Tag Archives: First Amendment

Association for Psychological Research study: Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows

24 Mar

The Urban Dictionary defined trigger warning:

Trigger Warning
A phrase posted at the beginning of various posts, articles, or blogs. Its purpose is to warn weak minded people who are easily offended that they might find what is being posted offensive in some way due to its content, causing them to overreact or otherwise start acting like a dipshit. Popular on reddit SRS or other places that social justice warriors like to hang out.

Trigger warnings are unnecessary 100% of the time due to the fact that people who are easily offended have no business randomly browsing the internet anyways. As a result of the phrases irrelevance, most opinions that start out with this phrase tend to be simplistic and dull since they were made by people ridiculous enough to think that the internet is supposed to cater to people who can’t take a joke.
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trigger%20warning

An Atlantic article described the effect of trigger warnings.

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt wrote in the Atlantic article, The Coddling of the American Mind:

There’s a saying common in education circles: Don’t teach students what to think; teach them how to think. The idea goes back at least as far as Socrates. Today, what we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them. Such questioning sometimes leads to discomfort, and even to anger, on the way to understanding.
But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically….
But if you want to help her return to normalcy, you should take your cues from Ivan Pavlov and guide her through a process known as exposure therapy. You might start by asking the woman to merely look at an elevator from a distance—standing in a building lobby, perhaps—until her apprehension begins to subside. If nothing bad happens while she’s standing in the lobby—if the fear is not “reinforced”—then she will begin to learn a new association: elevators are not dangerous. (This reduction in fear during exposure is called habituation.) Then, on subsequent days, you might ask her to get closer, and on later days to push the call button, and eventually to step in and go up one floor. This is how the amygdala can get rewired again to associate a previously feared situation with safety or normalcy….
Attempts to shield students from words, ideas, and people that might cause them emotional discomfort are bad for the students. They are bad for the workplace, which will be mired in unending litigation if student expectations of safety are carried forward. And they are bad for American democracy, which is already paralyzed by worsening partisanship. When the ideas, values, and speech of the other side are seen not just as wrong but as willfully aggressive toward innocent victims, it is hard to imagine the kind of mutual respect, negotiation, and compromise that are needed to make politics a positive-sum game.
Rather than trying to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control. One of the great truths taught by Buddhism (and Stoicism, Hinduism, and many other traditions) is that you can never achieve happiness by making the world conform to your desires. But you can master your desires and habits of thought. This, of course, is the goal of cognitive behavioral therapy. With this in mind, here are some steps that might help reverse the tide of bad thinking on campus.
Universities themselves should try to raise consciousness about the need to balance freedom of speech with the need to make all students feel welcome. Talking openly about such conflicting but important values is just the sort of challenging exercise that any diverse but tolerant community must learn to do. Restrictive speech codes should be abandoned.
Universities should also officially and strongly discourage trigger warnings. They should endorse the American Association of University Professors’ report on these warnings, which notes, “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.” Professors should be free to use trigger warnings if they choose to do so, but by explicitly discouraging the practice, universities would help fortify the faculty against student requests for such warnings.
Finally, universities should rethink the skills and values they most want to impart to their incoming students. At present, many freshman-orientation programs try to raise student sensitivity to a nearly impossible level. Teaching students to avoid giving unintentional offense is a worthy goal, especially when the students come from many different cultural backgrounds. But students should also be taught how to live in a world full of potential offenses. Why not teach incoming students how to practice cognitive behavioral therapy? Given high and rising rates of mental illness, this simple step would be among the most humane and supportive things a university could do…. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

A study questioned the effectiveness of trigger warnings.

Science Daily reported in Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows:

Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially sensitive content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content. The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings being asked for or introduced at universities around the world,” says psychology researcher Mevagh Sanson of The University of Waikato, first author on the research. “Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well intended, are not helpful.”
Trigger warnings may be increasingly prevalent, but there has been almost no research actually examining their effects.
It’s possible that they function the way they’re meant to, helping people to manage their emotional responses and reduce their symptoms of distress. But it’s also possible trigger warnings could have the opposite effect, influencing people’s expectations and experiences in ways that exacerbate their distress….
To resolve the question, the researchers conducted a series of six experiments with a total of 1,394 participants.
Some participants — a combination of college students and online participants — read a message about the content they were about to see, for example: “TRIGGER WARNING: The following video may contain graphic footage of a fatal car crash. You might find this content disturbing.” Others did not read a warning. All participants were then exposed to the content.
Afterward, the participants reported various symptoms of distress — their negative emotional state, and the degree to which they experienced intrusive thoughts and tried to avoid thinking about the content.
The results across all six experiments were consistent: Trigger warnings had little effect on participants’ distress. That is, participants responded to the content similarly, regardless of whether they saw a trigger warning.
The format of the content also did not make a difference: Trigger warnings had little impact regardless of whether participants read a story or watched a video clip.
Could it be that trigger warnings are specifically effective for those people who have previously experienced traumatic events? The data suggested the answer is no: There was little difference between groups. In other words, individuals with a personal history of trauma who received a trigger warning reported similar levels of distress as did those who did not receive a warning.
The researchers note that it remains to be seen whether these results would apply to individuals who have a specific clinical diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder. However, these findings indicate that trigger warnings are unlikely to have the meaningful impact they’re typically assumed to have.
“These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful,” says Sanson. “Of course, that doesn’t mean trigger warnings are benign. We need to consider the idea that their repeated use encourages people to avoid negative material, and we already know that avoidance helps to maintain disorders such as PTSD. Trigger warnings might also communicate to people that they’re fragile, and coax them interpret ordinary emotional responses as extraordinary signals of danger….” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190319142312.htm

Citation:

Trigger warnings do little to reduce people’s distress, research shows
Date: March 19, 2019
Source: Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially sensitive content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content.
Journal Reference:
Mevagh Sanson, Deryn Strange, Maryanne Garry. Trigger Warnings Are Trivially Helpful at Reducing Negative Affect, Intrusive Thoughts, and Avoidance. Clinical Psychological Science, 2019; 216770261982701 DOI: 10.1177/2167702619827018

Here is the press release from Association for Psychological Research:

Trigger Warnings Do Little to Reduce People’s Distress, Research Shows
TAGS:
• CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE
• CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY
• COGNITIVE PROCESSES
• EMOTION
• TEACHING
• TRAUMA
• WELL-BEING
Trigger warnings that alert people to potentially sensitive content are increasingly popular, especially on college campuses, but research suggests that they have minimal impact on how people actually respond to content. The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
“We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings being asked for or introduced at universities around the world,” says psychology researcher Mevagh Sanson of The University of Waikato, first author on the research. “Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well intended, are not helpful.”
Trigger warnings may be increasingly prevalent, but there has been almost no research actually examining their effects.
It’s possible that they function the way they’re meant to, helping people to manage their emotional responses and reduce their symptoms of distress. But it’s also possible trigger warnings could have the opposite effect, influencing people’s expectations and experiences in ways that exacerbate their distress.
“We thought it was important to figure out how effective these warnings are,” says Sanson. “This is the first piece of empirical work directly examining if they have their intended effects.”
To resolve the question, the researchers conducted a series of six experiments with a total of 1,394 participants.
Some participants – a combination of college students and online participants – read a message about the content they were about to see, for example: “TRIGGER WARNING: The following video may contain graphic footage of a fatal car crash. You might find this content disturbing.” Others did not read a warning. All participants were then exposed to the content.
Afterward, the participants reported various symptoms of distress—their negative emotional state, and the degree to which they experienced intrusive thoughts and tried to avoid thinking about the content.
The results across all six experiments were consistent: Trigger warnings had little effect on participants’ distress. That is, participants responded to the content similarly, regardless of whether they saw a trigger warning.
The format of the content also did not make a difference: Trigger warnings had little impact regardless of whether participants read a story or watched a video clip.
Could it be that trigger warnings are specifically effective for those people who have previously experienced traumatic events? The data suggested the answer is no: There was little difference between groups. In other words, individuals with a personal history of trauma who received a trigger warning reported similar levels of distress as did those who did not receive a warning.
The researchers note that it remains to be seen whether these results would apply to individuals who have a specific clinical diagnosis such as anxiety, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder. However, these findings indicate that trigger warnings are unlikely to have the meaningful impact they’re typically assumed to have.
“These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful,” says Sanson. “Of course, that doesn’t mean trigger warnings are benign. We need to consider the idea that their repeated use encourages people to avoid negative material, and we already know that avoidance helps to maintain disorders such as PTSD. Trigger warnings might also communicate to people that they’re fragile, and coax them to interpret ordinary emotional responses as extraordinary signals of danger.”
M. Sanson was supported by Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Waikato, and Fulbright New Zealand.
________________________________________
News > Latest Research News > Trigger Warnings Do Little to Reduce People’s Distress, Research Shows
Published March 19, 2019

The First Amendment and Free Speech are vital ingredients to the preservation of the CONSTITUTION.

Iain Murray wrote in The Importance of Free Speech to Human Progress: From Principia Mathematica to Charlie Hebdo:

It is exactly that goal — to help us determine what actually is, rather than what is simply asserted — that free speech and free inquiry make possible. As an institution of liberty, free speech must be defended wherever it is attacked. (My colleague Hans Bader has written elsewhere about letting down our guard.) Those who seek to suppress free speech want to keep mankind mired in poverty and ignorance, subject to their own whims and beliefs. They cannot be allowed to succeed. https://fee.org/articles/the-importance-of-free-speech-to-human-progress/

 

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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Faculty free speech: Demers v. Austin

13 Feb

The U.S. Constitution should be cherished by every American. Here is information about the First Amendment from the Legal Information Institute:

first amendment: an overview
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV.
Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws” is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.
The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message. The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.
Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.
The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes. Implicit within this right is the right to association and belief. The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities. The right to associate also prohibits the government from requiring a group to register or disclose its members or from denying government benefits on the basis of an individual’s current or past membership in a particular group. There are exceptions to this rule where the Court finds that governmental interests in disclosure/registration outweigh interference with first amendment rights. The government may also, generally, not compel individuals to express themselves, hold certain beliefs, or belong to particular associations or groups.
The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action. It works with the right of assembly by allowing people to join together and seek change from the government. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

Peter Bonilla explains why free speech rights on college campuses are important in a PolicyMic article. http://www.policymic.com/articles/3454/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons/
See, Censorship of Free Speech on College Campuses Grows http://www.educationnews.org/higher-education/censorship-of-free-speech-on-college-campuses-grows/ https://drwilda.com/tag/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons
For a good summary of faculty free speech rights, THE FREE SPEECH AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM OF FACULTY AT PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/docs/issues/school/Faculty-Free-Speech-and-Academic-Freedom-3.22.13.pdf

Scott Jaschik reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Protecting Academic Freedom:

A federal appeals court has given a strong endorsement to the idea that faculty speech rights at public colleges and universities were not constrained by a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that limited the rights of some public employees.
The 2006 ruling, Garcetti v. Ceballos, concerned the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. Despite that, some courts have been applying the ruling to faculty disputes at public universities — while others have not. The new ruling – by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – comes in a three-judge panel’s revised opinion on the case of David Demers, a tenured professor at Washington State University who says he was retaliated against with negative performance reviews for writings that criticized the administration.
The appeals court did not rule on the merits of the case, and as it did in its first look at the Demers suit, it said that his free speech wasn’t limited by the Garcetti ruling. But the language in the new ruling was quite strong – the kind of language many faculty advocates have been looking for.
The appeals court acknowledged that Garcetti set limits for public employees, but said there was no question that those limits should not apply in higher education.
“Garcetti left open the possibility of an exception,” the appeals court said. “In response to a concern expressed by Justice Souter in dissent, the court reserved the question whether its holding applied to ‘speech related to scholarship or teaching.’ Justice Souter had expressed concern about the potential breadth of the court’s rationale, writing, ‘I have to hope that today’s majority does not mean to imperil First Amendment protection of academic freedom in public colleges and universities.’ ”
The appeals court added that “Demers presents the kind of case that worried Justice Souter. Under Garcetti, statements made by public employees ‘pursuant to their official duties’ are not protected by the First Amendment. But teaching and academic writing are at the core of official duties of teachers and professors. Such teaching and writing are a special concern of the First Amendment. We conclude that if applied to teaching and academic writing, Garcetti would directly conflict with the important First Amendment values previously articulated by the Supreme Court.”
Further the court noted that the First Amendment, as interpreted in other Supreme Court decisions, applies to faculty speech that may not be strictly scholarship or teaching, but may relate to discussions of college policy. “[P]rotected academic writing is not confined to scholarship,” the appeals court said. “Much academic writing is, of course, scholarship. But academics, in the course of their academic duties, also write memoranda, reports, and other documents addressed to such things as a budget, curriculum, departmental structure and faculty hiring.”
Robert O’Neil, former president of and professor of law at the University of Virginia, and an expert on faculty free speech issues, said via email that the latest decision from the appeals court added to the view he shares that Garcetti should not be applied to higher education. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/13/court-ruling-takes-stand-faculty-free-speech#ixzz2tF8YHMWY

Here is the case summary by Breanna Thompson of Willamette College of law:

Demers v. Austin
Summarized by: Breanna Thompson
Date Filed: 09-04-2013
Case #: 11-35558
Circuit Judge Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judge Fisher and Senior District Judge Quist
Full Text Opinion: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/09/04/11-35558.pdf
Civil Rights § 1983: Garcetti does not apply to teaching and academic writing. Instead, the Pickering test should be applied which requires the employee to show that his or her speech addressed matters of public concern and that interest in voicing those concerns outweigh the State’s interest in promoting efficient public services.
David Demers was a tenured associate professor at Washington State University. He brought suit alleging that after distributing a short pamphlet and drafts of an in-progress book, the university retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants by applying Garcetti v. Ceballos, and found that the drafts were distributed pursuant to Demers’s employment duties and therefore not protected under the First Amendment. Demers contended that the retaliation consisted of negative annual performance reviews with false information, conducting two internal affair audits, serving formal notice of discipline, preventing him from serving on committees. Demers argued that writing and distributing of the Plan was not done as an official duty, and even if it was, Garcetti does not extend to activity by a public teacher. The Ninth Circuit disagreed with the first argument, but agreed that Garcetti does not apply to this case. Garcetti held that “when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.” If this holding applied to academic writing, then it would directly conflict with First Amendment values which include academic freedom. Instead, teaching and academic writing is governed by Pickering v. Board of Education, requiring the employee to show that his or her speech addressed matters of public concern and that interest in voicing those concerns outweighed the State’s interest in promoting efficient public services. The panel concluded that the pamphlet did address a matter of public concern under Pickering, but that there was insufficient evidence to prove retaliation. Additionally, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because of the uncertainty of Garcetti. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED. http://www.willamette.edu/wucl/resources/journals/wlo/9thcir/2013/09/demers-v.-austin.html

Ben Franklin states it best:

AUTHOR:
Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)

QUOTATION:
“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Resources:

Center for Campus Free Speech
http://www.campusspeech.org/

Free Speech Off Campus Must Be Protected
http://chronicle.com/article/Free-Speech-Off-Campus-Must-Be/130660/

Column: Free speech sacks ban on college-athlete tweets
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-04-15/twitter-social-media-college-sports-coaches-ban/54301178/1

Student Press Law Center
http://www.splc.org/wordpress/?cat=26

Free Speech, Social Media and Community Colleges: Let the Clash Begin
http://www.communitycollegereview.com/articles/401

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It’s ALL about ME, Pledge of Allegiance case: Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District

8 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:

The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless. [Emphasis Added]
Abraham Lincoln
Annual Message to Congress — Concluding Remarks
http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/congress.htm
Washington, D.C.
December 1, 1862

Brian M. Rosenthal of the Seattle Times wrote an excellent report in the Seattle Times about the flap involving whether students at John Stanford International School will be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Keep in mind that both Washington State law and Seattle School District policy require the saying of the Pledge. In, Pledge of Allegiance sparks controversy at John Stanford, Rosenthal quotes parent, Haley Sides:

When Haley Sides moved to Seattle after four years in the Air Force, she chose to settle in Wallingford so her 6-year-old daughter could attend John Stanford International School — an educational community promoting the same type of multiculturalism Sides has tried to instill in her half-Jamaican daughter.
Sides was outraged when the school’s new principal announced this week that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each day. The practice, which has long been mandated by district policy and state law but has not traditionally been observed at John Stanford, will start Monday.
“It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies,” said Sides, her voice oscillating between disappointment and anger. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016575845_pledge22m.html

Well, excuse moi. Girlfriend, you happen to live in this country which still has the goal of educating children no matter their gender, race, or creed. In many countries YOUR daughter would not be afforded the opportunity to attend a primary school and college wouldn’t even be a consideration.

Mark Walsh reported in the Education Week article, Massachusetts High Court Weighs Pledge of Allegiance in Schools:

A lawyer for a group of atheist and humanist families argued before the highest court of Massachusetts that a state law requiring public schools to lead daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the state constitution.
“This case presents a classic equal-protection situation where an unpopular and wrongly vilified minority faces obvious official discrimination,” David A. Niose told the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Sept. 4.
A family identified as the Does, with parents and three school-aged children described as atheists and humanists, challenged the state law requiring the pledge in schools because of the inclusion of the words “under God.”
The children have not been required to recite the pledge themselves, in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1943 decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. But the family argues that schools conduct a patriotic exercise that “exalts and validates” one religious view—a belief in God—while marginalizing their “religious views” on atheism and humanism, as their legal brief puts it.
“By inserting ‘under God’ language into the pledge, we have a pledge where children, every morning, are pledging their national unity and loyalty in an indoctrinational format, in a way that validates God belief as truly patriotic and actually invalidates atheism as second-class citizenry at best and downright unpatriotic at worst,” Niose told the Massachusetts high court.
(The oral arguments in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District are available in video form at the Web site of the Supreme Judicial Court, which is where I observed them.)
The Does, joined by the American Humanist Association, are challenging the Massachusetts law under the state constitution’s equal-protection guarantee, not as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on any government establishment of religion or its guarantee of free exercise of religion.
The U.S. Supreme Court famously took up a case involving an establishment challenge to school-led recitations of the pledge. But in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, the court held in 2004 that an atheist father who had challenged the practice in his daughter’s school lacked standing because he did not have custody of the girl.
That atheist, Michael A. Newdow, organized a new challenge that included another family, and that suit led to a 2010 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, that school recitations of the pledge were predominantly patriotic exercises and did not violate the establishment clause.
Later that year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, upheld a New Hampshire law that requires schools to set aside time for teachers to lead the pledge.
In the Doe case, a Massachusetts trial court held that school recitations of the pledge did not violate the rights of the atheist and humanist children under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment.
During Tuesday’s arguments before the state high court, the lawyer for the Acton-Boxborough district said that the pledge is not inherently religious and the recitations of it do not create a disadvantaged class of religious-minority students….
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2013/09/massachusetts_high_court_weigh.html?intc=es

Here is the video:

http://www2.suffolk.edu/sjc/archive/2013/SJC_11317.html

What do the remarks of President Lincoln have to do with the flap involving the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance flap at John Stanford International School in Seattle or in Massachusetts? It is about developing the Common Good. Whether one believes the cause of the Civil War was to eliminate slavery or not, the war was fought to keep a fragile union in-tact. In much of the world, tribes or clans are the governing authorities. Far from being an idyllic life governed by the romantic concept of the naïve of rule by “Noble Savages,” these clans and tribes often dispense brutal and harsh “justice.” See, Rosseau and the Noble Savage Myth: http://pages.uoregon.edu/jboland/rousseau.html Because of many disparate cultures, many countries are in the midst of civil wars or in danger of breaking apart.

It is fascinating to moi that so many of those who claim the other side is intolerant are just as intolerant. True tolerance does not involve giving up one’s beliefs or demanding that others sacrifice their beliefs. Sometimes it involves listening with courtesy to ideas that you will never agree with. Often it involves acting with gasp, decorum. This country is a nation of immigrants, some were the original aboriginal people, others voluntarily immigrated, still others were brought here as slaves and others fled their homes because of repression. We’re all here together. There have to be some common cultural norms so that those with different cultures and histories can peacefully co-exist. The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and certain ideas which have evolved over time like public education are examples of the glue that can hold disparate groups together. The Pledge of Allegiance is another example of the common cultural experience. Of course, some quibble with the phrase, “Under God.” Let’s go back to the concept of tolerance. Dictionary.com defines tolerance:

noun
1.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions,practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’sown;freedom from bigotry.
2.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.
3.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerance

The people who find the Pledge so intolerable probably would not have understood President Lincoln’s preservation of the “Union.” Unlike President Lincoln who understood the power of words and symbolism, for whom the “Union” was all about US. The permanently aggrieved often see the world in terms of ME.

In the final analysis, for many who are so excised by the Pledge, it is not about you or US, but it is about ME.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Constitution: Like what would Jesus do, folk wonder what would Martin do?

25 Aug

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: There are a group of Christians whose reflex actions to a host of contemporary issues is to ask the question what would Jesus do? The answer is contained by reading the Bible, it’s in there. Similarly, folk of all persuasions like to play the what would Martin Luther King, Jr. do or think. Conservatives like to quote the “I have a Dream” speech for evidence that there should be a “color-blind” society. Moi guesses “liberals” are calling themselves “progressives” or maybe they are still “liberals” like to quote anything from Dr. King which advances their agenda. People change, grow, and often modify their views or time. The best indicator of what a person was thinking is what they left behind in terms of conversations particularly if their life was ended too soon. Moi read this self-serving pronouncement from a group of church folk, which was reported in the Seattle PI.com article, Pro-gun protest ‘shockingly insensitive’ — area clergy:

Seattle religious leaders have drawn up a letter, with 201 signatures as of early Friday, decrying as “shockingly insensitive” a pro-gun rally scheduled at “high noon” Saturday in Olympia, during the weekend of the national holiday honoring assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The letter will be released on Friday morning.

“We find it shockingly insensitive to Dr. King’s message, and contemptuous of his legacy, to celebrate the very instrument of his assassination during a holiday weekend dedicated to his memory,” said a draft of the clergy statement. “The way to honor Dr. King’s memory is to condemn violence and to oppose any and all racial hatred, and we call on gun rights activists to join us in doing this rather than in focusing on the very means of Dr. King’s murder.” http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2013/01/17/pro-gun-protest-shockingly-insensitive-area-clergy/

Moi understands that many in the faith community do not like guns because their abhor violence, but shockingly insensitive? Really folks, you need thicker skin to exist in a world where oil worker hostages get blown up.

So, let’s play that game what would Dr. King do or think when confronted with a group exercising their FIRST AMENDMENT rights? If one reads the actual text of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” one is struck by the references to the U.S. Constitution, a document which he put his faith in to bring equality to those disenfranchised. Here is a portion of that speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html

Piers Morgan refers to the U.S. Constitution as “that little book.” Well, that little book is a bit like the Bible. Folk like to pick and choose passages from the Bible that suit their purpose and discard portions that they don’t like. Most Bible scholars agree on rules of construction for how the Bible is to be read and interpreted. So it is with the U.S. Constitution. One cannot discard the FIRST AMENDMENT or the SECOND AMENDMENT because one finds them or people who exercise their rights under the Constitution “shockingly insensitive.” The Constitution guarantees, like the Grace of God protect the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Too bad those who are asking what would Dr. King do, don’t have the same faith in the U.S. Constitution that Dr. King did.

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New Federal speech guidelines for college campuses and the U.S. Constitution

19 May

Moi wrote in Free speech on college campuses:

The U.S. Constitution should be cherished by every American. Here is information about the First Amendment from the Legal Information Institute:

first amendment: an overview

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws” is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.

The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.  The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.   

Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general.

The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes. Implicit within this right is the right to association and belief. The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities. The right to associate also prohibits the government from requiring a group to register or disclose its members or from denying government benefits on the basis of an individual’s current or past membership in a particular group. There are exceptions to this rule where the Court finds that governmental interests in disclosure/registration outweigh interference with first amendment rights. The government may also, generally, not compel individuals to express themselves, hold certain beliefs, or belong to particular associations or groups.

The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action. It works with the right of assembly by allowing people to join together and seek change from the government. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

Peter Bonilla explains why free speech rights on college campuses are important in a PolicyMic article. https://drwilda.com/tag/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons/

InFree Speech On College Campuses a Must, Especially During Election Seasons:

As I’ve written here on PolicyMic, though, and as the case log and publications of my employer, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), make clear, colleges and universities frequently fall far short of being the bastions of free speech they should be. Further, they often come down especially hard on political expression at the very times when it’s most relevant. Part of the problem is universities’ tendency to misinterpret their obligations under the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits nonprofit educational institutions from engaging in certain political activities, such as institutionally supporting candidates for office.  

Such misinterpretations frequently lead university administrations to prohibit or restrict broad swaths of protected speech, defying both the First Amendment and common sense. The University of Oklahoma, for example, in 2008 banned “the forwarding of political humor/commentary” using university e-mail accounts. That same year, the University of Illinois system issued warnings to faculty against engaging in basic political activities — including wearing campaign buttons, attending rallies, and even placing stickers on their cars. Then in 2011, Illinois’ flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign proposed an electronic communications policy that would have banned any and all “political campaigning” by faculty and students. Fortunately, these policies were all revised or scrapped after FIRE objected. Yet such misconceptions by universities are common enough that FIRE has issued and re-issued a policy statement on political activity to guide universities in policy and practice. http://www.policymic.com/articles/3454/free-speech-on-college-campuses-a-must-especially-during-election-seasons

See, Censorship of Free Speech on College Campuses Grows http://www.educationnews.org/higher-education/censorship-of-free-speech-on-college-campuses-grows/

and Why Students Need a Guide to Free Speech on Campus More Than Ever http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/08/why-students-need-a-guide-to-free-speech-on-campus-more-than-ever219.html

Greg Lukianoff writes in the Wall Street Journal article, Greg Lukianoff: Feds to Students: You Can’t Say That:

The scandals roiling Washington over the past two weeks involve troubling government behavior that had been hidden—the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s surveillance of the Associated Press, among others. Largely overlooked amid the histrionics has been a shocker hiding in plain sight. Last week, the Obama administration moved to dramatically undermine students’ and faculty rights at colleges across the country.

The new policy was announced in a joint letter from the Education Department and Justice Department to the University of Montana. The May 9 letter addressed the results of a year-long joint investigation by the departments into the school’s mishandling of several serious sexual-assault cases. The investigation determined that the university’s policies addressing sexual assault failed to comply with Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

But the joint letter, which announced a “resolution agreement” with the university, didn’t stop there. It then proceeded to rewrite the federal government’s rules about sexual harassment and free speech on campus….

This attack on campus free speech follows the Education Department’s directive two years ago requiring every college in the country that receives federal funds to lower the standard of evidence in sexual-harassment cases. The “preponderance of the evidence,” the judiciary’s lowest standard of proof, became the required standard. (Many institutions had previously used the “clear and convincing” standard.) As former Dean of Harvard CollegeHarry Lewis has noted, the “preponderance of evidence” mandate means “more convictions—of both guilty and innocent individuals,” which is a troubling result “in a society that values individual rights.”

Last week’s letter is part of a decades-long effort by anti-“hate speech” professors, students, activists and administrators to classify any offensive speech as harassment unprotected by the First Amendment. Such speech codes reached their height in the 1980s and 1990s, but they were defeated in federal and state court and came in for public ridicule.

Despite these setbacks, harassment-based speech codes have become the de facto rule. Earlier this year, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, published a study that looked at 409 colleges and found that 62% maintain codes that violate First Amendment standards. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323582904578485041304763554.html?mod=hp_opinion

Lukianoff goes on to state in Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes at Colleges and Universities Nationwide:

Among the forms of expression now punishable on America’s campuses by order of the federal government are: 

  • Any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person. This leaves a wide range of expressive activity—a campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” a presentation on safe sex practices, a debate about sexual morality, a discussion of gay marriage, or a classroom lecture on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—subject to discipline.

  • Any sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason.

  • Any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.

There is likely no student on any campus anywhere who is not guilty of at least one of these “offenses.” Any attempt to enforce this rule evenhandedly and comprehensively will be impossible.

“The federal government has put colleges and universities in an impossible position with this mandate,” said Lukianoff. “With this unwise and unconstitutional decision, the DOJ and DOE have doomed American campuses to years of confusion and expensive lawsuits, while students’ fundamental rights twist in the wind.”

“The Departments of Education and Justice are out of control,” continued Lukianoff. “Banning everyday speech on campus? Eliminating fundamental due process protections? Ignoring its own previous statements? They even misquoted the Supreme Court. This cannot be allowed to continue. FIRE will use all of its resources to oppose this menace to our constitutional freedoms and to free speech and academic freedom on campus.” http://thefire.org/article/15767.html

Ben Franklin states it best:

AUTHOR:

Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)

QUOTATION:

Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

See, http://constitutioncenter.org/learn/educational-resources/historical-documents/perspectives-on-the-constitution-a-republic-if-you-can-keep-it

Resources:

Center for Campus Free Speech                               http://www.campusspeech.org/

Free Speech Off Campus Must Be Protected                           http://chronicle.com/article/Free-Speech-Off-Campus-Must-Be/130660/

Column: Free speech sacks ban on college-athlete tweets http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-04-15/twitter-social-media-college-sports-coaches-ban/54301178/1

Student Press Law Center                                                             http://www.splc.org/wordpress/?cat=26

Free Speech, Social Media and Community Colleges: Let the Clash Begin                                                                 http://www.communitycollegereview.com/articles/401

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A comment about the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on gay marriage: Is it time to get government out of marriage

21 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement regarding their position on civil marriage:

American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Same Gender Civil Marriage

3/21/2013

For Release:  March 21, 2013

Article Body

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports civil marriage for same-gender couples – as well as full adoption and foster care rights for all parents, regardless of sexual orientation – as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children.

The AAP policy statement, “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” and an accompanying technical report will be published in the April 2013 Pediatrics (published online March 21).

“Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage,” said Benjamin Siegel, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and a co-author of the policy statement. “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”

In a previous policy statement published in 2002 and reaffirmed in 2010, the AAP supported second-parent adoption by partners of the same sex as a way to protect children’s right to maintain relationships with both parents, eligibility for health benefits and financial security. The 2013 policy statement and accompanying technical report adds recommendations in support of civil marriage for same-gender couples; adoption by single parents, co-parents or second parents regardless of sexual orientation; and foster care placement regardless of sexual orientation.

“The AAP has long been an advocate for all children, and this updated policy reflects a natural progression in the Academy’s support for families,” said Ellen Perrin, MD, FAAP, co-author of the policy statement. “If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so.”

A great deal of scientific research documents there is no cause-and-effect relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s well-being, according to the AAP policy. In fact, many studies attest to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents have a commitment to shared parenting, and the parents have strong social and economic support. Critical factors that affect the normal development and mental health of children are parental stress, economic and social stability, community resources, discrimination, and children’s exposure to toxic stressors at home or in their communities — not the sexual orientation of their parents.

According to the policy statement, the AAP “supports pediatricians advocating for public policies that help all children and their parents, regardless of sexual orientation, build and maintain strong, stable, and healthy families that are able to meet the needs of their children.” 

# # #

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.

This causes moi to ask whether it is time for government to get out of the business of marriage and only sanction civil unions for everyone. The government would define a valid civil union and the contractual benefits which flow from that union would be defined by government. Marriage would be defined by various religious institutions and they are free to marry whom they choose. Marriage would then be a two-step process of civil union and whatever ‘blessing’ ceremony the community of faith allowed.

This country is headed for another confrontation over the meaning of religious freedom and the guarantees of the FIRST AMENDMENT. Whether one agrees or not, some religious groups have a theological basis for defining marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. They are not going to change. So, the question is whether society wants to be tolerant and pragmatic or to punish those who are not politically correct. Moi has a Hallelujah moment for some in the gay community and their supporters – tolerance is different from acceptance. If the goal is to get everyone to accept a definition of marriage other than one man and one woman, you will fail. If the tactic is to demonize religious folk, call them bigots, prevent certain denominations from offering adoption services and foster care as well as go after church tax exemption, this can be done at great cost to the culture and society. Isn’t it time for a pragmatic approach?

Too often we forget that the principal purpose of the metaphorical wall of separation between church and state was always to prevent governmental interference with a religion’s decisions about what its own theology requires. . . . To be consistent with the Founders’ vision and coherent in modern religiously pluralistic America, the religion clauses [in the United States Constitution] should be read to help avoid tyranny — that is, to sustain and nurture the religions as independent centers of power. . . . To do that, the clauses must be interpreted to do more than protect the religions against explicit discrimination.

Stephen Carter

The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion

Moi discussed the secularist view in The great cultural divide: Many of us will never be secularists:

There are many folks who simply just don’t get that there are many people of faith. This faith group is of a variety of religions and a variety of theologies. Some “liberal” strands of faith have no theology or interpret their theology in line with contemporary social thought. They see religion as part of a wider social movement. For this group, there are no fixed theological positions because the emphasis of their faith is “social justice” however that is defined. Many in this secularist religion group simply do not understand that many of faith have a fixed theological perspective on religion. They feel that theology does not change because the cultural context has changed. In this group there are eternal positions because they are very cognizant of an eternal life. Moi thought the many attempts to persuade her by providing lists of people who support a particular position were laughable. People who made the lists or who thought because this prominent person or that prominent person supported a position would make moi and many others jump on board were clueless. What they did not realize is that moi and others, to paraphrase the old Righteous Brothers song “believe in forever.” It doesn’t matter how many people, whether they are prominent or not believe something, that doesn’t change the theological perspective. Many of these proponents do not believe in the Bible, that it is a stupid little book that only morons follow. Moi suggests that these secularists spend some time digesting the book of Daniel. People of a non-secularist faith are not morons and really don’t want to be treated as such. So, the question is how do various groups operate in the society were all have to live.  http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/the-great-cultural-divide-many-of-us-will-never-be-secularists/

As the character, Margo Channing said in All About Eve: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night! .

There should civil unions for society which establish the contractual relationships and government benefits of a union. Marriage should be defined by theological entities.

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Can’t yoga be watered down like Christmas was? Is there a ‘happy holidays’ yoga?

24 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Remember when the forces of secularism pushed the “Happy Holidays” maximum because no one should be offended by the expression of “Merry Christmas.” The forces of tolerance and celebrate diversity did not want YOUR religion forced on ME. So much for that “celebrate diversity” thing. Let’s fast forward to the yoga movement and the attempt to spread love, joy, and flexible limbs into the education setting.

Marty Graham of Reuters reports in the article, Parents sue school for teaching yoga to children:

SAN DIEGO—The parents of two California grade school students have sued to block the teaching of yoga classes they complain promote eastern religions, saying children who exercise their choice to opt out of the popular program face bullying and teasing.

The Encinitas Unified School District, near San Diego, began the program in September to teach Ashtanga yoga as part of the district’s physical education program — and school officials insist the program does not teach any religion.

Lawyers for the parents challenging the yoga program disagreed.

“As a First Amendment lawyer, I wouldn’t go after an exercise program. I don’t go after people for stretching,” said lawyer Dean Broyles, who heads the National Center on Law and Policy, which filed the suit on Wednesday in a San Diego court.

“But Ashtanga yoga is a religious-based yoga, and if we are separating church and state, we can’t pick and choose religious favourites,” he said.

The lawsuit is the latest twist in a broader national clash over the separation of religion from public education that has seen spirited debate on issues ranging from the permissibility of student-led prayer to whether science instructors can teach alternatives to evolution.

The lawsuit, which does not seek any monetary damages, objects to eight-limbed tree posters they say are derived from Hindu beliefs, the Namaste greeting and several of the yoga poses that they say represent the worship of Hindu deities.

According to the suit, a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, which supports yoga in schools, allowed the school district to assign 60 minutes of the 100 minutes of physical education required each week to Ashtanga yoga, taught in the schools by Jois-certified teachers.

Broyles said that while children are allowed to opt out of the yoga program, they are not given other exercise options.

“The kids who are opting out are getting teased and bullied,” he said. “We have one little girl whose classmates told her her parents are stupid because she opted out. That’s not supposed to happen in our schools….” http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/02/22/parents_sue_school_for_teaching_yoga_to_children.html

See, Promoting Hinduism? Parents Demand Removal Of School Yoga Class http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168613461/promoting-hinduism-parents-demand-removal-of-school-yoga-class

The Free Dictionary summarizes yoga:

Yoga

Definition

The term yoga comes from a Sanskrit word which means yoke or union. Traditionally, yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit, or Cosmic Consciousness. Physical and mental exercises are designed to help achieve this goal, also called self-transcendence or enlightenment. On the physical level, yoga postures, called asanas, are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body. These postures are performed to make the spine supple and healthy and to promote blood flow to all the organs, glands, and tissues, keeping all the bodily systems healthy. On the mental level, yoga uses breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dyana) to quiet, clarify, and discipline the mind. However, experts are quick to point out that yoga is not a religion, but a way of living with health and peace of mind as its aims.                                   http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Ashtanga+Yoga

The problem for many Christians and particularly Christian parents is NOT that kids don’t need exercise, they do. The problem is the spiritual aspects which emphasize the “Divine.” That is not what Christians believe.  The majority of Christians believe in the Trinity. Guess what, the FIRST AMENDMENT protects those beliefs.

So, what is a “celebrate diversity,” we are soooo tolerant, and hip to boot school district supposed to do when confronted with the “yoga conundrum?” Well, bucky, one waters down the concept as with “happy holidays’ and the new name is ” yocise,” the divine becomes your healthy life. “Yocise” focuses on YOU and fits with the culture’s philosophy of ME and we are no more tolerant with “yocise” than we were with “happy holidays.” “Celebrate diversity.”

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