To be perfectly honest, I don’t care that the pledge of allegiance says “Under God.” I don’t care that the phrase was added in the 50’s. I don’t care if a single student, or a group of students want to pray while on school grounds. As far as I’m concerned, the school should not – and constitutionally can not stop them. On the flip side, a school can’t make you pray. They can’t require you to say under God. They can’t sanction prayer. I also don’t believe in the so called ‘separation of church and state’ that is shouted down from the rafters by so called ‘free thinkers.’
When I was growing up, there was a kid down the street from me, seemed like any other kid, any other family. There was an exception though, the word “Hell” was a vulgarity to them. You couldn’t say it. You might as well say “fuck.” Ok, didn’t make sense to me as my parents (who were devout Roman Catholics) never aired an opinion either way on the word “Hell.”
Now here we are, Oklahoma, buckle of the “bible belt.” A girl works her ass off to become valedictorian (and surprisingly enough in this day and age was the ONLY valedictorian) and gives her speech. During the speech however, she deviated from her “approved” script and instead of saying “How the heck do I know” said “How the Hell do I know?” Now you might notice if you’ve taken the time to read the linked article, that even the report on the channel 4 website from Oklahoma City has “Hell” written as “H***.”
When she said it – the crowd laughed – and when she was done, they applauded. Afterwards, the principal denied her the diploma unless she writes an apology for saying what she did. Now she didn’t quote George Carlin here, nor did she go off on a racist tirade – she used a word that some folks find offensive. I hold those people in the same category as people who laugh at my jokes, then later on complain. If you don’t like it, don’t laugh.
Now you don’t bust ass through high school and obtain valedictorian status if you plan on going on to manage a Sonic. No, you’ve got higher aspirations, a drive to excel and succeed that going by the number of people on unemployment these days, a will to transcend your peers despite whatever is holding them back. What I think should happen here is the following:
1. Ask again, nicely, to have your diploma. If that fails…
2. Call the ACLU, if anything, that will get some more attention on your plight (beyond a tiny link from the Drudge Report), and add pressure to the Principal to stop being a flaming douchebag at the behest of his or her own personal religious beliefs.
3. Go viral. This is the sort of thing that the Internet community will absolutely eat up.
There’s a big country, and a bigger world outside of Oklahoma, one that needs people like this girl who survived high school at the top of her class. Now is her chance to seize the moment and prove to her school, her community, and future employers – that she’s got what it takes to get what she’s earned despite any road blocks thrown in her path.
I titled this post “The other side of school prayer…” because this is the sort of close-minded bullshit that really chaps my ass. As much as I agree with the concept (as described at the start of this post) – the school can’t make you pray, and they can’t control what you say. Hers was not a religious statement, but someone who has a bit of pull in that district thinks it was, enough to deny her what she’s rightfully earned and attempt to publicly embarrass her.
In the end, they’ve publicly embarrassed themselves – this will bring real negative attention to the district – the kind that won’t be shaken off easily if they decide to fight it. If they just let it go, give the girl her diploma, and move on – it’ll just be one of “those” stories, told from time to time and remembered like the time Bobby Joe got drunk and decided to do donuts at the 50 yard line. I hope for their own sake, they give the girl her diploma before meme’s start…
As a side note – I just tried to visit the district’s website at http://www.prague.k12.ok.us/ and it isn’t loading. ~giggle~