Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ron Kirkland tries to make himself the victim

You can't find a direct link to it, but Dr. Ron Kirkland has finally responded to the demand that he apologize for joking about violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender servicemembers in a letter to the editor of the Jackson Sun:

Candidate Kirkland stands by his conservative values

Since recent reports have been published about the Tea Party Forum in Paris on Thursday evening and my defense of the “Don't ask, don't tell” policy in the U.S. military, I have been attacked by liberal forces from all over the country. Allow me to be perfectly clear. I will not back down. When any of us is cowered into apologizing for speaking the truth, our constitutional freedoms are diminished, not increased.

Allow me to be perfectly clear about my position on this issue. I support the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy currently in force in our military. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen have recently asked our liberal president to not tamper with the current policy until a military commission can further study the issue.

As an Army veteran who served our country in Vietnam, I know the unique demands of military service. I believe that 'Don't ask, don't tell' best protects the safety of all of our service men and women and helps remove unneeded distractions from a sometimes uncomfortable, unpleasant and stressful military environment.

I do not condone nor support violence against any of our fellow Americans, especially in our military. But the fact remains that mistreatment sometimes does occur, and “Don't ask, don't tell” helps prevent it.

I understand that not everyone agrees with my policy positions, and there may be further attacks on my strong pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and limited government positions. My response then will be the same as it is now. I will stand strong for our conservative Tennessee values.


Dr. Kirkland is trying to assume the mantle of the victim, but this is a diversion from the violence against GLBT servicemembers that he was joking about and for which he still fails to apologize. He predictably says that liberals all over the country are attacking him. No, not really. The story really hasn't gone national yet. Just a blip outside Tennessee. We've only asked the people of Tennessee to contact him here, as we did yesterday in this video:

Over 140 people from Tennessee appeared to have contacted the campaign.

He says that he doesn't condone violence against anyone. Perhaps, but his remarks were still outrageous and not fit for a doctor who is running for Congress.

He then goes on to make the argument that Don't Ask, Don't Tell actually makes GLBT servicemembers safer. The argument is ridiculous. Allowing servicemembers to serve openly and honestly without a policy that tells them to go into hiding is the best route to making everyone safe. How can anyone be safe when compelled to lie?

Late addition on the First Amendment: As I thought more about Dr. Kirkland's letter, I realized that he completely turned the First Amendment on its head. He's complaining that people are trying to get him to cower and that threatens his "constitutional freedoms." He presumably means First Amendment free speech. He is wrong about that, first, because the First Amendment protects citizens from government abridging speech, not candidates from being challenged by citizens. But he is also off base because he ignored the last part of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It is the job of citizens to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. If he can't handle it as a candidate, how is he going to handle it as a Congressman?

The rhetoric of the Kirkland campaign is as bankrupt as the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.