Weekly StopTheACLU Absurdity Update

The latest nonsense at StopTheACLU is this post written by "Jay" about a high school student in Florida who is suing because he says he was berated by a teacher for refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. The hyper-patriots have been fuming at this student for weeks, calling him a "punk kid" a couple weeks ago, but now they've upped the ante to saying the kid should be physically assaulted for not pledging allegiance:

If I had been one of his classmates, I would have made him see some stars he would respect. If I were his parents, he wouldn't want to sit down after I showed him after the kind of red stripes I showed him.

Ah, bravissimo - the perfect balance of stupidity and machismo. Gosh, I can't imagine why the kid needs the protection of the courts with violent cretins like Jay around. And just to add to the idiocy, he continues:

Dissent is one thing, disrespect for the very freedom that gives you that right is another.

Welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department. This isn't even a coherent sentence, for crying out loud. The only one disrespecting freedom here is you, Jay, by saying that if this student doesn't want to follow your little ritual he should be beaten. That should be obvious to anyone with an IQ over room temperature, which I know leaves you out. And then there's this little gem:

In our parent's generation this would have been unheard of. The mentality of our Nation has went sour.

Let me give you a little history lesson, Jay. Just take a moment, stop saluting, kick off your jackboots, sit down and take notes. Not only was this not unheard of in your parents' generation, it was going on in your grandparents' generation. Back in 1935, a Jehovah's Witness family from Minersville, Pennsylvania, sparked a national controversy when their kids refused to salute the flag and recite the pledge because their religion teaches that this is a form of idolatry that they can't participate in.

You can imagine what happened next, primarily because were you alive then you would certainly have been doing the same thing - the family began receiving death threats. The school expelled them. In fact, Jehovah's Witnesses all around the nation started being harrassed. Many were beaten up, their homes were burned. Not that you would care, of course. After all, by your "reasoning" - a word I hesitate to use in describing the sub-simian emoting that passes for thought in your world - those kids were the ones "disrespecting freedom" and they surely deserved to be beaten for it just like Cameron Frazier down in Florida.

In 1938, a Federal judge named Albert Maris issued a brave opinion in favor of the free speech rights of all Americans (the first amendment also forbids compelled speech). An appeals court upheld that decision. The Supreme Court, however, reversed the decision and ruled in favor of the school in what was surely one of the most absurd decisions they have ever handed down. Thankfully, just three years later the Court overturned this decision.

In West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette, the Court ruled that the government could not compel a student to salute the flag or recite the pledge of allegiance. The decision was delivered by Justice Robert Jackson, the justice that William Rehnquist clerked for, and it is one of the most eloquent defenses of liberty ever penned. In particular, Jackson wrote one of the most famous and oft-quoted statements in the history of the Supreme Court:

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

Likewise, two other Justices, Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, who had voted against the right to refuse a flag salute in the Gobitis case only three years earlier, had come to their senses in the meantime and penned an eloquent concurrence to explain their change of heart. They wrote:

Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self- interest. Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people's elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions. These laws must, to be consistent with the First Amendment, permit the widest toleration of conflicting viewpoints consistent with a society of free men.

Neither our domestic tranquillity in peace nor our martial effort in war depend on compelling little children to participate in a ceremony which ends in nothing for them but a fear of spiritual condemnation. If, as we think, their fears are groundless, time and reason are the proper antidotes for their errors.

You see Jay, these are the words of real patriots. Real patriots value liberty and freedom of conscience as being far more important than mindless fealty and conformity. Fake patriots like you turn the flag into a fetish and an object of worship and forget about the liberty that flag is symbolic of. Real patriots protect dissenting minorities exercising their liberty. Real patriots protect our children from fake patriots like you, who threaten physical violence against those who, unlike yourself, haven't sold their souls for a few moments of empty ritual and a zeal for violent repression.

P.S. It almost goes without saying that this same guy liveblogged the entire state of the union speech and declared it "awesome stuff." How deluded do you have to be to listen to any president deliver a speech full of empty platitudes and cheer for it? You can almost imagine him putting the lid on the jar of vaseline and reaching for a cigarette when it was over.


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Perhaps this feeling is merely my paranoia, but there seems to be a growing belief in freedom of speech as long as you agree with me. If you are for the war in Iraq, you are a racist, oil-crazy, warmonger, and if you are against the war you hate the troops, liked Saddam, and should go back to the 1960s. As both the Alito hearing and the SOTU showed, we no longer debate in this country. Instead our politicians' statements are market tested, run through three speech writers, and processed until there is no nutritional value left. Sound bytes for the media, letters for the core constituency, and platitudes for the public have become the norm. If I want real American debate, I take the Anti/Federalist Papers and the Lincoln-Doublas debates because such is certainly not occurring on the Senate floor these days.

By Irrational Entity (not verified) on 02 Feb 2006 #permalink

Jay literally wants to beat him until his morale improves.

By fake ed brayton (not verified) on 02 Feb 2006 #permalink

'You can almost imagine him putting the lid on the jar of vaseline and reaching for a cigarette when it was over.'

Damn that was funny. LOL :-)

Ed, I can't recall your being so worked up in a while. I call that righteous indignation.

By Mark Paris (not verified) on 02 Feb 2006 #permalink

From Ed:

You can almost imagine him putting the lid on the jar of vaseline and reaching for a cigarette when it was over.

That's a good one Ed. :D

So would that make the "...and may God bless America!" the money shot?

From Irrational Entity:

Sound bytes for the media...

You mean the piss-poor excuse for a media we have now days, with "journalists" who simply write down whatever politicians tell them and then regurgitate it with almost no critical analysis, no matter how obviously logically incoherent or factually inaccurate it might have been.

By Troy Britain (not verified) on 02 Feb 2006 #permalink

Troy Britain wrote:

You mean the piss-poor excuse for a media we have now days, with "journalists" who simply write down whatever politicians tell them and then regurgitate it with almost no critical analysis, no matter how obviously logically incoherent or factually inaccurate it might have been.

Boy did you nail it. It drives me crazy to watch journalists do this. The example I gave in the state of the union speech is ideal. Here is how a typical TV talking head would portray it:

"In response to criticism that discretionary spending has grown at absurd rates during his administration, the President pointed out that the growth of non-security discretionary spending had been reduced each year he's been in office. Back to you, Wolf."

This is "balanced" journalism, to present two sides as though they were both perfectly reasonable when the reality is that the "response" to the criticism is irrelevant and ridiculous.

You mean the piss-poor excuse for a media we have now days...

I appreciated the quick overview the Daily Show presented of various "anchor types" fulminating about whether the speech was a "laundry list" or was not. Substantive criticism? I am so sure. But back to little Jay jr.; if there really is such a suit, is it not for the harrassment and psychological abuse the student has/is receiving?? Given the constitutional legality for not rising to the salute the flag (and back in the way back days, US citizens saluted with a straight arm, palm facing flag position later to be favored by the Nazi's) the student in question was being berated in a direct infringement of his constitutional rights. Is it so impossible for Jay to comprehend the willingness of someone to stand up for their rights. "Get up, Stand Up, Stand up for your Rights!!"

Do you think it's possible to categorically declare StopTheACLU some type of hate-oriented organization on par with the KKK?

...and if you are against the war you hate the troops, liked Saddam, and should go back to the 1960s.

I'd love to go back to the sixties! I missed a lot of music!

By FishyFred (not verified) on 02 Feb 2006 #permalink

We'll probably never see them complaining about this ACLU action: http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid25102.asp

Charges against an antigay Southern Baptist minister arrested for soliciting sex from a male police officer in Oklahoma should be dropped on constitutional grounds, says the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Wednesday in an effort to dismiss the case against 60-year-old pastor Lonnie Latham, arrested in January on a misdemeanor charge of �offering to engage in an act of lewdness� with an undercover police officer. Latham invited the officer up to his Oklahoma City motel room for oral sex but did not offer money for the act, according to the police report.

By wildlifer (not verified) on 02 Feb 2006 #permalink

From wildlifer:

We'll probably never see them complaining about this ACLU action:

I've already commented on that thread, including posting several links to where the ACLU defended the rights of Christians in schools and to pray in public. Jay didn't like that very much and promptly deleted all my comments without notice.

Oh, thanks for that link wildlfer. I hadn't heard that one.

I find it more troublesome the comments that Jay DID allow on this post, especially from one of the guys who said he would find it "hard" to punnish a kid who punched one of those kids who decided not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Is this really what parents want to teach their kids; that it's OK to beat up other people just because they have different beleifs? If so, then we have really reduced patriotism to just displaying a few symbols instead of acting on and pursuing what I think our founders thought was a great ideal. And what's more troublesome is that I don't understand how this kind of mentality started or for that matter how we can stop it.

BTW: Thanks Ed for such great posts. I've been reading your blog for about four months now, and I've really enjoyed reading your analysis on a variety of these issues.