The Atheist, the Graduation, and the Prayer

Is an atheist high school student who single-handedly blocks his school from having a prayer at graduation a hero or a jerk?

Well, neither. He’s a high school student. But he’s growing up to be a jerk. Perhaps even… a fick!

Pray for him….no, wait. Scratch that.

Here’s the story in Damon Fowler’s own words:

 “My graduation from high school is this Friday. I live in the Bible Belt of the United States. The school was going to perform a prayer at graduation, but due to me sending the superintendent an email stating it was against Louisiana state law and that I would be forced to contact the ACLU if they ignored me, they ceased it. The school backed down, but that’s when the shitstorm rolled in. Everyone is trying to get it back in the ceremony now. I’m not worried about it, but everyone hates me… kind of worried about attending graduation now. It’s attracted more hostility than I thought.

  “My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t Christian. No one else wanted to stand up for their constitutional right of having freedom of and FROM religion. I was also hoping to encourage other atheists to come out and be heard. I’m one of maybe three atheists in this town that I currently know of. One of the others is afraid to come out of the (atheist) closet.

 “Though I’ve caused my classmates to hate me, I feel like I’ve done the right thing. Regardless of their thoughts on it, basically saying I am ruining their fun and their lives, I feel like I’ve helped someone out there. I didn’t do this for me or just atheists, but anyone who doesn’t believe in their god that prayer to Yahweh may affect.”

The “give me a break!” line in the tale: “My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t Christian.” What self-serving, disingenuous nonsense. More emotionally stressing than knowing you single-handedly unsettled the graduation experience of all his friends? What is so horribly “emotionally stressing” about listening to a prayer to a God you don’t believe in? Damon undoubtedly hears students praising sports team and bands he doesn’t like, or extolling TV shows and movies he thinks are boring. Does that stress him horribly too?

Most prayers contain generally positive messages. Is a prayer at graduation more stressing than, for example, having to listen to  a valedictorian whom you thought was a conceited twit? Listening to the cheers for the school basketball star, as if he was really so special, when you know he is  a cruel clod? Is Bastrop High School really a training ground for hypersensitive whiners?

What really occurred is grievance bullying, used to make lots of people unhappy so that a smug few can feel powerful by bending the majority to its will. Prayers are said before the opening of a Congressional Session and at the inaugurations of presidents. I’m not sure whether the prayer at Fowler’s high school graduation was necessarily illegal or not; such prayers are not per se a violation of the Establishment Clause, and Damon may not have had a case at all. (The ACLU does not come running every time a junior atheist whistles.) But his threat was enough to panic risk-averse administrators so he could crow his “victory” to anti-religion activists.

Such conduct violates the Golden Rule, as it is gratuitously inconsiderate. It violates utilitarian principles, because it sacrifices the happiness and enjoyment of many for the satisfaction of a few. If there really were some painful “stresses” placed on a few atheist students by having to tolerate a two-minute prayer, a utilitarian argument might be conceivable. The excuse, however, is like Native American activists claiming that they break out in hives because there is a hockey team called “The Blackhawks.” It would sound so much less attractive to describe what the coercive exercise really is all about: “We want to stress out the majority by making them do what we want, because it adds to our visibility, prestige and power.”

This is the recurrent fiasco of diversity politics in the United States. The majority is urged to tolerate the practices and attitudes of minorities, even those they find offensive, and minorities  manufacture offenses to stop majority practices they don’t embrace.

Damon Fowler is being cheered and applauded in the atheist community, greatly increasing the odds that he will become completely insufferable  as an adult. I believe this is unfortunate for Damon, and also bad strategy. The best way to sell the public on atheism is for atheists to prove that they can be caring, considerate, fair and respectful human beings without the influence of religion. When they  encourage unfair, disrespectful, inconsiderate conduct in their young recruits, they are doing far more damage to their mission than a little prayer at a school graduation  could ever do.

The fact is that a high school boy used threats to force an unnecessary  change to a high school graduation program,  damaging the graduation experience for most of his friends and his family.

It’s  nothing to be proud of.

65 thoughts on “The Atheist, the Graduation, and the Prayer

  1. Fascinating. Yeah I do think it’s sad, I mean hearing people pray to a God you don’t believe in should not be a major stress, as you said, we all have to hear things we don;t agree with every day, but there’s n reason to do what he did in this situation. I am sorry though that he is now ‘hated’ by everyone, cause that’s not a very Christian response…. though perhaps he has exaggerated it. xx

    • He asked to be, if not hated, disliked. I dislike him, and I haven’t prayed to anyone or anything in about 4-, er, a long time. This is selfish and dislikable behavior.

  2. It is true that some people who identify as atheist find the stigma attached to is unfair. Most think that those who don’t believe in God have no morals at all and will do anything they like.

    This guy is sadly not helping the case for the atheists.

  3. I’ll grant that this kid may be a jerk-in-training, but he is far from fickitude.

    This is a story with no one to root for. Like you, I don’t know whether the planned prayer was legal or not. But one of two things is true: either it was demonstrably legal, in which case the correct course for the principal is to stand for something and tell the kid to go ahead and call the ACLU, we’re going on with our graduation ceremony; or there was some question about the legality, in which case young Mr. Fowler’s objections may be anti-social but not entirely illegitimate. Insisting on rights others don’t want to grant doesn’t make you the bad guy, whether you’re gay, Muslim, atheist, or whatever else. (Note: I’m distinguishing between his initial objection and his subsquent chest-thumping, which I attribute to a chronic but ultimately curable condition known as adolescence.)

    Indeed, I’d hardly consider him even the worst player in this little commedia. There are the school officials who released his name, the teacher who had snippy things to say about him to a local newspaper, the girl who turned what was supposed to be a moment of silence into a vindictive prayer intended to humiliate him at his own graduation far more than to praise God (an action that was condoned if not encouraged by school officials). And there are the teachers, fellow students, and townspeople whose much-flaunted piety manifests itself in behavior that couldn’t possibly be associated with the values espoused by Christ.

    Out of that lot, I’ll take Damon Fowler.

    • I left out the despicable treatment of Damon by others, and I more or less agree with your assessment of relative villainy. It goes without saying that the administrators were gutless…no, actually, I’m glad you said it.
      There has got to be some kind of accommodation is society between insisting on absolute rights when they appear to undermine the enjoyment of others. As with all rights, you don’t have to insist on them under all circumstances, and sometimes the ethical (kind, fair, responsible) thing is not to. I support making a stink if someone makes a student pray in a class, but sitting in an audience and watching someone pray? That’s easy—what’s the matter with letting the majority who want to experiences that do it?

      • How can you separate the two? If a student is the product of his education and this student was educated by these … inconsiderate, emotionally blind individuals, isn’t it somewhat enlightening that Damon had the self confidence and wherewithal to stand up for himself?

        • One prayer in a graduation ceremony as was a feature of everyone’s graduation for centuries does not mark the school as run by inconsiderate, emotionally blind individuals. But I’m sure that’s part of Fowler’s rationalization. The MO of the frievance bully is to cry villainy when there has only been innocent inattention.

      • He wouldn’t have been watching “someone,” he would have been watching an entire public institution pray, which is illegal. The ceremonies of public schools are not the place to openly flaunt your religion–a religion whose Holy Book explicitly commands its followers to keep their prayers private, no less. If all these students want to pray, why not do it before the ceremony, or afterward, or even pray silently to themselves during the ceremony?

        I bet suspect of these oh-so-devout Christians who have bullied and belittled Damon since his complaint wouldn’t have had a second thought about this prayer before. They would have daydreamed through half of it, thinking about how fun this summer is going to be or about how much they were going to get laid in college . . . but suddenly, when someone complains, they are all suddenly faithful Believers being cruelly oppressed by the minority who doesn’t think his public school should be endorsing Christianity (the audacity!).

        And their reactions–the other students’, the teachers’, the administration’s, the community’s, and Damon’s own family’s–are dishearteningly revealing. These people are not Christians (as in people who follow the teachings of Christ–love thy neighbor and all that silliness) standing up for their beloved faith; they are self-centered, egotistical, narrow-minded bullies who gang up on a boy who dares to openly disagree with the status quo.

        Speaking out and rocking the boat is wrong if people are enjoying themselves? The people on top are always enjoying themselves, but the people who are left out and getting stepped on never do, but they should just keep their mouths shut, after all, principles and law don’t always apply.

        Also, many of you seem to think this prayer situation would have only been a minor inconvenience for Damon. As someone who has been left out of many a prayer ceremony; who has looked up and around for anyone to make eye contact with only to see hundreds of heads bowed to an invisible, magical being; and who has been patted on the head and demeaned for my lack of faith in said invisible, magical being, I can say that being an atheist in a crowd of the religious is isolating. I wouldn’t complain about such a situation if I were in a church, or in a person’s home, or even in a public park. But when the government–an institution I and many other people think does not mix well with religion–endorses a specific faith, that concerns me. It’s illegal, and it’s not right. Does it still happen? Of course. So the correct response is just to hold our tongues so as not to make the dominant group unhappy?

        The people on top are always enjoying themselves, but the people who are left out and getting stepped on never do (some examples–blacks, gays, the Irish, the Chinese, Jews, women, various denominations of Christianity), but they should just keep their mouths shut, after all, principles and law don’t always need to apply. Was Damon being persecuted or bullied before everyone knew he was an atheist who did not think his school should be endorsing Christianity? I don’t know for sure, but he sure as hell was afterward. But he should have just kept his mouth shut, right?

        • Your whole comment, Rae, is an exaggeration and a misrepresentation of what I wrote,which was not unclear. I am a big advocate of confronting wrongdoing and taking stands, as you could determine by even a cursory reading of other posts here. My point, and really my only point, is that some consideration needs to be taken regarding the consequences, and whether symbolic protests do more than good, that we will all be better off if we seek less damaging ways to address conflicts when the offense is more symbolic than real. what drove this act, I believe, is a lot of anger and contempt, which is mirrored in the comments. Essentially, Damon and his supporters don’t think the religious people matter. They’re “the bad guys.” When you start thinking that way, unethical conduct follows.

  4. Wow, as a self-described “ethicist” and lawyer, I wouldn’t hire you for either task. Your total disregard for the law (the school was breaking the law by having a graduation prayer, period), and your twisted “shut up, atheists” attitude shows you aren’t qualified.

    • It is not at all clear that the law was being broken, and as a professional ethicist and a lawyer, I could teach you the difference between law and ethics. Nor did I say “shut up, atheists,” or imply it. Your comment shows you could do well by hiring me (you couldn’t afford me), or perhaps just get some private tutoring from a relatively well-rounded philosophy of government major.

      Before you declare, periods, read the case law, if you can. I even provided a link for you. Prayers may be unconstitutional at graduations, but not necessarily. And there is nothing that says it is wrong to let a minor infraction slide if nobody is hurt, and nobody objects. And there was no good reason to object.

      Good to see that some people still posses the knack of seeing only one side of an issue, and insulting anyone who tried to enlighten them. You guys make my profession both necessary and possible.

      • What do you define as a “good reason” to object? Feeling ostracized from your public institution’s graduation ceremony because it endorses a religion you reject? Believing that your school is violating laws and civil rights that were put in place to keep the borders of Church and State clear and separate? I think either of those are fair reasons to ask your school not to have prayer during the ceremony, but apparently I am being extreme, as was that jerk, Damon. How selfish of him!

        • Oh, give me a break. Give everyone a break. A little prayer in front of a large mass of people ostrasizes HIM? Did they plan on dedicating it to him? Aiming at him? How is a prayer harmful to Damon in any way? Atheists aren’t that delicate…are they?

          There is no law being violated. A constitutional violation places the school at risk of civil penalties after a trial, if someone claims to be aggrieved. It isn’t a criminal offense, and whether it is subject to civil remedies depends on all the circumstances of the event. This isn’t a game, where you get gotcha! points by making people change their plans. I explained what would have been the ethical way to handle this, without causing a community uproar.

  5. It is not at all clear that the law was being broken, and as a professional ethicist and a lawyer, I could teach you the difference between law and ethics.

    I know the difference between law and ethics; you’re terrible at both.

    The prayer was originally part of the official school graduation ceremony. That contrary to Everson v. Board of Ed., Lee v. Weisman, and other supreme court rulings.

    Nor did I say “shut up, atheists,” or imply it.

    Of course you did. Atheists and other non-Christians are supposed to shut up instead of fighting against their own school breaking the law.

    Your comment shows you could do well by hiring me (you couldn’t afford me), or perhaps just get some private tutoring from a relatively well-rounded philosophy of government major.

    Don’t break your back patting yourself. You’ve managed to call a high school kid a jerk for upholding the law. Some lawyer you are.

    Before you declare, periods, read the case law, if you can. I even provided a link for you. Prayers may be unconstitutional at graduations, but not necessarily.

    Read what I wrote. The prayer was originally an official part of the graduation ceremony, which was struck down by the supreme court years ago.

    And there is nothing that says it is wrong to let a minor infraction slide if nobody is hurt, and nobody objects

    If YOUR civil rights are infringed and you want to be a doormat, go right ahead. I, and a lot of other atheists, refuse to let “painless” violations of our civil rights go unchallenged. Even if shysters call us jerks for having the temerity to defend our rights.

    And there was no good reason to object.

    Sorry, you don’t get to decide if the violations of other people’s rights are OK to ignore. After all, there’s no good reason to object to riding in the back of the bus, since it gets you to your destination at the same time as the front, right? Who could possibly object to that?

    Good to see that some people still posses the knack of seeing only one side of an issue

    Like your complete lack of seeing the atheist side of things?

    Here, I’ll make some of it even clearer:

    1) Group X gets to have a prayer of theirs at graduation; group not-X gets nothing.

    2) Someone in group not-X objects; the ceremony is changed so group X does not get a prayer.

    3) People in group X complain because they are now being treated EXACTLY AS GROUP NOT-X WAS BEING TREATED AT STEP 1.

    • 1) The Supreme Court did NOT declare it per se unconstitutional to have a prayer in a school graduation ceremony. Read the opinions.
      2) You don’t know the difference between law and ethics because my post had nothing to do with the law. It had to do with whether Damon did the right thing. I can see the argument that he did. But he didn’t, however. He was being a grievance bully.
      3.) I did not say atheists should shut up, and no reasonable reading of the post would conclude that. I said he should not have interfered with the ceremony, in this situation. Your generalization is misleading, and your recasting of my statement is dishonest. He can talk about atheism all he wants. Damon does not have to louse up graduation for everyone else because he wants a little tin medal from the “I Hate Religion Society.”
      4) I can call a high school student who acts like a jerk a jerk if he acts like one. But I did not call Damon a jerk, though I gather by now that your form of reading consists of skimming, generalization and exaggeration. I said he was likely to grow up to be a jerk based on this incident. That is true. And obvious.
      5.) “His civil rights were violated.” Please. What utter nonsense. I’ve sat through thousands of prayers, and I believe them as much as Damon does. How does that experience harm me? How would it harm him? What right have I been robbed of? What right would he be robbed of? Nobody is being forced to worship. IF, and it is by no means certain this is true, the school allowing a prayer crossed a constitutional line, the considerate, healthy, fair approach by Damon would still have been to let it go, and then talk all he wanted about it afterwards.
      5. Your example is asinine. The bottom line is that ONE person is dictating what he wants, to the detriment of the vast majority. That-is-wrong. It maye be legal, but it is still wrong. The legal principal is sound, but it is still wrong, Got that? If I am in a group and they choose to go to a movie I don’t like, my ethical choice is to opt out of the movie, not to use threats to make them go to my movie. You equate the preferences of the vast majority who are robbed of something important to them with the philosophical objections of one kid who would have had to listen to two minutes of poetry he thinks is hogwash. A tiny sacrifice on his part would have made the day infinitely better for almost everyone else. Know what we call adults who can’t find their way to make those little sacrifices?

      Jerks, Or high school students on the way to being jerks.
      This entire chain of law was launched by Madelyn Murray O’Hair, a smart, arrogant, destructing atheist uber-jerk, She didn’t have to do it, and and very little good has come out of her crusade (Her son ultimately condemned her lawsuit, and she finally said that she made a mistake.)

      Also candidate for this title: a commenter on the blog whose immediate approach is to insult the blogger. You’re a guest here. You can disagree all you want in as strong language as you want, but gratuitously attacking me personally is acceptable only if I am dazzled by your brilliance, and you can’t even correctly recite what I wrote with it right in front of you.

  6. 1) The Supreme Court did NOT declare it per se unconstitutional to have a prayer in a school graduation ceremony. Read the opinions.

    Hey, READ WHAT I WRITE.

    The court DID say that PRAYERS PLANNED BY THE SCHOOL AS PART OF THE OFFICIAL CEREMONY ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

    The complaint was against such unconstitutional, official prayers. The school officials consulted an attorney and removed the official prayer from the program.

    Trying to move the goalposts is dishonest.

    2) You don’t know the difference between law and ethics because my post had nothing to do with the law.

    Or ethics.

    It had to do with whether Damon did the right thing. I can see the argument that he did. But he didn’t, however. He was being a grievance bully.

    Apparently then, in your book, when a student sees that his own school is breaking the law, actually attempting to stop it is being a bully.

    Sorry, tinpot dictators like yourself don’t control the situation, as much as you’d obviously like to.

    3.) I did not say atheists should shut up, and no reasonable reading of the post would conclude that.

    Sorry, you also don’t get to decide what *I* find reasonable. I still say you were telling atheists to shut up. I don’t really care if you don’t agree.

    4) I can call a high school student who acts like a jerk a jerk if he acts like one. But I did not call Damon a jerk, though I gather by now that your form of reading consists of skimming, generalization and exaggeration.

    Like how I talk about how official school prayers have been struck down as unconstitutional, and you try to defend that some prayers might be constitutional, while omitting the vital “official school” prayer part out?

    I said he was likely to grow up to be a jerk based on this incident. That is true. And obvious.

    If I thought Damon was a jerk because he had the audacity to defend his civil rights using the US legal system, I’d say this was a perfect case of the pot calling the kettle black. But since he isn’t, I can’t.

    5.) “His civil rights were violated.” Please. What utter nonsense.

    Again, you show that you consider atheists to not have civil rights.

    I’ve sat through thousands of prayers, and I believe them as much as Damon does. How does that experience harm me? How would it harm him?

    You seem to be using a new theory of civil rights, where no harm = no civil rights violation. Go ahead and sit in the back of the bus, then. No harm there, right?

    5. Your example is asinine. The bottom line is that ONE person is dictating what he wants, to the detriment of the vast majority. That-is-wrong.

    OK, how about I get a group of atheists over to your little blog and we vote of whether you should be a slave. If the vast majority says you should be a slave, you should meekly go along, right?

    And, just like my example showed, the majority is whining because they are now being treated exactly the same as the minority. They’re hypocrites.

    This entire chain of law was launched by Madelyn Murray O’Hair, a smart, arrogant, destructing atheist uber-jerk, She didn’t have to do it, and and very little good has come out of her crusade

    That pretty much tells me how much you respect religious rights — not at all.

    (Her son ultimately condemned her lawsuit, and she finally said that she made a mistake.)

    About her lawsuit? If that’s what you mean, you’re just lying. She may have said that having her son was a mistake, since he became a religious nut.

    By the way, O’Hair’s lawsuit (Murray v. Curlett) was combined with Abington School District v. Schempp. Ellery Schempp is still around (he’s a nuclear physicist) and is still a strong advocate of religious freedom, including being a member of the American Humanist Association and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and a board member of the Secular Student Alliance. He doesn’t think his lawsuit was a mistake at all.

    Also candidate for this title: a commenter on the blog whose immediate approach is to insult the blogger.

    You don’t insult people, nosiree, Mr. Pot.

    • 1) No, Brian, that is NOT what the rulings say: “What the Supreme Court prohibited can be summarized as follows: School officials cannot
      direct that prayer be part of a public school graduation ceremony, select a religious participant for
      the express purpose of delivering a prayer, and give guidelines on how to say a nonsectarian,
      nonproselytizing prayer. In practical terms, a public school cannot invite a clergyman to say a prayer
      at a graduation ceremony and direct the content or manner of the prayer. As an additional note, the
      Lee decision does not affect graduation prayers at post-secondary schools, that is, the college or university level.
      The Supreme Court did not ban all prayers at graduation. In fact, the Court stated that its
      The ruling was limited to the facts of that particular case. Therefore, any change in the factual situation
      presented in Lee might change the outcome. Justice Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion that
      merely adding a disclaimer to the graduation program would make the same set of facts
      constitutional. … Obviously the United States Supreme Court has not taken the position that all graduation
      prayer is unconstitutional. Indeed, the Court noted the following:
      We recognize that, at graduation time and throughout the course of the educational
      process, there will be instances when religious values, religious practices, and
      religious persons will have some interaction with the public schools and their
      students. The Supreme Court recognized that “ relentless and all-pervasive attempt to exclude
      religion from every aspect of public life could itself become inconsistent with the Constitution.” The
      Court in Lee v. Weisman was concerned that school officials were actively involved in placing prayer
      on the agenda, inviting a religious clergyman to speak for the purpose of prayer, and giving the
      clergyman specific guidelines for saying nonsectarian prayers. Prayer can still be conducted at public
      school graduations if school officials use secular criteria to invite the speaker, and once there, the
      speaker voluntarily prays. A valedictorian, salutatorian, or class officer can also voluntarily pray as
      part of the ceremony. The student body can elect a class chaplain or elect a class representative for
      the specific purpose of prayer. Part of the school program can be given over to the students and
      therefore be student-led and student-initiated. A parent and/or student committee can create and
      conduct part of the ceremony and, therefore, avoid state involvement. The ceremony can be
      conducted off the school premises by private individuals, and therefore no state involvement would
      occur. The school may also adopt a free speech policy which allows the senior class an opportunity
      to devote a few minutes of the ceremony to uncensored student speech that can be secular or sacred.”

      Were any of these the case at Damon’s school? I don’t know, and I don’t care. My position is the same regardless. It is neither ethical nor necessary to make an issue out of every possible/potential/actual legal or constitutional infraction. That’s the point, and that was what the post was about.

      2) He was not defending any “civil rights”. That is fantasy. What civil rights was he defending? Never mind, I’m not posting your next response anyway.

      3) No, having to sit in the back of the bus is obviously a harm, because a citizen is being treated differently from everyone else. Damon was being treated the same as everyone else.

      4) The fact that the lawyers advised to drop the prayer proves absolutely nothing. Their job is to avoid taxpayer-funded litigation, and they reasoned that it was better to have everyone upset than to end up in expensive litigation. This is why threats against schools are so effective, and why little grievance-bullies like Damon can be successful.

      5) I haven’t insulted you: I’ve described exactly what you have written very accurately. You willfully misrepresent the post, and refuse to acknowledge certain basics, like the fact that the existence of a right doesn’t automatically make it virtuous to assert it, and that the fact that something may technically cross a constitutional line doesn’t mean there is necessarily harm in letting it go. You began your first comment, not by saying you disagreed, but with a personal attack. You are uncivil and rude, and your arguments consist of repeating the same half-truths over and over again and mis-characterizing what I wrote.

      You had your shot…Your brand of snotty discourse is neither enlightening nor entertaining. Your comments are banned…if you want to send me an apology, do it in an e-mail.

      6) You are obviously determined to be obnoxious, so I’ll make this short and clear, and if you won’t or can’t understand it, swell. It is not always “right’ to insist on every last right, every opportunity to complain, every legal opening. If everyone acted like Damon all the time, society couldn’t function. It is not what he has a right to do, but what he shouldn’t have the decency and tolerance not to do. Whether he would have prevailed in a court battle or not, and that is unknown, is beside the point. It was not a big deal, and yet he chose to take his opening and disrupt a community event. Legal! But wrong.You (and Damon) are advocates of the tyranny of the minority, using courts and activist groups to bend others to your will at the cost of community peace and common sense. We are not talking about genuine oppression or legitimate complaints here—we’re talking about simple families that were used to having a prayer said at graduation because it had always been that way. True to his breed, Damon dishonestly manufactured “stress” as a alibi for what was just another power grab in the culture wars. That’s my analysis, and anyone is welcome to another, and also to raise their kids to, by all means, think it is better to raise a stink over nothing than to let one’s friends graduate in peace.

      Meanwhile, bye. You are the weakest link,

      • Argh. I wish I had gotten to this post before Brian. I think impeding the encroachment of religion into schools is important, especially when it is unpopular to do so. While Damon is not actually hurt from school backed prayer, some of the other listeners will be: anyone who gets the impression that the school and government back Christianity, anyone who feels they must believe to fit in.

        The danger in this prayer isn’t that Damon will be hurt or his rights violated. The danger is to the weaker people unwilling or unable to stand up against this behavior. The danger is to the children not yet graduated, that they will learn in an environment that sees a place for superstition and pandering at a ceremony that should be celebratory.

        • Tgt: That’s the right rebuttal, though I don’t agree that it properly applies here. I also wish you had gotten to the topic before BW, because he kept flogging the rights argument, which is just wrong, and accusing me of wanting to muzzle athiests, which to someone who co-edited a book of Clarence Darrow’s speeches and writings is just too annoying.

          I’ll give you a COtD for clarity and balance. Thanks.

      • 3) No, having to sit in the back of the bus is obviously a harm, because a citizen is being treated differently from everyone else. Damon was being treated the same as everyone else.

        The school did threaten to place Damon at the back of the line for the graduation march. He WAS being treated differently, he WAS being punished. It was only at the last minute that they decided to give him his rightful place in line.

        • The post was about his getting the prayer thrown out. I haven’t condoned any of the various attacks and threats against him, and they are not part of my commentary. He shouldn’t have been threatened or penalized in any way for taking his stand, which he had a right to do. And I never said otherwise.

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  8. Religion is not allowed in a public school, and whether or not most of the students attending wanted an official prayer is it illegal according to the constitution.

    If all those students/parents are so angry that one person wanted to follow the law by keeping religion out of the school, then they should have gone to a christian school instead of a public one.

    • Unconstitutional is not the always the same as “illegal.” No law has been violated here. Nobody could be jailed for saying a prayer. I don’t think prayers should be in school events, and certainly not classes. I also don’t think they cause such harm that they have to lead to these kinds of messes. There are H.S. basketball teams all over the Bible belt that have prayers before every game. OK, that’s a technical violation, but what’s really wrong with it? Nothing, until someone objects. Why would someone object? To be officious? To make others do what they want? The same people who are caterwauling about the prayer and praising Damon would condemn any kid that reported a classmate for smoking weed, because they would say that it was pointless and cruel. Well, having pot IS a crime, with far more easily identified genuine harms associated with it than a two-minute prayer. The atheists want to cripple organized religion and run it out of the culture, and are willing to ruin a bunch of families graduation experience to do it. But they won’t be honest about it…they have to say they are “stressed,” because stress is “harm.” Yecch.

      • There are H.S. basketball teams all over the Bible belt that have prayers before every game. OK, that’s a technical violation, but what’s really wrong with it? Nothing, until someone objects.

        What about for the muslim student who gets told “You’re not one of us”? It’s wrong on it’s face. You don’t need someone to object for it to be wrong.

        Why would someone object? To be officious? To make others do what they want?

        To fight against the celebration of unreason? That couldn’t be it.

        The atheists want to cripple organized religion and run it out of the culture, and are willing to ruin a bunch of families graduation experience to do it.

        You have it wrong. The goal isn’t to cripple organized religion. The goal is to relegate the sources of irrationality to the trash where they belong. The goal is for people to understand the world as it is. The goal is for progress. Also, whose ceremony is ruined if there isn’t a prayer at the beginning of it?

        But they won’t be honest about it…they have to say they are “stressed,” because stress is “harm.” Yecch

        You can actually blame people like you for that one. If there isn’t demonstrable harm to the complainer, then everyone ignores the complainer as a whiny bitch who wants to ruin everyone’s fun.

        • 1. The Muslim student basketball player has a legitimate bitch, and is being harmed. The Jewish student too. But in an all-Christian 5, the technical constitutional violation is de minimus.
          2.. There are plenty of effective ways to fight against unreason that do not require unsettling a school graduation. The duty of minimizing harm.
          3. So much for tolerance. When religion does harm, oppose it. When it serves the needs of people who embrace it, leave it alone. (We’ve been down this disagreement before.)
          4. Not bitch. Future jerk.

            • I didn’t say that. I was speaking specifically of a team prayer in a basketball setting, a small, close knit group in which the use of a prayer that excluded one member of the team would be harmful both to the team itself and the individual, presuming he felt left out of a team ritual. Sure, an atheist would conceivably be as harmed.

              That’s a team, which is even more of a unit than a class. A prayer does not similarly harm or exclude a non-believer in a one-time only assembly for a special event.

  9. Boy…the guy I banned from this thread is now holding court over at Reddit, where the comments are especially inflammatory and dim. I especially like the several that say, as if it’s an argument, that if I “substitute ‘black” for atheist” the error of my ways will be apparent. Yeah, that makes sense. And what is the equivalent of a prayer in that scanario? A Pat Boone song?

    It all makes me grateful for the caliber of discourse you all provide.

    • Brian W. informs me, in his trademark charming way, that indeed he is NOT over at Reddit, so it is just someone quoting him. I regret the error and for jumping to conclusions. I was certainly not trying to misrepresent the SOB.

      • Just so you don’t think I’m being unfair, here is the latest from Brian, in response to the above: ‘Hey you fucking bastard, my mother is DEAD, and fuck you for your policy against insults, prick.”

    • Nope, I was the one who linked your story at Reddit. I did it not because I’m a friend of Bryan, or because I sympathize with him, but merely because us at Reddit have been following the Damon story for quite a while. I also think you’re being hypocritical in your article, you give only one side of the story, you criticize with name calling (jerk), condescending tone and belittling a story merely on the fact that you disagree with the kid. I also don’t think much of your so called “ethics” and your diplomacy is lacking. Furthermore assuming Brian is over at Reddit making a scandal and calling him an SOB after banning him is a pretty retarded thing to do. I don’t really know you as a person, but from reading this article and all the comments I can pretty much say you’re a douchebag.

      • Fowler surely is attracting a lot of class acts. “SOB” is a fair description of Brian’s conduct on this blog. I take few liberties with my own civility rules, but occasionally I indulge myself. In his case, I’m not sorry.

        Like him, you are prone to misrepresenting or not reading properly what I actually wrote. I did not call Fowler a jerk, but said that on his current path he was likely to grow up to be one, which is accurate. Jerk is not just an insult..it is a legitimate description of a character trait. Officious complainers who go out of their way to stop infraction without exercising restraint or common sense do more damage than good.

        You also fail to comprehend, apparently, the purpose of Ethics Alarms, which is to focus on ethical issues arising out of current events and issues. I did not belittle the story; I explained, in two posts, the ethical problems I have with Fowler’s conduct, and the larger issues involved. Yes, I disagree with what he did, and explained why. That’s the point. I assume that such opinions invite rational discourse with civilized readers whose logic and reasoning extend beyond “you’re a douchebag.” If the validity of a point of view is indicated by the caliber of its advocates, Damon clearly was in the wrong.

    • The substitution of “black” for “atheist” is *entirely* appropriate. Rosa Parks says herself that her refusal to give up her seat was based on the fact that she was tired. Tired of giving in, tired of being pushed around. She got fed up, and (following your logic) decided to be a jerk.

      Maybe she was a jerk. But she was also right. She stood against her local community’s wishes. And the greater community, the higher courts, and history agreed with her.

      Further, whatever you have to say about Damon Fowler, is it fair to leave out the other actors in this play? It’s a fair point to raise the question of whether he was a jerk, or might grow up to be one. I think you’re wrong, but it’s a fair point to raise. But it’s not fair to do so in isolation. His level of jerkitude pales in comparison to the actions and attitude of the school and school board officials, community, classmates and family members in this sad drama. If you think he’s nothing but a whiner, what do you have to say about the whiny Christian majority complaining about having “their” publicly-funded megaphone taken away? What about their unfair, inconsiderate, disrespectful behavior?

      • It isn’t the same, and it is intellectually dishonest to say it was the same….indeed, it trivializes Rosa Parks. Being an atheist in a religious community does not involve open discrimination and secondary citizen status on the magnitude of what blacks had to endure before integration and the Civil Rights laws, unless there were separate water fountains for the God-fearing at Damon’s school. Damon’s status as a non-conformist was a choice—he can’t demand that there are no consequences at all flowing from intentionally rejecting your peers’ values. He shouldn’t be ostracized or discriminated against, but if his prayer threat was pay-back, that’s wrong too.

        “Jerkitude” is absolute, not comparative—the fact that you may be a jerk doesn’t make me less of one. I was writing about Damon’s conduct. I don’t have to write about the school’s. It doesn’t take an ethicist to conclude that their treatment of him as a result of his stand was wrong.

        • You classify Damon’s behavior as “threat” and “payback”. On what basis? It’s not like he jumped up before everyoneone and shouted “You’re not gonna do that f*n prayer, or I’m gonna call my f*n lawyers!”. That would be a threat. Possibly a legitimate threat (from a legal view), but that’s irrelevant. It would be abusive and threatening behavior, and poor ethics, too (probably, but I’d want to hear the full story before judging that).

          I don’t know the tone and tenor of the actual communications Damon had with the school. Do you? All I know is, he said something along the lines of, “I understand the following is planned. I find this upsetting. I believe this to be illegal under US Supreme Court rulings and Louisiana State law. I feel this intended action infringes my rights. If the event happens as planned, I intend to ask the courts to rule on whether or not the rights of all or most others involved outweigh the rights of myself as an individual.” And the school agreed, without the need to involve the courts, and removed the formal inclusion of the prayer.

          You call that a threat, I call it the right of any individual who legitimately believes that under the law, he’s been wronged, or (in this case) is about to be wronged. Further, you say the schools reaction was a reaction to a threat, I say all I know is, they got the memo and talked it over with their lawyer before *responding* to the communication. The fact that their response was to do as requested tells me quite a bit.

          Similarly for “payback”. On what basis do you call it “payback”? OK, to be fair, you didn’t precisely say “it was payback”. Your premise was approximately “if it was simply payback, it was unethical”. On its own, I’d probably agree with this statement. In the context of the whole story, I say on what basis do you judge it appropriate to raise the implication that it was “payback”. Or to look at it another way, would you agree or disagree with a statement like “if it wasn’t simply payback, it was ethical.” in the context of Damon’s story?

          • “Do what I want or I sic the ACLU on you” is a threat, whether it was as polite as you theorize, or not.

            The payback theme came up in the comments, as lots of .Damon’s supporters argued that he had been oppressed and ostracized, which they said was justification for his actions. That’s a payback argument.

            • So. The ACLU is nothing but an unwitting tool used to threaten people to get one’s way? I think the ACLU would object to that characterization. I also think they’d flatly ignore, maybe even actively oppose anyone who tried to use them in that way (rendering such a threat either meaningless or counterproductive).

              “You plan to do X. I formally object on legal grounds”. You’re saying that’s an ethical statement, but not if you say “ACLU” in the next sentence?

              Further, “the payback theme was raised (after-the-fact) by his supporters” (not him, and largely not his actual on-the-ground friends at the time) as justification for his actions” is a *vastly* different statement than “His actions were payback”, and is in no way a valid consideration in judging his thinking or his ethics at the moment of action.

              • I never said it was payback. I have no idea if it was or not. It wasn’t dicussed in my post/ If you’re referring to a comment, quote it in context.

                And I never said that “,The ACLU is nothing but an unwitting tool used to threaten people to get one’s way”, nor do I believe that. A threat can use them that way, just as the police can be used that way.

                Do you have a comment based on what I actually wrote?

                • What you actually wrote? Uh, how about:

                  >“Do what I want or I sic the ACLU on you” is a threat, whether it was as polite as you theorize, or not.

                  Did he say “Do what I want”? Or “I think the legality of what you plan to do is questionable, therefore I think you should reconsider doing it”? Did he say “..or I sic the ACLU on you”? Or “..I’ve read through various different viewpoints, including the ACLU’s, and they generally seem to support my view”? Is it an overt threat? Or just a declaration of intent? Does the listener’s *assumption* of the speaker’s real intent make it a threat, regardless of the actual intent of the speaker?

                  And how is raising the spectre of the ACLU a threat on its face? It’s just a legal advocacy group focused on civil liberties advocacy. A pretty successful one, but still. I’ll grant, certain groups, large institutions particularly, may automatically *percieve* any mention of the ACLU as a threat, because due to the nature of its core mission it frequently winds up becoming defense of the “little guy” (e.g. person) from the “big guy” (e.g. institution), but I think such a perception is the failing of the group or institution, not necessarily the failing of a bringer of a legitimate complaint. And the complainant raising the ACLU *may* be acting unethically (if he actually is doing it for payback, or some other ethically questionable reason), but merely mentioning the ACLU at all is not in and of itself a threat, and even if you choose to view it as such, a threat is not automatically unethical, not at all. (e.g. “stop or i’ll shoot!”. Deadly threat. Unethical? Dunno, not enough information.)

                  I’m sorry, it really seems to me that your judgement on the issue is stuck on one side of the ethical question. I do hope that’s not quite true, and it’s simply your perception of some of the fundamental facts around the central question that’s stuck on one view. No problem with that, it’s perfectly human, a trap that everyone falls into from time to time. But I have to wonder.

                  • Do what I want or I’ll have someone sue you is a threat. That’s what it is. Threats are what bullies use on weak parties, and any threat of a law suit terrifies public schools. The threat worked because he had a plausible constitutional case.

                    It makes no difference to my point how he phrased it. Fowler threatened to make a stink over the prayer, and got his way. I didn’t say threats were inherently unethical. You are arguing around the edges of my post.

                    I said that he could and should have let the prayer go as part of the community he knew and which he belonged to because it couldn’t possibly harm him, and almost everyone else in the community cared about having it. Instead, he claimed “stress” and used the threat of litigation to kill the prayer. So there was a big controversy, the ceremony was disrupted, everyone is angry, and there was a prayer anyway. So as a matter of principle, or .ego, or acting out, or payback, or arrogance, or selfishness, or contempt for his friends and their parents, he got cheap publicity and 15 minutes of fame while accomplishing no substantive good whatsoever.

                    Good job. I’m not impressed.

  10. I don’t see why you banned Brian. The guy pointed out several flaws with your argument.

    The fact of the matter here is Damon does not have to tolerate school prayer at a public school. Done.
    It’s all opinion from there. Obviously you think he is being a bully, but there is a lot of people that will disagree with you. You don’t have to ban people because they disagree with you. You say Brian was being rude, but you were too. You can’t tell someone condescendingly that they “can’t afford you” and expect kind responses.

    I have a feeling if the majority of students worshiped Satan, and the valedictorian recited some Satanic poem, while one Christian student stood up and said “I don’t want to hear it and I don’t have to because we live in America where Secularism should reign”, you probably would think a little differently, wouldn’t you? It’s the same situation, except Christianity is obviously coated in your brain as the Good. While Atheism is the Bad.

    Release yourself from these binds and you will see that this is a great example of someone standing up for something he is passionate about.

    • I banned Brian because he was rude, continually misrepresented my position, and violated terms of commenting here that are clearly posted. And I warned him. He engaged in personal attacks rather than sticking to the topic. He began the dialogue with an insult, and continued in that vein. Commenters argue with me all the time. Brian didn’t want to argue. He wanted to make one point, and call me an idiot for not supporting it. I don’t allow that.

      He said he wouldn’t hire me, and I replied that he couldn’t afford me, which is obviously tongue in cheek, unlike his insults. And I can respond any way I want to insulting comments: it’s my site. I have posted how it works. I have banned exactly three commenters in two years out of over 10,000—and they all deserved it.

      Your own comment simply shows that you don’t want to discuss the points I raised, and just want to rail against religion. As I wrote in my follow-up piece, the post is only incidentally about religion, because that’s what this example involved. The post is about people who insist on making others conform to rules and standards when there is no immediate need to, and when the kind and considerate thing would be to let it go and open a dialogue later when the stakes aren’t so high.

      Your Satanic example is off topic and just demonstrates that you don’t understand the post, or choose not to. Read the follow-up.

      • Okay, lets toss aside all the things that this post is “incidentally” about and go with what you are arguing, which is “people who insist on making others conform to rules and standards when there is no immediate need to” = wrong = bully-like actions.

        I think we both can agree that bully’s use their advantages to undermine the disadvantages of others just for the sake of enjoyment and personal inflation of their egos. I don’t know how else to define bully, so I’m going to assume you agree with what I said there. Do you really think Damon did this intending to hurt or take away the rights and abilities of others? If he did, then I would definitely agree with you, he acted like a bully.

        I personally do not know Damon. I don’t know why he did this but I choose to believe he did this with good intent. This intent was not to hurt people or to take away their rights or abilities and laugh about it later, but to help himself and others pull free of religion in public events.

        I see it the other way around that you do. I see the school as the bully and Damon as the disadvantaged kid that is constantly being pushed around by being told to just deal with it and keep silent about it. This time Damon pushed back. I realize he wasn’t being harmed physically, but it could have harmed him emotionally. He stated that most people knew he wasn’t Christian. He also stated that a lot of the kids often stared at him during these prayers which made him feel extremely uncomfortable as he didn’t participate in the head bowing and reciting. I realize you will probably say he is soft and should get over it, but he didn’t.

        • I think he had good motives and bad motives, probably, and that like most of us, he couldn’t say himself how they interacted. Ethics don’t rest on motives as much as on conduct and intended (and anticipated) consequences. I’ m sympathetic to someone feeling like a pariah. I’ve been there. It’s not fun. But if you choose to wear a duck on your head, you can’t complain that people are staring at you. If you have the courage not to follow the crowd, you can’t complain that everyone is looking at you funny.. Using threats, as he did, is a bullying tactic, and proclaiming his triumph on line is the act of a wilfull bully. He has no regret or compassion for the way everyone else felt. The Golden Rule isn’t just for Christians.

          Your point of view is reasonable, and facts may be in play that I don’t know about.. If he had gone to the school after graduation and explained that he could have made a big deal out of the prayer but didn’t in consideration for the community, but that they needed to make sure that future programs passed constitutional muster (which allows for some prayers, under certain circumstances ), I would have regarded that as an ethical act that took the consequences to others seriously. But Fowler regarded and treated the religious people as “the enemy,” as have his commenting supprters. They aren’t the enemy—they are just people with certain strongly-held beliefs that mean a lot to them. It didn’t have to be a zero-sum situation.

  11. Is a black high school student who single-handedly blocks his school from having unsegregated classrooms a hero or a jerk?
    Well, neither. He’s a high school student. But he’s growing up to be a jerk. Perhaps even… a fick!
    Pray for him….no, wait. Scratch that.

    The “give me a break!” line in the tale: “My reasoning behind it is that it’s emotionally stressing on anyone who isn’t white.” What self-serving, disingenuous nonsense. More emotionally stressing than knowing you single-handedly unsettled the classroom experience of all his classmates? What is so horribly “emotionally stressing” about segregated classrooms? Damon undoubtedly sees students attending their segregated schools. Does that stress him horribly too?
    Most schools contain generally positive students. Is segregation at school more stressing than, for example, having to sit at the back of the bus? Watching the black people sit where they should be sitting, as if they deserve equal rights, when you know they don’t? Is Bastrop High School really a training ground for forcing our children to entertain the notion that black people are their equals?
    What really is occurring is nonsense being used to make lots of people unhappy so that a smug few can feel powerful by bending the majority to its will. Segregation is present before the opening of a Congressional Session and at the inaugurations of presidents. I’m not sure whether the segregation at Fowler’s school was necessarily illegal or not; such segregation is not per se a violation of his civil rights, and Damon may not have had a case at all. (The ACLU does not come running every time a junior black person whistles.) But his threat was enough to panic risk-averse administrators so he could crow his “victory” to black activists.
    Such conduct violates the Golden Rule, as it is gratuitously inconsiderate. It violates utilitarian principles, because it sacrifices the happiness and enjoyment of many for the satisfaction of a few. If there really were some painful “stresses” placed on a few black students by having to tolerate segregation, a utilitarian argument might be conceivable. The excuse, however, is like Native American activists claiming that they break out in hives because there is a hockey team called “The Blackhawks.” It would sound so much less attractive to describe what the coercive exercise really is all about: “We want to stress out the majority by making them do what we want, because it adds to our visibility, prestige and power.”
    This is the recurrent fiasco of diversity politics in the United States. The majority is urged to tolerate the practices and attitudes of minorities, even those they find offensive, and minorities  manufacture offenses to stop majority practices they don’t embrace.
    Damon Fowler is being cheered and applauded in the black community, greatly increasing the odds that he will become completely insufferable  as an adult. I believe this is unfortunate for Damon, and also bad strategy. The best way to sell the public on black rights is for black people to prove that they can be caring, considerate, fair and respectful human beings without the influence of race. When they  encourage unfair, disrespectful, inconsiderate conduct in their young recruits, they are doing far more damage to their mission than a little segregation could ever do.
    The fact is that a high school boy used threats to force an unnecessary  change to a segregated high school, damaging the school experience for most of his friends and his family.
    It’s  nothing to be proud of.

    • Sorry: A pointless, facile and silly exercise. If you think this is the least bit persuasive, and it seems that you do, then you don’t understand the issues.
      There is no valid analogy between Fowler’s situation and racial discrimination. He wasn’t being discriminated against. The prayer didn’t harm him or denigrate him or focus on his beliefs. A prayer does not say anything negative about non-believers. Rights of Due Process and Equal Protection are completely different than the prohibition against state-established religion. Your argument adds nothing to the discussion because it is a non-sequitur. A waste of time to write and to read.

      • To say that Fowler wasn’t being discriminated against shows that YOU don’t understand the issues. I understand that racial discrimination and discrimination based on beliefs are two different topics, and, of course, racism is way more of an issue than discrimination based on beliefs. [I would just like to point out that I meant no offense to anyone whose ancestors fought their butts off for equal rights]. However, both come into play in terms of civil rights. We all have the right to be treated as equals, including those with different religious beliefs. That was all I was trying to get across with the first post, but it obviously didn’t work.

        • There was no discrimination. Fowler didn’t even claim that, and he couldn’t have prevailed in a discrimination claim in any court in the country. Nothing said to a group can be discrimination to one member of the group. You don’t have the vaguest idea of the concepts you are throwing around.

          • In the heat of the Fowler incident, many people were making arguments about how he shouldn’t have done what he did, because they were in favor of the Christian prayer, which took your article to be. You know better than I do, I’m sure, that that isn’t what your article was about, and I’d like to apologize for my stupid comments. /:

  12. Okay, this makes me laugh. Why would an atheist who supposedly, by claiming to be an atheist, doesn’t believe in any God much less THE God that this prayer is all about care whether anyone would pray to any God? I see it as some kid wanting his 15 minutes of fame and being a bully in the process. I wonder which of his parents put him up to this….

  13. While, as a borderline atheist, I do agree with some of Damon’s point (the part that says that state-sanctioned prayer is implicitly exclusionary to atheists/agnostics/non-praying religions/etc., even if the intent was not to do so), I would like to say that many of my fellow nonbelievers who have commentated on this really need to reengage their sense of civility and rationality. And also their research skills; a lot of Jack’s favorite comments and commentators have been those who have disagreed with him (sometimes quite vehemently); hell, I still think he’s wrong about the Tera Myers incident.

    P.S. While the analogy with race commentator Wut? made was misapplied, you could make a comparison with race if the school had scheduled a graduation speech on the virtues of the white race alone; even if no derogatory comments were made about the black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. students in the audience, a case could be made that the school was being implicitly discriminatory.

    P.S.S. As wishy-washy and PC as it may sound to some of you, I’d be fine with the compromise of having a moment of silence instead of a prayer myself.

    • Re: the speech. A speech cannot be unconstitutional—the First Amendment cuts the other way. Your analogy would be, at very least, a very dubious legal proposition. Would it justify a walk-out by anyone with a sense of decency? Sure. Firing the fool who scheduled it? Yes. But its not a good match to a prayer at all. Also a white supremacy speech by definition is a direct affront to non-whites. You will never convince me that a prayer is a similarly directed attack on non-believers. Asserting a position that differs from your own does not make someone a hostile party.

  14. So it is flabbergasting for theists to believe that listening to idle requests of a god others may not acknowledge is stressful, in any way, but asking for an omission of said idle request, such omission being the only legal way to handle the situation, is oh-so-very upsetting?

    • Gee, well, can you understand that it’s less stressful for one person to have to sample a food he’s not fond of and that isn’t in his regular diet than to force many people not to have any nourishment at all?

      Ethics Quiz! If it’s between one or the other, which is the more ethical choice? Come on–-it’s easy!

      And who the hell are you calling a “theist”? ME? Are you KIDDING?

  15. It’s becoming pretty clear to me what is going on here. The more vociferous posters, who I have checked out, are overwhelmingly not merely atheists but anti-religion activists. That explains the hostility—they reject any equivalency between the wants and needs of a non-believer (the good, wise, brace and right) and those of the religious (the foolish, rigid and ignorant). That precludes any balancing of results, and explains why anyone who attempt to take a neutral position is “siding with the enemy.” Zealotry is toxic to ethical reasoning.

    But then, we knew that.

    • For the record, I am not an atheist, but I do believe this young man is extremely courageous and deserves support. The most shameful in this incident are his parents.

      • I don’t dispute the courageous part, but courage is a trait that can be misapplied, and this is an an example. Indeed it take courage to turn one’s entire community against yourself—whether it is wise, fair, productive or prudent is a completely different question.

  16. Pingback: The price of a stand « Sohum Parlance II

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