Would Jesus Give Jadon Higganbothan a Good Punch?
Would Jesus Kill Jadon Higganbothan?
Sean “Give Them A Good Punch” Harris, pastor of the of the Berean Baptist Church of Fayetteville, North Carolina, is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame. Last week he urged parents whose children showed signs of being gay, including limp wrists to “Give them a good punch.” The message provoked a strong, negative reaction, prompting the pastor to issue a retraction. Later, Sean Harris claimed his comment was a joke. Do the retraction and explanation resolve all concerns regarding this matter?
Could Sean Harris’ Words Provoke Violence?
Sean Harris is a preacher. He preaches words. He preaches words to impact his audience. That’s the whole point of preaching. Preachers' livelihoods depend on impacting others with words. When their words urge violence towards children, how can they be unaware of the impact? Words urging violence towards children create a risk of violence towards children. Sometimes words cause violence, and even death. Unbalanced individuals who hear the words can be affected.
Was Sean Harris Aware of the Risk?
Did Sean Harris know that hate speech directed at young children could lead to violence, or worse? How could we help him appreciate this fact? Targets of hate speech can become targets of audience members. Violent hate speech can produce violent behavior. One would expect that Sean Harris and his congregation would change course if only they could understand the risk.
The most persuasive reasoning I have found is a comparison of Sean Harris’ statements to children playing with matches. No responsible adult lets children play with matches because of the risk of harm. If Sean Harris understood that risk, one would expect that he would change course. No one lets children play with matches. No one could be indifferent to the risk that an unbalanced individual might harm a child.
Did they know about Jadon Higganbothan?
Jadon Higganbothan. A four year old child. Look in his eyes. Look at his face. His murderer did. His murderer looked at him. Then the murderer killed young Jadon. Why?
His murderer believed Jadon was gay. The evidence? Four year old Jadon patted another child on the bottom. According to the news accounts, that patting led his murderer to conclude that four year old Jadon was gay. Gayness is intolerable to the Lord. Jadon was different from the rest of us. Four year old Jadon must die.
Describing Jadon’s killer as unbalanced seems an understatement. How many similarly unbalanced individuals might be in the audience of Berean Baptist Church sermons? How many people in America have heard about Sean Harris’ advice for parents of gay children: "Give them a good punch."? How many can and will still access that sermon on the internet? How many are unbalanced enough to follow the advice?
What shows that children are gay?
Limp Wrists? Bottom Patting?
Is the childhood behavior really this diagnostic of sexual orientation? The memories of my youth are faded. I strongly suspect that all of us played, fought and occasionally hugged and kissed. Kids do that. Sometimes, we might even spank or pat each other’s bottoms maybe to inflict pain or to be funny. If Jadon Higganbothan's murderer is correct, and bottom patting proves that a child is gay, then all kids would be gay at least two or three times during their childhoods.
Sean Harris says to beat limp wristed boys because it means they are gay.
"Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up! Give them a good punch OK. You're not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you're going to be a male."
Sean Harris instruction to dads to punch sons with limp wrists to prevent gayness is strange. I fear that at some time in my life, either because of exhaustion or some other reason, I may have failed to keep my wrists in a sufficiently flexed posture to pass Sean Harris’ heterosexuality test.
Are limp wrists really the hallmark of gayness? I cannot think of any gay friends who are limp wristed. Many of them frequent gyms to stay in shape. I can think of a few heterosexual males with underdeveloped forearm muscles and limp wrists. My personal experience is inconsistent with Sean Harris' claims. Perhpas my experience is atypical.
Limp Wrists Prove What?
What exactly is it that Sean Harris is saying about limp wristedness? Is it
1. a sign of possible homosexuality,
2. a sign of likely homosexuality,
3. conclusive proof of homosexuality, or
4. proof of the subcategory of homosexuality that can be beaten out of children?
What is the evidence that if we can beat limp wristed children so that they no longer allow their wrists to be limp, that has any impact on their romantic feelings others?
A search of Pubmed, the motherlode of medical articles indexed and maintained by the National Library of Medicine, would seem to be in order. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed Included in the millions of articles are 23,000 articles identified by a search for “homosexual” http://1.usa.gov/Jae6Ej, an impressive body of scientific data. What does that literature indicate about the correlation between limp wrists and homosexuality? What results when we add "limp wrists" to the search strategy? Let's plug this into the search box:
("limp wrists" OR "limp wrist") (gay OR homosexual)
Results: http://1.usa.gov/JaePVW Nothing. Not one article. Where is the connection between limp wristedness and homosexuality in modern scientific literature? There is no literature. Sean Harris urges violence against children based on . . . . . nothing? An illusion from a comic book?
To Sean Harris supporters I suggest: don’t believe me. Search it yourself. If I am in error, tell me what mistake I made in trying to locate the evidence in the medical literature.
Can Beating Limp Wristed People Convert Homosexuals to Heterosexuals?
There seems to be no literature correlating gayness to limp wristedness. How is it possible to reduce the frequency of a nonexistent correlation? If there is no correlation, how can beatings, or anything else, reduce the frequency?
There are over 500 articles on homophobia. http://1.usa.gov/Jaese5. Maybe we should share these articles with Sean Harris and his flock.
What Behavior of Children Proves They Are Gay?
Hugging and Kissing?
Patting and Spanking?
Jadon did something we all did when we were four or five or six or seven. He patted another child’s bottom. Four year old children occasionally pat, hug and even kiss other children just as they would hug and kiss their parents and siblings of both sexes. Simple expressions of affection. If Jadon's killer is correct that bottom patting is conclusive proof of gayness requiring execution, how many NFL and NBA players would be affected?
When, as a child, I kissed my dad, was that an expression of homosexuality? When I was four? How about when he came home after being arrested as a part of his Civil Rights activities. I feared, my family feared, he might be killed and that we would never see him again. When I hugged him upon his return from Mississippi, should I have been beaten? I can imagine that contrary to the expectations of Sean Harris and his band, that I might have ignorantly kissed his cheek to express relief that he had not been killed or beaten. If I had, should I have to be killed or beaten?
If you believe the behavior made me gay, you can stop reading now. Nothing I say can reach or help you. I recommend that you find an island.
As humans, we sometimes express non-romantic affection physically. Handshakes do not mean businessmen are gay. Hugs, kisses on the cheek, pats on the back, and other physical gestures are normal behavior that express ordinary human affection. Movies and television shows confirm that they are common customs for expressing good feelings. Basing decisions to beat or kill children for imitating customary, traditional gestures of good will defies rationality.
Whether discussing Jadon's bottom patting, or the limp wristedness on which Sean Harris focuses, the homophobic critics of these behaviors cause are so profoundly uncomfortable that they advance two absurd propositions:
The behavior is proof of homosexuality, and
Actors that display the behavior deserve violence or worse.
What was the evidence that four year old Jadon was gay and that execution was approrpiate? As a four year old, he patted another boy’s bottom, a common behavior of four year olds, NFL players, NBA players, and many other professional athletes. Does it require a beating? Does it justify inflaming unbalanced individuals to act, against children?
Sean Harris' Comments, in Context
Look at this child. Look at his face. Think about what it would take for someone to look at him and kill him. It took someone to do what Sean Harris said: Beat the gayness out of children.
It is now time to put Sean Harris' comments "Give them a good punch." into perspective. When and where was Jadon Higganbothan murdered in relation to Sean Harris' comments?
Jadon Higganbothan was murdered in Durham, North Carolina. Durham is 88 miles from Fayetteville, North Carolina where Sean Harris has his Berean Baptist Church. Eighty eight miles away. http://g.co/maps/dk884
And when did it become common knowledge in North Carolna that this beautiful four year old boy was murdered because a mentally unstable person concluded violence was the appropriate way to deal with gays? June and July 2011, less than a year ago.
NBC 17 Full Coverage http://www2.nbc17.com/news/2011/apr/11/14/full-coverage-jadon-higganbothan-antoinetta-mckoy-ar-938481/ 20 stories total
WRAL http://www.wral.com/search/?q=jadon+higganbothan&x=0&y=0&jump=1 ORhttp://bit.ly/J1VLZ8 31 stories
blog inurl:fayetteville "jadon higganbothan" http://bit.ly/IRkx2x
Durham's Herald Sun (inurl:heraldsun.com AND "jadon higganbothan") http://bit.ly/IRmsnN
Anyone reading the North Carolina newspapers throught 2011 would have read about four year old Jadon Higganbothan being murdered by a mentally unstable adult. That adult believed that Jadon's patting another boy on the bottom proved his gayness. It mandated his execution.
That is the context of Sean “Give Them A Good Punch” Harris’speech. Hate speech kills. News outlets in the area have covered the Jadon Higganbothan story repeatedly in the past year.
I cannot prove that Sean Harris was consciously aware of Jadon Higganbothan when he urged listeners with gay children to “Give Them A Good Punch.” I wonder how he could not have known.
I did search the church’s website for references to Jadon Higganbothan. I found no reference to the murder. http://bit.ly/J3Nx98 Should the church be as outraged about the murder of Jadon Higganbothan as it is about limp wrists? Should the church want to prevent future murders of children believed to be gay? Which should be of greater concern:
a child exhibiting so called "gay behavior," or
a child being murdered?
Let’s call them. Let’s fax them. Let’s mail them and e mail them. I want to help Sean Harris, and his parishoners, understand. We can no longer look Jadon Higganbothan in the eyes. Someone else acted on Sean Harris' principle that being gay is against God's will.
Someone else practiced what Sean Harris preached.
I will be supplementing this essay in the coming days and weeks.