Thursday, September 15, 2005

Getting It Wrong

They -- whomever "they" are -- say that there are two sides to every story. This usually understates the number of sides, I think. Typically, stories have lots of sides. Most of the sides are wrong; each in its own way. How many ways can there be to be wrong about something? Seeing a news item like this one, it seems that there are lots. If you'd rather not click on the link, it's the usual. You've read it before, lots of times:

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A federal judge declared Wednesday that the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional, a decision that could potentially put the divisive issue back before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case was brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected last year by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

And so on and so on. Same words, same tune, slightly different title, maybe.

Something's going on in the government schools that's "unconstitutional?" How could that be? Does the constitution explicitly authorize the central government to operate or regulate schools? (No.) How, then, does the (federal) constitution bear on any question of what's done in schools that are operated by state or local governments, or maybe even (gasp!) privately? Where does a federal judge get any jurisdiction over such a question? The First Amendment to the federal constitution forbids "the Congress" from doing some things; did the Congress direct the recitation of the Pledge in the schools? (No.) So much for the "constitutionality" issue. There isn't one.

Is it a good idea to make kids say the Pledge of Allegiance in schools? I don't think so. Dr. Michael Newdow, the eee-villl atheist who often plays the role of Goldstein when the evangelical world gathers for its daily Five Minutes' Hate, was quoted in the news story:

"Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists,"' Newdow said in an interview with AP Radio after the ruling.

"I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that.' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against atheists. And it shouldn't."

Now, as many things as I'd disagree with Dr. Newdow about -- and they are many, to be sure -- he's absolutely correct about this. How is God honored by a coerced statement of recognition, or acknowledgement, or whatever? (He isn't.) Besides, the Pledge as a whole is, as I've ranted before, a nauseating exercise in idolatry. Not only should our kids not recite it in school, they shouldn't recite it anywhere. Not only should our kids not defile themselves with such words, neither should any of the rest of us. Especially for a Christian: what a horrible thing to say.

Finally: is anyone inspired to wonder just how good an idea it is for a government, at any level, to operate schools? About as good an idea, I think, as it is for a government to operate a church -- and for the same reasons, really. Why do we claim to support "diversity," and then try to stamp out nearly every actual instance of diversity?

Arrrrgggh. It makes me really, really tired.

1 comment:

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I can tell you that I 100% agree with one of your points!

The Federal government should have NOTHING to do with local and State schools. Period.

The Federal Department of Education should be abolished. Each State should make its own rules for its own schools!