The ‘Stomp on Jesus’ Professor Finally Tells His Side of the Story

Last week, I wrote about a controversy concerning a student at Florida Atlantic University, his professor, and “Jesus” written on a piece of paper. I asked the question “Did a student really get suspended for refusing to ‘stomp on Jesus’?”

The answer, it seems, is probably not.

If you didn’t catch it, here’s a quick recap:

Junior Ryan Rotela, a Mormon, was in his Multi-Cultural Communications class taught by Dr. Deandre Poole. As a class activity, Dr. Poole asked all students to get out a piece of paper and write “JESUS” on it. He then asked them to put the paper on the ground and step on it. Rotela refused and, as a result, was suspended from Dr. Poole’s class… or, at least, that’s Rotela’s version of the story.

Last week, I postulated that it seemed unlikely that this is was how the story actually went down, but we only had Rotela’s account to work off of.

Normally, I really love being proven right, but this particular story has me pretty unhappy with the way it panned out.

Dr. Deandre Poole

Yesterday, Dr. Poole finally broke his silence in an interview with Inside Higher Ed‘s Scott Jaschik, and, as many of us suspected, he has quite a different version of the story:

First off, Poole wants people to know that he never told anyone to “stomp on Jesus,” to quote the headline widely used in articles criticizing him. He said he asked people to step on the piece of paper.

Poole said that, as best he could tell, only one student in the course had an objection. That student — whom Poole did not name in the interview, but who has come forward in local news reports saying he was suspended for objecting to the exercise — refused to participate and then said repeatedly, Poole said, “How dare you disrespect someone’s religion?”

After class, the student came up to him, and made that statement again, this time hitting his balled fist into his other hand and saying that “he wanted to hit me.” While the student did not do so, Poole said he was alarmed and notified campus security and filed a report on the student.

Rotela denies these claims and even has a lawyer to represent him (represent to whom, I am not really sure).

So there we have it, right? One man’s word against the other’s. Very different accounts of the same story. If that’s all it was, I would just say it’s a silly misunderstanding and move on.

But it’s not. Dr. Poole’s life has been turned upside-down by this “misunderstanding”:

He said he has received hate mail and death threats, some of them coming in forms particularly hurtful to an African American. “One of the threats said that I might find myself hanging from a tree,” he said.

Reporters knock on his door, and he has had some days that he did not feel safe at his home and so stayed elsewhere. “My safety has been in question. There are churches that want to march against me. There are people calling on the university to fire me.”

“And it’s all for doing my job. I was doing my job.”

The university placed Poole on paid leave on Friday, citing safety concerns, and assigned other instructors to take over all of his courses. The university said that Poole will not be on campus, “to prevent further disruption to the day-to-day operations” of the institution.

I don’t even know what to say. I am beside myself over this. How can people do this? Threatening the man’s life?! Over what? A perceived snub to your God? This is insanity.

Oh, and here’s the best part:

Poole is a Sunday School-teaching Christian.

I am very religious,” he said. “I see how the name Jesus is symbolic. For people like myself, Jesus is my lord and savior. It’s how I identify myself as a Christian.”

Well, isn’t that nauseatingly ironic?

The one bright spot (if there is one) is that some people have Poole’s back. 

The campus chapter of the United Faculty of Florida released a statement voicing their support for Poole.

Although it is never the intention of a faculty member to offend his/her students, at times controversial material might unintentionally do so. As a result, we then use the classroom to discuss the controversy in a forthright and honest manner. But offense alone never justifies immediate censorship of the material and/or the pedagogy. Galileo offended critics by claiming the earth was not the center of the solar system. Some groups continue to be offended by evolutionary theory. Offense, although to be avoided, sometimes accompanies the advancement of knowledge.

We find it outrageous that critics of Dr. Poole immediately condemn his exercise without fully knowing the facts. When the university administration unilaterally claims that such an assignment will not be taught again without the consultation of the faculty member involved as well as the faculty at large, they shred the principles of academic freedom that legitimate the existence of the university and guide genuine scholarly inquiry.  It is time to defend academic freedom through the maelstrom of uninformed attacks since the controversy will eventually pass but the institution will remain. And the type of institution that remains will largely depend upon whether the core principles of academic freedom are preserved or not.

Finally. A sane voice in all of this. I hope that FAU stands behind their professor. Because he is on a one-year contract, the university could easily not rehire him for next year.  According to the faculty statement, Poole “routinely received high praise from his students and supervisors,” and to not rehire him because of an ignorant complaint would be a tremendous disappointment:

[T]he good faith of the faculty who placed their trust in an administration to defend the academic freedom that defines the university. Lost will be freedom of speech in the classroom to ‘present and discuss academic subjects, frankly and forthrightly, without fear of censorship,’ as is enshrined in our collective bargaining agreement. Lost will be the future scholars who will no longer want to work at an institution whose credibility has been tarnished. Lost will be the current scholars who leave our institution for others that respect academic freedom.

This is bigger than one student being offended in one classroom. It’s about the fact that sometimes people are going to be offended by ideas, and they have to learn how to deal with that offense. It’s like Stephen Fry once said:

In addition to that, these idiots who are crying out about how Poole hurt their little hearts have so widely missed the point, it is absurd.

If you’ve come to this site and jumped down to the comments section to say “The professor didn’t make students stomp on MUHAMMAD or ALLAH!!!”… just save it. If that’s what you think this is about, you are so desperately missing the point of everything that we can’t have a meaningful discussion about the merits of this lesson.

Poole’s intention was to teach the power of cultural symbolism. Given the overreaction we’ve seen by the conservative media and Rotela himself, it looks like the lesson worked. Hopefully, the other, more thoughtful students picked up on that.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • Jason Sullivan

    Good work, stay on top of this story would you?

  • alconnolly

    If the professors side of the story is correct he did nothing wrong. However it seems the university fucked up royally. First there is convincing evidence they did suspend the student, second they turned around when the student got major support for his cause and lied that they did not suspend him, then because they were worried about the political fallback, they censored classroom material which is a big academic no-no. They seem to yo-yo between all the wrong extremes completely unprofessional and incompetent. Knowing this, it is unlikely the professor will get a contract renewal when it comes around again. Of course it goes without saying all the people who would threaten the professor are totally outrageously wrong, regardless of which side is more accurate.

    • 3lemenope

      Sounds pretty much par for the course for a university reacting to a controversy.

      • Dr. Loeb

        It didn’t used to be like that. There was a time in academia when a controversy would be a teaching moment and not a time to circle the wagons, convince donors and/or shareholders of the financial viability of the University and stop the program.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          I think you are over-generalizing. Say “It isn’t always like that” and “There are times and space in academia”. Otherwise, you give the impression of there have been some time in the past where academic freedom was universally adequately respected. There has never been such a time.

          • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

            hear, hear. there is no rosy past.

    • Gus Snarp

      Let’s be clear, this was not a suspension like you get in high school. In response to allegations that the (adult) student physically threatened his professor, he was asked not to attend that professor’s class and not to have contact with that professor, bending the outcome of an investigation.

      That is the right thing to do.
      The university didn’t screw up until they bowed to pressure and stepped on academic freedom in response.

      • alconnolly

        If disbarment from attending class is a legitimate response to a denied allegation, then should a person be able to accuse a professor of a veiled physical threat and get the professor disbarred from teaching class “pending the results of an investigation”. It seems to me that a five minute talk asking “do you admit to pounding your fist and saying you felt like punching the professor” followed by a “no that did not happen”, should suffice. The fact of the matter is a ten year investigation cannot change a he/said she said witnessed by no one. So either you punish a teacher for lying, or student for threatening. Or you say there is no preponderance of evidence. But there is no need for a “suspension for investigation” which punishes a presumed innocent student. What happens if the charges are unsubstantiated”? An outcome almost guaranteed when they claims are mutually exclusive with no evidence for either claim. Then an innocent student losses time energy and or academic credit. There were no witnesses claimed by either side so the investigation should be a five minute deal.

        • Gus Snarp

          The problem seems to be that you’re thinking that this is a punishment without due process. It’s not because it’s not a punishment. It’s a public safety and administrative approach to possible threats and harassment. Again, there is a process in place to deal with this, but the first step is to ensure safety. The final outcome is that he takes the class under a different professor. In all likelihood, if it were found that the accusation was baseless, would have been exactly the same. It makes no sense for the student to be in a class with a professor who he either threatened, or who believes he was threatened, or was so pissed off he falsely accused him of threats. In any case, taking the student out of that class while an appropriate resolution is found is the right approach since it ensures the safety of the other students and the professor, keeps the one student in question from suffering any reprisal from the professor, and limits disruption for the rest of the students. It’s one (probably elective) class for a college junior, it’s not going to destroy his academic progress or career.

          Also, you say there were no witnesses. Are you privy to some inside information about the case that no one else has?

          • Alconnolly

            Whether the process is considered punitive or administrative, it results in suffering and harm to the presumed innocent party. You did not address whether you would consider it a legitimate approach to suspend a professor from teaching a class if a student made an unverifiable claime against him. If so fine, I happen to think it is unfair but as long as you consider it to be appropriate action for either party at least you are not promoting a double standard. As far as no witnesses the teacher never claimed witnesses when testifying to the incident to defend himself in interviews although he claimed witnesses to the separate incident in class. It is a reasonable inference that he would bring up aspects that have a strong bearing on the truth of his claims when he did so in regards everything else, the student also made no such claim, when it would be in his interest to do so, therefore the likelihood is that no witnesses exist. Although the constitution is often ignored it guarantees a speedy trial and although it does not apply here it seems the principle that one should not be made to suffer unnecessarily when presumed innocent should be adhered too. It was also very dishonest of the university to deny the suspension when whatever term they may use internally has the exact same practical force and consequence as one, without at least stating that it was true that the student was forbidden from attending class or interacting with the other students. It strikes me as a clear and deliberate attempt to deceive the public about the universities actions.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      well, i’m sorry he’s on leave and not allowed to teach, but university cited “safety concerns,” and in this case, given the death threats and his fear to even leave his house, i can understand their decision. i may have found another way to deal with it that didn’t include putting him on leave, had i been the U prez, but in these times of shrinking budgets and a need to maintain a certain sized paying undergrad population, i can understand why a U in the middle of bibleland would feel compelled to take this choice. i can’t really argue with the logic that says, “do you have any idea the expense 24/7 body guards would cost? or the risk we’re taking of xtian terrorism?” because according to what i’m reading, it’s a very real risk.

  • 3lemenope

    Rotela denies these claims and even has a lawyer to represent him (represent to whom, I am not really sure).

    It is not uncommon for a student facing a disciplinary procedure to secure private counsel, especially if the act under discussion is one that could result in criminal charges outside the student disciplinary system. Most post-secondary schools obey the “potted plant” rule, which is that the lawyer may be present and advise their client, but not directly participate in the hearing (i.e. ‘as quiet as a potted plant’).

  • C Peterson

    The response of many of religionists (by which I mean not just those who are religious themselves, but those who believe religious ideas should be afforded protections different from other ideas) seems here no different from the response of extremist Muslims, who would see people dead for drawing cartoons or otherwise defaming (in their eyes) symbols they hold sacred or important.

    Truly, the extremist Christians in the U.S. are becoming harder and harder to distinguish from the Taliban with each passing day.

    • 3lemenope

      Considering that they used to actually occasionally hang people from trees, uh, no, not so much.

      It is almost a rule of nature that as people lose power and privilege, they become louder and meaner-sounding. This is evidence that they are panicking and losing their shit, not that they’re getting ready for a brand new pogrom.

      • C Peterson

        I think you are wrong. There really isn’t any difference between the extremist religionists here and the Taliban. Their minds work the same way. There is a practical difference in that many extremist Muslims live in countries that enable their violence, whereas we live in a secular nation that does not. But in intent? No difference. I have no reason to think that the “Christians” voicing these threats wouldn’t be fully prepared to follow through if there were no legal repercussions to their actions.

        It is the law that is restraining their actions, not their own moral standards.

        • 3lemenope

          This is the “everyone is the same in the dark” standard of judging behavior that to me makes very little sense. But for all sorts of practical restrictions (law, social consequences, material and ability constraints), pretty much everyone would behave much differently than they currently do (cf. The Republic, book II). So, I think it is utterly unrevealing of anything except the underlying condition of being a human that people act differently under different restrictions. Thus, restrictions are relevant to judging acts and intentions, since actions are actually situated in particular circumstances by particular persons, not hypothetically different persons under hypothetically different circumstances.

          • C Peterson

            No, I’m not saying “everyone” is the same in the dark. What I’m saying is that every extremist religionist who is willing to make threats of violence against those with different views is the same in the dark. And I do think that makes good sense.

            Personally, I don’t think most people would behave much differently in the absence of law, especially those who have developed their own moral code, as opposed to adopting one.

        • Lucilius

          I agree, up to a point; but I think it’s a little worse than that. I’m afraid it’s not the law that really restrains Christian fundamentalists in the U.S., but the fact that they’ve traditionally held so much political power. There’s no essential difference in the fundamentalist mindset between Muslims and Christians (or Jews, for that matter, as Armstrong describes in “The Battle for God”). But in most Muslim-majority countries, they’ve had very little political access, and so have turned to violence as a form of expression. In the U.S., of course, Christian fundamentalists have been a major political force; but as they’re starting to lose that electoral voice, they’re more and more likely to really believe they’re oppressed and persecuted, and thus to emulate their Muslim counterparts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Delicath/1247434962 Ann Delicath

      That’s why I call them Talibangelists.

      • Kevin Beach

        I love that word. Thank you for introducing it to me.

    • Not Longer A KU Fan

      There is an atheist leader in Kansas City who has claimed that Christians will end up “in a ditch” like Jimmy Hoffa.

      And the atheists love him.

      Go figure.

      • Thackerie

        Citation needed.

        • Gus Snarp

          And if you find the citation, make sure it includes full context of the alleged remark by the alleged leader we allegedly love.

          • kevin white

            Seconded

      • drewbug

        Do you have a name of this “atheist leader”?

        • Psychotic Atheist

          http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e554daff638833

          A bit of searching around found this thread

          http://billtammeus.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/01/191010/comments/page/2/#comments

          The relevant part of the comment is as follows:

          I am perfectly good to live with uncertainties.

          For religoius “loonies” on this blog I say – time for you to crawl
          under the rock. You will die out there with yoru crazy ideas, this is
          happening, there is nothing you can do about it. Your god
          Jesus/Yahweh/Holy Spirit will thank you for it in your brain. Try it,
          you may like it.

          If not, you will be pushed aside into the ditch and buried like Jimmy
          Hoffa, your brains will be crushed under the rock of reality and
          rationality.

          You can run but you cannot hide. You will be hunted, the bullet of rationality will catch you and strike you down

          • 3lemenope

            Pretty weak sauce.

            • Psychotic Atheist

              huh?

              • 3lemenope

                It’s pretty clear that it’s a metaphor–”…the bullet of rationality…”–at least where I’m from bullets cannot be made out of intangibles like “rationality”.

                So as an example of loony rhetoric, it’s weak sauce. Not, granted, the nicest a person can possibly be, but still quite short of the death threat line.

                • Psychotic Atheist

                  I wasn’t providing it as an example of loony rhetoric. I was providing the source for the claim that there is an atheist leader in Kansas City who has claimed that Christians will end up “in a ditch” like Jimmy Hoffa.

                  If you want to argue about how its not actually a threat of violence but a metaphorical death etc., you should take it to Not Longer A KU Fan who brought it up, rather than the guy that took the time to source the claim.

                • 3lemenope

                  Quite so. Didn’t mean to imply you meant anything more than providing the example. I was just opining that if that is the example, it’s a weak one.

                • Secret Agent Man

                  There are HUNDRED MORE on that blog.

                • Secret Agent Man

                  How do you know it was not actually a threat?

                  And, in this day and age, since when is the one threatened obligated to assume it is not a threat?

                  KMA

                • Secret Agent Man

                  The comment is not isolated. There are hundreds like it on that blog.

                  Like “crawl under a rock and die”, etc. etc.

                  It got so bad that Bill Tammeus, former religion editor of the star, had to shut down comments when he realized he could have some liability if something happened.

          • blasphemous_kansan

            Months of blathering on and on about some terroristic atheist Ayatollah leading a cell of christian murdering thugs in the KC area, slandering all KC area atheists in the process, and this is it? This is all it is? You and your comments have been a colossal waste of time. I’m guessing that you’ve plastered this obsession onto everyone in your life who will listen, which is probably why you’re reduced to spewing it here.

            Congratulations, you’ve found someone on the internet who expressed an opinion in an ungracious way. Cookie for you.

            If you genuinely fear for your safety then contact the authorities. Otherwise please, finally, go away.

            • Psychotic Atheist

              Just so people aren’t confused about things – this comment is a response to Not Longer A KU Fan, not me. I just found the source of the claim. I learned of it less than an hour ago and did some googling to find what was actually said, I’ve certainly not spent months blathering on about it!

              • blasphemous_kansan

                Sorry, much apologies to you, Psychotic Atheist.

                I assumed too much, and this guy’s been getting under my skin for awhile.

            • Secret Agent Man

              I love how atheists make an excuse for a blatant threat.

              The comment was not isolated; his rants went on for TWO YEARS at the KC Star until there was apparently legal trouble.

            • Jake

              He’s telling the truth. Some of those local atheist groups are run by a couple of assholes that will get you alone in a bathroom and threaten you.
              No shit.

              • blasphemous_kansan

                Funny. I’ve been going into bathrooms in Kansas City all my life, and I have never encountered this situation of the mythical atheist bathroom bully.

                Very sorry, but I’m going to have to conclude that you’re completely full of shit unless you have proof. Even the names of one of these legendary groups of ruffians.

                • Iggy Sucks

                  You already have the names, being a member of one of the groups.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  So, you can’t provide me with the names of the groups then, or provide proof for your claims?
                  Color me surprised.

            • Iggy Sucks

              Is that you Iggy? If so, shove it up your ass!!!
              Metaphorically speaking only, of course.

              • blasphemous_kansan

                I don’t know what you’re referring to, metaphorically or physically.
                Any chance this troll could be banned?

                It is abusive, off topic, threatening, and trying to out users.

                • Not Suprised

                  Ah, so it IS you!

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  Believe what you will. It hasn’t stopped you yet.
                  If you think that you’re correct, will you go away?

          • RobMcCune

            Thanks I had been wondering what that guy was going on about.

          • RobMcCune

            Thanks I had been wondering what that guy was going on about.

        • Secret Agent Man

          Yes.

      • GCT

        Citation please.

        • Secret Agent Man

          Provided above in link to blog.

          • GCT

            So, some person named “Iggy” made some remarks that were figurative (although not ones I would use) and you think that means that:

            1) This person is an atheist leader

            2) We follow this person

            3) We love this person

            4) He’s actually talking about pogroms against Xians and putting them in ditches

            Really? Please display more of your atheophobic religious privilege.

      • RobMcCune

        That means he not only threatened christians, but he knows what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. Question him immediately!

      • C Peterson

        Besides the fact that the only place this seems to show up is on blogs reporting it second hand, the real question is “so what?” Nobody has suggested that atheists can’t be jerks (although there’s nothing atheist in the threat, which is purely anti-Christian – the two are very different).

        More telling is your comment about “the atheists”. Which atheists would that be? All of them? Like all the Christians who believe in lynching anybody who would dishonor a symbol?

      • rhodent

        Funny, I’m not familiar with this “atheist leader in Kansas City”. That being the case, I feel justified in asking whether you have any evidence for your claim.

      • Glasofruix

        Atheists have leaders?

        • GCT

          Of course we do.

          Anyone who converts to Xianity was an atheist leader so that Xians can point to them and say, “See, they saw the light, what’s wrong with you?”

          Anyone who a Xian doesn’t like is an atheist leader so that Xians can point to that person and say, “See, all you atheists look up to this person because you’re all horrible, mean, immoral monsters.”

          • Secret Agent Man

            What I don’t understand is how atheist make excused for that guy.

            • GCT

              What excuses? I’ve seen none. I’ve seen us point out that the comment in question was metaphorical and not a threat, as one can tell from actually reading for comprehension. I would say the comment was ill-advised however and I don’t support it.

        • Secret Agent Man

          Yep. In Kansas City they them “organizers”.

          Its hilarious.

      • Marco Conti

        “If not, you will be pushed aside into the ditch and buried like Jimmy Hoffa, your brains will be crushed under the rock of reality and rationality.”

        Is this the passage you are referring to?

        When is the last time you saw the “rock of reason and rationality”? That and the rest of the post clearly shows the entire post to be allegorical. As this following passage illustrates

        “You can run but you cannot hide. You will be hunted, the bullet of rationality will catch you and strike you down. It’s just the matter of time for the religious people to understand that.”

        Please tell us why you consider this equivalent to Christians writing and calling this professor and threatening him with Lynching. Do you really think they were being allegorical? Plus, even if this post was not allegorical, it would be a single person V. an army of outraged, poissed off Christians.

        Read more here: http://billtammeus.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/01/191010/comments/page/2/#comments#storylink=cpy
        http://billtammeus.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/01/191010/comments/page/2/#comments#storylink=cpy

        • Secret Agent Man

          Its not a single person. He has many allies. See the blog you referenced.

          • SeekerLancer

            I don’t think the people threatening to lynch Dr. Poole speak for all Christians so I don’t know why you think that blogger speaks for all atheists (though in that example I see a poorly worded metaphor that’s in bad taste and not any actual threat. That doesn’t mean I appreciate the language he used).

            If you want to make Christianity look better you ought to be spending more time condemning extremists and less time saying “look, you do it too. That means we have an excuse to be assholes!”

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        of course, because “the atheists” are such an easy demographic to peg, and they all feel the same about any given individual. horseshit.

    • kevin white

      I upvoted this, C. And i totally agree with you on this. Now, take into consideration that i normally don’t agree with you. :P

      But seriously, More and more people in this age think that Religion should preside over everything.

      Also, I like Ann’s Talibangelists comment.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I’ve been waffling on Talibangelist as a term. It pretty well sums up what we think of the whacked out fundamentalists, and it clearly separates them from Christians in general. However, it’s also really problematic. Our standard for Christian extremists is Muslim extremists. What is says is “those Christians are like those horrible people over there”, which makes ‘those people over there’ the really truly bad ones. Can’t we find a term that isn’t Islamophobic to describe Christian extremists?

  • Octoberfurst

    The professor did nothing wrong. In fact I applaud what he did. He got the students to think about the power of symbols. Unfortunately there are too many idiotic Christians with persecution complexes out there who want to make this a story of anti-Christian bigotry without knowing the facts. (Gee what a surprise.) I hope the professor isn’t fired and that the University stands by him.

  • Helanna

    I just can never get over how ready Christians are to send death threats to anyone who so much as disagrees with them. I mean yeah, there are idiots in every group, but the sheer hypocrisy is just so ridiculous. Love your neighbor! Unless you think he’s an atheist, in which case threaten to lynch him.

    • GCT

      All the while claiming they aren’t as bad as those Muslims who send death threats whenever they are offended…

      • 3lemenope

        For whatever little it is worth, they follow through much less often these days.

        • Achron Timeless

          Just because you don’t have the competence or commitment to follow through with it doesn’t mean you should be excused of expressing actual intent. So, it’s worth very little that they can’t back up their words when they actually mean them.

          • 3lemenope

            Actually, I think it’s worth a bit more than that, since under normal circumstances people talk a lot bigger than they act. Related to this, I think people are more willing to indulge in idle hateful speech when they are fairly certain nothing more serious will come of it.

            • Achron Timeless

              Do you think they’d hesitate for one moment if carrying out those threats was socially acceptable? Of course not, and we have a fine anthropological test site of countries that can’t separate religion from law (sharia and such) where it’s commonplace.

              Do not confuse the rest of society keeping a leash on them as their own achievement.

              • 3lemenope

                Leashed animals behave differently than wild ones, to extend the metaphor to vaguely nasty territory. Christians domesticated by a secular society are different sorts of creatures than a wild specimen.

                • Achron Timeless

                  Ah, thanks for making that point. Would you like to hear how someone’s dog almost killed me as a child because it got off its leash for just a few seconds? Because if you’d like to use the example of a leashed animal behaving differently, I’ve got the scars that prove what happens when that leash goes slack.

                • 3lemenope

                  Anecdote is not the plural of data. Your unfortunate childhood experience aside, are you really arguing that domesticated animals don’t behave categorically any different than wild ones?

                • Achron Timeless

                  Indeed, which is why I matched your anecdote, which you’re reusing, with another. It would also be ridiculous to sidetrack a discussion about the religious only being as docile as they’re forced to be by confusing the issue with animal attack statistics just because you want to split hairs. There’s a point here, and while it’s amusing to watch this drift into animal ownership issues, most people would understand the inherent metaphor in my statements and not need this explanation.

                • 3lemenope

                  My anecdote?

                • Achron Timeless

                  *sigh*

                  Ok, fine, I’ll be blunt since you’ve again attempted to deflect things. Do you want to continue attempting to sabotage this conversation by stubbornly nitpicking edge cases of a metaphor that is quite simple to understand, or do you want to discuss the point that the religious not attacking people isn’t their own doing? I’m only going to take the time to respond further to one of those scenarios.

                  As if I don’t already know the answer…

                • 3lemenope

                  Well, that was completely out of line. I was asking to what anecdote you were referring to, since I haven’t used any. You reply with an accusation that I’m deflecting things. If you are incredibly sloppy with your attacks and get called out –heck, not even called out, just questioned about it–and then respond with I’m-taking-my-ball-and-going-home, the discussion isn’t worth it. Go, take your ball, and go home.

                • Achron Timeless

                  Called that one. Call James Randi, I have proof I’m psychic =)

                  And my name isn’t even Kreskin.

                • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

                  Side note: It’s “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Just being a pedantic ass. :-)

                • 3lemenope

                  Nice catch.

    • Stev84

      It shouldn’t be a surprise. For most of their history Christians tortured and executed anyone who disagreed with them. Now that that isn’t sanctioned by the state anymore, they have to leave it at threats.

      • Secret Agent Man

        Atheists have done plenty of torturing and execution.

        And yep, they did it because of their atheism because they wanted to eliminate religion.

        This time we’ll be ready.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          You are making a massive and inaccurate generalization.

          If you are referencing Stalin or Mao: the motivation in those cases was to suppress dissent from an authoritarian regime based around a cult of personality. If you are referencing the Culte de la Raison in revolutionary France, you are missing the understanding that the anti-clericalism of the revolution was rooted in the Catholic Church’s support of the monarchy and its excesses. And notice that the Cult of Reason was constructed specifically to replace Christianity. Replacing one religion with another does not produce an irreligious society.

          Atheism as defined as only a non-belief in gods is value-neutral. People can and do do evil things for non-religious reasons. Atheism itself is insufficient. That is why things like Atheism Plus exist.

          And _none_ of this is relevant to Professor Poole’s lesson. I encourage you to take the discussion to a more appropriate venue.

        • blasphemous_kansan

          Threatening: Check.
          Abusive: Check.
          Sock puppetry: Check
          Derail/lack of substance: Check

          >>”this time we’ll be ready”.

          Your paranoia is a little alarming, and I don’t think I’ll engage you after this, even though you have slandered some of my friends in the area with your hateful words. I was driven by emotion, and given how unstable you seem to be, I regret even talking to you in the first place.

        • cipher

          Yes, you’re SO victimized in this country, aren’t you?

        • GCT

          Ignorant atheophobic bigotry and religious privilege on display! On top of that, an actual threat. Hypocrite.

    • kevin white

      Yes, Damn the athiests for not being christian sheep!!!

    • Secret Agent Man

      If an atheist threatens Christians on a blog, as referenced above its just metaphorical, but is a Christian does, its quite serious.

      Is that the game?

      Moreover, prove to me a Christian did this.

      The atheist in question is well known locally and his name is on the blog.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        The links above do not provide the real name of the person concerned. And again, take it elsewhere.

    • Miss_Beara

      And the teacher is a Christian! So his fellow loving Christians are spewing this hateful and threatening nonsense at him.

      I hope he is safe. :

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m still very disheartened by the attack on academic freedom that this case represents. I hope more of academia will get behind professor Poole. Certainly I hope to hear a strong condemnation of FAU’s censorship of this professor from the American Association of University Professors.

    Their must be loud public outcry in support of academic freedom to counter the very vocal minority of fundamentalists stirred up by the Liberty Institute in their attempts to hamstring higher education in this country.

    • cgme

      So why does higher education have to be offensive? Why does it have to indoctrinate. Why is it okay to “stomp on Jesus” but not say Mohamed, or Harvey Milk, or Martin Luther King. You liberal brainiacs who are crying out for academic freedom prove with cases like this that there is no real interest in education. It is possible to educate wisely and well WITHOUT being offensive. Why are you insisting that you need the “right” to be offensive to Christians (or any other group) in order to have academic freedom. That’s hogwash. Stop whining and teach.

      • Canadian Atheist, eh!

        You really don’t get it, do you? Did you even read the article all the way to the end? You are proving the lesson and you (probably?) weren’t even in that classroom.

      • Gus Snarp

        I guess you didn’t read the OP all the way through, did you? But thank you for calling me a liberal brainiac. I take that as the highest compliment from you.

        But I’ll address this once, and once only, and anyone who’s not reading, or intentionally not getting it can spew their bile to the wind.

        It was Jesus because Christianity is the dominant majority religion in this country, by a wide margin. The point of the exercise was not to “stomp on Jesus”, it was to spark a meaningful discussion about what’s important to us and why. It could have been done with other religious (or other) groups, but unlike Christians, those groups actually do suffer real discrimination and hate crimes in this country and putting them on the spot in a group where they are the minority would not accomplish the point of the exercise.

        As for “stop whining and teach”, or just teaching “facts”, as you mention in your other post, you obviously do not understand the point of education, let alone higher education. There are searchable databases full of facts, what we need are people who are able to calmly, rationally, and reasonably discuss sensitive issues without flying off the handle, and who are able to understand the other cultures with whom we share the globe, and to think critically about information, rather than just regurgitating facts.

      • Gus Snarp

        I guess you didn’t read the OP all the way through, did you? But thank you for calling me a liberal brainiac. I take that as the highest compliment from you.

        But I’ll address this once, and once only, and anyone who’s not reading, or intentionally not getting it can spew their bile to the wind.

        It was Jesus because Christianity is the dominant majority religion in this country, by a wide margin. The point of the exercise was not to “stomp on Jesus”, it was to spark a meaningful discussion about what’s important to us and why. It could have been done with other religious (or other) groups, but unlike Christians, those groups actually do suffer real discrimination and hate crimes in this country and putting them on the spot in a group where they are the minority would not accomplish the point of the exercise.

        As for “stop whining and teach”, or just teaching “facts”, as you mention in your other post, you obviously do not understand the point of education, let alone higher education. There are searchable databases full of facts, what we need are people who are able to calmly, rationally, and reasonably discuss sensitive issues without flying off the handle, and who are able to understand the other cultures with whom we share the globe, and to think critically about information, rather than just regurgitating facts.

      • GCT

        Start learning to actually read the OP and the issue at hand before opening your mouth and showing us how ignorant and foolish you are.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dharmaworks David Benjamin Patton

        Because if we only taught or discussed subjects that offended no one then there would be nothing to teach to anyone. Someone, somewhere is always bound to be ‘offended’ by something. The point here is simple – you’re offended? So fucking what – learn to be a reasoning adult and learn to deal with what offends you. Forcing others to bow down to your sensibilities because something ‘offends’ you is just plain juvenile.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569655551 Dan Davis

          I was a high school biology teacher for 20 years, both in the US and in Guatemala. The reason so many students are “bored” in class, at least in Biology (because that’s where I have 1st hand knowledge), is the idea that you can’t discuss anything that might upset someone. This is nearly impossible in biology, unless you stick to learning cell parts and vocabulary. The truly interesting subjects that would have the students engaged are those that touch on the origins and evolution of life, the determination of sexual preference, the intrusion of non-science into government/schools, etc. The problem is that too many religious students and parents “engaged” is a term that means confrontation, threats, and calling mommy and daddy into the office to lie about what was truly said in class. It got to the point where I recorded audio of my class when discussing abortion, embryology, evolution, abiogenesis……..the list is endless. Once, I showed Dawkin’s “The Root of all Evil” to contrast the scientific world view and the religious world view and why is was important to discuss these issues in biology class (as opposed to comparative religion class, which doesn’t exist, although I offered to teach a course and was laughed at). Man did I catch some shit, but it was well worth it. The director’s daughter became an atheistic Dawkin’s fan under my tutelage and went into biology, the director pushed me out of my job (wish we had unions here).

      • Thackerie

        Missed the point, again.

      • rhodent

        As it turns out, the original post anticipated people like you and responded to your post before you wrote it (a fact you would know had you actually read the original post). I’ll save you the trouble of all that reading and post that part here:

        “If you’ve come to this site and jumped down to the comments section to say ‘The professor didn’t make students stomp on MUHAMMAD or ALLAH!!!’… just save it. If that’s what you think this is about, you are so desperately missing the point of everything that we can’t have a meaningful discussion about the merits of this lesson.

        Poole’s intention was to teach the power of cultural symbolism. Given the overreaction we’ve seen by the conservative media and Rotela himself, it looks like the lesson worked. Hopefully, the other, more thoughtful students picked up on that.”

      • RobMcCune

        Education offends people like you because you’re a hysterical moron who can’t read and comprehend a few hundred words in a blog post explaining what this is all about. Apparently you’d rather throw a fit because you have an axe to grind, and that’s where the problem lies.

      • cipher

        Does Mommy know you’re using the Internet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    Sounds to me like the student wasn’t suspended for refusing to do the exercise, but rather for getting aggressive and threatening.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      Exactly what most rational people were thinking happened. Him getting suspended for refusing to participate when he was expected to refuse? Yeah, that makes perfect sense(in the mind of these reactionary idiots).

  • cgme

    The point is this…..if Poole had used the name of Mohamed instead of Jesus, the liberal media would have jumped on it, calling it a hate crime, and Muslim extremists would have put a price on his head. The principle that is put forth, predominately through the mainstream media, is that Jesus and Christians are always fair game. You can berate and belittle them, It’s okay. You can mock them. It’s okay. You can “stomp on Jesus” and it’s no big deal. Well, news flash….It is a big deal and Christians are (finally) righteously indignant enough to stand up and cry foul. Do I agree with all the death threats and garbage that has been hurled at Mr. Poole? Let’s take it out of “religious” sphere into our socially hot areas. What if the word “homosexual” had been used. Can you imagine the backlash Mr. Poole would have received then. He would be brought up on hate crime charges. What is it had been a picture of an unborn baby and the discussion revolved around abortion? Another foul ball that would have brought on a similar controversy. If I were the University, and I were concerned about the education of the students in my charge, I would want to educate based on facts not on hot button, emotionally charged, religious and social topics. The university is absolutely correct in pulling the lesson. This is a matter of sound educational practice. You can have both academic freedom and sound educational practice. So all you whining liberals should just buck up and teach without having to prove your socio-political points. Stop indoctrinating and start educating.

    • Ian

      I don’t think you understood the meaning of the lesson. It was meant to show the students the power of symbols. If he had them put “Mohamed” on the paper, it would have been meaningless anyone who wasn’t a Muslim. The reason he used “Jesus” was to have the students realize how much that symbol meant to them personally, so of course it has to be related to their own religion. Would you learn anything about the power of symbols if you stepped on a piece of paper with “Odin” written on it? Of course not. This is a great lesson, and it being pulled for political reasons is a shame.

      • Jayn

        For the purpose of the exercise, I imagine that the teacher would want to choose something that is likely to be resonant with at least one person in the class–the whole point is to show people responding differently to the same stimulus. And for that reason I think ‘Jesus’ was perhaps the best choice, simply because of the religious demographics of our country. The odds of having someone in the class who would have a problem with ‘stepping on Jesus’ is higher than with other religious figures.

        • Katwise

          What’s heartening to me is that only one student chose not to step on the paper; apparently the other students understood the object of the lesson.

          • tsh1971

            The object of the lesson is not that you should step on the paper, or that it is ‘OK’ to step on the paper, or even that the paper is just a piece a paper. It seems to me the expected outcome is that the students would not step on the paper or would hesitate and then could examine their actions and feelings to better understand the power of cultural symbols. If only one student had a problem stepping on the paper, than the word “Jesus” was a poor choice. I would think that the exercise would work better if each individual steudent seletected something that was important to their culture to write on the paper.

          • allein

            Actually, I’m
            curious…did anyone actually step on the paper? (Do we know?)
            Did other students choose not to, without freaking out about it (or did this
            incident prevent them from even getting the chance to decide)? After all, the
            point of the exercise wasn’t to actually step on the paper, it was for the
            students to see how they reacted. (No bearing on the issue, really, but your
            post made me wonder.)

            • Katwise

              You are right; we don’t really know if or how many students actually stepped on the paper. I made an assumption about the actions of the other students based on the statement made by Poole in the interview:
              Poole said that, as best he could tell, only one student in the course had an objection.

      • David S.

        I don’t know; a lot of things could have gone onto the paper and I wouldn’t have been comfortable stepping on it. It’s a very symbolic action, and anything short of Adolph Hitler or Ahbhba on it would have made me uncomfortable. (Those would have made me feel silly.)

        • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

          i’m not sure if that bespeaks a serious lack of imagination or a seriously overactive imagination. how do you think stepping on paper on which you just wrote a WORD in any way whatsoever affects whatever the word represents?

          • David S.

            I didn’t say that I do think that it affects whatever the word represents. That’s not the issue. The issue is, writing something on a piece of paper and stepping on it is speech, in the broad sense of that term, and it’s emotive and not particularly articulate speech; it’s the equivalent of flag burning for pyrophobes, or like throwing a temper tantrum, or participating in the Two Minutes Hate. They aren’t things reasoning, eloquent people do, and they privilege emotion over rational communication.

            • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

              but isn’t the act only emotive if the actor or a witness is so attached to (or contemptuous of) what is symbolized that they find it difficult to distinguish between the symbol and the symbolized? (or they could be extremely attached to writing itself… or to paper…)

              which is why i used the wording i did. simply carrying out the motions of the exercise in no way equates to a ‘temper tantrum’. there has to be emotion behind a temper tantrum.

              of course, the presumed point behind the choice of ‘Jesus’ as what was put on the paper was that it was likely to provoke a feeling or thought in the largest number of people.

              • David S.

                Why would you write a name on a piece of paper, throw it on the ground and step on it if it wasn’t emotive? It makes no sense except as an emotive act. Cognitive dissonance says if you acting in a way, you tend to start believing in a way that makes your actions make sense.

    • blasphemou_kansan

      >>”The point is this…..if Poole had used the name of Mohamed instead of Jesus, the liberal media would have jumped on it, calling it a hate crime, and Muslim extremists would have put a price on his head. ”

      How is this better, worse, or otherwise different than the Christian extremists who have put a price on his head?

      However, regarding your ‘argument from mohammad’ above, If your argument has to descend into the realm of the hypothetical, then you already lose. No one knows what would have happened in the situations you mention. Do you know why? Because they didn’t happen. Or they do happen everyday at other institutions of learning and the incidents are not publicized because the people involved realize that they’re there to learn and to have ideas challenged.

      >>”You can berate and belittle them, It’s okay. You can mock them. It’s okay. ”

      If you can’t live in society without learning how to be mocked once in a while, then that’s not everyone else’s problem. Put on the big boy pants and join the real world. A world full of people who don’t believe the same things that you do, and who believe that forcing those beliefs on others is unacceptable.

      >>”Stop indoctrinating and start educating.”

      That’s what the teacher was trying to do. You’d see the point more clearly if you didn’t have your head stuck in bizarre universe of extreme hypothetical situations that you’ve built up.

    • JoseValdes

      You didn’t understand the point of the exercise in the exact same way that the student didn’t understand it. It could have been anything on the piece of paper as long as it provoked an emotional reaction from the majority of the students in the class. Probably a better exercise for the future would be, “Write you mother/ father/ grandparents’ name on a piece of paper and step on it.” Same lesson about the power of symbols, but it wouldn’t get you idiots all in an uproar.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

        There is a distinction between symbols with individual meaning and those with common meaning in a culture. In a US classroom, the exercise would probably work with an American flag. But the likely reactions to that include some outrageous manufactured offense too.

        • tsh1971

          But not everyone in that classroom was Christian. I went to school at the University of Florida in the 1990s, even then there was alot of cultural diversity at the school. I would expect FAU would be as diverse. If think this exercise would still work better and with less controversy, if the students picked a symbol with meaning to their own culture.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

            Fair point. But there is still a _lot_ of Christian influence on even secular American society, so using “Jesus” as an example symbol still makes the point.

    • Rain

      You can “stomp on Jesus” and it’s no big deal.

      How about someone can make up the “stomp on Jesus” part, and then cgme can pretend like he didn’t know it’s a made up part of the story, and then be pretend-outraged about a made up thing.

    • GCT

      What is it about this issue that brings the idiots out of the wood work? Read the OP and understand the issue before firing off and looking both foolish and pig ignorant (no offense to pigs).

    • Dr. Loeb

      Jesus was never stomped on. If you consider .002 cents worth of ink or graphite and a piece of paper Jesus, then transmogrification has really turned a corner.

      • Curt D.

        BAZINGA!!!

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        then again, it’s not like there’s any established physical piece of ~Him~ to stomp on, unless someone just took Communion and then threw up on the floor/ground close by.

    • Claude

      The principle that is put forth, predominately through the mainstream media, is that Jesus and Christians are always fair game. You can berate and belittle them, It’s okay. You can mock them. It’s okay. You can “stomp on Jesus” and it’s no big deal. Well, news flash….It is a big deal and Christians are (finally) righteously indignant enough to stand up and cry foul.

      Ironic coming from a member of the dominant culture of a country where an atheist could never be elected president. This is not the Roman empire during the first centuries. You risk nothing in US society by being a Christian. You are not persecuted! Stop pretending that you are. It’s immoral.

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        and insane.

    • Bdole

      mental word search-replace intitated: Everywhere I see “liberal” I replace it with the word “unbiased.”
      In real life, of course, that’s not true. But, when certain types complain about the media, it’s probably the few times it’s functioning more or less correctly.

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        actually there’s a pretty good case that the primary purpose of news media is to make sure that the little people are informed about what the people in power are up to. too much insistence on ‘fair and balanced’ risks an absurd form of moral relativism; to the contrary of such an absurd form, not all opinions or intentions are equally valid.

    • Marco Conti

      You are just clueless, aren’t you? It’s like talking to the wall with you people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662168091 Rebecca Davis-Nord

      Apparently you didn’t even both to read the above blog post, wherein the author specifically said, “If you’ve come to this site and jumped down to the comments section to
      say “The professor didn’t make students stomp on MUHAMMAD or ALLAH!!!”…
      just save it. If that’s what you think this is about, you are so
      desperately missing the point of everything that we can’t have a
      meaningful discussion about the merits of this lesson.” (I would bold that last sentence if I could.)

      • allein

        You can!

        If that’s what you think this is about, you are so desperately missing the point of everything that we can’t have a
        meaningful discussion about the merits of this lesson.

        (without the spaces in the tags, of course) :)

  • JudyV

    Great article Jessica, very nicely written and you covered it well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lewis.thomason.3 Lewis Thomason

    Sounds a little like a General Semantics lesson to show that the symbol is not the same as the actual object.

  • baal

    Poole being on a 1 year rotating appointment is not in a secure position. We should find out when that year is up and then message the dean of the relevant department that he should be retained another year.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Good idea!

  • Dr. Loeb

    I have written two letters to FAU expressing my concerns over the cyber lynching and threats to Dr. Poole and the threats to academic freedom.

    I encourage anyone who feels academic freedom, freedom of speech and the notion that people do not have a right to not be offended are important to do the same.

    In addition, I encourage you to write encouraging letters to Dr. Poole and his church. Yes, I said his church. It is important to let the people at his church know it is not acceptable to crucify this man based on heresy, conjecture and a he said/he said situation.

    If Dr. Poole should be reading this I wish you well sir, give you my support for academic freedom and encourage you to continue to stand your ground even in the face of extreme adversity.

    Academia and learning must be free and without the notion of “offend one and shut it down” nonsense.

    I am an atheist Dr. Poole, but since you are a christian and are being persecuted by your own people, I offer you this, and mean it in a metaphoric means of support:

    “God Speed, sir”

    • sane37

      I wonder what kind of person would down vote Dr. Loeb’s comment?

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        perhaps someone who thought “cyber lynching” was an overstatement but didn’t have the energy to directly contest it.
        or a hard-line antitheist who thinks the entire comment was weakened by the use of “God Speed” or compromised by the suggestion to write to Dr. Poole’s church.
        or an anti-Poole or anti-Dr. or anti-university troll who wanted to throw a micro-tantrum.
        (it wasn’t me!)

  • No Longer A KU Fan

    This reminds me of the case of Dr. Paul Mirecki over at KU in Lawerence a few years back.

    He posted some vitriolic e mails from his position as an advisor to SOMA…the campus atheist group…and got caught in a firestorm.

    Later he claimed some men followed him on a country road so he STOPPED IN THE ROAD and got out and confronted them. Then he got beat up.

    That his story. Make of it what you will.

    • GCT

      What in the world does this have to do with anything?

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        just trying another trollbait after his “this atheist leader all the atheists love is a total asshole” fell flat earlier.

    • G. Orwell

      I had fish for dinner…..

      That was as much of an argument as your whacky-ass post….

  • Steve Bowen

    Considering, if I’d been in that class I would have stepped on the paper (maybe even stomped a little, although that was not what was required) Jesus not being a big thing for me at all. Makes me wonder whether I’d have been safe afterwards what with all that Christian love and stuff as my reaction to this particular cultural symbol would be as valid as anyones but unacceptable to most.

    • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

      the student is probably far more trusted by the more authoritarian elements at his church now. the episode reminded me of a (presumably not entirely apocryphal) scene in ‘Shogun’ where they uncovered a Jesuit spy by commanding all of their soldiers/employees to step on a crucifix and grind it into the dirt. the most cynical/fanatical leadership must eat this grandstanding shit up. all the more shame that an educator suffers for it.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      You still would have learned the lesson though! It’s a powerful symbol to step on Jesus’s name, even though you just wrote it on an ordinary piece of paper. Hesitance to step on it or glee to step on it- either way demonstrates the power of symbols.

  • Bdole

    I was in Bible study once (long ago). The leader took a Bible and put it on the floor. I don’t recall if he actually went as far as stepping on it. His point was to demonstrate that the physical object, itself, was not the point.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

      I remember when I was in Sunday school when I was a kid, the teacher threw a Bible across the room to illustrate the same point.

      • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

        good teacher. obviously there are excellent reasons not to throw, say, the Book of Kells across a room; but one of the dangers of fundamentalism is this inanely simplistic overattachment to mere words, let alone mass-produced and constantly re-copied words…

    • allein

      I used to work in a bookstore and I often tossed Bibles on the floor, either while I was doing receiving, shelving/zoning the section, or taking returns at the register (when it was busy we’d just toss the returns in a pile behind us until we had time to deal with them). It didn’t bother me any but I am slightly surprised I never had anyone say something about it. I also wonder if it would have been different if I lived in the south.

    • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

      this is the kind of comment thread where one is tempted to bring flag-burning into the discussion and see how many ‘free thinkers’ belie a prejudice.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Hey, as long as it’s your own personal property you’re destroying, what’s the big deal?

        It’s a piece of cloth. Sure, we attach a meaning to it, as a symbol of our country, but ultimately, the flag is not what defines us — it’s the ideals we built this country on, including the ever-evolving ideals of equality and tolerance, that define us.

        Burning a flag isn’t going to damage that in any way.

        • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

          exactly! (you pass the test :) ) i was just being cheeky about the proverbial knee-jerk patriot hiding in the proverbial atheist woodpile…

          actually i’m not sure the ideals evolve at all – i think minds/societies evolve to actualize them. which i’m sort of surprised to see myself type, because i’ve steered away from Plato for some time :D

      • RedGreenInBlue

        Flag-burning? Meh.

        I’d have to be *incredibly* worked up about an issue to take part in the public burning of a national flag myself. Even then I think I would only be able to burn my own country’s flag: my country is the only one about which I would have in-depth knowledge to feel justified in making such an emotive statement. Flag-burning does have a great deal of shock value, and is not something to be done lightly.

        However, that’s just me. As for others burning flags: if you feel that strongly about something, go ahead. I’d rather find out *before* things turn violent, while there’s still a chance to learn more and discuss the problem.

        • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

          i wasn’t even considering a discussion of what might ‘justify’ flag-burning, but good points. reminded of Chomsky’s ‘excuse’ (as if one were needed) for focusing on American behavior when others complain that “other countries do bad stuff too!”
          i had only been thinking of the parallels w/r/t overreacting to destruction of, or ‘assault upon’, a [copy of a] symbol. of course lines can, even should, be drawn. one would certainly be hard-pressed to explain away, say, the burning of a flag within the Oval Office (even/especially by the POTUS while giving a tour to third-graders or something) as being a mere academic exercise.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Jews believe that the Torah itself is a sacred object. Anything that has the name of God written on it can’t touch the floor as that would be disrespectful. If you accidentally drop a prayer book, you’re supposed to kiss it and apologize. You also aren’t supposed to erase the name of God, ever (thus why many Jews write Hashem or G-d since those aren’t a name).

      I think the reasoning behind that is that just the name of God is a little piece of God. It’s not just a symbol but a sacred object. What lesson can you teach if the physical object, itself, actually is the point?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dharmaworks David Benjamin Patton

    This whole deal reminds me of how Buddhism is just more cool as a ‘religion’ by comparison. Some might balk at the ‘offense’ of stepping on something ‘sacred’ i.e. the name of Buddha but so what? The heart (and wisdom) of Buddhist teaching doesn’t exist in some someones name on a piece of paper or holy book. It exists in what makes good sense and is a good practice that does no harm to yourself or anyone else. In short to Buddhists that have their head on straight these types of ‘controversies’ don’t exist because Buddhists are just more chill and – IMO – wise about things that are actually important. I admire that about Buddhism. This is just my off-topic two cents to throw in for the day. ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      Relatively few Buddhists actually are ‘more chill’ about objects they perceive to be sacred – although such Buddhists are relatively more common in the US and Europe, so it is often easy to get a distorted perception (depending on where you live).

      Here’s a recent counter-example from Sri Lanka: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19325357.

      • Gus Snarp

        Sri Lanka in general puts the lie to the notion that Buddhism (and/or Hinduism) are peaceful or “never” fought over.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

          See also Myanmar/Burma.

      • cipher

        Yeah, the Tibetans also tend to frown upon “inappropriate” treatment of icons they regard as sacred (and their form of Buddhism is heavily iconic). This is even more the case with the fringe personalities they tend to attract as students.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569655551 Dan Davis

    on a positive note, you can use this bullshit to your advantage. I was told that if you want to ship things through Mexico and have them arrive intact (to Guatemala where I reside) you just need to put a Maria de Guadalupe sticker over the package’s tape seal and it will sail throuygh customs unopened. Hope the narcos don’t catch on.

  • Frank

    I agree that this has nothing to do with who is offended and that “offended” doesn’t give anyone special rights. But I still think this prof was wrong. If this prof had written “Jesus” on a piece of paper, thrown it on the floor, and stomped on it in front of his students in class, then I would absolutely defend the profs right to do that. But that’s not what happened. The prof told the students to do it, and that is where he crossed the line. Just like a school can’t require students to recite the pledge of allegiance, it can’t require them to somp on Jesus. The government cannot require people to say words and express ideas that those people don’t believe in. That is an essential part of free speech. See West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943).

    • Beutelratti

      I’m sorry but you are still missing the point of this exercise which apparently all but one student in that class understood.

      It is to show the students firsthand how powerful symbols can be. They were not required to “stomp on Jesus”. They were asked to step on a piece of paper that had a word writen on it. They were not forced. The exercise is not to stomp on Jesus, it is to realise why the heck it’s so hard to stomp on a piece of paper. Not doing it is a desired reaction as well. Mr. Rotela’s reaction was desired until he made it personal and ganged up on his professor and even threatened him with violence. It was not the professor’s fault, it was Mr. Rotela’s for absolutely misunderstanding an exercise and then threatening his teacher.

      Now if the prof had stepped on a piece of paper himself, do you think that Mr. Rotela would have reacted any differently? I don’t think so. I think he still would’ve whined his ass off.

      • Frank

        The prof told the students to do it. The students reasonably interpreted that this was part of the class that they had to do or risk their grade. The fact that the prof may have said “just kidding” after the fact doesn’t change the fact that the prof gave students every reason to believe that it was required. If Rotela did threaten Poole (which is in dispute), that is obviously unacceptable and he should be punished for it. But that doesn’t change the fact that Poole crossed the line and should not be allowed to do so again.

        • GCT

          It also doesn’t change the fact that you haven’t actually read either OP and/or understood a single thing in it. Sometimes it’s better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.

          • Frank

            Can you clarify what you don’t think I’ve read/understood? Or are you just here to engage in name calling?

            • blasphemous_kansan

              >>”First off, Poole wants people to know that he never told anyone to “stomp on Jesus,” to quote the headline widely used in articles criticizing him. He said he asked people to step on the piece of paper.”

              Asked. He asked. Asked means that he asked a question, which is an interrogative statement that ends in a question mark. Something like “Would you step on the piece of paper?”

              Ok, so maybe he’s using ‘asked’ as some use it interchangeably with ‘invited’, so the least possible benign form it seems that the statement could taken was something like “Would any of you please join me in stepping on the paper?”

              The distinction that he says that he asked the students is very important for a couple of reasons:
              1) it discredits your assertion that anyone was forced to do something that violates their conscience.
              2) It allows for an open ended response, which can lead to an exchange of ideas, which can lead to a clarification of values which can lead to…..wait for it….. learning!

              So, does it now seem likely that no one was “told” or otherwise coerced to step on a piece of jesus-paper?

              • Frank

                When a teacher “asks” a student to do something, what does that usually mean to you?

                • Beutelratti

                  That they are in no way forced to do something. No student fails a whole class because they refused to do one thing that was asked of them. If that were the case no one would ever pass any class.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  Can you clarify what you want from my response? Or are you here to just engage in question-dodging and obfuscation?

                  I guess I’ll fill in the blanks the best I can. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

                  Maybe you were asking how I would react to an instruction from a teacher, and you were trying to imply that anything except obedience would be foolish. If so, then I think you’re being simplistic here since, as I outlined above, this depends on the immediate context of the situation, the lesson currently being taught (if any), and whether the question itself could be part of a lesson, which is something that university students should be able to discern.

                  All this pesky talk of “context” and “comprehension” are factors that you’ve chosen to blithely ignore, or to interpret (with no proof) in the harshest possible context to the professor, despite a host of more likely alternatives.

                  However, your question is really beside the point, since how I would react to a hypothetical teacher is not under discussion.

                  The point I’m making is that your main assertion that someone was forced by the government to act out of accordance with their personal beliefs (and punished for not doing ) is very likely to be false, unless you have some proof of malicious intent.

                • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

                  That I’m free to tell them “no” if I disagree? Your teachers must have loved your blind obedience if you think you have to do something just because the teacher/prof said so. If your History prof asked you to jump off a cliff, would you? Way to miss the whole point of college level education.

                • cipher

                  Well, to an obvious authoritarian such as yourself, I imagine it’s equivalent to a command.

                  Your argument is bullshit.

                • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

                  i’m pretty sure this is the root of the fact that this entire scenario even became a Thing. Frank seems unable or unwilling to grasp that adults don’t have any obligation to blindly obey school faculty, even if (as in no way appears to be the case) Poole were a heavy-handed blustering drill sergeant stereotype of an instructor. it also touches on the “just because you don’t know something is illegal doesn’t excuse you from being arrested/prosecuted”. along those lines, just because a student adheres to authoritarian attitudes (hardly a surprise for a Mormon) doesn’t mean they are justified in taking their ~offendedness~ to any level of dubious behavior.

                  interesting that Rotela doesn’t seem to have found a classmate to corroborate his tale of persecution – could it be because he knew better than to have an emotional reaction in front of anyone other than his professor, and actually thought he could get away with what Poole described?

                  not that i am surprised that administration has bungled this, though obviously they could have done worse in this case.

              • tsh1971

                If you read the OP, the word “asked” is not presented as a direct quote. We do not know what the professor exactly said to the reporter. Using the word “asked” in the article is simply the word choice of the reporter.

                • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

                  the choice of words doesn’t even matter. if Poole threatened anyone’s grade over this exercise, surely Rotela would have a classmate’s word to back him up. does he?

                • tsh1971

                  Well, blasphemous_kansan’s post is based completely on the professor’s use of the word “asked”. There is nothing in the published interview to conclude that he definitely used that word. I have not seen any statements by anyone esle in the class. Neither Rotela nor Poole have anyone else’s word to back them up.

            • G. Orwell

              Where you and your “logic” is concerned, it is more fun just to call you names and tell you how fucking stupid you are.

            • GCT

              No one was asked to stomp on the paper.

              No one was punished for not participating. In fact, the students were supposed to be hesitant or not participate.

              The professor is Xian.

              So, yeah, you should have kept your mouth shut so that we wouldn’t all know how much of a fool you are for shooting from the hip without reading or understanding that which you commented on.

              • Frank

                “No one was asked to stomp on the paper”? Now I’m wondering if you actually read the post.

                • GCT

                  “First off, Poole wants people to know that he never told anyone to “stomp on Jesus,” to quote the headline widely used in articles criticizing him. He said he asked people to step on the piece of paper.”

                • Frank

                  “He said he asked people to step on the piece of paper” versus “No one was asked to stomp on the paper”? Really?

          • Frank

            Can you clarify what you don’t think I’ve read/understood? Or are you just here to engage in name calling?

        • Beutelratti

          Where did he give them every reason to believe that it was required? I don’t see that anywhere.

          He asked them to step on a piece of paper. Everyone with a bit of common sense should realise that no one will fail a class for not stepping on a piece of paper. The fact also remains that the reaction the student had (meaning not wanting to step on the paper) is very much desired in this exercise.

          If the student had let the teacher explain instead of immediately assuming that his religion was getting offended, this situation would not have occurred.

          This exercise does neither offend nor hurt anyone’s rights, it needs an open mind though and the student was clearly lacking just that.

          • Frank

            The prof told the students to do something in class. How is that not giving them every reason to believe it was required?

            Do you think it’s ok for a teacher/professor to tell students they have to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance? Even if they don’t fail a class for not doing it or the prof says “just kidding” afterwards? If not, how do you distinguish that case from this one? Or do believe, to use Justice Jackson’s words in Barnette, “that a bill of rights which guards the individuals right to speak his own mind left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind”?

            • invivoMark

              Frank, your first post hinged on the idea that students are forced to do something. They weren’t. You lied. Your first post was dishonest and you know it.

              What you’re doing now is desperately trying to salvage some sort of legitimate point from your lie. You don’t get to keep going when your entire premise is based on a lie. You got called out. Give it up. All you’re doing now is making yourself look even more dishonest.

              • Frank

                The prof did in fact tell the students do to it, and that is all I ever claimed. I never said he tried to punish anyone for not doing it, nor does my argument require that. Where do you think I lied?

                • invivoMark

                  Here’s your lie:

                  “Just like a school can’t require students to recite the pledge of
                  allegiance, it can’t require them to somp on Jesus. The government
                  cannot require people to say words and express ideas that those people
                  don’t believe in. That is an essential part of free speech.”

                  Either freedom of speech is irrelevant, because nobody was being forced to say anything, or you were claiming that the students were being forced to stomp on Jesus. So either you’re dishonestly bringing up a red herring, or you’re outright and blatantly lying.

                • Frank

                  The students were in fact told that they had to stomp on Jesus. That makes free speech relevant. The fact that later on the prof said “just kidding” and didn’t try to enforce it doesn’t negate the free speech issue. The students still believed that the school was requiring them to express an idea they disagreed with, because it in fact what the prof said.

                • invivoMark

                  The correct response when being called out on a lie is to say, “Whoops! My bad! I guess my point really doesn’t stand any more, does it? I’ll try better next time. Sorry for being dishonest!”

                  You didn’t do this. That means you have no problem with lying if it’ll support whatever point you’re trying to make. Further discussion with you would be pointless. Take your dishonesty somewhere else.

        • Beutelratti

          Where did he give them every reason to believe that it was required? I don’t see that anywhere.

          He asked them to step on a piece of paper. Everyone with a bit of common sense should realise that no one will fail a class for not stepping on a piece of paper. The fact also remains that the reaction the student had (meaning not wanting to step on the paper) is very much desired in this exercise.

          If the student had let the teacher explain instead of immediately assuming that his religion was getting offended, this situation would not have occurred.

          This exercise does neither offend nor hurt anyone’s rights, it needs an open mind though and the student was clearly lacking just that.

        • Gus Snarp

          Adult students in a university. Not high school students.

          • Frank

            What does the level of the students have to do with it? Free speech is free speech, it applies at least as strongly at the college level as a the high school

            • Gus Snarp

              The point is not whether the students are entitled to free speech. Adults have greater free speech rights than children. The point is that adults in college are not compelled to behavior by their teacher in the way that high school students are. They aren’t going to be sent to the principal’s office for disobedience. They have made a decision to pay to attend that class, and they make their own decision about to what extent they wish to participate. And they have a different kind of relationship and communication with the professor than a high school student with a teacher.

              • Frank

                A public university isn’t a private association, it isn’t entitled to espouse a view on religion. The degree of compulsion has never been a deciding factor in compelled speech cases. It doesn’t matter if the government wants to fine a person one dollar or throw them in jail for life, the government can’t tell people to say things they don’t believe. One of the other major compelled speech cases, Wolley v Maynard, was a guy who objected to having the state motto printed on his license plate, and he won. The state here has entered into an arrangement to provide these students an education, and it can’t revoke that benefit on the basis of the students speech or silence. And this is still an environment where students are expected to do the exercise or risk their grade and therefor their employment prospects, so in that sense it is more serious than being sent to the principles office.

                • GCT

                  Nowhere did anyone espouse a view on religion. Stop trying to make this into something it isn’t. FFS, the professor is a Xian.

                • Gus Snarp

                  And this is still an environment where students are expected to do the exercise or risk their grade and therefor their employment prospects, so in that sense it is more serious than being sent to the principles office.

                  And now we’re back to your original false assumption. The students were not risking their grade by not stepping on the piece of paper. They were expected to not want to step on it, they were expected to speak out. There was no risk. There was no compulsion.

                  And I think you’re being overly broad in your interpretation of Wooley v. Maynard. The state of New Hampshire still has the state motto on their license plated (that’s the teacher asking the students to step on the piece of paper), but Maynard gets to cover up the motto on his license plate (that’s the student refusing to step on the paper).

                  Hmm, I wonder if that means I can tape over the “In God we Trust” on my license plate?

                • Frank

                  Your false assumption is that the student somehow knew, maybe by reading the profs mind, that he wasn’t expected to actually stomp on the paper. He didn’t know what we do now after the fact, that the exercise was about not wanting to step on it. He reasonably believed, because it is what the prof told him, that if he didn’t step on the paper his grade could suffer. The constitutionality therefor has to be evaluated in terms of what the prof actually said, and therefor what the student could reasonably believe, not the profs later change of course.

                  To use a hypothetical, suppose a cop tells you that if you don’t recite the lords prayer right now he will arrest you. He’s violated your rights, hasn’t he? Even though no arrest has yet taken place? Because he has threatened to use state power against you if you do not say something you don’t believe. If you refuse to say the lords prayer, and the cop responds “oh, I was just kidding about the arrest thing”, does that negate the violation of your rights?

                • Gus Snarp

                  That’s a false analogy.

                  More to the point, no one has their grade reduced for asking a question. The student could have asked a question about why they were doing this before he stepped on the paper, problem solved. One expects a junior in college to have asked questions in class and to know that they can do so.

                  Your false assumption is still that this is some authoritarian high school classroom where the teacher gives orders and students follow them for fear of a bad grade or a trip to the principal’s office. Instead of a college class where adults have discussions. It is possible that this professor usually had a strict lecture style class where discussion was discouraged, but that’s a pretty unlikely leap given that he’s using a teaching technique designed to spark discussion. It’s also possible that you’ve never been to a university and therefore only have high school classrooms for comparison.

        • G. Orwell

          Yes, and professors also tell students they have to take tests, read books, attend class and complete research projects. So, if any one student objects to any one assignment, the professor is the one at fault.

          BZZZZZZZT. FAIL.

          • Frank

            If the assignment in question is to reject the christian religion, then yes, the professor is at fault. That is basic to the first amendment.

            • blasphemous_kansan

              >>”If the assignment in question is to reject the christian religion….”

              It wasn’t.

              >>”That is basic to the first amendment.”

              No, it’s not.

              We done here yet?

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662168091 Rebecca Davis-Nord

              “If the assignment in question is to reject the christian religion, then yes, the professor is at fault.” But that wasn’t the assignment. The assignment was to be faced with a task and to consider one’s reaction to that task (ie, consider why you might have found it difficult to step on a simple piece of paper that contains a word). It’s about considering the power of symbolism.

              • Frank

                No, the assignment, as the prof initially presented it to the student, was step on a piece of paper containing the word Jesus, symbolically reject and disrepsect the christian religion. That was what the prof told the students the assignment was, and what this student rejected. It was only later that the prof said “just kidding, I don’t actually care if you do what I told you to, I just want you to think.” Reflecting on the power of symbols was the second, later assignment, not the assignment that raised this issue.

                • GCT

                  No matter how much you try to make this into an “evil atheist professor wants to indoctrinate students into atheism” that dog just won’t hunt. This was a Xian professor using an exercise where the students were supposed to hesitate or refuse to participate, which you would know if you actually read the two OPs. If you persist in saying stupid things, why should we take you seriously?

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  >>” ….symbolically reject and disrepsect the christian religion. That was what the prof told the students the assignment was”

                  Proof of this, please? If you actually took a minute to understand the lesson, you would realize that you are hilariously incorrect.

                  Or maybe you won’t realize it, and you’ll keep beating that dead horse. Either way, you’re still just as incorrect

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Frank, I’ve been in college. This sort of lesson is usually very gentle. The prof probably said something like “All right everyone, now put your paper on the floor. Now everyone, please step on the paper”. And then people did, or didn’t, or looked at him like ‘are you crazy?’, or raised hands and said “uh, what was that professor?”.

                  And then the discussion began. That’s not a requirement that people disrespect their religion, that’s a thought-provoking, non-coercive lesson.

                  Do I know it happened like this? Nope. But you don’t know the exact wording either, so I feel justified in using my made-up conversation to counter yours.

            • G. Orwell

              Hah.

      • StillDoesntMatter

        The very moment you personify an entity like, lets say, Jesus, you bow to idols. “You shall not make carven (or maybe WRITTEN) images ….” Remember that line? “…. but well, if you`re a madman its hard to take different viewpoints!” – Cornelius Kappabani

    • invivoMark

      Here’s your chance to prove to me that you actually bothered to read either article by Jessica.

      Yes or no: Were students required to stomp on Jesus?

    • Gus Snarp

      This is a university. These are not high school students, they’re adults.

  • Mairianna

    What blows my mind about this is that the student was totally blind to the purpose of the class. Dr. Poole’s exercise was simply meant to spur a debate. Obviously, the student didn’t understand the objectives of the course when he signed up for it. He probably thought it would be an “easy A”; something he could slide by in because all they do is have conversations. It’s very scary that higher education is pumping out such ignorance.

    • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

      he might have thought it would make him a better businessman, or lawyer, or something; then again, he might only be getting a degree to make daddy’s gang more money.

  • A3Kr0n

    I hope Poole re-thinks his religious beliefs.

    • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

      i’m fine with a sunday school teacher who is willing to incorporate an exercise like the one that got Rotela all worked up into a higher-education curriculum. quite clearly he has far less dangerous interpretations of his core faith than at least one of his students.

  • Georginafs

    While I adore Strephen Fry, as a man and an actor, he is wrong. Even whining has to be respected as free speech. Someone wants to whine about eing offended, that is ok, but I don’t need to listen .

    • HS

      Pretty sure that is exactly what he’s saying.

    • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

      just as there’s a difference between Jesus Himself and ‘Jesus’ scribbled on a scrap of paper devoid of context, there’s a difference between “respecting Free Speech” and respecting someone’s pathetic persecution complex.

    • http://twitter.com/TheNuszAbides TheNuszAbides

      in other words, he’s not the least bit “wrong” – declaring offense does not *give* anyone rights; if they have a right to free speech, they had that right before they started whining. he’s referring to the ignorant attitude that anyone has a right to not be offended, i.e. expect someone to have their career damaged (reputation maligned, income made uncertain, etc.) over an academic exercise.

  • Religulous

    And then all the students including the accuser proceeded to crush the Jesus paper and throw it in the trash anyway. So what’s the difference?

  • DoesntMatter

    “Freedom is more then our personal opinion!” Cornelius Kappabani

  • JohnnieCanuck

    One thing for certain, learning just this one point about intercultural communication is something that a lot of Americans really could benefit from. Well, people everywhere, of course. In this case, though it is primarily American Christians that are demonstrating the need for it.

    And these same people wonder how Muslims can be so quick to anger when Muslims feel that symbols of their faith have been misused.

    Jessica definitely called it when she said some offended worshippers would jump straight to commenting without reading the post. Seems a little pointless to tell them not to, though.

  • SeekerLancer

    Well this played out exactly as most of us assumed.

    It’s a shame that Dr. Poole has had to deal with these extremist morons and their unique brand of “Christian love” due to this hyperbolic, viral news story. I sincerely hope the best for him and that no harm comes to him or his family over this nonsense.

    Could he sue the student for slander?

  • Randy Robbins

    It’s just like the muslims who freaked out over the Danish cartoons. The majority never saw the cartoons and were whipped into a frenzy by religious zealots. The christians who were so offended by this exercise have no idea what it entailed. It is to be expected that they would threaten harm and death, just like they did to Jessica Ahlquist. I hate to say it but the same thing happened with the Michelle Shocked controversy. Did anyone listen to the audio on that? I did and I didn’t think it was as bad as it was made out to be. I think she’s still losing it but the actual rant was so innocuous, it wasn’t what i expected and I expected to be infuriated.

  • Randy Robbins

    BTW Lucilius well said. Excellent!

  • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

    “It is time to defend academic freedom through the maelstrom of uninformed attacks”

    For years now, Intelligent Design proponents have been clamoring about the importance of academic freedom and being able to teach controversial topics without fear of unwarranted repercussions, and have advanced a number of “academic freedom” bills, especially in the southern states. So we’ll be able to count on their support for Dr. Poole, right?

    • blasphemous_kansan

      There’s a difference between “academic freedom” and “freedom to teach unfounded bullshit”. One could not teach a physics class and, under the guise of academic freedom, teach students for a semester about the alchemic spells and potions needed to transform lead into gold. Similarly one should not be able to lead a biology class to teach the ‘Intelligent Design’ theory, because it has as much supporting evidence as the magical transmogrifying process discussed above.
      So, “academic freedom” does not equal freedom to a megaphone with which to transmit your evidence-free beliefs.

      However, for what it’s worth, I think it would be valuable for people to learn about Creationism. Maybe in the mythology class when the various religious origin stories are discussed. Or maybe in a psychology class in the section about mass delusions. Or in a sociology class about the promulgation of false knowledge, and how stubborn it’s adherents can be.

  • A Christian

    This makes me very sad. Not all Christians feel this way. Unfortunately, too many people (no matter what religion they are) react with their emotions first, rather than holding off judgement until all the facts are in.

    http://www.myfathershouse.squarespace.com

  • xrxrxrxri

    What exactly is the point of this editorial?

    Two wrongs make a right? Because the student may have said he wanted to hit the teacher after the exercise, that makes what the teacher did ok ?

    Take each event together or separate and there is no way the teacher is vindicated no matter what the students reaction was.

    And because the teacher says he teaches at Sunday School, it is ok for him to plan an offensive lesson based around stomping on a religious symbol? Sounds like a plea of “I have black friends so I can say N***er all I want.”

    The Separation of Church and State ensures no favoring or disfavoring of a religion (or lack of), and if you support the separation, then you should be with those saying it was wrong for the teacher at a state funded school to instruct his class to partake in an exercise that clearly disfavored a religion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-W-Busch/578120211 Michael W Busch

      You have completely missed the point of the exercise. It does not “clearly disfavor” a religion, nor does it favor a religion, nor does it favor irreligion. And the students were not compelled to do anything.

      The point of the exercise is to illustrate the value people attach to symbols. He used the word “Jesus” because he happens to be a Christian in a Christian-dominated culture. He could have used any other symbol to which a lot of people attached a lot of value – the American flag, a cross, the logo for the school, etc. – and the point of the exercise would have been exactly the same.

      And, more importantly, the reactions Poole has had to deal with are unacceptable.

  • Marine6369

    Writing the name of Jesus on a sheet of paper and then having students step on it? Hmmmmm… If the names MUHAMMAD or ALLAH were written on it and there were Muslims in his class they would not dare step/stomp on it and would he have suspended them? He would have definitely been looking for another job and YOU know that would be the case! So don’t kid yourself. Why would a professor have his students step on the name of Jesus anyway? Food for thought…..Try talking to other students in the class. You may become a bit more educated on this subject. Just because you are an atheist doesn’t mean that others are as you.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Pretending to predict an alternative future and to know what others “would” do is being a false prophet. Enjoy your time in Hell, I guess.

      Pity you were too stupid to read about the point of the whole thing before talking, but then, you can’t read your own book of magic spells, or else you’d know you just angered God.

  • Marine6369

    Where is my post?


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