Update on Student Who Wore ‘Life is Wasted Without Jesus’ Shirt

There have been a couple of updates on Forest Heights Community School senior William Swinimer, the Nova Scotia student who wore a shirt reading “Life is Wasted without Jesus” and got in trouble for it.

William Swinimer (Ryan Taplin - National Post)

He returned to school today after his five-day suspension — wearing the same shirt — but his father quickly pulled him out:

The Swinimers clearly prioritize getting an education (Mike Dembeck - The Canadian Press)

John Swinimer said he wants Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, Lunenburg County, to only teach the basic courses, leaving religion out of it.

“He will not attend this school unless they are having reading, writing and arithmetic — good old-fashioned academics,” he said, waving a New Testament bible. “When they’re having forums, when they’re having other extra-curricular activity, he will not attend that school.”

Actually, the school was doing just fine academically… they only got derailed into this controversy after shirt-wearing William began pushing his religion on everyone in sight. (More on that in a moment.)

Or, you know, maybe the father just hates Chess Club.

John Swinimer is referring to the fact that the school held voluntary — Wait, voluntary?! Yes, voluntary! — discussions about how to express one’s beliefs in a respectful way. The discussions involved “facilitators from the education and justice departments, human rights commission, school board and the school.”

As a teacher of a subject John Swinimer considers “good old-fashion academics,” I guarantee you the students at that school would have learned more by attending that conversation about expressing yourself respectfully than any one day spent in another class.

But why teach your child something useful when you can use him as a political pawn? Taking him out of school just reinforces the idea that many Christians are unable to discuss faith in a calm, rational way. It’s their way or nothing.

More stories are coming out about the shirt-wearing son’s behavior:

Students said William Swinimer has been preaching and making them feel uncomfortable, and the shirt was the last straw so they complained.

“He’s told kids they’ll burn in hell if they don’t confess themselves to Jesus,” student Riley Gibb-Smith said.

Katelyn Hiltz, student council vice-president, agreed the controversy didn’t begin with the T-shirt.

“It started with him preaching his religion to kids and then telling them to go to hell. A lot of kids don’t want to deal with this anymore,” she said.

More and more, it looks like this controversy was never about infringing on anyone’s religious freedom. The school did what any school should do — they allowed William the chance to express his religious views until they felt it crossed the line into becoming a distraction from good old-fashioned academics. Then they put a stop to it.

The other day, I was a little more sympathetic toward him. Now, he just strikes me as a little jerk. And I can tell where he gets it from.

Also, seriously, William… wash that shirt. It’s gotta be nasty by now.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

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

    He’s a jerk.
    His shirt is stupid.
    Ban the jerkish behavior.
    Allow him to wear the asinine shirt.
    At the least it’s a visual cue to the rest of us to steer clear of him.
    Much like flies and moths that are adorned as wasps and bees.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Yes.  Now I can’t recall what it was exactly, but I think it was also school related where the school was basically making up rules to squash the larger behavior.  Pretty sure the other case was an atheist who was acting like a jackass.  If you can’t come up with a rule to describe ‘jackass’ (or disrespectful), then don’t make one up to prohibit something just because it’s easier to describe.

      And this kid has ‘jackass’ written all over him.  Not that jackasses don’t have the right to free speech or an education.

      Funny how the dad suddenly now wants religion out of school.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=522426758 Meredith Avila

    What a circus. All of this mess over a t-shirt. It removes attention and emphasis from learning. Put uniforms on the kids and at least avoid THAT class of distraction.

  • Swami

    Stupid kid, stupider parent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomtrue Thomas True

    To be young and know everything.

    • newavocation

      Yes, I hope there is a friendly atheist around when he finds out there is no Santa.

  • Justin Miyundees

    This sounds more believable – the shirt seems more a red herring to distract from the assumed right to inject the Sinimers’ religious beliefs.  Nuttery gone bananas.

    I too was sympathetic but now it’s coming more into focus.  If it were just the shirt, that’s free speech, but assuming the audience has been convened for little Willie is another issue.

    • Justin Miyundees

      Nailed the Hal Linden though.  Where’s Abe Vigoda?

  • Thomas Farrell

    Of course he’s a jerk. Nobody but a jerk would wear that shirt. But *jerks should have the right to freedom of speech too*.

    As for his intolerance and generally bigoted behavior, well, if he’s interfering with other kids educations, punish him for that, and otherwise if he’s just offending people… that’s their problem, they can shun him. Nobody should have a right not to be offended.  They have to learn how to deal with people who offend them, and he has to learn that his bigotry has consequences. Social consequences.

  • Paul Winter

    Local to the story and following it from when it first hit the news. Smelled a rat (or maybe the shirt) and knew there was a story behind the story as soon as I heard that he had been wearing the same shirt everyday for weeks.

  • DG

    But didn’t that student who dressed like Jesus on fictional character day more or less push his views on everyone, too?  Since that seems to be a bad thing in this story, wouldn’t it also be a bad one in that other case as well?  Probably best to say anyone can push their views no matter who they bother, or no student should be able to push their views about religion pro or con, otherwise we run into the chance of being a typical fundamentalist type who thinks rules only apply to everyone else who is wrong since we are obviouisly right.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I think you’re missing the difference between his right to wear the shirt (which I think most of us support) and his right to actively and verbally harass other people who express their desire to not be talked at.  One is passive, the other is aggressive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

        Whoa there buddy, you are expecting too much of Mr False Dichotomy “DG” Binary there! His/her comments appear to often follow the same ‘logical’ lines.

        Now, if it was me at that school, I’d make up a t-shirt with the same message on the front but with a picture of Buddy Christ added on the back. Then have everyone wear them….

      • DG

        No, I get it, despite what our good Maik Both thinks.  My point is, I could do without that type of shirt, but I could do without someone dressing as Jesus on fictional character day, too.  Both are, basically, a finger in the eye meant to shove a view on others.  The danger is only seeing the problem with the one I disagree with.  I see a problem with both.  The shirt is no less aggressive than the dress.  It isn’t as if the student who dressed as Jesus wasn’t aware of the implications.  Quite the contrary, his point, and those who celebrated him doing it, seemed pretty clear they loved the ‘finger in the eye of Christians’ attitude behind it.  For me, it’s best to keep it consistent and expect folks from both sides of fence to act the same way.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          I don’t think anyone here has a problem with one and not the other. This could be easily solved one of two ways. Either the schools ban religious/political clothing, or allow all viewpoints to be expressed, even if they are offensive. What shouldn’t be tolerated, though, is harassment of other students. So punish this kid for harassment, not his shirt. If the Jesus costume boy had gone around harassing others (he didn’t, but hypothetically), he should have been punished for that, not his costume.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          The problem with the ‘closed’ (no finger-in-the-eye) approach is that ‘finger-in-the-eye’ is very hard to define, so ends up being “not what we’re used to” aka “privilege” aka “goggles”.

          That’s fine if you presume that not only is everything hunky dory, bu that there is no possibility of it not being hunky dory.  ‘Fingers-in-the-eye’ serve a very important purpose- to highlight problems with the existing condition.

          In the Jesus Costume case, there was/is an environment of Christian privilege.  Teachers pushing creationism, and administration unwilling to deal with it, etc.  Whether you agree with that as a problem or not, he did, and he made a statement.  He wasn’t offending people just for shits and grins, he was doing it in response to the status quo that was being pushed on him.

          Now maybe Jesus-T-shirt was also suffering under atheist-privilege.  I kinda doubt it, but I would.  Point is, I think he has a right to point it out, non-violently.  I’d prefer a t-shirt to active preaching.

          Without giving people the right to ‘offend’ we get into situation where churches can advertise in theaters, but humanist groups can’t.  Or kids can wear “Jesus Loves You” shirts, but not “Your Cousin is an Ape- Deal” shirt (ok, that’s a totally-made-up-but-I-could-see-it-happen example) or Billboards saying “Hell is Real!” but not one with “Atheists” on a kittens and clouds background.

        • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

          No, you don’t ‘get it’ – and it’s even worse you thinking you do. Your comments constantly equate two things as being ‘the same’, whereas there are very often differences between the two that make them ‘not the same’. 

          See ‘
          GloomCookie613”s post a few down for why. It’s the one that ends with ‘
          I’m amazed that you can be so allergic to common sense.’

        • Neil

          Yes, the Jesus-dress-up guy was fully aware of the implications…just like this guy was fully aware of the implications of his t-shirt.  That’s why a lot of commetners here don’t care about the shirt very much, and essentially agree with you as far as that simple comparison goes.   

          Where we disagree with you is your apparent opinion that wearing such a costume or shirt is in the same “in your face” league as unwelcome preaching and saying “go to hell” and the like, as pointed out in THIS article. 
          If this is not your opinion, feel free to say so…since you’re apparently not taking any of the content of this article into account, it’s all I have to work with.
          To be honest, I go a bit further, (as I have argued with RWlawoffice on other posts) and say that the nature of chrisitian theology is far more offensive, in simple terms of what is presented as TRUTH, than a simple statement of atheism could ever be…but there’s not really any true accounting for what might offend someone.

          At any rate, you MIGHT have had a point when this story first came out, if there had been a huge lynch mob of atheists demanding he be suspended for the shirt alone…although I think most here reacted quite reasonably.   But now that fuller information has been disclosed, I think any honest person can see the difference between the amount of offense and nuisance caused by each individual, as well as a feel for the social atmosphere at each school.  Taking everything in context, there isn’t much of a comparison.

          But if it’s easier for you, ignore the full context and past history of each student and school, hop in your time machine, go back to the first post on the subject, and beat your dead horse to your heart’s content.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      Please learn to fully read the posts. Kid #1 (dressed as Jesus) didn’t get in his classmates’ faces and insult them, kid #2 (Mr. I Heart Jesus) did for quite awhile, including telling students off. Kid #2 isn’t *just* in trouble for his poorly chosen shirt choice.

      I’m amazed that you can be so allergic to common sense.

  • edwin

    it was fine when this kid was wearing his shirt and insulting his school mates but when the school wanted a discussion on the subject both father and son showed their inner coward and refused to participate. typical religious BS.

    • AtheistPowerlifter

      I agree.  Both cowards.

      A supposedly tolerant christian showing intolerance to an open discussion about tolerance. Big surprise. Hypocrites.

      AP

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1283711742 Arlene Dykstra

    As a teacher’s aide that worked with behaviorally, sholastically and emotionally challenged teens I interpret a lot more to this story as well.  I see a student who was probably vocal and annoying in his beliefs, and an administration that failed to manage this from the very beginning.  They have failed in their duty to this young man and as well to the other students. Allowing other teens he annoyed to manipulate this through complaints over this t-shirt was the culmination.

    As a parent of a teen (a vocal atheist, and I am agnostic) I would have done precisely the same thing as John Swinimer did and not allowed the kangaroo court that was set up today.  They are singling this student out one more time, but this time on a grand scale.  Why would any parent allow that after this administration has shown nothing but carelessness in handling this situation.

    • Neil

      Well, it’s great to see that your all-knowing high horse is still healthy and ready for action there!

      I agree that it looks like this disruptive student was not dealt with properly from the start, and that the t-shirt suspension was perhaps a last-minute sloppy fix (although I don’t calim to have the psychic ability you are apparently blessed with).  But then you go on to call a simple, voluntary conversation a “kangaroo court”, and say that you would also shield your child from ever seeing any consequences for their repeated unwelcome actions….gee, self-righteous hyperbole much?

      So let me ask…if your atheist child was so vocal as to be disrupting other student’s learning to push a personal agenda, would you at least try to show them the value of respecting others, or would you double down like Jerk Dad here, and encourage
      your child to be even more of a disruptive jerk?

  • http://twitter.com/DespicableScott Scott Walker

    In the USA students do not have the same amount of freedoms afforded by the constitution. Which is why they can enforce a dress code and facial piercings, hair length, hair color etc. The Constitution and all of it’s protections are protections from the government. There are really no protections from other people, Universities, public schools, etc. etc. 

    • westley

      “In the USA students do not have the same amount of freedoms afforded by the constitution. Which is why they can enforce a dress code and facial piercings, hair length, hair color etc. ”

      Wrong.  My brother won a court case (Westley v. Rossi, 305 F.Supp. 706 (D.Minn.1969)) which ruled that:

      The restriction here is one of appearance, not based on health or morals. Quaere whether the length of a boy’s hair is distractive today as would be girls scantily clad for instance so as to justify regulation. The rule here has effect beyond school, so were a school to prohibit a boy attending school with no shirt and bare to the waist, if he desires to go bare waisted in life at home or beyond the school he may take off the shirt as he leaves the school grounds. Such is not the case with hair. Even as to smoking the restriction is lost if the pupil leaves the school grounds. The hair restriction, however, invades private life beyond the school jurisdiction. The rule is an attempt to impose taste or preference as a standard. The standards of appearance and dress of last year are not those of today nor will they be those of tomorrow. Regulation of conduct by school authorities must bear a reasonable basis to the ordinary conduct of the school curriculum or to carrying out the responsibility of the school. No moral or social ill consequences will result to other students due to the presence or absence of long hair nor should it have any bearing on the wearer or other students to learn or to be taught.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Can I buy your brother a beer?  Or a coffee?  Or a doughnut?

      • amycas

         I always thought rules about hair length and facial hair on boys was stupid. I’m glad this happened. When was this decided again?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1474032392 Gilbert Davis

    Well the young fellow did manage to teach most of the other students how not to behave so he’s done a good job as a bad example.  Good to hear that for a change we’re hearing about a school behaving in a proper way with this sort of controversy.  Cool.

  • westley

    Wait, his father is Father Guido Sarducci?

    • Deven_Kale

       Now that’s just uncanny! The only real difference I can see is Guido Sarducci’s hair is brown, this kids father has gray hair.

    • AxeGrrl

      The father should do Sarducci’s classic bit on the ‘other’ commandments, the ‘lost’ commandments ~ like…..’never give a dog a chicken bone’.  Or, ‘when you use a Q-Tip, just go around the outside, don’t go poking in there’.

  • Mommiest

    I think getting rid of the jerk and the jerkier dad are a win for the school. But I wonder why, when this started, a few kids didn’t start showing up with “Life is WASTED with beliefs in things that don’t exist” T-shirts. Sheesh.

  • Veronica Abbass

    An article in the Toronto Sun indicates that Swinimer’s pastor made a statement:

    ‘But according to the boy’s pastor, William will finish Grade 12 elsewhere.

    “William will no longer be attending this school. He will be
    furthering his education outside this school,” Varrick Day told QMI
    Agency.’

    http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/07/parents-pull-jesus-shirt-teen-from-school

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000436391100 Wally Wheeler

    Why so angry with him? He simply misspelled the word, “with”.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

    Anyone else getting a venomfangx vibe from this dork? That guy was also from Canada. Oh, and that one David guy from Montreal, the one threatening everyone on Twitter. Then there’s the Creation Museum guy near Calgary. 

    At least Canada’s religious nuts are lone wolves. There’s that, at least.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

    Oh, and I’m still waiting for a kid to wear a “Life is WASTED without Edward” or “Life is WASTED without Jacob” t-shirt.

  • Ian Reide

    Thanks for the update, puts the situation in a clear context. 

    Francis Crick: “Christianity may be OK between consenting adults in private but should not be taught to young children.”

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    Dad wants religion out of the school all of a sudden? Then he did the right thing by pulling his pastor-in-training, uhm, I mean son, from school. I’ve been on the receiving end of the hellfire crap while stuck in school. Trust me, trying to figure out the best ways to avoid the preaching was highly distracting. The rants in my face even moreso. Kid’s a distraction to the educational process and was punished appropriately. Daddy and son need to get over themselves in a hurry.

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

    “He will not attend this school unless they are having reading, writing and arithmetic — good old-fashioned academics,” he said, waving a New Testament bible.

    You know, we have to get something that we can wave around dramatically as if it lent some credibility to our standpoint. I’m thinking a grilled-cheese sandwich with an image of nothing on it.

    But let’s give the poor guys a break. They’ve obviously got some deep-seated neuroses that foster the whole attitude. Take away the christian assholery and they’d have to find a personality and start coping with society. That’s akin to asking them not to drive down the middle of the road or fart in elevators.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Friesen/713735374 Jason Friesen

    First off, I know that when it comes down to discrediting Christianity  lies are pretty much always involved. Such as in this article. Every Christian gets discredited and I as a Christian can say first hand that it has happened many times. This man is sticking up for what countless of our troops died for and anyone who stands against this man stands against our troops. In other words anyone who stands against this man is basically an intellectual terrorist to Canada. Anyone who demotes freedom of speech in Canada can easily be labeled as one. If you want to know the honest truth than you must know that Darwinism is the soul reason for World War 1 and World War 2, and if Hitler had his way this man would be shot for wearing this shirt, and it seems that the people who oppose this man are on Hitlers side. You must do your research to know what I am talking about. You have to dig for it because this type of information will NOT be presented in a mainstream form. The mainstream form is designed to discredit people such as William Swinimer.

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

       Time to get your meds adjusted Jason.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      “There’s a Godwin in the Dungeon!”

    • MichaelD

      Cough…. wasn’t origin of species a banned book under Nazis Germany…. that’s some tough love from such a big fan. 
      http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/documents.htm

      You didn’t see soviet Russia banning the communist manifesto did you?

    • Baby_Raptor

      People disagree with my cognitive dissonance…I must insult them and compare them to Hitler!

    • Neil

      Great comment, Jason Friesen!  Can you get that printed up on extra soft two-ply?   I had a big pizza lunch,  so  I know I’m gonna have some serious wiping to do later.
      That kind of paranoid, rambling, self-indulgent crazy is just the perfect level of abrasive & absorbent, for maximum hygeine!  Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Friesen/713735374 Jason Friesen

     1980 – ?. At the end of life your life is just a dash between two dates.
    The average person lives to be around 80 + or – years old. This means
    the average person gets to enjoy 8o summers, survives through 80
    winters, and celebrates their birthday 80 times. The average person gets
    to relax during the 4160 weekends between workdays. If you truly feel
    that all life is is what you see now, and there is
    nothing else after this life than please reconsider. Just ask Jesus
    Christ to save you and after you leave this life you get to experience
    endless amounts of weekends, and there is no deadline of life. You are
    forever saved from death if you just ask Jesus Christ to forgive you for
    your sins, and ask Him into your heart.

    • Baby_Raptor

      I’ll reconsider my beliefs as soon as you reconsider yours. Let me know when you’re done. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

      I have this philosophy regarding Christianity (or any other religion); I will live my life to the best of my ability. I will try to be kind, understanding and compassionate. I will always seek the truth, regardless of whether I like the answers I find. If when I die, and there happens to be something other than oblivion, I will face this too. Let’s pretend that I meet ‘your’ God. I have been told that HE is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. Already, we have something in common. I have also been told that HE is the ground of all being, the quintessential essence of love.(I’ll leave out the genocidal bits). If HE chooses to reject me on the grounds of faithlessness in life, then so be it. Back to reality. I will not be goaded or intimidated into believing something without evidence. In order for YOU to be converted to another religion, evidence is presumably required. In the end, I rule nothing out, but my commitment to an idea is somewhat proportional to the evidence for that idea. Your arrogance is astounding. Why not let the Prophet Muhammad into your heart, and repent of your sinful christian ways, heretic? Exactly. That’s how I heard your tone deaf, evidence lacking ‘pitch’.

    • Thorny264

      The one true god (FSM) does not like false prophets Jason, You can be forever saved from death if you just accept the FSM into your heart Also free beer and strippers.

      Strange to think that you base your life on your religion and there is just as much evidence for your religion  as there is for the FSM.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

       Yeah, I let Jesus into my heart a long time ago.  All I got was a lousy t-shirt.  I’m good without God, but thanks for preaching at us as if you have a chance to convert or reconvert any of us here.  It’s tres adorable!

    • AtheistPowerlifter

      You and your preaching…can’t even get away from you idiots on a comments page.

      Make a comment relevant to the topic or get lost.

      Prove to me that your precious Jeebus is any more real than Crom and his prophet Conan (rage be upon him), whose glorious prophecy was revealed to his disciple Robert E Howard.

  • dangeroustalk

    I’m fine with him wearing his shirt. That’s just free expression but when he tells people they are going to Hell, I take that as a threat. That to me goes beyond free speech into a threat of  eternal torture. That’s terrorism right there.

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

      It’s only terrorism or bullying if he or his god can make good on the alleged threat. There are no gods and there is no hell, so how can that be seen as a serious terrorist threat?
      If some idiot kid was to approach me and tell me that the invisible gorilla that lives in his bathroom will cause me to grow a second head if I didn’t repeat a certain chant I’d look at his comment as being rather silly, not threatening.

      • dangeroustalk

         I’m sorry, but it is a threat. It just isn’t a believable threat. But it is still a terroristic threat. If I told you that if you didn’t do what I say, my grandmother will shoot you, it really doesn’t matter that my grandmother is dead for it to be considered a threat. I see the threat of Hell the exact same way. It expresses a desire to harm by the person issuing the threat. They could be crazy for all I know, but they have issued a statement that they have a desire to harm me. so yes, Hell is a threat… empty or not, it is a threat.

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

          No reason to be “sorry”. Again, it is not a threat if it cannot be acted upon. Legally or otherwise it is not a threat. By setting the bar so low you trivialize real incidents of threatening.  I realize I’m not gong to change your mind on this so I’ll just let my argument stand as it is.

          • dangeroustalk

            Well, first off you are wrong to assume that my mind cannot be changed… especially if you make a good argument or present some credible evidence. My mind is always willing to change with new information. Second, I do see what you are saying about trivializing “real” incidents of threatening that are more actionable. However, my point is that threats of Hell are actionable by the person making the threat (obviously not from the deity). If someone says that you are going to Hell, it means that they believe that you deserve to go be tortured for all eternity. If someone is sufficiently motivated to believe that their imaginary deity has called on them to carry out his will, then it is a serious actionable threat. The problem is that we don’t know how seriously this person believes their bullshit. So maybe if the 80-year-old crossing guard says it, I might not feel threatened, but when a high school kid who has already shown that he takes his religion seriously tells you that you are going to hell, I take that as a threat. It may be actionable or it may not. That’s up to the authorities to decide or I may need more information to make the decision for myself. Third,  I hope your assumption that my mind can’t be changed is not projection on your part. You should also be willing to change your opinion if presented with a strong argument or evidence to the contrary. We are after all supposed to be people of reason. I get the whole, “I know I won’t change your mind” bullshit from Christians far too often.

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

               

              …”my point is that threats of Hell are actionable by the person making the
              threat (obviously not from the deity). If someone says that you are
              going to Hell, it means that they believe that you deserve to go be
              tortured for all eternity. If someone is sufficiently motivated to
              believe that their imaginary deity has called on them to carry out his
              will, then it is a serious actionable threat….”

              HOW is it actionable? If the threat has not been clearly outlined/explained /communicated then it’s legally not a threat. It doesn’t matter how YOU take it. I was a use of force instructor for security and police and I worked as a private military security contractor overseas. If I took out everybody that I thought MIGHT POSSIBLY wish me harm I’d be swimming in fucking bodies. A threat must be defined and the individual(s) must be capable of carrying out that threat OR you must convince a judge that you were reasonable in thinking that the person was both willing and capable of carrying out physical harm to you. What you describe as a threat is laughable. Have you ever even been in a fight? I mean a real fight, not some shove fest or bitch slapping session in junior high. Have you ever been stabbed or shot at? Are you familiar with the laws concerning use of force or what does and does not constitute a real threat?
              You cannot just redefine a word to suit your own personal feelings, friend. You accuse me of using theist debating tactics, yet here you are redefining a words meaning in order to press your assertion. What the child was doing is clearly harassing in nature and if he was an adult and tried that shit with me I’d do just enough to keep him out of the hospital and later explain to the police how his body language was threatening and how he invaded my space and refused to back off after a warning. Believe me, I’ve been through this shit more times than you could possibly imagine. It’s all in how you write the fucking report. :-)

              • dangeroustalk

                 Wow, where to start. First, i am not talking about taking every threat to the police and turning it into a federal case and I thought that I made that pretty clear. But you yoursellf just said that if someone invades your space that would be considered threatening. My point is that if someone expresses a desire that I be tortured for all eternity that that too is threatening. It may not be actionable or be a credible threat. It may not warrant calling the police or taking it before a judge. Like I said before, it depends on the situation. But it is a threat and that is my point. Second, you seem overly emotional here and that in not conducive to a rational argument. So I’m going to cal this one quits. We are just going to have to agree to disagree. 

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

                  “…It may not warrant calling the police or taking it before a judge. Like I
                  said before, it depends on the situation. But it is a threat and that
                  is my point….”

                  If it’s not something you can respoind to with the force of the civil or criminal legal system, the NO, it’s not a threat. You can take it as a threat all you want, but that does not make it a threat.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Terrorism isn’t well defined, but I don’t think that fits the bill. 

          Terroristic threat is a specific legal term, and better defined, although it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  But a common theme in the examples I’ve seen is credibility of the threat.  That is, you’d have to actually believe in hell, or that the person making the threat would and could harm you in some real way.  It might be considered a terroristic threat for a parent or priest to tell a believing child that they’re going to hell.  The point is it’s not about knowing that someone despises you, it’s about having a real fear of real harm.

          • MichaelD

            While I don`t entirely disagree with you quick thought experiment. 

            If someone tries to hire a hitman to kill you and its an undercover cop is it still a threat on your life?

            or 

            If someone picks a gun off your desk and threatens to shoot you is it no longer a threat if you know its not loaded but they don’t?

            While I agree that threats of hell aren’t legally threats I’m not convinced they aren’t morally threats.

            • dangeroustalk

               The first one, I don’t really understand. The second one is still a threat, it is just not an credible threat in my opinion. But both of these examples miss my point. It isn’t Hell that i would be afraid of it is the religious persons conviction that I deserve to be tortured for all eternity and their willingness to carry out this punishment in the name of their deity of choice. Hell is a threat insofar as it expressed the desire and willingness of the person toward violence. But again, every situation is different and if the 80-year-old crossing guard said it to me, I probably wouldn’t consider it a credible threat.

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

                 

                …”their willingness to carry out this punishment in the name of their deity of choice….”

                And HOW do you describe or define “willingness”? How is this willingness to do physical harm being expressed? Be specific for crying out loud. You keep trying to defend the indefensible by hiding behind a cloud of obfuscation and vaguery. If I walk up to you and tell you that you deserve to die a horrible and agonizingly slow death, all I’ve done is expressed my dislike for you. There is no difference between that and what you claim is a viable threat from a Christian. You claim to be able to change your mind once confronted with facts but so far all I’ve observed is that you’ve done is ignore the facts and stubbornly push your point of view as reality. How is that rational?

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

                 An argument could be made that YOU present more of a viable threat due to your unreasonable level of fear and paranoia. Both, by the way are hallmarks of extremist thinking.
                I’d reconsider your argument. The facts just don’t back you up. wishing something to be so, doesn’t make it so.

                • dangeroustalk

                   What? Now you are just being silly.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Hm, intent.  Maybe.  But it might depend on if they’re trying to change your behavior.  “Stop wanting Johnie’s toy or you’ll go to Hell!” vs. “You’re a sinner and going to Hell”.

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

                 No, not really. If they threatened to SEND you to the hell you so richly deserve THAT is a real threat.
                If a guy twice my size walks up to me cracking his knuckles and looms over me menacingly (invades my personal space) and doesn’t way a word, THAT COULD…COULD be construed as a physical threat. In many instances you’d be justified in acting upon that threat with the amount of force necessary to stop the subject.

          • dangeroustalk

             “you’d have to actually believe in hell”
            No, you’d have to actually believe that they believe in hell. The threat isn’t that you will go to hell, it is that they will attempt to kill you to sent you there. And yes, if I were a high school student and another high school student who has shown that he or she is deeply religious told me that I should burn in Hell, I would have a very real fear of harm. Religion can do terrible things. It can turn normally decent people into killers in the service of God. That’s my point.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              It depends on if the death threat is part of it.  As in, Burn in Hell NOW, or Burn in Hell eventually?  It would come down to a case by case basis, but I personally wouldn’t assume the immediacy unless it was articulated.

              • dangeroustalk

                Context matter, no doubt about that. But when someone says, “Burn in Hell!” generally is a not so happy mood, I would rather generally take that as a threat with varying levels of credibility depending on the situation for all the reasons I have already discussed. Younger, more passionate adults end up higher on the credible threat scale than 80-year-old crossing guards. But I still think we need to call that shit out and let them know that what they are saying could reasonably be considered a threat and that they should re-think their statement. But yeah, if someone said, “burn in hell eventually” I don’t think i would take that all that seriously. But it still shows a desire toward harm that I might want to point out to the person making the statement.

  • Ndonnan

    This is getting quite vitriolic over a boy in a T-shirt,its starting to sound like the comments that Jessica girl was getting for getting her school banner taken down.This kids gone from a jerk to a terrorist,soon he will be getting death threats as well

    • TiltedHorizon

      “…soon he will be getting death threats as well”

      So what you are saying is we are building up to it? (eye roll) If atheism was anything like theism we would be there already.  

      I don’t recall any delay to the death threats in that “Jessica girl” incident, it was damn near instant, from Zero to ‘Curb Stomping’ like a Ferrari on rocket fuel. 

      The comments here, including my own, have been rather fair, placing the tee-shirt under the protection of free speech. 

    • Neil

      What in the name of Thorin Oakenshield are you babbling about?  Vitriolic?  That a clear majority feel he should be allowed his free speech, but not allowed to constantly harangue other students without their consent?  That’s “vitriolic” to you?  People
      essentially supporting free speech they deeply disagree with is “vitriolic?” 

      People saying that loud, ignorant, hostile preachers are annoying is like calling him a “terrorist”?  That’s the best you can do, loser-ass troll?

      And please, your comparison to “that Jessica girl” is just insulting (as I’m sure it was meant to be).  Feel free to show me any comment on this page or any other that includes threats of hell,  death threats, rape threats, or threats of violence toward the young jerk.  This guy went out of his way to make others personally uncomfortable, unlike anything “that Jessica girl” ever did, and will never face a fraction of the consequences!

      Show me the death threats, you lying troll-ass piece of hyena dung, or shut up.

      But….please allow me to express my sympathy for your plight….whatever extereme sexual dysfunction you are suffering from…it’s clearly affecting your mental state and
      your behavior.  See a doctor.

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

    “he said, waving a New Testament bible”

    Literally waving a bible? Mind blown.

    • amycas

       From now on after every single quote, I’m going to write “he said, waving a New Testament bible.” I smells a new meme…

  • TheAnalogKid

    He still gets to wear the shirt, but he’s an asswipe. Must be genetic.

  • dangeroustalk

     Maybe you haven’t provided any credible evidence or presented a decent argument. You sure haven’t listened to anything I had to say. So I have have to call this arguments quits. We’ll have to just agree to disagree.

  • dangeroustalk

     Maybe you haven’t provided any credible evidence or presented a decent argument. You sure haven’t listened to anything I had to say. So I have have to call this arguments quits. We’ll have to just agree to disagree.

  • Alqui

    He´s a Brave Guy, May G-d Bless Him, Best Regards from Spain.

  • tim

    here are some great atheist t-shirts to sport :)  www.reasonistproducts.com 


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