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Kline: SDPB Canned Me for Failure to Be Objective (Translation: Silent) About Attacks on Transgender Identity

A former prison official is suing South Dakota for firing her for reporting sexual harassment. A former prison guard is complaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the state fired him for reporting racial harassment. And now a former South Dakota Public Broadcasting newsreader says the state wrongfully terminated the newsreader’s employment in an act of transgender harassment.

Stel Kline joined SDPB last October to serve as local Morning Edition host. Kline, who identifies as transgender, moved from Schenectady, New York, and immediately experienced South Dakota’s warmth and Freedom™: someone called Kline “faggot” within 48 hours of arriving in Vermillion; someone swiped Kline’s locked bike in December; and the Governor’s chief of staff called Kline and Kline’s kind terrorists in a Legislative committee hearing in January, a fact Kline noted on Twitter after experiencing another verbal attack while grocery shopping in Vermillion:

Stel Kline, Twitter, 2022.02.07.
Stel Kline, Twitter, 2022.02.07.

Kline took a couple months off Twitter “for my brain” after that verbal attack. On returning to the platform April 1, Kline resumed tweeting about transgender rights, racial discrimination, and discrimination against journalists.

Those tweets appear to have helped get Kline canned. Yesterday, Kline said SDPB had fired Kline for failing to be objective and having “a problem with authority”:

update: there are now 0 trans journalists working at @SDPBNews

I would absolutely love to share more

My position has been terminated despite being told there was nothing for me to improve on at a recent quarterly review.

I was told the reasoning is that I am not objective and have a problem with authority. (compliments in my book, lol) let’s talk a little about SDPB:

A half hour before beginning my first day of work I received a call informing me the head of communications directed the editor of the membership magazine to remove all instances of my pronouns from an article set to run announcing my hiring.

Instead of using they to refer to me in the third person she was told to use my last name, Kline. When confronted, the director said he wanted me to make the best impression with listeners- so they would judge my stories and voice without being clouded by the fact that I am trans

The director of journalism content added that it would be a grammar issue for the older readers. Through this first day on the job, it became glaringly evident that unchecked personal bias clouds judgment in this workplace.

I was encouraged by the comms team to create a twitter and share my experiences in SD. But, bc I am trans I have been verbally harassed. When I have shared this, the director of journalism content tells me I have lost credibility. That I am not objective.

In my interview I was very clear that as a trans person I am unable to be impartial about attacks on my humanity. Objectivity is not a static identity, but when wielded as such becomes the language of those with the most power.

Declaring someone not objective is a selective practice used effectively to exclude POC / queer journos. This is old news but not old practice. CC: @LewisPants who literally wrote the book on this

SDPB is owned by the State of South Dakota, as I begin my wrongful termination appeal I am guided by the resistance and courage of other trans state employees- especially Teri Bruce.

Teri was an archeologist at the South Dakota State Historical Society Archaeological Research Center. he began a lawsuit to get state health insurance to cover gender affirming care. The lawsuit closed when Teri died by suicide in 2019 [link added; Stel Kline, Twitter thread, 2022.04.18].

Kline’s complaint about “objectivity” reminds me of Dana Hess’s decision to leave the Legislative press box because there was no way to report “objectively” about South Dakota’s “silly, symbolic, wrong-headed, and cruel” legislation. Of course, Hess voluntarily left the South Dakota press corps; Kline is getting the boot and saying that SDPB is using “objectivity” to participate in South Dakota’s oppression of diversity.

If Kline’s allegations are factual (and I’m trying not to wield “objectivity” as a weapon but simply reminding readers that, like Teri Bruce, Dallas Tronvold, and Stefany Bawek, Kline has to convince the EEOC or the court or whoever that this firing is discriminatory), then as a justice-minded listener, I have to ask what proper action South Dakotans may take to hold SDPB accountable. South Dakota Public Broadcasting is the only South Dakota radio I listen to; should we SDPB supporters all transfer our donations to Minnesota Public Radio and leave SDPB to the cranky old grammarians and anti-vax convoy backers who decry their own industry?

Michael Zimny, SDPB arts and culture reporter, tweets, 2022.02.18 and 2021.11.22.
Michael Zimny, SDPB arts and culture reporter, tweets, 2022.02.18 and 2021.11.22.

If SDPB’s Zimny can critique the media and culture on Twitter, why can’t Kline? Do we really want reporters to remain silent about injustice? Is it really impossible for a reporter to say, “I think X is unjust” but then report for work the next day and produce an entirely factual and informative report about X? And is it really impossible for us, the audience, to read those tweets and listen to those reports, recognize a reporter’s moral positions and possible biases, and still discern fact from advocacy in that reporter’s work?

30 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2022-04-19

    Bill Janklow’s idea of public radio is wholly owned subsidiary of the South Dakota Republican Party. It’s just that simple.

    People Kline’s age have been raised on fruit juices dispensed from plastic baby bottles and no serious discussion of issues associated with gender identity can be undertaken without the studying the effects of phthalates and other plasticizers on human genetics. Aluminum, propylene glycol (steareths), Triclosan, parabens and phthalates are endocrine disruptors that wreak havoc in children and adolescents. Tampons, menstrual pads and even some sunscreens contain gender bending endocrine disruptors. Phthalate-laden bottled water alone makes up 1.5 million tons of plastic each year.

    Particularly concerning is Imazalil, a carcinogenic fungicide that can alter hormone levels especially in children and adolescents. It was detected last year on 90% of citrus not grown organically in the United Snakes. DCPA, sold under the brand name Dacthal, was banned in Europe in 2009 but is still widely used in the US on kale and other greens as are neonicotinoids, pyrethroids and some 20 other pesticides. Also banned by the European Union are the organophosphate insecticides acephate and chlorpyrifos that can harm developing brains but the Trump Organization refused to block chlorpyrifos from being used on US produce. High levels of glyphosate, a known endocrine disruptor, are also found in oats, chickpeas and corn sugars.

    These findings come at a time when Republicans in dangerous red state legislatures, including South Dakota’s, are targeting kids. But South Dakota Republicans don’t want schools to even talk about the causes of gender dysphoria. Why? Because their campaign dollars come from white christianists like the Family Heritage Alliance, the LGBT-bashing Family Research Council and especially the hate group that calls itself Alliance Defending Freedom.

  2. DaveFN 2022-04-19

    larry kurtz

    So, in other words and according to your “theory,” sexuation and gender identification is a matter of some kind of chemically-induced birth defect.

    Not buying that one for a minute.

    James Schardein’s book “Chemically Induced Birth Defects “addresses the drugs and chemicals causing malformations and chemical anomalies in the human fetus, comprehensively reviewing experimental studies in animals and clinical data on human development, primarily in the organogenesis period.” Gender identification is not mentioned.

    There are all kinds of known genital birth defects that have nothing to do with gender outcomes. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/birth-defects-of-the-urinary-tract-and-genitals/genital-birth-defects

    Your idée fixe—which you have repeated again and again—confounds and conflates the biological with the cultural.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-04-19

    I am not convinced that a person’s sexual preference is determined at conception or at birth. I have lived with or near more LGBTQ people than many have and every story is different: from hatred of a parent to exposure to hormone-producing environmental contaminants and lack of circumcision. Women bullied or abused by men for most of their lives or men growing up with a cold or absent father have been reasons given for personal choices.

    I have been chronicling gender bending chemicals in the environment for over thirty years. The chemical industry’s war on humanity is being prosecuted by quacks like Jim Bolin, Allen Unrub, Fred Deutsch, Jeff Monroe, Steve Haugaard and their fellow red state fascists.

    It’s all related: a medical industry oligopoly, gender dysphoria, polluted waterways, subsidized agriculture, absence of medical insurance, cancer and a Republican legislature on the dole.

  4. 96Tears 2022-04-19

    Excellent reporting, Cory. Again.

    I switched to MPR from SDPR 10 years ago and never looked back. On the basis of content and quality alone, MPR is five times the information and entertainment source as SDPR. Having seen the sausage makers in Pierre abuse public broadcasting staff in person with their unfounded remarks and with appropriations committee cuts, the holy rollers in the legislature put honest news reporters in the same category their predecessors placed Indians: The only good one is a dead one. The loathsome faker who is imprisoned in that $3 million mansion on Capitol Lake is the worst one.

    Reporting news should never preclude honesty, and I suspect that was what Mr. Hess was choking on in his resignation column.

    Ten years ago, the Sioux Falls newspaper had long been considered the flag ship of newspapering in South Dakota. These days, the Sioux Falls PRAVDA Leader has gone the way of the Moskva in both content and newswriting quality. The political reporting had once been its hallmark, and then Dave Kranz put a period on it. Now it’s smarmy insights from the GOP coffee klatches, safely tucked back away from crossing lines that would upset the power clique that might (or might not) buy an advertisement.

    The Stel Kline story should be a page 1 feature on the Sioux Falls paper, the Vermillion Plain Talk (where it happened) or any other daily newspaper in the state. The fact that the governor’s chief of staff called trans people terrorists in a legislative hearing this year makes it very simple to draw the line to firing Stel Kline for being honest while being a reporter. This should never happen in 21st Century America, but it just did.

    Cory, I’m sending you a $50 donation in the cookie jar. I hope other denizens of this blog do likewise. Honesty and reporting do not preclude each other. If they do, then don’t call it freedom.

  5. Julie Stewart 2022-04-19

    Very disappointed in SDPB.
    Stel was the reason for our donation!
    Morning programming was actually enlightening and educational about our state!
    Julie Stewart and Kevin Bliss
    Vermillion

  6. Richard Schriever 2022-04-19

    kurtz,

    What’s your chemical-centric explanation for Thailand’s plethora of “lady-boys”? – a country where the fruits and veggies are almost wholly organic? How about all those in Central America? Same differences.

  7. Richard Schriever 2022-04-19

    The whole concept of “objectivity” is non-sensical from a psychological perspective. It’s non-existent.

  8. Dicta 2022-04-19

    Homosexuality and trans caused by pollution…. Wewlad. Do you have evidentiary support, Larry? Statistics supporting your claim? I am open to evidence so long as it isn’t anecdote.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-19

    Well, clearly we’re going to get way off track. Larry, how about you invite everyone over to discuss your scientific claims on your blog?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-19

    Richard, when you say objectivity does not exist, do you also deny that there are facts independent of individual perspectives?

  11. Janet Olson 2022-04-19

    Larry, long before all the toxic additives were introduced into so many different containers, liquids and food Native Americans valued those who we consider homosexual.
    The “Two-Spirited” American Indians once recognized as “visionaries, healers, medicine peoples, nannies of orphans and care givers,” are now invisible to tribes of their own and remain displaced by Western Christianity

  12. All Mammal 2022-04-19

    I do recall an article my mom clipped out of the RC Journal probably 20 yrs or so ago. It was only a couple of inches long and hung on the fridge reporting the evidence that Johnson and Johnson No More Tears baby shampoo contained chemicals confirmed to be responsible for hormones making little boys ‘femmy’ (my choice for lack of a better word I cannot recall) and causing little girls to later become masculine.

    I believe there has always been and will continue to always be a natural niche for transgendered people that is imperative for the expression of the good Earth’s infinite fractal of beauty and love. But sitting in a restaurant on the evening of the local high school’s prom, I couldn’t help noticing all the males rocking fabulous heels, whereas all the females looked debonair in tuxedos and cummerbunds. I loved seeing the kids having such a good time, dressed to the nines. But I couldn’t help but think of that article and wonder if our kids stand a chance to live as nature intended. Or if the good Earth has been forced out of us and replaced with fluoride and Monsanto’s solution to over population and corporate America’s hunger for taxable laborers.

    After reading about eugenics and how the prison system continues to inhumanly and unlawfully sterilize female, poor, and mostly black inmates by the thousands every year, I have to remind myself not to put anything out of bounds for what the powerful, warped sickos with cash are willing and able to do. Like poison school lunch milk on reservations and take away the innate right of living things to reproduce. I have never done facebook and don’t have a google or whatever most people get their ‘news’ from, so my ideas cannot be blamed on alternative facts or imaginary reality. Can’t make this shtuff up.

    Thank you for giving it an honest try, Stel Kline. If only your bullies could muster up an ounce of your bravery to free themselves of their fear of the misunderstood, we would share a more fun world. Clean them out for all they’re worth and become the media mogul we need to pour light on the dark truth.

  13. larry kurtz 2022-04-19

    Two Spirits have existed as sacred for millennia; it took Protestants to make sex aberrant.

    Like the typewriter and the light bulb, the heterosexual was invented in the 1860s and swiftly and permanently transformed Western culture. The idea of “the heterosexual” was unprecedented. After all, men and women had been having sex, marrying, building families, and sometimes even falling in love for millennia without having any special name for their emotions or acts. Yet, within half a century, “heterosexual” had become a byword for “normal,” enshrined in law, medicine, psychiatry, and the media as a new gold standard for human experience.

    –historian Hanne Blank

  14. Dicta 2022-04-19

    The linked article provides no support for the claim that chemicals cause homosexuality or trans status, Larry. Also, do you have any evidence that circumcision/lack of circumcision causes homoesexuality? You’ve made a lot of claims and I am trying to sort them.

    Finally: let’s assume all these things are true and they “cause” people to be gay or trans, which has not been proven as far as I can tell: So? What does being gay harm?

  15. Dicta 2022-04-19

    As to attacking objectivity: come on. Moral relativism is a joke. It’s not even internally consistent.

    Premise 1: Moral systems are incomplete because they are only relevant to time and place
    Premise 2: Moral relativism is is a moral system
    Conclusion: Moral relativism is incomplete because it can only be relevant to time and place.

  16. Richard Schriever 2022-04-19

    Cory – understanding facts requires perceiving them. All humans perceive and understand (interpret) within a set of perspectives that vary from individual to individual. Those “filtering’ or mitigating factors can include, cultural, intellectual capacity, experiential, historic, etc. etc. I note that your query includes the word “independent” of human perspective. You might note that human perspective is ALL (and i mean all) we humans have. We do not have any perspective that is not a human one. None.

  17. Dicta 2022-04-19

    This is like reading Hume on bath salts.

  18. Mark Anderson 2022-04-19

    This blows the lid off the state of freedom for the few doesn’t it? It was nice to see someone like Kline moving from New York to South Dakota rather than the other way around, wasn’t it? Those times aren’t here yet apparently. At least that will be reported on. Not by the Argus Leader of course, they should change their name to the Cyclops Leader to fit the state of rabid Republicans with one eye on the past.

  19. All Mammal 2022-04-19

    I think I am picking up what Mr. Kurtz is putting down. It is not a claim that synthetic compounds invented transgendered biology. The evidence showing the probability there is a higher prevalence of transgendered boys and girls linked as a direct result of the introduction of certain chemicals should appall everyone. When evidence shows nature is not dictating the unexplainable prevalence of winktes in the populace, but that it is being exponentially occurring because chemicals are introduced to our biology, we need to fight it with everything. Once some earthly entity dictates who gets to reproduce, humanity is threatened. Nobody has the right to take that away.

    I haven’t been able to find a study, which I have had a hunch for a long time now, if looked into, could possibly show a correlation between circumcision and misogyny.

    Freud’s life stages accept our first hurdle after birth is learning whether or not to trust women. Does Mommy protect you and comfort you and feed you? If not, according to accepted pedagogies of behaviorists and psychoanalysts, the individual never overcomes their initial life stage to advance to the oral fixation, followed by anal retention phases.

    When a baby boy is greeted by the new, cold world with a steel blade to his favorite body part he grew intimately fond of in utero, he learns real quickly his mother failed to protect him physically and emotionally. Could senseless, vain, cruel cosmetic surgery at birth lead to abusing, raping, and killing women?

  20. larry kurtz 2022-04-19

    Go to my blog where I’ve put studies and articles in my twitter feed.

  21. grudznick 2022-04-19

    One man’s mind warping 5Gs are another man’s mind warping menstrual pads.

  22. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-19

    Well…in South Dakota if you don’t niche in you’re fired. The Japanese have a saying “The nail that sticks up, must be hammered down.”

  23. mike from iowa 2022-04-19

    New born eyes always cry with pain
    At the first look at the mornin’ sun
    Fool if you think it’s over
    It’s just begun

    Lyrics from “Fool if You Think its Over” by Chris Rea

  24. Mark Anderson 2022-04-19

    Larry, what kind of mental disease causes Republicanism? Is it because they were bottle formula fed as infants? Here in Florida they have determined that the combination of CRT and math are the cause of liberalism or so they say. Disney is the groomer of young Americans to the liberal cause according to DeSantis. Who knows what to think…maybe I’ll put down my 100,000 and move to Musk Mars.

  25. All Mammal 2022-04-19

    mike from iowa- Chris Rea’s relevance has only appreciated since gaining his music in my life.

    Birthing is hard and dying is mean.
    Better get yourself some lovin’ in between.
    -Langston Hughes

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-19

    Mark, yes, South Dakota’s appreciation of freedom is a charade. At best, it is freedom only for a few who agree to conform to local expectations and not try to change the state or even suggest there might be alternate and equally acceptable ways of living.

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