Pharyngula

Poor baby

Elle Jacobson is a high school student who is skipping school because she’s afraid of atheists. Some parents are joining in the fear, all because of one little incident:

“This boy got up and his visual aid was a Bible and a book. And he got up and started his speech by saying ‘Now, this piece of crap’ and pointed to the Bible.”

Jacobson said that she quickly felt threatened.

“He took the Bible and he said, ‘I’m going to do this because I can. I’m going to do something that your stupid, little minds aren’t going to be able to comprehend and he took the Bible and started ripping out pages.”

Ripping up a copy of your own book is perfectly legal. Freaking out because somebody tore pages out of a book is silly — while I can’t approve of destroying any books on general principles, the kids at that school learned a valuable lesson: nothing is sacred.

Comments

  1. #1 ERV
    December 30, 2007

    Jackal– I’m all for destroying holy books, but I don’t imagine it was an A-student giving a speech in which he referred to his audience’s “stupid, little minds.”
    I wouldnt have, because I would have been scared about getting kicked out of school and losing my >4.0 GPA. That doesnt mean I did not have those thoughts, and it does not mean I wouldnt support a student who did and got in trouble:

    From the article:
    “In a separate incident, following the punishment, three Parker High Students wore T-shirts asking for the student in question to be brought back after a punishment was levied against him. School officials made those students change clothes.”

    Buy that young man some Hitchens and Dawkins and he will learn how express his views more eloquently. Do not degrade him for expressing himself in a perfectly legal manner.

  2. #2 Blake Stacey
    December 30, 2007

    while I can’t approve of destroying any books on general principles

    Ahem.

    You Janus-faced devil, you! :-)

  3. #3 Blake Stacey
    December 30, 2007

    rjb (#17):

    It’s a one-sided account of the speech. I’d want some verification from the student, the teacher, and/or other students in the room before I assumed that the speech actually included that kind of language.

    Yeah. Where’s the kid with the camera phone when you need him?

  4. #4 efrique
    December 31, 2007

    I’m sure Richard Dawkins wouldn’t mind if the offended ones bought a few copies each of The God Delusion to tear up in response. If they wanted to tear up God is Not Great, Hitchens might even sign it first.

  5. #5 Ichthyic
    December 31, 2007

    sorry but i have to say it:

    comparing ripping up a bible to threats of bodily harm is fucking ridiculous.

    good luck with that argument in a court of law.

  6. #6 KM
    December 31, 2007

    Ichthyic @ 78: Hear, hear! That’s more or less exactly what I was going to write.

  7. #7 ansuzmannaz
    December 31, 2007

    I’d like to join the short line of people disappointed in those defending the actions of this young man. Despite what Ichthyic implies you do not need a verbal ultimatum of bodily harm to severely threaten people. Direct insults, a menacing tone and, to top it off, a display of violence against objects can come across as very threatening. Especially when the speaker goes out of the way to make a connection between that object and the people he’s talking to, making the expapyration of the bible a proxy for violence against his audience. Maybe it isn’t nearly so bad as threatening to blow someone’s brains out, but it’s still bad, and can still be frightening.

    Of course, there’s also the question of how atheists would react if that same student had done the same thing with a copy of The God Delusion and a class of atheists, calling them idiots for not believing and referencing Bertrand(?) Russel’s intestinally embedded collection of fine china. I imagine it wouldn’t quite have the same impact, but I imagine he would be described as a lame-brained Christobot with anger issues. Nobody would defend or care about his right to free speech. Propping this young man up as an example of atheist persecution is hardly symmetrical. There’s really nothing saying he isn’t a lame-brained atheistbot with anger issues. He’s not the sort of person we want representing the atheist cause, especially when he doesn’t get around to making logical points. Unless, of course, the atheist movement is about shocking and intimidating others into converting.

    Last time I checked, one of the reasons I was an atheist was that I was tired of religions doing the same thing. Don’t take that reason away.

  8. #8 QrazyQat
    December 31, 2007

    I’m sure Richard Dawkins wouldn’t mind if the offended ones bought a few copies each of The God Delusion to tear up in response.

    As George Harrison said in response to people burning Beatles records, “They’ve got to buy them before they can burn them”.

  9. #9 Tuomo Hämäläinen
    December 31, 2007

    Symbolism is bad? Burning symbol is like violence? Really?

  10. #10 Tuomo Hämäläinen
    December 31, 2007

    Duh. Links doesn’t work..

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Science/story?id=415444&page=2

    If I rip Bible is not bad. It is insulting. Yes. It offends many. Yes. But christians dont think that when their ragerally against almost everybody else. (Westboro Babptist Church etc. Ah They really show us the Way!)

    And yet they do it. And their christian fellas are not anry to them. Becouse it is kinda their right be insulting and offending.

    I live in Finland, it is great country to live. But there is blashemylaw. “Jumalanpilkkalaki”. That gives religious people advantage: Here is illegal insult religious group (big enough+which have holy book. Yes that is in law). But atheism. It is not religion. And evolution is not either. (Creationist’s shout that they both are, off course. But if we are talking about the blashemy law. No, there are the “special conditions”. And if you insult their belief, there is certain risk. Usually nobody sues enyone with this law, but if you are popular enough, there WILL be problems..)

    But i think it is a bit different in USA. There you can burn Bible. I must do it indoor. I got Jehovah Wittness stuff, and use it as toilet paper. OK, paper is hard, but if you rub it in your hands first, it get softer. (OK. that is really a joke. Rude, but i think it’s place is right there!)

  11. #11 Bing
    December 31, 2007

    Chris said:

    Didn’t Jefferson cut up the bible til there was nothing left when he was alive?

    Kurt Wise did pretty much the same thing in a story told by Richard Dawkins.

    He achieved the first part of his goal, but became increasingly uneasy as his scientific learning conflicted with his religious faith. When he could bear the strain no longer he clinched the matter with a Bible and a pair of scissors. He went right through from Genesis 1 to Revelations 22, literally cutting out every verse that would have to go if the scientific world view were true. At the end of this exercise, there was so little left of his Bible that . . .

    Source: Sadly, an Honest Creationist

    And Kurt now has Billy Dembski’s old job at the Fundy Bi-bull Collidge of the Appalachians.

    So it looks like there’s hope for the bible-tearing kid yet.

  12. #12 Tuomo Hämäläinen
    December 31, 2007

    Yes I think that ripping and burning is different thing. And other ways: It is different to insult and be free. (Sometimes freedom needs right to insult. But I think it is not the best way. Allmost ever.)

    ID:eers burn the “evolution”. I think anyone was scared. If someone says he dont scare Bible and rip it. Yes, it can really insult. And perhaps that is not what people are looking when they are protecting freedom. (I don’t want “freedom to beat puppies” or any other “freedoms” like that.)

    I think Boy should have “serious conversation”. About manners, *not* religion. And yes, I think in this story is a cottonlived girl, who have not seen life. (I don’t want first think that she is liar. I prefer to think she is a coward and “sissy”. That is much more understandable.)

    OK. I must confess. When i got my “white hat”, i burned those swedish language books. (All finns must learn that language. And I am poor in _all_ languages. And in sweden. I am the most poor.) So I burned my frustrations and painful hours. I even danced a little. Many laughed. No one scared.

    It is not just the ripping or burning. It is the whole mess; motivations and how it is made. From outside it is hard to tell what really happened. (Or more likely: How it happened.)

  13. #13 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 31, 2007

    Using the approach of negation (think Zen, Jiddu Krishnamurti, or Karl Popper) where the truth is found by understanding the false

    Erm, no. In science, falsehood is found by understanding the false. Then, when we have eliminated the impossible, we apply Ockham’s Razor to the remaining possibilities, however improbable… till we find that we’ve overlooked some more possibilities.

    We may well find the truth, but when we have found it, we have no way to tell that we’ve found it. What would that be? Comparing our findings to the truth, which we don’t have?

    Science really does work one way.

    And if it turns out the kid was an Ayn Rand fan, I’ll be even less sympathetic.

    And I’ll be more sympathetic, because that would mean he’s ill (complete lack of empathy) and needs help, assuming it’s even possible to heal that condition…

  14. #14 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 31, 2007

    Using the approach of negation (think Zen, Jiddu Krishnamurti, or Karl Popper) where the truth is found by understanding the false

    Erm, no. In science, falsehood is found by understanding the false. Then, when we have eliminated the impossible, we apply Ockham’s Razor to the remaining possibilities, however improbable… till we find that we’ve overlooked some more possibilities.

    We may well find the truth, but when we have found it, we have no way to tell that we’ve found it. What would that be? Comparing our findings to the truth, which we don’t have?

    Science really does work one way.

    And if it turns out the kid was an Ayn Rand fan, I’ll be even less sympathetic.

    And I’ll be more sympathetic, because that would mean he’s ill (complete lack of empathy) and needs help, assuming it’s even possible to heal that condition…

  15. #15 Blake Stacey
    December 31, 2007

    Tatarize (#165):

    As a firm materialist and staunch believer in the laws of thermodynamics I would be offended if a student stood up in front of class and created or destroyed matter or energy.

    LOL. Now, we just need Cuttlefish to put that into verse.

  16. #16 MAJeff
    December 31, 2007

    When I was an undergraduate, our concert choirs and orchestra were preparing to perform Orff’s Carmina Burana (man, that was fun). We had a young lady that sounds like this terrified young woman. She refused to perform the piece because it offended her Christian beliefs. She also got fussy because during a conversation, I refused to apologize for offending her by saying that the Bible wasn’t proof of anything.

    I don’t know the specifics of this case. It’s possible the student utilized the tearing of the Bible in a way that was in line with his presentation. Honestly, my money is really on the little Christian having her world view challenged and freaking the fuck out. I’ve seen that side of it far too often….but that’s merely speculation. However, there is a band of truly fuckwitted Christians out there–the spiritual warfare types–who see the entire world as a terrifying place trying to tempt them away from their sky daddy.

  17. #17 Moses
    December 31, 2007

    I’d like to join the short line of people disappointed in those defending the actions of this young man. Despite what Ichthyic implies you do not need a verbal ultimatum of bodily harm to severely threaten people. …

    He didn’t. And unless a threat is explicitly made, it’s not a threat. That you’re afraid is your problem and you can’t ban people because you’re afraid of them because you’re scared.

    For example, when I was a boy they integrated my all-white elementary school. Up until then my head had been filled full of crap about blacks by my very racist babysitter and her racist husband.

    When the blacks came to school, I was terrified.

    But nothing happened and I had an epiphany.

    Hopefully you’ll have one too.

    Last time I checked, one of the reasons I was an atheist was that I was tired of religions doing the same thing. Don’t take that reason away.

    Posted by: ansuzmannaz | December 31, 2007 3:15 AM

    Too bad you did it to yourself, by yourself. Because there is nothing reported where you can say there was any explicit threat. Only wimps to wimpy to handle crappy performance art. And the wimps who agree with their right to be wimps, apparently.

  18. #18 Blake Stacey
    December 31, 2007

    Don (#178):

    He might reasonably say to his classmates, ‘This book which contains all your morality, did you know that here it commands that civilian prisoners of war should be slaughtered except for under-age girls who are a bonus prize for the killers? Do you want that page in your book of life? Yes? No? rrrip. And this part, showing that the correct response to a mixed marriage is to run both of them through with a spear? Is that the morality you want? Yes? No? rrrip.’

    And so on. A lot. Some might feel frightened by that, but I think it would be a valid, if robust way of making a point.

    Exactly right.

    I’m not saying that is what happened, but if it were then I’d give the kid a passing grade or better.

    In a situation like this, there’s no crime in acting like a 1950s sci-fi computer and declaring, “INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL RESPONSE.” On the basis of one news story, and a rather incompetent one at that, we cannot make the judgment that the student did not perform (or at least intend to perform) an act like the one you described.

  19. #19 Blake Stacey
    December 31, 2007

    dh (#208):

    Don in #178, and Blake in #199, the two examples you give, are those not old testament text you are calling upon for examples?

    I don’t remember why, but I think that’s relevant here.

    Well, since Jesus Himself said that He wouldn’t change a jot or tittle of the Mosaic Law, I figure Old Testament references are perfectly cricket. (Or would you be willing to tear out the first half of every Bible you find?) Anyway, it doesn’t matter too much, since Don could easily have picked New Testament references, such as the endorsement of slavery (1 Peter 2:18, Luke 12:46 and elsewhere), God telling lies for the fun of it (2 Thessalonians 2:11), loathing of women (too many to even try listing, but I particularly like 1 Timothy 2:11 and the following verses), and in general more cruelty and violence than you could shake a crucifix at.

  20. #20 Carlie
    December 31, 2007

    If it had been the Koran or some icon of progressivism or freethought that he had torn up while issuing insults many of you would have a very different assessment of the deed.

    You’re kidding, right? Some of those same commenters suggested that very thing. There were several suggestions of ripping up Atlas Shrugged, a few that Dawkins and Hitchens would happily autograph copies of their books and help tear them up themselves. And where do you get off suggesting that atheists have any more reverence for the Koran than the Bible? The only reason we focus on Christianity more than Islam is because it’s the bigger threat to our own society at the moment.

  21. #21 MAJeff
    December 31, 2007

    Yeah, and how would you like it if I cam into your class room and started ripping tentecles off a live squid. Huh?

    Living creature vs. book. See the difference? Probably not.

  22. #22 Colugo
    December 31, 2007

    Carlie: “The only reason we focus on Christianity more than Islam is because it’s the bigger threat to our own society at the moment.”

    That’s part of it; there is also a common perception of Muslims as a “subaltern” / “Othered” group in imminent danger from domestic peckerwoods, so any assault on Muslim symbology constitutes a more plausible threat against Muslims than a parallel act would a threat against Christians.

    Certainly there are a variety of opinions here. But even I would wonder about the emotional or mental health of a teenager who angrily ripped up a copy of a book by Bertrand Russell or Richard Dawkins in a classroom while insulting freethought. It probably is just androgenized young male attention-seeking. But I would make sure that’s all it is.

  23. #23 Ichthyic
    December 31, 2007

    I used no vulgar language, I didn’t know the word VAGINA was an explitive.

    indeed i always thought the whole point of the Vagina Monologues was to point out that it is not.

    At least now we’re getting the other side of the story.

    and it makes it even more clear that the the girl in this case is playing up victimhood for attention.

    sure doesn’t sound like a demented teen whose intent was violence to me.

  24. #24 Ichthyic
    December 31, 2007

    he seems much more intelligent than many of the people who’ve shown up here to whine about him.

    yes.

    the reaction to the teen’s actions in that district, including the girl’s, are likely highly dependent on the sensibilities imparted by such people to begin with.

    it rather looks like a “circling the wagons” phenomenon.

  25. #25 Tuomo Hämäläinen
    December 31, 2007

    I take happily every single bible i can get (free). And I allways say “thank you”. And be nice. Reasons:
    1: Religious minded people actually have to print those books. And that costs money. And if i get something free, it is like taking money right from their chest.
    2: Bibles paper is thin. They are free cigarrettepapers. (Half of fun is the fingerwork, i don’t actually like the smoking part. But cigarrette rolling, it is so relaxing. After that I can be better person and even give some of them to te “nicotineaddict in need”. So religion really helps me to be nice to others! Thank you!)

  26. #26 Ichthyic
    December 31, 2007

    I would suspect the individual to be, at the least, disturbed and hostile.

    instead of your suspicions though, we actually have direct statements of purpose and intent from the teen who ripped up the bible.

    look at the statement he made, and tell me you then conclude he was “disturbed and hostile”.

  27. #27 JanieBelle
    January 1, 2008

    Good on ‘im. He’s thinking for himself and exercising his First Amendment right. He’s learning, which is exactly what he’s supposed to be doing in school.

    I’m sorry if that offends someone… on second thought… no I’m not. I’m tickled pink that it offends someone. Mostly, I’m tickled that it offends the mindless sheep that are demanding that he be respectful of 15th century superstitions.

    Pfft. Bite me. (I hope you find that just as offensive.)

  28. #28 truth machine
    January 1, 2008

    And I don’t want to “ban” book tearing or offensive statements, as poor agitated truth machine implied.

    Perhaps you need a lesson in basic semantics. When you say that something is inappropriate for the classroom, that means you want it banned from the classroom.

    Have you read what this young man wrote that I quoted in #269 yet?

  29. #29 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    Uhm. Dude. No it doesn’t.

    Why is it every time you feel the need to refute me you also try to insult me? It makes it very difficult to discuss anything with you.

    I wrote that I didn’t think it was right to punish him, and I didn’t think it was right to “ban” the action. I just would think it was in poor taste and probably would have said something to him about it or written a comment on his evaluation sheet. That doesn’t ban book ripping any more than it bans poor spelling.

    And yes, I read what he said. In my last comment, you’ll notice that I took my quotations directly from his apparent statement.

  30. #30 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    What I find distasteful about what he did is exactly what I find distasteful about your comments. It’s rudeness without any cause for rudeness. It doesn’t add anything to your argument, it just makes me wonder if you weren’t raised better.

  31. #31 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    Uhm. Dude. No it doesn’t.

    Naysaying is not an argument.

    I wrote that I didn’t think it was right to punish him

    So what? That’s a non sequitur. You also said it’s not appropriate. If you think it’s not appropriate, then you think it shouldn’t be allowed. If you think it shouldn’t be allowed, then you think it should be banned. If you deny that, you’re simply being dishonest. I don’t give a flying fuck if you think that’s rude; being rude is a lot better than your bad faith.

    What I find distasteful about what he did is exactly what I find distasteful about your comments.

    I don’t give a flying fuck what you find distasteful. What you find distasteful is of interest to only one person, and that’s your pompous self.

    it just makes me wonder if you weren’t raised better

    “raised better”? What kind of fucking priss are you?

  32. #32 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    Wow.

    Uhm.

    I don’t really know what to do with that.

    Yikes.

    See, I think schools should teach students how… uhm, NOT to do what truth machine just did.

  33. #33 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    Here, try again. Read what I said and see how it doesn’t require the manning of anything:

    I wrote that I didn’t think it was right to punish him, and I didn’t think it was right to “ban” the action. I just would think it was in poor taste and probably would have said something to him about it or written a comment on his evaluation sheet. That doesn’t ban book ripping any more than it bans poor spelling.

    If you can, leave out the four letter words.

  34. #34 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    Sorry. *banning*

  35. #35 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    OK – well, anyway, I’m off for the next few days to visit friends in the great white north, so I guess I’m letting truth machine have the last word here. (I shudder to think of what might be said in my absence, but somehow I will sleep at night. Perhaps some heavy medication and booze shall do it.)

    Some parting comments:
    - Mr. Machine, you used the phrase “non sequitur” incorrectly. What you meant was “contradiction.” What I said isn’t a contradiction, either, but at least this word would have made sense.
    - I am not religious. Not everyone who disagrees with you is doing it because they are religious. You need to understand that.
    - I asked you what a “concern troll” was… no answer. One more question: What exactly is a “flying fuck”? Is this a reference to the mile-high club, or what?

    Cheers,
    Kristen.

  36. #36 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    I don’t really know what to do with that.

    As it says up at the top: Poor baby.

    See, I think schools should teach students how… uhm, NOT to do what truth machine just did.

    I am capable of doing otherwise, you insufferably pompous twit, but as an adult I choose to do as I do.

    Read what I said and see how it doesn’t require the manning of anything

    What kind of stupid fucking moron are you? You wrote “ripping up a Bible in front of a class is not something that is appropriate for a high school presentation.” If you think it’s not appropriate, then you don’t want it to be allowed; there’s no other way to interpret “not appropriate”. Writing a negative comment on an evaluation sheet is a coercion; it amounts to a ban, just like laws that impose a fine for speeding constitute a ban on speeding.

    - Mr. Machine, you used the phrase “non sequitur” incorrectly.

    No, I did not, you moron. I had just said that declaring something inappropriate is the same as declaring that you want it banned. You said no it isn’t, and then said that you wrote that you didn’t think it was right to punish him — but that has no bearing on my claim, thus is non sequitur. “contradiction” applies to your “no it doesn’t”, but that isn’t what I called non sequitur. You correct me on something that I wasn’t wrong about, and then say that your correction doesn’t make sense — that might make someone who wasn’t so pompous and arrogant pause for a moment. But like so many fools, you have no grasp of the depths of your foolishness.

  37. #37 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    I am not religious. Not everyone who disagrees with you is doing it because they are religious. You need to understand that.

    It looks like you already drank that booze. In #152 I asked if you’re a believer; in #154 you said you aren’t. Since then I not referred to your beliefs in any way. So don’t tell me that I “need to understand” things that I have given no reason to think I don’t … that’s bad faith, which your education seems not to have covered.

  38. #38 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    Look, you’re not getting it.

    It’s like in debating. At the McGill Debating Union, we frown upon too many points of information (interruptions or comments during the other person’s speech). If they are done sparingly and elegantly, then that gives you points. If they are done to the point of being disruptive and rude, then they’re frowned upon. That doesn’t mean that asking too many PIs is “banned” – it just lowers the level of debate and gets annoying. After it’s over, the judges might make a comment like, ‘a few of those PIs were out of order.’

    You see? I think the student was out of order, but he had the right to stand up there and do it. Just like the teacher has the right to comment on it after he’s done and suggest the student approach the argument with more decorum.

    See?

  39. #39 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    truth machine,

    you referred in 289 to my “bad faith” !

  40. #40 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    That doesn’t ban book ripping any more than it bans poor spelling.

    Uh, right. So the fact that poor spelling results in a poor grade on school work means that poor spelling is allowed/permitted/not banned (these all mean the same thing) on school work? Uh sure. So just what would it mean for something not to be allowed? How would you go about banning some behavior? If you mention some more severe penalty than the reprimand that you’re claiming isn’t a ban, then you’re going to have to explain just how severe of a penalty it takes for something to be banned. It’s a hopelessly ad hoc enterprise. The fact is that any behavior that is penalized is banned behavior — it is not permitted. If you give permission for some behavior, that implies that you won’t impose a penalty for it.

    Like I said, you need a basic lesson in semantics.

  41. #41 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    ARGHT. I’ll be late for my flight. Byebye.

  42. #42 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    Look, you’re not getting it.

    Wrong, fool.

    you referred in 289 to my “bad faith” !

    And again in #295.

    I thought you had somewhere to go? Do you need a lesson in what “parting thoughts” means?

  43. #43 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    And I’m not suggesting a more severe penalty than a reprimand or a comment – that’s what you’re not understanding. It’s just an encouragement to the student to make his argument better. That really isn’t a “ban.” A ban would be suspending or giving a detention or giving an F to the offending student.

    Can’t you see the subtlety of it?

  44. #44 kristen in montreal
    January 2, 2008

    yeah i keep trying to leave but you keep not understanding me. ok, that’s it. now I’m going. Have a good day.

  45. #45 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    If they are done to the point of being disruptive and rude, then they’re frowned upon. That doesn’t mean that asking too many PIs is “banned”

    It does if sanctions are imposed. And if you deny it, you need to say what would constitute banning. Just repeating your claim again and saying I don’t get it does not suffice … it’s bad faith.

  46. #46 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    And I’m not suggesting a more severe penalty than a reprimand or a comment

    I know you’re not. That you write that shows your poor reading comprehension.

    that’s what you’re not understanding

    Uh, no, I understand that just fine — it is you who do not understand.

    A ban would be suspending or giving a detention or giving an F to the offending student.

    No, something cannot be banned or not banned merely on the severity of the penalty — that’s an arbitrary distinction.

    Can’t you see the subtlety of it?

    It is you who do not grasp the subtlety of it.

    yeah i keep trying to leave but you keep not understanding me.

    Yeah, if I disagree I must not understand. Typical bad faith charge.

  47. #47 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    No, something cannot be banned or not banned merely on the severity of the penalty — that’s an arbitrary distinction.

    And I already made this point in a way that should be accessible to those of even the most feeble mental capacity, when I mentioned speeding. All illegal behavior is banned, regardless of the severity of the penalty. All penalized behavior is banned behavior — behavior not permitted — behavior for which permission is not granted.

  48. #48 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    Another example: anything for which that you would yell “no!” at a child or dog is banned behavior. It doesn’t require “suspending or giving a detention or giving an F to” the offender.

  49. #49 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    You see? I think the student was out of order, but he had the right to stand up there and do it. Just like the teacher has the right to comment on it after he’s done and suggest the student approach the argument with more decorum.

    See?

    I see your bad faith. No one punishes the teacher for commenting on it. No one claims that such comments by a teacher are “not appropriate”.

  50. #50 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    Finally, I would like to note that this whole silly discussion came from a bad faith response to this comment of mine:

    I don’t think you’ve fully considered the consequences of banning from the classroom anything that makes people angry, insulted, or defensive.

    The point was clear enough: I don’t think that Ms. “in montreal” has fully considered the consequences of deeming “inappropriate”, reprimanding, making negative evaluation comments, etc. etc., anything in the classroom that makes students angry, insulted, or defensive.

  51. #51 Steven Sullivan
    January 2, 2008

    kristen & truth machine : please get a room. I can’t be alone in skipping all of your exchanges at this point.

    I read the kid’s screed. It’s about as coherent as I’d expect from what I’ve read of this dust-up so far. Which is to say…only kinda sorta. To wit: “I was simply sharing a few ideas with the class, and I thought maybe they could be mature enough to handle the content. Sure I made a comments that some of their tiny little brains might not be able to comprehend the material and they were superstitious ignoramuses.”

    That’s a curious application of the concept of maturity.

    And: “How much history did Christians from old Europe destroyed? Massive monasteries with libraries packed with rich literature and lore from long long ago.”

    Huh?

    And then there’s “Freedom is free.” That sounds nice as a slogan, but what does it mean, and is it historically accurate? Seems to me freedom has been anything but ‘free’ for much of humanity.

    So while his heart is in the right place from a freethinker POV, I’m still wanting to read a less ‘invested’ account of his presentation. Clearly he/she thought this kid did a good job (that’s what B used to mean when I was in high school). I’d like to hear the teacher’s side of the story.

  52. #52 tigtog
    January 2, 2008

    truth machine,

    you referred in 289 to my “bad faith” !

    For shame, someone continually referring to debating society rules not recognising that “bad faith arguments” have nothing to do with religion.

    http://research.lawyers.com/glossary/bad-faith.html

  53. #53 tigtog
    January 2, 2008

    Bugger, bollixed the HTML on the quote. The second line above should also be part of the blockquote.

  54. #54 TW
    January 2, 2008

    While I dont really have that strong an opinion one way or another over this (basically the kid was a bit over the top but the “offended” students really need to get over themselves), I am intrigued by one thing.

    How is commenting on his evaluation not a form of (admittedly very mild) punishment?

  55. #55 late to the fray
    January 2, 2008

    “But how does that make you any different than the crowds that cheer on book burners?

    This kids a scuzzball, just as willfully ignorant and closeminded as any bookburner.”

    I get that this idiocy was spouted long ago, but as a resident of a school district where the uberchristians routinely attempt to burn books–that is, seek to have them barred from school libraries and removed from reading lists–I just want to say that the inability to distinguish between destroying a single copy of a book, and acting so as to prevent everyone from reading it, speaks to an ignorance and illogic so deep that I’m surprised the speaker is capable of actually typing it. Actually, I would suspect s/he requires assistance to remember breathing. Despite all the knotted panties and horrified cries of incivility–which apparently is to be prized above all knowledge and experience–perhaps this student’s actions will enable a classmate to avoid the drooling stupidity evidenced by the above commenter.

  56. #56 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    For shame, someone continually referring to debating society rules not recognising that “bad faith arguments” have nothing to do with religion.

    Good grief, is that what she meant? I hadn’t imagined she was that ignorant.

  57. #57 truth machine
    January 2, 2008

    I can’t be alone in skipping all of your exchanges at this point.

    You could well be, as this thread is ancient by Pharyngula standards and is about to scroll off the front page. In any case, I couldn’t care less what some random person chooses to skip.

  58. #58 kristen in timmins, ON
    January 3, 2008

    I’m sorry I did not understand what you meant. 99% of the time I debate in French, and I don’t think there is an equivalent term to “bad faith.”

  59. #59 anti-nonsense
    January 3, 2008

    Well I do think the presentation was a bit over the top for a high school demonstration and that he should have at least made intelligent arguments for why the Bible is wrong while ripping it up, and preferably not ripped it up at all, because I disagree with destroying books in general, rather then insulting his classmates’ intelligence, I would agree that feeling “threatened” by his presentation is an overreaction.

    If he’d done his thing at home and uploaded onto Youtube that would be OK, although I still don’t agree with ripping up books personally, but doing it at school was the wrong place and time to do it.

    Also, I disagree with the statement that “no word of the Bible is true”, the Bible does have a fair amount of good moral advice, although even that is mixed with bad moral advice, but as far as science and history goes, the Bible fails hardcore.

  60. #60 Pyre
    January 5, 2008

    Wobert @ 62: “… the lad in question has just shown that he knows more about the US constitution and has more balls than anyone on the Republican side of politics.”

    And at least half the Democrats in Congress.

  61. #61 San
    January 6, 2008

    “Heck, I’m afraid of theists– they’re irrational and always saying creepy things about this invisible guy who killed his kid for me and threatening eternal damnation…
    but no one ever protected me from them.” (#81)

    Thanks ‘ungodly goddess’ for that . Exactly my feelings.

    And believe me I have more reasons to feel threatened: they now have their own “museum” (the Creationist museum http://www.uglydoggy.com/2007/09/sci-fi-goes-museum.html) and nobody moved a finger to have that place renamed? Call it Creationland, Bibleland, anything but museum!.

    So if that girl felt threaten, bad luck, it is her problem. He has the right, he was probably fed up, he may have just want the shock value, who knows? He did nothing illegal, he was expressing himself.

  62. #62 Schroedinger's Dog
    February 14, 2009

    Reminds me of that one time when I was staying in Florida. My host’s wife, a fundie christian, found some Lovecraft books on my night table.

    When I came back from the beach, I found her in the garden, burning my books. When asked why, she said these were the work of the devil.

    How come no parents feared for my safety at the time? (Safety which was probably more at stake than in PZ’s account)…

  63. #63 Sven DiMilo
    February 14, 2009

    Just curious, Dog:
    How did you find this thread?

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