Ethics Quiz: Censoring a First Grader’s Poem

No-GodThis is a different kind of ethics quiz, because the question is where the blame for an unethical result lies. The result is clearly wrong, but I am uncertain who or what should be blamed for it.

A first-grade student in North Carolina wrote a Veterans Day poem honoring her grandfather, a Vietnam veteran. She had been selected to read the poem at a November 8 Veterans Day ceremony.   One of the lines was, “He prayed to God for peace, he prayed to God for strength.”

The Horror.

The school forced her to remove the line.

This is, of course, offensive, abusive and absurd. If the man prayed to God, and his granddaughter was writing about him, then there could be nothing objectionable about her accurately stating the facts of his life. Of course, the school was taking pre-emptive action to avert the kind of expensive and time-consuming controversy aggressive atheist groups stir up to further their anti-religion agenda, and its judgment seems to be validated by First Amendment Center president and CEO Ken Paulson, who told CBS News  that the school was legally obligated to delete the reference to God, because public schools cannot sanction religious messages in captive environments like classrooms or assemblies.  Then again, his is position is utter, extremist  nonsense. If the child stated in a poem that her grandfather ate a neighbor a day, the school could not be accused of “sanctioning cannibalism.”  If she said her grandfather was a Republican, or a vegan, or a pacifist, that wouldn’t be an endorsement by the school or the state of these things. This was a child’s poem, and like a child’s essay or anything else a student authors, the sentiment expressed is the child’s, not the school’s or the government’s. Furthermore, she was stating a fact, and stating a fact is not proselytizing or in any way “establishing” a state religion. Indeed, there was nothing in her poem to suggest that she believed in God, or worshiped as her grandfather did, Censoring a creative expression by anyone, especially a child, does tangible harm—to her, to her artistic creation, and to every student. Moreover, the clear message of censoring a benign reference to a man’s genuine religious practices as related by his grandchild is an anti-religious one, which is just as constitutionally objectionable state action as conduct promoting religion.

And it wrecked a little girl’s poem.

Thus I stipulate that the result here was unequivocally wrongful, harmful, and contrary to both logic and fairness. Your Ethics Quiz is, therefore, this:

Who is the responsible party?

The candidates:

  • The relentless, over-reaching anti-religious bullies, who have shown themselves willing to terrorize communities, schools and institutions over such trivial activities in “support of religion” as the singing of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
  • Cowardly and conflict-averse school administrators, who would prefer to mistreat an innocent 6 year-old than stand up to irrational zealots.
  • The courts, which have allowed legitimate restrictions on religious endorsement by local and state governments to be distorted into grotesque and irrational  persecutions of harmless and innocent conduct.
  • The student, for daring to mention that her grandfather had the audacity to pray in this enlightened age.
  • Or nobody. The result is the correct one. The intent of the Constitution was to prevent any reference to religion whatsoever in a government-funded activity, be it in a narrative, a work of art, a speech, a ceremony, a lesson, or anything else, because as we all know, to mention something is to endorse it.

____________________________________

Source: Daily Caller

Graphic: Education News

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

157 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Censoring a First Grader’s Poem

  1. The actors from line 2 are directly responsible. Reacting as they did to an environment created by actors from line 1 and 3.

    I’m not certain of this, but it could be said that it would seem that the school program (essentially belonging to the school) can be adjusted as desired by the administrators, up to and including approving the content of the program.

    They are not technically wrong for doing so, simply because they can do so, if only from the standpoint that it is their program. However they made their decision out of expediency to avoid conflict.

    I’m uncertain of the assertions of those last 2 paragraphs because I have not done a great deal of meditation on this topic. But as for the cut and dry straightforward answer…my 1st paragraph suffices.

      • Then I stand by my 1st paragraph. The administrators made the decision to do this, although not technically wrong, it is wrong to censor that, and they chose to do this not because they agree with the actors from line 1 or 3, but simply to avoid the hassle of opposing them. They took the easy way out and bullied a little girl instead of standing up to adults.

            • No it isn’t.

              Partisan may include zealotry, but zealotry does not mean partisan.

              A person may be zealously for the 1st Amendment — if they are honest zealots, they would bemoan it’s violation on both sides of any political disagreement and therefore not partisan.

              These particular zealots are partisan because they are noticeably quiet until a potentially loose connection with Christianitycan be even more loosely accused of violating the 1st Amendment.

              I think your quick accusation that Jack claimed partisan motives was very Freudian on your part.

              • Or you could just not understand the term partisan. That could be it.

                Your comments about what the free speech backers support is just wrong. The religion being pushed or attacked doesn’t matter. There are considerably more violations from Christians (as they are the dominant religion), so they are called out considerably more often. Can you point to some specific examples of double standards?

            • Someone could be a non-partisan zealot, or a zealot regarding an issue this non-partisan. I was using partisan in the party-affiliation sense, hence the misunderstanding. Yes—in a general sense of the word, you’re right.

            • The federal government is duty bound to protect religious freedom and speech by the tenets of the First Amendment alone. It’s the dangerous and “partisan” concept that such things are to be repressed in any public setting that are the issue.

                • It’s time you emerged from the basement and took a look around, TGT. The 1st Amendment has been perverted against all public displays of the
                  Christian faith. But then again, what part of the Constitution HASN’T been perverted by the Left? The suppression of Christianity is a key factor in their goal to suppress (and eliminate) the Constitution itself.

                  • Seriously? There aren’t a dozen nativity scenes in my neighborhood? People don’t have christian fish bumperstickers and magnets on their cars? Hell, the president gave a full on goddy speech on Sunday night.

                    • Those are the ones they haven’t got around to, yet. The first steps have been to ban or intimidate any religious expression in schools or other public institutions. The rest will follow in time. Death of a thousand cuts. Obama giving a “goddy” speech means absolutely nothing. He’s no more a Christian than you are, as his deeds have aptly demonstrated.

                    • That’s just random conspiracy theory nuttery and lies. Nobody is banning religious expression in schools. They’re banning school backing religious expression, and places where religious expression interferes with other rights (kind of like how you still can’t murder people even if your religion says you should).

                    • How does it “interfere” with anyone, TGT? It’s a constitutionally protected right. To allow children OR adults the ability to freely express their faith in God is as important to the well being of our society as that of political expression. Moreso, in my opinion. But those rights expressed in the 1st Amendment are the foundation of the entire Bill of Rights and, hence, of the Constitution itself. The attacks on those rights and the perversion of them by redefinition are a major part of the Left’s program to dismantle the Constitution.

                    • SMP,

                      I was referencing cases such as the clerk’s who illegally treat people differently because there religion thinks the people should be treated differently.

                      My statement was an A and B. This case was not the same as pure expression.

                    • No. You were attempting to justify religious persecution based on your on precepts. So are a lot of others. Those who do this are not only doing so in fear of the influence of the Christian creed (which they despise) but in order to collapse the Constitution through the degradation of the 1st Amendment.

                    • There’s nothing in your statement that shows anything wrong in my statement. Your “no” was inappropriate.

                      As for your random attack here, you are ignoring a major premise: government employees in their official duties count as government actors. Government actors, rightly, are held to a different standard than individual actors. I’m sure you’d have an issue if a gay clerk refused to marry two christians. You’d call that religious persecution, and you’d be right. Your calling out the problem would not be religious persecution. Just like my calling out of christians refusing to marry gays is not an example of religious persecution.

                      If you think a government official being limited in the course of doing their job involves the first amendment, you may need to learn about the first amendment a little more.

  2. I think it is the school administrator’s failure here. Requiring the revision after the student wrote the poem shows at a minimum poor planning and and at worst callous disregard for the child. Had administrators made clear to the student, and especially her parents, that references to God were not allowed, then the school could legitimately require the student to remove the reference. This would still be cowardly on the schools part, but it would give them ethical standing to ask for the revision.

  3. Those named in your second bullet, first and foremost: “Cowardly and conflict-averse school administrators.” The others are just convenient scapegoats for the schoolhouse bullies.

    By the same logic used by those who bullied that little girl, the National Endowment for the Arts should have to pay-up a big penance for even considering display of “Piss Christ,” let alone actually displaying it.

    And no publicly administered fire department resources whatsoever should ever be allowed to respond to calls about burning crosses on private citizens’ properties, let alone actually extinguish such fires.

    I have to admit though, this tyranny-by-pathological-pettiness is becoming more and more attractive to me. I might just have to hop onto that wagon and ride along. I can do petty. I can be offended by the early morning sunlight, and guilt-trip all of creation (excuse me! evolution) for it.

    I think that little girl should be allowed on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show to read her poem live in prime time.
    (hahahahahaaaaaa!)

  4. Obviously number 2 is directly at fault in this scenario, but we can’t absolve numbers 1 and 3 from thier responsibility. Sure, number 2 acted in a cowardly way – but it was to avoid being threatened by the rampaging bullies numbers 1 and 3. If I run around putting a gun to people’s heads every time they curse, is it really someone else’s fault for them slapping a hand over a child’s mouth when I’m in the room?

    • It’s definitely bullying to sue people when they violate the constitution. It’s also clearly bullying to enforce the constitution.

      Next you’re going to tell me it’s bullying to sue people over and enforce the 4th amendment.

      • It’s bullying to use the threat of expensive litigation to squelch harmless activities like reading poems at school assemblies, as if a 6 year old’s memories about a relative’s religiosity is indoctrination. It’s bullying to use a threat of litigation to ban the singing of Christmas Carols in school, when they are part of the cultural trappings of Christmas. Using litigation as a club is indeed bullying, whether the action can be technically justified under constitutional law or not. The law gives all of us endless chances to harass our neighbors and bend them to our will. Ethical, fair and considerate people apply proportion and consideration . Bullies don’t.

        • It’s bullying to use the threat of expensive litigation to squelch harmless activities like reading poems at school assemblies

          Who has done that? That wasn’t even done in this case.

          It’s bullying to use a threat of litigation to ban the singing of Christmas Carols in school, when they are part of the cultural trappings of Christmas.

          See the error in your statement?

          Using litigation as a club is indeed bullying, whether the action can be technically justified under constitutional law or not. The law gives all of us endless chances to harass our neighbors and bend them to our will. Ethical, fair and considerate people apply proportion and consideration . Bullies don’t.

          Fighting unconstitutional behavior through the legal, culturally approved method of fighting unconstitutional behavior is bullying. You should sit in silence until the majority changes their mind.

          And the suits are almost always filed only AFTER negotiations where the infringing group fails to correct their behavior. The suits tend to ask for nothing more than injunctions, attorney’s fees, and some pretty reasonable undoings of harm (like wiping a 3 day suspension off a kid’s record and letting them make up missed work). There’s nothing disproportionate in the litigation.

          So, in summation: discuss the problems with an infringer. If they fail to correct their behavior. Go to the authorities to get them to correct their behavior. How in the world is this bullying?

          • The error in your statement was in claiming that if religion is mainstream, it doesn’t count as religion anymore. When government backs mainstreamed religious ideas, they’re still backing religion. This is exactly the opposite of the point of the freedom of religion. It’s a tyranny of the majority religious position.

            It’s expected and fine for the culture to be built up by the dominant religion, but when the government backs it, we’ve got a major problem.

            • It’s a tyranny?

              For a guy who bemoans the improper use of a word, even a minor misuse in regards to definitions, you sure don’t mind doing so in support of your side.

              It is not a tyranny.

              Now for all your mistakes:

              “The error in your statement was in claiming that if religion is mainstream, it doesn’t count as religion anymore.”

              Where does he say that? He mentioned that if Christmas is to be part of a school program, then Christmas carols ought to as well. It’s funny, in school, we learned about Hannukah (and even took part in Jewish cultural practices), we learned about Ramadan, we learned about Kwanzaa (and partook in its cultural practices). I didn’t see any activists speaking out against that religious ‘indoctrination’. Nay, it was imposed because it was for cultural ‘diversity’.

              It is always amusing how very selective the activists are that you defend. Almost as though you are the one making exception for something being mainstream. Since Christianity is mainstream, it doesn’t deserve the same exceptions the others do according to your logic.

              “When government backs mainstreamed religious ideas, they’re still backing religion. This is exactly the opposite of the point of the freedom of religion.”

              First of all, a little girl mentioning that her relative believed in and had faith in God at a school a program is about 2 million miles from your State of Bizarria passing legislation compelling your church attendance or any legistlation derived from religious arguments (which is what separation of Church and State is for).

              -Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof-

              Only in extreme paranoid-ville or worse in shrouded-hatred-of-Christianity-ville can that little girl’s mention of God at all be analogous to Congress making a law respecting establishment of making a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

              “It’s expected and fine for the culture to be built up by the dominant religion, but when the government backs it, we’ve got a major problem.”

              Even though as a nation we are past this: You know what is even more amusing, is that specific amendment was written in a time when the National level of the Federal government completely understood and tolerated each individual state passing laws in respect to religion and its exercise thereof…hence predicating the entire amendment with the phrase “CONGRESS shall make no law…”

              Now on to your illogical paranoia. Again, the little girl mentioning her relative’s faith is equitable to a government backing religion just does not make sense. How many mental connections and logical processes have to be bypassed to make that connection?

              “”It’s bullying to use the threat of expensive litigation to squelch harmless activities like reading poems at school assemblies

              Who has done that? That wasn’t even done in this case.”

              No one has said that bullying occurred by the malicious activists you are so enamored to. We are discussing the cowardice at the hands of the school administrators out of fear of potential bullying by those activists…with nothing but historic examples to prove they would be bullied by them.

              “It’s bullying to use a threat of litigation to ban the singing of Christmas Carols in school, when they are part of the cultural trappings of Christmas.

              See the error in your statement?”

              There is no error in his statement. I refer to my opening discussion in this response.

              See the error in YOUR statement?

              “So, in summation: discuss the problems with an infringer. If they fail to correct their behavior. Go to the authorities to get them to correct their behavior. How in the world is this bullying?”

              Sure THAT isn’t bullying when you water it down into harmless terms as the defense of bureaucrats often do.

              • tyranny

                I don’t know what you think I did wrong here. You didn’t explain it. “A tyranny of the majority” is a common turn of phrase, and I believe I used it properly here.

                Mainstreamed religion

                “The error in your statement was in claiming that if religion is mainstream, it doesn’t count as religion anymore.”

                Where does he say that?

                He didn’t say that directly. I pointed out that that was inherent in his argument. I then proceeded to explain why that was inherent in his argument.

                You then sidetracked into an unrelated point on multiculturalism and a second unrelated point on your belief in activist selectivity. Neither have anything to do with what I said.

                “When government backs mainstreamed religious ideas, they’re still backing religion. This is exactly the opposite of the point of the freedom of religion.”

                First of all, a little girl mentioning that her relative believed in and had faith in God at a school a program is about 2 million miles from your State of Bizarria passing legislation compelling your church attendance or any legistlation derived from religious arguments (which is what separation of Church and State is for).

                -Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof-

                Only in extreme paranoid-ville or worse in shrouded-hatred-of-Christianity-ville can that little girl’s mention of God at all be analogous to Congress making a law respecting establishment of making a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

                Your first of all has nothing to do with my comments. We’re not talking about the poem in this chunk of the subthread. We’re talking about suing for things that are violations and whether or not religious cultural traditions can/should be backed by the government.

                I’d discuss your follow on points here, but you didn’t follow up the first of all with anything.

                “It’s expected and fine for the culture to be built up by the dominant religion, but when the government backs it, we’ve got a major problem.”

                Even though as a nation we are past this: You know what is even more amusing, is that specific amendment was written in a time when the National level of the Federal government completely understood and tolerated each individual state passing laws in respect to religion and its exercise thereof…hence predicating the entire amendment with the phrase “CONGRESS shall make no law…”

                This is incoherent. Honestly, there is no meaning in this (for lack of a better word) sentence. As such I’m gonna guess at your meaning. My apologies if I’m wrong.

                First, I think you might be saying that we’ve already decided if it’s okay for the government to back religion so long as the religion is common tradition. Unfortunately, I can’t pick out any reasoning behind that statement.

                Second, I think you’re trying to make a point about the limitations of the first amendment. Of course, since the 14th amendment, any argument you may have had there is irrelevant.

                Now on to your illogical paranoia. Again, the little girl mentioning her relative’s faith is equitable to a government backing religion just does not make sense. How many mental connections and logical processes have to be bypassed to make that connection?

                I don’t know. I didn’t make that connection.

                legislation is bullying

                “”It’s bullying to use the threat of expensive litigation to squelch harmless activities like reading poems at school assemblies

                Who has done that? That wasn’t even done in this case.”

                No one has said that bullying occurred by the malicious activists you are so enamored to. We are discussing the cowardice at the hands of the school administrators out of fear of potential bullying by those activists…with nothing but historic examples to prove they would be bullied by them.

                Not in this subthread. In this subthread we aren’t talking about the school administrators at all.

                Summation:

                “So, in summation: discuss the problems with an infringer. If they fail to correct their behavior. Go to the authorities to get them to correct their behavior. How in the world is this bullying?”

                Sure THAT isn’t bullying when you water it down into harmless terms as the defense of bureaucrats often do.

                This is exactly what’s occurring. There’s no name calling. There are no attempts to prey on people. The only thing that is going on is one party behaving illegally and another party trying to get them to stop….and trying to get them to stop by working with them and only going adversarial when that doesn’t work.

                All I see here is a poisoning the well. No actual argument for why my breakdown is incorrect.

                Notes:

                You seem to be arguing with chimera alot. Twice did you say anything relevant to this subthread, and in neither place did you do anything other than make assertions.

                • —on association with an undesirable condition

                  “I don’t know what you think I did wrong here. You didn’t explain it. “A tyranny of the majority” is a common turn of phrase, and I believe I used it properly here.” -TGT

                  Except that it takes a million mile leap to take a little girl’s mention of her Grandfather’s faith during a school program and equate it to a tyrannical imposition of a Religion onto the masses by a State. So yes, improperly used

                  —on needing to clarify other people’s opinions for them

                  “He didn’t say that directly. I pointed out that that was inherent in his argument.” –TGT

                  Paraphrased: “I needed to add that meaning to his argument to make my following points semi-valid.”

                  Since he didn’t say that, your following points were indeed invalid.

                  —on diverting a topic by accusing others of diversion

                  As long as you continue to the defend the activists who didn’t even get to rear their ugly heads because the school administrator’s wimped out, even though the activists aren’t the discussion (acting out of fear of those activists IS the discussion):

                  “You then sidetracked into an unrelated point on multiculturalism and a second unrelated point on your belief in activist selectivity. Neither have anything to do with what I said.” -TGT

                  Do you see how irresponsible your comment is? No? Of course not, because my statement was COMPLETELY related. I pointed out all the activities which we experienced IN SCHOOL derived from a plethora of other RELIGIONS. I pointed out how none of the activists who vehemently proclaim “Separation of Church and State” certainly weren’t there then…Nay as you put it, it is “Multiculturalism”. Yet this little girl makes the mere mention of God and how her relative’s faith in Him kept him going. Now out comes “Separation of Church and State” rhetoric. Since you cling to the dictionary like the Christian’s cling to their bible, look up the definition of “hypocrisy” and “double standard”.

                  —on further diversions, although more subtle

                  “We’re not talking about the poem in this chunk of the subthread. We’re talking about suing for things that are violations and whether or not religious cultural traditions can/should be backed by the government.” –TGT

                  We ARE talking about the poem in this ‘chunk’ of the sub-thread. Please refer to the 1st sentence of the paragraph you ‘refuted’ when you added additional meaning to it. You may recall that sentence, where it was mentioned we are discussing how it is bullying to threaten litigation when HARMLESS acts are committed.

                  “ “Now on to your illogical paranoia. Again, the little girl mentioning her relative’s faith is equitable to a government backing religion just does not make sense. How many mental connections and logical processes have to be bypassed to make that connection?”
                  I don’t know. I didn’t make that connection.” –TGT

                  Yes you did, else you wouldn’t have made the silly “Tyranny of the Majority” comment.

                  on taking the other side’s assertion, modifying it slight & restating it as your own, expecting that to work

                  <> -TGT

                  Sigh. I must repeat myself…again. “We are discussing the cowardice at the hands of the school administrators out of fear of potential bullying by those activists”

                  Reference, Aaron Paschall’s post before you respond again.

                  “This is exactly what’s occurring. There’s no name calling. There are no attempts to prey on people. The only thing that is going on is one party behaving illegally and another party trying to get them to stop….and trying to get them to stop by working with them and only going adversarial when that doesn’t work.” –TGT

                  Actually, it never even got to that point. As again, since you forget this thread’s topic is about how the school administrators chose the easy way out by stopping a little girl’s harmless mention of faith and God so as not to incur the vindictive wrath of the neer-do-wells.

                  “All I see here is a poisoning the well. No actual argument for why my breakdown is incorrect.” –TGT

                  Except there was. You just can’t stand it.

                  —Notes:
                  You seem to utilize incessant logical fallacies and subtle sophistry to avoid responsible answers to anything sent your way.

                  • This entire excerpt goes between the “” –

                    ““”It’s bullying to use the threat of expensive litigation to squelch harmless activities like reading poems at school assemblies
                    Who has done that? That wasn’t even done in this case.”
                    No one has said that bullying occurred by the malicious activists you are so enamored to. We are discussing the cowardice at the hands of the school administrators out of fear of potential bullying by those activists…with nothing but historic examples to prove they would be bullied by them.
                    Not in this subthread. In this subthread we aren’t talking about the school administrators at all.”

                    Not sure why it deleted.

                  • Tyranny
                    I didn’t do what you’re accusing me of.

                    On not understanding English
                    Statements have meaning and inherent assumptions. Unless you can say why what I said was wrong, you have no leg to stand on.

                    Diversion

                    I’m not diverting anything. This subthread IS NOT ABOUT THE ADMINISTRATION or THE POEM. I’ve pointed this out repeatedly. Please reread this subthread.

                    Multiculturalism and Activists

                    You rant some more, but it still has nothing to do with the topic at hand here. The closest you come is a new allegation (which you erroneously claim you made before) that everything that occurs in school is derived from religion. That an activity was derived from religion does not mean it is religious. Renaissance scientists thought they were working for God, but that doesn’t mean science now is religion.

                    The comments about hypocrisy and the like are still irrelevant, but they’re also wrong. You didn’t even point to anything that was hypocritical.

                    More Diversion

                    You reference harmless bullies misses the context entirely. The poem was Jack’s attempt at an example of something that it would be bullying to threaten litigation over. Since nobody threatened litigation in this case, the statement was invalid.

                    My connections about the poem

                    The tyranny of the majority question had nothing to do with this poem. Here’s the quote in full context: “The error in your statement was in claiming that if religion is mainstream, it doesn’t count as religion anymore. When government backs mainstreamed religious ideas, they’re still backing religion. This is exactly the opposite of the point of the freedom of religion. It’s a tyranny of the majority religious position.”

                    There’s nothing about a little girl’s poem in there. There’s no attempt to tie it back to the little girl’s poem. Hell, my first comment in this thread clearly noted that there’s nothing wrong with the little girl’s poem and I have said nothing to contradict that. You aren’t following the discussion that was occurring between me and Jack.

                    places that I’m lost
                    on taking the other side’s assertion, modifying it slight & restating it as your own, expecting that to work

                    I have no idea what you’re talking about here.

                    Reference, Aaron Paschall’s post before you respond again.

                    Aaron’s post isn’t in this subthread and doesn’t discuss the topics in this subthread. His post has no bearing on this.

                    where you continue to ignore reason

                    “This is exactly what’s occurring. There’s no name calling. There are no attempts to prey on people. The only thing that is going on is one party behaving illegally and another party trying to get them to stop….and trying to get them to stop by working with them and only going adversarial when that doesn’t work.” –TGT

                    Actually, it never even got to that point. As again, since you forget this thread’s topic is about how the school administrators chose the easy way out by stopping a little girl’s harmless mention of faith and God so as not to incur the vindictive wrath of the neer-do-wells.

                    You still are an idiot. This subthread was specifically about whether the tactics of first amendment proponents is bullying.

                    If you don’t want to weigh in on the topic at hand, don’t jump in here. There are plenty of other places in the comments here where we are talking about the school administrators.

                    Why the litigation is not bullying

                    “All I see here is a poisoning the well. No actual argument for why my breakdown is incorrect.” –TGT

                    Except there was. You just can’t stand it.

                    Please quote what the breakdown was. I may have missed it.

                    —Notes:
                    You seem to utilize incessant logical fallacies and subtle sophistry to avoid responsible answers to anything sent your way.

                    What logical fallacies? You haven’t pointed out a single one. The sophistry charge has at least attempts to back it above, but they all fall prey to serious errors on your part as noted by each.

                    • “Tyranny” -TGT
                      Yes, you made a massively hyperbolic statement equating the child’s poem to tyranny. Discussion closed. I’m not continuing down your childish rat-hole of “yes you did – no I didn’t neener neener” argument.

                      “I’m not diverting anything. This subthread IS NOT ABOUT THE ADMINISTRATION or THE POEM. I’ve pointed this out repeatedly. Please reread this subthread.” -TGT

                      ‘Obviously number 2 is directly at fault in this scenario’ -Aaron Paschall at 12:49 pm —- The Administration
                      ‘It’s bullying to use the threat of expensive litigation to squelch harmless activities like reading poems at school assemblies, as if a 6 year old’s memories about a relative’s religiosity is indoctrination’ – Jack at 3:43 pm. ——— the Poem
                      I didn’t think you had re-read it. Also, pointing something out repeatedly, when wrong, like your comment, only makes you repeatedly wrong, a trademark over which you maintain almost monopolistic control.

                      “You rant some more, but it still has nothing to do with the topic at hand here. The closest you come is a new allegation (which you erroneously claim you made before) that everything that occurs in school is derived from religion. That an activity was derived from religion does not mean it is religious. Renaissance scientists thought they were working for God, but that doesn’t mean science now is religion.” –TGT
                      Paraphrased as “I don’t like how you pointed out my double standard, therefore I will accuse you of ranting”.
                      I never said EVERYTHING in school, just the religious events we did partake in, which according to you, as long as it isn’t the mainstream religion then it is just multicultural education. Once someone mentions God or faith associated with Christianity, DEAR GOVERNMENT IN HEAVEN!!! Stop that indoctrination!!! Violation of 1st Amendment!!!!!

                      “You reference harmless bullies misses the context entirely. The poem was Jack’s attempt at an example of something that it would be bullying to threaten litigation over. Since nobody threatened litigation in this case, the statement was invalid.” -TGT

                      At this point you picked up your toys and went home then came back to reset. Since your misreading and obfuscation are again muddling the discussion as per TGT SOP, I’ll stipulate a fair reset at this point. It just gives you more things to be wrong about:

                      “The error in your statement was in claiming that if religion is mainstream, it doesn’t count as religion anymore. When government backs mainstreamed religious ideas, they’re still backing religion. This is exactly the opposite of the point of the freedom of religion. It’s a tyranny of the majority religious position

                      There’s nothing about a little girl’s poem in there. There’s no attempt to tie it back to the little girl’s poem. Hell, my first comment in this thread clearly noted that there’s nothing wrong with the little girl’s poem and I have said nothing to contradict that. You aren’t following the discussion that was occurring between me and Jack.” –TGT

                      So, I assume your comment is directed towards Jack’s specific line saying “It’s bullying to use a threat of litigation to ban the singing of Christmas Carols in school, when they are part of the cultural trappings of Christmas.” If it directed at any other line in his paragraph then you have grossly misread what he wrote. But, if indeed you are directing your comment towards that specific line then you are only grossly applying logical fallacy.

                      When you say ‘government backs mainstream religious ideas’, I assume that is an identification of Jack saying ‘singing of Christmas Carols in school’. If so, you will continue on with your double standard, summarized as: learning the ‘cultural trappings’ of a mainstream religion is ‘tyranny of the majority’ whereas learning the ‘cultural trappings’ of a non-mainstream religion is just ‘multiculturalism’.

                      “Aaron’s post isn’t in this subthread and doesn’t discuss the topics in this subthread. His post has no bearing on this.” –TGT
                      Are you really that blind? Aaron’s post STARTED this whole sub-thread. Jack’s post (3:43 pm 7 Dec), which has you so contentious was a response to your post (3:35 pm 7 Dec), which in turn shows up on this page as a response to Aaron’s post (12:49 pm 7 Dec).
                      Now, I’ll give you a pass and never bring up Aaron’s post again in this context if you were mis-firing with the mouse and became click-happy on the wrong reply link for your 3:35 response.

                      “You still are an idiot.” –TGT

                      When logical fallacy and rhetorical irresponsibility fails, resort to the final rhetorical irresponsibility – ad hominem.

                      “Please quote what the breakdown was. I may have missed it.” –TGT

                      Every single response is a break down. Get some glasses.

                    • Tyranny

                      You again accuse me of something that I didn’t do. I didn’t equate the child’s poem to tyranny. I equated allowing religion in government because the religion is the majority culture to tyranny. This shouldn’t be difficult to understand.

                      Diversion

                      My 3:35 comment to Aaron directly attacked the bullying comments, not the behavior of the administration. I didn’t say anything about Aaron’s comments about the administration. Everything down from there was about bullying. The Jack’s passage that you quoted in response to me follows up on the discussion of the supposed bullies. They are clearly the object in that comment, not the administration.

                      Fuck it. You don’t understand English

                      Seriously. I never backed multiculteralism. I pointed out that your comments about cultural diversity (multiculturalism) had nothing to do with anything that was being discussed. The adding of Ramadan, Kwanzaa, and non Christian religious holidays into school was a stupid idea and is opposed by secular voices. The people pushing for adding other religions than Christianity are okay with Christianity as well. These are interfaith idiots. Not secularists. Some secularists threw in with them in the 80s, but they’ve split now. They’re completely different people than those that oppose religion. You have no idea who the players are in the various conflicts and are completely making stuff up about them. When I don’t engage your random non sequiturs, you accuse me of agreeing with the boogie men in your random non sequiturs. This is completely ridiculous.

                      Everything derived from religion

                      I misread you here. My mistake. I fully retract my comments there.

                      The reset
                      You failed again due to your combination of interfaith multiculturalism and secularism. I believe that backing less popular religions is also bad.

                      Aaron’s post

                      I brainfarted. His post did start this subthread. I retract that as well. On the larger point though of referencing his post, that’s handled above. Aaron said X, Y, and Z. I took issue with Z, jack jumped in about Z and off we went. The subthread that you jumped into between Jack and I was no longer about X and Y.

                      Ad hominem

                      That wasn’t an ad hominem. That was a conclusion. I wasn’t using an attack on you to discredit your argument. I was discrediting your argument and saying that thinking such an idiotic thing made you an idiot.

                      Breakdown

                      There was a specific breakdown being referenced. Here’s the exchange:


                      Me1: So, in summation: discuss the problems with an infringer. If they fail to correct their behavior. Go to the authorities to get them to correct their behavior. How in the world is this bullying?

                      You: Sure THAT isn’t bullying when you water it down into harmless terms as the defense of bureaucrats often do.

                      Me2: This is exactly what’s occurring. There’s no name calling. There are no attempts to prey on people. The only thing that is going on is one party behaving illegally and another party trying to get them to stop….and trying to get them to stop by working with them and only going adversarial when that doesn’t work.

                      All I see here is a poisoning the well. No actual argument for why my breakdown is incorrect.

                      — In that exchange, you quoted Me1 and responded with You. I quoted both Me1 and You in my response. I assume your loss of traceability here was either a misread or a brainfart. Now that you see what it is, care to respond? (I was thinking the reference to bureaucrats was poisoning the well, but it might not fit exactly in that fallacy. There’s really a missing premise that begs the question: That I’m “watering down” what’s occurring.

                    • I immediately regret my “Fuck it, you don’t understand English” heading. I apologize wholeheartedly for that.

              • Uh, what the hell are you talking about. Where are their references to the 10 commandments or the bible in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, or the Declaration of Independence? Hint: they don’t exist.

                There is one reference to god in the Declaration of Independence, no references in the Constitution, and but a couple in the federalist papers (where they are talking about natural law or non-christian gods).

                References to Jesus in any of these documents? 0.

                • By “founding document”, I refer to those that shaped the American ideal PRIOR to the Constitution. The Constitution and the Federalist Papers were, after all, operational documents, not moral statements. The Declaration, however, abounds with God references. So does the Mayflower Compact and other colonial scripts. The part played by the Christian faith in the works of the Founders and the Framers are displayed well in their quotes and correspondence. Just because God or Jesus are not specifically mentioned in a document does not equate their being denied or censored.

                  • 1) The constitution is the definition of a founding document. The constitution is what made the United States exist.

                    2) The Declaration, as mentioned, has a single reference to God.

                    3) Documents from hundreds of years before the founding of the United States are not founding documents

                    4) The federalist papers are the explanation of the founding principles of the United States. I absolutely agree that Christian faith played a role in the opinions of the founders and framers, but that’s (1) pretty vacuous, and (2) not relevant to the topic. Even if the founding of the country was directly inspired as a way to pay homage to “the Lord”, that doesn’t say anything about what the Government can and cannot do or what is or is not okay.

                    5) I didn’t saying anything about censorship or denial of God. Independence from religion is not the same thing. You’re arguing with a strawman again.

                    • “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”- Patrick Henry

                      You might want to read the Mayflower Compact sometime, too. It was practically a sermon! Strawmen? If so, this country was founded by scarecrows!

                    • Patrick Henry “quote”
                      A. A random quotation doesn’t prove anything
                      B. Patrick Henry was against the constitution
                      C. It wasn’t even said by Patrick Henry. It was written in 1956: http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/07/03/fake-patrick-henry-quote-found/

                      Take your pick.

                      The Mayflower compact

                      As noted in 3 above, this is not a founding document of the United States. It was a founding document of the Plymouth colony.

                      Where are you getting your crappy information?

                    • 1. Patrick Henry’s speeches were hardly random quotations.
                      2. A lot of people were against the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added. You know, that thing that liberals hate so much?
                      3. You want to belive that? Go right ahead.
                      4. The Mayflower Compact was the first political document written on these shores and was an object of study and veneration ever after. Of course, it influenced the framers. How could it not?
                      5. My “crappy” information beats out your deceitful excrement any day.
                      6. Merry Christmas.

                    • 1. Yes, a chunk of a speech by Patrick Henry IS a random quotation.
                      2. It still is true that Patrick Henry was against the constitution and was against the lack of religious language. He was against the lack of religious language in the Bill of Rights as well.
                      3. I am flabbergasted by your complete stupidity. If you think there’s a problem with my citation, what is it? I’d love to evidence that it’s wrong.
                      4. Moving the goalposts. That the Mayflower conduct likely influenced the founders doesn’t mean that the Mayflower conduct was a founding document. My comments to you probably influence your other posts in some way, but that doesn’t mean that my comments are founding documents of your understanding of the world. Your posts explain your understanding, not mine.
                      5. I’ve pointed to specific evidence that your information is wrong. You don’t like my information because it conflicts with your false beliefs. Deal with it, or show that your information should be believed.

                    • Do have any conception of how much of America’s founding heritage you have already dismissed as “random” and how much more you’ll have to abrogate in order to make your worldview fit? Get over it, TGT. What you’re attempting to do is impose a sterile, alien mandate upon the entire country for the sake of your atheistic and anti-American ego. And it’s gotten to the point with you that an innocent child’s poem, citing virtue through her love of God, has become an act of “tyranny”… the same sort of tyranny (no doubt) with which you view the Declaration, the Constitution, the Holy Bible and any other treatise upon which this nation was founded. May I suggest that the only tyranny involved here is that which you and your compatriots would impose upon us by the abolition of our heritage. In closing, I’d like to express my own amazement at your stupidity in thinking that your nitpicking diversions can conceal from me or anyone else the utter nihilism of what you preach.

                    • This rant has nothing to do with my comments. As usual, when you’re shown to be wrong, you lash out at the person pointing out that you’re wrong.

  5. The relentless, over-reaching anti-religious bullies, who have shown themselves willing to terrorize communities, schools and institutions over such trivial activities in “support of religion” as the singing of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

    That’s just insane. There is no terrorizing being done by secularists, they aren’t bullies, and they aren’t necessarily anti-religion.

    The courts, which have allowed legitimate restrictions on religious endorsement by local and state governments to be distorted into grotesque and irrational persecutions of harmless and innocent conduct.

    Name one “distortion” that the court has supported.

    —-

    The answer to this question requires information we don’t have. If the poem was written specifically for the assembly, I think it was right to be edited.

    If the assignment was simply to write a poem or story about Veteran’s Day (or whatever) and the poem was then selected to be read because it was the best, the only possibilities I see are “read it as is” or “don’t pick that poem”.

    There could other details that change the dynamics, but it looks like this is either a mistake of the school administrators or proper behavior.

    I would like to see the full context of Ken Paulson’s quote. A few quick google searches tell me that The First Amendment Center tends to talk about the state of the law, not attempt to push it one way or the other.

    • The assignment was to write a poem, and it was chosen for the assembly afterwards. Your take is correct. Leave the poem alone, or if you’re chicken, don’t choose it for the assembly, but there is no way reading that poem should trigger any Constitutional concerns, The school does not implicitly endorse the sentiments in a student’s poem. What would be the problem with a kid’s poem about her relative who didn’t believe in God, or who had rejected God, or cursed God? So what? Poulson’s position makes no sense and it IS over-reaching.

      I said “courts” not THE Court. The Court has been very reasonable on this issue.

      • Okay, name the decisions where the courts overreached against religion (and the decisions weren’t overturned).

        I likely agree that the one statement was over-reaching (I’d need context on the comment to be definitive), but that doesn’t mean first amendment proponents have generally overreached.

        The first amendment proponents who fight against improper religion in schools also tend to fight against improper restrictions on religion in schools, too, but those cases are considerably less common.

        • If the decision was overturned, it was still over-reaching, it still caused the litigants expense, and it still shouldn’t have been allowed to go to court, in many cases.

          I think the ruling that a monument to the Ten Commandments is unconstitutional in or in front of a Courthouse is over-reaching—utter bullshit, in fact. It is a significant part of the history of jurisprudence, like Hammarabi’s Code. That one hasn’t been over-turned. Bad decision, and a bad theory behind it. Just because something is used in religion doesn’t make historical or artistic references to it the promotion of religion.

          • (1) That lower courts screw up sometimes doesn’t mean the courts are overreaching. That’s a generalization fallacy.

            (2) The issue with the 10 commandments monuments is that they are there specifically to endorse god. When judges and legislators push for 10 commandments monuments, they pretty much always back their proposals with religious language.

            When was the last time you saw a monument to enlightenment ideas…the ideas that actually back our constitution or the magna carta? I can come up with one case where there are multiple documents… but that was only after a pure 10 commandments monument was pushed for religious reasons was determined to be unconstitutional.

            As for how important the 10 commandments are? 7 out of the 10 are legal in our society. Is it supposed to be a marker of how far we’ve come?

            Just because something is used in religion doesn’t make historical or artistic references to it the promotion of religion.

            No one has claimed such. But when people single out one code from one religion which no longer applies and which is justified by references to God…well, that’s pretty solid evidence that they’re promoting religion.

            • “The issue with the 10 commandments monuments is that they are there specifically to endorse god.”

              Are you saying that you think the slightest detectable “taint” of motive on the part of any government officials who seek to display the Ten Commandments consequently makes irrelevant any and all other justification for displaying them (such as historical cultural pedigree, or legacy)?

              If that’s your standard, then I expect you, and everyone else who has opposed display of the Ten Commandments on any public property, to be howling incessant protests whenever any Islamic government official wears any islamic traditional clothing, even it’s for everyday wear.

              • Are you saying that you think the slightest detectable “taint” of motive on the part of any government officials who seek to display the Ten Commandments consequently makes irrelevant any and all other justification for displaying them (such as historical cultural pedigree, or legacy)?

                Nope. Thanks for asking. Taint should be looked at, but I don’t think it should necessarily be disqualifying.

                If that’s your standard, then I expect you, and everyone else who has opposed display of the Ten Commandments on any public property, to be howling incessant protests whenever any Islamic government official wears any islamic traditional clothing, even it’s for everyday wear.

                (I’m assuming you meant muslim — government official, not an official of an islamic government.)

                Even if the proposed standard was mine, it wouldn’t apply to basic wearing of traditional garb (just like it wouldn’t apply to wearing a cross). The clothes aren’t being backed by the government.

            • 1. What shows the courts are over-reaching is that a school is afraid to let a little girl read a poem about her grandfather. They aren’t imagining a possible legal hassle.
              2 “The issue with the 10 commandments monuments is that they are there specifically to endorse god.” That’s not dispositive, and in the context of a courthouse display, incidental. It is a moral code from a point in culture and history and from a society where God and law were inextricable. That should not, in a rational society, preclude such a display.
              3. How important are the Commandments themselves? Historically they are very important, and philosophically too. They have anthropological significance. They are central to a great fable with historical underpinnings. In context, they are as important as the Rosetta Stone or the Declaration.
              4. I agree that the Commandments can be used to promote religion, and should be scrutinized carefully when their display is advocated. I think the position that they must be banned from the public square because that is one of their uses and meanings is wrong-headed and extreme.

              I’m curious: Would you oppose a public showing of “The Ten Commandments,” “A Man For All Seasons”, “A Christmas Carol,” “Samson and Delilah” or “Ben Hur”as part of a “Hollywood Classics in the Park” series?

              • 1. Uh, people misinterpretting court decisions doesn’t show the courts are overreaching. As noted in my comment in a separate subthread, they avoided an invalid lawsuit for a valid one. That’s stupidity.

                2. The only thing that precludes a secular display of the 10 commandments is the repeated attempts to display the 10 commandments for religious reasons. See my other thread. Also, moral codes do not belong in courthouses. They confuse the issue on what someone is being judged on.

                3. They are absolutely historically important. But so what? That something is historically important doesn’t mean it isn’t religious or that it should be displayed in nonhistorical contexts by the government.

                4. The position is a giant strawman. Can you point me to who backs that position? Also, I’m worried by your use of public square. That tends to be equivocated on in this context. 1st amendment proponents are all for putting any ideas in the traditional public square (marketplace of ideas); they are not for the government sponsoring (more recent usage for equivocation).

                —-

                You keep saying that as a general code, the 10 commandments should be allowed. Disagreement with that is rare. The problem that you keep ignoring is that the 10 commandments is not being added by people because it was a general code, it’s being added to promote religion. The statements of the proponents and the lack of desire for other documents is conclusive. Just because something could be done for a secular reason doesn’t mean that an attempt to do it isn’t a violation of church and state. You want a rational basis test, but strict scrutiny should be applied here.

                I’m curious: Would you oppose a public showing of “The Ten Commandments,” “A Man For All Seasons”, “A Christmas Carol,” “Samson and Delilah” or “Ben Hur”as part of a “Hollywood Classics in the Park” series?

                Depends how were the movies chosen? Is this a limited public forum? I think my comments on the Wisconsin banned play in the park show my opinion. https://ethicsalarms.com/2012/08/27/as-wisconsin-bans-a-theaterical-production-some-questions/

                • Yes, thanks for reminding me of that discussion. That’s an answer, and in my view, the correct one.
                  And, of course, Mr. DeMille’s boffo movie has about as much to do with religion as “Star Wars.”

                • Wiggling like a worm on a hook. Either the Christian faith is allowed for public expression or it isn’t. If not, by what reason can it and should it be denied? Using the First Amendment as a instrument against God is a blatant perversion of that text in both script and intent. Tell me why a child should not mention God or Jesus in an address to an audience. Or an adult. Frankly, I find these verbal gymnastics repelling.

                  • Either the Christian faith is allowed for public expression or it isn’t.

                    I was quite clear on this. Private individuals can publicly express whatever. The Government cannot.

                    Tell me why a child should not mention God or Jesus in an address to an audience. Or an adult. Frankly, I find these verbal gymnastics repelling.

                    The only gymnastics occurring is in your twisting of my words. A child or adult with a religious message is perfectly fine. There’s only a problem when a Government actor singles out the religious message. If that occurs, the religious message comes from both the individual and the Government, which makes it a no no.

            • The generalizations are your’s, TGT. The Ten Commandments are the essential basis of any legal code that makes any sense or contains any virtue. And how does this have anything to do with a child making a simple statement of faith in a public gathering? The right of anyone to do so under any circumstances is supposed to be guaranteed by the very fist words of the Bill of Rights. Your likes or dislikes don’t come into it.

              • The generalizations are your’s, TGT.
                This is what I said about generalization:
                “(1) That lower courts screw up sometimes doesn’t mean the courts are overreaching. That’s a generalization fallacy.”

                Your comment implies that that was not an improper generalization, but if the generalization was okay, then saying the courts are overreaching has no meaning. It’s just a synonym for screwing up.

                You also didn’t mention any place where I improperly generalized.

                The Ten Commandments are the essential basis of any legal code that makes any sense or contains any virtue.

                No true scotsman. As I noted previously, only 3 of the 10 commandments are even matched by our laws.

                And how does this have anything to do with a child making a simple statement of faith in a public gathering?

                It doesn’t directly. Jack brought it up as another “overreach”.

                Also, this isn’t a generic “public gathering”. This is a school assembly. It’s something that the government requires citizens attend. If the government selects a religious message and forces people to listen to it, that’s a violation of church and state.

                • The rest of your blather aside… are you seriously suggesting that a school assembly of this nature translates into a government REQUIRED event? And that, even if it were, this somehow precludes a child from making a statement of faith in God? Is your idea of government authority so overwhelming (and your attendant fear of Christ so paranoic) that you see such a threat from a 6 year old girl? God have mercy on all of us!

                  • Again, ducking most of my arguments instead of responding.

                    I wonder why doesn’t tex jump in and accuse you of rhetorical irresponsibility?

                    As for the statement you said, yes, this is a government required event. The government (in the form of the schools) make them attend. That’s about the definition of government required event.

                    I do not think that a government required event keeps private individuals from expressing religious belief, and I did not say so. You left off the part about the government selecting the religious message. Can you please engage with my actual statements?

                    • I find it puzzling, then, that this was never considered an issue before. Your very phrase “government required event”- and particularly when used in reference to a Christmas pageant for schoolchildren- smacks of authoritarianism such as I never would have dared dream of in my earlier days… except in the nightmare of a communist takeover. I’m not sure that this isn’t what I’m seeing now. When children become no more than government sponsored entities- to be indoctrinated and disposed of as ordered by some higher and unaccountable humanist authority- then we’ve come to that nightmare; regardless of label.

  6. Some of the ten commandments are definitely religious. ‘Thou shall have no other gods before me” “Thou shalt not take my name in vain” Other gods excludes pagans, anamists, hindu, and others. Remember what happened when Moses came back from the mount. People had Aaron make golden images. Moses was enraged. He commanded the Levites to kill anyone participating in so called idol worship. They killed a lot of people. They broke the commandment thou shalt not kill. Moses’s God was now happy but he broke his own commandment. Was this ethical? Is this an ethical God? To me the religious 10 commandments are a poor example of ethics let alone morality and that is why I would object to displaying them.

    • They are historical. They were an early moral and tribal code of behavior, and if displayed in the context of the law, are not religious in message or intent. The alternative is pretending they don’t exist. The Ten Commandments should be taught in school as part of world and cultural history, along with Judeo-Christian culture, which is an important context for Western Civilization. The fact that schools are afraid to do this, and the courthouses cannot do it (in most communities) has no societal advantages, many disadvantages, and was obviously not what the Establishment Clause intended.

      • They are historical. They were an early moral and tribal code of behavior, and if displayed in the context of the law, are not religious in message or intent.

        That the push is only for this code and not other codes, and that this code has pretty much nothing to do with current law shows that there is religious intent. The statements of the proponents also back this up:

        “This is all about the history of our nation. The Ten Commandments is a document that was used in the formation of our government.” http://www.wbir.com/news/article/235980/2/Ten-Commandments-on-display-at-Cocke-County-Courthouse-

        “Our money says ‘God’ on it. Our Pledge of Allegiance says ‘under God.” So tell me this: How can a chief justice not acknowledge the sovereignty of God?”

        “We do believe that the Founding Fathers used God’s law to help prepare some of the laws we have today. That’s all part of our laws. It’s all part of us today.”
        http://christiannews.net/2012/11/14/oklahoma-officials-to-consider-establishing-ten-commandments-monument-at-county-courthouse/

        “If you don’t believe in it, it’s just a hunk of granite. If you do believe in it, it’s something spiritual to you.”
        http://www.news4jax.com/news/Bradford-Co-served-lawsuit-over-Ten-Commandments-monument/-/475880/15467010/-/rc5k7w/-/index.html

        The alternative is pretending they don’t exist.

        So, the lack of monuments to the magna carta and hammurabi codes is pretending those don’t exist?

        The Ten Commandments should be taught in school as part of world and cultural history, along with Judeo-Christian culture, which is an important context for Western Civilization. The fact that schools are afraid to do this, and the courthouses cannot do it (in most communities) has no societal advantages, many disadvantages, and was obviously not what the Establishment Clause intended.

        The reason its out of schools is because it’s usages in schools were pro-christianity. The reason it’s out of courthouses is that it’s usages in courthouses was again pro-christianity.

        So, you want schools to teach about the 10 commandments? I’m game, so long as it’s proper history. How about this:

        * The 10 commandments was an early code of laws that was tied to the religious beliefs at the time.
        * Roman Law was different in reasons A, B, and C.
        * The English brought about the Magna Carta, with yet more differences.
        * The U.S. Constitution borrowed from previous laws. It took X from the Magna Carta and English common law. It took Y from the Romans, and all sorts of stuff from the enlightenment thinkers. It took nothing from the 10 commandments. Only 3 of the 10 commandments are even laws in the United States, and one of them is only if you are defrauding people or under oath, and another has significant exceptions.

        Think that will get any support? Teaching the 10 commandments only has popular backing when it’s not being put in proper context.

        • Are you saying that an otherwise valid historical monument becomes invalid because of the motives of those supporting it? My college had a fight over a history of communism course, and the fight for the course was led by student Marxists. So what? It’s still an important topic, and should be taught. I agree that the most vociferous supporters of Ten Commandments monuments are promoting religion. Again, so what? A lot of these battles are about one groups wanting to foil the other, and make them miserable. Nobody’s hurt if the school sends a class to watch a stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”–it’s musical theater, not church. But atheist groups started saber-rattling. The Constitution shouldn’t be used to swat flies.

          • Are you saying that an otherwise valid historical monument becomes invalid because of the motives of those supporting it?

            Quite possible. Religion is singled out by our constitution for a reason. A memorial in memory of 9/11 seems fine to me, but if backers of the memorial are talking about a repudiation of Islam or a triumph of God, then, to a rational person, the memorial would be a approval of Christianity and rejection of Islam. The people pushing the monument defined it as religious, even if there are no religious markings on the monument itself.

            A lot of these battles are about one groups wanting to foil the other, and make them miserable.

            Um…what? You really think the ACLU is just trying to make people feel bad?

            Nobody’s hurt if the school sends a class to watch a stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”–it’s musical theater, not church.

            Accept it IS in a Church and does have religious content. Heck, the school system itself didn’t argue that going to the play wasn’t religious… just that being able to opt out of going to the play made it fine. People who opt out sit in a random class all day. That seems like it’s equal.

            • 1. Interesting. I’m not sure that’s valid.
              2. Depends on the mood the ACLU is in. But no, I’m not talking about them.
              3. As with the movies, religious content doesn’t make it religious promotion. “Peanuts” was frequently theological—so what? Who did it hurt? Even “You’re A Good Man” has veiled religious content. Who feels oppressed by “Peanuts”? Exactly the kind of obsessive over-reaching I was referring to.

              • 1. Here’s another example. Say congress passed a law to put a plain obelisk on the white house lawn. The text of the law is completely plain and secular, but in interviews, all the congressmen that voted for it said the obelisk represents Mohammed watching over our divine president.

                Sure, an obelisk could be a completely secular piece of art, and the text of the law is completely secular, but this is still government backing religion no different from if the obelisk was a crucified Jesus or a giant star of David.

                2. Who are you talking about, then?

                3. Your first statement is only technically true. Dogma is all religious content, but I wouldn’t say it promotes Religion. A Charlie Brown Christmas being performed in a church? That promotes religion.

                Next, I don’t see any harm with peanuts generally, but that’s irrelevant. The problem is not with the generalities of peanuts. There are plenty of religious stories that are harmless and ethical, but if a field trip was to go to a church to see them perform a play about Solomon splitting the baby, the good Samaritan, and the pauper who gave to charity, you’d think there was a problem, no? And each of those stories can be generally told without promoting christianity.

                Other than in a comparative religion or architecture class, I can’t see how going to a church as a school fieldtrip could ever not be seen as promoting a religion. There are plenty of plays in secular locations. If the church is cheap or free, then that brings up a question of what they get out of it? They get children to their church. Otherwise, wouldn’t there be secular groups willing to perform at the school? Heck, I’d be find with the church group performing at the school so long as the play didn’t have religious content.

                  • Really? How? It’s satire, and black comedy. Also arguably sacrilege. Also brilliant and hilarious. It has George Carlin in it! How could it be a church and state violation?

                    How about in a film class? Would you say the same about “The Da Vinci Code”? I sure wouldn’t.

                    • Film class for Dogma? That’s probably okay, but could be bad based on the teacher’s treatment of it. I was thinking more like showing it as a ‘I’m too tired to lessen plan my math class for the substitute’ kind of showing. Da Vinci Code? I’d be against that based on it just being a horrible movie.

                    • I forgot something. For a random one-off movie, the satire of religion, to me, seems like a violation. It’s pretty anti-catholocism.

                      Being excellent doesn’t change the religious content, despite lines like “No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater than…central air

                    • There is something seriously wrong if an appropriate public school class can’t show a film like Dogma and have an enlightened discussion about it. So what if it’s anti-Catholic? Again, that’s the film. It’s no different from reading “Moby-Dick”, which might be anti-God. What an artist says doesn’t become the school’s position just because the school exposes students to it.

                    • There is something seriously wrong if an appropriate public school class can’t show a film like Dogma and have an enlightened discussion about it.

                      I don’t see anywhere that you could infer disagreement with this statement.

      • Jack, you said of the ten commandments . “They were an early moral and tribal code of behavior, and if displayed in the context of the law, are not religious in message or intent.”
        Ideally you are right, but
        I hate to be regional, but I live in central Florida’s bible belt (Polk County). Most people here believe in Geneses as fact. Creation in 7 days fact. age of the world 4368 years give or take a few decades. This is not a historic culture to conservative Christians here but the living truth of their religion celebrated every Sunday. Atheists have been told to leave the county they are not welcome. In this context I was against placement of monument of the 10 commandments in the courthouse. We have to fight to keep creationism out of the science class. Our senator Marcus Rubio wants creationism taught. I recall in Antelope Valley OR. Christians did not like the Maharaja Bogyon putting up monuments to himself in the public square just because his followers were in the majority. Christians did not like it. I don”t blame them. As I said Jack, you live in a much more liberal area of the country.

        • Jack,

          It’s not just that you’re in a more liberal area of the country. You’re also someone who knows the proper historical values of the 10 commandments and assumes that people would see that the same way you do. Most people don’t and don’t. They see a religious document. They erroneously think the document was used by the founders in generating the constitution. (The federalist papers don’t reference the bible and the 10 commandments; the opponents of the constitution do.)

          To you, putting the 10 commandments in a courthouse is historical perspective. To most proponents, it’s trying to tie our laws to their God.

          • Yes, I agree with that. I have trouble with allowing ignorance to drive the issue, though, don’t you? A majority of people think that “The Origin of the Species’ is an anti-religious book—it has absolutely nothing to do with religion at all. Should the treatment of the book be based on what it IS, or on what people think it is? Why would the Ten Commandments be any different?

            • The people pushing Evolution don’t think it’s religion. They don’t use religious arguments for it either overtly or through wink-winks. That’s the difference.

              When the government teaches evolution, they are saying, “this is science”. Are any of the legislators talking about God? Are they quoting historical religious texts? No. As has been noted by the courts, evolution is 100% secular. That some opposition sees something as religious does not mean that it’s rational to see something as religious.

              (I’d like to note that there have been a couple teachers who have directly promoted atheism in public schools. They have been attacked by EVERYBODY.)

      • Not only that, one of the key principles motivating the separation from England and formation of our own government was that for a nation to truly be fair in its treatment of citizens it’s constitution and subsequent laws must be WRITTEN.

        Although the 10 Commandments are not a written document describing the organization and operation of a government (as our constitution is), they are the simplest example of an early culture WRITING down its laws, so that all can make a case of whether or not law is being broken. Thus elevating JUSTICE as a primary virtue of societies.

        The display of the ten commandments is NOT specifically endorsing the religion that produced those 10 commandments, even if a small percentage claim so. It is endorsing the central requirement of our nation to have a WRITTEN code.

        Sure, there are other codes- older ones such as Hammurabi’s, more constitution-like ones such as the Magna Carta, even ones more with greater actual legal source material such as Rome’s 12 tables. However, the 10 commandments provide a succinct and clear example of such a code, 2 qualities the founder’s felt essential to preserving justice. The brevity of which makes display that much easier. Wanna chisel the Magna Carta or the 12 tables on a stone at every courthouse?

        • What you did in this comment actually was sophistry. Yes, the founder’s cared the laws be written down. Yes, the founders wanted succinct and clear codes. No, that’s not a reason that the 10 commandments should be in courthouses any more than it’s a reason the Procrastinator’s creed should be in courthouses. That something has qualities that were desirable, does not mean the the thing itself is desirable.

          • Hardly.

            And although you may be well versed in the Procrastinator’s creed, it doesn’t pass the test for being well known. So your sarcastic counter-proposal fails on two levels.

                • What? It’s common-sense that displaying something as a monument requires something that is well known? I don’t agree in the least. Neither do the creators of (for example) the Jefferson Memorial. I bet most of the population knows no more than 1 of the quotes.

                  Calling something common-sense is essentially the same as saying you have no argument for it.

                  • I have asserted that displays of the 10 commandments with the intent of underscoring one of our founding principles (WRITTEN CONSTITUTION) is not advocating a particular religion, but a concept.

                    We have identified several other options that also underscore that very same concept.

                    For such a symbolic statement to be practical it ought to be brief and clear.

                    For it to be understood as a symbol it must be well-known. Yes, that is common-sense, and therefore I did not include the standard of being well-known, until you brought up an amusing attempt to use an absurd proposition to refute me.

                    Despite worry that one may confuse me seriously entertaining this as a valid argument, the use of the “procrastinator’s creed” would also be only seen as some smart-ass wisecrack undermining and faith in the authority posting it.

                    • If something is clear, it doesn’t need to be well known.

                      Despite worry that one may confuse me seriously entertaining this as a valid argument, the use of the “procrastinator’s creed” would also be only seen as some smart-ass wisecrack undermining and faith in the authority posting it.

                      Why? It’s a set of rule that’s short and clear. The rules don’t apply to our laws, but the same goes for the 10 commandments.

                      I’d say the10 commandments undermines the faith in the authority posting it for non-Christians. The presence of a religious code gives off the rational impression that religion will be used by the authorities here.

                    • “The God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”- Thomas Jefferson

                      Here’s the crux of the matter. When liberties are considered the province of Man, they are easily revoked by Man. Look around and you see just this happening, precisely because liberal secularists have managed to exclude God from the equation in public life through a perversion of the Constitution. When it is acknowledged that liberties come from God, they become irrevocable by “legal” means.

                    • We haven’t been discussing whether religion SHOULD be involved in government. We’ve been talking about whether specific actions mean that religion IS involved in government. This is clear as day. Did Obama give a speech after the Newtown killings vs Should Obama give speeches after major killings.

                    • *sigh*. It was an example to show how your comment was unrelated. That wasn’t hard to see.

                      Here’s another. Should Jack write this blog vs. does Jack write this blog. This subthread has been about “does X mean Y”, not “Should we have Y”.

                    • It seems that you’re starting a new tactic for disengagement when you find yourself in a corner. It used to be yelping “strawman!”. Now it’s “your comment was unrelated…”. Whatever!

      • Whether they were being fanciful or not doesn’t change that this was their fault. If they weren’t being fanciful, then they were bowing to an improper heckler’s veto which actually opened themselves up to a valid first amendment claim (improperly censoring god from individual speech).

        Improperly censoring a student’s valid religious speech isn’t any less likely to get a lawsuit then improperly promoting God.

        • What, I wonder, is at the core of your fanatic phobia of Christianity? As I’ve attempted to point out to you in this thread, if it wasn’t for that influence (starting with the Plymouth Compact, which you dismissed out of hand) there would be no USA, no Constitution; no nuthin’, for that matter. Is that where the problem lies with you, I wonder?

          • There’s no phobia of Christianity displayed here. That’s out of left field.

            My dismissal of the Plymouth Compact as a founding document was proper. It’s not a founding document. I didn’t dismiss it as part of history.

            Also, your causation argument is silly. Without Christianity, the USA wouldn’t existing in it’s current form. There would also be no Hitler and no Stalin. Your statement is true, but vacuous. There’s no meaning inherent there.

              • Nothing out of left field there. It was a clear example to show that your logic fails. If we take away any precursor, it’s unlikely that any following historical event would occur in the same way. That doesn’t mean that the precursor is responsible for what came later. As I said, your comment was an empty statement. I paralleled it with a comment about Christianity and bad things to make the point.

  7. My high school graduation speech never would have been OK’d these days. It encouraged dreaming big, and following dreams to big accomplishments. I lost my one and only hand-written copy on graduation night. The speech was an assignment, and, it was a competition – the valedictorian’s, plus a couple more students’ selected speeches, were planned for the ceremonial agenda. In the “hippie” style of the times, I was intentionally cryptic and intent on multiple meanings. I was probably inspired at least a little – though my memory has faded – by the Byrds and their song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season).”

    My 2-minute, 1-page speech had “genesis” and “revelation” in it.

    OH! the OPPRESSION!! The IMPOSITION!!! The NERVE of me!!!!

    (sarcasm) They do it right nowadays: If anyone says “God,” strap on those cuffs, jam rags into their mouths, and haul ’em away!! And, before the LAW arrives, SHOUT ‘EM DOWN! Then, sue ’em into the sewers. Ahh, progress! Justice! Freedom! Utopia is surely close at hand.

    • So, you gave a sermon at a secular institution? And you think that was a good thing? Hell if you’re thought Genesis was at all accurate, you’re evidence that your school failed.

      I don’t understand your sarcastic passage. It seems to be both against secularism (saying they do things right now) and for secularism (the ridiculous hyperbole about what occurs today).

      • No, I did not give a sermon. I gave an exhortation to fellow high school graduates. The words “genesis” and “revelation” were included in my exhortation. By today’s standards, though, I’m sure someone would have put the kibosh on the speech, because “obviously,” those words, being titles of books in the Bible, could only mean that I was making a sly attempt to impose my religion (or, somebody’s religion) on a captive audience on public property (a public high school stadium).

        My sarcasm is not meant to be understood – it’s more venting than point-making. Actually, my sarcasm began on the line preceding the last paragraph that began with “(sarcasm).” I do mean to be mocking the paranoia of today’s secularism, and the pathological pettiness of minds obsessed with purging and excluding anything religious from any mention or appearance in any public venue.

        • You’re insane. Using words with both secular and religious meaning in secular ways doesn’t upset people. There’s no backing of religion there. Can you find any counterexamples? Your “rant” is the epitome of a strawman argument.

          • “Using words with both secular and religious meaning in secular ways doesn’t upset people.”

            Yes it does. That is exactly the case with the bullying and censorship of the little girl, with her one line in a poem about her grandfather’s praying. Somebody got upset – and/or anticipated or projected others to be upset – and the keep-poetry-that’s-read-in-public-schools-devoid-of-any-religious-inferences secularism purity police swooped down on the would-be “infringer” to shut ‘er up.

            • Just for the sake of a little context. The Bill of Rights has never mandated that “wall of separation” that Jefferson referred to in his letter to the Danbury Baptists… which was misquoted, anyway. It only states that the federal government will not establish a religion under its auspices. This was in reaction to the unpopular tithing of the Church of England (Episcopal) that was binding on all Christians, regardless of denomination. Jefferson would be horrified to learn how his words have been used as a bludgeon against Christianity by irreligious power seekers.

              • I can see, however, the logic of saying that no establishment means no endorsement either, since endorsement is inherently coercive. What makes no sense is arguing that acknowledgement and tolerance are the same as endorsement, and the courts have indeed pushed us to that absurd point.

                    • You said the courts have pushed us to arguing about acknowledgement and tolerance. I don’t know anyone on the anti religion in schools side of the fence that argues that acknowledgement and tolerance of religion shouldn’t exist. Can you point to where that’s done.

                      Note that there has been a recent attempt by some christians to claim that not respecting their right to bully gay kids is intolerance, but that’s not the same thing.

                    • Jack: There’s a world of difference between no establishment and no endorsement. There was to be no national church the equivalent of the Church of England. There were a number of good, sound reasons for this; none of which had anything to do with an official denial of religious faith.

                      TGT: “Right to bully” homosexuals or mixed up kids? From what perverse little blogsite did you pick up that false bit of lunacy? Dan Savage’s? Or Barney Franks’? Usually you’re too smart to throw out a blanket untruth of that scale, TGT. I think you’re running out of wiggle room!

                    • I really think the Supremes have been right on this one. With the power of the government behind it, endorsement is the equivilent of establishment—a state sanctioned religion is a state religion. The Constitution (and SCOTUS) is averse to slippery slopes,and with good reason.

                    • By putting us ON that slippery slope, SCOTUS gave the atheists the inroad to being able to harrass, intimidate and abolish the Christian and Jewish faiths in all manners of public life. There was never anything like this prior to that decision. Nor did anyone see such a need. The idea that the rights of the citizens derive from God, not Man, is key to the entire American system. Now it’s gone. Is it any wonder that those freedoms are now eroding away at the pace they are?

                    • SMP,

                      Remember when the AFA said that promoting interclick socializing was bullying Christians? Maybe you don’t, as you just repeatedly ignored their own statements. It was too much of a disconnect for you.

                      Your post to Jack is just junk. Instead of engaging with his point, you pivot off the words “slippery slope” to make random false statements.

                    • Paragraph 1 directly responding to your statement directed at me.

                      Paragraph 2 directly took down your later comment to Jack.. pointing out that you were the one that went off topic.

                    • Another tactic of the disingenuous. You’re caught, so you sarcastically agree. Either point how how I’m wrong, or admit that you’re wrong.

              • he first amendment did not ever refer strictly to unpopular tithing.

                Have you been reading Barton’s ahistorical “The Jefferson Lies”?

              • Tgt, you are standing for obsessive pettiness then. By your standard and reasoning as you have related them in this case of a girl reciting a poem about her grandfather praying to God, no student should ever be permitted to recite Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in a public school, because after all, the speech contains language like, “…the Glory of the Lord” and (if I recall correctly) “all of God’s children…”

                So there’s a dilemma for ya – what’s it gonna be? Separation of church and state, or racism?

                • First, that’s a false dichotomy. Not reciting MLK’s speech is not racism.

                  Second, I don’t see any logic of mine that causes reciting the dream speech to necessarily be a no no. MLK’s speech is historically important. If we are having an assembly about civil rights, it definitely works.

                  Third, nothing in this comment relates to our discussion of whether people get upset from words that have religious meaning being used in a secular context. Are you granting that I am right here, or is this an attempt at diversion?

                  • Are you suggesting, then, that because a little schoolgirl has no (present) “historical standing”, that her poem can ethically be censored? I submit that the only ones who can be offended by a child’s faith in God are people you wouldn’t really care to have in that audience to begin with.

  8. Again: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The Framers put this in to protect religious expression and to prevent an established National Church in the manner of the Church of England. Note that this was also in deference to the states that had been founded by non-Episcopal denominations who had fled Britain to be free of a politically sponsored church. But this was also to protect the numerous Anglicans in America… and the then-small Jewish community. The 1st Amendment was never there to prohibit public expression of faith. Just the opposite. Note, too, that those words are the first of the entire Bill of Rights. Just how far will anti-Christians go to redefine the Constitution in suppressing the faith?

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