Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Catharsis Week for Katie!

There's blowing off a little steam, and then there's a full bore, double-ended purge. Katie delivered the latter this week. Don't believe it? Here are the heds from her columns this week:

The real agenda behind schools' anti-bullying curriculum


Who will get last word on Pledge of Allegiance in junior high?

One at a time.

Perhaps a better hed for the first one would be: The real agenda behind Katie's anti-public school screeds. Katie is fevered because, well, let's let Katie tell us:

The bully is the scourge of the elementary school playground. So who could object to a new anti-bullying curriculum scheduled to be tested in three Minneapolis elementary schools -- Hale, Jefferson and Park View -- and adopted districtwide if successful?

But what if that curriculum is really a disguise for a very different agenda brought to Minneapolis by the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay and transgender advocacy group? What if its lessons have little to do with bullying, and much to do with ensuring that kids as young as age 5 submit to HRC's orthodoxy on family structure, even if it differs from their own parents' view?

And what if, boys and girls, parents were unable to be sure that they could raise their children to be mirror images of themselves, right down to the last prejudice, religious bigotry, fear, neurosis, and irrationality?

Why, we'd have to destroy the public school system, of course! And that's exactly what Katie, Captain Fishsticks, John Brandl, Cheri Pierson-Yecke and the whole Flintstones gang are trying to do. Oh, they embroider their cause with a some faux concern for the little black children, but don't be fooled, boys and girls. The real agenda is not the improvement of education through things like vouchers and stealth religious schools posing as charter schools. No, it's to avoid raising a child who might be a little more tolerant than the parents. Heaven forfend!

And as is usually the case, Katie is merely the stenographer for some right wing nutjob advocacy group.

UPDATE: Lloydletta has a terrific post about the real dimensions of what is at stake here and identifies more of the medievalists involved.

Moving on to the second column. Shorter Katie: You're free, you little snot, and we won't tolerate your refusing to acknowledge it. That's one thing you are not free to do. Stand up and pledge fealty to the symbol of God's chosen people. Here's the lede:

Brandt Dahl wasn't exactly aiming for the Student of the Year Award when he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance last week at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Junior High near Moorhead. But I suspect the eighth-grader may have had a little more swagger in his step after publicly setting school administrators there back on their heels.

If Brandt's infraction had been a smart-alecky spitball, his one-day, in-school suspension -- one of four meted out to errant students -- might not have been viewed in some quarters as Dilworth's equivalent of Abu Ghraib. But in recent decades, the slightest school pressure to honor our flag has inspired a rescue mission from a legal heavyweight -- the ACLU.

Katie doesn't mean honor; she really means worship. In a country with thoroughly secular governments, it is just wrong to ask anybody, even a kid, to venerate a symbol of something "under God." You can't make the kid pray in school, at least not yet, and you can't even criminalize the burning of the flag as political expression.

Spot has always wanted, at the end of the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at some public gathering, to intone a loud "Amen" at the end. Because really, it's a public prayer.

Even Katie has to admit that the Minnesota Chapter of the ACLU - which she spits out like a epithet - is "probably" right on the law of this case. But the Constitution sends such a bad message here:

For many Dilworth students, the incident may reinforce a message that our "me first" culture peddles constantly. It's this: You -- and your whims and desires -- are the center of the universe. Life is about "asserting" and "expressing" yourself, with no need to consult others' wishes or think about anything larger than yourself.

Who will teach our kids another, far less appealing lesson? It's this: You have rights, but you also have responsibilities. These include controlling your desires, being courteous to others and respecting authority. The law does not compel you to pledge allegiance to the American flag or to stand while others do. But simple respect should prompt you to honor those who bled and died for that flag, so that kids like you can sit in an eighth-grade class in Dilworth in the freest and most prosperous nation in history.

Fewer and fewer adults try to teach such lessons these days. But kids need to learn them if our democracy is to continue to flourish.

Today the idea that individual rights trump every other consideration dominates our public square. With its one-dimensional focus, such "rights talk" impoverishes our conversation about what good citizenship requires, and what kind of society we want to be.

This is one of the sorriest pieces of dreck that Katie has written in a long time. The civil liberties cases that have arisen under the Constitution and that have decided the rights of persons in the United States have all occurred because some petty official decided that they knew the right course of conduct for somebody else over whom they exercised some authority. It isn't Brandt Dahl who brought the school administration up short, it was the First Amendment.

But according to Katie, parents need to be more authoritarian if we want democracy to flourish. Spot's not sure how that works, Katie. And Spot doesn't think good citizenship just consists of being polite and respecting authority. That sounds like a recipe for tyranny to Spot.

There is one other thing that Spot wants to point out about these two columns. In the first one, Katie says that children should be exempt from being more tolerant of people because they are somehow different. In the second, she says that children should be more respectful - tolerant - of the feelings of others.

It's confusing, isn't it, Spotty?

Not when you understand the source, grasshopper.

Further update: Tild did this graphic (that Spot just added above) some time ago, and when she used it on Friday, it reminded Spot of it and his promise to use it sometime. This is a perfect post, right boys and girls?

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