Thursday, September 15, 2005

"the craziest ruling in american history"

so yesterday a judge ruled once again that it is unconstitutional to force a bunch of little kids who don't know any better to recite the pledge of allegiance while it has that silly "under god" bit in there.

basically, making kids say "under god" is forcing them to either pledge their allegiance to the christian god or to embarrass themselves (and possibly risk harrassment if not violence) by refusing to do so in front of the class. the judge had little choice but to affirm this obvious fact once again. there is no real debating this basic fact; the only real debate i've seen on this point is the "who cares? we're a mostly christian nation" argument, which makes no legal sense.

the supreme court already had the chance to settle this once and for all last year, but rather than doing so, to put it crassly and bluntly, they took the pussy way out and tossed out the case because the plaintiff did not have custody over his kid. way to duck the issue and waste years of time, supreme court. so newdow, the plaintiff, simply refiled his case with a couple more (anonymous) plaintiffs, ensuring that the supremes' pussiness could not be repeated.

the article is full of quotes from wingnuts who decry "judicial activism" when what they are actually decrying is judges who are not christian activists. but i was tickled by this quote:

"When the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals delivered the craziest ruling in American history by striking down the Pledge of Allegiance three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and stopped the insanity," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, a religious liberties group. "The lower courts striking down the pledge again is like a dog returning to its vomit."

the craziest ruling in american history? crazier than dred scott? crazier than all the rulings that reaffirmed slavery, jim crow, separate but equal, etc? you could spend all day thinking up crazier rulings. exponentially crazier rulings.

never mind that it's fundamentally stupid to make kids recite the pledge even if you take out all the christian crap. by the time the average kid is educated enough to even understand what they're saying, they've been reciting it by rote for so long that it has lost all meaning to them. the power of ritual is strong. ritual is one of the foundations of religion for a reason: it can create a sort of trance state that increases suggestibility, for example. but most little kids don't know what words like "allegiance" or "indivisible" mean. hell, most of the kids reciting the pledge don't even know what a "republic" is.

and schwarzenegger, he who claims to be friendly to gays and minorities until it comes time to actually do something about it (like, say, not vetoing groundbreaking civil rights legislation), either doesn't understand what he's talking about or doesn't think anyone else will understand it:

"As an immigrant to America, one of the proudest days of my life was when I became a citizen of the United States," the governor said in a statement to the media. "Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance always reminds me of the history of our nation's founding, the principles of our great democracy and the many sacrifices Americans have made to protect our country."

this doesn't have a damn thing to do with the issue at hand. it's just meaningless polito-drivel. about what you'd expect from a movie-star turned politician. the case isn't about "reciting the pledge" itself: it's about forcing kids, many of which are not christians, to affirm the existance of and pledge obeisance to the christian god.


syntax said...

when i was a kid public schools gave a free pass to the jehovah's witnesses - they were not required to participate in the pledge. and this was in a public school in a republican stronghold during the nixon and ford administrations. and talking to a couple of elementary school teacher friends of mine, they say that there are a couple of kids at their schools that sit out the pledge and no one makes a big deal of it.

but radicals have been gunning for the pledge of allegiance for years, just as radicals of a different bent have been gunning for roe v. wade. but what a lot of people don't realize is that our judicial system was designed as a sort of laboratory for jurisprudence, and this kind of activism is encouraged!

but then, the american political spectrum has never been so divisive and resistant to shades of grey.

i dunno... maybe they should just follow robin williams' advice and change the pledge to read "one nation, under canada."

stAllio! said...

i'm not sure teachers are the best judges of whether "no one makes a big deal"... i was harrassed plenty, for many various reasons, when i was a kid, and very little of that harrassment happened inside the classroom. bullies are generally smart enough to wait until after school.

i went to private catholic schools, mostly, where obviously reciting the pledge was the least of our religious indoctrination. i can't even remember whether we had to say the pledge at the last public school i attended (jr high).

syntax said...

good point - i'll have to ask if they think that the kids in question are ever fucked with by the other kids.

most teachers are myopic in the sense that they can't possibly know everything that happens outside of their classroom, and they've got enough on their plates trying to make sure that they teach to the acheivement tests (thanks, nclb act)... but some are perceptive enough to know when a kid's being bullied. they're a vanishing breed, though. and, yeah, no one making a big deal about it in the classroom is a different thing, but unfortunately that's what teachers are most concerned with - making sure that everyone passes the govt. mandated exams so they can keep their jobs.

i don't recall whether or not those jehovah's witness kids i went to school with ever got harrassed for anything at all - i think most people felt sorry for them because they didn't get to have christmas, and the bullies were too busy messing with me and a few other people. (i did fight back once against one of them once; the tooth i lost in the resulting scuffle grew back. i'm not sure if the bully's nose set correctly after i broke it, though. either way, i wasn't messed with after that. missing tooth and a week's suspension? it was worth it.)

virago said...

we had to say it in my public schools (escondido, ca, also rather conservative) all the way up through high school -- which is when i started thinking about it, and stopped saying it. no one ever bothered me about it, but then again, it was high school and i never made a big deal about it, just stood there without saying anything.

sis said...

I am thinking that recent ruling taking away the property rights of some homeowners back east was a tad craizer than this, but then these radicals have apparently nothing else to do and plenty of money to spend.