Alablawg

Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

You're Not Paranoid If They Really Are Out To Get You

I have done more than my fair share of ridiculing those who fear a 'War on Christians.' Now I must present the other side.

This story, and this story are big reasons why sleazebags like Joe Scarborough can get folks to listen to them. The first story is about a Georgia Tech student who wants to condemn gay people, but can't because to do so would violate the school's hate speech codes. The second is about a science teacher who showed to his 8th grade science class this video that repeatedly calls George Bush and friends a**holes.

As for the first, granted this woman is suing for the right to be rude and even hateful, but that is her right as an American. As a matter of policy, hate speech laws are a very bad idea. They create martyrs, and don't do anything to eliminate the speech. Let the market of ideas decide what stays and what goes. That is especially true on a university campus. As a matter of law, there is no First Amendment exception for offensiveness.

As for the second, granted the video is pretty funny, but what possible value did it have in an eighth grade science class? If it was a class in the social sciences, and was balanced by some criticisms of democrats, fine. As it was, I can not think of any reason - other than politics - for showing the video. Surely we can all agree that middle school teachers should not be using the class to advance personal politics.

Here is where I part ways from the crusaders. They think these situations are the norm, and therefore Christians need to unite in a country-wide counter-attack. I think these are very odd exceptions. I have no doubt that in most educational settings, the teachers are helping the students become rational, clear thinking adults. For some, that in and of itself is evidence of a 'liberal bias.' For me, it is the purpose of an education, as opposed to indoctrination. The biggest problem with situations like those in these two stories is that they give the anti-intellectuals amunition for their crusade.