|Trigger Warning deemed blasphemous.|
Say you're a parent. It's Friday night, and you ain't got shit to do. Then you're kid brings home an assignment where they have to draw the prophet Muhammed. What's the correct response? Complain and raise holy hell. How do you handle that if you're the school district? Ban drawing Muhammed, of course! From Fox News:
A California school district announced last week a ban on the drawing of religious figures after a parent complained about a class assignment in which students were directed to draw the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The task was part of a 7th-grade history worksheet, “Vocabulary Pictures: The Rise of Islam,” at High Desert School in Acton, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. Muslims are forbidden from drawing Muhammad, and threats from Islamic terrorist groups have largely ended the practice among non-Muslims as well.
“I have directed all staff to permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depiction of any religious leader,” Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District Superintendent Brent Woodard told the Daily News in a text message on Wednesday. “I am certain this teacher did not intend to offend anyone and,in fact, was simply teaching respect and tolerance for all cultures.”Now to be fair the school district did ban the drawing of any religious figure, rather than simply singling out one faith for special treatment. So, credit where credit is due. I'm also sure they did this out of an overabundance of caution (re: chicken shit). There's two issues I have here, though. First is that there was a grand total of one parent that complained about this assignment. One, single parent. Out of the entire school district. One parent complains, and the district makes a sweeping policy change that affects literally every other student. What if this parent had complained about, say, schools serving bacon in the cafeteria? Would the school district remove the tastiest of meats from every cafeteria in the district?
The second issue I have is the message that this sends the kids. A school is supposed to be an institute dedicated to higher learning. More than that, schools universally pride themselves on being places where anyone can say anything. Students are encouraged to investigate new ideas on their own. All in the name of education.
|Yeah, yeah I know. Stop laughing. Jackasses.|
Yet this school district, in one fell swoop, has told its students that none of that is acceptable. Free speech and learning have their limits. You can say, draw, or write whatever you want as long as it does not offend anyone's religious sensibilities. Anything that might be considered blasphemy by anyone is completely unacceptable. Your free speech ends the second someone says they don't like what you've said.
Is this really the message we want to send kids? Do we want them to be constantly worrying about whether someone is going to take offense to what they said? I submit that we do not. I'm not saying that we should teach our kids to be assholes, or to go out of their way to deliberately insult someone's religion. I say we should teach our kids that freedom of speech is a God-given right that can't be taken away by anyone. One person offended by something cannot ruin things for everyone else. If you don't like something that's being said, that's just too damn bad. Speak out against it or ignore it, but you can't shut down debate. We need to teach kids that freedom of speech is the best damn thing there ever was.
After all, what good is freedom of speech if we place ridiculous limits on it?