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30.4.12

No more pledge

It's both hilarious and depressing when your opponents do such a good job of proving your side of the argument. Case in point: a rural Pennsylvania middle school student has gotten in trouble for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance in school, as a form of political protest against the country's current policies (the article is vague on what the student's specific objections are). In the comments, one James Strother condemns the student and her parents (who are suing the school) as follows:
Sorry, a 13-year old does not understand what the flag and the Pledge means. I laughed when the ACLU rep said that she had personal beliefs regarding the state of the country. What does a 13-year old know about the state of the country? She does not understand the importance of this and the other values of our country.
Strother is quite right that most 13-year-olds don't really understand the Pledge and the values it stands for. But that's exactly why students shouldn't be required to recite it. Collective recital of a statement of beliefs and commitments by people who understand what they're about is a powerful thing -- heck, even the Unitarians do it. Collective recital of a statement by people who don't understand it is meaningless, and simply encourages unthinking obedience to authority. Now to be fair, Strother sounds like the kind of person who thinks unthinking obedience to authority is the highest human calling, and I'm sure he would have made an excellent Tory in 1776. Were I a parent, I would encourage (but not command!) my kids to decline any sort of mass ritual that they didn't understand and consciously agree with the precepts of.

3 Comments:

Blogger LdeG said...

Please pick another example of unthinking obedience to authority. Just because the Tories were on the losing side does not mean that they were motivated by unthinking obedience.

2:42 PM  
Blogger LdeG said...

And of course, it was Jehovah's Witnesses, hardly free-thinkers, who objected to and eventually won a Supreme Court decision declaring mandatory pledges unconstitutional. See West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Stentor said...

The Tories weren't motivated by unthinking obedience, but someone motivated by unthinking obedience would have ended up siding with the Tory position.

And I'm not sure what the relevance of the Jehovah's Witness point is -- mandatory affirmations of an ideology are opposed by both freethinkers and adherents of a different ideology.

3:26 PM  

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