September 05, 2003
New Houston blogger Jaye Ramsey Sutter has an op-ed in the Chron today in which she criticizes the new moment-of-silence and pledge-to-Texas state laws. She adapted the piece from a recent blog entry. Way to go, Jaye!
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 05, 2003 to Other punditry
Hey, someone else with my (middle) name! How cool!
The fact that it's a cool op-ed only helps.
"Under Barnette v. West Virginia, then, Bohac's legislation is indeed Constitutional. It does not involve 'compulsion;' under the Texas law, Jehovah's Witnesses or any other group can simply write a letter and their children won't ever be asked to say the Pledge again." (from Owen's blog)
What never ceases to amaze me is how someone fails to understand that ANY rule that requires a child to get a parental note, and visibly remove themselves from the "norm" by sitting aside and not participating in a compulsory act is compulsion. Being a child is hard. Other children will make fun of you for whatever they can find. And believe me, knowing that a child has a note from their mommy so they can sit down and not participate while the other children take part in an act that is being taught as patriotic and mandatory will be put into an "other" group socially. The level of peer pressure that those who choose not to participate will be under will assuredly make all of this feel compulsory to them, no matter how you may use legal jargon to argue otherwise.
I also find it sad how the conservative mind fails to grasp that making the Pledge mandatory is against what one should feel patriotic about this country for in the first place. We are the land of the free, and the home of the brave. Not the land of the "you better say this thing and feel the same way we do, or you're wrong." How sad.
But the Pledge isn't mandatory. An individual can opt out if they choose, which makes it completely different from the issue discussed in Barnette. Sure, a student who does opt out might be subject to ridicule. So might students whose parents opt them out of sex-ed, but that doesn't make sex-ed 'compulsory.'
The choice is there, and the interpretation of the US Constitution isn't subect to the particulars of peer pressure.