Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Friday, July 04, 2008

On This Independence Day

On This Independence Day

I thought I'd throw a handful of M-80's on the fire.

Doing some research for another essay, I found a transcript of a Hannity & Colmes show from 2004 that literally had my mouth hanging open. I thought I'd post the part that did that to me:
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: A teacher is being banned by his school from showing students historical documents that make any reference to God, including the Declaration of Independence. The teacher is now suing the school for discrimination, claiming he's been singled out because he is a Christian. The school district released the following statement in response:

"The district believes that well-established constitutional principles relating to the separation of church and state must prevail. The district has not violated the constitutional rights of Mr. Williams or any other person. The district denies the allegations in the complaint and has referred the case to its attorneys."

Joining us now from California is fifth-grade teacher Steven Williams. And from Phoenix, Arizona, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, Jordan Lorence.

Good to have you both with us.

Let me begin with you. Tell us what happened.

STEVEN WILLIAMS, FIFTH-GRADE TEACHER: Well, basically, it's just sad to me that the separation of church and state has been just kind of warped to mean that we can't even include some of our founding documents in the classroom.

COLMES: But what happened to you? Explain to us, explain to our audience what happened to you.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Last year, I hadn't changed my curriculum much at all. At the beginning of last year, towards about three weeks into it, after studying the Pledge, the student asked, Mr. Williams, why do we have "under God" in the Pledge?

And, at the time, as you know, the Supreme Court was going to be hearing that case, so I thought, wow, current events as well as past events is a very appropriate topic to talk about.

COLMES: Right.

WILLIAMS: So we said, well, let's discuss this for a little bit. After discussing it for maybe three or four minutes, got to the end of the day. And about 20 minutes after the end of school, my principal came in and said, "What are you doing talking about God in the classroom?"

And I was kind of taken aback. And, as it turns out, a parent complained immediately after that.

About a month later — and again, this doesn't come up that much in my classroom. I think some people think that I'm trying to put these things in or talk about this all the time. — This has happened a handful of times this whole year, is what precipitated, you know, into this event.

COLMES: But what about the Declaration of Independence? Did you bring that document in?

Does the school have a right — let me go to Mr. Lorence — does the school have a right to determine what documents can or cannot be utilized by a teacher in the classroom?

JORDAN LORENCE, ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND: Well, they can. And here, in this situation, they allow teachers like Mr. Williams to bring in supplemental materials. And there are state governmental teaching guidelines that say what the objectives are that they are supposed to teach. And the Declaration of Independence clearly falls within it. He was doing nothing wrong. There was no particular ban on this.
Now, I graduated from High School in 1980, but every school I attended, to the best of my knowledge, had a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States displayed prominently in or near the main office of the school.

Where else but in California does someone come up with the ludicrous idea that the Declaration of Independence is a religious document? A little further investigation and I determined that Mr. Williams was a teacher in Cupertino, a fundamentalist Christian who liked to draw attention (I believe the term is "witness") to his faith in class. That's a no-no. More power to him for having his faith, but he's there to teach history not comparative religion, and he's certainly not there to proselytize.

Williams sued the school district, but most of his suit was dismissed:
A federal judge dismissed most of a lawsuit filed against a South Bay school district by a teacher who claimed he was banned from using excerpts from the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents in his classroom because of their references to God and Christianity.

U.S. District Judge James Ware of San Jose on Thursday dismissed three of teacher Steven Williams' claims that Cupertino Union School District representatives violated his free-speech rights; that the district's policy on use of supplementary materials was vague; and that his right of religious expression had been violated. But one claim remains.

"In the surviving claim, the teacher alleges that all other teachers are allowed to use similar supplemental materials while he is being restricting from using them because he is an avowed Christian," Ware wrote in his 17-page ruling. "If he can prove that claim, it would be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause."

The district issued a news release indicating it will file a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of this remaining cause of action; Ware tentatively scheduled this motion to be heard in October.

Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School in the Cupertino Union School District, sued in November, arguing a First Amendment right to teach the history of our country and its founding fathers, which includes religious, and specifically Christian, references.

The lawsuit claims principal Patricia Vidmar required Williams to submit his lesson plans and the supplemental handouts he planned to use in his classroom for review.

She then kept Williams from giving students handouts including excerpts from the Declaration of Independence with references to "God," "Creator" and "Supreme Judge" and "George Washington's Prayer Journal."

(sic)and Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists," which includes passages excluding Roman Catholics from religious tolerance because of their "doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live."
In other words, this guy uses his classroom as a pulpit, and the reaction of the brain-dead administration is to prevent him from using historical documents?

Again, only in California.

They settled the lawsuit. (PDF file)

I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would think?
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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. — 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Happy Independence Day.

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