Perhaps not quite what it appears to be. The mainstream media, hostile as ever to religion, and of course to Republicans, making this a happy twofer, widely described the bill recently passed in the Ohio House as “Under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs. Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.”
Well, that would be crazy. Such a bone-headed law would allow a religious student to state a non-fact as fact (no, the Earth just isn’t 6,000 years old no matter what Williams Jennings Bryan said) but a non-religious student repeating the same error would be graded down. But is this really what the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019” requires?
Here’s what it says:
Sec. 3320.03. No school district board of education, governing authority of a community school established under Chapter 3314. of the Revised Code, governing body of a Sec. STEM school established under Chapter 3326. of the Revised Code, or board of trustees of a college-preparatory boarding school established under Chapter 3328. of the Revised Code shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.
As I go through life, I find myself having increasing difficulty distinguishing organized religions from cults. I know what Ben Franklin would say: “cult” is always used in the third person, as in “their cult.” I also have a difficult time of late distinguishing cults from religions. Isn’t climate change activism a religion now? How about hating President Trump? Socialism has always been a cult. Cults install One Great Truth as a substitute for critical thought and the ongoing process of self-education and accumulated wisdom. They also can drive people mad.
Jaddeus Dempsey, the associate pastor at Impact City Church in Pataskala, Ohio, asked the kids attending his after-school youth program to spit in his face, slap him in the face, and finally to cut him on the back with a kitchen knife. He explained that the exercise was part of a larger lesson on “how much Jesus loved them.”
If Jesus really loved them, He wouldn’t allow them to get trapped in a room with this wacko.
The whole horrible episode was partially captured on video, as you can see above. Some of Dempsey’s Disciples shout and laugh as they line up to spit at the pastor and slap him. Some of them seem genuinely enthusiastic about abusing him. (Hitler Youth may have been trained this way.) The video ends after the first cut with the kitchen knife; who knows what happened after that.
The church spokesperson “explained” that Dempsey was just trying to present the exercise as a lesson of the crucifixion ahead of the Easter holiday.
Oh! Then that’s all right then!
Dempsey appeared in a video on the church’s Facebook page, saying with a knife sticking out of his back—I’m joking!—
“It was just not appropriate and it was in bad judgment. I am so sorry for misrepresenting the community, the church, the parents, and the students — anybody that I hurt. This was not my intention. My intention was to just show them how much Jesus loves them and that I love them as a student leader for almost four years now. Tonight was an anomaly and it is not normally what happens. Again, I am deeply sorry for the pain that I have caused.”
Got it! You’re an irresponsible moron, and unfit to be left alone with children! Now check yourself into a mental ward, that’s a good pastor…
The church’s lead Pastor Justin Ross elaborated on the intended lesson. “Jaddeus got up in front of the students and he says, ‘I’m going to ask you to do something that might seem a little crazy, but if there’s anyone here that would like to spit in my face, you can do so without any repercussions,” Ross said.
“He had the opportunity to share a message about Easter,” Ross added, “and he chose to use an illustration to explain a very important topic about the crucifixion, but the illustration went too far.”
“We exist to create an environment that is safe and predictable for students to come, connect with their friends and grow closer to God. Today we failed at creating that safe, predictable environment. We want to do better.”
Well that’s a relief. It would be pretty hard to do worse.
Another disturbing aspect of the episode was that none of the adults, including Ross, who were in the room witnessing Dempsey’s deranged lesson—that was child abuse, you know— had the integrity, courage or independence to stop it.
Cults are like that.
The mother of one of the male children who handled the knife told a TV station that her son won’t be returning to the church, and that she reported the incident to the sheriff’s office. Good. That’s one responsible parent. Unfortunately, I assume most will echo the sentiment of Kelsey Collier, who told the BBC,
“Jaddeus and people in that church were always there for us.They’re the most understanding, least judgmental people you will ever meet.”
Well they certainly have the least judgment of anyone you are likely to meet…
“I don’t think someone should be judged just based on one mistake, that one mistake doesn’t define who he is.”
Sorry, Kelsey, but someone in a better youth group needs to introduce you to the concept of signature significance.
Normal, trustworthy, rational and responsible people don’t tell kids to slap them and cut them with knives—ever. That’s not a mistake, that’s fanaticism, and it absolutely defines what the pastor is, at least in a professional context.
One of the early Ethics Alarms posts about schools disciplining students for their use of social media involved a male student who rated his female classmates in a Facebook post. In 2016, Harvard cancelled the men’s soccer season as punishment for “the widespread practice of the team’s players rating the school’s female players in sexually explicit terms.” [The Ethics Alarms Quiz about that episode, which I just read, as well as the 156 comments it generated including two Comments of the Day, is a good one, and I’ll offer it here as another Ethics Alarms archives feature worth revisiting: Ethics Quiz: The Harvard Soccer Team’s “Locker Room Talk.”]
At Perrysburg High School in Ohio, however, the reaction of administrators to a similar incident plows new and especially alarming ground. After many students reported his Twitter account for rating the school’s female students in derogatory terms, the school had him arrested and charged with “telecommunications harassment.”NBC reports that 18-year-old Mehros Nassersharifi has been issued a summons to appear in court, and faces expulsion from the school.His account, @GirlsRanked, purported to list the “hottest girls” at Perrysburg.
No news yet if the school plans on confining him in an Iron Maiden or branding “SEXIST!” on his face.
There’s no quiz necessary here. What the school has done is far, far worse than a high school kid’s juvenile Twitter account. It is also one more item on my growing list of how the cancerous progressive fervor for installing “woke” attitudes into the culture using force and intimidation continues to metastasize.
No, you can’t prosecute someone based on the content of a Tweet. Every single student at Perrysburg High School should already know that, and indeed should have known it since the sixth grade at least. Yet apparently the teachers and administrators at the school don’t know it. First Amendment? What First Amendment?Continue reading →
Sorry for the late Warm-Up: I had to root the Red Sox to victory in an 11 AM game, and will soon celebrate Independence Day by seeing “Jurassic World II”…
1. Ethics Dunce: Siri. A speech by British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson in the House of Commons yesterday was interrupted when Apple’s smartphone digital assistant, which heard her master mention terrorists in Syria, blurted out, “I found something on the web for Syria!”
2. Good. Let it never be said that the Trump administration didn’t accomplish anything positive. Yesterday the Administration withdrew several Obama Administration policy documents designed to push universities toward admissions policies that involved preferences based on race. Affirmative action, which is government sanctioned race discrimination (because the ends justify the means) has always defied the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has consistently warned that the leash was short, and the breach would not be tolerated forever. With higher education flagship Harvard University being exposed as grossly discrimination against deserving Asian-American applicants in the interest of “diversity,” and an affirmative action-tender majority on the Supreme Court looking like a thing of the past with Justice Kennedy’s retirement, this relic of the Seventies, a policy that exacerbated racial divisions as much as any factor in U.S. society, needs to be rejected completely and finally, and the announcement from the Education Department is an excellent start. In a related statement, as in the earlier withdrawal of the “Dear Colleague letter” that extorted universities into dispensing with due process and a presumption of innocence in student sexual assault cases, Attorney General Jeff Sessions pointedly rejected this method of abusing power that the Obama Administration fine tuned to an art, saying,
“The American people deserve to have their voices heard and a government that is accountable to them. When issuing regulations, federal agencies must abide by constitutional principles and follow the rules set forth by Congress and the President. In previous administrations, however, agencies often tried to impose new rules on the American people without any public notice or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance document on a website. That’s wrong, and it’s not good government.”
[My family celebrated Greek Easter (next Sunday, this year), or not, depending on how Greek my mother was feeling. The whole thing left me thoroughly confused. And why no Greek April Fool’s?]
1 Hey, it’s only the Pope carelessly allowing centuries of Catholic teachings to be declared, if informally, null and void. What’s everyone so upset about? Recipe for a fiasco:
The Pope inexplicably has a meeting with a 93-year-old atheist reporter, Eugenio Scalfari, who has reported on the alleged contents of their private meetings before.
Scalfari has admitted “on more than one occasion” that he doesn’t take notes or record his conversations with the Pope.
The Pope either opines, or doesn’t, or sort of does depending on your interpretation, and if you are an atheist confirmation bias comes into play, opine that Hell doesn’t exist, saying, according to his pal, “Hell does not exist…The disappearance of sinful souls exists.”
Scalfari, presumably without permission or consent, but he’s a journalist, so he’s going to report the news, and the Pope saying that all that stuff in the Bible about Satan is a lot of hooey is, you have to admit, news (although who knows if Matt Pearce would report it as news; I guess it would depend on whether he wanted the public to know there was no Hell, right?), naturally lets the world know that the Pope doesn’t believe what his predecessors and follower have been using to scare the Hell out of sinners all this time.
“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the precise words uttered by the Pope are not cited. No quotations in the aforementioned article, then, should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
That’s called “spin.” Why do we trust these people?
2. Why is NPR taxpayer-funded again? This “correction” actually appeared in the NPR story about the Pope’s Hell problems:
Correction March 30, 2018: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described Easter as “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.”
Competence? Editors? Basic education? Respect for people’s faith? Knowing something about the predominant religion ins the nation you are reporting on? Hello?Continue reading →
1 When Darth Vader cuts off Luke’s hand, that’s not news. When Mark Hamill bites the hand that feeds him…In recent interview, Mark Hamill, the one-trick pony, one-role actor who had been playing cameo parts on SyFy cable channel movies because he wasn’t enough of a draw to put in “Sharknado 6,” criticized how director Rian Johnson had him play Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” “He’s not my Luke Skywalker,” said Hamill in a recent interview, who originated the part four decades ago, when he had a career.
This is astounding ingratitude, and shows a lack of professionalism that suggests it wasn’t only limited range that strangled Hamill’s non-“Star Wars” prospects. The movie is still in theaters. The fact that he is in the latest trilogy at all is a gift. If he wants to knock the film in about ten years or so when he’s doing Fishin’ Magician informercials on cable and his comments get him 12 and a half minutes of fame on TMZ, that’s fine, but right now, he has an ethical obligation to the studio and his fellow artists to do everything he can to make the “Star Wars” geeks want to see the film.
You know Luke—can I call you Luke?—most of those other actors aren’t as lucky as you were, and don’t have a cushy guaranteed lifetime income from a single surprise hit that easily could have ended up on the second half of drive-in double features.
BOY, that was a horrible crew of Republicans who all were thinking about Donald Trump, “Well, at least I know I can beat THIS guy!” I know many people like me, including some moderate Democrats, who were rooting for Kasich because he seemed preferable to having another Bush, the theocracy craving Mike Huckabee, the corrupt Chris Christie, weird Rand Paul, diabolical Ted Cruz, not-ready-for-prime- time Marco Rubio, dumb-as-a-box-of-whoopie-cushions Ben Carson, scary Carly Fiorina, or, as the alternative, the venal, inept and frighteningly ambitious Hillary Clinton. No, he’s a conservative hack with an honest face. This proves it. Continue reading →
The Ohio State Senate just passed a bill that prohibits women from aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome. It will become law if Republican Governor John Kasich signs it—an astoundingly bad and probably unconstitutional law.
It criminalizes abortion if the physician has knowledge that the procedure is being sought due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Performing an abortion under such conditions would result in doctors losing their medical licenses in the state and being convicted of a fourth-degree felony charge. The mothers would not face criminal charges.
What? WHAT? Do I understand this correctly? It will still be legal to abort a completely normal and healthy fetus, but a gestating child with the abnormality that ensures a mental disability will be protected?
Based on this logic, why wouldn’t Ohio seek to similarly protect embryos with other defects, like spina bifida? Missing limbs? Conjoined twins? By all means, let’s pioneer reverse eugenics in the United States. That will turn out well.
Ohio is the third state to pass a law outlawing abortions due to fetal anomalies, Indiana (signed by Mile Pence!) and North Dakota doing it previously. The Indiana law was struck down by a U.S. District Judge in September; I can’t imagine why all three wouldn’t be doomed for the same reason: the right to abortion doesn’t only apply to mothers carrying normal fetuses.
What kind of defective minds devise such laws? Do they identify with the fetuses they are saving?
Kasich hasn’t hinted whether he was inclined to sign this incredibly unethical and demented bill into law, but when he was asked about a similar bill in the Ohio House, he had called it “appropriate.”
1. Less than two weeks after social justice bullies on social media chastised actor Mandy Patinkin for agreeing to take the place of a black actor in Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” causing the politically impeccable Mandy to withdraw with humble mea culpas, and the “woke” creator of the the Tony winning musical to humbly kowtow to the new show business principle that it is better for a show to close entirely, putting everyone out of work, than for a white actor to take over a role from a black actor who took over the role from a white actor in the first place, “The Great Comet’s” producers announced that the show will close in September.
Good job, everybody!
2. First Amendment incursions are creeping in from all sides and all angles so fast it’s hard to slap them down. Cowboy Joe West, the major leagues’ longest-serving umpire,was just suspended for three days for comments he made a in an interview with USA Today published on June 20, to mark the umpire’s 5,000th regular-season game. Asked which player beefed most frequently about his calls, West said “it’s got to be Adrian Beltre.” Beltre, who recently punched his own ticket into the Hall of Fame by getting his 3000th hit, is apparently something of a human Bermuda Triangle for ethics controversies.
“Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!,'” West was quoted as saying. “I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, ”That ball is outside.’ I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.'”
MLB suspended West for three days, telling the umpires union in a letter that the discipline was in response to an “appearance of lack of impartiality.” Beltre has said that he never assumed West was being anything but facetious. The umpires union is livid, and West is likely to file a grievance.
There are two theories about this strange episode in the Marshall household. I think it’s more evidence of slippage on the societal slope to speech suppression. My wife thinks baseball is laying the groundwork for replacing umpires on balls and strikes with robo-calls. After all, robots aren’t biased.
Why does Ohio want to de-register voters who don’t vote for two years, then are sent notices asking that they confirm their voter registration, don’t respond to the notices ,and continue to not vote for another four years? I assume it is because the state doesn’t want dead people on the voter rolls. Why do Democrats want the names of dead people listed as eligible voters?
[This is pronounced “Kaliméra!,” not to be confused with “Calamari!” My father frequently got them confused when he visited Greece with my mom, the former Eleanor Coulouris, and embarrassed her by greeting the natives some mornings by cheerily saying, “Squid!“]
The mayor in question is New York City’s DeBlasio, and since his own family is “diverse,” naturally every other entity has to be, or it is baaaad. This is why I oppose government funding of the arts unless it guarantees that the nation, state or city will not attempt to use its support to control the arts organizations in any way. Of course, governments will never do that, because manipulating the arts to advance political agendas is usually the underlying motive in arts grants. Ideologues like De Blasio—wow, he’s terrible—will constantly be grandstanding and doing everything in their power to manipulate artists and their art to ensure that they send the “right” messages—you know, like Nazi art and Communist art. It is exactly the same theory and practice: art as political indoctrination.
Quick: who thinks that De Blasio will be focusing on “diversity” in the management (or on the website) of the Dance Theater of Harlem? Even if the government doesn’t attach strings to its support, arts organizations know that there are more of them than there is tax-payer money to disperse, so there is terrible and often irrsistable pressure to distort their product to give their state funders what the artists think they want—just to be safe.
My professional theater company refused to do that, sticking to the integrity of our mission and not resorting to tokens and virtue-signalling. My now defunct professional theater company, that is.
2. Yesterday, I highlighted the head-blasting comments of New York Times film critic A.O. Scott and his alternate-universe pronouncements about the Obama presidency. To be fair to A.O., his entire profession is packed with historical and political ignoramuses who make their readers dumber with every review. I once created a theater reviewer’s code of ethics, which I mailed to a critic, who sent it back to me with a note that said, “Mind your own business.” Years ago, I published an essay that was called “Why Professional Reviewers Are Unethical,” that began,
When Variety announced that it was firing its in-house film and drama reviewers, there was much tut-tutting and garment-rending over the impending demise of professional reviewing in magazines, newspapers and TV stations. The villain, the renders cry, lies, as in the Case of the Slowly Dying Newspapers, with the web, which allows any pajama-clad viewer of bootleg videos to write film reviews, and any blogger who cares to write a review of a play. “I think it’s unfortunate that qualified reviewers are being replaced,” said one movie industry pundit, “but that’s what’s happening.”
I say, “Good. It’s about time.”
It’s not happening quickly enough, though. “Dunkirk” is opening this week, and, as I predicted, film reviewers are showing their utter historical ignorance. The Washington Examiner skewers them deftly in an essay called “Why the (True) History of Dunkirk Matters.” Highlights, or rather lowlights:
USA Today critic Brian Truitt complains that “the fact that there are only a couple of women and no lead actors of color may rub some the wrong way.” He is not the only film critic to observe this.
Slate.com critic Dana Stevens claims that the British Army at Dunkirk was the “last bulwark against Nazi invasion of the British mainland.”