“Courts rule it’s okay to ridicule Christians, but not homosexuals”. Thus breathlessly proclaimed the chain email that landed in my inbox, complete with links about a couple of cases that allegedly substantiated this claim. To which I responded with a big yawn, having heard this kind of tactic many times before. But let’s take a look at these epsiodes anyway, shall we? Their juxtaposition reveals one of the major caveats of comparing two events – namely, that no two things are exactly alike, and sometimes the differences are more illuminating than –and actually undercut — the similarities. It also speaks gigabytes about the Supposed Persecution Of Christians That’s Really Persecution By Christians Syndrome.
One case involves a former high school student in California named Chad Farnan, who sued his former science teacher, James Corbett, for violating his First Amendment rights in the classroom. And just how exactly did Corbett do this? By making derogatory statements about religion. No, seriously — by exercising his own First Amendment rights, Corbett supposedly was depriving Farnan of his. But wait, it gets even better.
Farnan recorded Corbett’s comments, and presented them to the court as evidence of his teacher’s malice. Here, presumably, is one of the worst:
“Aristotle was a physicist. He said, ‘no movement without movers.’ And he argued that, you know there sort of has to be a God. Of course that’s nonsense. I mean, that’s what you call deductive reasoning, you know. And you hear it all the time with people who say, ‘Well, if all of this stuff that makes up the universe is here, something must have created it.’ Faulty logic. Very faulty logic.”
Faulty logic??? Quick, call me an attorney. And here’s another one:
“Those are the two possibilities: [the universe] was created out of nothing or it’s always been here. Your call as to which one of those notions is scientific and which one is magic. . . I mean, all I’m saying is that, you know, the people who want to make the argument that God did it, there is as much evidence that God did it as there is that there is a gigantic spaghetti monster living behind the moon who did it.”
Spaghetti monster??? That’s a comic analogy. I smell a settlement for millions. And try this one:
“What was it that Mark Twain said? ‘Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool”
Okay, that does it. It’s no longer a mere civil case. Quoting Twain is a display of capital literacy, and this guy needs to be tried as a criminal.
There was in fact, a total of one instance cited in which Corbett may have crossed the line:
“When you put your Jesus glasses on, you can’t see the truth.”
But while this observation certainly could have been made with more finesse, it was essentially quite true; religionists often allow their dogma to blind them to scientific fact. And note that while the lawsuit evidently implied that “you” was meant to address Farnan directly — indeed he claims that Corbett frequently ridiculed him specifically — he has produced as evidence only comments that Corbett (who, incidentally, describes himself as a “smorgasbord Catholic”) made about religion and/or religious people in general. But nobody else in the classroom seems to have been offended enough to file a lawsuit.
The real question is whether it was appropriate for Corbett to riff about science so much at all in a course on history. But that’s a matter for the school administrators to determine, not a court of law. This lawsuit sets a precedent whereby any student who doesn’t like what he’s being taught can just sue to stop it if his parents have enough dough. And the purpose of education is not just to tell kids what they’ve already been conditioned to hear.
Nonetheless, the courts originally ruled in favor of the plaintiff; it was the overturning of this decision by an appeals court that supposedly constitutes declaring that it’s “okay to ridicule Christians”. Note also that one claim made by Farnan’s lawyers was that Corbett was violating the First Amendment by advocating the “religion” of atheism. As we mentioned in the previous post about the Christian Persecution Complex in regard to Chick-Fil-A, all it takes to make your case is to redefine your terms.
And presto, Chad Farnan became a hero and appeared on Fox as a guest of Bill O’Reilly (who, coincidentally, Corbett mentioned is a liar) who commended his courage and lamented that he is only one of many because this kind of thing supposedly is happening in schools all across America. (Was he trying to validate the “liar” label?) Not bad for a kid who, according to Corbett, was a slacker in class.
The other ruling, or settlement, in question involved two lawsuits filed by 6 — not one, but six — current and former students in Minnesota in challenge to school district policy that did not afford adequate protection to students against bullying for being gay or being suspected of being gay. The lawsuits were prompted because of six other students who had been driven to suicide by harassment from other students.
Okay, come on now. Do we really need to go any farther with this? Six gay students committed suicide. How many Christians committed suicide among the lawyer-retaining students at Chad Farnan’s high school? These gay (or presumed gay, or suspected gay, or falsely accused of being gay for liking ballet) youngsters were teased, taunted and attacked repeatedly — as individuals, not generically. They were shoved against lockers, they had their genitals grabbed, they were pissed on. Know any student who’s endured things like this just for being a Christian?
Nor is Minnesota unique in that regard. All over the country, so many gay teens have been driven to suicide that it’s practically an epidemic. And among Christians who are not gay? Well, we’ll get back to you on that one.
Nor is it just a matter of suicide. Sometimes gays (students and otherwise) are brutally attacked and even killed for being gay. Remember Matthew Shepard? The Good Christians from Westboro Baptist Church did, picketing his memorial service with signs reading “No tears for queers” and “Fag Matt in Hell”. Know of any Christians who met his fate because of their beliefs?
Yet now my Christian friends evidently want me to believe that a court’s refusal to participate in a kid’s scheme to settle a score with a former teacher is on a par with efforts to prevent that kind of violence against gays in the future. Which prompts me to ask, as I often do, just what planet they’ve been living on.