Dad throws down on the Charlie Brown case.

The story about the production of A Charlie Brown Christmas has reached our state newspaper.  This letter made it into the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

It’s freedom of choice

It seems the freethinkers are raising a stink about some primary-school kids going to see A Charlie Brown Christmas as a school field trip.

The person being interviewed on the evening news stated that the children were not required to go; however, he felt that the children should not have to make that choice.

And here I thought making choices was a part of life and our freedoms as citizens.

We all make choices every day; even children are allowed choices. I sincerely hope the Little Rock School District stands up to this minority group and says enough—bring on the lawsuit, because we are not backing down.

There are far bigger problems to solve in this country and state than whether or not children are allowed to view Charlie Brown, and heaven forbid, the traditional Christmas story. Obviously these few disgruntled folks have nothing better to do with their time than to protest against whether children can have a field trip and oh, of course, to put up their winter solstice display.

I have no problem with this display. It is called freedom of choice, which may be a new concept to this group.

Honestly, freethinkers, the only offensive thing I see in your display is that it is so darn ugly. Get some artistic advice, and at least make it somewhat attractive.

LINDA HAMMONTREE

Father was displeased, and posted the following reply in the comments section.

LINDA HAMMONTREE says, “The person being interviewed on the evening news stated that the children were not required to go; however, he felt that the children should not have to make that choice.

And here I thought making choices was a part of life and our freedoms as citizens”.

No child should have to choose to be “different” at a public school. No child should have to choose to be shunned or left out of public school activities because he is not a part of the majoritan religious belief. The lack of both good sense and compassion in her statement is boggling.

She says, “I sincerely hope the Little Rock School District stands up to this minority group and says enough—bring on the lawsuit, because we are not backing down.” I suggest you check out Ahlquist vs. Cranston. Instead of taking down a prayer banner that was a clear violation of church/state separation, the school–at the behest of folks like Linda here—decided to make them file a lawsuit. The school ended up whizzing away $275,000 education dollars on a foredoomed defense of a slam dunk violation. This is exactly what Linda is calling for. Sticking your head in the sand and pretending established jurisprudence doesn’t exist really doesn’t work very well and tends to be very costly.

She says, “Obviously these few disgruntled folks have nothing better to do with their time than to protest against whether children can have a field trip and oh, of course, to put up their winter solstice display.” Actually, they are willing to take some of their time to defend the constitution and laws of the nation.Sneering at that in this fashion shows Linda to either not be bright enough to understand the difference between “religious preference” and “religious neutrality” from the government, or to not be American enough to care about the difference.

She says, “It is called freedom of choice, which may be a new concept to this group.” I think a new concept for Linda may “freedom of LEGAL choices”. The school is more than welcome to provide legal choices of religiously neutral plays.

Too stupid to know the difference, or not American enough to care.  I’ll get some traction out of that gem.

I know Anne will be posting updates and new stuff on the Charlie Brown situation tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

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.

  • IslandBrewer

    “foredoomed”

    I am totally using that every chance I get!

  • iknklast

    Where was your dad when I was a kid? (Probably a kid himself – I suspect we’re about the same age). Oklahoma, where I went to school, is pretty much just Arkansas spelled differently.

    • Azkyroth

      I’d assumed they were cousins, and known for sneaking off to the barn…

  • Mark

    So when is an atheist going to protest the 151-ft statue of the goddess Libertas standing at the mouth of the Hudson River? Or what about the giant Asherah pole at the nation’s capital?

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      You seem to be confusing government accepting a symbolic gift from a friendly nation fashioned in the likeness of a goddess from an extinct pantheon with government endorsing Christianity. Unless you think it’s actually sekritly a Libertas shrine those dirty Libertas-worshiping Frenchies foisted on us to currupt are yoof.

      Also, Asherah pole? I have no idea what you’re talking about, unless you mean the Washington Monument. In which case, as far as I know (you’re welcome to correct me with citations) it’s an Asherah pole in the same way a street light, a flag pole, or a tall office building is an Asherah pole – it’s a sticky-up thing not intended to be a religious icon or claimed as one by a religion.

  • Ben Allen

    The lack of good sense, not to mention good parenting in your statement is mind boggling. So basically what you’re saying is we need to train our kids to be the non-thing auto-matons shown in 1984? That we just accept the gov’t line no matter what our beliefs. Why should a child not be able to choose to be different???? Being different is what made our country great???? Why should a child have to fear being shunned because of being different????? Difference is what has made our country great. This guy is a total fool and I truly hope that someone knows who this idiot is and directs him to my posts!!!! I would truly love to hear his defense as to why he believes this.

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Tell everyone around you that you’ve just converted to Islam. Act convincingly so.

      Go on.

      Don’t fear being shunned because of being different. Being different is what made our country great.

    • Brad1990

      Wahoo, Strawman! The first of many I’m sure. No one’s saying they should not be allowed to choose to be different. They’re saying that no one should be forced to appear different. How do you not get that? The choice these children are being presented with is this: either swallow your pride and your principles and sit through a play which is telling you all about how your beliefs are wrong and you celebrate Christmas wrong, or stand up and be honest and thus reveal yourself to the majority as some one “different” to be singled out in future. Possibly the least enviable choice anyone has ever been presented with.

    • drew

      According to Lee v Weisman: “[T]here are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools…The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate. When the government [school] puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some. Only ‘[a]nguish, hardship and bitter strife’ result ‘when zealous religious groups struggl[e] with one another to obtain the Government’s stamp of approval.’”

      Also: “That a child is offered an alternative may reduce the constraint; it does not eliminate the operation of influence by the school in matters sacred to conscience and outside the school’s domain. The law of imitation operates, and nonconformity is not an outstanding characteristic of children.” McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. at 333 U. S. 227 (concurring opinion))

    • pjmaertz

      I really want to believe that you are being an obnoxious troll, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you are just stupid as hell.

      “Why should a child have to fear being shunned because of being different??????”

      You should read JT’s dad’s post again and look for the spot where he made the argument that children should be shunned for having different beliefs. Go ahead, I’ll wait. What, it’s not there, and you are making a preposterous straw man argument? How strange.

      BTW, if you want JTs dad too answer your questions, they are in the post. His points are unambiguous, and they answer all your questions. Again, I would recommend that you read his post again, because you clearly didn’t understand it the first time.

  • Ben Allen

    And the last comment maybe the stupidist!!! “Freedom of Legal Choices” Show me where it’s codified in USC (again look that up) where it’s defined what we can and cannot believe in? The whole response from the “father” was totally ridiculous. I wonder if he really is a “father” and I pity his kids if he is.

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Stupidist.

      Really? Should he “get a brain MORAN”?

    • Brad1990

      Unless I’ve misunderstood, he’s JT’s father. I don’t pity his children at all.

    • pjmaertz

      I know that you are a fucking idiot, so I will try to explain this slowly. Read the first amendment of the US Constitution, especially the Establishment Clause part. That should give you an idea of why we shouldn’t be using government dollars to promote a specific religion, especially to a captive audience. The other part of your argument (about the government defining what we can and cannot believe in) appears to have been pulled directly out of your ass, which, after reading the rest of your comments here, is not a surprise.

      Please stop being so obtuse, and start reading the articles before commenting.

    • David Hart

      The point is that it is not legal for the government (or any branch of it, including a government-funded school) to endorse one religion over another, or to endorse religion over non-religion. Therefore if they are offering the children the choice to see a play that endorses one religious viewpoint, or not see a play at all, that is a choice that the children are entitled to make, as citizens but the school is not entitled to offer as a branch of the government – i.e. if the school is offering a choice, it should be a choice of things that it is legal for the school to provide.

  • Ben Allen

    I think Linda was dead on point that our children will be called upon their entire lives to make choices that they will have to live with and defend and this “father” basically says “no our children should not be trained to make choices in the beliefs that are important to them, they should let big brother make those choices for them.” I just can’t understand his stand. I taught my son to make his own choices, to NOT let popular opinion make his choices for him and to, honestly, not give a damn if someone disagreed with his choice. I just totally can’t understand this “father’s” opinion. It seems to me he’s telling his kids to just sail with the popular wind and not have the strength to make their own choices and believe in their principles. And, again, I think this is, in the words of the bard, “Much Ado About Nothing!”

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Yes! Be brave! Stand up for your choices and don’t let popular opinion make your choices for you!

      It’s so brave of you as a member of a religious supermajority to stand up, draw a line in the sand, and go with the herd.

      • pjmaertz

        The oppressed life of the white American Christian is not for the faint of heart. It must be so difficult for his son to bear this incredible burden.

    • M

      I was open about my Judaism, always, even in elementary school. In 5th grade, when I was 10 years old, I walked out of a Christmas concert when they started singing religious songs (like Silent Night) instead of fun ones about Santa and winter and stuff. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

      I got up out of my seat in the cafeteria and walked out the door. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, turned to stare at me. The teachers, the students, the choir. I had actually psyched myself up for it and gotten permission beforehand from both my parents and teacher to leave if I felt uncomfortable with the songs. That conversation by itself wasn’t any fun at all. I had to go to my (Christian) teacher and tell her I didn’t want to go to the concert because it was a Christmas concert and I wasn’t Christian. She said I had to go. I told her I was going to leave if they started singing Christian songs. She asked where I would go, since I couldn’t leave school early, and I replied that I’d go read in the library. She got this look in her eye, like “yeah right, that’s not going to happen” and said sure, you can do that if you want. She definitely didn’t expect me to actually do it!

      There weren’t any consequences for it, thank goodness. I didn’t really have any friends at the time, so I didn’t lose any, and for some reason I wasn’t bullied (the school had some bullying problems, but I just wasn’t a target). However, no child should ever have to make that choice. It is the school’s responsibility to protect all their students and make them all feel safe and welcome. No one should feel alone and alienated. No one should have to choose between sitting through an attack aimed at their religion or ostracizing themselves.

  • Ben Allen

    And as I said on my original posts on this Oh “father of the year” can you prove that they were provided an choices of “religiously neutral plays” that they turned down? I’ll await that answer with baited breath! LOL

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      Because no religiously neutral plays exist. At all. And even if there are you can’t prove that they ever heard of them! They might have lived for their entire lives never having heard of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. They might never have encountered A Christmas Carol. The Nutcracker might not even exist in that part of the universe.

      And even if they hadn’t been given a list of “religiously neutral plays”, does that mean they have to go to this play? ZOMG, there are no religiously neutral plays this time of year. Welp, I guess we’d better take the kids off to see Mohammed and His Merry Wives.

    • Kulgur

      Unless you’ve been eating worms recently, it’s “BATED” breath.

      • IslandBrewer

        I think he really did have “baited” breath, actually.

      • pjmaertz

        I think we may all have troll baited breath…

  • Nate Frein

    I have a suspicion I know who our next comment round up will be on…

    • Brad1990

      Dammit, why can’t I upvote that!?

    • Stogoe

      I love comment roundup. This is like a sneak preview of comment roundup. Whee!

  • John Eberhard

    Ben:

    Your wish has been granted…..”I would truly love to hear his defense as to why he believes this.”

    First, I believe very few of the misrepresentations which you have attributed to me, but will try address the bulk of your silly rants anyway.

    “So basically what you’re saying is we need to train our kids to be the non-thing auto-matons shown in 1984?”
    Why, No…I’m not basically saying that at all. Or anything even close to it. You obviously have reading comprehension issues.

    “That we just accept the gov’t line no matter what our beliefs.”
    Ummmm….NO, again. I am saying that the government has a legal obligation to be neutral regarding religion. I am saying that as an American citizen you should show a little respect for the Constitution and for established jurisprudence, regardless of your religious beliefs.

    “Why should a child not be able to choose to be different????”
    No one ever said or even implied that a child should not be able to choose to be different. Your reading comprehension issue is showing here. Allow me to find the exact quote and repeat it for you:
    “No child should have to choose to be “different” at a public school.” You obviously cannot differentiate between “be allowed to choose to be “different”” and “HAVE to choose to be “different”. You see, I was referring to the child being placed in a position where he is forced either to sublimate his beliefs or be held out as “different”.

    “Being different is what made our country great????”
    Good thing you put a lot of question marks after that bizarre claim. I can think of many things such as abundant natural resources and a favorable geographic situation that helped to make our country great, but in 60 years this is the first time I have ever heard the claim that being “different” (from mainstream religion or sociologically) is what makes our country great. I think you pulled that directly out of your ass, and the way it smells verifies that as correct.

    “Why should a child have to fear being shunned because of being different?????”
    Are you really that stupid? Because there are a lot of people, a good many of them being Christians, who use physical and social pressures against people who are “different”. The different can be bullied in many different ways. They can be punished by teachers, administrators, and classmates for being different. For a primer on this phenomenon, read about Jessica Ahlquist. Or leaf back through this blog for examples of students disowned by their parents and harassed out of their school district for being “different”. If you do not understand why students have legitimate fears of being shunned for being “different”, then you are just plain dumber than a stump. You would then be too fucking stupid to communicate with on any imaginable reasonable level.
    I also refer you to Drew’s post on Lee v. Weisman, which explains it so simply that anyone should be able to understand it.

    “Freedom of Legal Choices” Show me where it’s codified in USC (again look that up) where it’s defined what we can and cannot believe in?” WTF??? Believe in whatever you want…but understand that the constitution and established jurisprudence requires separation of church and state. For the school as an arm of the state to provide a religious activity at a religious site during school hours on the taxpayer’s dime is not a legal choice.
    I don’t have to show you where it is defined “what we can and cannot believe in”, as I never claimed that. I did claim some choices (by the state) are not legal, and I can provide plenty of examples of case law on what is not allowed under “separation”.

    “I wonder if he really is a “father” and I pity his kids if he is.” I really am JT’s father, and you will have to take the “pity” part up with him. I somehow doubt he will accept it, though.

    “…..this “father” basically says “no our children should not be trained to make choices in the beliefs that are important to them, they should let big brother make those choices for them.” On the contrary, I do in fact believe children should be trained to make choices in the beliefs that are important to them. And,I believe they should be able to do this without government coercion or by religions using the government as the proselytizing and enforcement arm for their religion……as is the present case.

    “I taught my son to make his own choices, to NOT let popular opinion make his choices for him and to, honestly, not give a damn if someone disagreed with his choice.”
    I’m glad I wasn’t your kid.I taught my kids to smart enough to not stick their head into a buzz saw for no good reason; that being a mouthy dumbass didn’t prove you to be either brave or smart. However, this really has nothing to do with the school, as an arm of the state, having no business arranging a religious outing. You want to make their error into a responsibility of the kids to stand up for whatever: to set themselves up to be shunned, bullied, maltreated by teachers, etc. You are wrong. Whether kids need to stand up for their beliefs and what you taught your kids are not issues here. The issue is the legality of the school’s action.

    “And as I said on my original posts on this Oh “father of the year” can you prove that they were provided an choices of “religiously neutral plays” that they turned down? I’ll await that answer with baited breath! LOL”
    The city of Little Rock has a number of theatres that annually manage in excess of a hundred productions together,plus your usual school productions such as Junior and Senior plays. Only a fool–yes, I understand whom I am addressing—would imply that a non-religious play couldn’t be found and attended among them. Even if there were no other plays available, it would still be illegal for the school to take the action it has with this one.
    But, again, as I pointed out before, your reading comprehension difficulties are surfacing. I don’t have to ” prove that they were provided an choices of “religiously neutral plays” that they turned down?” I said neither that they had nor that they could, but that “The school is more than welcome to provide legal choices of religiously neutral plays.” If the school has not been provided those choices to offer, it is up to the school to get them before planning a field trip to a play. It is welcome to do so. It certainly isn’t permission for them to break the law by taking the kids to some religious themed play at a church.

    Have a nice day.

    • Nate Frein

      Bravo!

    • Brad1990

      *Applause*

    • IslandBrewer

      JT’s awesome Dad is awesome.

    • http://www.aramink.com Anne

      John Eberhard, you rock.

  • Pingback: Comment roundup 12/7.

  • Sunny Day

    Another datapoint in the Fundies cant understand how to use the reply button.


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