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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

 
Rolling Their Eyes Maybe

Via Peter Daou I see that the right wing bloggers are all atwitter about this article in which a teacher is reported to be suing his principal for allegedly refusing to let him teach the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God.(Well, technically it mentions a Creator.) According to these furious Republicans, the founders are rolling in their graves:

Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek School in the San Francisco Bay area suburb of Cupertino, sued for discrimination on Monday, claiming he had been singled out for censorship by principal Patricia Vidmar because he is a Christian.

"It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful," said Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson.

"Williams wants to teach his students the true history of our country," he said. "There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."

Vidmar could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in San Jose and claims violations of Williams rights to free speech under the First Amendment.

Phyllis Vogel, assistant superintendent for Cupertino Unified School District, said the lawsuit had been forwarded to a staff attorney. She declined to comment further.


Perhaps the facts are just as the lawsuit alleges in which case the principal has some explaining to do. But before we make that judgment it might be worth our while to find out if what this teacher is saying IS ACTUALLY TRUE. Nobody from the other side has commented and nobody knows the whole story. Anybody can file a lawsuit and call the press. It doesn't make it a fact. Indeed, somebody really ought to ask themselves if an attorney making the statement "there is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence," isn't just a little bit too cute.

Certainly, it's a stretch to evoke the founding fathers on this religiosity issue, particularly Jefferson. He wasn't a Christian, he was a Deist. I know that's inconvenient, but it's true. Back in those days you didn't have to pass a religious test to be in government like you do today. Why, they even put it in the constitution.

". . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist."

Franklin

"... I am not afraid of priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering. I have contemplated their order from the Magi of the East to the Saints of the West and I have found no difference of character, but of more or less caution, in proportion to their information or ignorance on whom their interested duperies were to be played off. Their sway in New England is indeed formidable. No mind beyond mediocrity dares there to develop itself."

Jefferson

What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."

Madison

. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."

Adams

The 1796 treaty with Tripoli, negotiations begun under Washington and signed by Adams states:

[As] the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion


Please spare us the rewiting of history. There were Christians, Deists and atheists among the founders. But they were all products of the Enlightenment which the current Christians seem determined to reject. The founders are rolling in their graves, all right.



Update: Seeing The Forest informs me that this is one of those tiresome bogus lawsuits brought forth by the Alliance Defense Fund whose founders are:

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ

Larry Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts

Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family

Rev. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries

Marlin Maddoux, President of International Christian Media

Don Wildmon, founder of American Family Association
(And 25+ other ministries)


That's the best case for lawsuit reform I've ever heard, right there.

STF points out that this is coordinated to come out the day before Thanksgiving so that they can pound it over the holiday week-end without anybody being able to properly respond. These precious little stories are becoming commonplace these days. I remember the one about the teacher who was allegedly discriminated against because she put a picture of Bush on the bulletin board. It turned out that she had a fucking shrine up there and was insulting 12 year old kids whose parents were voting for Kerry. All the wingnuts keened and wailed about the unfairness of it all, always being the first to claim victimhood. As each tale is debunked they just move to the next.

These little personal stories are a very effective way to spread propaganda. We need to figure out a way to deal with this stuff.





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