Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ugh! Ugh! Ugly News!

Ugh!  And UGLY!

"Suppose that you are the parent of a 2nd-grader attending public school. Your child and his or her classmates are playing on the playground shortly before lunch. One of the children asks your child if he or she goes to church, and your child says no. Your family does not attend church because you do not believe in gods. Pretty straightforward, isn't it? Just one problem: the classmate who hears this from your child takes offense and complains to a playground supervisor who reports the incident to a teacher. 

 This is the point in the story where things take a dark turn. The teacher asks your child if he or she told a classmate that he or she does not believe in gods. Your child says yes. The teacher then interrogates your child about his or her religious beliefs, the religious practices of your family, and whether he or she "believed that maybe God exists." After all of this, the teacher segregates your child from the rest of the class for three days, making him or her sit alone during lunch and prohibiting him or her from interacting with the other students. 

 Unfortunately, the situation I've just described is not hypothetical. According to reporting by Rebecca S. Green in The Journal Gazette, this is what has been alleged in a federal lawsuit brought by the parent of a 2nd-grade boy against a teacher at Forest Park Elementary School in Indiana. The suit, filed by the ACLU of Indiana, alleges that the teacher violated the constitutional rights of this student. If the allegations described in this article provide an accurate depiction of events as they unfolded, it sounds as though the teacher must have decided that the hurt feelings reported by one of the boy's classmates were sufficient grounds to publicly shame the boy. 

According to court documents, the boy is now anxious and fearful about school, believing many teachers and students hate him and some classmates will not talk to him."

Something similar to this happened to my grandson when he was 12 years old.  His public school teacher told her students to raise their hands if they read the Bible every day.  Everyone except my grandson raised his/her hands.  My grandson and his family are not believers.  I suppose he could have raised his hand so he wouldn't have stood out as the only child who does not read the Bible, but my grandson is not a liar or a deceiver.  Naturally, all the other kids, even the teacher, in the class shunned and made fun of my grandson.  He wasn't one of them, so shaming was his punishment. And yes, children can be crueler than adults.  My grandson learned a valuable lesson that day, which today, as a young man, reinforces his and his family's decision to not embrace religion.

He and his family (and I) understand that not all religious people are mean and judgemental, but there are many who are, and the news report above of the 7-year old who was shamed for telling the truth about his nonbelief is an example of how honesty is rewarded with cruelty by some vindictive religious people.

In other ugly news:

Parents Sue Officer Who Handcuffed Mentally Disabled Kids 
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Aug 3, 2015, 7:19 PM ET 

 Associated Press Two northern Kentucky women have sued a county sheriff and one of his school resource officers for placing their two disabled elementary school children in handcuffs. 

The handcuffs were too large to fit around the wrists of the 8-year-old boy and the 9-year-old girl, both of whom have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are identified in court documents only by their initials. School Resource Officer Kevin Sumner put the handcuffs around the children's biceps, locking their arms behind them. A video of one of the incidents shows the 8-year-old boy struggling and crying while sitting in a chair.

Do any of the adults who are paid to teach or deal with children receive any training or have any understanding of how to interact with them?  When I read what was done to the two mentally challenged children in a grammar school in Kentucky, I felt as though I were back in 19th century Dickensian London, reading about adults abusing children!

There's nothing wrong with the kids, it's the teachers and others who need to grow up and learn that children are not small adults and should not be treated like criminals for what they believe or because of mental disorders.

We can only hope that the ACLU and the parents of these wronged children prevail in court and that the public school authorities who mete out these draconian punishments learn their lessons.


Infidel753 said...

The Forest Park school incident is disgusting indeed, but it's an example of the residuum of clueless bigots still scattered here and there around the country who will continue to create occasional nastinesses like this for some time. The lawsuit should be an easy win, and I imagine the teacher will be shown the error of his or her ways rather forcefully.

It's yet another example of how Christianity seeks above all to defend its "right" to exclude and shun people -- in this case, a child -- and how, in their twisted minds, the mere expression of a viewpoint different from their own is somehow an "offense" against them.

With Christianity choosing that face to present to the world, the young and the non-vicious will continue to abandon it in droves.

Ahab said...

The elementary school incident is another example of fundamentalists showing their true colors. For many fundamentalists, morality isn't about compassion or fairness -- it can be boiled down to "conform or be ostracized".

Les Carpenter said...

Fundamentalism, whatever its source is generally evil. Lets hope fundamentalism throughout the world is ultimately eradicated through increased enlightenment and we don't simply exchange one fundamentalism for another. Given human history however it is unlikely this will happen.

Shaw Kenawe said...

RN: "Given human history however it is unlikely this will happen."

Turning away from fundamentalism has happened in the Scandinavian countries, as well as European countries, and Australia had an atheist prime minister. More and more young people here in America consider themselves "nones," meaning they have no religious affiliation. With stories like the one at the head of this post, can anyone blame them?

Ahab, sadly, that is the story with fanatics in all religions.

Infidel753, the story about the 7-year old being shunned and shamed by his teacher and classmates is particularly ugly, since it shows how their religion has utterly failed them in teaching human decency and compassion. Fanatics who say we need religion to enforce morality need only look at cases like this to see how false that claim is.

Anonymous said...

And just the other day you were spouting the great events named after Saints. What a hypocrite.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Dear Anonymous,

I celebrate Xmas too! December 25th was a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, and the early Xtians chose that day to celebrate their god's birth so they wouldn't draw attention to themselves

I reported on the festivals and feasts in my neighborhood as something of interest: the food, the music, the games, and the coming together of neighbors and visitors for fun.

You must be a TPer. You see things only in black and white and have no understanding of how things named for saints can be secular too.

Every hear of San Francisco?

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

A similar abuse happened to me too. A third grade teacher took it upon herself to segregate the class by religious denomination. Those of her persuasion celebrated the Christmas festivities with song and an exchange of gifts. The others … segregated to the back of the classroom -- were supplied with paper and crayons to keep themselves busy.

When my mother learned of this, she went ballistic and filed a formal complaint with the school superintendent. At one point, the teacher, in a fit of rage meted upon a child, grabbed me by both ears and banged my head against a wall. I kept that incident to myself and never told my mother; hence no charges were filed.

In later years, I was chased by gangs of kids after Friday catechism class recessed, screaming: “You killed our Lord.” These incidents left me with bitter memories that persist to this day.

Recently, I was THREATENED WITH LITIGATION by a local clergyman who purchased a half-page advertisement in our local newspaper. The ad demonized atheists and secularists as godless and dangerous people – playing the Hitler card and the Stalin card. I responded with an op-ed commentary that appeared in our local newspaper.

I don’t suffer bullies kindly. When I suggested that this matter should be brought to the attention of his Bishopric, he sent me an email message: All is forgiven; no lawsuit.

The dramas and preoccupations have kept me away from the Internet recently. Now you know why.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaw Kenawe said...

More on the shaming of the 7-year old child:

9. On or about February 23, 2015, A.B. and his classmates were on the playground during
the school day immediately before lunch when A.B. was asked by one of his classmates if he attended church.
10. A.B. responded by stating that he did not go to church and did not believe in God. He also stated that it was fine with him if his inquiring classmate believed in God.

11. The classmate said that A.B. had hurt her feelings by saying that he did not believe in God and started to cry.

12. A playground supervisor reported to Ms. Meyer what had happened.

13. At that point the students were going to lunch and Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he had told
the girl that he did not believe in God and A.B. said he had and asked what he had done wrong.

14. Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he went to church, whether his family went to church, and whether his mother knew how he felt about God.

The suit alleges that Ms. Meyer said she was going to tell the child's mother—a threat she didn't carry out because deep down in her God-fearing soul she probably realized that she was being a wicked devil of an adult. How did this get resolved? According to the complaint the two children were sent to another "adult" who told the offended girl that it was a good thing she had faith and that she didn't need to listen to the child's "bad ideas."

22. On the day of the incident and for an additional two days thereafter, Ms. Meyer required that A.B. sit by himself during lunch and told him he should not talk to the other students and stated that this was because he had offended them. This served to reinforce A.B.’s feeling that he had committed some transgression that justified his exclusion.

Shaw Kenawe said...


28. After this three-day period, and after V.S. complained, A.B. was told by Ms. Meyer and other teachers that he could believe what he wants.
29. But this was after A.B. had been publicly separated from his classmates and informed that he could not speak to them. All the students in his class heard and were aware of this. He was publicly shamed and made to feel that his personal beliefs were terribly wrong.

"If the moral fabric of your religious beliefs are threatened by a 7-year-old, your beliefs are shit." --weinenkel, Daily Kos staff

Ducky's here said...

What kind of a teacher treats a student, let alone a child, in that fashion (rhetorical)?

Wonder if Huckleberry will be questioned about this tomorrow.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Ducky: "What kind of a teacher treats a student, let alone a child, in that fashion (rhetorical)?"

First, I would say a compassionless teacher whose insecurities about her own religion allows her to see a 7-year old as a threat to her beliefs, so she has to silence and shame the child. IOW, an person who should never be in the classroom because she's not able to deal with conflicting ideas. Talibanish, IMO.

Huckleberry would be proud of her.

Shaw Kenawe said...


Your experiences were not uncommon for non-Christian American students who attended public schools in the '50s and '60s. All students, regardless of their religion, were made to read and listen to only Christian passages from the King James Bible and to recite "The Lord's Prayer" in opening exercises every morning. No one ever questioned the Constitutional legality of forcing non-Christian children to participate in those sectarian exercises, whether their families approved or not.

And I think it was only recently, during John Paul II's papacy, that the words "Christ killers" in reference to the Jews were struck from the Easter liturgy, something for which you were horribly and unjustly attacked.

If only people could just mind their own business and practice their religion without the burning need to punish those who do not share their dogma or impose their desire to convert others.

Flying Junior said...

And I think it was only recently, during John Paul II's papacy, that the words "Christ killers" in reference to the Jews were struck from the Easter liturgy, something for which you were horribly and unjustly attacked.

This is indeed chilling. Although the liturgy you speak of belongs to the Eastern Orthodox Christian sects, certainly the concept of Jews being Christ-killers has lived on in the dark minds of men even in our fair land. It certainly held no place in Roman Catholic or American mainline Protestant Easter celebrations.

Recently, I checked out two very historical collections of short stories. The first, "The Best Short Stories of 1941 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story", taught me a very important lesson in the early Civil Rights Movement. The second, "The Best Short Stories of WWII", surprised me with an account of an American soldier of the Jewish faith who was informed after V-E day, that his older brother had a form of combat fatigue that made him imagine that even fellow Americans were coming for the Jews in the U.S. with rocket bombs and automatic weapons.

This evening I purchased a worn copy of the first book from AbeBooks. From what I understand, it is a very rare book. I was amazed at what I read. But the story from the second anthology was even more hard-hitting. And equally tragic.

Side note, the 1957 compilation of WWII stories also contained a very fascinating account of race relations in the Army during WWII. The story was simply entitled, "Health Card."

Flying Junior said...

This is the first book that I was talking about.

This is the second.

It's not very often that I have something this important to say. This is essential American history.

Flying Junior said...

Anyway, the short story is entitled, "Act of Faith" by Irwin Shaw.

Copies of, "The best short stories of World War II, an American Anthology" range from $100 to $382 in price.

Flying Junior said...

Actually, the story by Irwin Shaw is available in a reprint.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Flying Junior, thanks for all those references. I will look for information on those books.

As (O)CT(O)PUS stated in the article that was published in his local paper (he deleted it from these comments), virulent anti-semitism ran through the Christian religion for centuries, and that points to how Christian Europeans accepted the pogroms and Hitler's Final Solution. The demonization of Jews has a long and disgusting history, which even today, one can read on certain right wing blogs.

skudrunner said...

"What kind of a teacher treats a student, let alone a child, in that fashion (rhetorical)?"

Probably a proud member of the NEA who knows that no matter what she does her job is protected.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Probably a proud member of the NEA who knows that no matter what she does her job is protected."

Just like the "bad apple" cop who unlawfully kills people and keeps his/her job.

The problem is not just with teachers' tenure, skud.