Tshirts And Mass Bullying

Someone has made tshirts bearing the Cranston prayer and is selling them to raise money to preserve the banner.  To the creator’s credit, he has said…

The effort and responsibility of the page is to raise funds through donations to pay for the preservation of the “Prayer Banner.” All monies raised will be spent for this purpose only. They will not be spent on legal fees, or expenses, related to the pending lawsuit and/or appeal if the School Committee takes this route.

Ok fine.  I have no problem with that.  Preserve the prayer.  Hang it in your house, wear it as a bathrobe, I could honestly give less than a shit so long as it’s not being hung in a government building.  Of course, there’s no disdain for the bullies or threats, but at least they’re not actively trying to subvert the Constitution.

There is a fun poll on the facebook page he created though.  They want people’s opinions.  I read that and I think to myself, “I know some people!”

Anyway, here’s why I mention it.

Ahlquist said she was aware of rumors circulating that some students were planning to wear T-shirts emblazoned with the school prayer designed by a school alumnus. Others, she said, have threatened to harass or beat her up when she returns.

I have no problem with students wearing those shirts.  It’s their right, they are not agents of the government.  I just hope they don’t think for a second it’s going to make their school breaking the law ok or that it will result in a holiday TV special ending where a judge says, “Damn, look at all those shirts…you know, the Constitution is just a piece of paper anyway…”

However, the issue comes if they all elect to wear them on the same day.  Last year at a Northern California high school, a large group of the students banded together and decided to wear shirts with American flags as a dig on the Hispanic students/immigrants.  The administration sent all participating students home.  The students sued, the school won.  The school won for a very simple reason: that kind of thing constitutes bullying, and schools should oppose bullying.

When I was told about the possibility of students all wearing these shirts on the same day I initially said there was nothing wrong with it.  After all, nobody wants to stop anybody from praying (we may criticize them for holding foolish beliefs) or from expressing themselves individually – we care about the government endorsing religion, which is illegal.  I still don’t care if the students wear the shirts individually, but I’ve changed my mind about how the administration should react to a mass event like that.  They should stop it.

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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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