concern. But it turned out I needn’t have worried – my husband and I have instilled in them since they were young an appreciation for diversity of all types, and they somehow “sponged” those admirable traits into their very being. They are very offhand now about diversity of all types, including homosexuals. The pride I feel about this is immense, yet I cannot imagine the horror of the idea that there are parents out there swelling with pride that their little darlings are not only precious little bigots, but are willing to write into their local paper, and advertise that sad fact. Welcome to the future, if we let this happen.
Kathy Gibb and family, Leesbur
Ah, there’s nothing more uplifting than opening my Purcellville Gazette on a bright Saturday morning, sipping my coffee, and reading the homophobic, hate-mongering words of a ten year old boy from Round Hill.
William A.—please keep in mind that when you are writing an editorial in support of a boycott you really need to explain why you are boycotting. “…Supporting the gay society” really does not do your piece justice. If you’d like us to support a boycott we’d like to know why—in detail. How is McDonald’s supporting the gay community? And how is it bad for our society? While you’re at it you’d better get ready to boycott many, many companies that are considered “gay friendly”. Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual rights group, listed it’s 100 “gay friendly” companies for 2008 so you’d better take note of a few of them: AT&T, Best Buy, Chrysler, MasterCard, Fannie Mae, Ford, Gap, Macy’s, Sprint/Nextel, Starbucks, IBM, Kraft Foods, Met Life, Nike, Pepsi, Sears, Anheuser Busch etc. There are 100 listed so you may want to check them out. BUT, don’t use Yahoo as your search engine because they’re one of the top 100 companies as well (source: worldnetdaily.com).
If you’re going to boycott companies that support gays you’d better start keeping track because there are many more companies than just McDonald’s who are “gay friendly”. Good luck, William, in your future endeavors. It’ll be a sad and lonely world for you when you realize some of your classmates, coworkers, and possible loved ones have the dreaded “gay” disease. Maybe by the time you’re grown up scientists will have found a “cure” for it.
Laura Lieberman, Lovettsville
Why Print Letter?
Why on earth would you print a homophobic letter ostensibly written by a 10-year-old child in your paper? (“A Boycott,” July 25). The subject matter was offensive enough, but factoring in that given the writer’s age the content is most likely heavily influenced if not entirely directed by his parents or some other authority figure, your choice to encourage such behavior by publishing the letter is baffling. Freedom of speech is an essential right, but ask yourselves: would you have printed a letter by anyone, of any age, encouraging a boycott of a company because it hires minorities?
Tonya Ugoretz, Purcellville
(Editor’s Note: When the letter arrived, we were amazed that anybody in our community would have a child write a letter of this nature. For the sake of the child, we did not print his last name. However, if the parents would have been bold enough to sign their own name, we would have printed it in full. If this were to happen, would you suggest we not print it? Where do we draw the line? Anti-Obama letters? Anti-McCain letters? What about letters opposed to Gay Marriages?)
This is in response to the letter written by William A. (age 10) of Round Hill, published in your paper on July 25, 2008. It was titled “A Boycott”.
William urged everyone to boycott McDonald’s Corporation for supporting gay society. My comment: It made me sad. A 10 year old who should be riding his bike, playing with friends or enjoying a game a catch…is troubled about this? Let kids be kids.
Susan Anastasio, Leesburg
What Kind of Future For William?
It saddens me greatly to read such narrow-minded, bigoted thoughts coming from the pen of such a young child. To think that a 10 year old would already have uncharitable feelings about other human beings is a poor reflection on the state of his world. Where does he go from here? I’m sure his feelings are parroted words from the adults around him, but at an age when he should start to be exposed to and explore the world around him, and accept it, he’s already shut the door to those who are “different”. I feel sorry for this child.
D. Landau, Lovettsville
Forget Politics, Think Health
Hooray for William A.! Boycott McDonald’s, but not just through September 1. William should definitely, certainly, and in no way, shape, or form boycott McDonald’s because it supports what he (or, most likely, his parents) call the company’s support of “gay society.”
I applaud McDonald’s for its support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. What I do not support is the company’s food and marketing campaigns. McDonald’s high-fat, highcarbohydrate, highly unnatural foods are contributing to the increasing rates of obesity-related diseases – including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease – in the United States. Nearly one-third of children nationwide are considered overweight. Several recent analyses show that the number of children on adult medications to treat obesity-related illnesses has increased in some cases more than 100% over the past eight years. However, McDonald’s continues to market its food to young people and ethnic minorities, who also are at higher risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes.
William A. was correct on one point: what McDonald’s is “doing is bad for our society.” So bravo, young William! Forego that Big Mac, not just for two months, but forever, and in the meantime, go out and ride your bike or play capture the flag with your friends. Whatever you do, stop worrying about how other people live their lives. Take care of yours, because it’s the only one you have.
Alyson Browett, Purcellville
EDITORIAL: Open Letter to William A. (10)
We were quite disturbed by the tone of your letter to the editor when it was received at our office. We immediately visited the website site you mentioned to see if your parents were listed on the site; we also wanted to know if there was a “kid’s page”, which, thankfully, there was not. Once your letter was published, we started receiving comments via email, phone, and mail from our readers. We even received emails from as far away as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Your letter has caused quite a stir. One of the prominent areas of concern is most believe you are far too young to be taking such an adult stance on such an important issue. Did your parents teach you about homosexuality? Did you come to the conclusion that it is “wrong” on your own?
As you grow up to be a man, you will no longer have your parents to guide you. While their teachings may have seemingly prepared you for the world, you may be surprised by what you will see and do. You will meet many new people from all over the world, Jewish, Christians, and Muslims. They could be your girlfriend, trash man, firefighter, teacher, professor or even your best friend from soccer camp. How will you judge him or her – based on what you know in your heart to be true, or what you read on a website written by someone you have never met? Being young is supposed to be a time of learning and open-mindedness, not learning to hate. While you may enjoy learning, we do not wish to discourage it; in fact, we suggest that you embrace this for the rest of your life. However, just like TV, some shows are just not worth watching.
We would like to suggest the following activities that would enhance your thirst for learning. These are programs your parents may not be aware of because of their busy schedules. Keep Loudoun Beautiful has a Potomac River Clean Up program where you ride in a canoe for three hours and pick up trash along the river. Besides cleaning up the river, you are able to learn about the environment you live in and how we as people can easily pollute it. Pollution can take on many forms, paper, chemicals, cars, and yes, even words.
Another idea would be to help local Boy Scouts raise funds for Hamilton’s Fire & Rescue’s helicopter pad. The Boy Scouts are working on a project that could someday save a life. We are confident that the folks at the station would show you their trucks and explain the mechanical aspects of pumping water as well as how to handle yourself if a fire were to happen in your home. Imagine, you, a ten year old learning how to escape a fire and the chance to teach your parents this same skill. We are
sure they would be proud of your newly learned skills.
Your letter was printed in a local paper and your job is done. However, this was not for you, you did it for someone else. The summer is not over yet, so you still have time to do something for yourself, perhaps a nice walk along the WO&D Trail to document the birds you see.
Remember, when school starts in the fall, you will be asked what you did over summer break and saying you wrote a letter to the editor is really not that exciting… is it?