Monday, October 26, 2009
Angels in the BackfieldHere is an interesting story in the Times about a Georgia town in which a post-9/11 practice in which the cheerleading squad at a public high school "painted messages like “Commit to the Lord” on giant paper banners that the [football] players charged through onto the field." After someone raised concerns about this practice -- and, in one of the many fine twists in the story, that someone was a graduate student at Liberty University, who did not object to the practice but thought it raised legal concerns -- the school stopped it. The result was not a silencing of religious speech but a profusion of it, as fans in the stands took to bringing placards and banners bearing religious messages.
I'm one of those folks who thinks that Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe was rightly decided, certainly in the absence of and probably even in the presence of any concerns about the scope of that decision given its posture as a facial challenge. I am not insensitive to, but not persuaded by, the individual quoted in the story who says, "I understand that the majority doesn’t rule, but it seems unfair that one lady could complain and cause all of this to stop." But I also think the profusion of private religious messages is fine and dandy. The story, in any event, is a good one for students of these issues.
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Maybe I'm just too cranky, but I always am bothered by quotations such as the one Paul highlights. The first half is designed to make him seem "reasonable," but the second half completely undermines the first. If the majority doesn't rule, then, yes, one lady can complain and stop everything and there is nothing unfair about that. If you think that is unfair, then you believe that the majority does, in fact, rule. I would prefer people simply put out their true views--this is unfair--and fight about those, rather than couching them, but couching them in a way that is incoherent.
Again, maybe I'm just cranky. And I agree with Paul that the public response to the change of policy was entirely fine and dandy.
Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Oct 27, 2009 10:33:40 AM