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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Loyalty oaths and fledgling fascist thugs

Via Jesus' General, a couple of stories about a girl was not technically forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but was constantly punished for refusal by the standard ways that schools force kids to conform. That is, since they couldn't issue the standard punishments because the state law requires them to allow dissenters to sit out the Pledge, they held her up for ridicule in front of other students, made her carefully explain why she's a freak, and then left it up to her fellow students to decide how to handle her.

The standard-issue argument that conservatives have when people try to address the massive problem of bullying in schools is that we are making a big deal out of kid stuff. At Steve Gilliard's blog, there was a discussion of just this when Mayor Bloomberg attempted to block an anti-bullying law. He basically dismissed the idea that bullying is a form of harassment that can ruin a student's school career.

Calling the City Council's new anti-bullying measure "a silly law," Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday said it is up to teachers and principals to judge "when the horseplay gets out of hand."

I said it in Steve's comments section, but I'll repeat it here--conservatives see schools as a place to mold students into nice little conformists, and bullies are their ground troops in this battle. Laws and rules to rid the schools of the plague of bullying takes away one of the best tools school officials have for forcing their beliefs on students. Administrators can't force the students to say they believe in god when they don't or otherwise parrot certain beliefs, but they can single out the students as targets for bullying in order to elict that conformity. This situation is a prime example of how this works.

Guell said Rachel was never told she had to stand. However, Guell acknowledged that, at her instruction, a statement was read over the intercom Wednesday and Thursday before the pledge that said, "The reason we stand is to honor our country."

The statement was intended to clarify the issue for students, not to needle Rachel, Guell said.

Yes, it was there to clarify for the students exactly what their justification should be to pick on Rachel for the rest of the year--she "hates" America.


Blogger Kameron Hurley said...

One more reason I'm glad I'm not a student in post-9/11 post-Columbine schooling institutions. We had a number of children in our middle school who never stood for the pledge - for a number of students, pledging to the US invalidates their prior pledge to uphold God's laws first. Where I was from, it was so common that it wasn't a big deal. Saying you're standing to honor your country is doing a disservice to a student's rights. I reserve the right to be an atheist, and I reserve everyone else's right to disagree with me.

That's the whole point. Somebody needs to go back to re-educating teachers on personal freedoms and the vast mixing bowl of religious belief (and disbelief). The day I'm a terrorist for not standing up at the ball game during the national anthem... well, that day isn't far off, I guess.


Blogger Lanoire said...

Yeah, I can only imagine what it would have been like if I didn't say the pledge in my high school. I was a junior when 9/11 happened and my town was pretty hard hit by the attacks (we're close to NYC).

I caught some shit for leaving out the "under God" part. (I had no real objection to saying the pledge, but I refuse to say "under God.") Nothing too nasty--especially since it's pretty easy to seem dangerous in a cool sort of way by being an atheist--but I know it would have been worse if I didn't say it at all.


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