Monday, 8 October 2012

Freedom on speech for cheerleaders

There is a serious freedom of speech issue occurring in Texas right now.

The short and the long of it is that a group of high school cheerleaders from Kountze Texas are being denied the right to put bible quotes on their banners carried during football games.

It's in the courts right now.

The problem is that there are laws on religious expression at public school events. School officials had to make the hard decision to tell children that were not allowed one particular form of expression.

It's not about restricting anyones freedom of speech, it's about making sure that schools are open and tolerant places. Anyone over the age of 12 is going to understand that peer pressure among teenagers can get pretty nasty.

I'm not shocked that the children are complaining about being told what they can and cannot do - Thats what being a teenager is about. What shocks me is the parents getting in on the act.

In fact no restriction on the children's personal expression is actually being applied. They are only being restricted in what they can express as representatives of the school.

One of the greatest mis-claims ever made is that Madalyn Murray O'Hair (the founder of the American Atheists) got prayer taken out of schools in America. But what actually happened was that a group of people asked the courts to rule on removing forced religious observance from schools. Voluntary observance is still totally permitted.

These cheerleaders are not loosing any of their freedom of speech but other children in the school system are having their freedom of beliefs protected - including those who dont share the beliefs of the cheerleaders.

Freedom of expression is only of value if everyone gets it, and that occasionally means compromise.

These people feel justified in their actions, knowing that they may make others uncomfortable, even knowing that of all the possible quotes from the bible:
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."
... is not one of the many that could be used and specifically requiring christian faith in order to agree with it.

The problem here is that these cheerleaders honestly think that they are not just expressing a view, they feel they are communicating "gods word", and because others belief that as well they are fighting on legal technicalities and semantics.

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