And here, I thought Rhode Island was this little pocket of rational liberalism… Oh, my lack of gods!
RI State Representative Peter G. Palumbo (Democrat- District 16, Cranston) on WPRO-AM’s John DePetro Show made some remarks regarding Jessica Ahlquist. For those of you unfamiliar with the case, Jessica is the Junior at Cranston High School West in his district who, with the help of the ACLU brought a lawsuit against the school district to have a “prayer banner” which has hung for decades in the school taken down. She won.
Since then, oh boy. The fecal matter has struck the rotary atmospheric circulation inducer.
For the time being, you can listen to selected clips from the show here: http://630wpro.com/Article.asp?id=2371375&spid=18074, and download the full show here: http://630wpro.com/getpodcast.aspx?sid=18074&lid=6651&id=2371375&source=2&url=http://dl.dropbox.com/u/38015555/JAN%202012/01-12-12/011212PALUMBOFULL.mp3
I will try to keep the links current, but no guarantees.
I will make quotations from the conversation on this obscene program, and here is the required attribution: Quotations that follow are taken from the THE JOHN DEPETRO SHOW ON NEWSTALK 630 WPRO AND 99.7 FM which originally aired January 12, 2012.
Representative Palumbo remarked about Ahquist, “What an evil little thing….”, then said, “I think she’s being coerced by evil people. … she’s a pawn.”
Really Representative Palumbo? You also, apparently, think there’s an invisible man who’s been dead for 2,000 years who listens to you when you lose your car keys, and helps Tim Tebow make touchdowns. Clearly, you need some help with “thinking”.
…and just because it’s been there for 50 years… does that make it valid? …or right? …or sensible? People were convinced for thousands of years that enslaving “different” people was valid, that the “flat Earth” hypothesis was right, and that it was sensible to stone someone to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. Modern, advanced societies no longer cling to these archaic and demonstrably faulty positions. The time has more than arrived to let this one go, too. The time has arrived, rented an apartment, dated, married, raised a small family, bought a home, sent all its kids through college, and is now considering a reverse mortgage.
Mr. DePetro, you are not free from blame in this situation either. Your mockery of the discomfort and unease Ahlquist reportedly felt is equivalent to mocking a paralyzed veteran for his or her disability. You know nothing of how they got there. You know nothing of how they live. You know nothing of what they endure, and you have the nerve, the gall, the inexcusable conceit to remark, “She’s been traumatized by this whole thing. Imagine she had to go to a school where they had the word God posted in. Do you have any idea what that must have been like? Do you have any idea the torment of having to be in a building that contained a prayer? I don’t think you understand the torment that goes with that. (laughter)”
Neither of these men understand what is going on here. Either that, or they feign ignorance to enhance their own public profiles. Either way, for one to be in a position to be a representative of others in government, and the other to be put forward as a “voice to be heard” is appalling.
Representative Palumbo went on, at DePetro’s urging, to read the prayer, prefacing it by saying, “…it’s such a positive prayer.” It is no such thing. The prayer reads:
Our Heavenly Father.
Grant us each day the desire to do our best.
To grow mentally and morally as well as physically.
To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers.
To be honest with ourselves as well as with others.
Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.
Teach us the value of true friendship.
Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.
—School Prayer, Cranston High School West
In effect this states that we are incapable of growth, honesty, helpfulness, honesty, and so on WITHOUT the aid of a “heavenly father”, to whom we must grovel for these abilities.
I’m with Jessica on this one. I can desire to do my best, to grow, and be helpful, and kind and value friendship and all the rest WITHOUT begging a “heavenly father” for permission, and so can all of you. As a skeptic and freethinker, I abhor the implication smuggled in by this ostensibly harmless “prayer”. it subverts free will and personal responsibility, and is in no way appropriate to have every day before the eyes of impressionable children you hope will become responsible, self-sufficient, decent adults.
Of course, the unspoken convenience of the “school prayer” is that you can still be a jackass in school, and just say, “Despite my fervent, repeated requests, our heavenly father didn’t grant me the desire to do my best, or to be kind and helpful. Not my fault. Blame our heavenly father.”
If you want to put up a “school pledge” that is actually secular, and doesn’t use taxpayer funds to promote an establishment of religion, you could put up something like this:
to to do my best,
to grow mentally and morally as well as physically,
to be kind and helpful to my classmates and teachers,
to be honest with myself as well as with others,
to be a good sport and smile when I lose as well as when I win,
to value true friendship,
to conduct myself so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.
—School Pledge, Cranston High School West
It’s secular, and as an added bonus, it becomes a verbal contract, committing the speaker to decent behavior, rather than referring blame upward to a non-existent heavenly father.