Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » NOT BUYIN’ IT
  • NOT BUYIN’ IT

    Filed at 3:19 pm under by dcobranchi

    The hard Christian right is up in arms about a supposed 1st Amendment case in which a hgih school valedictorian was “censored” from giving her testimony at her graduation ceremony:

    Attorneys for a high school valedictorian whose microphone was turned off when she began sharing her Christian faith say they’ll appeal her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The Rutherford Institute is representing Brittany McComb, whose lawsuit against school officials was dismissed Friday by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court stated that “by preventing her from making a proselytizing graduation speech,” McComb’s free speech and free exercise rights were not violated, nor was her right to equal protection.

    In June 2006, McComb strayed from her school-approved script to tell how faith in Jesus had filled a void in her life. Her microphone was shut off in mid-sentence as she said, “God’s love is so great that he gave up — gave up his only Son…”

    I’m pretty much a 1st Amendment purist, but this doesn’t pass muster with me. Graduation is an official school event and is subject to the same rules as other events concerning the Establishment Clause. On top of that, she intentionally strayed from her pre-approved speech. There’s a reason that the school reserves the right to reject graduation speeches and the school had every right to cut her off. I would be very surprised if the SCOTUS takes this one up.

    UPDATE: The ACLU has declined to take the case. That’s not a good sign for her.

    9 Responses to “NOT BUYIN’ IT”


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    March 24th, 2009
    at 4:30 pm

    I think I’ve got Martyr Fatigue. . .and you know, threatening a Christian unless they deny their witness is one thing. Refusing to magnify and broadcast their witness on demand? Not so much.


    Comment by
    COD
    March 24th, 2009
    at 7:28 pm

    The wacky right probably sees the ACLU rejection as a positive sign.


    Comment by
    Anonymous
    March 25th, 2009
    at 8:39 am

    I pretty much agree with all y’all. Free speech doesn’t mean groups/organizations (even public schools) have to allow certain viewpoints an open mike at a major event. And yes, the wacky elements of the right are always happy supporting the opposite of what the ACLU does (at least, as far as the news they read talks about the ACLU).

    Just make sure you pass the “I’m not a dang hypocrite” test. If a Bush basher valedictorian deviated from her approved speech, and had her mic turned off in mid-sentence as she said, “I’m grateful America finally wised up and elected someone who could stop the bloodletting in Iraq…” Same answer?


    Comment by
    dcobranchi
    March 25th, 2009
    at 9:32 am

    Same answer?

    I’m not sure. There are two problems with her speech. The first was going off-script. I’m not sure that was sufficient in and of itself to kill her mike. But proselytizing definitely was. So, perhaps a better analogy would have been if she got up there and started “preaching” atheism. In which case, I’d have given the same answer.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    March 25th, 2009
    at 10:00 am

    Hmmm – except atheism is by definition not religion, right? — so how can it prosyletize? Not equivalent. But an easy-to-imagine case would be if she started urging her graduating peers to address some social or scientific cause such as AIDS research, human rights, climate change, any cause branded for political purposes as atheist dogma by those who ARE religious. . .

    As usual, he who defines the words and tells the story, wins.


    Comment by
    dcobranchi
    March 25th, 2009
    at 10:12 am

    I think for the purposes of the Establishment Clause proselytizing in favor of atheism would be every bit as problematic as for Christianity.

    When I was in (public) high school, every assembly started off with a prayer that ended with “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” This was well after any relevant SCOTUS rulings that should have neded the practice. One time, as one of the leaders of the senior class, I was asked to lead the prayer, something with which I was a little less than comfortable. I seriously considered having the entire senior class repeat “Ash-hadu an la ilaha ill Allah. Wa ash-hadu ana Muhammad ar-rasullallah.”

    Of course, I would have been expelled for that stunt.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    March 25th, 2009
    at 10:20 am

    Remember affirmative action? Being unjustly in charge of everything and continuing to hold almost all the cards, gives a majority quite the sense of entitlement. Long before things were fairly balanced, whites began to claim “reverse discrimination” and demand everything be colorblind, as the competing populations were equivalent in power, privilege, protection, access, influence and numbers.

    So do we really want to talk about hypocrites and treat unequals equally?

    Christians and other deists are the huge majority in America still. Belief in god is embedded throughout this culture with seen and unseen advantages built-in everywhere. (Including boasting all our presidents, probably all the Supreme Court justices and most elected officials at all levels. . .)


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    March 25th, 2009
    at 10:25 am

    If you HAD pulled that stunt and been expelled, it wouldn’t have been for religious prosyletizing! More like for heresy. 😉


    Comment by
    Anonymous
    March 25th, 2009
    at 6:19 pm

    So the bright little ps student has racked up enough As and gets to speak in front of her peers and says she plans to major in political science in college and is really looking forward to working in the second term of the Obama administration. . . is that the same as her giving Jesus a public hug?

    Now, some bloggers on the right seem to think it is clever to call Obama a savior or somesuch but what exactly would the objection be to praising the current administration and panning the previous one?

    Or is the objection that the little star would have gone off script? And why wouldn’t that have been an approved script to start with?

    OTOH, why wasn’t the original girl’s message approved? Did she ask? She could have spoken about her future plans to build her ministry using all the keen stuff she had learned in high school. No?

    Nance