Ahlquist in the NYT

Despite being drowned in documentation we’ve heard Cranston residents all the way to Michael Egnor squirm around whether or not Jessica Ahlquist is being bullied/harassed.  Perhaps they could take a peek at a headline from yesterday’s New York Times.

Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer

Yeah…

They say that the truth always comes after the “but”.  To illustrate that point, here’s a Cranston West senior…

Pat McAssey, a senior who is president of the student council, said the threats were “completely inexcusable”…

But…?

…but added that Jessica had upset some of her classmates by mocking religion online.

“Their frustration kind of came from that,” he said.

Yes, her classmates may have been upset by Jessica mocking religion.  So what?  Pat should have stopped at calling the threats inexcusable.  Frustration is “Awwwwwww, I’m offended.”  It’s not “let’s beat her up!”

An alumni of Cranston West jumped in.

“I am more of a constitutionalist…”

But…

“…but find myself strangely on the other side of this,” said Donald Fox, a 1985 graduate of Cranston West. “The prayer banner espouses nothing more than those values which we all hope for our children, no matter what school they attend or which religious background they hail from.”

“I follow the Constitution, but…”  But what?  It’s ok to ignore it sometimes?  It’s not ok to break the law when it suits you?

The banner does express more than good values.  If it was all about the values, the school would’ve agreed to remove the religious wording and keep the values when the ACLU made them that offer.  They didn’t.

And the judge ruled that the banner was sectarian, so it doesn’t apply to people with any religious background.  “Our heavenly father” and “Amen” are completely out of place to a Hindu, for instance.

Brittany Lanni, who graduated from Cranston West in 2009, said that no one had ever been forced to recite the prayer and called Jessica “an idiot.”

Because nobody’s ever been forced to recite it means that the government is not endorsing sectarian religion?  Um…no?

And she calls Jess an idiot right before dropping this logic bomb.

“If you don’t believe in that,” she said, “take all the money out of your pocket, because every dollar bill says, ‘In God We Trust.’ ”

Yeah, if you think decades of precedent, the judge’s decision, and the Constitution are worth upholding, then you’ll stop using money.  Brilliant.  What about the Christians who decided they wanted to pay rent and buy food before we added ‘In God We Trust’ to our money in 1956?  Were they also hypocrites for having basic needs?

Now, I pride myself at being fairly quick with my ability to come up with one-liner rebuttals, but…I could still learn something from Jessica.

Does she empathize in any way with members of her community who want the prayer to stay?

“I’ve never been asked this before,” she said. A pause, and then: “It’s almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good. I feel like they might see it as a very negative thing right now, but I’m defending their Constitution, too.”

After years of writing and speaking I would kill to be able to come up with stuff like that on the spot.  Jessica is exceptional for my age, let alone hers.

Jessica standing in an empty parking lot she uses to hold all the shits she gives.

 

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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