Friday, June 14, 2013

Oh, good grief!

Trial bait, is all this is:

During an announcement of the signing of the so-called “Merry Christmas Bill,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) said Thursday that freedom from religion was not included in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“I’m proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state,” Perry said. “Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion.”

The new law states that students and school officials have the right to use religious greetings like “Merry Christmas” and display various religious holiday symbols on school grounds.
And here's the thing about it:  the State of Texas is never going to be forced to defend this law in Federal (or even state) court.

Local school districts will have to foot that bill.

In Texas, school districts are independent government entities.  They are controlled by the Legislature and the Texas Education Agency, but they raise their own taxes, elect their own school boards, and are responsible in court for whatever is done in their classrooms.  So, if some school insists a Christmas tree must go up in a classroom, and some parent objects, that school district is going to pay the legal fees to defend that lawsuit in court.

Conversely, if some school district refuses to allow Christmas trees in the classroom, that school district is going to pay the legal fees to defend that position in court, when some parent uses this law to sue the school.

Texas schools are woefully underfunded.  The state system for funding schools is a joke, and like subject to further court challenges as it is neither "efficient" nor, I would argue, compliant with equal protection (the formula for deciding which school district gets how much money is incomprehensible).  So now, in addition to struggling to find funds to pay teachers, they get to look forward to being caught between people who don't want "Christmas" mentioned at all in the classroom, and people who will demand their right not to be free "from" religion.

And do you think anybody is gonna send Rick Perry the bill for this?


  1. Wow. We've weaponized "Merry Christmas."

  2. What happens when some teacher (or even a student) decides to use "Eid Mubarak" as a generic holiday greeting?

  3. While I think most religion could use a bit more merriment, I never mistook a Christmas tree or that greeting as religious expressions.

    This reminds me of a passage from My Antonia,

    "As it grew dark, I asked whether I might light the Christmas tree before the lamp was brought. When the candle-ends sent up their conical yellow flames, all the coloured figures from Austria stood out clear and full of meaning against the green boughs. Mr. Shimerda rose, crossed himself, and quietly knelt down before the tree, his head sunk forward. His long body formed a letter 'S.' I saw grandmother look apprehensively at grandfather. He was rather narrow in religious matters, and sometimes spoke out and hurt people's feelings. There had been nothing strange about the tree before, but now, with some one kneeling before it—images, candles... Grandfather merely put his finger-tips to his brow and bowed his venerable head, thus Protestantizing the atmosphere."

    Irony is never absent when religion is politicized.

  4. Wow. We've weaponized "Merry Christmas."


    “I am proud to have authored the 'Merry Christmas Bill', which allows students, parents, teachers and administrators the freedom to acknowledge traditional winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah in Texas public schools without fear of litigation or punishment,” Bohac said. “Teachers and ISD's have enough on their plate, and worrying about openly celebrating a Federal holiday and getting sued or reprimanded should not be one.

    “When I picked up my 6-year-old first-grader from school and found out school districts and teachers felt pressured by political correctness to change the way they referred to ‘Christmas trees’ and Santa and holiday music, I had enough. HB 308 protects schools and teachers from ridiculous litigation and restores common sense by placing Supreme Court precedent into Texas Law.”

    And yes, Dwayne Bohac really is dumber than a box of rocks. Why do you ask?

  5. What happens when some teacher (or even a student) decides to use "Eid Mubarak" as a generic holiday greeting?

    Is that "traditional"? 'Cause if it's not, it's right out!

    See, we're not establishing a religion; we're defending "tradition"!

  6. I should point out that Dwayne Bohac is from a Houston area district, and Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country (ask the U.S. Census).

    The school district I'm in calls "Good Friday" a "Spring Holiday" now, and may call the old "Christmas break" a "Winter Holiday." This comes, not from pointy-headed booreycrats, but from a citizen's panel representing both the people of the district, and the religious diversity of the district. There was much discussion on that panel about recognizing Muslim holidays, which would undoubtedly send Rep. Bohac into orbit.

    But, as I say, we're ethnically diverse; and we like it that way.

  7. While I think most religion could use a bit more merriment, I never mistook a Christmas tree or that greeting as religious expressions.

    Well, the Puritans did (the latter; the former wasn't around in their day).

    Ironies, as you say, abound.

  8. I think some of those English Puritans were sort of like right wing or anti-religious bloggers, always having to crank up the fear and hatred to increase their audience share.

    There should be an easily pronounced term for this kind of manufactured outrage. It seems to be one of the primary forms of what substitutes for intellectual discourse in the (dis)information age.

  9. Well, not just right wing bloggers, actually. I've given up several allegedly lefty blogs because of the continual "Before It's News"-World Nuts Daily atmosphere.

  10. Never before have I been so tempted to spite-convert to Islam and get my teaching credentials in Texas.

  11. Foolish consistencey is the hobgoblin of small minds.

    Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) vetoed a bill on Friday that would have allowed women suffering wage discrimination to take legal action, alleging that the measure “duplicates federal law, which already allows employees…to file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

    Yes, and whatever those Supreme Court rulings are that Dwayne Bohac was yammering about are already a part of Texas law, which makes that law as unnecessary as this one, doesn't it Gov. Goodhair?

    I'll retire to Bedlam....

  12. BTW, that this is trial bait makes this a very interesting bit of hypocrisy as Gov. Perry has ads on our radio news stations (and possibly other places) telling business folk they should move to Texas because of it's "business climate", which, among Perry's list of features, includes being less likely to be sued

  13. Businesses are. Have a friend whose elderly mother was in a serious accident, in a van driven by a "nursing home" (not what they call it now, but anyway).

    Her claims for damages are severely limited, thanks to that "tort reform" Perry brags about.

    Screw the people, it's $$$ that matters....

  14. I guess for all his anti-"trial lawyer" rhetoric, Gov Goodhair feels the need to give litigators something to litigate, since there will be fewer "frivolous"(*) lawsuits over things like major injuries directly related to corporate neglegence.

    * how come proposals supposedly to clamp down on "frivolous" lawsuits never even address some of the truly frivolous ones (usually involving corporations suing each other and/or corporations trying to abuse the powers granted to them under patent/copyright law)? Oh yeah, that right ... it's money that matters

    BTW: this goes back to your touchstone point about elevating ideas: pace the "Austrians" who take money to be ghooooooolllllld, money is really a physical symbol of an idea: monetary value. Strip Deutero (or is it Tritero?) Isaiah of the lens of the "water = faith" metaphore, and isn't that what the Prophet is saying? Why spend kesef (money,silver) on that which does not satisfy, i.e. utilize an idea (monetary value) for things that fulfil no physical need (as food and water fulfil) but instead are valued for the ideas they support (as symbols of prosperity and keeping up with the Joneses)?

  15. That's precisely what the prophet is saying.

    And how terribly un-American of him.....