Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wall of Separation between Ed Brayton and freedom

Ed Brayton from Dispatches from the Culture Wars finds me 'blathering'.

...[Egnor's] style is to quote a single line from an article about it, then deliver a single line in response. I imagine he thinks those responses are pithy and clever; they are, in fact, ignorant, mean-spirited and considerably more juvenile... 

It seems I need more practice. Here goes:


Egnor Blathers About a New Subject
October 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm Ed Brayton
His subject is the case in Rhode Island, where a school has a large mural on one of its walls that contains a prayer, prompting a student to file a lawsuit. In Egnor’s fevered mind, that makes the student a “brownshirt” — because obviously not wanting the government to force religion on a small minority of people who do not share those views is just like being a fascist who commits violence against a small minority of people who are already considered second class citizens in society.
Actually, a salient characteristic of fascism is the inordinate passion for centralized federal power. Atheists detest subsidiarity-- the freedom of local towns and citizens to make decisions for themselves.  Atheists love federal power. It atheists had a church, it would be a federal courtroom.  Atheists are fanatically cleansing any and all reference to religion from the public square, with federal criminal and civil sanctions imposed on resistors.

Seems a bit more fascist than a little prayer.

Mr. Brayton oddly asserts that the obscure small prayer on a wall mural in a school auditorium, with no  controversy or even notice for 50 years, amounts to 'the government forcing religion on a small minority of people who do not share those views...'

The 'forced' religion is hard to see.

No one was required to assent to the prayer. No one was required to recite the prayer. No one was required to read the prayer. No one was required to even look at the prayer. No one was required to have anything to do with prayer at all. The mysteriously 'oppressed' Cranston High School minority (i.e. atheists, in case you wondered) seemed not to even notice the soul-crushing prayer on the wall for 50 years.   

Compare:

1) The school has a small prayer on a wall mural.

with:

2) The atheist drags her classmates and neighbors into federal court and threatens them with civil and criminal sanctions.

Who is forcing whom?
Actually, I imagine that the young lady has shown considerably more mental and moral strength than Egnor is ever likely to obtain. 
I do have the strength to see an idea I don't like without filing a federal lawsuit to silence it.

She has the courage to take on Christian hegemony in her school...
Christian hegemony in a public school? Are you kidding, Ed? Christian expression has been sandblasted from public schools, and atheists have taken stainless steel brushes to scrape the remnants out of the cracks between the bricks. No prayers, no bibles, no crucifixes, no religious clubs, no discussion of theology, no written prayers or plaques or murals, no challenging Darwin in bio class. Christmas Winter concerts, Easter Spring concerts, Easter Spring vacation. You couldn't find "Christian hegemony" in a public school if you used a microscope.

...which will inevitably subject her to the taunts, harassment and, quite possibly, vandalism and violence
which is odd, because people usually are grateful to be sued in federal court and threatened with financial devastation and even criminal sanctions because they have a small 50 year old prayer on a mural that nobody noticed. People can be so... oversensitive.

...of the mentally and morally stunted local population of Christians. 

Brayton assures us that this cleansing of all Christian expression has nothing to do with any imaginary personal bigotry on his part...

Lest you think I’m joking, I cannot think of a single plaintiff in any similar case who has been spared those things. Not one. Those responses range from threats of violence (Tammy Kitzmiller, for example, received threats to the life of her daughter) to actual violence (Joann Bell had her family’s home firebombed and received her own obituary in the mail — and she’s a fellow Christian). Nor are these ancient examples, they have happened in the last 25 years.
In the 20th century, 45 million Christians have been killed for their faith. Mostly by atheists. Atheists are the ideological group least likely to be martyred (can you name the atheist martyrs?).  They are also the group most likely to kill others for their beliefs.

Sorry about those taunts, Ed.

We do [have a Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech], of course, but like most of his ilk Egnor deliberately erases the distinction between individual speech and government speech.
Governments don't speak. Government is an abstraction. People speak. And people who are high level government officials speak about God all of the time. Presidents, congressmen, senators, etc. refer to God endlessly. Endlessly.

The Constitution prohibits an Establishment of Religion, not speech about religion. A small prayer on an auditorium wall does not Establish a National Religion.

Here's a question, Ed: Presidents read little prayers and talk about God out loud in public all the time. Washington did it. Obama does it.  And everyone in between did it. Are they breaking the law? If the President, who is the most powerful official in our government, can talk about God and prayer, why can't a school display a little prayer? Is it safe when Lincoln did it, but intolerably dangerous when the principal of Cranston High School does it? Was delicate little Miss Atheist as traumatized by reading Lincoln's Second Inaugural, which is essentially a sermon, as she was by noticing the little prayer on the mural? Does she have prayer-panic every time Obama says "God Bless America"?

Atheists are such selective censors.

Does she have to look away when she reads "...endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights..." in the Declaration of Independence? Does "In God we Trust" on our money cause her shock and angst? It must be sooo humiliating. When she wins money from her lawsuit, she won't even be able to look at at!

A lifetime of exclusion, ostracism and devaluation.

And now, to add to her suffering, there's a prayer on the wall in the auditorium of her school!


Aarrgghhh...

A student who wants to say the same prayer in that mural has that right protected by the constitution. They can’t force others to listen to it or disrupt class, of course, but they can say it to themselves or out loud if they wish, they can gather their friends together and say it at the flagpole before or after school, they can even use a classroom before or after class to meet with others and say all the prayers they want. That has nothing to do with what the government can or can’t say. 
But the presence of the same little prayer on a mural on a school wall is a federal case? The exact same little prayer that Johnny and Suzie can say to their friends or out loud at the flagpole or in the hall next to the mural?

This belongs in a federal court?

Great sense of proportion, Ed.

And if a school ever decided to put up a prayer to Allah instead of “Almighty God” you can guarandamntee that Egnor would suddenly discover the distinction.
There is no Constitutional issue with a prayer displayed in a school, as long as it is not an Establishment of Religion. As long as there is no force involved. Any prayer, any faith. Even no faith. I'm not a Muslim, but I wouldn't got to court to remove a Muslim prayer on a wall in a school. I might go to the school board to ask that prayers from other faiths be included. But I wouldn't call the police if I saw a Muslim prayer, or a Jewish prayer, or a Buddhist prayer, or a secular humanist prayer affirmation.

I wouldn't personally agree with some of these prayers, but I think it would be a good thing for the kids to see them, and learn about them, especially if they represent ideas other than the students' own.

It's wrong to call the police when you see a prayer, Ed.
[T]he government’s endorsement of that prayer... results in exclusion, ostracism and devaluation of anyone who is not Christian. Egnor just doesn’t care because he is one.
The government endorses all kinds of prayers. It employs military and congressional chaplains who pray on government property to government employees and officials, Presidents issue proclamations for National Days of Prayer, national monuments are slathered with prayers, etc, etc, etc. Nobody is excluded, ostracized, or devalued by prayer.

You seriously need to get out more, Ed.

This case has nothing to do with free speech, it has to do with the Establishment Clause. That’s clearly stated in the very text he quotes. He still doesn’t get it. 
Ed is arguing that the little prayer on the wall in Cranston High School established a National Church. For 50 years we were ruled by The National Church of Cranston High. Who knew?

But this case is brought by the ACLU, which fights constantly and tirelessly for freedom of speech. I see no need to even list the cases, since this should be too obvious to dispute.

The ACLU has a long history of advocacy for abhorrent causes, even Nazis. In Cranston, they're just keeping with tradition.

Challenge to Ed: cite the atheist litigation that has sought greater freedom of speech.


See, here’s how it works on Planet Wingnuttia. When the powerful majority wants to push their dominant religion on the minority of people, that’s freedom of religion.  When that small minority dares to assert that they have a right not to have the government force those beliefs on them, they are brownshirted censors. Unless, of course, the government decided to push any other religion. If the government were to push Islam instead, for example, then the government would be the brownshirts. When Orwell writes of this sort of destruction of language, we rightly recoil in horror. Yet it goes on every day.
Here, Ed, is how it works on Planet Freedom. Public expression of an idea isn't 'forcing a belief'. It's just expressing an idea. Anybody can express an idea. Majority, minority, plurality, one guy, whatever. A religious idea or a secular idea. Any idea. That includes individuals, groups, government officials, school boards, secular humanist societies, Presidents, plumbers, Rosary Societies, fundies, the godless, whatever. And they can express it in their home, or in their school, or in the street, or on the National Mall. Anywhere.

The appropriate response to an idea with which you disagree is to state your own idea, if you choose.

The inappropriate response is to sue in federal court to get the government (i.e. the court) to use force to silence the idea.

Freedom, Ed. 

64 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Blathering; past participle, to have talked longwindedly without making very much sense.

    Yep, that's about correct.

    Have you bought a dictionary to find out what 'imaginary' means or read a history book and found that they didn't actually have prayers at the original Constitution Convention?

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  2. "Actually, a salient characteristic of fascism is the inordinate passion for centralized federal power."

    Is it any surprise then, that the Roman Catholic Church has always been a strong supporter of fascist regimes?

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  3. @troy:

    You think that the Catholic church is "federal"? And what "power" does it have, exactly?

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  4. "When Orwell writes of this sort of destruction of language, we rightly recoil in horror. "
    ♫ Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement's.♫
    I Guess Mr Brayton didn't manage to get past the Cole's Notes on Mr Orwell's work.
    Never mind he seems to be enjoying his two minute hate, Dr Goldstein...er Egnor.

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  5. The Catholic Church seems to love fascists.

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  6. I think it is amusing that Egnor whines about the fact that suit has been brought in this matter. Of course, the only reason that a suit was brought is that the school board declined to follow the Constitution when they were requested to. The only reason the school board will end up required to pay the other side's legal fees is that they obstinately refused to obey the supreme law of the United States and will lose the resulting court case.

    You want to know how not to get sued? Don't violate the law. You want to know how to avoid paying legal fees? When someone asks that you stop violating the law, don't refuse to do so.

    But I suppose that breaking the law is something Egnor is in favor of.

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  7. @anon:

    Let's see where the evidence leads.

    Perhaps Catholics ate some of the babies, in between the orgies.

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  8. @anon:

    [You want to know how not to get sued? Don't violate the law. You want to know how to avoid paying legal fees? When someone asks that you stop violating the law, don't refuse to do so.

    But I suppose that breaking the law is something Egnor is in favor of.]

    Could you be more specific about the "law". Quote it, for example.

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  9. Could you be more specific about the "law".

    That would be the Establishment clause. Despite your whining that it doesn't, the prayer posted on the school wall violates it. Supreme Court precedent is clear on this, and we live in a common law system. In case you don't understand this, that means that what the courts have ruled before is the law. You might want to read Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573. I think you will find it runs directly counter to the claptrap you have been espousing.

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  10. Let's see where the evidence leads.

    It leads to the Catholic Church having engaged in the same practices in Australia and Ireland.

    Quite a "moral" Church you've got there.

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  11. @anon:

    I'm talking logic, not precedent. This is a blog, not a court.

    Quote the Establishment Clause, and show me how the little prayer is an Establishment of Religion.

    Is Lincoln's Second Inaugural an Establishment of Religion? How about when Obama says "God bless America"?

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  12. @anon (who hates Catholics)

    ["Women have told the ABC there was pressure to sign adoption papers well before consent could legally be obtained, and in some cases documents were forged"]

    Oh, so there was consent for adoption.

    To extent that the consent was coerced, that was very wrong. The extent to which it was coerced, and the extent to which this is just another Catholic-hate-fest, isn't clear.

    When are you going to apologize for the Holodomor?

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  13. I'm talking logic, not precedent.

    And you demonstrate your buffoonery. The law isn't what you want it to say. It is what the Supreme Court says it is. That is what a common law system is. Pretending that precedent isn't law is a fundamental misunderstanding of the legal system. You asked for a cite to the "law". Allegheny County v. ACLU is the law.

    What does the takings clause mean? Try to explain it without referring to any precedent. Where do the Miranda warnings come from? Why do you have a right to a court appointed attorney? Explain the exclusionary rule without a reference to precedent. Do you think those things are explicitly spelled out in the Constitution? Do you think ignoring them would not be violating the "law"?

    Oh, I've also noticed that you seem to think that "criminal" charges are being brought. Could you substantiate that? This is a civil case, as it is being brought by a private citizen. Unless the local D.A. has also gotten involved, there are no criminal matters being dealt with in the Alquist complaint.

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  14. Oh, so there was consent for adoption.

    Only you would see "documents were forged" and conclude "there was consent".

    You really will try to justify anything your gang of fascist-loving priests does, won't you?

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  15. @anon (who hates prayers)

    [Supreme Court precedent is clear on this, and we live in a common law system. In case you don't understand this, that means that what the courts have ruled before is the law.]

    Courts never make law, they interpret it. The interpretation changes a lot.

    What was the precedent for Roe? Griswald? Buck vs Bell? Lawrence?

    Or does precedent only count when you like it?

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  16. @anon [who hates prayer]

    [The law isn't what you want it to say. It is what the Supreme Court says it is. That is what a common law system is. Pretending that precedent isn't law is a fundamental misunderstanding of the legal system. You asked for a cite to the "law". Allegheny County v. ACLU is the law]

    So when the Supreme Court overturns its own decision, it violates the law?

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  17. "The Catholic Church seems to love fascists."
    Which Catholic Church? You actually mean the ROMAN church, don't you. Maybe you don't know what Catholic means...
    You seem to have a REAL hate on for Rome, Anon. Daddy issues again, maybe?
    They love fascism, eh? Did the clergy executed in South and Central America BY Fascist regimes for siding with the peasants? Did the the clergy who risked EVERYTHING to save Jews under the National SOCIALIST and COMMUNIST regimes?
    Seems you are blinded to the human element of the body of the Roman Church by your bigotry. You see ONLY the bad, and negate the goodly vast majority.
    Is this the nature of your Atheism, Anon? You come off like a sectarian.

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  18. So when the Supreme Court overturns its own decision, it violates the law?

    No, it changes the law. It happens sometimes. But the negative consequences of doing so are the reason for the doctrine of stare decisis. Supreme Court justices think long and hard before overturning established precedent.

    And anyone who is not the Supreme Court who ignores precedents rooted in the Supreme Court's evaluation of the U.S. Constitution is violating the law. Like a school board for example.

    Courts never make law, they interpret it.

    You have no idea how a common law system works, do you?

    What was the precedent for Roe? Griswald? Buck vs Bell? Lawrence?

    The precedent for Roe was Griswold and the cases that followed after it. The precedent for Lawrence too. One can quibble that a reading of the 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th amendments doesn't yield Griswold, but sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "La! La! La!" isn't going to make those precedents non-binding.

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  19. They love fascism, eh? Did the clergy executed in South and Central America BY Fascist regimes for siding with the peasants?

    What was the Vatican's stance concerning liberation theology again?

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  20. @anon (who hates prayer)

    [Oh, I've also noticed that you seem to think that "criminal" charges are being brought. Could you substantiate that? This is a civil case, as it is being brought by a private citizen. Unless the local D.A. has also gotten involved, there are no criminal matters being dealt with in the Alquist complaint.]

    So if the superintendent ignores the judge's ruling to take the prayer down, no criminal sanctions will follow?

    Whew...

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  21. @anon (who hates prayer)


    [No, it changes the law. It happens sometimes. But the negative consequences of doing so are the reason for the doctrine of stare decisis. Supreme Court justices think long and hard before overturning established precedent.]

    Oh. The Supreme Court makes the law, and then it changes the law it made, when it feels like it.

    What do the legislative and executive branches do? Just watch?

    [And anyone who is not the Supreme Court who ignores precedents rooted in the Supreme Court's evaluation of the U.S. Constitution is violating the law. Like a school board for example.]

    So it is a criminal matter?

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  22. @anon (who hates prayer)

    [You have no idea how a common law system works, do you?]

    No, but I'm getting a pretty good sense how a 9-man oligarchy works.

    Hey, I'm just one of "We the People...". I've got no say in the law...

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  23. So if the superintendent ignores the judge's ruling to take the prayer down, no criminal sanctions will follow?

    How do you think the law works? You clearly haven't got a clue. The Judge might hold the superintendent in contempt for failing to obey a legal court order, assuming he issues a write of mandamus or similar directive that the superintendent do so. Or he might levy civil penalties against the school board (in their official capacities) if they refuse to comply with a legal order. Or hold the board in contempt. Or any number of other actions. But thinking this would result in a criminal penalty? That's just a case of unadulterated ignorance on your part.

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  24. @Anon,
    The Vatican on Liberation Theology.
    They also mention the Episcopalian (Anglican) consensus.

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  25. @anon (who hates prayer)

    If the president came to the school and read the prayer to the students, would that be a violation of law?

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  26. Oh. The Supreme Court makes the law, and then it changes the law it made, when it feels like it.

    The Supreme Court has always made law. As I said before, where do you think Miranda warnings come from? Or your right to a court appointed lawyer if you are accused of a crime? Or the exclusionary rule? Those aren't contained in any statute, but they are law just the same.

    As noted before, you clearly have no idea how a common law system works.

    What do the legislative and executive branches do? Just watch?

    The executive branch isn't supposed to make law - that's why it is the executive branch. It still does to a limited extent, via executive orders, and when rulemaking authority is delegated to it by Congress. Congress passes statutes. Those statutes have to pass Constitutional muster, and if they don't, they get overturned by the court. This is basic civics.

    So it is a criminal matter?

    Learn the distinction between civil and criminal matters first. You clearly have a hard time with issues that first year law students are able to master.

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  27. Hey, I'm just one of "We the People...". I've got no say in the law...

    Unless you get a supermajority or both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the States to agree, you are bound by the Constitution, and the Constitution's meaning is what the Supreme Court says it is.

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  28. @anon (who hates prayer)

    If the president came to the school and read the prayer to the students, would that be a violation of law?

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  29. If the president came to the school and read the prayer to the students, would that be a violation of law?

    Probably. Perhaps you should educate yourself on the subject.

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  30. @anon (who hates prayer)

    [The Supreme Court has always made law. As I said before, where do you think Miranda warnings come from? Or your right to a court appointed lawyer if you are accused of a crime? Or the exclusionary rule? Those aren't contained in any statute, but they are law just the same.]

    What does Congress do when it votes?

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  31. Since you think there is a huge supermajority on your side, why don't you try to get an amendment to the Constitution spelling out that having school boards hang prayers in school is okay? I mean, if everyone is in favor of this, as you say, it should sail through the amendment process.

    Or maybe it will die an ignominious death like so many other silly amendments. I think that is more likely.

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  32. What does Congress do when it votes?

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that because one body makes law, no other body does either. Your understanding of basic civics is woeful.

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  33. Anonymous said...

    [If the president came to the school and read the prayer to the students, would that be a violation of law?

    Probably. Perhaps you should educate yourself on the subject.]

    The school is full of presidential God-talk. In textbooks. Lincoln's Second Inaugural, the Gettysburg Address, Washington's declaration of a Day of Thanksgiving.

    Then there's this really illegal unconstitutional stuff:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    These law-breakers said more:

    "--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

    Aarrghhh...

    So much unconstitutionality, so little time. Totalitarians can never rest!

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  34. @anon (who hates prayer)

    [You seem to be under the mistaken impression that because one body makes law, no other body does either. Your understanding of basic civics is woeful]

    Could you elaborate a bit more on the law that outlaws presidents from saying public prayers?

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  35. The school is full of presidential God-talk. In textbooks. Lincoln's Second Inaugural, the Gettysburg Address, Washington's declaration of a Day of Thanksgiving.

    There is a difference between teaching historical matters and espousing religion. You seem to have a hard time making basic distinctions. Given the character of Lincoln and Washington, I seriously doubt they'd find your side of this debate to be appealing.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    A document that has no legal force by the way. And cited for historical reasons, just like the previous ones. You might note that this document predates the Constitution, so the Constitution has no bearing on the appropriateness of any of the statements made in it. And the Constitution, once enacted, took precedence over it by its own language (declaring itself to be the supreme law of the land).

    "--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

    Also from the aforementioned document lacking in any legal force. And you have the right to alter or abolish your government. There is an entire section of the Constitution concerning amending it (which could also be used to abolish it). If your views are ever more than a lunatic fringe on the topic of mixing religion and government, you could try to propose some amendments.

    I also note that this last section has no reference to religion in any way.

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  36. Could you elaborate a bit more on the law that outlaws presidents from saying public prayers?

    Have you even bothered to look at the precedents in this area of the law? Or are you content to be a braying know-nothing jackass?

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  37. @anon (who hates prayer)

    [There is a difference between teaching historical matters and espousing religion.]

    What if its a historical espousing of religion? Like all of the historical God-talk.

    [You seem to have a hard time making basic distinctions. Given the character of Lincoln and Washington, I seriously doubt they'd find your side of this debate to be appealing.]

    Right. The scrupulously avoided any public reference to God.

    [A document that has no legal force by the way.]

    Hey, the Supreme Court didn't say it, so who cares, right?

    [And cited for historical reasons, just like the previous ones.]

    It's cited for all kinds of reasons. I'm citing it for both religious and secular reasons. So citing the Declaration in a school is illegal, if you cite it for the wrong reason?

    [You might note that this document predates the Constitution, so the Constitution has no bearing on the appropriateness of any of the statements made in it.]

    Right. The Declaration would be unconstitutional, now.

    Need I say more.

    [And the Constitution, once enacted, took precedence over it by its own language (declaring itself to be the supreme law of the land).]

    I thought the Supreme Court made the law of the land. Where in the Constitution is that power granted to the Court?

    [There is an entire section of the Constitution concerning amending it (which could also be used to abolish it).]

    We like the Constitution the way it is. It's the misrepresentation of it that we object to.

    [If your views are ever more than a lunatic fringe on the topic of mixing religion and government, you could try to propose some amendments.]

    YOU call me "a lunatic fringe". HaHaHa...

    I also note that this last section has no reference to religion in any way.

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  38. I wonder how this debate would change if it was a clearly Islamic mural. I’m confident the position of the mural’s opponents wouldn’t change, but I find it hard to imagine Dr. Egnor would be arguing quite so vociferously.

    -KW

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  39. @anon: (who hates prayer and the Declaration)

    What should be done when the president publicly prays?

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  40. @any atheist

    What should be done when the president publicly prays?

    Come on, legal eagles. I want some of that totalitarian insight. What soul be done when Barack Obama, address 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., espouses God-stuff in the performance of his Official Duties (like speeches, proclamations).

    If the schoolboard at Cranston High is Establishing a Religion, or breaking Supreme Court Law, or whatever, imagine the danger that a praying President poses to our Union.

    Advice please! What to do when the President prays?

    Any thoughts, a**holes?

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  41. Anonymous (not the one who hates prayer)October 17, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    "What should be done when the president publicly prays?"

    Religion is ridiculous. It is a laughable medieval superstition, nobody should take it seriously. Hence, when a politician talks to an invisible imaginary being or says "God bless America" or something like that, he should be laughed out of office, just like it would happen if Obama said publicly "Aliens abducted me and anally probed me."

    Also, I laughed when Egnor wrote several times "anon (who hates prayer)". Religious nuts see hatred everywhere.

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  42. Anon (who doesn't hate)

    [...he should be laughed out of office,]

    So the appropriate sanction for praying school officials is laughter?

    All of this federal court stuff was overreach?

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  43. Michael,

    'What should be done when the president publicly prays?'

    Depends. If he prays in the midst of a crisis when immediate action is necessary, then probably censure would be in order. Otherwise nothing.

    It would be like comparing the Tunisian pilot who panicked and prayed in an emergency rather than following procedure, partially being responsible for a crash at sea and the death of 16 passengers in 2005 (he was sentenced to 10 years gaol) and the pilots of US Airways flight 1549 who were forced to ditch in the Hudson following a bird strike and calmly and cooly followed emergency procedure and saved all their passengers and crew and probably many on the ground in New York. They didn't waste time praying.

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  44. @bach:

    [Depends. If he prays in the midst of a crisis when immediate action is necessary, then probably censure would be in order. Otherwise nothing.]

    So official prayer in a school would warrant censure only when there's a crisis, like exam week or something. Otherwise nothing.

    The President praying officially warrants nothing. A teacher in Podunk Elementary praying officially-- call the federal courts!

    I love atheist jurisprudence.

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  45. @bach:

    [It would be like comparing the Tunisian pilot who panicked and prayed in an emergency rather than following procedure, partially being responsible for a crash at sea...]

    Maybe school officials should have black boxes, so atheists can tell if they're praying...

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  46. Michael,

    Another point is that politics is partisan. If the president were to state that the Sun rises in the east, probably about 50% of the American population won't believe him, or at least they'd have to think about it.

    The president praying is nothing. He has no power over the thoughts of free people. He can't control what people think in California by what he says in Washington.

    If he attempted to advance one particular church, then that's another matter. Would you be happy if a future President Romney attempted to advance the Church of Latter Day Saints over the Roman Catholic Church?

    It's all a matter of power. The president of the United States has less power over free citizens that a school board has over the students in a school. And the actions of the American president are constantly being scrutinized whereas school boards and teachers aren't, not to the same degree.

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  47. @bach:

    [The president praying is nothing. He has no power over the thoughts of free people.]

    Right. He's irrelevant. Not as important as a school board secretary.

    [He can't control what people think in California by what he says in Washington.]

    Right. If he really wanted power, like the power to establish a National Church, he'd work in an elementary school.

    [If he attempted to advance one particular church, then that's another matter.]

    But I thought you said that nobody pays attention to what he says...

    [Would you be happy if a future President Romney attempted to advance the Church of Latter Day Saints over the Roman Catholic Church?]

    If he declared LDS the Official National Church, I'd demand he be impeached.

    If he said that he liked the LDS and suggested I do also, I'm tell him I like the Roman Catholic Church, and I suggest he do also. Then we could talk, like civilized people.

    I wouldn't call the police. But then, I'm not a totalitarian atheist.

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  48. Bach,
    "They didn't waste time praying."
    Do you mean praying out loud?
    One of things that has been often spoken about 'the miracle on the Hudson' is that the passengers stayed very calm and there was a group prayer among many of them. Some would suggest that prayer was answered, as NOT ONE soul was lost and there was only one serious injury. That is not to detract from the exceptional skill of the pilot. If he had landed with HALF of the plane surviving it would have been an awesome feat - to pull it off like he did took exceptional talent, luck, and I dare say something more....
    Miracles do happen.

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  49. “If he declared LDS the Official National Church, I'd demand he be impeached”

    And if he tried to get an LDS themed mural in every school district, that would be OK?

    -KW

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  50. @KW:

    [And if [President Romney] tried to get an LDS themed mural in every school district, that would be OK?]

    I'd love it. I'd suggest that the school get murals of all faiths (and atheism), slathered with religious expressions. Then the kids could learn about faiths, and talk about them, and compare them, and understand them.

    The kids would also learn that free exchange of ideas is what free people do. So they'd never think of calling the police if they saw an idea they didn't like.

    What a revolutionary idea.

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  51. "And if he tried to get an LDS themed mural in every school district, that would be OK?"
    Anon,
    You are clueless on this.
    Mr Obama did not order all the schools in New England or the USA to hang Roman Catholic catechisms. The mural is question is the work of a student and the prayer is broadly Monotheist, with Abrahamic language (ie Judaism, Christianity, Islam) .
    It does not mention the trinity or Christ.

    For those of you interestedHere is the actual prayer from the mural in question:
    'Our Heavenly Father,
    Grant us each day the desire to do our best. To grow mentally and morally as well as physically. To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers. To be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of friendship. Help us to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West."

    Non denominational, non sectarian, and  broad. very inclusive, especially for the period.
    No mention of Christ, the Holy See, Mary, or Rome... none of the topics being attacked here. Just a generic prayer for the well being of the students and school.
    Not exactly offensive material, is it?

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  52. "Not exactly offensive material, is it?"

    It is offensive because it denies the existence of the one true God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (peace be upon Him).

    I hope He touches you with His noodly appendage before it's too late. Repent or you'll regret it.

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  53. “I'd love it. I'd suggest that the school get murals of all faiths (and atheism), slathered with religious expressions.’

    I didn’t ask about murals of all religions, I asked about Romney and LDS murals. So if it was just LDS murals, or Islam murals, or atheist murals, would you still love it?

    -KW

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  54. "...Flying Spaghetti Monster (peace be upon Him)"
    Isn't that a frat boy trick?

    "I hope He touches you with His noodly appendage before it's too late. Repent or you'll regret it."
    Limp noodles are good metaphor for your argument. Soft, limp, easily broken...Probably sound good with LOTS of sauce etc etc. It works!
    You could call your argument the 'pasta man' argument. Maybe 'Al Dente man' when you feel really frisky.
    Like a straw man, but much, much more... limp.

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  55. CrusadeRex,

    Do you really think that miracles do happen? What laws of physics were broken by the pilots in managing to ditch on the Hudson? The pilots showed exceptional skill and coolness, but they were trained to do so. They'd probably been trained on flight simulators ad nauseum, on the critical phases of landing and takeoff and knew what to do in all scenarios.

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  56. @KW

    [I didn’t ask about murals of all religions, I asked about Romney and LDS murals. So if it was just LDS murals, or Islam murals, or atheist murals, would you still love it?]

    It's only unconstitutional if compulsion-- an Establishment-- is involved.

    As long as there was no compulsion, there's no legal issue, in my view.

    If I didn't like the mural(s) selected, I'd speak up at the school board meeting, and maybe vote for someone else in the next election.

    Democracy. It works.

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  57. Michael,

    Democracy works, but liberal democracy, which protects the rights of minorities, works better. Illiberal democracies often just become mob rule, albeit better than dictatorships.

    Political correctness might be unpopular to many commenters on this blog, but it is following the golden rule and rendering respect to others.

    Although, I don't feel I owe you much respect, with your high intelligence and education level, not being able to get the definition of a simple word such as 'imaginary' correct or to do a little simple fact checking and finding out that prayers weren't a part of the original constitutional convention.

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  58. bach:

    [Democracy works, but liberal democracy, which protects the rights of minorities, works better. Illiberal democracies often just become mob rule, albeit better than dictatorships.]

    Liberal = liberty. Freedom. Freedom of speech. Free exercise of religion.

    Antonym: censorship

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  59. mregnor,

    Repent before it's too late. Submit to your God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or you'll regret it.

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  60. Bach
    "Do you really think that miracles do happen?"
    Yes.

    "What laws of physics were broken by the pilots in managing to ditch on the Hudson?" None that I can see. Is that your definition of a miracle? Not mine. The laws of physics would have been fine with the plane coming to pieces and everyone dying at a slightly different approach angle or a touch of wind shear ...either way, they just perform their function. The miracle I see is in the perfect coalescence of events, competence and personalities. The instinctive and beneficial group prayer also highlights the 'other aspect' at work.

    "The pilots showed exceptional skill and coolness, but they were trained to do so. They'd probably been trained on flight simulators ad nauseum, on the critical phases of landing and takeoff and knew what to do in all scenarios."
    Agreed. In fact, this specific pilot was exceptionally well trained in emergency procedures. He held special certification that is extremely rare for civilian pilots. There is no taking away from his skill. This guy is literally ace material, and his crew are also to be commended.
    He was the absolute right guy in the right place with the right crew and the right passengers, with the perfect attitude, the perfect flight path, in the excellent weather, with good water conditions.
    It is the whole picture I refer to, not a single aspect.
    I see a forest, not just a group of trees.
    Some may say it is merely 'very lucky' that such all these factors just happened to be there and operative. I say to them luck is a good poker hand - not a perfect storm of skill, calm, and opportunity. When this uncanny confluence saves so many lives so perfectly...I see a pattern; a purpose.
    This is confirmed by the stories from passengers and crew.
    To pull this off with almost NO injury and NO deaths...and with such clarity, humility, and certainty?
    It was a 'miracle on the Hudson!'

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  61. @Bach,
    You have put me in the strange position of arguing AGAINST censorship. Normally I am a big fan of it. But normally I would be discussing military matters.
    The censorship I will speak against the general censorship of dissent and free thought among the general population in the form of what has become known pretentiously as Politically Correct (PC).

    Bach, you wrote in part of your response to Mike:
    "Political correctness might be unpopular to many commenters on this blog, but it is following the golden rule and rendering respect to others."
    This statement is absolutely the opposite of what I feel to be truth.
    First, 'unpopular' is not the word for it. That would be a gross understatement of my position. I cannot speak for the others, but for my own part I despise PC thinking. I oppose it in every way I can.
    PC is not about the golden rule, it could be best described in English as the second stage of an Orwellian 'NEWSPEAK'.
    The first stage was the dissemination of the idea that people should form a consensus on allowed forms of speech. One idea would be labelled 'hate' and thus inappropriate or even illegal, another would be labelled 'correct' and be considered acceptable and even often taken as truth.
    Unfortunately enough people bought this BS that it has become fashionable in the so called 'chattering', upper middle, 'bourgeois' civilian classes. These poor semi educated twits have, through legal political means - and quite unwittingly, made this madness the law of the land.
    Useful idiots. The modern 'liberal' (another redefined PC term) or as we define it in my own circles 'Secular Progressive', is all about conformity. Blind, comfortable conformity to 'social norms' that are completely subjective.
    PC language is censorship .
    It is about silencing opposition. It is about removing ideas and linking ideas by altering the very language we speak. About blurring lines and creating new divisions. About DUMBING down and simplifying life.
    It is the clear fingerprint of social engineers at work: Reductionism.
    As a soldier I recognize this as the sign of a very dangerous trend that leads to conflict. As a historian and life long student of history I whiff tyranny and totalitarianism.
    PC is a tool by which the masses are made to conform in the very LANGUAGE they speak.
    Plain and simple, it is the attempt to mask the raw truth and thus power of language with flowery and misleading reinterpretations and redefining terms. It is an attempt to control through ignorance.
    There are so many examples in modern language that it boggles the mind. Complexities reduced to simple minded nonsense for mass production and control.
    Bigotry is masked by 'racism', for example.
    The words have become interchangeable, thus FORCING a political agenda into all language surrounding race and culture. The result? At tool for oppression and division: Control.

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  62. A single example of racial/cultural PC language would be how a critic of an ideology may be denounced as a 'racist' (IE "He is a racist. He dislikes Islam.")This strange inference that there is a 'Muslim race' of some sort is passed over without a second glance by the PC drone. They simply accept that 'racism' is a bad way of thinking, and that this person is therefore bad. Done deal.
    The criticism and the reasoning behind it is silenced in the name of 'tolerance'.
    More PC? As I noted earlier, people redefine themselves as 'liberal' then go on to do things like advocate racial quotas in the work place.
    They say things like 'African Americans need our help'. The people they speak of are American citizens who have never set foot in Africa and are perfectly capable of helping themselves. They just happen to be 'black' and have dark skin and features. They are of a different race than much of the established affluent classes. What the need is to be accepted as equals, not a race of charity cases. But they make for an excellent pet project for the so called 'liberals'. Further, by masquerading as and displacing a REAL liberal movement, these PC drones keep the racial wounds of our age open and raw when HEALING and unity is what is clearly required.
    The real liberals of yore must be rolling in their graves. People like the suffragists and abolitionists...
    CNTD from above
    PC is not about the law of returns, the golden rule, altruism, goodness, and truth. It is about control, power, and censorship. It is about silencing dissent.
    It is the stuff of National Socialist and Communist nightmares.
    'Unpopular'? I dare say so...

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