Live-blogging Cranston decision

I’m not on the ground, but I’ve done everything I can to get in contact with various people on the ground.  I’ll be updating this post as I get new info.

Seems that #prayerbanner is the hashtag that’s stuck on twitter if you want to monitor things there.  Good luck, Jessica.


The people willing to let the students of Cranston pay for their culture war are out in droves.

Here’s the kicker: they have an eight-year-old passing out “Appeal” signs even as they take steps that will hinder his future education.

That’s ok, losing money on principle is more important.

Thanks to Randomfactor Art Vandelay for these pics.


Here’s another pic.  The appeal crowd has banners bearing the American flag.

So strange.  How many of these people have read the judge’s decision?  How many of them do you think have read the Constitution?

But boy, they sure love America…


WPRO, the Cranston radio station that has been nothing but horrible to Jessica makes the following tweet.

RT @WPRO_newsroom: Change of location for Jessica Ahlquist at #prayerbanner meeting tonight: she’s in the back instead of front row, crouching way down #WPRO

These are adults, and they’re acting like they’ve achieved some form of noble triumph when a young girl who has endured an environment of threats and is probably worried for her safety is trying to stay out of the line of fire from a crowd that doubtlessly contains some of the people who have threatened her.

Fucking bullies and their religion of love.


I have a report from someone on the ground.

[Jessica] looks so completely unfazed by all of this. It’s like she’s at the movies with her friends.

Wishful thinking on the part of WPRO.


Art Vandelay tells me they’re now passive-aggressively singing “God Bless America”.  I can only assume the song will be retired as false advertising if the board decides not to appeal.


Large segment of the crowd just stood and yelled the pledge of allegiance at Jessica.  I’m sure she realized the error of her ways and decided these people were right and became a Christian.

That or she’s sitting silently realizing that bullies are pathetic, that the law does not change with the magnitude of their racket, and that there’s no way these people can come out on top.  The only question is whether or not the students of Cranston West will lose.


Oh no!  Our side is doomed!  Lisa French is back!

Who is Lisa French?  Only the most passionate orator in the history of Cranston!


Ok, the committee is coming in.  Let’s do this.


Pledge recited, “Under god” yelled obnoxiously.  One can only wonder if god is so concerned why he didn’t show up himself.


Here’s a group of unfortunate people.

If they do the right thing and obey the law, these true, true believers will turn on them.  If they cave, they’re going to hurt the education of the children they’re obligated to look out for.  They can’t win.

I hope they at least elect to do the right thing as they go down in flames.


The first rep is talking and it’s not good.  They said Lageaux wrong because nobody ever recited prayer and 10 commandments gets to stay in public because it’s secular.  Saying it’s not a prayer, but a gift from the class of ’63.  As if the class of ’63 couldn’t possibly have gifted a prayer.

Awfully funny they put “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen” in their non-prayer.


Hrm, just saw this tweet:

Attorney Joseph Cavanagh says the fees of a #prayerbanner appeal could run up to a half million dollars

That seems awfully light.  These things generally run in the millions.

All the same, the City Attorney is strongly pushing against an appeal.  Who wants to set the odds that the believers will listen to the lawyer on the subject of law?


Chris Young just got his final warning for outbursts before he will be removed from the hall.

Who is Chris Young? Either follow the link above to read me taking him down a peg or watch this gem.


God dammit.  Apparently the City Attorney spoke reasonably about why they should not appeal then closed by saying how much he disagrees with Jessica and talked about turning the anger over the banner into a movement to get prayer back in schools.

Yes, fight for something you’ve already got.  Brilliant.  Unless you mean prayer mandated by the school.  For that you’d need to overturn the first amendment.  Good luck with that.


Council member Frank Lombardi just read an online comment that was not written by Jessica and said “you all know who said this, but I’m not gonna dignify her with using her name.”

The comment called the school board dumb.  They were dumb.  We’re about to see if they’ve gotten wiser since last time.

Maybe it was an honest mistake, but even if it wasn’t these people only have intimidation to work with.  They do not have the law, they do not have reason, they do not even have god.  They can only bully, and Jessica is too strong for it to work.  The mob has probably realized this over the last year and a half, but they have no other weapons to use.


And we’re off!  Cranston residents are up first.  This is the part where the committee spends a lot of time listening to people who aren’t lawyers but who think they have the best damn legal advice around.  Grab your popcorn.

First up is the class president of the class of ’63 who says they should get the say in what happens to the banner.  Nope!  Being in the class of ’63 doesn’t mean you get to break the law.


Now they want them to alter the banner.  Remember the time that option was on the table – and for free no less?  Yeah, that ship has sailed.

But I’ll tell you what.  I’ll come into your school, take down the banner, and even touch up the wall…and I’ll do it for less than half a million dollars.


I’m a little worried that all WWJTD readers in attendance will fall asleep!  Art Vandelay just sent me this droplet of wisdom from whomever’s at the podium.

“If we ever forget we are one nation under God, we are one nation gone under.”

Citation needed.


I’m told that so far anti-appeal speakers are about even with pro-appeal speakers – and these are the locals that get to go first!  Once you get to the people outside of Cranston it’s over.  We may turn the tide on this one, and without wearing signs around our necks.

Apparently one of the speakers just said they’d be proud if their kid had done what Jess did.  Rock the fuck on!


Twitter user jaberard gives us this.

The mob wants appeal. People who signed up to speak are against. What does that tell you? #Atheism #Cranston

It tells me reason prevails, even if the one side has it’s hand on the volume control.


Don’t worry though!  There’s still plenty of delusion swimming about.

One guy just argued that the banner isn’t a government document so therefore they’ve done nothing wrong. Also the ACLU is a cancer that needs to be defeated.

What about the school?  Isn’t that a government building?  These people think they’ve got this whole situation figured out but haven’t so much as read the first court decision.  Religion of humility my ass.


Oh now they’re coming out of the wood work.

This person just said “I just can’t imagine why you wouldn’t see this through until the end.”

Remember that time at the beginning when the lawyer said you’d almost certainly lose and the school would pay half a million dollars for the privilege?  How about you start there.

Another one said “If you simply don’t like the prayer don’t look at it…This prayer isn’t even religious.”

This prayer isn’t religious?  Yeah, except for the beginning and the end.  Are these people really that delusional or are they lying?  It’s really hard to tell.

Yet another says  “If this remains, no doubt people will continue to go after the pledge of allegiance and take our motto off our money.”

You mean we’ll take it back off our money?  And…who cares if we did?  I’d say good riddance.


Man, WPRO is cranking the prayer-love up to eleven on twitter.

Student from Cranston West says the #prayerbanner has nothing to do with religion, but is instead about morals #WPRO

That’s so funny, because the school was offered the chance to keep the moral message without the religious stuff.  They didn’t want to.

Seems to me it’s about the religious stuff and this person either didn’t read the ruling, or doesn’t think “Our Heavenly Father” and “Amen” are religious terms.


Just got a text from Art.

“We have to appeal for the sake of humanity.” I really wish I was making this up.

OMG WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT THIS PRAYER BANNER?!

What does this guy imagine is going to happen?  Is that banner keeping the Daleks at bay?  It’s a piece of cloth.  Get some god damned perspective.  There are some real freaking travesties in the world: starving children, terrorism, earthquakes, people fighting our Constitution because they think god commands it, and that piece of cloth has zero effect on all of them except one, and it’s not a good effect in that case.

Another speaker just said “We need to stand up and appeal!”  Stand up to what?  The Constitution?  None of these people give the first shit about where that money is being taken from.  Hell, it ain’t theirs.  Religion of compassion my ass.

They do not seem to get that standing up and appealing only means getting knocked on their ass harder – several hundreds of thousands of dollars harder.


Oh boy.  New guy says, “This is a virus won’t stop…these people, the ACLU, are tearing us down”

That virus you talk about is the Constitution.  USA!  USA!  Amirite?!


Twitter user rapidoTV200 dressed for the occasion.

All sources report that talks are still about 50/50.  Much better than I thought we’d do.  Things are looking up!


Tee hee hee!


Oh man, we’re approaching Godwin status.

@JohnDePetroWPRO Police harass supporters of the banner. Cranston becomes soviet union.

Yes, it couldn’t be that they’re angry and getting riled up and the police are trying to maintain order.  Naaaaaaaaah.

You guys remember John DePetro, right?  He’s the creepy radio show host who bullied Jessica on twitter in ways that made the old man from family guy look like a prude.


There’s now a guy arguing that the police should arrest everyone in this auditorium with money on them because if the banner is illegal so is money.

Remember the time I said they’d use that shoddy argument?  Am I a prophet or what?

Well sir, in the United States the people in black robes get to be the arbiters of what’s legal.  Perhaps they’ve never heard this phenomenal argument of yours, but maybe you should go tell the and stop asking the high school to break the laws you don’t like?


I wonder if this is one of the shops that refused to deliver flowers to our favorite evil little thing…

And holy cow, John DePetro brings a smile to my face with every tweet.

#prayerbanner so sad. Cranston seems over. Taken over by ACLU . #wpro

Yes, Cranston is over.  Over!  When that banner comes, the city will soon be in cinders.  The school will be ruined…except for their ability to keep paying their teachers, of course…

And apparently the guy who “got hassled” by the police, you know the one who made John DePetro think we were the Soviet Union, refused to leave the podium at the end of his time and just kept screaming.  He was escorted back to his seat.

It must suck living with the kind of paranoia on display by the pro-pissing-money-away crowd.


Now we’ve got a priest arguing saying he didn’t see it as a prayer and he’s a priest so he should know.  When he runs mass they must conclude prayers with “He looked 18, officer” instead of “Amen.”


New tweet from WRPO:

Cranston West student testifying says Jessica Ahlquist has never been bullied #WPRO #prayerbanner

The armed guards that accompanied her to class for the last few weeks?  Those were in case too many people tried to hug her.  Or what about the squad of police in the auditorium right now?  Do you think they’re worried Jessica is going to hurt the mob?

Now we’ve got a…

“Jesus loves her despite what she’s doing”

Make up your damn minds!  God will smite her!  No, Jesus loves her!  But she’ll burn forever!  Jesus forgives!

If god loves Jessica, he and his followers have a very strange way of showing it.


Another winner from WRPO.

One resident says Jessica Ahlquist had a choice and could have transferred to Cranston East if she was offended by the #prayerbanner #WPRO

Yeah!  When she saw something illegal that marginalized a whole class of people she could’ve just looked the other way and been a good minority.

Fuck. That. Noise.

New lady says Jessica isn’t being bullied: her kids tell her so!  This stuff is just kids being kids.  Next week it’s their turn to walk around to class with police protection.  It’s fun!

I can’t help but wonder why these people think the outcome of an appeal would be different.


Some guy just said that not appealing this means his children won’t be able to have the same values as him.

Yup!  Unless that prayer is on that wall, your kids will start dancing in clubs and studying civics just to spite you.

The guy after him said that the attack on religion by Mr. Obama is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.  Reading bible quotes now.  Oh and appeal or this is a communist country.

Think that’s some inconsequential nut?  Nope!  It’s Peter G. Palumbo, a state rep in Rhode Island, and a Democrat.  And they applaud!  FML.

I’ll bet these people even have paranoia on their pizza.  Don’t worry, religion makes people better… *gag*


Now the pro-banner people are trying to band together to see if they can finance the appeal themselves.  Half a million dollars at minimum.  Good luck with that.  At least it’ll be their own money they’re pissing away (after trying to piss away the school’s, of course).

I think they’re starting to realize that this appeal is probably not going to happen.


Alright!  Five more people and then they cut the speakers off and we get a decision.  What kind of odds are we thinking?


Mary Posey of JesusFajitaFishsticks hits the nail on the head.

Whining about how it’s not fair that they can’t violate the constitution anymore = testifying? #prayerbanner

Also, someone just got up and said part of the reason they de-converted was due to the hypocrisy of the pro-banner crowd.  w00t!


Last speaker is pro appeal.  Did she give a legal argument?  Of course not you silly!  She said they didn’t have to worry about money because the lord will provide!  One can only wonder why he has allowed us to get this far if we can count on him to provide…

And if he doesn’t?  Well, sucks to be a student.  The lord may provide, but the bill still gets sent to the school.  I suspect most of the pro appeal people aren’t worried about money because it ain’t theirs.

It’s been turned back over to the committee.  Decision forthcoming.


Jame Croft tweets…

Lombardi doesn’t mention students ONCE in his response. He is a school board committee member, doesn’t mention students. #prayerbanner

He also just pledged $1000 of his own money toward the appeal.  The other $499,000 at minimum can come from the school, I guess.  But it’ll be nothing if we win, he says.

And if/when they lose?  Oops…


2-1 in favor of appeal at the moment…


2-2 now…


3-2 good guys!


IT’S OVER!!!  WE WON!!!!!!!  GO JESSICA!!!!


The mob is reportedly screaming at the member who cast the fourth vote.

Lose with grace…just like the banner said.


Last vote came down on the side of the students. 5-2 is the final tally.


Jessica is still there but she says she’s safe. Will let you know when she’s away, which is when I’ll let myself relax.

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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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