Valedictorian gives Christians in the audience a chance to announce their lack of empathy. The crowd complies.

You’ve probably seen this video by now.  It’s of a high school valedictorian who, prohibited from praying in his talk, made the defiant gesture of tearing up his talk while at the podium and appealing to the majority with the lord’s prayer.

When I first watched this, something about it bugged me (and not just that the kid’s an asshole).  There’s no legal violation because the school didn’t know.

This morning it occurred to me.  Listen to the crowd.  They love that this kid broke the rules to give a nod to their faith.  They’re going apeshit in the stands.  Of course, what if an atheist student had taken the time to say there is no god, no Jesus, and kudos to the graduating class for succeeding on their own?  What if a Muslim student had taken the time to talk about the glory of Allah?

They would not have cheered.  They would have been furious that the graduation day of their children had been tainted with such a message.  For all this talk we hear about how religion makes people better, and how the countless examples to the contrary are just the bad apples, here we have a whole stadium of believers whose Christian faith has robbed them of the ability to empathize – to imagine what it would be like in other people’s shoes.

To care less for others – that is the product of Christianity in the majority of the adults who were at that graduation.  And reading the news, I have a hard time believing anybody who says the ratios are different outside the stadium.  Sure, Christianity might get a Christian to make a charitable donation because they want heaven, or because they seek the approval of Jesus.  But when it comes to empathy, that is often drowned beneath the expectation of certain privileges for Christians…even as they expect cries about what offends them to register with others.

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.

  • Jasper

    It’s also nearly impossible to communicate with these people.

    “How would you have felt if a Muslim had done that?”
    “But we’re a Christian nation, and Jesus is Lord”
    “Wow, so much wrong in 9 words…”

    • vincent findley

      I am so sick of the what fucking ifs!! The six words after the comma OR PROHIBIT THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF!!! What fucking part of that do you Godless Heathens not fucking understand!!! Get up you Muslims, Jews , Lutherans etc. etc. Instead of fucking whining about it all the fucking time, get up there and say your peace as to why there is no God. Also what if!!! a Muslim did it. Would you print “what if a Christian did it” I think not. You are all predjudice against one religion and one religion only.
      Thank you for pointing out there is NO LEGAL VIOLATION HERE!!

      • Nate Frein

        It’s quasi legal. The school would have been justified in cutting the mic.

        And really, what kind of douchebag does it take to repurpose what’s supposed to be a celebration of the entire graduating class into just another sermon for his god, and his god alone?

        We are not questioning the legality. We’re pointing out the insincerity and the assholery of the action. Because we have free speech too, and we can use that to criticize his, and yours.

        • vincent findley

          I know you have free speech to criticize. This is about you all maybe getting up to refute his or her god or gods. The assholery of it is when you all fucking whine about it all the time. Don’t you all have anything better to do? If it bothers you all that much form your own fucking commune like the Amish. That is his right to do it protected by the constitution you all fucking defend.

          • Nate Frein

            How do we get a chance to refute? How is that an open forum? He’s one of three to five speakers who will speak, to an audience that has no ability to respond. He has a captive audience. That is not free speech. That is an abuse of a privilege granted to him by the school, a government authority.

            This is the only way to respond to this douchebaggery, but you call it “whining”.

          • vincent findley

            They can’t speculate as to what is going to be said, therefore can’t stop it.

          • Nate Frein

            Who’s “they”?

            The school? They could have They vetted his speech. They could should have cut his mic.

            The audience? Why the fuck should anyone have to leave or disrupt their own goddamn graduation because some dipshit wants to turn it into a church sermon?

            EDIT: Fix’d for missed info.

          • Art_Vandelay

            Actually, the school did vet his speech and they approved it. Then he got on stage and ripped it up and just said the Our Father instead. So not only did he violate the 1st amendment, but also the 10 Commandments.

          • Nate Frein

            Fix’d, thanks.

            I knew he’d had a prepared speech with him. I hadn’t realised that it had been read and approved beforehand by the school.

          • Rob

            And Mark 12:17

          • Kodie

            Form a commune? This is America, asshole. We live here, get used to it. It belongs to everyone and Christians are terrible at sharing. You selfish, arrogant prick, that was not a Christian school or a Christian graduation ceremony. It was selfishly stolen from everyone for one self-centered asshole like yourself. Your “free exercise” does not get to usurp everyone else’s freedoms. You have shown your true concern for “free exercise” by suggesting atheists’ free exercise belongs in a walled-off community and let the rest of you assholes take what’s not yours. Well fuck the fuck off!

          • vincent findley

            Fuck the fuck off? I’m suggesting you Atheists instead of fucking whining all the time use your free speech rights. it doen’t matter what kind of a school it was fuckface, it was his free speech right under the constitution you assholes so gloriously defend. OR PROHIBIT THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF. Again what part of free don’t you godless fucking heathens understand.

          • Nate Frein

            You’re the one with problems understanding, dipshit.

          • vincent findley

            You still haven’t answered the question!!

          • Nate Frein

            Yes, yes I have. But let’s reiterate:

            1. The student didn’t have “free speech”. This was not an open forum. This was a captive audience and the endorsement of a government agency (the school).

            2. Had a muslim (or a jew, or a wiccan, or an atheist) tried to inject their religion into this kind of ceremony, atheists wouldn’t have to say anything because assholes like you would be raging about your imaginary “christian nation”

            3. We are using our free speech here to criticize what the boy said. Which you seem to deny. Because you’re an idiot.

            4. You’re an idiot.

          • vincent findley

            The question I asked YOU FUCKING MORON is if a Muslim did this woukld you all print ” what if a Christian did this”? Stop avoiding it. None of you all will answer it.

          • Nate Frein

            We…did…answer…it.

            Moron.

          • Zinc Avenger

            The answer is “no”. We wouldn’t do that. Because “a Christian did this” is the baseline assumption, in the same way that we have no need to ask “What if a human did this? Huh? ANSWER THE QUESTION”.

            It has no rhetorical value. Not saying things with no rhetorical value is not discrimination.

          • Kodie

            What if a Christian did this? A Christian did and does do these things constantly. We don’t have to ask “what if” because Christians think it’s dandy whenever it happens. Would same Christians appeal to the free exercise or free speech clauses of the 1st Amendment if anyone else did the same????? The answer is no. The answer we already know is “no.” Whenever anything other than Christian privilege goes over that line, we have heard the answer. Your answer is we should go live on a commune! I thought this was America but you are sorting people to live on camps so they don’t disrupt your privilege anymore. When you have stomped on someone else’s freedoms, then you all appeal to tradition and majority rule. Fuck off with your double standards.

          • ToonForever

            We’d clearly respond the same way no matter who did it. Which is the point of equality and inclusiveness. Now how about you find something else to not understand so we can laugh at you some more?

          • islandbrewer

            Many have answered your question, and you have answered none of ours. But we wouldn’t really expect anything like courtesy from someone who smashes car windows and steals change, right?

          • Jasper

            We have a far superior understanding of the law than you do. Do you grasp that the Constitution grants the Judiciary the power to interpret the Constitution, and that they’ve ruled on many occasions, setting up significant jurisprudence, that such things are unconstitutional?

            And, yes, we are exercising our 1st amendment rights, both in speech, and in prosecuting those who are breaking the law.

          • Kodie

            I don’t know what kind of constipation you are suffering today, but you’re complaining that we’re not exercising our free speech on a blog describing an incident, its aftermath, and the blogger’s opinion about that incident and its aftermath, open for comments from just about anyone who shows up and writes they got something to say about that.. What the fuck else did you want? You want an atheist to go up on the podium and break the constitution and shit on everyone else’s ceremony to make it all even? What a shitty selfish Christian thing to do. I’m not sure what you’re even unhappy about.

          • baal

            ” instead of fucking whining all the time use your free speech rights” We are. By whining right here and now. Having done what you ask for, you’re apparently pissed at us for having done your bidding.

            Free speech is not unrestricted (and never has been) and I think you’re overlooking the establishment clause. You don’t get to skip over parts of the constitution the same way you skip over the horse cum in the bible.

          • Kodie

            You are also mixing up clauses. Free expression of religion and free speech are two different parts of the same amendment. He was awarded the privilege of speaking at graduation. Being a valedictorian is not a right, it’s a measurement of academic excellence, and speaking is not an automatic right but a granted privilege and honor. It is not a right that comes without responsibilities, and a mature person who graduates at the head of his or her class would be expected to know that, and plan with the graduation committee some appropriate themes and comments. Going rogue as valedictorian is a shitty impulsive, immature way to go out, such as would be mooning the audience, throwing water balloons at your least favorite teachers, and giving the principal the finger.

          • DavidMHart

            “Prohibiting the free exercise thereof” refers to private individuals in their capacity as private individuals. This kid was not acting in his capacity as a private individual – he was acting in his capacity as the person chosen by the school (a small tentacle of the government) to address a captive audience on school time. Now it may not have been illegal to do what he did (though, by failing to cut the mike, the school was arguably skirting the boundaries of legality), but it was certainly a jerk move, to use his opportunity to speak on behalf of the whole school to speak only on behalf of the majority and advance a sectarian agenda that excludes any minority-religious or non-religious pupils.

            Do you at least understand why someone might be annoyed that a) the kid abused his platform to rub his Christian privilege in the faces of any non-Christian students, and b) other people were pleased to see him abuse his platform in this way?

          • Jasper

            And the constitution also protects us from Government taking a religious preference.

            Deal with it.

          • Jasper

            It was only a few days ago, that this Christian privilege had a council member explicitly refusing to support a measure to recognize a Humanist Recognition week because he didn’t want to support anyone who didn’t believe in Jesus. It was only through “whining” that this particular injustice was stopped.

            In Austin Texas, a flagrantly unconstitutional 10-commandments monument was upheld by the courts, because the judge invented a “grandfather” clause, saying that because no one complained before, it’s fine.

            The lesson from that was that we have to complain often, and now.

            Because Christians are non-stop testing the fences of what’s legal like veliciraptors, we have to continuously 24/7/365 fight back.

            I actually started a website to try to keep track of all the violations (though I could be doing better updating it). I’m only getting the tip of the iceberg here.

            http://secularmap.com/

          • baal

            A mob scaring the minority is the assholery. Really, gang violence much? The fact that you cannot identify who is actually being hurt here speaks volumes about you vincent.

        • islandbrewer

          I predict that one day in the future, someone somewhere in the US, a muslim kid, or an atheist, a hindu, or some non-Abrahamic believing high school student, is going to get up to speak as a valedictorian or salutatorian, say stuff that blatantly contradicts xtianity, and the outrage brigade with vincent findlay in the lead are going to demand that the school punish the kid for violating the Establishment Clause with their foam-flecked tirades.

          • vincent findley

            EXACTLY!!! and spell my fucking name right!!

          • Nate Frein

            Oh. So you’d crusade to punish a muslim preaching his faith during his graduation, but not a christian?

          • islandbrewer

            Yeah, I don’t think he really thought that one through before posting.

            Edit: Yeah, I don’t think he really thought that one through before posting.

          • Jasper

            So you agree with us. Nice.

          • baal

            Who is Vincent Fondley? and who does his name fuck? Inquiring minds want to know.

          • islandbrewer

            Then, if you admittedly think this is a violation of the Establishment Clause, are you getting all fucking worked up when atheists point it out?

      • baal

        Actually, atheists in Egypt are subject to off the books detention, torture and we’ve seen some number of them flee that and other countries. When we see speeches and the christian crowd above act so meanly to everyone else, these two data points come awefully close together. So it’s not about ‘we hate christians grrrrrr’. It is about, yikes, the christians use their power to bash and harass folks who aren’t them.

        • vincent findley

          Answere the fucking question. It’s pretty much yes or no.

          • islandbrewer

            There is no fucking question in your post, you bastion of calm reasoned response and intellect.

          • vincent findley

            Read the above posts, there is most certainly a question.

          • islandbrewer

            Referring to this:

            Also what if!!! a Muslim did it.

            In the English language, we signal questions with the use of this: “?” It’s called a “question mark.” Also, those thing in the middle of your sentence are called “exclamation points,” and (1) they go at the end of sentences to demonstrate emphasis (or in your case blood pressure/salivary foam) and (2) one is sufficient.

          • Nate Frein

            Ah! minor point. Technically, exclamation points can! be used in the middle of a sentence to emphasize a word, but without capitalizing the next work. It’s an older usage and pretty much not used any more. I know about it because of a school house rock song and some older novels I read.

            And you’re right…more than one is wrong. Always wrong.

            /pedant

          • vincent findley

            Obviously not!!! because you all still haven’t answered the fucking question!!

          • Zinc Avenger

            You clearly know where the shift key is, unless you have a special wingnut keyboard that has an exclamation point on its own special key (note to self: New product idea) but you have not yet mastered the proper use of capital letters. Capitals go at the beginning of a sentence and at the front of your name.

          • baal

            “Also what if!!! a Muslim did it. Would you print “what if a Christian did it” I think not.”
            No…obviously. The context is that of christian privilege and the audience of blogs (even here) sometimes has trouble seeing what the issue is. Everyone seems to get that “In Allah We Trust” on our filthy lucre would be a religious (or political) act. So we play the substitution game to high light why it’s wrong to have the christian god on the currency (or the speech here).

            Your implication is that atheists wouldn’t give a shit if a Muslim played the same speech rip up game. News flash, you’re wrong we do still care and we still do complain. I suspect, however, that the same imagined Muslim reciting of a prayer from a Koran at a the same school would not be met with an audience going ape shit in a way that scares non-Muslims.

      • Zinc Avenger

        Which part of “prohibit the free exercise thereof” means “allow someone to proselytize while the authority of the government compels others to remain present and silent”?

      • Azkyroth

        Wow, you’re kind of a stupid piece of shit, aren’t you?

        • vincent findley

          Why I’m wrong? You all still haven’t answered my question. And you probably won’t.

          • Nate Frein

            That wasn’t a question. That was just you spewing inanity.

          • islandbrewer

            Yeah, I went through it again. No questions.

            But lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!! I expect vincent needs to take a wipe to his screen, now.

          • Art_Vandelay

            If a Muslim got up at a school graduation in NC and started chanting “Allah Akbar” instead of something of substance, I’d personally be outraged and it would also be a much bigger story than this. Fuck…we’d probably have him in Guantanamo by now.

          • Azkyroth

            Did you ask a question? Your post was indistinguishable from dashing in and trying to both eat the table and blow your nose on it simultaneously.

        • Jasper

          I think this is the question?:

          “Also what if!!! a Muslim did it. Would you print “what if a Christian did it” I think not.”

          … we aren’t saying that, because they aren’t doing it. America is bursting at the seams with Christian privilege, and people in the minority get it. The reason why we go after Christians overwhelmingly, as opposed to Muslims or Hindus, is because they aren’t chronically breaking the law.

          • Nate Frein

            Hah. We wouldn’t have to say it, because the “moral majority” of christians would be screaming it at the top of their lungs.

            And they wouldn’t grasp the irony, either.

          • islandbrewer

            If that’s the question, then I’ll just quote myself from below:

            I predict that one day in the future, someone somewhere in the US, a muslim kid, or an atheist, a hindu, or some non-Abrahamic believing high school student, is going to get up to speak as a valedictorian or salutatorian, say stuff that blatantly contradicts xtianity, and the outrage brigade with vincent findlay in the lead are going to demand that the school punish the kid for violating the Establishment Clause with their foam-flecked tirades.

      • Jasper

        Yes, and having the government endorse a religion restricts that free exercise. This is pretty well established jurisprudence by the Supreme Court. The only way to effectively adhere to first amendment is to have government take a completely neutral position.

        A person, acting in an official government event, as a representative of that official government activity, also has to abide… otherwise the rights of the many are violated.

        A good analogy is that students, who are participating in official school events, are basically “interns”, executing tasks on behalf of the school. The law applies to them too, in that context.

        “Instead of fucking whining about it all the fucking time, get up there and say your peace as to why there is no God.”

        The point is, if that had happened, those God-fearing Christians would have lost their shit… just like every time a non-Christian attempts to give an invocation at a city council meeting.

        “Thank you for pointing out there is NO LEGAL VIOLATION HERE!!”

        The Supreme Court has decided otherwise. Repeatedly.

        • Jasper

          I swear, if we could generate electricity from challenging Christian privilege, we could reverse the Heat Death of the Universe

        • vincent findley

          Your people said there is no legal violation here not mine. A better anology is the batter doesn’t know if the pitcher is going to throw a curve or a fastball. The valedictorian is doing this on behalf of the students not the school. Again my question was if a muslim did this would you all print ” what if a Christian did this”?

          • Zinc Avenger

            Yes, why do we atheists spend our time opposing Christianity?

            When was the last time we atheists opposed someone using the power of government to force people to sit through a Jainist ceremony? Why do we not oppose the introduction of Druidism into our lives? When will we atheists band together to fight a monument to Father Odin being placed on a courthouse steps? We should go and stand vigil against the ever-present threat of Raelism, and call out politicians who want to make policy based on their understanding of Shinto.

          • islandbrewer

            Don’t you fucking touch the Tree of the One-eyed Alle Vater. Yggdrasil is the source of all morality!

            Also, we know that Yggdrasil is real because without Yggdrasil, you couldn’t know anything.

          • Zinc Avenger

            My atheism is no match for your peerless grasp of logic. I feel my godlessness swirling away into a whirling vortex of theism.

          • Jasper

            “Again my question was if a muslim did this would you all print ” what if a Christian did this”?”

            I would, if the context was that we were in a nation where Muslims were in control, violating the constitution left and right, and any time any non-Muslim tried to exercise the same level of speech, they’d be persecuted into oblivion.

            But, that’s not the context. The context is that Christians are in the majority, and don’t tolerate anyone else trying to do the same infractions they do on a regular basis.

            That’s the point. My “What if a Muslim did this?” question is specifically to try to raise the awareness of the privilege-soaked Christians in the country who cannot seem to comprehend any other perspective than their own.

            The roles could only be reversed, if this was a predominantly Muslim (or other) country, where the majority just didn’t grasp or care about their privilege.

            Right now, the Christians in this country are the culprits… not because they’re Christians, but because they’re constantly, overwhelmingly, violating everyone else’s rights… because they can.

      • unbound55

        Ah, the privileged Christian here to speak of the bravery of the boy to stand up in a highly friendly audience to do explicitly what Matthew 6:1-6 said not to do.

        And then challenge minority groups to do the same. Because we all know that Christians are kind, patient people that treat all others with respect. Like they did to a Jewish student in Delaware who didn’t even speak up. Like they did to an atheist student in Rhode Island who did speak up, just as you suggested. Like countless other times in many places where Christians demonstrate their love, forgiveness and tolerance of those who are not one of them.

        Sadly, Vincent, we’ve seen your kind come and go. We are not impressed with your lack of logic and your promises that have been proven time and again to be lies…which you likely use to comfort yourself and your majority privilege with. Stay and scream if you like, if it brings you comfort, but you’ll have to do a good deal better if you want to impress us.

  • unbound55

    And further proof that the masses of Christians have little to no knowledge of what is in their own book. The kid is quoting Matthew 6:10-13 with an audience cheering him on oblivious to Matthew 6:1-6.

    • Zinc Avenger

      The Fundamentalist Bible is three pages long, and it is in large print.

    • bob mallard

      could not agree further

  • carrie

    I used to be so religious and the more I see the more I want to run. People are becoming so extreme. They shove it in your face and tell you that you will go to hell. Why? Do I deserve to go there? Do you need to profess your faith all the time? When you have to do it all the time then your faith is lacking. I guess the most unbiased picture is science. It doesn’t care who you are or where you are from. If you are in its path then you, like the rest, are vulnerable. You can build something to better protect yourself but that is just a natural progression of intelligence. The ones who are smart enough or have the strongest immune systems survive.

    • Zinc Avenger

      If you are in its path then you, like the rest, are vulnerable.

      Curious about what this means. Science is not Godzilla. It’s a method of understanding. Observe, theorize, predict, compare, adjust.

      • sparkyb

        I think the point is that the natural, god-less world affects you whether you believe it or not. Unlike religion, which prescribes different outcomes for believers and non-believers, science doesn’t claim to punish you for not believing, nor does it automatically save you if you do.

        • Zinc Avenger

          Speak for yourself, my devotion to Darwin has increased my fitness. When the Natural Selection comes, my genes will achieve immortality.

          Less snarky: Thanks, that explanation makes sense.

          • carrie

            I am sorry you were not able to understand that when it made perfect sense to others.

          • Zinc Avenger

            I’m sorry you have to make vague statements and then be condescending when someone asks for clarification.

          • Nate Frein

            Nonsense. Sparky was giving a possible, charitable interpretation of what you posted. In no way did he indicate that it made perfect sense to him. Since he and Zinc were the only two respondents, that really doesn’t give you enough feedback to say that it “made perfect sense to others”.

            Your snark is unwarranted. Zinc was perfectly respectful in asking for a clarification.

          • Art_Vandelay

            Actually, it still doesn’t make a lick of sense.

        • bob mallard

          religion has never been void of science nor should faith. No human with intelligence above a an infant who practices faith denies the principles of science. Just because you have faith does not mean you believe there is a demon behind every bush. Religion is not for the weak, and religion is not the antithesis of science. We should not go down that road.

          • Nate Frein

            Wow. I guess that means that 50% of Americans don’t think that the earth is less than 10,000 years old after all?

          • bob mallard

            yes possibly, but that is not to say that because you are a person of faith that you don’t believe in science because many members of the faith communities practice science. In fact more so do then the view republicans who have radio talk shows that disagree with global warming

          • baal

            In the U.S., there are folks who try to defund science or to screw with teaching it in schools. 100% of these people are faithists. This isn’t to say that 100% of people of faith have a problem with science, far from it. The anti-science faithists are a small % of the larger faith community.

          • bob mallard

            thank you for this clarification as I agree with you. There is always the radical exceptions but when we are debating big general topics, i think it is better for the whole of the conversation use radicals on both side to over weigh the majority positions.

          • Nate Frein

            I didn’t realise that half of americans constituted a “radical exception”?

    • Art_Vandelay

      The ones who are smart enough or have the strongest immune systems survive.

      While intelligence was undoubtedly a huge evolutionary advantage for most of our existence, I don’t think so much anymore.

  • Nate Frein

    I do think it’s a good sign we’re starting to see more christians themselves starting to stand up and protest this slow move towards a monolithic theology.

    Maybe they’re starting to see that the laws we want to enforce protect them as well.

  • bob mallard

    by the sound of his accent and his insinuation that people would know the words he was about to speak, i can imagine that his school is located in a community that is rooted in Christianity. Assuming that is the case, we cannot fault a member of a community that is rooted in a belief to not share a belief that is commonly held in his community (and in his country for that matter). In the same regard it would not surprise me if a student from Dearborn Michigan recited out of the Koran as that is a community that is saturated in the belief of is Islam, or if an atheist denounced God at Reed college.

    You can not infer that because they community was christian they would boo or avoid cheering the proclomation of muslim or atheist just religion has stripped them of their empathy. Its not the religion that would hold back the applause but it would the human condition of acceptance. You would not expect Reed college to cheer the lord’s prayer but to boo the one christian who dared to speak out, and you would certainly not hear a jewish community support a muslim prayer or vice versa.

    J.T., its because we as humans are comfortable with our culture and no one elses. IT happens in politics, its never been about the issues. Its about which team wins, red or blue. You would expect to hear the same thing if at a democratic convention the speak supported right wing agenda and vice versa, both crowds would be enraged. This was not taught to us by religion but by life, its more of innate association to win and be apart of one association. Racism exist not because people hate other races, but they view theirs as the superior.

    - something to chew on

    • Art_Vandelay

      Actually, racism exists because people don’t understand evolution. If they did, they’d know that the concept of race is a lie.

      • bob mallard

        concept of race is not lie, its human perception to assimilate. We all know we come from the same thing Art. Darwin says we evolved from a solitary life form, christians belief comes from a single pair of original humans. both sides agree that we are all part of one humanity. But race is not a lie, it is a fact you cannot be color blind. Racism is rooted in assimilation as people began to segregate into communities, a superiority complex arises against members of a different community. You find this in every country, in civil wars and members of the same race but different features. Ethnic cleansings in Rwanda were people of the same race but different tribes. It happens in the white communities, asians, its is the fact that people elevate their “Niche” people group above all else. Just sit at an italian dinner table and you will not here pleasant things about the sicilians and how they are guinea’s.

        • DavidMHart

          I think what Art meant is that the concept of race as a way of meaningfully dividing humans into discreet groups with common genetic characteristics is bogus – there are simply no such things; we blend into each other at everywhere you could possibly try to draw the line. The fact that we often behave as if the human species were made of discreet races with salient genetic differences between them means that being labelled as belonging to one race or another can have profound consequences for how other people will treat you, but it’s still an arbitrary label that people have imposed, not a thing that has any plausible underlying
          biological basis. And of course, cultures are different again – there quite often can be socially meaningful differences between cultures (just see how insulting the Prophet Mohammad goes down in an Indian Sikh culture compared with how it goes in a Pakistani Muslim culture, or how offering your guests a beef curry goes down in a Pakistani Muslim culture compared to how it goes down with a North Indian Hindu culture – though I note that the most obvious examples of salient differences between cultures tend to be because of those cultures’ incompatible supernatural beliefs) – but again, there are no meaningful racial differences between the average Indian Sikh or Hindu and the average Pakistani Muslim.

          • Art_Vandelay

            Thank you. Kind of irrelevant to the topic at hand so I didn’t want to waste that many keystrokes but you nailed what I was saying.

        • Art_Vandelay

          I’m sorry. You’re correct, race is a thing but it’s just a social concept. Biologically speaking, race has no meaning whatsoever. Skin pigmentation, more fat in your eyelids…it’s all just genetic variations.

    • islandbrewer

      by the sound of his accent and his insinuation that people would know the words he was about to speak, i can imagine that his school is located in a community that is rooted in Christianity

      It is! That would be the United States.

      • bob mallard

        not every american is rooted in christianity. In the major cities, many immigrants live in their own communities in the context of the previous belief systems and cultures. What I meant was, his accent assumes he is from a rural southern state as opposed to living in flushing NY many families are asian immigrants who do not come from a judea christian background

        • Nate Frein

          his accent assumes he is from a rural southern state

          Fuck you.

          • bob mallard

            I was not meaning it a derogatory position. Its like hearing a new york accent, one can easily infer the location based on an accent. nate, where was this school located?

          • Zinc Avenger

            What bearing does accent and location have on anything? Are you proposing some sort of geographic segregation system based on religion? The government will endorse Christianity in the following States…

          • bob mallard

            Zinc, I said based on his accent and the response of the crowd one can use deductive reasoning (scientific process) to determine the environment in which he was speaking would be open and supportive in sharing his belief. Data shows, certain regions of the country are more christian than others and south carolina being the state this school is in, happens to be a state known for its higher percentage of christians. This is information that is available to everyone, common knowledge, and is apparent in the reaction by the crowd. He was obviously infering that many people in the audience already agreed with him because he knew his target audience.

            If the same video took place by a muslim student being translated from arabic, it would be safe to assume he was in an environment that was supportive as well.

            We all know where the “blue dots” are. obviously this school IS in a christianity community so there should be no arguement there. The power of the local schools to educate their community lies in the power not the federal government. So one can expect individual schools to react differently based on the community

          • Kodie

            Every state and local government is held to abide by the 1st amendment. Yeah, we know some places in the US are predominantly Christian, but they are still inside the political borders and states rights do not over-rule the federal law where they conflict. You seem to be implying that it’s ok for the majority to predominate whatever religion they want at the cost of freedom of the minority Americans who also live there. You are basically implying that if we don’t like it, we don’t have to live there, and that parts of America are exempt from providing the same freedoms as other parts are obligated to under federal law. Please correct me because I hope I’m misunderstanding you.

          • Zinc Avenger

            I, too, am having trouble interpreting what he’s saying as anything other than “Don’t like it? Move to one of them atheist States”.

            Update: He actually said that as I was typing this. Well, that clears that up.

          • bob mallard

            you are way off basis. it is this students 1st amendment right to quote the lords prayer no matter who feels uncomfortable as it is a muslim to read from the Koran. No body is saying he is not allowed to speak freely or that no other group of people are not permitted to due the same. How did you come up with the idea that ones freedom of speech is being impeded? He was granted the privilege of speaking, therefore his 1st amendment right is to have freedom to speak is it not? By him excersing his right, he should only be encouraging others of all faiths to do the same. And who is not to say the the cheers were not of acceptance and only from agreeance? I’ll retract my position that his audience was primarily christian because for all we know it could have been a liberal school district and people were praising him for taking a stand!

          • Nate Frein

            There is no first amendment right to a captive audience.

          • Kodie

            Nobody is disagreeing with you that the audience was predominantly Christian, you fuckwad. It’s what you are implying that it’s his freedom to take his podium and shit on his classmates, and for the audience to applaud him that makes some parts of the United STATES for the fucking last time, scary if you are not Christian. YOu and your sock puppet BOTH curiously suggest that it’s fine with y’all if us atheists just leave if we don’t like it. You don’t understand freedom, you use it as a bludgeon.

          • DavidMHart

            He was granted the privilege of speaking, therefore his 1st amendment right is to have freedom to speak is it not?

            No. He was granted the privilege of reciting a particular pre-composed speech, vetted by the school. He was not granted the right to spout off ad-lib about whatever he wanted. Therefore expecting him to stick to the script when he has been given a public platform and a captive audience by the government on the understanding that he stick to the script is not limiting his 1st amendment rights.

          • bob mallard

            since when was he supposed to recited a government mandated script?

          • Nate Frein

            No one said the speech was government mandated, just government approved.

            Just like, say, a teacher (representative of the school) cannot sermonize to her students.

            The valedictorian is standing up as a representative of the school, with the school’s endorsement, the school’s funding, the school’s stage, the school’s microphone, and the school’s colors. The valedictorian is given the opportunity to be a voice of the school.

          • Kodie

            since when was he supposed to recited a government mandated script?

            I answered you already but you ignored it. Being valedictorian is an honor, not a right, and speaking to the class at graduation is an honor, not a right. Generally, the program is arranged in advance, not made up on the fly. It’s not anything goes. Achieving the highest marks in one’s graduating class does not seem to guarantee anything like

            - knowledge of the basic freedoms of the United States Constitution and how to apply them
            - decorum
            - humility
            - maturity
            - class
            - cooperation
            - sensitivity or awareness of others
            - respect to the faculty advisors who planned the ceremony to contain all of the above.

            Fuck this valedictorian, I am not impressed by his grades.

          • islandbrewer

            Since when is requiring your speech be vetted by the school for the privilege of speaking at graduation synonymous with a government mandated script?

            Where in the constitution is the right to a government microphone?

          • DavidMHart

            Since he agreed to an arrangement whereby, in exchange for granting him the privilege of a public platform and a captive audience, the school got to pre-vet the contents of his speech. If there hadn’t been an arrangement whereby a valedictorian’s speech is vetted in advance, there wouldn’t have been a script for him tear up, would there? I really don’t understand what there is to not understand.

            Imposing conditions on the contents of a speech where the speaker is being granted special privileges such as a podium, a microphone, a captive audience and the opportunity to speak on behalf of the school is not a violation of the 1st amendment.

          • Zinc Avenger

            Firstly, you’re ignoring the fundamental point: This is about government and religion. Not about religion and the religious.

            Secondly, there are some places that are racist as fuck. Should an all-white school endorse racism?

            How many non-Christians are necessary before it is no longer “welcome”? 1? 10? Half? What if it is exactly 50% and one Christian is out sick with the flu? What if atheists have seen what happened to Jessica Ahlquist and don’t dare speak up so the school decides everyone is a Christian? What if there’s equal numbers of multiple religions present, which one takes precedence?

            I know, how about we keep religion out of the government.

          • bob mallard

            my point is that the local schools decided how to educate their child with small governent oversight. What this kid did is not wrong or illegal the same would be true if any religion were to have been speaking that day. the only non support i am seeing is that because he was christian he was out of line. That mindset impedes other religions from doing the same.

          • Zinc Avenger

            Government.
            Private individual.
            Private individual acting on behalf of government.

            Only one of these gets to preach about Jesus. Hint: It’s not either of the ones with “government” in it.

          • Kodie

            PUBLIC schools are not exempt from FEDERAL laws! You are ignorant and probably not your school’s valedictorian, but now you just can’t tell. Obviously some districts in some regions just don’t give a fuck how dumb you are as long as you’re a Christian but that doesn’t make it legal.

          • JTEberhard

            Certain areas of the country are more accepting of crime. That doesn’t make crime any more moral there than in safer areas.

            The point of the post is that the audience demonstrated a vacuum of empathy that was no doubt caused by their Christianity. This is peculiar if Christianity makes people better.

            The value of empathy does not change based on how many crosses are around. Someone who cares not for others is just as big an asshole, whether or not they have a cross around their neck.

          • bob mallard

            Zinc, there already geographic segregation based on religion. The bible belt is not a hot bed for liberals. I never said the government endorses it, but every politicians knows the demographics of every state and community and targets effectively. By me saying his accent and the crowd reaction suggestion being located in a southern state…the fact that this comes from SC is evident that my deductive worked in this scenario. You can’t argue the facts.

          • islandbrewer

            So, one’s rights under the constitution should change based on their geographic location, you’re saying.

          • Kodie

            You sound like you think you are making an intellectual inference based on accent means location means majority belief and I don’t know if you think that makes it ok or just to be expected, ignored, or excused. Yes, when a mob responds to their particular stimulus, should we expect it to happen where the majority is Christian and cheering for a rogue Christian speaker at a public event? Does that make it all better? No, it makes it fucking scary if you happen to live there and you’re not a Christian.

          • bob mallard

            look, if you live in a part of the country that has a different religious belief then you, you are free to relocate. If you live in a nieghbor surrounded by members of a different race, you are free to relocate. But don’t complain about sunday morning traffic if you live by a church or that is no soul food to be found in little toyko. I never said it made it good that he was from the south, I said based on first impressions of watching this video, this behavior took place in the south and I was correct it was a south carolina highschool. not that this behavior should be expected in the south but it is less surprising

          • Kodie

            look, if you live in a part of the country that has a different religious belief then you, you are free to relocate.

            Thanks so much for your disingenuous suggestion, but since this is America, I think it’s ok for me to live anywhere I want to and not be driven out or have less freedom no matter where I live than any of my neighbors. Every time they take more than their fair share of freedom, they are taking mine, and because I live in the US, it doesn’t matter if they are in South Carolina and I live in Massachusetts. They are taking for granted by majority and tradition that no one will complain, one because they don’t notice or care that we exist, and two, because it’s dangerous. They make it clear every time such an incident arises that it’s dangerous to be named an outsider in a predominantly Christian community. They want to “express” their religious beliefs so freely that they take mine away, and that’s not freedom. That’s bullying and power in numbers.

            I’m going to suggest you and vincent fundly, if you are in fact two different people, that you go live somewhere else, and see how you like being told in America where to live.

            All you fucking assholes and your privilege. I mean,…

          • bob mallard

            to clarify vincent and I are two seperate people. I don’t know him. I personally have lived in Los Angeles, Nyc and St. louis missouri. The heart of conservattive white american and liberal hot beds. I myself moved out of dischantment for the conservative culture in the midwest in the same accordance as our author he JT did. What i am saying find a community that supports you and live there. That is what i did am i am happy. IF you live in a place where there are a bunch of people you don’t agree with you either have to let them express their right to free speech or move somewhere in which their expression of free speech aligns with yours. its not disgrimitation. it sounds like you don’t want people to have freedom of expression if you don’t agree with it

          • Nate Frein

            So
            If I like open country
            Clean air
            Hunting

            I’m shit out of luck if I can’t a rural area that’s enlightened enough for my tastes?

            Or, you know, how about americans learn to fucking respect the fact that other americans have their own beliefs and have a right to those beliefs and stop trying to use a fucking government podium to sermonize?

          • bob mallard

            who fault is it that your region does not agree with your belief system? no one’s. They have the right to think the way they think and you have the right to the way you think. and everyone can live where they want.

            You have the right to same podium…barring the fact you were smart enough to be the valedictorian of your school.

          • Nate Frein

            Oh grow the fuck up. He got a chance to represent the school, not speak about whatever came into his privileged little head.

          • Zinc Avenger

            Wilfully missing the point.

            How many times do you think this kid has prayed in his life?

            How many times do you think this kid prayed in front of people?

            How many times do you think this kid prayed in front of many of the same people?

            How many times have we made an issue of it?

            The one time he walked on to a government stage, held a government microphone, represented a government school, and preached at people who were there for a government event.

          • bob mallard

            the government requires no one to attend a graduation ceremony.

          • Nate Frein

            So students should have to choose between missing their own graduation or sitting through an unwanted sermon?

          • bob mallard

            nate hahaha YES!!!!! my commencement speakers were all boring, irrelevant and i tuned out. My college commencement speaker did not attend a university and was self made and tried to convince those of us who had just spent 4 years and tens of thousands of dollars that school is great! she didn’t need but good for us for doing it. I didn’t value her, the speech or anything she said. I got jipped out of moving ceremony. I got over it, who cares. She had the podium and it was her right to tell her story no matter how ineffective it was

          • Nate Frein

            Grow up.

          • Zinc Avenger

            The government actually requires that no one representing the government endorse a religion.

          • bob mallard

            they did no endorse a religion, the student has the right to speak if not then his 1st amendmant is being stifled.

          • Kodie

            You don’t understand how freedom of speech works. He absolutely does not have the freedom to use that podium to say anything he wants to his graduating peers and guests, unless every student is also granted their turn. He had earned the dignified privilege to speak to his graduating peers and their guests by achieving high grades. If you think getting high grades gives you more rights to speak than another, you are wrong. It is a tradition of the ceremony to consider the high achiever, based on grades, a biased respect to speak his or her own wisdom to the class. He made a speech and it was approved for the program. They put a lot of planning and effort to assure that the ceremony would be smooth and uplifting and honor every single graduate – they all earned that. So far, so classy. No one curtailed his speech! They have the right to approve speeches ahead of time because that student speaks as a guest of the school, just like they have the right to do the same for other visitors speaking to the assembly of students.

            He took over on his own to make a spectacle of himself and he knew he’d get cheers but he didn’t give a shit about freedom, he didn’t give a shit about disenfranchising anyone, and neither does anyone who cheered. This is one disrespectful asshole of a person. You hate freedom too because you fail to understand it. You succeed in disrespecting every atheist because you suggest we just find another area more comfortable. Why do you get more rights than I do? Why do you get to live somewhere and feel good about making others uncomfortable to live there? What is it about your Christianity that is so fucking important that you can’t leave spoken words about it out of any goddamned thing ever? Why do you praise this kid for disrespecting authority? He had a fine speech already submitted like a devious premeditated punk. He effectively did the same thing as would be an audience member interrupting the ceremony to stand up and shout the Lord’s Prayer – actually not a violation of the 1st Amendment in that case, I don’t suspect, but as disruptive as throwing a shoe or eggs or shouting expletives at the speaker or Allahu Akbar! Any of those events should trigger security to remove them from the venue. The valedictorian disrupted the whole ceremony by going off the script HE submitted for pre-approval. He disrupted it as much as if he had flipped the bird to the principal. He wasn’t cut off or dragged off the stage, was instead cheered, and is enjoying a little bit of fame and admiration for what you are deluded as thinking was his right to free speech.

            Basically, any time an atheist points out the Constitution to you people, you get fucking stupid. While this punk fucking piece of shit is getting all the admiration for sticking it to “the (secular) man”, if an atheist pulled that shit, they’d be suffering death threats. Atheists wouldn’t even approve. That’s not how ANY freedom works. That’s not how the establishment clause works, that’s not how free expression works, and it’s not how free speech works. You ignorant fucking asshole, you can’t make any shit interpretation up that works in your favor and call that freedom AT ALL.

          • bob mallard

            They want to “express” their religious beliefs so freely that they take mine away, and that’s not freedom. That’s bullying and power in numbers.

            No one said you can’t speak out in the same way he did. by him expressing his beliefs it does not take yours away it only adds diversity to our communities. You are severely mistaken and are applying the same logic against your self. because what if you were speaking from the stage and had the same cheering response. would you want someone to be directing at you ” They want to “express” their religious beliefs so freely that they take mine away, and that’s not freedom. That’s bullying and power in numbers.”

            he who lives by his sword dies by his sword

          • Nate Frein

            What right of yours is being threatened?

          • bob mallard

            i never said mine is. Kody said so

          • Nate Frein

            *snort*

            Yeah, okay.

            So you didn’t post

            They want to “express” their religious beliefs so freely that they take mine away, and that’s not freedom. That’s bullying and power in numbers.

          • bob mallard

            nate that was quoting kodie…read previous posts

          • Nate Frein

            So it is.

            Guy as smart as you can’t be bothered to use quotes or blockquote tags?

          • Kodie

            I wouldn’t impose any non-secular atheistic thoughts on a crowd in that situation. That’s the difference. I know the law and I do not have the right, and I don’t have the privilege of being ignorant of the law. Christians would have a fucking problem with that – there is not equal freedom acceded to all. It’s only where the majority, who are Christian, who intentionally exclude all the other people. They think no one will mind, no one will complain – actually not as many people trouble themselves to speak up, but they are being disenfranchised. It is dangerous to stand up and make a target out of oneself. Please keep being ignorant, ok? I do not have the Constitutional right to speak at a public school graduation about my atheism, nor does anyone within any religious category with respect to their personal faith. Furthermore, doing so would typically result in a witch hunt, as does being the one who complains when a Christian does it.

            Answer these: Why do Christians think they’re the only ones who live in America, and that it’s fine if they disregard or flout the law? Why are Christians compelled to blather on about Jesus all the damn time in inappropriate venues just to make a spectacle of themselves? Trolls? Yes. Why are Christians so stupid about understanding the WHOLE first amendment? Is it because cherry-picking is their style and laws they don’t like they think it’s ok to ignore? Why do Christians hate freedom? Why do Christians think they love this country more than I do when they despise and trample freedom? Why are Christians so selfish and rude about sharing and keeping their relationship between themselves and Jesus? I have heard many times that it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship, while in practice, it seems mostly about making displays and behaving socially like a fucking child as if their beliefs are a sport about martyring themselves as to who can offend the sensibilities of the 1st amendment the biggest, in what seems out of actual spite against secularism. You hate freedom! You hate America, you hate the people who live here who don’t belong to your primitive superstitious tribe. And you have the nerve to tell atheists if we don’t like it, leave. I believe I have the right to live anywhere and be protected by every law, and that Christians also have the right to live everywhere, but do not have the right to disobey every law.

            You don’t seem to care how much this is a problem.

          • Zinc Avenger

            This is nothing to do with the PEOPLE. It is the GOVERNMENT. What part of that don’t you understand? People can preach about Jesus as long and loud as they like. They just can’t get the government to tell other people to sit still and shut up while they do it.

          • bob mallard

            what does this boy’s speech have to do witht he GOV please explain?

          • Nate Frein

            Government’s microphone. Government’s stage. Government’s audience.

          • Little Magpie

            classist privilege. yes, you have the right to relocate, but that isn’t necessarily practical or possible when this involves a great deal of direct expense (ie, assuming you can monetarily break even in terms of rent/mortgage on the between the home you’re leaving and the one you’re coming in to, you still have to pay to relocate yourself and your possessions), find a new job and lose the any benefits of seniority (ie, accumulation of raises in salary) that you had in the first… etc, etc, etc.
            And even the scenario I’m picturing here is assuming at least middle-classness.

          • islandbrewer

            He didn’t mean anything derogatory by it, I’m sure. Some of his best friends are probably from rural southern states. Hell, he probably even lets them use his bathroom, maybe even let his daughter date one, enlightened gentleman that he is.

        • Zinc Avenger

          I see, so you’re saying “THIS IS A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL SO SHUT UP ATHEISTS”, is that right?

        • islandbrewer

          I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, arguably the gayest, most atheistic place in the country. I still see preachers with giant signs listing the sins leading to hell and damnation at my farmer’s market. I and my kids have still been asked, while quietly eating burritos outside our favorite hole in the wall, if we know Jesus Christ as our personal lord(s) and/or savior(s).

          Even the most culturally insular immigrant community (community in the social sense) has been touched by christian “outreach.” I know several bosnian muslims in my city (through my son’s school) who have told me about being targeted by door to door preachers for their special outreach program. Don’t get me started on the chinese evangelicals, they make the average american evangelical look like a unitarian.

          So I really find it doubtful that, outside a major city in a blue state, that you could find many communities (community in the geographic sense, as is pertinent in the school graduation issue) that aren’t at least in large part rooted in christianity.


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