Meat Loaf Says Jessica Ahlquist is What’s Wrong with America

Singer Meat Loaf

…. Yeah, that guy… thinks the “world’s gone to hell in a handbasket” and he cites Jessica Ahlquist as one reason:

How did we get to this point?

We got here because people stopped caring about other people and only care about their beliefs and what they want. The best example is in America: In this one high school, for 50 years a prayer was hung on a wall. And all of a sudden, a daughter and a woman who are atheists (complained). Being an atheist is fine; you don’t want to believe in God, I don’t care, you don’t have to. But something that’s hung on a wall for 50 years? People don’t even see it any more. If you’ve got that much time on your hands, go down and help at the children’s centre. Go help at the homeless centre. Go do something that helps other people. People need to stand up, be responsible for themselves and help other people. The Internet is to blame, the comment pages are to blame. There’s such hatred spewed out over the stupidest things. It makes me angry. For six years, I’ve been saying the world’s gone to hell in a handbasket. So I wanted to make this record.

Girl standing up for the Constitution = hatred and stupidity.

Meat Loaf = Savior.

I think he got those things mixed up…

JT Eberhard says it perfectly:

In an ideal world, a world where qualities like dignity and bravery garner more fame than one’s singing voice, Jessica would be the rock star, while people like Meat Loaf are summarily ignored for their moral confusion.


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Anonymous

    If he has time to sit down for an interview, why couldn’t he take that energy to help people out? If he has time to record an album…

    • FSq

      False dichotomy. Just because he has time to record an album does not mean his/that time should necessarily be used to “help people out”. It is like the tired old argument, “if he has that much money, he should give it to someone who needs it”. One does not necessarily follow from the other. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

         Did you even read what MeatLoaf said? That’s what jdm8 was referring to.

        • FSq

          It is still a false dichotomy, even when applied to Mr. Loaf. He said this in an interview. Two things:

          a) We do not know if he is or is not doing something to “help people out” based on this interview. So making the statement “go do something instead of recording an album” is not valid because we do not have all the facts.

          b) Mr. Loaf may think his words ARE the action of helping out by shedding light on a different view.

          • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

             And so does Jessica.

          • deong

            It’s still a false dichotomy, even when applied **BY** Mr. Loaf.

            That was the point jdm8 was making.

          • Matto the Hun

            You’re still missing the point. jdm8 is pointing out a false dichotomy by making a false dichotomy  directed at Meatloaf. It’s throwing his shit back in his face.

            You’re point B wouldn’t apply if that was what he was thinking. If he thinks he is helping by “shedding light on a different view” then he cannot call her out with a false dichotomy when she is operating under the idea that she is doing what is right by offering a different view/action regarding the banner. This would just make him a fantastic hypocrite, and still doesn’t support his position.

            • Anonymous

               Thank you.

              As far as I’m concerned, throwing someone’s bad argument directly back at them is acceptable, it serves to point out *why* it’s a bad argument.

              He has a different idea on what is improving the world, but that doesn’t mean Jessica’s idea and efforts are wrong.  But he doesn’t seem to understand it.

              For the sake of fairness, he supposedly does do charity work, but I haven’t found the type and extents.

              • guest

                 He does perform a lot for charities.  He was on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” and “Celebrity Apprentice” and won a boatload of money for the Painted Turtle children’s camp.  He and his band have performed at benefits for Starkey Hearing Foundation, breast cancer research, children’s hospitals, and Hurricane Katrina relief.

                • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

                  but he’s making an album and doing interviews instead of doing MORE for the less fortunate. You could say Jessica does work for charity too, but Meat Loaf insists that this lawsuit against the school was a waste of time when there’s more worthy things to be doing (such as more charity work).

                • Anonymous-Sam

                  Not to mention said lawsuit is establishing universal good for this entire country. The Constitution needs to be upheld. When we let it slip, we come that much closer to living in a theocracy, and even conservative Christians ought to realize that they will not be benefited by that.

          • LutherW

             He may or may not be a Loafer but neither do any of us know what Jessica may or may not have done with the rest of her time either. In any case it is irrelevant, she is choosing to use her time to defend our Constitution.

      • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

        Way to miss the point. “Go help people out” was Meat Loaf’s whole argument. Why should it apply to other people but not to him? Is Mr. Loaf the final arbiter of what is worthy to spend our time doing?

  • Anonymous

    You can say the same thing about the people that defended the banner so vigorously, so why single out one side?  The district chose to spend a lot of taxpayer money defending an illegal banner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    he makes the same point in this video interview:
    http://video.pbs.org/video/2213078176

    Pretty boring generic argument too. Describes no actual reason why the prayer should stay there, just that it’s a problem because there’s better things to be doing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

      This is a fallacy that pops up all the time. Instead of debating the merits of the argument, just say that there is something more important the person could be doing. Meatloaf, instead of writing that article, could also have spent that time helping the homeless.

      The thing is we all have our pet causes and we are all passionate about different things. Some people are passionate about helping the homeless, others for AIDS advocacy, etc. etc. The fact that one has political opinions regarding disestablishmentarianism, and advocates to advance those political beliefs, is not invalidated because they do not fit Meatloaf’s personal hierarchization of advocacy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

        It’s funny that he makes the same argument against Jessica in both a written interview with LFpress and on a video interview with PBS. Maybe he’s even mentioned it in other interviews too. He keeps bringing this up, but never refines his lame argument.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          If he keeps bringing it up, it’s obviously a big issue for him.  That said, it would be nice if he would learn any of the basic facts, and not spout off a bunch of incorrect assumptions.

          Only seen the Tavis bit so far, but a) it wasn’t a ‘graduating senior’ who wrote the prayer, and b)  it wasn’t a ‘a girl and her mom’ who brought the suit.  Those may seem like minor details, but they’re basic facts he’s making up.  Which means he probably hasn’t paid attention to any of the bigger points either.  Everyone has a right to an opinion, but I would hope that a celebrity speaking to a national audience to do the slightest bit of homework.

  • FSq

    If as he claims, “no one even notices it anymore”, then where is the problem removing it? Also, if as he claims, “no one even notices it anymore”, then why has there been such an outcry. Obviously, almost everyone has noticed it and been aware of it, so he is wrong on just so many levels.

    • rhodent

       Not only that, but if it was true that “nobody notices it anymore”, then Ahlquist would have never filed suit in the first place because she wouldn’t have noticed it!  The very fact that there was a complaint proves that his statement is a lie.

    • DLA

      Many things become “just the way things are” until someone points them out.  How many people notice “In God We Trust” on the currency anymore?  But many got heated that Congress wasted so much time reaffirming this when we have so many REAL issues facing this country.

      “Being an atheist is fine; you don’t want to believe in God, I don’t care, you don’t have to. But something that’s hung on a wall for 50 years? People don’t even see it any more.”

      So we should have just left up the segragation signs and just stopped noticing them?

      I guess I should be grateful that he doesn’t care about my lack of beliefs, but he wants me to be ok with archaic posters that basically welcome CHRISTIANS ONLY?  Sorry, I believe in progress.

      “Go do something that helps other people. People need to stand up, be responsible for themselves and help other people.”

      I believe that this is exactly what Jessica did.  She STOOD UP and took responsibility for herself against a mob of bigotry and indifference.

    • Trickster Goddess

      The banner may have been hanging there for 50 years, but Jessica and all the other kids in the school haven’t been in its presence for the same length of time. I’m sure it was noticed by every first year student the first time they walked into that auditorium.

  • Chigong98

    I always had a vague disliking for the guy, but now I can point to his ignorance for a valid reason.

    • Matto the Hun

      At least you started with a vague dislike. I have a vague like and had to go all the way to fervent, justified dislike. It’s a real bummer!

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        I’m sad.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

      Maybe it’s just the drugs talking…

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

         I hope so. It’s such a stupid, self-contradicting statement. Please be the drugs.

  • Borax

    Well, I’m at an impasse. As an atheist and supporter of the first amendment I gotta side with Ahlquist, but as a music fan I have to side with Ahlquist. Whoops, no impasse. Seriously Loaf. “I’ll do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” Worst lyric ever. I want to know what you won’t do for love. My own theory is that you weren’t ready to let her move in because you didn’t like her dog. Please clarify Mr Loaf.

    • Andrew Morgan

      From Wikipedia:

      “Each verse mentions two things that he would do for love, followed by one thing that he will not do. The title phrase repetition reasserts that he “won’t do that”. Each mention of “that” is a reference to the particular promise that he made earlier in the same verse.  In addition, at the song’s conclusion, the female vocalist predicts two other things that he will do: “You’ll see that it’s time to move on” and “You’ll be screwing around”. To both of these, he emphatically responds, “I won’t do that!”

      In his 1998 VH1 Storytellers special, he even explained it on stage using a blackboard and a pointing stick.  In a 1993 promotional interview, Steinman states that the definition of “that” is fully revealed in the song in each of the several verses in which it is mentioned.”

      • Borax

         OK. I’ll admit that I didn’t pay too much attention to the song. In my defense, it is no way as good as Mr Loaf’s  truly epic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”  I just always saw “I’ll do anything for love” as an argument. He doesn’t like her dog, and She hates his poet’s blouse. Therefor they cannot agree to live together. I’m sure it’s an annoying tiny dog that wants nothing more to bite some ankles, and the poet’s blouse is a poet’s blouse.

      • Andrew Irvine

        So really it should be called “There are whole bunch of things I would do for love, but a few things I wouldn’t”.  Obviously he ‘s misusing the word ‘but’, he should be using ‘and’.

        Flight of the Conchords do a great parody of the concept.

      • Anonymous

        Jim Steinman is actually kind of awesome in a completely dorky, bombastic, campy way.  Meat Loaf was just a musical theatre guy serving as his front man.

    • Anonymous

      ExpandWell, I’m at an impasse. As an atheist and supporter of the first amendment I gotta side with Ahlquist, but as a music fan I have to side with Ahlquist.

      *teehee*

  • Anonymous

    Oh well. Now we know his thinkings as much rubbish as his “music”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

      I kinda like his music.  But the guy’s brains have been addled more than once.  A shot-put throw to the head will do that.

  • Anonymous

    Please mentally add an apostrophe in “thinking’s” in my last post. Thanks.

  • Marguerite

    I’m getting tired of the “history” argument. Should America have continued to allow segregated schools because it was historical? Just because something’s been hanging there a while doesn’t make it right.

    And I grow weary of the “too much time on your hands” argument, too. If I complain about something, I have too much time on my hands and should be doing something more worthwhile– but if you turn around and complain about ME, presumably that’s a valuable use of your time. That makes no sense. In any event, pointing out violations of the Constitution DOES help people; it makes society more accepting and welcoming, and prevents some citizens from feeling excluded or diminished. Moreover, it’s simply the right thing to do.

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

       And doesn’t it make you wonder how long something has to be there before it gets a Get Out of Obeying the Constitution Free card? Like, would it have been OK if someone had challenged it 10 years ago? 20? 30?

    • Borax

       It’s sorta like the term “traditional values”. There was a time when a man beating his wife and children was called “home correction.” There was a time when white supremacy and slavery were the norm.  I hate traditional values. All they do is hamper the future.

    • Anthony

      What I always find interesting about “too much time on your hands” is that it’s usually coming from someone who is taking the time to complain about other people with too much time on their hands. The difference is that Jessica actually accomplished something with her valid complaint, Meatloaf’s comment/complaint will change nothing. There will be people who agree with him, but do nothing about it, and there will be people who realize he’s full of crap, and also do nothing. So I guess we all have a little too much time on our hands.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

       If it’s a waste of your time to complain, it’s an even bigger waste caused by those who oppose your complaints.

    • Pseudonym

      Americans don’t realise that the immediate post-war era was probably the most radical times in US history. Think of all of the things that were unprecedented: Newly-gained superpower status, the military-industrial complex, television, the cold war and the second “red scare”…

      The context in which the banner was put up was not “traditional”. It was crazy.

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    He needs to ask himself what Tyler Durden would do.

  • Matto the Hun

    “We got here because people stopped caring about other people and only care about their beliefs and what they want”

    Yeah, and that’s exactly what Jessica has standing up against. Christians not caring about what anyone else believes and having a statement exclusively from their faith. They didn’t give two shits about the Constitution and only cared about what they want.

    • Mike

      Yes, thank you! I was reading the comments hoping someone had noticed the ridiculous irony of that statement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Dionne/100000122058172 David Dionne

    Huh.  Who knew he had the reasoning power of an actual meat loaf.  Go figure.

    • Mommiest

       I just saw an interview with him on Tavis Smiley. Meat Loaf criticized the band, Midnight Oil, for not being subtle, saying that they would “literally” hit people over the head with a hammer.

      Ya gotta love his subtly figurative use of “literally.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Just because something’s been around for awhile doesn’t make it good, right, or just. Unless God says it’s okay. Then everything’s cool, apparently.

  • Deiloh

    Bat out of Hell was popular when I was in school so I liked a few of the songs. Meat Loaf, he’s defective!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    “People don’t even see it anymore…” which is why nobody complained or sent death threats to Jessica when she asked them to take it down. Yep.

  • Bananafaced

    If no one can see that prayer on the wall any more, why not take it down and put up something worth reading, like the Declaration of Independence or the First Amendment?

  • Justin Miyundees

    High praise from the single biggest promoter of date rape of the last century. What a putz. He missed a good chance to be quiet. I don’t see anymore castings in Brad Pitt movies for you now meatboy.

  • Anonymous

    “We got here because people stopped caring about other people and only care about their beliefs and what they want.”
    Mote . . . own eye?  Apparently he doesn’t realize that this is exactly what ~he~ is doing, and what the banner supporters were trying to do.

  • Beadknitter

    Who cares what Meat Loaf thinks?

  • Anonymous

    Meat loaf again?  :-(

  • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

    “Everybody’s bitching and moaning about stuff instead of doing something constructive. I’m going to devote an entire album to bitching and moaning about stuff to show them how stupid it is. It’s okay when it’s done for commercial reasons.”

    Thank you for that valuable insight. And I always wanted an album devoted to them damn kids on my lawn…

  • Rwlawoffice

    Ok this question is serious- I understand the idea of protecting the constitution and the need for separation of church and state so without going to the simple “its the constitution and it should be followed” argument, what harm was that banner doing to anyone?  Just like the ten commandments on a plague outside a public building.  Beyond the idea that the constitution should be followed as an end of itself, (and I am not diminishing that) what harm did Jessica or any other student in that school suffer as a result of that banner? A banner that other students put up to express their free speech by the way which is also their right under the constitution.  This is not like segregation laws which were noticeably harmful to minorities nor is it like religion is being pressed on any student in that school or on anyone walking  a plague of the ten commandments.  If you can point to a policy of the school or the government that effects others based upon this banner or on a plaque of the ten commandments  then please tell me.  That is why courts require some tangible harm to have standing in these disputes. Otherwise it does look like what Meatloaf is saying. 

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      You will recall that Jessica naively assumed that they would just take it down.  So I would turn that around.  Why did the community fight so hard to keep it there?  I think that is the harm.  It wasn’t the banner itself.  It is the notion that as long as the majority want something, everyone else can be damned.

      And I know people like to couch this as the minority getting their way.  I hope you’ll agree that she wasn’t asking for a banner disclaiming God.  She was just asking for God to not be brought up by the school.

      • Rwlawoffice

         I understand that but I don’t think it answers the question I asked. I take that as another way of saying because the constitution says it shouldn’t be there.  The idea that the majority wins is not harm to Jessica or anyone else walking by that banner.  I would say the same thing if it was a banner of a Muslim prayer.  As a Christian walking by a Muslim prayer on the wall, I would not be harmed individually just because it is not my belief.  So it looks like just what Meatloaf is saying- she wanted it removed just because she wanted it removed.   And even if the majority wants it there (maybe because they want to support the first amendment rights of those that placed it there) how does that harm her individually?  Her rights to believe as she wants aren’t being effected.  Her time at the school isn’t being harmed.  She isn’t being ostracized because of the banner (I know she was because she wanted it removed which was despicable, but not because it was hanging there).

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

          “As a Christian walking by a Muslim prayer on the wall, I would not be harmed individually just because it is not my belief”

          That’s an incredibly safe position for you to take, as there is ZERO chance that an invocation to Allah would have been installed as the school’s official prayer, and would have been defaced within days by the “good Christians” of Cranston.

          Was the American civil rights movement all about “whites-only” water fountains?  No.  Was it right that they were removed?  Absolutely.  Even though the colored water-fountains, I’m sure, worked perfectly well.

          • Anonymous-Sam

            I have grave doubts that the colored fountains worked perfectly well, myself…

          • Demonhype

            Yes, I love how generous the majority can be in hypothetical situations they know there is almost zero chance of them having to make good on–at least, in their lifetimes.  Given the howling and the crying and the whining and the death-threatening and the vandalism and rallying just stopping short of an outright riot they do whenever someone even SUGGESTS there is a privilege they shouldn’t have over other people, I seriously doubt they would be so “generous” in the event of another religion making a much more invasive move in the public sphere.  But lying is par for the course when you’re protecting your unearned privilege.

            My mom did the same thing:  “Well IF Islam was the majority religion, I’d have no problem with the public schools teaching it.”  I told her that same thing about the dubious generosity of the majority, then pointed out that the moment her daughter skipped home and informed her that Jesus was not the Son of God and anyone equating Jesus or anyone else with God would burn in eternal hellfire, she’d be the first one down at that principal’s office screaming bloody murder.

            I know that got to her, because she did what she always does when cornered–she pulled a face like Sphinx in the Mystery Men when Mr Furious interrupted his formulaic wise saying about mastering rage and then refused to talk about it further.  And never again claimed that teaching religion in public schools “does no harm to minority religions”.

          • Rwlawoffice

            Not an analogous situation. Black only water fountains were part of an institutionalized and overall scheme of discrimination that went well beyond the simple existence of water fountains. 

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I take that as another way of saying because the constitution says it shouldn’t be there.

          No, I’m still not expressing myself well enough.  What if the school decided to have an official eye color: blue.  Or brown, it doesn’t matter.  The other eye color can still come to school, and participate in every way.  But all images on the walls will be of people with the official eye color.  And let’s make most of the kids in the school the official eye color.  And nobody is making anyone wear color contacts.  Who is being ‘harmed’?  Nobody.  Nobody is forced to do anything, or even excluded from anything.  There’s just an official declaration that explicitly leaves out some of the students.

          And for the sake of trying to make the analogy fit, let’s say someone suggests putting up some images of kids with other eye colors, and they’re shot down.  If kids don’t like the official images, they can just ignore them.

          • Demonhype

             Don’t forget that when someone with the “wrong” eye color tries to speak or do anything at all that the people with the “right” eye color don’t like, or suggest that they are equal members of the community, those images and posters and bits of propaganda lining the walls  will be pointed at indignantly by the “right” eye color people as “evidence” that this is a BLUE EYED NATION and everyone else needs to either accept their second- or even third-class status or GET OUT!!!!1!!!!  And don’t you dare try to argue with that poster about the superiority of blue-eyed people over all others, because that is traditional wisdom and common knowledge and you have no right to contradict that poster when it has been there proclaiming blue-eyed glory for fifty years or more.

            “Does no harm” indeed.

          • Rwlawoffice

            I understand where you are going but this changes the facts.  The banner didn’t say anything like this.  The banner didn’t say there was an official religion and in fact that it was placed there by students.  There is nothing in the facts that the school did anything in regard to that banner then allow it to be hung.    Students did not have to recite it, they did not have to officially recognize it at all, nor did those that said they agreed with it get any benefits and those that expressed their disbelief get penalized.  So again, other then it just being there, without relying upon the argument that it shouldn’t be there, what was the harm? Without this harm I again say that it looks just like what Meatloaf is saying- take it down because I don’t want it there.

            All of the posters who have responded have done the same thing- changed the facts and tried to compare it to things that are not analogous in an effort to find harm that isn’t there.

            • TiltedHorizon

               ”All of the posters who have responded have done the same thing- changed
              the facts and tried to compare it to things that are not analogous in an
              effort to find harm that isn’t there.”

              Yourself included. You admit to understanding the idea of following the constitution and you don’t “diminish it” but simultaneously you want to grant an exception because of some harm to the Christian mindset that isn’t there.

              There is no, “whats the harm”, there is only the risk of granting too much power over “your” faith to the government. It would not be that difficult to change the banner from “Our Heavenly Father…” to “Our Heavenly Father who resides on Kolob…”.

              Better to ensure the government and its agencies have no opinion, so the individual can worship or not as they choose.

              • Rwlawoffice

                My point in asking the question was to see what harm there could be beyond the mere presence of the banner itself. It is evident that there wasn’t.  And what that means is that Meatloaf made a valid point- it is removed because Jessica wanted it removed and not because she was harmed by it being there, either in theory or in reality.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  “it is removed because Jessica wanted it removed and not because she was harmed by it being there”

                  It was removed because a judge agreed that the banner was in conflict with the constitution. If it was deemed constitutional, it would still be there.  All of Jessica’s ‘wants’ would not have mattered, not a single iota.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              All analogies ‘change facts’.  Good ones keep the essence.  I still think my eye color one does that. Your bit about the students putting it up is a red herring.  That was an attempt to end-run Engel v. Vitale.  The fact is the school would not let other similar banners be put up.  By being the final gate keeper, it’s no different than them writing it themselves.  They can reject until they get what they want, and allow just that.  If that part really bothers you about my analogy, then let students put up pictures of motivational people.  But the school has to accept or reject each submission.  And for some reason in a mixed race school, every single one the school accepts is black, and the school rejects all non-black submissions.

              And you still haven’t answered my question.  Ok, reading back I didn’t explicitly ask it.  But why didn’t the school just take it down?  What reason did the school have it for it to be up other than they just wanted it up?

              And our other thread about ‘self’ reminds me that Jessica was not the original complainant.  Others have been bothered over the years, but unwilling to face the inevitable backlash.  Most recently a mother of two young children contacted the ACLU, but was unwilling to put her young children through that.  Jessica stepped up and was willing to be the person of standing.  So she wasn’t just asking it to be taken down because it made her feel ostracized.  She was doing it for those young kids, and for all the others afraid to speak out against the tyranny of the majority.

              • Rwlawoffice

                Were there facts in the case showing that other banners were submitted and rejected?  Did Jessica try to submit a banner that was rejected?  if so then I would see that as some harm.

                To answer your question about why they didn’t just take it down I would say that until it is shown that there is harm they should not be obligated to change. Just because there is a minority position it doesn’t mean that the majority has to cater to that position.  Being in the majority is not wrong in and of itself.

                Saying that there is harm in the majority simply by there being a majority , I am reminded about the comments I see here on occasion where people look forward to the day where they think there will be a secular majority and they can put Christians in their place. Would you agree with that?

                • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

                  Who has said that the majority ought to be penalized for being the majority? Methinks you don’t actually know what “tyranny of the majority” means.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I don’t have specifics about other banners.  The idea of either modifying that banner to make it more inclusive (no Heavenly Father or Amen) was brought up and but the committee wanted to instead investigate donated legal defense.  That is, rather than explore simply making the prayer at least inclusive of other religions, if not atheists, the decision was to try to keep it as-is.

                  Oh, maybe this will do, from the decision:

                  At the conclusion of the public  comment, School Committee member (and former mayor)  Michael Traficante explained that the subcommittee had been instructed to consider three options: 1) keep the Mural; 2) remove the Mural; or 3) alter the display by either changing the text to remove religious  references or by adding additional banners representing other religions.  Traficante reported the subcommittee had decided to recommend that the Prayer Mural be retained as is.  Following another round of enthusiastic applause, the School Committee and administrators had the opportunity to express their views.

                   

                  From page 12 http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/files/2012/01/ahlquist_decision_011112.pdf

                  (if you haven’t read the decision, please do)

                  In Jessica’s own words

                  She also testified that, when she first saw the Prayer Mural, it made her feel  excluded, ostracized and devalued.”

                  Again, the judge

                  While her injuries might be characterized as abstract, those injuries are consistent with the injuries complained of by other plaintiffs in Establishment Clause litigation, such as Engel v. Vitale and the Schempp case

                  As I dig all this out, I’m not sure what level of ‘harm’ you’re looking for, but obviously it’s not the same standard as Judge Lagueux’s in this case.

                  Oh, here’s the one I was looking for

                  When the  prayer Mural was hung in 1963, a reasonable observer would no doubt have concluded that Cranston West endorsed its  message, and approved its installation in a place of prominence in the new auditorium.  While the Prayer was authored by a student, and the  Mural was paid for by a group of graduates, the School would never have permitted the exhibition of a message of which it did not approve.

                  So other than discussions at the committee meetings, I don’t know exactly what other banners may have been suggested and denied.  I honestly can’t imagine that the school would have permitted anything less Christian that the prayer that was up.  Not sure if that puts you over the ‘harm’ line, but if not I’m sure nothing will.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Thank you Rich.  I am curious about Jessica’s feelings.  How can a banner by itself make her feel devalued? Or conversely, how can removing it make her feel more valued? She drives be churches, does she feel devalued? When she hears a preacher on tv, does she feel devalued? When she see a Bible in the library does she feel devalued? If that is so then I believe that says more about her sense of herself and less about a few words on a banner. That is the kind of “feeling offended” type of harm that the religious community is told we don’t have the right to complain about. That is the type of harm that sounds like I didn’t like it so take it down.  Now if her fellow students made her feel bad about it, or the school had the students recite it and she was singled out, or things of that nature took place then it would remove this from just a banner to more active events that would be harmful.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I just read the opinion and i stand by my comments.  It looks like the harm to her came when she spoke out and not by the mere hanging of the banner other then it made her feel devalued.  She testified that she wasn’t even offended by it.  If I was the federal judge I would have found no standing. The majority of the opinion talks about what happened after the ACLU called for it to be removed and not how the mere presence effected her or other students.

                • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

                  Are you kidding me? No standing? She’s a student in that school; she damn well has standing, regardless of whether or not you think she received some actual harm, and the banner was still unconstitional.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  If you read the opinion, her being a student in and of itself is not enough to give her standing  She must show a real harm or injury.  

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  A church and a TV channel aren’t hers.  The library is, but that library also contains copies of the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Book of Mormon and The God Delusion.

                  It is HER school (as well as well as all the other student’s).  I couldn’t care less about churches on every corner (well, ok, I care, but I don’t think for a nano-second that I have any right to say anything about their presence).  But when I pull out a dollar bill, that’s MY dollar bill, and it has a lie on it.  Even if I was the ONLY atheist in the country, I am a US citizen too.  In God WE Trust means EVERYone.  But I don’t trust God.  Nothing there to trust, and if God did exist, and was as described, I wouldn’t trust him anyways.

                  It’s not about being a minority.  It’s not about anyone else’s private (publicly stated, but owned by private individuals/entities) opinions.  It’s about MY government telling me what I am, or I believe, or I trust, or I am under.

                  Sure, on paper you’re one of us, but heh heh, you’re not really one of us :-)  

                  If you didn’t catch it, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/24/bullying-children-because-of-religious-faith/ is 30 min video that goes more in depth into the damages suffered by students when church and school mix.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Saying that there is harm in the majority simply by there being a majority , I am reminded about the comments I see here on occasion where people look forward to the day where they think there will be a secular majority and they can put Christians in their place. Would you agree with that?

                  It’s been a long day.  A good day, doing things completely unrelated to advocating separation of church and state, but long.

                  I’d hope that after all the ‘discussions’ we’ve had that you wouldn’t need to even ask that.  In fact, I’m probably going to almost reiterate what I said during our Santorum v. JFK debate.

                  I’m not looking for anyone to be ‘put in their place’ other than them being in the same place as everyone else.  We often talk about Christian privilege on here, and I honestly think you’re so used to getting things your way, that, in the words of Jon Stewart, you confuse a war on religion with not getting things your way.  

                  That’s not to say I think things should be ‘my way’.  I want the chance to state my views, and listen to yours.  And I want us each to have the chance to counter.

                  I spent a year in Georgia, and I was amused when shopping one Sunday evening to see all the beer and wine covered up.  I don’t drink, so it didn’t affect me, but I thought it amusing that on one particular day, nobody is allowed to buy alcohol in grocery stores.

                  But if that’s what God wants, who are we to argue?  Yes I know, we can add context, but really, should your God be telling me what days I can buy alcohol on?  Should Allah be telling you what direction to face when you pray?

                  I don’t want an atheist government.  I don’t want government saying “There is no God”.  But I also don’t want government saying there is either.  Let us all listen to, or not, our own God(s), lest we end up forced to eat Pasta on Sundays trying to pray towards a teapot in orbit between earth and mars.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I appreciate our conversations and the freedom to have them.  I agree with you that this should never be taken away.  As for alcohol on Sunday, I live in Texas where blue laws are common.  We even have some counties that are dry with no alcohol allowed at all.  I think this is a case of the morals of the majority voting their morals.  If that is how the majority of the people in those counties want to live and it isn’t in violation of the US constitution why should they not have that right?  We do leave in a republic democracy where these types of decisions are made based upon a majority vote.  By the way, I do drink and would have to live with that affecting me if i was in one of those counties.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I could buy ‘morality’ as the reason to ban alcohol period.  But on Sundays?  That’s not morality, that’s sin.  As in, things that are wrong only because a God says they are wrong.  Like I’ve said over and over, if you want someone who doesn’t believe in your God to do what your God says, then you should have a reason that applies to that other person.  They don’t have to agree, but the reason should at least apply.

                  I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know the extent to which blue laws have been constitutionally tested, but they sure seem to pass the Lemon test to me.  Maybe some day some evil little things will take them on.

              • We need more like Jessica

                Which makes Jessica and her family brave, moral people. I am proud of them.

              • Rich

                Jessica is a hero, and Meatloaf is a fool with no respect or knowledge of our constitution. He has no compassion for those offended by a religious banner that had no right hanging in a public school, for a day, a week, or for years as it did. I’m burning my Meatloaf albums. The bat is going back to hell.

        • Guest

          The fact that the school hung it up implies that they believe and presumably endorse the Christian point of view, possibly including the belief that non-Christians are worth less/immoral/not as good. Even if they weren’t acting on that – even if they didn’t really believe it -  the implication is there – “Christians are better, and if you’re not Christian, this school isn’t meant for you”.

          But I think the most important reason is shown through the response. Christian privilege in this country is enormous. It should *not* be a big deal to say “Hey, that banner is illegal, can you take it down?” But the school wasted thousands of dollars fighting it. Jessica was harassed and received death threats over it. People fought tooth and nail to keep an illegal, unnecessary banner that they’d probably never see hanging up.

          It all feeds into the idea that since Christians are the majority in the country, they should be allowed to do whatever they want, that anything religious is untouchable and always right, and that any attempt to fight Christian privilege is ‘persecution’.

           Only by fighting acts like these can we prove them wrong. Only by fighting their blatant religious displays can we remind everyone that atheists exist and prefer not to have religion constantly shoved down our throats. It shows people that being Christian or any other religion doesn’t give them the right to trample the minority, to make them second-class citizens, or to imply that they are lesser. It shows that religion needs to be held accountable, both morally and legally. And it shows that we’re not going to sit here and suck it up anymore.

          Christians need to follow the law now too. Period.  Atheists exist, and we’re not going to let Christians run the country according to their religion just because it’s the majority.

        • SphericalBunny

          Apart from the illegality, can you come up with any reason why a banner reading ‘White people have superior morals’ would do any harm to any non-white individual? After all, it wouldn’t be saying that whites should harm any non-white individual, nor would it claim that non-whites can’t have morality at all, it wouldn’t be saying non-whites aren’t welcome, it wouldn’t affect peoples right to believe otherwise, etc., etc….

          I suggest that any reason you can find for the above imaginary banner not being displayed (apart from the illegality) will work equally well for the actual situation.

          • Rwlawoffice

            Of course this is not what this banner said or anything like it.  It didn’t say that atheists had less morals nor did it say that Christians were more moral.  Its not even implied.  So again I ask you, without changing the facts and without simply saying because the constitution says you can’t have it, what harm was there?

            • SphericalBunny

              The actual banner called upon ‘Our heavenly father’ to grant, enable and teach various moral and physical strengths. Given that there was no suggestion these were achievable without divine intervention, which atheists do not believe in; yes, it clearly does suggest that atheists cannot be as good as Christians. You’re wrong, so again I ask you, without changing the facts and without simply saying because the constitution says you can’t have it, what harm was there?

              • Rwlawoffice

                Just because the banner says call upon our heavenly father, it doesn’t say that you can’t have morals without calling upon him and you immoral if you don’t.  Jessica I am sure looked at this banner and said she didn’t need that. The only way for you to get this message from the banner is through projection. So again I say, what was the harm? And without a harm why should the majority bend to the minority?  Otherwise it looks like- remove it because the minority doesn’t like it and nothing more.

                • Piet Puk

                  Only a willfully ignorant nut like you will keep pretending not to understand this.

        • Donalbain

           Government agencies do not have first ammendment rights to endorse any particular religious viewpoint. This is very simple.

      • Anonymous

        You will recall that Jessica naively assumed that they would just take it down. So I would turn that around. Why did the community fight so hard to keep it there? I think that is the harm. It wasn’t the banner itself. It is the notion that as long as the majority want something, everyone else can be damned.

        Bingo.

    • TiltedHorizon

       ”what harm was that banner doing to anyone?”

      Considering the reaction, which was in sharp contrast with the sentiments held in the banner, it would seem the banner ultimately  hurt Christian credibility.

      Snark aside, a government agency which can promote one faith, is free to dictate one faith over another. The only way to preserve your faith is to ensure government never has that much control. However, if you would rather talk about what it “looks like” as opposed to what it is…

       

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

      Did you read the comments after the judge’s decision? Former Jewish students had been made very uncomfortable by the banner, but were afraid to speak out against it.

      The problem is not that the officially sanctioned “School Prayer” is driving policy. The problem is that there shouldn’t BE an officially sanctioned prayer. The harm is that it excludes and divides people on the basis of their religion.  Why is this hard for you to understand?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    I know it’s wrong, but when ever someone talks about Meat Loaf, all I picture are gigantic man-boobs.  And it’s sad to see that he has become a giant boob of a man.   

  • Gunstargreen

    Meatloaf is just upset that a normal teenage girl’s opinion is more correct and more relevant than his own.

  • Joan

    I was gonna get his new album, but now I seem to have lost my appetite for Meat Loaf.

    • Demonhype

       Meh, I only ever listened to Meat Loaf for that boss piano–which he doesn’t play anyway or even compose.  Not that I’m seeking out any new Meat Loaf to begin with, but especially not after this.  Not everyone is like this, I know, but I find myself losing interest in a musician’s work when I find out he/she is a colossal idiot.

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    Ok, as a (now) former Loaf fan, I need to point a few things out (in an open letter style to Mr. Loaf that he’ll never read):

    1. Mr. Loaf, you are simply the VOICE. Without your writers, you would be sitting in some trailer park probably or dead by now.  OooOoo you can sing!  Goody for you!  So can a canary and we all know how smart they are.

    2. What kind of loser doesn’t get the Constitution of the US?  What kind of ARTIST doesn’t know his rights to speech and expression?!  Oh, that’s right, the guy who *doesn’t* write the songs.  Something tells me your writers probably are a bit smarter.

    3. You’re saying that a young woman who stands up for our rights and the law is what’s wrong with this country?  This coming from the man who had a fit over “stolen” paint on Celebrity Apprentice?  Are you shitting me, sir?  You threw a fit over craft supplies like a toddler, but a well-spoken and mature young woman who knows the law is the problem with our country?!  No, I think it’s ignorant man-children like yourself that represent the true problem in our nation.

    ————–
    I already sent him some tweets, but if anyone else on Twitter would care to give him a piece of their mind, his handle is @RealMeatLoaf:twitter .

    • Demonhype

       I love you so much, GloomCookie613.  That was absolutely perfect.

      Also, @realmeatloaf?  Is that like the Real Ghostbusters, not to be confused with Filmation’s Ghostbusters?  Is there an imposter Loaf running around somewhere, from whom he needs to be differentiated?

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

         <3

  • Ggsillars

    What a jerk.  That’s all.

  • Ida Know

    Good at singing.  OK at acting.  Terrible at keeping silent when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Two out of three ain’t bad…

    • http://www.facebook.com/CoreyFerdinandMcpherson Corey Mcpherson

      I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      What you did there?  I see it and I approve.

      • Ida Know

         Thank you. :-)   Problem is, that’s one of my favorite songs of that era, and now it’s kinda tainted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Edmonds/633682952 Matthew Edmonds

    He was on The One Show on the BBC a few weeks back.  I could have cried the man was so fucking stupid.  

    • dauntless

      I had a similar reaction when I saw Mos Def on Bill Maher’s show. It especially hurts when it’s someone you had respected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CoreyFerdinandMcpherson Corey Mcpherson

    I know there are a lot of flaws with this but…anyone else just think of meatloaf as a really watered down freddie mercury?

    • dauntless

      Freddie was so talented, it’s hard to think of Meatloaf like that. Unless you’re talking homeopathy levels  of watering down.

    • http://twitter.com/kariedgerton Kari Edgerton

      Freddie wrote, sang (4 octave range) and played his own instruments. Freddie was sooooo much more talented than Meatloaf. Freddie even did an opera album. So no, Meatloaf is not a really watered down version of Freddie Mercury.

  • Anonymous

    The cup or irony overfloweth!

  • Anonymous

    Who cares what Meat Loaf thinks about anything anyway??  He’s not even the mastermind of his own greatest successes (Jim Steinman is).  The Loaf’s not remotely relevant as an artist or entertainer anymore, much less as a commentator on anything.

  • TimS

    Wasn’t Meat Loaf the guy who got pissed at Gary Busey on Celebrity Apprentice over art supplies?  What gives him the right to lecture others on how they spend their time when he spent an entire meltdown over arts and crafts?

  • TiltedHorizon

    “for 50 years a prayer was hung on a wall”

    Fifty years on the wall, zero years in their hearts, else its sentiments would have been adhered to…

    • Anothet among the masses

      Slavery was fine for a while too. Who decided that it wasn’t?

  • http://twitter.com/hipopotamo Hipopótamo de Río

    Shame on you Mr Meat Loaf. And I really like his music, and his performer persona…

    And his comments show what I think are really wrong in society, American in particular, but occidental society at large: the assumed privilege, the half blindness towards “the others”… 

    Sad indeed

  • http://www.zazzle.com/godless_monsters The Godless Monster

    “Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.

    - Randy, A Christmas Story, 1983

    • Anonymous

      The was the perfect use of that Randy line!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/catdumpling Cat MacKinnon

    oh, Mr. Loaf…i always thought you were awesome. unfortunately i can’t think that anymore.

    and is it just me, or does anyone else see the irony of the statements coming from the same guy that played a pivotal part in “Rocky Horror Picture Show”?

  • SusieQ

    Meat loaf? Really? Who gives a proverbial rat’s ass what he thinks about any social issue?

  • Ron

    Wow, I’m amazed………Meat Loaf is actually still alive, and is a total fucking moron. Seriously I thought the guy was dead, I haven’t heard of him being in any kind of news, or heard any new songs from him.  The closest I’ve heard of anything about him since the early 90′s was the “Chef Aid” episode of South Park.

  • miss ellie

    damn it. and i was a fan of him too. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=21712066 Jeremy Leik

    Someone who is a documented former drug user and alcoholic should really think twice about talking smack about a teenaged atheist speaking up for something she believes in. 

  • Heartfout

    All I can say is that until I read this post, I thought Meatloaf was a band.

  • http://twitter.com/Shandilliahosen Shandi

    If you wonder where the harm was, just take the time and read the judge’s ruling. It is well-written, sourced and thought out. It was worth my time.

  • Wasd

    Just for those of us who are not Americans, what is a “children’s centre”?

    Google suggest the phrase is used for British government agencies (would those take volunteers?) and a Maryland based daycare that advertises all its staff is certified and college educated, so not a great volunteering opportunity for Jessica either.

    It sounds like something some people might come up with when they want to sound all morally righteous but all they remember when looking for a metaphor for altruism is the corny homeless shelter and how impressed they were when they heard someone saying “I have never seen you serve soup at the homeless shelter”. But then while saying it they realize: “meh, f#$ it, I dont actually care about the homeless and I bet nobody in my audience does…  So, since the homeless lever isn`t functioning with me, what emotional lever should I pull instead even though I am already half-way into constructing this sentence? I know… children! Obviously everyone would be able to see I don’t actual care about children either because otherwise they would have been the first thing I came up with and, you know, if I cared about kids I would actually be able to name an actual charity… but that wont matter!”Why wont it matter”  they might think ” eventhough using using children as moral pawns suggest I didn`t look into the story of the very person I an bashing enough to realise I am actually talking about a young person working to make it so children can be sure whether their school has their back if they end up getting bullied for being anything other than christian thus actually making personal sacrifices to improve the lives of kids in a tangible way?” “It wont matter because my audience is so stupid they will just be too distracted by the emotional impact of me accusing Jessica of not caring about poor defenseless children to notice anything”What could be more heroic than the sight of someone stepping on the backs of children to climb on  a massive moral highhorse?Or maybe there actually is such things called “children centers” and they really are looking for pretty much random volunteers to work with kids and I am just a cynical European who has never heard of them despite me having slightly less apparent  trouble naminng a couple of breathtakingly universally non-offensive childrens charities. Charities  like unicef (obviously) but also a local one that build playgrounds and lobbies for places kids can safely play away from traffic and the make a wish foundation.All charities that, except for maybe unicef, I could defend Jessica for taking a couple of days off from to do what she did. As awesome as the make a wish foundation makes us feel the numbers probably suggest that teaching enough kids biology instead of pseudoscience might mean the next generation has the scientist to have a chance to cure everyone for life of that for which one western kid might suffer enough to deserve to be cheered up for a day, as important as that is sometimes.

  • Greisha

    Who care what he said?

  • Rich

    It’s time to throw out my Meatloaf albums. That bat needs to go back into hell. What a disrespectful fool.

  • http://twitter.com/marfita marfita

    Mr. Loaf has made one valid point – and I believe it’s something that Hemant subscribes to by chairing Foundation Beyond Belief. I think it’s more important (not all important, but more) that we should be out there helping people.  This does not negate the good of trying to maintain the separation of church and state, but I think it would make more headway in our outreach to moderates. 

  • Keith

    If people “don’t see it anymore” then where is the harm in removing it?

  • Elmarievdm

    Wow all this fuss about one little spoiled brat. Meat Loaf is right she needs something to keep her busy. At least all the “friendly” atheists showed that they are better than religious nuts. When they don’t agree with someone they don’t resort to nasty personal attacks..oh no,wait.they do.

  • name elmarie

    Tsk tsk such a fuss about one little spoiled brat. Meat Loaf is right she needs something to keep her busy. At least all the “friendly” atheists here have proved that they are better than the religious nuts. When atheists disagree with someone they don’t resort to nasty personal attacks..oh no wait,they do.

  • http://bsoist.com/ bsoist

    Well, I’m a Christian and I think we need more people like Jessica sticking up for our freedom. I didn’t really follow the case a great deal outside of what I read on this site, but I’ve caught up since the Reason Rally and I agree with her take on this completely. 

    I posted my thoughts this morning – What if it weren’t your kind of religion? http://ow.ly/abmbw

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Thanks for the response, but that case had nothing to do with someone’s “discomfort” over the banner. It was simply about whether or not it was legal. It wasn’t. Jessica forced the school to obey the law.

      • http://bsoist.com/ bsoist

        I know that. Perhaps I should have said that more explicitly, but I wasn’t making that point. My point was to examine why we should all be glad something like that is against the law. 

        My emphasis on “how would you feel” was simply to get people who disagree (people like Meatloaf) to look at it more objectively.

        The law protects us all – and Jessica said it best when she pointed out that she is defending my freedom by forcing her school to uphold the law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527982303 Jonathan Arthur

    Meat Loaf has turned into Pink Slime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rowdy.riemer Rowdy Otto Riemer

      “If you’ve got that much time on your hands, go down and…”  This is the kind of argument people make when they have absolutely NOTHING substantial to formulate a logical argument with.

  • http://twitter.com/Cleon Cleon

    This is the most that anybody has talked about Meat Loaf in at least 20 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000053874409 Helena Handbasket

    and what has Meat Loaf done to contribute to society?   


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