The American Civil Liberties Union, the People for the American Way Foundation and a partner from a large Manhattan law firm stood beside the student, Matthew LaClair, as he and his family threatened to sue the Kearny Board of Education if their complaints are not resolved. Last fall, Matthew, 16, taped the teacher, David Paszkiewicz, telling students in a history class that if they do not believe that Jesus died for their sins, they “belong in hell.”
On the recordings, which Matthew made surreptitiously starting in September, Mr. Paszkiewicz is heard telling the class that there were dinosaurs aboard Noah’s ark and that there is no scientific basis for evolution or the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.
Since Matthew turned over the tapes to school officials, his family and supporters said, he has been the target of harassment and a death threat from fellow students and “retaliation” by school officials who have treated him, not the teacher, as the problem. The retaliation, they say, includes the district’s policy banning students from recording what is said in class without a teacher’s permission and officials’ refusal to punish students who have harassed Matthew.
Matthew and his parents, Paul and Debra LaClair, are demanding an apology to Matthew and public correction of some of Mr. Paszkiewicz’s statements in class.
For his part, Matthew said he recognized that “there are going to be a lot of consequences” at school from the Monday news conference. He said he had already felt hostility from students after the school switched his history class from Mr. Paszkiewicz to another teacher.
The district would not disclose what action it had taken against Mr. Paszkiewicz, who is teaching the same course to a different group of students. He has taught in the district for 14 years.
Ohhhhkay. There is so much here to stoke the fires of outrage that poor Mrs. Mojo Risin’ just doesn’t know where to start.
Perhaps she should start with the part where this cretin teacher tells his helpless victims that anyone who doesn’t believe Jesus died for their sins belongs in hell. As MDF Michael Rosenthal puts it, “WWJD…Whom Would Jesus Destroy?”
Or perhaps she might start with Patti Smith, who once sang “Jesus died for someone’s sins but not mine”…and quite rightly too. See you in heaven, Patti my friend, ’cause I have it on divine authority that we’re not the ones going to hell.
Seriously, how can any self-described Christian utter this kind of total claptrap with not just belief but a straight face? A god of ultimate love and complete forgiveness is actually going to condemn someone to fry in the fires of hell for all eternity?
What kind of loving god is that? What kind of person would want to believe in him? And what kind of person, except a pig-ignorant hateful Secret Servant of Satan (if you believe in that sort of thing), would attribute to him conduct like this?
Perhaps we might focus on the further fact that so-called Christians have made this boy’s life a misery and, indeed, threatened that life—anonymously, I’m sure, because they’re cowards as well as morons and tyrants.
Or the fact that the other schoolchildren have already been so effectively brainwashed that they blindly support their teacher in his idiocies and intolerances and turn on their classmate like a bunch of rabid hyena puppies.
Or the fact that school officials have spectacularly failed to protect young La Clair, as they have been given the in loco parentis charge to do.
I guess the operative word here is really “loco”—in its more common meaning.
Now, I am as a rule utterly tolerant of other people’s beliefs, the way I wish and hope they would be of mine. (I believe this is called following the Golden Rule…just one of life’s little ironies how most Pagans, these days, keep it better than most Christians.)
I don’t give a flying fig if fellow mortals choose to worship the Golden Calf or the Golden Goose or the Silver Surfer, as long as they don’t force their little ways down my throat or trash what I believe in.
But sometimes I just have to step back and look at them and shake my head and mutter to myself, “What the HELL are you THINKING?”
Do people like this actually hear themselves when they pompously pronounce like this? Do they think their god DOESN’T hear them? He does, you know! He’s laying it up just like Santa Claus. He knows when you’ve been naughty or nice, sexist or racist, intolerant or broad-minded, hateful or charitable. Oh yes!
Or at least they believe he does, so it always boggles my mind when they stand up and spout off and apparently think their god’s preachments about love and forgive and understand all somehow don’t apply to them. If they know God’s going to punish them for being vile creatures who do Satan’s work of divisiveness and hate, not their Lord’s, why do they do it? It is a mystery.
And oooh, oooh, let’s not forget, dinosaurs aboard the Ark! Wow! Can you imagine how BIG that honking boat must have been?? Raptors and Rexes and pteros, oh my!
Like that fatuous song where the unicorn doesn’t get to embark on the SS Noah and thus is lost forever. Uh-HUH. Where in the Bible does it talk about unicorns, or dinosaurs, I wonder? Have I missed it somehow? Somewhere near the part where it says it’s okay to stone people to death for wearing two different kinds of cloth or growing two different crops side by side, I daresay.
So…all fairytales then. Which is fine. As a perceptive Franciscan friar once told me, “The Bible should begin ‘Once upon a time,’ not ‘In the beginning’.”
I soooo want to be tolerant, I really do, but some of the more public-spoken self-professed servants of the fish god are just soooo stupid and wrong and slapworthy (turn BOTH cheeks, people! Here it comes!) that they make it very, very difficult. They are, and they do, and I’m absolutely allowed to think so. It’s only fair.
I forever disapprove of their distorted beliefs insofar as they hurt and abuse other people. I hope this kid and his parents triumph over these enemies of God, for that is what they truly are, and that school and teacher alike are harshly punished for their failings.
But I defend to the death those enemies’ right to be theological morons. Because that is fair as well.
And God will sort it out. She always does.