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schools and captive audiences(53 posts)

schools and captive audiencesDuane Gran
Oct 14, 2003 9:50 AM
The supreme court is hearing a case from an atheist parent who is upset that other students or the teacher may voluntarily recite the pledge of allegiance because it refers to "one nation under God." The plaintiff believes that it is wrong that people are forced to listen to what he calls a prayer. Read more here:

My personal take is that many things get said in school that I don't agree with. Rather than try to eliminate ideas I don't agree with I would prefer to have an open dialog. It truthfully causes no harm if ideas are expressed to a captive audience as long as people can engage those ideas in a meaningful way. I think the plaintiff is attacking the wrong part of the problem.
here's what we doDougSloan
Oct 14, 2003 9:55 AM
We keep saying the pledge, but when we get to "one nation..." instead of saying "under God," we mumble something that are code words like pig latin. So, we say "one nation, underway odgay," and we don't violate the Constitution or offend anyone.

Why don't you say it the way it was written...Tri_Rich
Oct 14, 2003 10:26 AM
...without the words "under God". The baptist minister who wrote the original was strongly opposed to the inclusion of that phrase. Additionally if you are a Christian the phrase is redundant, and if you are not potentially offensive.
I like the argument for keeping "under God"...PdxMark
Oct 14, 2003 10:36 AM
It's not meant to be a religious reference, just to be a reference to "ceremony and history" according to Ted Olsen. So in the 1950's when it was added to distinguish ourselves from Godless Communists, it wasn't religious Godlessness we were distinguishing, but rather ceremonial Godlessness.

It's fun that the God reference is defended by dismissing that it has any God-ly meaning. A perfect argument for Republican Olsen. I can't wait to see the backflips Scalia & Rehnquist do to thread this needle...
we don't seem to need it for that reason anymore...NMTri_Rich
Oct 14, 2003 10:49 AM
problem is we have a separation of church and stateColnagoFE
Oct 14, 2003 10:29 AM
you can say all you want about god in a parochial school or private school and personally I have no problem with the pledge, but it does seem to violate church and state if it is mandatory to say it.
This isn't about saying it - it's about HEARING itTJeanloz
Oct 14, 2003 10:35 AM
I think the Supreme Court should reference the movie "Old School" and teach the kid "earmuffs" for when the offensive two words come out.
Oct 14, 2003 10:55 AM
I think this is not just about not wanting to hear it, either, though. Some people (atheists or "humanists") want religion banned, period, and will do anything to incrementally get there. A true atheist could not possibly be sincerely offended by hearing (not saying) "under God." If they don't believe in God, isn't it just sort of silly to them?

They have taken "Congress shall make no law..." and turned it into "the subject of religion shall not be discussed in public." That's what they really want.

How the Declaration of Independence might read...DJB
Oct 14, 2003 11:09 AM
...if the founders were secular humanists.

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.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (have evolved to be) equal, that they are endowed by their (elected representative) with certain (arbitrary) Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the (attainment) of Happiness.


We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions... And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme (Court) for the rectitude of our intentions... And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of (the United Nations), we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
And even despite that they barred the government...PdxMark
Oct 14, 2003 11:22 AM
from establishing a state religion. Hmm, but now good Christian soldiers like to reach behind the Constitution to find in the Declaration a reason to impose their religion on all who call this home.

Perhaps if the moral and political philosophy of the 18th century had evolved past its theocratic and royal bases, as they have now, the underlying support for rejecting one's King would not have had such beautiful and colorful language. But they had not. Men were not "free" under the law of the day. They either had a God-given right to freedom, or they were criminal terrorists. There was no other philosophical basis to support revolution.

So, you can read the Declaration in its philosphical & historical context, or you can take it as a proof of God stated by the Founders of the American experiment.
No - discussing religion in public is fine...PdxMark
Oct 14, 2003 11:11 AM
Converting the national pledge into a religious affirmation is different. It's a Christian majority seeking to import it's religious view of this country into a national (and yes, secular) pledge to the national flag.

There's no historical basis for the language. The affirmation was added specifically to note the piety of these United States relative to the Godlessness of the Soviet Union. There was no other reason. Establishment of religion is the same as establishment of a particular religion.

You're welcome to your God. But the United States is founded on the notion that the government will stay out of the religion business.
You're right... and wrong.DJB
Oct 14, 2003 11:42 AM
"But the United States is founded on the notion that the government will stay out of the religion business."

True enough.

"Establishment of religion is the same as establishment of a particular religion."

Here's where I think you're wrong. How do the words "under God" constitute a religion? It doesn't require anyone to worship that god. It doesn't even name the god. There's a difference between mentioning "God" and requiring you to be religious.
then what's the point?mohair_chair
Oct 14, 2003 12:47 PM
If "under God" doesn't mean any particular god, what's the point of including it? Nothing else about the pledge is vague.

Only a naive soul would believe it doesn't mean the one specific Christian God. It certainly doesn't mean Zeus or Apollo. It certainly doesn't mean Odin.
Oct 14, 2003 1:17 PM
If there is only one God, how could it mean something different to anyone of another religion? It's the same Entity by a different name, that's all.

this, in a nutshell, is the problemmohair_chair
Oct 14, 2003 1:38 PM
There is nothing nonsensical about it. There are plenty of polytheistic religions that are followed by Americans. Hinduism, Shintoism, Wicca, etc. But I guess the writing is on the wall. You can't pledge your allegiance to the flag unless you believe in monotheism. We should round up all those pagans and ship them to Gitmo.
bingoDuane Gran
Oct 15, 2003 5:07 AM
You hit the nail on the head, Doug. I would also add that Christians who get so upset about evolution being taught in school can apply the same solution to their predicament. If they don't believe in evolution they have nothing to fear about it being discussed. I still think that open dialog is the best solution to the problem though.
fatuous rantSpoiler
Oct 14, 2003 11:20 AM
It's pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth (even a symbolic cloth) that bothers me. I'll think about pledging allegiance to the flag as soon as it pledges allegiance to me. Our nation is quite divisible and far from providing liberty and justice for all.

It's the best thing going, but not absolute enough for me to pledge anything.

I hate to spoil the dream...mohair_chair
Oct 14, 2003 11:37 AM
I would guess that 98% of kids in school could care less about the pledge of allegiance, the under god part, the flag, etc. Kids just don't care about these things. All of this stuff is generated by parents so that they can feel good about themselves. Look at us, look at our wonderful kids, and look at how much we love our kids. Even though the kids don't give a damn.

Doesn't anyone remember being a kid in school? I do. We recited all kinds of stuff by rote, and it was meaningless monotone drivel. We just didn't care. I'll guarantee that few, if any of my classmates thought about what they were saying. All we knew is that it put a smile on parent's faces to stand there with our hands on our hearts reciting the pledge, and that was why we did it. That was the only reason. In fact, I recall a few non-citizens in my classes who said the same pledge along with everyone else! They said it because if they didn't, everyone would notice, and they would be ostracized and probably beaten up because they were "different." Hell, that's why we all said it. Fear and shame, not love for country. We had no concept of that.
I had the hardest time figuring out...PdxMark
Oct 14, 2003 1:39 PM
why we were saying the nation was "invisible," and why we were pronouncing it so oddly.

But that going along to get along - works for the Pledge, and is the reason why school-led prayer is inducing compliance too.
Pledge Allegiance to flag....OK Under God........Not OKMR_GRUMPY
Oct 14, 2003 3:00 PM
It's time to change back the Pledge to the way it was written. Most people forget how much pressure kids are under to conform. It would only be the class clown that would shout out "Under Allah", and he would only do it once.
the kids are the cruxdr hoo
Oct 14, 2003 3:30 PM
The logic of the decision, iirc, is that having the state (through the public school) create this ritual puts the non-believing (or non-christian, or non-monotheist etc) child into a position with two options.

Option 1, say the pledge and don't stand out.

Option 2, protest, stand silently, or otherwise don't participate in the ritual. Here, when a child does as s/he deeply believes, the child is FORCED into a very PUBLIC act.

Lie, or be cast out.

The court decision stated that given the state REQUIRING schooling, imposing either option for the child is wrong. Force the kid into school, fine. But don't further force that powerful situation and choice on the kid.
the kids are the cruxDuane Gran
Oct 15, 2003 5:13 AM
The court decision stated that given the state REQUIRING schooling, imposing either option for the child is wrong. Force the kid into school, fine. But don't further force that powerful situation and choice on the kid.

Doesn't this sound like a recipe for sanitizing the education experience though? I don't want to put kids under stress, but if we reduce schooling to the acquisition of factual detail and never engage issues of what we believe as a culture, what are the consequences?
By that same argument,Kristin
Oct 15, 2003 5:39 AM
Shouldn't we require neither school attendance or the reciting anything. But then, I think the government should "require" very little. There are somethings, such as taxes, which are unavoidable. Wherever possible, my philosophy is that government should leave things up to individual choice. But whatever, I'm sure someone will jump in and tell me I'm wrong because I know nothing at all.
It's a special case when three words are involved:dr hoo
Oct 15, 2003 5:50 AM
Government, Religion, Force.
why not engage the concept?Duane Gran
Oct 16, 2003 8:07 AM
I still maintain that all of these issues can be addressed by rational dialog. I'm "forced" to hear all manner of things I disagree with, but I deal with this situation by:

1) Engaging with dialog where appropriate, and
2) Feeling content in my silence about my personal beliefs
good point -- should morality be taught in schools?DougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 6:38 AM
Should morality (not just facts) be taught in schools? It seems some people don't think so, unless it involves the issues de jure that are important to them, like "diversity" or "tolerance" education.

I'd say that if you could teach a kid to be moral by age 18, that would be fantastic even if he can't find a single state capital on a map.

But everyone has a different idea of what morality is. nmKristin
Oct 15, 2003 6:50 AM
absolutely notmohair_chair
Oct 15, 2003 6:56 AM
Your version of morality may not be mine. Is dancing immoral? Gambling? Drinking? To some people and in some places, it is. So unless the government wants to define morality, it shouldn't be teaching it.

What should be taught is ethics. It's similar to morality, only without the sinful aspect. Teaching ethics should lead to the same result. You can construct a world of right and wrong and teach it without imposing personal beliefs and dragging in religion. And I'm all for that.
so killing is simply "unethical"?DougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 7:03 AM
No doubt we'll disagree on some points about morality and ethics. However, does that mean there are no issues we can agree upon? In my view, "morals" are those things that generally are always right or wrong. Killing people, stealing, racism, would be examples. "Ethics" are agreed upon rules for a given circumstance. It would be unethical for a lawyer to speak directly to an opposing party who is represented by counsel, for example; no where near immoral -- it's just the rules we have constructed.

Certainly there must be some morals we can teach kids, for example:

*Don't cause pain to people
*Don't take what isn't yours
*Don't cheat on tests
*Tell the truth
*Don't poke fun at handicapped, etc.

would that even be part of the course?mohair_chair
Oct 15, 2003 7:13 AM
I think if we have to have a class to teach kids that killing is wrong, unethical, and immoral, it's too late.

Fact is, killing can fall into a grey area sometimes, so you can't just declare it as immoral. Is killing in self-defense immoral?

There is definitely value in expanding the concept of teaching ethics to include generally understood points of morality and right/wrong. That should be the subject for the first week or so, since that forms the basis of ethics.

Some of your points I disagree with. I think don't cheat on tests would fall under ethics. And do you always want to tell the truth? There are degrees to consider. What do you say when your wife asks "Does this make me look fat?"
Did they remove ethics from high school now too?Kristin
Oct 15, 2003 7:19 AM
When I was in school, ethics was a jr./sr. course elective. As far as knowing the differene between right an wrong, don't we all learn about that every day, starting from small children and continuing on? But making it a required curriculum becomes an issue when the teachers ideas of right and wrong differ from the parents. And this spills over, even into ethics. That is why it was an elective in my school.
Killing people is not always considered unethicalColnagoFE
Oct 15, 2003 9:37 AM
In times of war, in self defense, or in specific situations where you are protecting others it can be considered morally right. same with some of the other examples you have given...stealing and lying would be OK if it was done by a spy working for the ultimate good of a country.
Oct 15, 2003 9:46 AM
The entire point is to teach this things, or at least discuss them. When *is* killing ok? Is it ok when another gang off'd your friend? Is it ok when someone is breaking in to your house?

That's what philosophy class is forKristin
Oct 15, 2003 7:22 AM
Its a no-threat way to get kids thinking about morality. Teach them about Lock and Hobbs. Make them memorize what these men believed and most kids, at some point, will begin to think about the morals of ownership--unless they are shallow kids who never grow up, and then, I guess they simply are what they are.
Sorry if I confused my philosophers.Kristin
Oct 15, 2003 7:24 AM
Was it Locke and Hobbs? Or Locke and someone else? Anyway, if Locke will get most people thinking about ownership and stealing.
good point; teach many approachesDougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 7:31 AM
Good point. It need not be necessary to teach a single, precise moral code. Teach what many philosophers have said about these issues (Plato questioned whether morality itself could be taught), and see what sinks in. At least get them thinking about it.

Is it necessary? I'd say heck yes, now more than ever. Morality is not instinctive, and kids aren't going to learn it from television or other kids. If parents aren't making an active effort to teach morality, and kids are going to church to learn at least *some* moral code, then when the heck do we expect them to learn? Funny how some might argue we should teach sex education, but not morality. That's it -- let's teach them *how*, but not *whether*.

I'm not talking about indoctrination. It's more like exposure. At least expose them to morality.

If you want all this...Tri_Rich
Oct 15, 2003 8:31 AM
teachers need to be paid more than 20k a year.
Where do you live?Kristin
Oct 15, 2003 8:33 AM
Here they are paid 30-45K/year
about 50-80k here nmDougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 8:46 AM
but why?DougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 8:51 AM
Why would teachers need to make more money to teach philosophy or morality? I know for a fact that it is far easier than chemistry or calculus (I switched from biology to philosphy major in college).

but why?Tri_Rich
Oct 15, 2003 10:04 AM
More money= more teachers =the ability to teach things which are outside the scope of traditional subjects.

Additionally the current trend in public schools toward increased standardized testing and accountability means teachers are being forced to teach only things which can be tested with a scan-tron sheet.

20-30k is the starting salary in western North Carolina, depending on the district.
but this is the *most* traditional subject in history!DougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 10:12 AM
Philosophy is the oldest subject in human history. Well, I guess "spear throwing" might have been earlier.

While not ideal, it could be tested multiple choice.

I understand there is a push to focus on readin, ritin, and rithmatic, but I'd argue that next in line should be philosophy, well before lots of other social science classes.

but which philosophy/pilosophers....Tri_Rich
Oct 15, 2003 11:59 AM
whomever you choose to include/exclude there will be parents and community members who object. Look how much fuss has been made about what get taught in science class!! Imagine if you had student read The Communist Manifesto

I sound like a Republican, advocating that parents should teach morals and ethics.
sampling of everyoneDougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 12:27 PM
Communist Manifesto should be taught, otherwise could be difficult to understand history and how and why Lenin and others warped communism to their own ends, and ultimately why it failed.

Yes, teach it all. Ancient, Chinese, Western -- everything from Plato to Sartre to Tao to humanism. Get'em thinking.

Or just toss the whole idea and let 'em learn it in collegeKristin
Oct 15, 2003 12:36 PM
We already know kids don't think for themselves until their Jr. year of college.
too few people go to college nmDougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 12:58 PM
You and I agree on this.OldEdScott
Oct 16, 2003 5:21 AM
In fact, I'm a big fan of the straight Great Books approach. It would work, I believe, not just in college but in high school as well. But there IS a question of how you'd find enough high school teachers qualified to teach such a curriculum.
where do you stop though?ColnagoFE
Oct 16, 2003 10:20 AM
How about Mein Kampf? Would help them to understand Hitler and the Nazis, but no way that would find its way into a HS curriculum.
we figure out where to stop with all other subjects nmDougSloan
Oct 16, 2003 10:27 AM
Calvin and Hobbes, I believe, nmOldEdScott
Oct 16, 2003 5:16 AM
You're really into sweeping generalizations these days128
Oct 15, 2003 7:26 AM
-democrats don't trust people
-liberals like government
-issues de jure
-(I'm paraphrasing)

Civil behavior no longer allows institutionalized racism and sexism ("diversity" "tolerance")These are deeply ingrained experiences of US history, not issues de jure.

I guess this could still be a moral issue for some and relegated to the schools for those who expect too much from public education. I should hope children would learn most of this at home, public education is primarily for acedemics (and sports)imo.

I guess your're referencing the whacko PC fringe and their 'political hyperboly' and I would more agree than disagree with you there. The 'diversity' schtick is a sham and 'tolerance' is bafflingly vague in it's application imo. But what those "liberal code words" stand for is a triffle more than 'de jure'.
I'll throw in some "some" and "many" words then nmDougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 8:52 AM
That'd be a swell start. nm128
Oct 15, 2003 9:13 AM