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Great. Can we now let him do his job of oh, I don't know -- PROTECTING CHILDREN!?

by Jeremy Hooper

This just in from Media Matters:

Mass Lic-20091002 03-1For several days now conservatives in the media have been on a witch-hunt for Kevin Jennings, the U.S. Department of Education's director of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Led by Fox News, the right-wing media have claimed that 21 years ago, when Jennings was a 24-year-old teacher at Concord Academy in Massachusetts, he "cover[ed] up statutory rape" by not reporting to authorities a conversation he had with a student who told him about being involved with an "older man."

They have attacked Jennings with homophobic, anti-gay rhetoric, falsely accused him of covering up or encouraging "statutory rape" and asked for his resignation or firing.

Media Matters for America has exclusively obtained the Massachusetts drivers' license of the student confirming that at the time of the incident, he was at least sixteen years of age -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.
EXCLUSIVE: Media Matters confirms student at center of Fox fueled Jennings controversy was of legal age [Media Matters]

Ten bucks says this won't invalidate even one social conservative's self-granted license to f**k with people's lives simply for the sake of political gain, or to exist in a world where apologies are as rare as pride flags. But that's okay. As long as they will pipe down and let Mr. Jennings continue his life's work of helping America's kids, we'll gladly accept.


**MAJOR UPDATE: Media Matters got a statement from the now mid-30's "Brewster":

Since I was of legal consent at the time, the fifteen-minute conversation I had with Mr. Jennings twenty-one years ago is of nobody's concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my "well-being" and that of America's students, they'll be relieved to know that I was not "inducted" into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery.

In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a sixteen year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence. I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation's students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr. Jennings' courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I'd be the proud gay man that I am today.

- Brewster
EXCLUSIVE: Statement from student at center of Fox-fueled Jennings controversy [MM]

**SEE ALSO: Family Research embraces deception; also: sky is still blue [G-A-Y]
Religious right owes Kevin Jennings an apology [HB&HM]

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Your thoughts

5 bucks says they keep on saying this and just refuse to acknowledge this annoying little fact.

Posted by: penguinsaur | Oct 2, 2009 4:12:42 PM

Funny, I never see these right being groups criticize parochial schools. Many would think that a cover up involving billions of dollars, multiple child molesting priests, and thousands of pedophile enabling supervisory personnel, fellow priests, bishops, cardinals, and probably a couple popes when have these right wing groups,whos supposed mission is to protect children, all riled up. What do we see instead? SILENCE.

Posted by: Jeff Chnag | Oct 2, 2009 4:19:04 PM

Guaranteed they still say the relationship/age difference was inappropriate and that Jennings still should have reported it.

"16 is still a child". GUARANTEED this comes out of someone's mouth on the cons side.

Posted by: Stef | Oct 2, 2009 4:47:46 PM

WOW! What a great e-mail from Brewster! It truly shows what a little understanding from someone like a teacher can do to positively impact a student's life. Just being there and not shunning or trying to change a student (or ignore his very existance) can help lead them to be more confident and stable in their adult life.

Good for Jennings and good for Brewster!

Posted by: Stef | Oct 2, 2009 6:01:03 PM

"Were it not for Mr. Jennings' courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I'd be the proud gay man that I am today. "

I bet they sieze on this and say something like " There! He would be a happily married man today with a white picket fence and 2.5 children if it weren't for this perverted man!" or something like that.

Posted by: Piper | Oct 2, 2009 6:04:14 PM

Wingnuts wouldn't give a damn if it was heterosexual "statutory rape" (unless it was perpetrated by a Muslim, then they would all be equally in arms).

Posted by: ---- | Oct 2, 2009 6:16:08 PM

Speaking of "Statutory Rape", why are there not laws that protect men from vindictive women? A good friend of my brother thought that he was dating a woman of at least 20 years old (because of her appearance), but she was only 15 at the time. So, when he decided to break up with her, she reported him for "rape" our of anger, and he was made to register as a "sexual offender'. Thing is, she's done this before my brother's friend even met her; and her present employers, despite the fact that she was only 18, thought (based upon her appearance) that she was at least in her mid-30s!

Posted by: Wade MacMorrighan | Oct 3, 2009 12:38:57 PM

We still don't know how old the "older man" in question was-for all we know, he was only 19 or 20.
Not that this matters anyway-Brewster says right in his own statement they DIDN'T have sexual contact. One of the reasons Jennings didn't report the incident was that he didn't know for certain what or hadn't occurred. He only advised Brewster to use protection on the off-chance they WERE sexually involved.

Posted by: Bill S | Oct 3, 2009 1:15:26 PM

Bill S, 16 year olds in many parts of the country (including the state where Brewster was residing) can legally consent to having sex. There was no "molestation" even if they were having sex, because according to the state, Brewster was an adult.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Oct 3, 2009 2:48:32 PM

Jennings praised one of the leaders of the North American Man Boy Love Association, Harry Hay. You want this guy having anything to do with children? What am I missing here???? Harry Hay quote:

they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world. And they would be welcoming this, and welcoming the opportunity for young gay kids to have the kind of experience that they would need

Posted by: Lou | Oct 3, 2009 6:44:06 PM

Lou: Please quite swallowing what the militant anti-Jennings crowd is selling. I know the man and his work. The far right's unscrupulous smears are beyond belief.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 3, 2009 9:31:51 PM

"Jennings praised one of the leaders of the North American Man Boy Love Association, Harry Hay."

Yes he did - for the work he did for the gay rights movement - NOT for his connections with NAMBLA.

Please stop with the christian "guilt by association" tactic.

Posted by: Dale | Oct 3, 2009 10:01:24 PM

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