December 16, 2004


Censoring the Declaration of Independence (Nat Hentoff, 12/16/04, Jewish World Review)

Before this edict from the principal, Williams taught his students lessons in the origins of such religious holidays in America as Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan and the Chinese New Year. But in April, the principal ordered him not to teach a lesson about the origins of Easter because it is a Christian holiday. Williams has made it clear to the principal that he understands, and agrees, that he must not try to convert his students to Christian belief in the classroom. And, in the lawsuit that the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, has filed on his behalf in the federal court in San Jose, his attorneys emphasize that the California Education Code 51511 clearly states:

"Nothing in this code shall be construed to prevent, or exclude from the public schools, references to religion or references to the use of religious literature, dance, music, theatre and visual arts or other things having a religious significance when such references or uses do not constitute instruction in religious principles or aid to any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose and when such references or uses are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study."

According to the lawsuit, Principal Vidmar has said that she's worried that Williams "would try to proselytize his Christian faith to the students in his classroom." But she has offered no evidence that he has done that. And, apparently, only one parent has complained that he is proselytizing. It's bad enough that too many students across the country are deprived of solid, enduring lessons on why they are Americans. But when this principal and the Cupertino School District — defendants in the lawsuit — violate Williams and his students' constitutional rights, they are engaging in educational malpractice.

A typically rational corrective from Mr. Hentoff to the hysterical NY Times story from last week.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 16, 2004 11:41 AM

Hentoff is a perfect example of how people of the left a generation ago who remained consistant to their principles have found themselves more and more on the side of conservatives nowadays, due to the left's contants moving of the goalposts on issues of religion and morality (among others). Hentoff's First Amendment views haven't changed, but those of his former allies have, as they are more fixated on supressing rather than increasing free speech nowadays.

And, just as an aside -- While I know Mac enthusiasts may not agree, there's a certain irony in the idea of people complaining about proselytizing coming out a school located in the hometown of Apple Computer Co.

Posted by: John at December 16, 2004 12:02 PM
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