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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Gay in the NBA; Interview With Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban; American Courts and the Koran
Aired February 15, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everybody. Thank you all for joining us tonight.
Out in the open: gay hatred in pro sports. How many people secretly believe what a basketball player just said out loud?
Also: swearing to tell the truth on someone's else holy book. If you would rather not swear on a Koran, why force Muslims to swear in on a Bible?
Plus: a shocking form of child therapy. Critics call it child abuse.
We are starting with anti-gay bigotry in pro sports. It is out in the open big time tonight, thanks to an on-the-radio rant by former pro basketball player Tim Hardaway. He flat-out said, "I hate gay people."
Our look at how many players and fans share that homophobia and why it is so hard for pro athletes to come out.
We begin with Thelma Gutierrez.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the high- stakes, testosterone-driven world of the NBA, two players recently came out to reveal who they are.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TIM HARDAWAY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I hate gay people. So, you know, I -- I let it be known. I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people.
JOHN AMAECHI, FORMER NBA PLAYER: These are the loud comments that pollute the air. This is what makes the lives of GLBTs, gay and lesbian young schools, miserable.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: Retired NBA center John Amaechi is the first NBA player ever to publicly reveal he is gay.
Tim Hardaway, retired NBA all-star, came out on the Miami sports radio talk show and revealed he is homophobic. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HARDAWAY: Yes, I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world for that or in the United States.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: On gay teammates, Hardaway voiced strong objections.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HARDAWAY: First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. And, second of all, you know, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him, because I don't think that's right. I don't think that, you know, he should be in the locker room while we're in the locker room.
AMAECHI: These are the comments that create the atmosphere that allow some of the tragic incidents of homophobia that we have seen, some of the attacks, some of the deaths.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: Hardaway's comments about gay and lesbians sparked a backlash. The NBA has canceled all of his league-related appearances, including this week's All Star Game in Las Vegas.
NBA commissioner David Stern said -- quote -- "It is inappropriate for him to be representing us, given the disparity between his views and ours."
In Florida, where the former Miami Heat guard owns a car wash, some were shocked and angry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disgusting. And, you know, having grown up in northern Florida, dealing with racism there and desegregating schools up there, it's really unfortunate that, you know, you still hear things like that.
GUTIERREZ: During Lakers practice today, Phil Jackson, known as one of the more progressive coaches in the league, says, the NBA is not -- quote -- "for the faint of heart."
PHIL JACKSON, LOS ANGELES LAKERS COACH: So, it does create a situation where it's difficult for the player who, you know, wants to be honest with himself to be so in this game. And that's pretty natural. I think that's a pretty natural element. But we hope that we have moved far enough in our society to accommodate those people, even in our sport.
GUTIERREZ: Tim Hardaway later issued an apology for his comments, saying: "Yes, I regret it. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that. That was my mistake."
ZAHN: So, what kind of reaction are you hearing from the gay community out there?
GUTIERREZ: Well, Paula, I can tell you that the gay activists, of course, are outraged at the comments.
One gay activist pointed out that -- that Hardaway actually apologized for saying that he's sorry that he said it, but he did not say he was sorry for feeling it.
Now, we also talked to fans who are out here at the Staples Center. They're gathering for the Lakers game against the Cleveland Cavaliers later on tonight. The majority of fans told us that they're not outraged at the comments. They say he should have kept his mouth shut, and also that it boils down to a player's ability on the court and how exciting he is to watch, not his sexual orientation.
That's from the fans -- Paula.
ZAHN: Thelma Gutierrez, thank you so much for that update.
We just saw former NBA player John Amaechi in Thelma's report. And he was the guest on this program a little bit earlier on this week. He is the first NBA player ever to reveal he is gay and is the Human Rights Campaign's national coming-out spokesman.
His new book, "Man in the Middle," is what Tim Hardaway was discussing on the radio yesterday.
Thanks for coming back in.
AMAECHI: Thank you.
ZAHN: What was your reaction when you heard Tim Hardaway say that he hated gay people; you didn't belong in the world?
AMAECHI: I think there's a -- there's a profound sadness about that.
From a personal point of view, I feel quite resilient. I'm -- I was prepared, through this process, to hear some comments that I didn't like to hear. The problem with it is that his comments are now banging around the international scene. They -- they are affecting hundreds of thousands of young people, hundreds of thousands of people in their workplace. What he says affects the way they feel.
ZAHN: Sure. But I don't understand how such vile comments could make you feel resilient in any way.
AMAECHI: This is -- this is something I'm very -- I'm an activist, in this -- in this extent. I was ready for this.
I mean, bringing out the book and making the announcement about my sexuality, this is something I was prepared for. The problem is...
ZAHN: Out-and-outright contempt, that's what you were expecting?
AMAECHI: Yes. Yes. I -- I don't think there are many gay and lesbian people who don't know that there are people in this society who hold them with even less than out-and-out contempt. I was aware of that from the beginning. The problem with his words is that they -- they ricochet around the corridors of schools, around workplaces, and make life ever more difficult for gay and lesbian people, and even those who are perceived to be gay and lesbian.
The other problem is, it emboldens those who would have hate in their heart. It stops them from -- it turns them from being someone who might potentially think these things, discussed in closed company, to people who might now actually be vitriolic and say these things, and even act as well. So, it's doubly damaging.
ZAHN: Do you, in any form, accept Tim Hardaway's apology?
AMAECHI: No. I think it's trite. I think it's convenient. I think it's a form of legalese.
ZAHN: John, if you don't mind standing by, I want to bring someone who knows what gay tolerance -- or intolerance is all about in the NBA. It is just below the surface, it turns out, everyone.
Billy Bean played Major League Baseball in the 1990s and '80s. He came out after he retired. He writes about in his book "Going the Other Way: Lessons From a Life In and Out of Marriage League Baseball."
Billy, thanks for joining us.
BILLY BEAN, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: My pleasure, Paula.
ZAHN: We also heard Tim Hardaway say, if he found out a teammate was gay, that he would ask for the player to be removed from the team, because -- quote -- "No one in the locker room would feel comfortable with that person."
If that is true, are current professional gay athletes anywhere close to coming out?
BEAN: Well, today is a perfect example of why players like John, even in this era, and myself, you learn so quickly what you can and cannot do, and especially in the NBA, where you have 12 men on a team and a player of Tim Hardaway's stature.
I watched him. I -- he -- this is my hometown, where this happened. And it's just so disappointing. But a player of his stature, he -- absolutely, in the NBA, you see players get head coaches fired every single day.
So, if a player, unless he was the star of the team, you know, they don't have to say why. But if it certainly is very possible that he could have had the power -- or a player like him could have had the power to get rid of a player, if somebody did come forward.
ZAHN: How many professional athletes out there feel the way he feels?
BEAN: Well, I -- I think that, you know, when the truth comes flying out of someone's mouth like that today -- or yesterday -- unprovoked, it's -- it's just -- it's a hard question to answer, but it's such a stinging reminder that -- you know, obviously, not every player in the NBA or Major League Baseball, NFL, or hockey feels this way.
But it's the vocal one or two that can disrupt a team. And I think, even if there is some compassionate and empathy on the part of owners, or general managers, or people that makes these teams up and make these decisions every single day, they have to take into consideration the chemistry of their closed-minded players, especially their superstars.
And I think that -- I heard John make a really, really intelligent point a couple days ago. And, you know, a team player has the responsibility to do what he can to make that team the best it can be.
And a player that is in the closet and -- and holding onto that secret who is an integral part would have to consider, you know, him coming forward, even though that would be a great contribution, possibly, to society, that that could be disruptive to his teammates. And he doesn't want to disrupt the flow of that either.
Well, John, that -- that brings me to this question. A lot of people are saying you're a hero. But you have got some sportswriters out there saying, until a person currently in the NBA or someone currently playing baseball professionally comes out and says the kinds of things you're saying, it really won't have any impact on -- on those men that are closeted, and having to live the -- the sad life that you led for so many years, not being able to be who you were.
AMAECHI: I understand those comments, but -- on one level.
But I also look at this, and I think, how can it be that we demand our pound of flesh from these people who have so much to lose, players much better than I who are posters on walls, heroes in the eyes of men and women? We ask them to fall on their sword, without even the slightest indication from society that the door is even open for dialogue.
I think we deserve -- those players deserve to have the dialogue at least start, so that they know that this is a monumental step for them, but it will be towards progress. It can't be that we demand martyrdom before we even consider having the conversation.
ZAHN: John Amaechi, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Billy Bean, you, as well.
BEAN: Thank you.
ZAHN: This whole subject makes people terribly uncomfortable, generates some very unexpected reactions.
Watch what happened on NBC's "Today Show" this morning, right after they played the same clips of the Tim Hardaway interview that we heard a little bit earlier on. They tried to go on to the next item, but got a case of the giggles over the absurdity of the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TODAY SHOW")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hardaway later apologized, calling his comments a mistake.
And the newest dollar coin is coming into circulation today, bearing the likeness of George Washington. It is the first dollar coin honoring former presidents. The design will change four times a year, each one honoring a different president.
I am so sorry that I am losing it over that one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sorry, but...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... crazy comment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went so far across the line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I have ever seen...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you were laughing, and that was the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Now it's time for tonight's "Out in the Open" panel.
Let's see if they will have that kind of reaction. Amy Holmes is a Republican political strategist. Keith Boykin was a Clinton White House aide, who now hosts the BET show "My Two Cents" and has openly announced that he is gay. Also with us is syndicated columnist Miguel Perez.
Great to have all of you with us tonight.
So, Keith, let me read to you something that an ESPN writer had to say about this, about Amaechi, his coming out. He said, "An athlete in 2007 who stays in the closet during his playing days does more to support homophobia in sports than coming out after retirement does to combat it." KEITH BOYKIN, HOST, "MY TWO CENTS": I don't agree with that. I think John Amaechi was courageous to have come out when he did at all. I think it would have been wonderful if he could have come out when he was still playing.
ZAHN: Why couldn't he have? What would have happened?
BOYKIN: Well -- well, look at what Tim Hardaway said.
That -- that type of atmosphere, that type of attitude is pervasive, not only in professional sports, but throughout our society. And sports is sort of a microcosm of that. And it becomes more intensified in that -- in that setting. It's horrible, what -- what Tim Hardaway said. But, unfortunately, he speaks for a lot of other people, who won't come out and say it more publicly.
ZAHN: Don't you think, if he had come out, John Amaechi, before, though, that it might have had a whole lot more impact than his coming out after he's retired?
You have got people out there basically accusing him of shilling a book.
AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I -- I -- I don't agree with that. And I think for him to be the first NBA player to come out at all is remarkable. And I think he deserves our applause for having the courage to do that.
Let's remember, there's also a very stiff financial disincentive for players to come out, because then they don't get to be on the cover of the Wheaties box and be every little boy's sports hero. And, again, unfortunately, that's because of these pervasive attitudes.
I think Hardaway's first remarks do speak, unfortunately, to a pervasive attitude, locker room mentality. I think he does speak for a lot of people. The good news is, he had to apologize. In 2007, people wouldn't let that remark go.
ZAHN: Do you see John Amaechi as a hero?
MIGUEL PEREZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I wouldn't -- a hero is somebody who goes into a building and saves a life, a burning building. But, certainly...
ZAHN: But there are many, many gays who feel that, by his talking about this publicly, he is providing some protection for them...
ZAHN: ... and emboldening their collective voices.
ZAHN: Extremely -- extremely courageous. I commend him for it. I think it's extremely courageous. But I -- I wouldn't go as far as calling him a hero. A hero, again, is somebody who goes around saving lives.
Maybe, in the gay community, he's a savior. That's possible. But, again, you know, hero is a very, very strong word, as far as I'm concerned.
ZAHN: I want us all to look now at something the president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation had to say today about Tim Hardaway's comments: "It would be a mistake to assume that, since such prejudice is rarely aired so blatantly and so publicly, that it is, in fact, rare. It is not."
BOYKIN: That's an excellent point.
ZAHN: Keith, you more than anybody else standing here tonight, know the truth.
BOYKIN: That is an excellent point. You're exactly right, because this happens all the time. And it's not just Tim Hardaway. This is much bigger than Tim Hardaway. I think we all know that.
When you have a president of the United States who is supporting anti-gay constitutional amendments, and a vice president who won't even defend his own lesbian daughter, everybody else is essentially following the marching orders from the homophobes in chief. That is what going on here in America.
We have homophobia from the top down. And the Republicans in the White House and in Congress are complicit in it, just like -- just like Tim Hardaway is doing. There's no one person to blame for this.
BOYKIN: It's a societal problem.
HOLMES: I think that's unfair. And I think that we can certainly separate...
BOYKIN: Well, do you disagree with that?
ZAHN: What part isn't fair, that Dick Cheney is a homophobe? Is that the part you take issue with?
HOLMES: I think he does defend his daughter. He has said over and over that he loves his daughter. He loves a granddaughter being brought into his family. I think that's going way over the edge.
BOYKIN: And, so, that's why he supports against constitutional amendments that go against his own daughter's right to have a marriage?
HOLMES: Twenty-five percent of the gay community voted for George Bush in 2000 and in 2004.
BOYKIN: And how do you know that? You could have no way of knowing...
HOLMES: Exit polling, actually, exit polling...
BOYKIN: The reason why you don't know is because are not out.
HOLMES: You can separate the gay marriage issue from the homophobia issue.
ZAHN: Let's come back to the issue...
ZAHN: ... of pro sports.
ZAHN: Of course.
PEREZ: They threw politics into this, and all hell breaks loose.
ZAHN: It is -- yes, exactly.
PEREZ: But, look, it's illustrative of the kind of intolerance we do have in this country.
I mean, to a certain extent -- this guy was stupid for making that comment. Let's make that clear.
But, to a certain extent, he's done us all a favor, because he's illustrating the kind of intolerance that does exist and is hidden in this country for -- about race, about ethnicity, and certainly about choices that people make with their -- with their personal lives.
BOYKIN: But he's also a coward, though, because he said that.
BOYKIN: And then he backed down from what he said and try to apologize.
BOYKIN: How do you apologize for saying you hate a group of people? PEREZ: No, he apologized for saying it, but not for feeling it.
ZAHN: He said it was a mistake, exactly.
BOYKIN: Yes. So, he clearly is insincere in his apology.
BOYKIN: There's nobody who should take that seriously. And he only did it because his publicist or agent probably told him he was going to lose or ruin his career if he didn't.
HOLMES: Don't you see that as progress, that he did have to apologize...
HOLMES: ... that he did have to stand down from those remarks? And I think that it's..
BOYKIN: If that is progress, that's the faintest type of progress.
BOYKIN: That's not progress.
ZAHN: And why didn't he stand up for those remarks? Because the NBA told him that he couldn't make any more public appearances on their behalf?
BOYKIN: He's not going to make any money?
HOLMES: Clearly, he was getting a backlash from the -- from the public.
PEREZ: Well, he's also looking like a real fool. You know, you would think that he would stand...
BOYKIN: Because he -- he was a -- he was a moron -- a moron in this instance.
BOYKIN: A dumb mistake.
ZAHN: We got to -- got to leave it there.
Not often that we have to leave it on a moron note.
ZAHN: But that's where we're going to leave it.
We would like you to come back and join in more of our conversation, you out there as well.
Please send us an e-mail to NOW@CNN.com. Our panel will read some of your messages a little bit later on.
So, what do the folks in charge of pro sports need to do when intolerance is right out there in the open? Coming up next, I will ask Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Then, a little bit later on, we go to court to bring religious intolerance out in the open.
Please stay with us. We will be right back.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HARDAWAY: I hate gay people. So, you know, I -- I let it be known. I don't like gay people. I don't like to be around gay people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ZAHN: Intolerance against gays in pro sports is out in the open tonight.
Today, former NBA Tim Hardaway apologized for what you just heard. He was responding to John Amaechi, who, just last week, became the first ex-NBA player to reveal that he's gay.
Joining me now, one of pro basketball's most outspoken team owners, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who has called Amaechi a hero for coming out.
Always good to see you. Thanks for joining us, Mark.
MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: So, if you think John Amaechi is a hero, what do you think of Tim Hardaway?
CUBAN: You know, maybe he broke up with his boyfriend, and he's just really upset. I don't know.
It's unfortunate to hear that coming from Timmy. He played for the Mavs. He's a great guy. Since then, he's apologized, I guess. But that, it's just a setback. And it's unfortunate. But the good news is, he doesn't play in the NBA any longer, and he doesn't really represent today's player.
ZAHN: He may not represent the player, but he said something publicly that I'm told that -- that some professional athletes talk about privately.
CUBAN: I don't think there's any question we have already had gay players. And I know there's other players who know some guys who are gay.
And it hasn't been an issue. It's not like -- look, in this -- in this population of 450 NBA players in any given year, if it was that big an issue, somebody would have outed another guy, and, you know, because it's not -- like Charles Barkley has said, there are gay players. He's played with gay players.
I'm sure I have had gay players on the Mavericks. And, so, it really -- it -- if it was an issue, it would have become an issue. And it hasn't.
ZAHN: You say you're sure you had gay players on the Mavericks. Is -- is that something that was unspoken, or was that something that was talked about in locker rooms? And were these guys afraid to be outed?
CUBAN: Well, I mean, it's not something that you really spoke about at all, because it shouldn't -- it wasn't and shouldn't have been a big deal.
You know, I -- I haven't talked about anybody's sexuality, per se, with -- with anybody. So, you know, it -- it wasn't made a big deal. There was discussions. No one was confronted. It was -- it was just no big deal. And -- and that's the way it should have been.
And -- and, until John had the courage to come out and make it a point of discussion, I think it would have just stayed in the undercurrents and no one really would have brought it out to the forefront.
ZAHN: If it's not such a big deal, then why did John have to wait until he's retired? Why aren't guys admitting it today?
ZAHN: And what would be the consequences of that?
CUBAN: I mean, I don't want to speak for John.
And -- but I'm sure there are more personal issues than just what other -- what other players in the NBA felt about him. I mean, coming out is -- is -- it's a very personal decision -- decision. And I'm sure he had to -- to deal with it in his own personal life.
And, you know, there's also the media spotlight. Look at the spotlight that is coming down here. It's not just a question of how other players will respond to him. It's the knowledge that it will be a media issue. And even John Amaechi has said, in what I have read, that it's been a bigger issue, and it has been made -- more has been made of it than even he expected.
ZAHN: So, if you had a player come to you and say, "Now is the time; I don't want to live this life anymore; I want to go public with this," would you discourage that or encourage it?
CUBAN: No, I would encourage it.
You know, I think he would be a hero in the gay community. I think, you know, I would -- would make sure that he knew exactly what was coming at him, in terms of the media attention, in terms of the questions, in terms that, everywhere he would go, it would be the first topic of conversation.
You know, and if he was comfortable with that, I would -- I would be all for it. You know, when Timmy Hardaway was playing, you know, back in the early '90s, in particular, there probably was a lot of homophobia. Magic Johnson had just come out with AIDS. There wasn't as much information. People weren't as comfortable with their sexuality publicly.
You know, those days are -- are gone, and hopefully will stay gone. And, so, I don't -- you know, it would be an issue, in terms of the media. It would be an issue of conversation and discussion. But, for that very reason, I think it would be positive.
ZAHN: Mark Cuban, thanks for joining us. Good luck tonight.
CUBAN: Thanks, Paula.
ZAHN: Appreciate your letting us pluck you off the court to talk with us.
CUBAN: Any time. Thank you.
ZAHN: And out in the open next: When Muslim witnesses swear to tell the truth, do they have to swear on a Bible? We're going to take you to a state where Muslims tried to donate Korans, and the courts rejected them. What kind of message does that send?
Then, a little bit later on: a controversial therapy that, in some cases, left children dead -- more when we come back.
ZAHN: The conflict between tradition and religious intolerance is out in the open tonight.
We have all seen those courtroom scenes on TV 1,000 times where a witness is sworn in on a Bible. But what about Muslims? Should they be allowed to use a Koran? Well, that conflict is playing out in North Carolina, where a state appeals court has ruled that a lawsuit over that issue can go forward.
Justice correspondent Kelli Arena has that story.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She says it's her right, as a American and a Muslim, to swear on a Koran in court.
SYIDAH MATEEN, MUSLIM AMERICAN: If you were going to court, and you're Christian, and the judge says, put your hand on the Koran so you can take an oath, what would you do?
ARENA: He says state law mandates that only one holy book be allowed in the courtroom, the Bible.
JOSEPH E. TURNER, GUILFORD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, CHIEF DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: The statute that requires the oath to be taken on the Bible was drafted in 1777.
ARENA: Is it religious discrimination?
SETH R. COHEN, ATTORNEY: This country was founded on freedom of religion. And that's freedom of all religions.
ARENA: Or is it an attack against Christianity?
STEVE NOBLE, CHAIRMAN, CALLED2ACTION: This is just part of a larger war on Christianity as a whole, whether it be in the schools, in the courthouses, in the media, in the shopping centers.
ARENA: Syidah Mateen landed head first in this major controversy unintentionally. In court as a witness in a domestic violence dispute, she was asked to take an oath on a Bible. She asked for a Koran.
MATEEN: I actually thought they had them. So, it was just an innocent question.
ARENA: But the court didn't have any. So, she went to her mosque and raised money to donate some. That donation was rejected. And, today, the Korans sit, unused on a shelf.
MATEEN: We did purchase a case.
ARENA: North Carolina is one of just seven states that still uses a Bible in court. State law says, one way a person can be sworn in is to -- quote -- "lay his hand upon the holy scriptures."
Two senior judges in Guilford County decided that "holy scriptures" meant the Bible.
TURNER: It has been the practice to use a Bible throughout the history of this state. ARENA: But, if you're Muslim or Jewish or any religion other than Christian, the words "holy scriptures" won't mean the Bible to you. And, so, the ACLU and Syidah Mateen are suing, arguing this violates separation of church and state.
JENNIFER RUDINGER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU NORTH CAROLINA: The government can neither favor any particular set of religious values, nor can the government discriminate against other religions or people of different faiths.
ARENA: The controversy prompted state senators to recently introduce a bill to allow the Koran and other sacred texts in court. All of that ups the stakes for people on both sides of this issue. And neither seems willing to back down.
MATEEN: It's just what would be right, what would be right and what would be fair.
ARENA: Kelli Arena, CNN, Greensboro, North Carolina.
ZAHN: So, when witnesses swear to tell the truth, should they use the Bible, and nothing but the Bible? I'm going to ask our panel about that next.
And a little bit later on: What kind of parent would lock a child in a cage? A sentence handed down today in Ohio brings a controversial therapy -- yes, that's right, folks, they call it therapy -- out in the open.
And remember to join the conversation on any of the stories we're bringing "Out in the Open" tonight. Please send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our panelists will read some of them in just a little bit. They are hard at work, as you can see.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And welcome back.
We're talking about religious intolerance and whether Muslims here in the U.S. should be allowed to take an oath using the Koran instead of a bible. Let's hear what our "Out in the Open" panel thinks about that.
Amy Holmes, Keith Boykin, Miguel Perez, welcome back.
Let's quickly review what the North Carolina statute says. Right now it says, "Judges and other persons who may be empowered to administer oaths shall require the party to be sworn to lay his hands upon the holy scriptures..."
But nowhere in the statute does it say anything about taking their oath on the bible. Who's to say what a holy scripture is? HOLMES: Certainly not a judge. And we do have separation of church and state. And it's not appropriate for the judge to be making that assessment.
However, I do think it is a little aggressive. She is presumably not the first non-Christian ever to swear in that court. And then to be going through the process of a lawsuit in order to get the Koran in there, I can understand why people have kind of got their back up on this.
BOYKIN: I don't get so aggressive. Was Rosa Parks being too aggressive because she had the nerve to want to have a seat on the bus?
HOLMES: No, I believe that this woman absolutely has the right...
BOYKIN: What's so aggressive? She's just one person who wanted to exercise her rights. This is America.
HOLMES: I do. But the ACLU, who I think is being very disingenuous in backing this case...
BOYKIN: The ACLU has the right to defend the Constitution because...
ZAHN: One at a time here. Finish your though.
HOLMES: This is the same organization that is trying to take Christianity out of the public square, taking nativity scenes out of the public square.
HOLMES: So, for the ACLU to be backing this, I do think is disingenuous.
BOYKIN: And then you had people who were trying to put the Ten Commandments into schools, public prayer in schools, trying to do all this other stuff that's trying to put Christianity as the -- as the one religion of our country. We have a country where we have different religions, not just one religion.
HOLMES: Certainly. And I think she has every right to swear on the Koran. But, however, for this to be getting to the case of a lawsuit I think is going too far.
ZAHN: You say she has every right to swear on the Koran, but that doesn't appear to be the case right now.
PEREZ: In this case, in order for her to be able to do this, a lawsuit is necessary. That's the bottom line here.
But look, don't you want people to swear on something they really believe in? If this woman is a Muslim and you give her the bible, she can lie. She can just put her hand on the holy bible and say, OK, I'm going to tell the truth and be lying. I want this person to really believe in the book she's placing her hand on. So it's only logical that we would give her the book that she believes in.
ZAHN: What length can this go to? Then that means a Jewish person says I don't want to swear on a bible that has the New Testament in it? I'm only going with the old book not the new one?
PEREZ: Why not?
BOYKIN: Why have religion involvement in the first place? People should have the right not to swear on the bible at all, which is part of the North Carolina law.
But why do we have -- why do we have a separation of church and state? Because we don't want the government telling people how to practice their religion. And we don't want religion telling people how to run our government. They're supposed to be separate.
ZAHN: You already checked on the ACLU tonight. So I want to put up on the screen now what a conservative radio talk show host -- his name is Frank Pastore -- had to say about this.
"The ACLU is revealing their contempt for the bible, and their lack of appreciation to the set of Judeo-Christian values that gave birth to western civilization in general and America specifically."
Are you telling me tonight you see this as Muslims and liberals waging a war on Christianity?
HOLMES: No, I certainly don't. And frankly...
ZAHN: Do you see it going too far?
HOLMES: ... I think if she wanted to swear on her grandmother's recipe book she should be able to do that. However, for conservatives looking at this and seeing who is backing her in this case, it is an extreme secular organization that doesn't want Christmas break in schools to be called "Christmas break". It's now called "winter break". And so from that organization, yes, there has been an assault on religion in the public square. And it's appropriate to have religion...
PEREZ: Whoever is threatened by this is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. What is so threatening about this woman wanting to use the Koran?
BOYKIN: Because the ACLU is the typical conservative bogeyman. Every time the ACLU gets involved in something, the conservatives want to jump up and scream -- scream bloody murder about it. And so there's something wrong with defending the Constitution...
HOLMES: Well, it's because we know the cases that they have -- that they have pursued.
BOYKIN: Well, at least the president -- the president doesn't defend the Constitution. So at least the ACLU should.
HOLMES: Well, the president of the United States I think certainly defends the Constitution. That's sort of a bizarre remark to be making.
BOYKIN: Well, after everything that's been going, it's clear that he hasn't been defending the Constitution. And the people who are -- who you're defending aren't really interested in defending the Constitution.
So let's talk about who's going to do that. If not the ACLU, who is going to do it?
HOLMES: In fact, conservatives want to put strict constructions on the Supreme Court to defend the Constitution.
BOYKIN: I know that there are differences of interpretation, but I also know...
HOLMES: Well, as a lawyer, I think you would understand that being a conservative doesn't mean...
ZAHN: All right. A quick final thought?
BOYKIN: Well, I think this is a whole -- this is just a scapegoating issue on the part of the right wing to try to vilify the ACLU. And she has the right -- this woman has a right to worship as she pleases.
ZAHN: Amy Holmes, Keith Boykin, Miguel Perez, stay right there. We're bringing you back.
Next time you get to answer e-mails and what our audience out there has to say.
We want you to write in right now to CNN.com. We'll read them. And our panelists will weigh in a little bit later on. And they'll be so courteous with each other, won't they?
They won't cut each other off. They won't disagree.
That usually doesn't happen with e-mail, does it? People always tell you what they have to think, right "Out in the Open."
Coming up, putting troubled kids in cages, or even locking them in closets. Some people actually call this therapy. Coming up next, is it really child abuse?
We'll be back with more.
ZAHN: Tonight, a husband and wife in Ohio are looking at two years in prison each for forcing some of their adopted special-needs children to sleep in cages. Michael and Sharen Gravelle were sentenced today. They plan to appeal their conviction. They are free on bond.
The Gravelle story caused a lot of outrage, as you might imagine, and brought out in the open the controversial technique known as attachment therapy. Controversial because as you're about to see, it runs against every parents' instincts.
Here's Ted Rowlands.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are too stubborn! I need you to...
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Watching this training video of an adult sitting on a child may seem disturbing, but some people are convinced that this just may be the only way to build a bond between out-of-control children and frustrated parents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My way. Yell, "My way!"
ROWLANDS: This is attachment therapy, a controversial practice of last resort for some parents, used mainly on foster children or adopted children from other parents when parents have lost control.
The therapy can include restraining children, isolating them with alarms on doors or even cages and other harsh punishments to reinforce rules. The goal is to ultimately create a situation where the child realizes that it needs its parents.
Don Tibetts and his wife practiced a form of attachment therapy called holding on their newly adopted two and a half year old daughter Krystal.
DON TIBETTS, USED ATTACHMENT THERAPY: If she was having a tantrum or being disobedient, then when we would all of the sudden go in there and initiate this therapy.
ROWLANDS: Don said a therapist told them because Krystal had been abused that this was the best way to build an emotional attachment.
TIBETTS: He taught us to double up our fists, put pressure on the abdomen and induce her into a rage so that she would cry and that she would kick and that she would scream and supposedly work out all of her anger issues.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Didn't at some point didn't this feel wrong?
TIBETTS: Yes, it did feel wrong but they teach us to ignore those feelings. ROWLANDS (voice-over): Don says that was the case a year later when while disciplining Krystal using the holding therapy, her heart stopped and she died.
Over the past 10 years, there have been other child deaths involving forms of attachment therapy. 10-year-old Candace Newmaker died of suffocation during a now outlawed therapy called rebirthing, where a child is wrapped in blanket to simulate being back in the womb.
Four-year-old Cassandra Killpack died after her parents forced her to swallow more than a gallon of water and five-year-old Logan Marr suffocated after she was duct taped to a high chair.
In all three cases, at least one adult was convicted and sent to prison. Ten years ago Terry Levy was featured as part of an "ABC News" report using what he called aggressive forms of attachment therapy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't trust anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't trust anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't trust anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again.
ROWLANDS: Levy and his partner Michael Orlans now say they no longer believe that aggression works.
MICHAEL ORLANS, EVERGREEN PSYCHOTHERAPY CENTER: It just didn't feel very good to do that kind of therapy.
ROWLANDS: While they disagree with some practices, they defend their profession saying critics are mistakenly just focusing on the horror stories.
Well, they're throwing out the baby with the bath water because it is a real problem and there are real solutions that work.
ROWLANDS: There's no formal licensing process for people using or teaching attachment therapy and no clear count on how many people are practicing it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love challenging children. I love the defiant, destructive ones.
ROWLANDS: One therapist seen here in a parent training video is a former dog trainer. She says she's taught her version of attachment therapy to more than 28,000 people. Critics, like author Jean Mercer, who wrote a book on the subject, call attachment therapy a cult. And she's worried about how many children may be subjected to it.
JEAN MERCER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Unless somebody gets hurt or unless the child gets older and reports this or unless the parent changes their mind and reports it, there is no way anyone is ever going to know about it.
ZAHN: "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up in just a few minutes.
Hey, Larry, the Lakers must be playing tonight. Are you going to make it to the game?
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Yes, I'm -- it turned out...
ZAHN: Is that what the significance of the purple and the...
KING: No. No significance, Paula. Don't try to read something into it. It looked good, I put it on.
ZAHN: Well, when you wear blue and white, I figure it's, you know, Dodgers night. So this must be Lakers night.
KING: You'll see a lot of that this summer.
KING: Anyway, Paula, coming up, guess what?
KING: Attorneys who were inside that very heated hearing today over who gets custody of Anna Nicole Smith's body. This gets curiouser and curiouser.
Plus, the man who does have the body for now. And another guy, maybe two, who say they could be the baby's daddy.
It's all at the top of the hour, Paula. We wait with breathless anticipation.
ZAHN: Yes. Just when you think it can't get any weirder it does.
KING: Yes, it does.
ZAHN: And you're the one that's interviewed Anna Nicole Smith just about more than anybody on television. I just can't imagine what her family is going through now as they watch this play out. It must be horrible.
KING: It's got to be the worse.
ZAHN: Thanks, Larry. Go Lakers. Go -- I'm not allowed to say that, though. They're not my team. Go Knicks, go.
KING: Who is your team?
ZAHN: Well, yes.
KING: The Knicks beat the Lakers the other night.
ZAHN: The one with the place down the street. You used to root for them when you were here.
KING: The Knicks beat the Lakers the other night.
ZAHN: Yes. Don't rub it in. Well, I should be the one rubbing it in.
KING: No, the Knicks one.
ZAHN: Thanks, Larry. See you in a couple minutes.
KING: Bye, Paula.
ZAHN: Coming up next, the story of a man who found a new life after work. And because he did, some students who might never have found jobs now have a chance.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Welcome back.
We're going to take a quick "BizBreak".
ZAHN: And every week about this time we like to introduce you to someone who is redefining what it means to be retired. Well, you're about to meet a man who's using his retirement to help young people face incredible challenges and get a head start on building a career.
Ali Velshi has his story in tonight's "Life After Work."
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For many students with disabilities, both mental and physical, their options dry up after high school.
CHARLES DEY, FOUNDER, START ON SUCCESS: Most of them stay at home, watch television, their family waits for the welfare check or they do as they become adults, possibly get into trouble. Only 30 percent of the students in this category do anything beyond high school.
VELSHI: Charles Dey is trying to tackle that problem with Start on Success, a job training program.
DEY: Start on Success is 12 years old. We serve approximately 300 high school students with disabilities each year, preparing them for competitive employment. And we're in some 24 sites in five states in this program. Ninety percent of those youngsters complete the program. And of that group, 85 to 90 percent go on to full-time employment for further education training.
VELSHI: It begins with a paid internship set up by Start on Success at a local university or hospital.
DEY: The youngsters are learning specifics about a job site, whether it's how to buff a floor or how to do staff work in an office setting.
VELSHI: As a retired headmaster of a private school, Dey had the lifetime of experience dealing with kids. His former college roommate who ran the National Organization on Disability, recruited him to the cause, asking for an initiative that would deliver results.
DEY: This is a very serious program to prepare these young people for competitive employment. If they don't meet the standards on the job site, they don't continue in the program. My hope is that ever-increasing numbers of young people with disabilities will have this kind of an opportunity in the future.
VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: Setting a very good example for the rest of us there.
"LARRY KING LIVE" gets under way just about seven minutes from now. Tonight, the battle over Anna Nicole Smith's remains and the big mess surrounding that. All the courtroom fireworks, plus the latest on the paternity fight.
Man, they're lining up to claim paternity just ahead at the top of the hour.
ZAHN: You flooded our "Out in the Open" panel with e-mail tonight. Let's get straight to that.
Joining me once again, Amy Holmes, Keith Boykin and Miguel Perez.
On to our first e-mail from Miguel Costanata (ph) in Minneapolis. He writes, "I see a lot of religious controversy ahead. If we start allowing the Torah, the Koran, what happens to Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, Unitarians, Agnostics, and Atheists?"
Oh my!" Every court in the country would have to have their own library of holy (and non-holy) books to swear people in on."
Does he have a point?
PEREZ: No. If you just ask the person who is going to testify to bring his own book. What's the problem?
HOLMES: Exactly. BOYKIN: Simple -- that's a simple answer.
BOYKIN: I think people try to take these things really out of proportion sometimes. This one woman just wants to use the Koran. Let's not make a big deal out of it beyond that.
ZAHN: Well, here's another one. And relationship to the Koran story. This one from Ramsey (ph).
"This will be very short and to the point. If someone is forced to swear on a book of faith (i.e. the Bible) and that does not happen to be their book of faith and that person decides to lie, can that person still be charged with perjury?"
HOLMES: No. I think it's a simple legal question that when a person takes the stand they are legally bound to tell the truth on the stand whether they put their hand on a bible, a Koran, or any other book.
BOYKIN: So you mean yes, then, right?
BOYKIN: You meant to say yes.
HOLMES: Yes. Right, sorry.
BOYKIN: Perjury regardless of what book you swear on.
HOLMES: Right. Of course.
ZAHN: Then on to the controversy over the really vile comments that we heard a former professional baseball player make about gays in pro sports. This one is from another viewer who did not leave his name.
And he writes, "I, for one, am appalled at the professional athlete's comments. For him to say that he hates gay people makes me sick to my stomach. I am a young black homosexual male and this is the exact reason why I am still in the closet."
BOYKIN: I think that's an excellent point. It has an impact on people when people make these comments.
If this had been a white player who said, "I hate black people," you can bet the NBA would have strung him up. The teammates would have gotten rid of him. The fans would have gotten rid of him.
There wouldn't be a controversy. We wouldn't even be talking about it. HOLMES: And I would say to the e-mailer that this is not a reason to stay in the closet. Just because there's one jerk out there on a radio show, or maybe a lot of jerks out there, he does need to lead his life as John the basketball player on our show tonight demonstrated.
ZAHN: But John also lived with tremendous pain because he knew if he had come out, he says, while he was playing it would have cost him endorsements, it would have hurt his career, and created tremendous friction in the locker room with probably some guys who feel exactly like Tim Hardaway feels.
PEREZ: Just like there are gay people who are intimidated and do not come out of the closet, a lot of professional players will not divulge their sexual preference because of the repercussions.
HOLMES: And one thing I would like to say about this, Paula, is Hardaway's remarks, not accusing him of this, but basketball players on the road are notorious of their behavior. So for them to be standing in judgement of another player who happens to be gay I find just outrageous.
BOYKIN: It's the height of hypocrisy, and it does make an impact. It's great to see that there are some people who will be coming out, hopefully because of people like John Amaechi. It takes courage, it takes confidence, and hopefully more people will be inspired.
ZAHN: Amy Holmes, Keith Boykin, Miguel Perez, great to have you all with us tonight.
And that wraps it up for all of us here.
I have an assignment for you. Go to CNN.com slash Paula. Vote on this question: Are you interested in the Anna Nicole Smith case?
Tomorrow we're going to have the results and bring the "Out in the Open" reasons why people are so fascinated with this dirty laundry.
We'll be right back.
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