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[P]
12 Year Old Girl Commits Suicide After Christian Taunts.

By Electric Angst in Op-Ed
Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 08:52:18 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

On Febuary 20th, twelve-year-old Detroit girl Tempest Smith hung herself with her own leopard-print scarf.

The reason? Constant harassment by her classmates, including bombardment with Christian hymns to ridicule her Wiccan beliefs.


You can read the Detroit News article about the suicide here.

The harassment undergone by school children is something of which we are all aware. This case, however, is notable, not only because of the resulting suicide, but also because of the nature of the harassment, religious intolerance. Or perhaps, it is notable because of the lack of attention paid to the nature of the harassment.

When the infamous Columbine shooting occurred, it was only a short manner of time before the story of Cassie Bernall, a student shot because of her decision to admit her Christian faith, was known by the entire nation. That story was eventually proven false, though by then a dead child had already become a martyr for the Christian right of the United States.

I don't believe that anyone can seriously say that Tempest Smith's suicide will be given nearly as much thought or lip service at the death of Cassie Bernall, and I want to ask the question; Why?

Cassie Bernall was not persecuted because of her beliefs, she was gunned down at random by madmen. Tempest Smith was driven to suicide by the constant harassment from her peers, who were singling her out specifically for her religion. The former's death was a senseless act of violence, the latter's the result of hate.

It becomes very tempting at this point to blame a society and media heavily dominated by Christians. To say that the story of a Christian persecuted for her beliefs is seen as more valid than the persecution of someone who follows a less established religion.

I do not want to argue that point, though, because I fear that it may be true, and that would bode ill for followers of minority religions in the United States.

I will argue, though, that the death of Tempest Smith by her own grief-stricken hands has not received as much attention because of a desire to filter intolerance out of view in our society. Rather than remind America that someone can still be treated as less than human for holding a different faith, a different lifestyle, or otherwise divergent from the norm, it is much more comforting to simply ignore the issue.

To acknowledge that Tempest Smith's classmates were exerting cruel psychological torture on the young woman with the hymns their church had taught them would be to indict not only the school children, but the hymns as well. To make this tragic event public knowledge would be to put a mirror to the face of the majority, forcing them to see the intolerance in their own eyes, crumbling their arguments that it no longer exists.

Tempest Smith has gone on, but how many right now are facing the same situation because of their beliefs? How long will it take before people will attempt to change the prejudices that exist within themselves, instead of simply denying that they exist?

I can only hope it happens before another young woman is found hanging, lifeless.

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12 Year Old Girl Commits Suicide After Christian Taunts. | 351 comments (297 topical, 54 editorial, 5 hidden)
Could it be...? (4.00 / 11) (#2)
by leviathan on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:52:35 PM EST

Could it perhaps be that schoolkids get bullied and commit suicide all the time, whereas they rarely get gunned down by a classmate that's making the media less interested in this case than the columbine one? Maybe wishing to hide intolerance has something to do with it (but I don't know your society, so I can't really comment), but I'd look to the more obvious answer first.

--
I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
Possibly... but possibly not (4.00 / 2) (#111)
by TheSpiritOf1776 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:07:01 PM EST

I say possibly because what you say about kids getting bullied and commiting suicide is true, it does happen "all the time".

I say possibly not because the media seems to have this thing about children (mainly white) and firearms. You see big front page news stories about Columbine, Colo., Pearl, Miss., Santana High School in Calif., etc. However, in Clearfield County, Penna., when a few children decided to torture and hang another child to death, it barely made any news. It did make the front page of the Centre Daily Times (the Centre Daily Times can be found on-line at www.centredaily.com). I remember seeing it there, and I remember being at work over the next few days after the murder and surfing the major national news services online to see if any of them reported the incident. No, I didn't see anything on it.

I also remember in a GOA newsletter I received a few years ago an incident in California where a man drove through a school playground in a Cadillac and killed or injured a few children. The GOA was the first place I heard of that incident.

And finally, I do remember numerous shootings in inner city schools (I grew up near Philadelphia). But it seemed like no one cared about kids killing kids at schools until it middle class white suburban kids started to schoot up government schools.



[ Parent ]
Maybe now they'll listen (4.06 / 15) (#3)
by Wodin on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:57:18 PM EST

I remember my high school history class -- the history of the United States was described as one set of freedoms following another, gradually growing stronger and more entrenched as time passed. And I remember old Ms. Vigness reinforcing the fact, again and again, that the United States was founded due to desire for religious freedom.

So what happened? Where did society decide that Chirstianity was the only acceptable religion? I find it incredibly frustrating that intolerance of this sort can continue in this day and age. What's more, the problem is more in the institution than anything else. When the very belief structure of some religiouns involves attacking those who do not belong and forcing them to believe, what are we going to expect to happen?

I realize that this is somewhat rantish, but I'm just horribly frustrated by this kind of senseless, random perversion of religion into everything that it shouldn't stand for. Religion should not be used as a tool to destroy others, regardless of their beliefs. Why can't the church reinforce that, instead of telling them that those who are different are going to hell?

I realize that not all churches believe this -- more liberal variations such as Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ do an excellent job of being accepting. It's a pity that not everyone can, though.

I disagree. (3.70 / 10) (#53)
by Faulty Dreamer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:35:53 PM EST

I think you have a good point, but I disagree with your assumption that religion should not be used as a tool to destroy others. (Well, I don't disagree that it shouldn't be used that way, but...) Religions, almost all of them (not all, there are exceptions to the rule out there) are founded because someone wants control of someone else, and because they want to destroy those they can't control. In Christianity this is displayed with the primary driving "Obey or burn in hell!" principles. There was a time when the common Christian was not allowed to read the bible. The reason was that the church leaders did not want the common man to be able to question their interpretation of the bible. Though this fact has changed, the basic principles of the religion have not changed.

If you believe that this country really was founded on the ideal of religious freedom then you are probably mistaken. The entire concept of this country was put together by men that believed you should have the freedom to choose your version of Christian belief. That is/was their concept of freedom of religion. You have to practice religion, but you cannot be told what religion to practice. You can be Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, or Babtist (or any other major Christian sect). Atheism, Wiccanism, Agnosticism, or anything else that falls outside of the common Christian view was always considered evil a vile by the "United States" view. Witches were not allowed to have freedom, whether they declared themselves witches or not.

As George Bush said, (and Junior later repeated), "All real Americans believe in God". The sad fact is that if you don't, or if you believe in a different version of god, you are ridiculed and not accepted as being a "sane" person. I have seen it since I made the decision to leave the church at a young age (actually, the decision was made for me by a pastor that didn't like my questions). Non-Christian beliefs are not to be treated as equally valid as Christian beliefs.

It's a pathetically sad system that we have. Seperation of Church and state is slowly crumbling around us as Bush sets up his office of Faith Based Services (soon to be known as the Official United States Church) and attempts to tie church and state firmly together. After all, if we didn't believe in George's God, we wouldn't choose to live in his country!

Sorry for the rant, but religions are extremely destructive. They are a tool used by individuals to gain power. Some of those tools may have outgrown their original use (especially Christianity), but that is where religious systems of belief stem from. It's a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless.

DISCLAIMER: All religious wackos, feel free to tell me what an idiot I am. I've heard it all before, and I'm sure I'll hear it all again.

--------
Faulty Dreams - Barking at the moon 24/7...

If you think I'm an asshole, it's only because you haven't realized what a fucking idiot I am. - Faulty Dreamer
[ Parent ]

Western vs. Eastern (4.00 / 6) (#77)
by Remmis on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:59:24 PM EST

religions are extremely destructive. They are a tool used by individuals to gain power. Some of those tools may have outgrown their original use (especially Christianity), but that is where religious systems of belief stem from. It's a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless

I agree with everything you have said up until that paragraph there. Up until then you were talking about the main religions found in the US, which have all degraded beyond belief.

Western religions use the precept that there is an omnipotent being, god, behind everything that occurs. Eastern religions, which can hardly be called religions in the western sense, use god-like figures in their mythology to represent facets of human nature, and it's understood by the followers of those religions. Most of us in the US think that Buddhists actually believe in a god that looks like elephant(gonesha, i think). They would tell you that they do, but the two concepts of god are completely different. In my opinion, this type of thinking is what originally went into the writing of the bible, it was merely an intricate story to teach humans about themselves. Erm, I could start ranting too, so I'll stop and just say that I don't think you should lay down a blanket statement like 'all religions are destructive'.





[ Parent ]
The bible (4.00 / 4) (#102)
by Miniluv on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:21:20 PM EST

The Bible does have facets of what you mentioned, being a text for teaching humans about themselves. This is not readily apparent in any modern translations, most especially not a King James Version, which was written with a very specific purpose.

The prevailing opinion, as I understand it, is that the bible underwent major revisions at several stages, all the way back to Moses. As various factions gained religious control of the Hebrew tribes portions of the bible were rewritten, or vastly reinterpreted, to mean new and interesting things which supported the belief structures of their authors. There was, of course, no "bible" at this point, instead it was Torah and Talmud(sp?) being revised, or written down for the first time. Once passages enforcing "information cleanliness" were written in regards to the Torah, the Talmud began to expand as new ideas were grafted onto the old framework in order to give things a new spin and keep whomever was currently in power in power.

Many things that are in the Bible were never intended to be the word of God, but instead were non-religious law handed down by religious people in order to teach them healthier, cleaner lifestyle. That's why pork is outlawed, for example.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Actually (3.66 / 6) (#138)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:31:42 AM EST

While you are accurate in saying that the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament (or, as some refer to it, the Hebrew Scriptures) were often reinterpreted by the most powerful religious leaders of each era, you are inaccurate in suggesting that the texts recieved deliberate modification. In fact, the Scribes charged with the task of copying the Scripture of the time were notoriously accurate, needing to count the number of letters and the number of times each letter occured (the first CheckSum?) before continuing to the next section.

The fragmentation of today is largely through two factors - 1) Ancient Hebrew is difficult to translate accurately, especially from fragmented manuscripts, and (2) the early Church did make many changes and additions to suit its evolving doctrine. The end result is basically the same, though -- most translations of the bible are basically the same, with widely varying interpretations.

It makes you wonder, if God did inspire the Scripture, is he laughing at our attempts to twist it to our own ends? (yes, that's meant as tounge-in-cheek)
--
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

you assume much... (1.80 / 5) (#154)
by bobsquatch on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 05:17:17 AM EST

It makes you wonder, if God did inspire the Scripture, is he laughing at our attempts to twist it to our own ends? (yes, that's meant as tounge-in-cheek)

What makes you believe that we're twisting it to our own ends? Are you sure that God isn't using us to twist it to His own ends?

And how could you tell the difference, anyway?

(yes, that's meant as tongue-in-other-cheek :)



[ Parent ]

I'll bite... (3.00 / 2) (#264)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:33:41 PM EST

What makes you believe that we're twisting it to our own ends? Are you sure that God isn't using us to twist it to His own ends?
If that were so, then the world wouldn't have any religious wars started or continued by Christians. Besides, you'd think that it would also mean there would be more of the fabled "Christian Unity" out there. :)

Oh, and BTW: I don't have a problem with Christianity per se, I consider myself Christian. I just have to snicker that so many groups are so sure they have the "right interpretation" when there is no way any of us can be sure.
--
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

I'll also bite (2.50 / 2) (#274)
by Remmis on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 01:28:23 PM EST

I just have to snicker that so many groups are so sure they have the "right interpretation" when there is no way any of us can be sure.

That's pretty much the reason why atheists snicker at any religion. It's funny to me to see any religion think they have it right, when there is no way to tell. As far as I'm concerned, you pick the one that best fits your morals and ethics. That's fine with me, what I don't like are people who spout about how theirs is the best. But I guess when you get too deeply entrenched in a religion, you start seeing facets of other religions as silly or something. I like to think of myself as spiritually stable enough to not need religion to point me down any specific path.





[ Parent ]
I concur (3.00 / 3) (#275)
by RadiantMatrix on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 02:40:41 PM EST

But I guess when you get too deeply entrenched in a religion, you start seeing facets of other religions as silly or something.
That, to me, is an unfortunate side effect of religion in general, and especially Christianity as a while. As I said before, I consider myself a Christian... but it bothers me to see so many people claiming to be Christians and still failing to respect the rights of others to choose freely. To me, at least, respect and Christianity should go hand in hand.

I have to hand it to the majority of Pagans on this one: most Pagans seem to have an inate respect for the beliefs of everyone else, regardless of how much (or how little) they agree with those beliefs.
--
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

Wait a minute. (3.00 / 6) (#83)
by marlowe on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:26:53 PM EST

Weren't the founding fathers mostly deists, with a borderline atheist or two?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Classic high school half-truth (3.25 / 4) (#81)
by Remmis on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:19:37 PM EST

Thinking that this country was founded upon the notion of religious freedom is a classic high school half-truth. High school history (in America) tends to shed a positive light on anything American. This is akin to how you rarely hear talk of how Thomas Jefferson owned slaves in high school history classes. Presumably because they want kids to walk around idolizing the "founding fathers". (not that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves in history classes....ah nevermind you know what i mean)

The only people who were really fleeing religious persecution were the British, which doesn't account for Spanish, Dutch, French and whoever else was immigrating at the time.

Also, the religious freedom that was adopted by settlers in New England was hardly freedom. Make no mistake, they'd burn you alive if you were pagan. It's pretty odd that most of the people fleeing persecution ended up in New England, mainly Massachusetts, right where Salem is. Some religious freedom.

I don't think religious intolerance has grown at all. You don't hear about people being hung or burned at the stake anymore do you? If there seems to be more tension, I would say it's simply because there are more religions to cause tension.





[ Parent ]
I went to a Unitarian church once. (4.00 / 5) (#82)
by marlowe on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:24:10 PM EST

They're very accepting indeed, in the sense that a Raggedy Ann doll is accepting. A Raggedy Ann doll never tells you you're cussed and going to hell. A Raggedy Ann doll never says or does much of anything.

Or maybe they're more like some toy where you pull a string and it says some random bland inanity, like "save the whales" or some such. Call it the Talking Mr. van Driessen doll.

This is why it's not a good idea to define virtue as the lack of a particular vice. You could wind up mistaking ineffectuality for enlightenment.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
lots of people don't go to church to get The Truth (2.80 / 5) (#143)
by bobsquatch on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:26:48 AM EST

There's a bunch of important roles for a local church. Only one of these roles involves preaching The Truth.
They're very accepting indeed, in the sense that a Raggedy Ann doll is accepting. A Raggedy Ann doll never tells you you're cussed and going to hell. A Raggedy Ann doll never says or does much of anything. Or maybe they're more like some toy where you pull a string and it says some random bland inanity, like "save the whales" or some such. Call it the Talking Mr. van Driessen doll.
Yep, the UU's don't have much in the way of The Truth. They want you to respect the worth of all individuals, which is stricter than it sounds on first hearing -- do you believe in the inherent worth and dignity of, say, Jefferey Dahmer? They want you to respect all religions that don't conflict with the principles -- even Scientology. It's very possible for a person who is honest about his own belief to decide that he can't agree with the UU's brief list of principles (even though most UU's seem to believe that only a monster would have a problem with 'em). Like you, I went to a UU church; unlike you, I left because I don't agree with some of the principles you didn't see.

But I digress. Besides the near-total lack of The Truth in a UU service, there are still a few good reasons to belong to a UU church. It organizes charitable works, encourages its members to donate time/money/talent to those causes, and does a lot of good. A bigger draw is simply the attraction of a ready-made peer group. Most of the churches I've been to, Christian, UU, or other, serve as places to meet like-minded friends and get connected -- especially if you're new in town. UU churches are great places to meet people if you're not a strong believer in any churchy religion.

Basically, there's more to a church than preaching that list foo is Correct and that bar not in foo is Evil (and even UU preaches that much for small values of len(foo)).

You could wind up mistaking ineffectuality for enlightenment.
Well, as an agnostic I respectfully disagree, but I'll leave it at that.

[ Parent ]
A little dramatic... (4.50 / 18) (#5)
by codepoet on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 12:58:54 PM EST

I can only hope it happens before another young woman is found hanging, lifeless.

That's being a little dramatic, don't you think? And while I can agree with some of the points you make, I have to point out something here: this really isn't about religion. I know people are going to try and try to make this about religion but let's face it, this was a twelve-year-old girl going to school with twelve-year-olds. Kids can be harsh, cruel, stupid, heartless, etc. We've seen this already both in the discussions here about the school shootings and in the fact that there have been so many.

This is really about the fact that parents just don't teach their kids to be nice and don't enforce any sort of behavior rule set on them, many times just saying, "kids will be kids" and blowing it all off.

I'm not disputing the tradgedy, nor the fact that there is a problem here, but it's not about religion, it about the kids. It's about kids being bullies and being downright selfish. It's about kids that are given so much as home in the way of ego and self-esteem that they expect the world to give it to them and when it doesn't they inflate their ego themselves and ... well off they go, attacking all around and feeding on the self-esteem others lose in their presence.

It's not about religion, it's about brats.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.

fair is fair (2.50 / 4) (#101)
by Seumas on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:20:46 PM EST

Hey, if the Christians can make up a story about a teenage girl standing up and refusing to decry her "lord" or whatever at Columbine (which later proved to never have occured), then it only seems fair to have a little dramatic license for others and their stories.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Two wrongs don't make a right (4.00 / 4) (#118)
by Pseudonym on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:54:25 PM EST

Sorry, but it's true. You can't fight urban legend with urban legend.


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Actually... (4.55 / 9) (#105)
by mirimoo on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:32:00 PM EST

...I agree, it's not about religion. But it isn't about some "brats" either. It's about tolerance, or more pointedly, the lack there of. Children can be cruel, yes, but so can adults. This is about these kids not being able to recognize and *appriciate* difference. They are all just trying to fit in and picking on a person who is more of a freak then they makes it just that much easier to be a sheep (read conform). "Look they are a freak! but not me! like me!"

I was picked on a lot in school too. It didn't end in middle school either... Tolerance is not an issue we can write off as a problem only with "brats".

It runs a hell of a lot deeper than that. I think the author is right about why this is not a big issue. No one wants to tackle it, to really see themselves reflected in these events and to think about what it says about US and not the "brats". It's the same reason issues of prejudice are largely ignored by the comfortable white majority. No one wants to see they ways in which they are predjudiced. No one wants to admit to themselves that they contribute to the hardships of others but this self-imposed ignorance, this blinded silence, in of itself contributes to and sanctions discrimination and intolerance.


____________
No two snowflakes are exactly alike,
but every fucking snowflake is pretty much the same
-- McGrath
[ Parent ]

*LOW* self esteem, not high (3.60 / 5) (#120)
by Pseudonym on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:56:32 PM EST

A child who has good self-esteem has no need to prove themselves better than another, whether by bullying or by any other method. It's actually low self-esteem which results in bullying.

That's the only problem I have with an otherwise excellent post. Well said!


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Right (3.50 / 2) (#194)
by codepoet on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:36:51 AM EST

Well, yes, that's what I intended to convey: at home their ego is stroked and their self-esteen is given a boost. When they leave home it is no longer maintainanced, falls, and they realize that no one is there to bring it back up so they feed on others' esteem.

Like a parasite, really.

-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]

OT: !(Low Self Esteem<-->Bullying) (3.00 / 3) (#253)
by MostlyHarmless on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:11:41 PM EST

FYI, there is an article in the latest Scientific American stating that bullying is caused by narcisism and high, but unstable self-esteem. Unfortunately, this article is not online, but I'm sure some industrious reader can find it on the web somewhere.
--
"Nevertheless, that is the theorem." - Tom Stoppard
[ Parent ]
Self esteem only a small part (3.00 / 2) (#313)
by darkfrog13 on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 11:22:30 AM EST

A child who has good self-esteem has no need to prove themselves better than another, whether by bullying or by any other method.

I don't know if you were actually attempting to say that someone who has a high self esteem has no reason to prove themself better, but I could name a few reasons why this isn't true.

  • To maintain acceptance with your peers
  • Attain a feeling of power in your life
  • Gain a sense of control
  • Influence others to your point of view
  • Become popular among those around you
  • Try to intimidate others from making fun of you
  • And if you say you don't need these if you have a high self esteem thats not true for all people. Usually high self esteem has nothing to do with your statue or aspects in life, but your outlook on life. Those who have problems with self esteem often try to gain some form of ground on this by belittling others, although I feel thats only a temporary reprieve from themselves which only causes them to have to belittle others more and more to maintain their self worth and feeling of superiority. These can also be used as every day tactics(even by adults mind you) to gain things you want, improve your statue in society, or to attain a level of superiority.

    Sorry, I'm not saying your wrong that most people do it to attain a higher self esteem, I'm just saying that some do it for other reasons as well. And it isn't just kids that do this.

    [ Parent ]

    i respectfully disagree (4.00 / 7) (#197)
    by el_guapo on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:47:30 AM EST

    IMHO of course, this is totally out of hand. I recently saw a mainstream news program (20/20 IIRC) interviewing kids at a school somewhere in "mainstream America" where these Christian findamentalist kids were persecuting their openly homosexual peers. Let me try and quote: <reporter> so you're saying that God hates these children? <whacko-kid> yes, absolutly. <reporter> and "hate" is an emotion that God is capable of? <whacko-kid> oh yes! righteous hate! Note, these kids were in high school. This just seems to sort of cement my opinion that the major problem with Christianity is all the damn Christians...
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    sorry about the bold (2.66 / 3) (#198)
    by el_guapo on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:49:11 AM EST

    end result of posting in disconnected 60 second time periods whilst at work..i'm sure i had that /b in there for something valid ;-)
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    Rightous Hate? (3.50 / 2) (#205)
    by codepoet on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:07:35 PM EST

    If you want to read some more about this topic, read my last diary entry, where I beleive I respond to this argument aptly.

    Bassically, there are people in this world that will defend their beleifs, whatever they may be (Christians, Linux freaks, vegans, etc.) with as much hate as they can justify using. This is typically applied to everyone under a certain banner, and that's quite unfair to the remainder of the people under that banner. Christianity's "problem" is the same as Linux's problem, or any other movement with more than a few people: people are different, and some are asses. In fact, a lot are asses. It's not the fault of the banner, it's just that they find false justification under it and then use that to abuse others.

    I, as a Christian, can tell you this: I could not, not would not, I could not harrass someone for a different belief. It really is just not in me to do that to someone. That is a personal virtue, one I had long before I was Christian. Even as an agnostic, I left people to their own when it came to beliefs. The evangelical nature of Christianity only says to spread the word, and someone here has probably the best quote for that mentality as their sig, attribusing to St. Augustine something along the lines of spread Christianity everywhere you go, and when neccessary, use words. Probably the best way I've heard of, right there.

    We're not all bad, in fact, some of us are downright rational, but that's a personal thing. If you're raised irrational and full of hate, that was the parent's choice, not the religion's. Don't blame everyone under a banner for the actions of a few, or many, or most. That's the kind of people we live with in this country, and it's something you can hate, but hate the way the people are, nothing more.

    -- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
    [ Parent ]

    Dramatic, but... (3.50 / 2) (#303)
    by spaceghoti on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 03:20:37 PM EST

    Where do kids learn this stuff? Television? Their peers? Aliens?

    Kids learn stuff from their parents most of all. If they listen to their parents denigrating someone else's religion or belief, they'll do the same thing. The difference is that kids haven't learned how to temper disagreement with respect. Nor had the girl who was being picked on learned to desensitize herself from peer pressure.

    Why are kids so cruel? We teach them to be. The kids who tormented the girl learned it from their parents and took it to its logical end. The girl was too delicate to withstand the abuse, and followed THAT to its logical end.

    We're supposed to learn values and ethics from religion. Tormenting and ridiculing someone for their religious beliefs means that somewhere along the way, the message got lost. It isn't about brats, it's about what we're teaching our children. Sounds like another generation of abuse is well on its way.



    "Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

    [ Parent ]
    Do you HAVE children? (none / 0) (#314)
    by codepoet on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 12:48:49 PM EST

    I find it very interesting that you make an analysis of how children learn things. Do you have children? Do you have younger siblings? Kids learn from thier peers as well as their parents. You can have two of the most peaceful and docile parents who raised a child perfectly and with every angle covered, but after being near other children for eight hours a day for twelve years they do tend to bring home a lot of it.

    And I'll say it again, this was not about religion, nor about intolerance. It's about kids being kids, as they are today. It's not an excuse, it's a reason. Yes, we need to do something about it, but other than homeschooling an entire generation or two, there's no solve-all solution to this. Society is broken and has been for centuries (if you could ever say it wasn't). It will be slow and painful to fix and there will literally be casualties along the way.

    We can teach our children about love and acceptance all we want, only those whose minds are hard-wired to take that to heart will. Others that are predisposed not to will ignore it and go on with their lives without that lesson. That's something we just have to account for.

    But I feel I must again vehemently say that this incident was not about religion. It was about brats being brats. That's just how it works these days. I went through it, many people here went through it. It's not right, it needs to change, but to attribute it to anything else is to ignore what's right in front of you and try and blame it on a convinient target (which is religion here, apparently).

    -- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
    [ Parent ]

    Children (none / 0) (#315)
    by spaceghoti on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 02:48:15 PM EST

    Yes, I have a little girl. Having children is a huge investment in time and attention, one that many parents are unable or unwilling to fulfill. Peers are important and children pick up all sorts of things from the Real World (tm) their parents wish they hadn't. But the responsibility rests with the parents to interact with their children and discover what they're learning when they're outside the house.

    I hold that in the end, parents are ultimately responsible for the conduct of their children, and they are the biggest influence in their children's lives. Our children will be the most accurate and most brutal mirror for our own lives because even though they'll get into trouble we might not have thought possible, they filter their lives through the foundation we set for them. We influence them through what we don't do as much as what we do.

    Kids will be kids, and will make all sorts of mistakes as they learn and grow. But kids are still what we make them to be. Kids will play games of dominance because we still have that animal instinct inside us, but the tools they'll use (religious persecution, etc) are taught by us. If those children had been taught that all religions outside the one their families practice are equally valid, the Wiccan issue would not have come into play.

    Raising children is not easy. "Herding cats" comes to mind. It's a fine line between guiding your child's growth and dictating it. The problem is that doesn't make us any less responsible for them.



    "Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

    [ Parent ]
    Wicca? (3.33 / 12) (#7)
    by deefer on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:00:33 PM EST

    Seems to me that an increasing lot of US folks are getting into this religion...
    Anybody ever met a real Wiccan follower? I've never met a druid or a "white witch" over here in the UK...
    Looking at a few web pages, it looks a bit like pagan beliefs spiced up with a bit of new-age-travellerism, to me... Any wiccans out there?
    And were this poor girls parents followers of the faith as well?

    Still, another great tragedy of this is it won't make the news as ubiquitously as any "mad schoolkid gun rampage" type headlines, and this poor girls tormentors are unlikely to be punished.

    My sympathy for the deceased's family.


    Kill the baddies.
    Get the girl.
    And save the entire planet.

    Wiccan (3.57 / 7) (#11)
    by spaceghoti on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:16:58 PM EST

    The movement is stronger in some places than others. At least half of my friend in Denver are Wiccan, most of them practice regularly and openly. I know of other groups in other parts of the US, but most of them say they're the only ones in the area that they know of. A large portion of them practice in secret, because they've been abused and discriminated for their beliefs.

    Religious freedom in the US isn't what it's cracked up to be, but that should surprise no one.



    "Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

    [ Parent ]
    My experience (4.00 / 7) (#13)
    by pope nihil on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:20:31 PM EST

    I actually did a lot of reading about the Wiccan religion about 5 years ago. I even tried it out for a while (as I am prone to do with interesting religions). It is not so "ancient" as most people would like you to believe. The main belief structures come from three different areas.

    1.) Historical evidence about the rites and beliefs of ancient pagans.

    2.) It is also based on a lot of Crowleyian teachings. One of the two primary people who brought about "Wicca" (Gardner) was a Crowleyian. The famous "An it harm none, do as ye will" is actually just a slight modification of Crowley's infamous "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." While the two may seem rather dissimilar, one of the implicit understandings about Crowley's statement was that your True Will would not actually hurt anyone.

    3.) As the religion grew in the 1960s it was influenced some by hippies. It was already very similar to a lot of the classic hippie stereotypes (free love, nudity, drugs not bad), which is why it became so popular at the time.

    Hope that helps. If you have any more specific questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them.


    I voted.

    [ Parent ]
    Crowley (3.33 / 3) (#47)
    by ucblockhead on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:12:18 PM EST

    Crowley got it from eastern religions, mostly the Taoist/Zen thing.
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]
    re: Crowley (3.83 / 6) (#54)
    by pope nihil on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:38:37 PM EST

    Actually, Crowley's style was a combination of Western and Eastern mystical teachings. Throughout his life he joined many societies and picked up many different styles.

    First he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898 and quickly rose through the ranks. The GD was primarily Qabalistic. Around 1900, he joined the Freemasons (another Western order) where he was soon promoted to the highest degree (33). In 1907 he co-founded a magical society known as the A.'. A.'. Some time after this, he joined the Ordo Templi Orientis (Order of Eastern Templars), a Western order which also drew from Eastern culture. In 1921 he became the leader of the OTO. He wrote a lot of books which are often considered to be important in many Western magical societies.


    I voted.

    [ Parent ]
    Slight modification of Crowley? (3.66 / 3) (#237)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:39:50 PM EST

    That qualifying statment radically changes the meaning of the Rede. Arguably not enough, since you can rationalize about whether the person you're hurting has a legitimate beef. (It's "my right to swing my fist ends at your nose... oh I'm sorry, was that your nose?") But to equate the Wiccan Rede with Crowley isn't entirely called for.

    I knew a guy once who really into Crowley. He was a real pig, in more ways than I can count. He wasn't seriously evil, though. He simply didn't have enough backbone or imagination to do anything really evil. All he could manage was to be disgusting and pathetic. Kind of like Anton LaVey.

    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    They`ll grow out of it... (1.44 / 18) (#14)
    by pallex on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:22:28 PM EST

    ...when they get involved with people of the opposite sex. Its just a kiddie fad.

    Either that, or it`ll remain dormant until they get their mid-life crisis - then you`ll see them on some low-budget channel 5 show, complete with crystals and dolphins and aliens and shit. Sort of like Edina out of Ab-Fab, and without a trace of irony!

    Perhaps its all a plot to make organized religions look less ridiculous?

    [ Parent ]
    Grow out of it? (5.00 / 1) (#323)
    by lavaforge on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 02:19:20 PM EST

    Its just a kiddie fad
    I am going to have to disagree with you here. While many young people do attempt to use a non-traditional approach to religion and spirituality as an escape hatch for their own feelings of inadequacy, there are also a large amount who come to the Pagan Path through extensive thought, meditation, and soul searching. People only "grow out of it" when they have ideas beat into their ears until they come out of their mouths.

    when they get involved with people of the opposite sex
    You, my friend, have never been to a good Beltaine festival.

    While the death of the young Tempest is a sad thing, I do not think that she was wholly driven to suicide by her peers. In my experience, a person doesn't get pushed over the cliff unless they're going that way anyway.
    "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
    [ Parent ]

    I've met loads (2.66 / 3) (#153)
    by PenguinWrangler on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:54:09 AM EST

    Anybody ever met a real Wiccan follower? I've never met a druid or a "white witch" over here in the UK...

    Yes. I've met loads. I used to go along to the "Talking Stick" meetings in London, and in my opinion they were good folks. Reminded me very much of SF fans, and there is quite a cross-over.

    Of course modern wicca and druidism and all that jazz was made up wholesale in the early 20th century, but hey, it's no more bollocks than any other religion, and a lot more fun than most!
    Do as thou wilt, an' it harm none. - or something.

    "Information wants to be paid"
    [ Parent ]
    Wicca... (4.20 / 5) (#159)
    by Mr Tom on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:39:43 AM EST

    > Anybody ever met a real Wiccan follower? I've
    > never met a druid or a "white witch" over here
    > in the UK...

    OK, since this has been doing my nut in this thread, I'll raise it here. Wicca!=Paganism, Wicca!=Druidism.

    And yes, I've met a few Wiccans, Pagans, and Druids. (In fact, I went to uni with the chief druid of the West Midlands, bizarrely enough) They're very nice people, although prone to excessive quantities of patchouli. ;-)

    > Looking at a few web pages, it looks a bit like
    > pagan beliefs spiced up with a bit of new-age-
    > travellerism, to me... Any wiccans out there?

    Umm, depends. There isn't really a "core text" for Wicca, as for many other religions. As a result, as a belief system it's fragmented, and often contradictory, depending on who you speak to. But you're not far off, basically it's "Don't hurt anyone, and look after the trees."

    Although Paganism has provided the UK with some fine things, and is somewhat more coherent - think of Easter Eggs, Samhain (now All Saints' and Hallowe'en), May morning, morris dancing (well, maybe not everything's fine! ;-) ), wassailing, and a rich culture that generations of more dominant religions have failed to obfuscate. This is a good thing. :-)

    (NB: I am not a pagan. But if I were to have a religion of any sort, they'd be high on the list. Thing is, I just don't like patchouli.) :-)


    -- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

    I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.
    [ Parent ]

    Asinine quote of the day award: (4.41 / 24) (#9)
    by cbatt on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:03:33 PM EST

    "The last thing we want to do is make our students feel guilty," said Lincoln Park Middle School Principal Robert Redden. "But, maybe there is a lesson to be learned here: that we should strive to treat each other with more kindness."
    Uhmm... some are guilty. To those, the first thing you want to do is make them feel guilty. It's called punishment and it's supposed to follow bad behaviour, such as relentless teasing leading to death.

    The statement is followed up by the remarkably unprofound "But maybe there is a lesson..."

    LOL! Maybe? We can also hand out the clueless award to this person. This isn't a question of maybe. There is a lesson to be learned here.

    -----------
    Before you can understand recursion
    you must understand recursion.

    Freedom (2.00 / 8) (#22)
    by communista on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:43:23 PM EST

    If you feel that the girl in question was guilty, then I can justify your comment. But it is not our job to judge people in certain respects (criminal acts are a bit different), for what we think is right or wrong. The girl, as far as we know was not commiting any criminal acts. So what was she guilty of? AFAIK, we are all free to practice whatever religion we want. Doesn't mean you or anyone else has to like it, but we have that freedom. Alternately, we have the freedom to not have other's beliefs pushed upon us.

    "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt." -Wiccan Rede
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    confused (4.16 / 6) (#26)
    by cbatt on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:52:56 PM EST

    I think the context of the quote is getting confused. It's not talking about the girl that committed suicide, it's talking about the guilt in the remaining students.

    -----------
    Before you can understand recursion
    you must understand recursion.

    [ Parent ]
    Not how I got it... (1.66 / 3) (#37)
    by communista on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:38:53 PM EST

    Uhmm... some are guilty. To those, the first thing you want to do is make them feel guilty. It's called punishment and it's supposed to follow bad behaviour, such as relentless teasing leading to death.

    Sounds to me like the comment was intended to justify the guilt placed on the young girl. Just my opinion.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    Whoops... (2.00 / 3) (#41)
    by communista on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:55:25 PM EST

    Upon reading it again I see that I may have misread it. Regardless, My opinion on freedom. Wrongly placed mayhaps.
    /me fucks shit up!!!!
    [ Parent ]
    confusion? (4.00 / 6) (#27)
    by ODiV on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:53:53 PM EST

    I'm pretty sure you two are completely missing each other here. What the original poster is talking about is the guilt of the tormentors of the wiccan child. There is a lesson here, we should be more tolerant of others, and that sort of stuff. You're talking about the guilt of the child herself. You thought the original poster was saying that the child was somehow guilty for her religion? Not at all... unless I'm missing something.


    --
    [ odiv.net ]
    [ Parent ]
    Your attitude isn't any better (3.61 / 21) (#12)
    by jasonab on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:17:45 PM EST

    Why are you insisting on treating Christians with the same scorn those children treated their classmate? They were no more Christian than a person with a broomstick is a Wiccan, and I would like to think that you would know better.

    The fact of the matter is, the majority of the media is not Christian, or very religious at all. The girl was taunted because she could be - not because of anything specific to her situation. There is little evidence to the contrary. You could replace "Wiccan" with most any other minority belief (including fundamentalist Christianity), and the situation would likely have repeated itself, just with different taunts. Your malicious flaming has no basis in reality. What happened to that girl is truly sad, but your attempts to capitalize on it with your own grandstanding are not much better.

    --
    America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd

    Who is a Christian? Remember Peter. (4.31 / 16) (#24)
    by Blarney on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:47:46 PM EST

    Every single time that somebody finds a Christian guilty of some offence, whether it be witch-burning, embezzling, adultery, war-mongering, whatever, he'll say that "Jesus forgives me" while people like you start saying "he's not really Christian." An ancient tradition, which I'm sure goes back to Peter saying "I don't know him." Truly classic.

    But who is the Christian?

    I see the preacher outside yelling about hell and damnation for those who aren't Christian. But how does he know who is and who isn't? Christianity is defined as belief, as opposed to action. It is not enough to look at somebody, their dress, their appearance, and decide that they are unChristian. He shouts "whore" whenever he sees a female wearing anything but an ankle-length dress - but there's nothing in the Christian Bible that would make it a sin for a girl to wear pants. He doesn't know. To know, you'd have to step into their head and find out what they believe. He doesn't know. But if I complain about his faulty reasoning to you, you might just tell me that he is not a Christian. Then you don't have to try to correct his error, you just let it slide, and commit the same error as him in the process.

    Who is a Christian?

    Christianity teaches that Jesus forgives all sins, and that all believers, guilty as they might be in the eyes of men, can still be with God. What about the thief nailed up next to Jesus? Jesus didn't point at him (well, he couldn't anyhow, ha ha. Crucifixion joke.) and say you are not welcome in the Lord's presence!. Nope, he took the thief with him.

    Who is a Christian?

    Christian is a state of mind. There is no acid test. You cannot say "If X committed adultery more than twice, or theft more then three times, or murder once, he is not a Christian." Either X believes in certain things, which makes him a Christian, or he doesn't believe, and is not Christian. His actions reflect his beliefs, but do not unambiguously indicate them. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." That means that he may commit sins, even while believing that he shouldn't. Who are you to judge his beliefs?

    This is just a way for Christians to avoid responsibility for the actions of other Christians, so that they aren't given a share of the blame by the secular people and authorities. It's no different then Peter denying Jesus so that he wouldn't get taken away by the cops. It's cowardly in the extreme. Why not, instead of denying the sinners, try to remedy the situation? Why not try to figure out why, even with the love of Jesus, they still do horrible things both to Christians and nonChristians alike? Why not try to learn from this, try to preach love and nonviolence?

    Don't disown these children. Don't take the easy way out. It is your responsibility, and that of every other Christian, to teach them better.



    [ Parent ]

    The Church is a pale shadow of Him (2.50 / 2) (#43)
    by ubu on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:59:19 PM EST

    It is a saddening situation that the invisible Church, whose calling is to be "the Light of the World", so often fails its Lord in this, its one and only worldly task.

    It's also quite appropriate to a Scriptural understanding of history and redemption. If the Church -- in and of itself -- could be wholly righteous in adherence to His Law, it would deny the necessity and the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.

    The corporate Church is first and foremost a symbol of the human frailty that requires Christ's intervention. From a human perspective this is a sad and lamentable situation, but from an eternal perspective it is the demonstration of sovereign God's overarching redemptive purpose.

    Those who love Christ must never forget the admonition of Paul in Romans 6:

    What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in new life.

    Ubu


    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    But Peter had a track record! (4.25 / 4) (#46)
    by jasonab on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:10:53 PM EST

    I don't understand why you're automatically making these children Christians, just because they did "Christian" stuff. Just because someone goes through the motions, doesn't mean they belong to a group. For that matter, these are 12 year olds. To make them a part of any sect is dicey at best. They haven't really been exposed to their choices. I don't understand why that somehow reflects on an entire group. Could a group of Wiccan children not have acted similarly? Again, they're just children.

    Every single time that somebody finds a Christian guilty of some offence, whether it be witch-burning, embezzling, adultery, war-mongering, whatever, he'll say that "Jesus forgives me" while people like you start saying "he's not really Christian." An ancient tradition, which I'm sure goes back to Peter saying "I don't know him." Truly classic.
    What are you talking about? You're making blatant generalizations that have no basis in this discussion. And how does Peter factor into this at all? You have automatically assumed these children are "Christian" without any evidence as to their true beliefs.
    I see the preacher outside yelling about hell and damnation for those who aren't Christian. But how does he know who is and who isn't?
    I had the same sort at my school when I was in college. I'm not going to defend him. In fact, I was one of the guys who would sit nearby and tell people why he didn't represent most other Christians. I don't know what his status is. What I do know is, you can't compare that to 12 year olds.
    Jesus didn't point at him (well, he couldn't anyhow, ha ha. Crucifixion joke.) and say you are not welcome in the Lord's presence!. Nope, he took the thief with him.
    Apart from the tasteless (and pointless) joke, the Bible is clear that one thief repented, and one did not. That's completely consistent with Christian teaching.
    That means that he may commit sins, even while believing that he shouldn't. Who are you to judge his beliefs?
    And who are you to judge that they are Christian? I say look at the person's track record of his actions. In this case, children, there is no track record. You cannot say these children are believers in Christ simply because of the source of their taunts.
    It's no different then Peter denying Jesus so that he wouldn't get taken away by the cops.
    How is there any similarity? Peter repented of his deed to Jesus. He reclaimed who he was, and preached unashamed and died for his faith.
    Why not, instead of denying the sinners, try to remedy the situation? Why not try to figure out why, even with the love of Jesus, they still do horrible things both to Christians and nonChristians alike? Why not try to learn from this, try to preach love and nonviolence?
    Why are the two incompatible? I clearly said that what happened was wrong. What I disagree with is that these children should somehow reflect on an entire religion. That makes no sense. Your argument assumes these are adults who have served the church. They are not.
    Don't disown these children. Don't take the easy way out. It is your responsibility, and that of every other Christian, to teach them better.
    Be that as it may, it's not the point of the article or my comment. Angst is trying to indict an entire belief system based on the actions of a few children, an indictment that makes no sense on the evidence. You are trying to extend that. Why are these children Christians? Why does their behavior indicate anything than that they know how to sing? You are doing the exact same thing you accuse Christians of doing, only in reverse. You assume the worst because you want to believe the worst. Instead, look at the facts.

    --
    America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
    [ Parent ]
    Making Christians (3.50 / 2) (#178)
    by j on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:10:35 AM EST

    I don't understand why you're automatically making these children Christians, just because they did "Christian" stuff.

    Blarney did not make them Christians. He just pointed out that we can't know for sure that they are not Christians, because committing sins doesn't automatically make you a non-Christian.
    Electric Angst, on the other hand, did make them Christians, because he has an agenda. That, we he expands only on one single aspect of the article in the Detroit News. That's why the post is in Op-Ed.
    And no, taunting others, be it with Christian hymns or not, it not "Christian stuff". Trying to convince them in the most loving way possible that they are on the wrong path might be. Probably. I'm not sure.

    [ Parent ]

    Who is to know... (3.33 / 3) (#232)
    by jasonab on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:26:57 PM EST

    because committing sins doesn't automatically make you a non-Christian.
    And I certainly agree with his point that you cannot disown someone simply because you disagree with them. I didn't think that was the case here, though.
    And no, taunting others, be it with Christian hymns or not, it not "Christian stuff". Trying to convince them in the most loving way possible that they are on the wrong path might be. Probably. I'm not sure.
    What they did certainly disturbs me. It reflects a complete lack of understanding about what they were taught (and I'd be interested in knowing who was taught what). Certainly, something needs to be done with those kids to show them the impact of their actions. I do hope something good can come of this.

    --
    America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
    [ Parent ]
    wiccans with broomsticks (3.50 / 2) (#134)
    by eudas on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:10:37 AM EST

    "They were no more Christian than a person with a broomstick is a Wiccan,"

    hey you try telling that to the naked chick painted green with a broomstick i saw walking around last year at burningmanaustin.

    eudas
    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    [ Parent ]
    Two things (3.78 / 14) (#23)
    by weirdling on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:45:15 PM EST

    One, the US was founded, specifically, to enforce religious intolerance. That the law currently enshrines religious freedom is a result of all the various religious factions fighting amongst themselves. Note that the first amendment is the only amendment specifically limited to congress. The reason for this is the Louisiana was a theocracy initially, and most of the early settlements were exceedingly religious. The Salem witch trials should easily demonstrate that.
    Actually, religious freedom is a recent addition, and the Wiccan religion, of which I know several, is just now gaining acceptance. To me, it is just as deluded as any other religion, and, given time, it will attempt to dominate just like any other religion, because the central quote of Wiccan, about doing anything you want so long as it does not harm, sounds remarkably like the central part of Christianity.
    Now, for the second thing: Nietsche said that Christianity has done far more harm than good. I am currently reading his 'Anti-Christ', which is essentially an anti-Christian rant, and it is interesting if for nothing more than an historical outlook. Christianity and indeed any religion has been proven to be remarkably intolerant *when in power*. There is not one single religion what wouldn't like to force everyone to be a part of it. I realise that individuals aren't this way, I'm speaking of the religion in general, more the corporate religion. It is actually a result of pride of identity. Essentially, when identified with a religion, one comes to the conclusion that this is the ideal solution to whatever question one has, and, as such, should be a generalised solution for everyone. It is seen as a good thing that others are compelled into the solution. A rabid religionist might even condone that behaviour, as her suicide demonstrates that she is somehow invalid.
    That being said, whatever convenient hallucination people wish to believe is fine by me. I, myself, am agnostic. That is the way I view the world. And believe me, I take all kinds of abuse from confirmed Christians trying to bring me back into the fold.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Um.... (3.25 / 4) (#38)
    by ucblockhead on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:46:42 PM EST

    Not the "US", but the Massachusetts colony. Some colonies were wildly intolerant in the beginning while others (like Pennsylvania) were specifically tolerant.

    This was all 120 years before the US even existed...

    And Louisiana wasn't US territory at the time you are talking about.
    -----------------------
    This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
    [ Parent ]

    All true (3.66 / 6) (#44)
    by weirdling on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:01:56 PM EST

    Forgive me, wasn't thinking well. Intended to point out that even as late as the adding of the Louisiana territory, the US had areas that were not religiously free.
    Massachusets, Plymouth, even Jamestown, were all quite religious. America was uniformly Christian, although the flavor varied, with Calvinists predominating in the Northeast, in one flavor or another, while Anglicans and Baptists tended toward the South. As a matter of fact, Lord Baltimore formed the Maryland colony specifically to give Catholics a place where they wouldn't be persecuted. So, the state of Maryland and the state of New York, if I remember right, were the two first leaders in actual religious freedom, but it was still limited to unpopular forms of Christianity. Even today, a large minority of the US would prefer to see some form of Christianity as the national religion.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    A few additions/corrections (3.50 / 4) (#109)
    by TheSpiritOf1776 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 10:48:01 PM EST

    I was under the impression that Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations was the first colony founded on religious tolerance. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson fled Massachusetts because of religious persecution. And I believe Pennsylvania was founded before Maryland and New York. Though I could have my dates wrong.

    Note that in Massachusetts, in the colonial times and during the early republic, church attendance was mandatory at (if I remember correctly) the Congregationalist Church. A portion of tax money collected also went to that church. The state religion in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts lasted until ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. I can't remember the date.



    [ Parent ]
    That's quite a statement. (3.60 / 5) (#64)
    by aphrael on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:12:22 PM EST

    One, the US was founded, specifically, to enforce religious intolerance.

    I find this remark puzzling. The British colonies in America were founded at a time when every country in the western world had a state religion to which citizens of the country were *required* to subscribe. The earliest colonies were founded at a time when Europe was fighting two vicious wars over the questions of (a) could a religious minority revolt and found their own country (the dutch war of independance, which lasted for 57 years) and (b) could the holy roman emperor enforce catholicism on all of the petty principalities within the empire (the thirty years' war). In neither case was the basic idea that the sovereign determined the religion of his people challenged at all --- indeed, the Dutch were far harsher in their treatment of the catholic minority than the Spanish had been of the protestant minority, and the end of the 30 years war came through a treaty which is widely held to have been the first enshrinment of the principle that sovereignty means there are some issues outsiders have no say over.

    Yeah, some of the colonies --- Plymouth, Massachussets, Providence, Maryland, Pennsylvania --- were formed by religious minorities fleeing England. That, in and of itself, says something: rather than forcing its religious minorities on penalty of torture or death to convert, as was happening elsewhere in Europe, the English let their religious minorities go to America. Once there, some of them became extremely intolerant --- but no more so than many European states of the time.

    The first amendment guarantees of free exercise and establishment were largely a compromise having to do with the fact that the states had different established religions. But that hardly means that the US was founded to enforce intolerance.

    [ Parent ]

    US history (2.50 / 2) (#249)
    by weirdling on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:22:59 PM EST

    Of course, those colonists fled Europe to avoid religious persecution, but once here, they happily set up the exact same level of persecution against those they disagreed with. In much of the early colonies, it was a civil offense to fail to go to church, swear, commit adultery, etc. Rhode Island, Maryland, and New York are the ones I remember that were really tolerant, and they were much later, Rhode Island being a colony of colonists from other colonies.
    The reason for the odd wording of the first amendment ('Congress shall make no law'), which isn't in any other amendment, is that much of the states still had heavy 'blue codes', as religious laws have come to be called, and many still do. Colorado prohibits the sale of liquor on a Sunday. They're open 24/6, but Sunday they're closed.
    Anyway, as late as when Louisiana became a state, there were still state-sponsored religions. Louisiana was a Theocracy, organized into parishes that were run by the local minister. Offerings were compuctual, and must be paid into the local parish. That is why counties in LA are still referred to as Parishes today.
    Just the other day, somewhere around here in Colorado, the local county seat had to remove the ten commandments from display due to the establishment clause. The thing had been there for some forty years before anyone noticed.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    [ Parent ]
    No different than anywhere else (2.50 / 2) (#255)
    by aphrael on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:27:20 PM EST

    they happily set up the exact same level of persecution against those they disagreed with.

    Granted. my point was merely that this was normal behavior for the time, and those colonies should not be held to a higher standard than the rest of the world.

    Louisiana was a Theocracy

    Louisiana was also annexed wholesale from the French; the political setup of the state was essentially the same as that which had prevailed under Napoleon.

    [ Parent ]

    Problematical argument there.... (none / 0) (#343)
    by jopasm on Mon Mar 26, 2001 at 02:10:09 AM EST

    Christianity and indeed any religion has been proven to be remarkably intolerant *when in power*
    I haven't read the book in question so I cannot respond directly to all the material in it. However, one could argue that *any* dominant belief system (whether it be religious, political, or a lack of religious or political beliefs) will seek to remain the dominant one. This seems to be a matter of human nature - some people are attracted to power and will do anything to gain and maintain it. Blaming the system they are currently manipulating is a misrepresentation of the problem. (If I were feeling esp. mean I'd add "meant to stroke the egos of whoever was doing the misrepresenting). Look at the various Communist/Socialist systems in place - they officially deny Religion, yet they still kill and do bad things to people under their control. If Religion really is the problem, why aren't these places paradises?

    Secondly, to address your first point - your examples of "how the US was founded to enformce religous tolerance" are based on events, and to some degree societies, that existed long before there was a United States. You are going to need more (and better) evidence than the actions of relatively isolated colonies nearly 100 years before the country was founded.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm (4.19 / 21) (#28)
    by Narcischizm on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:57:26 PM EST

    I've got some issues with this. First, can a 12-year old be a practicing, committed Wiccan? Did she actually know what it meant to be a Wiccan or did she borrow a book from a 14-year old who thought Wicca was 'cool'? In terms of suicide, how committed to a religion can a 12-yo be, that she will endure taunts and ridicule until driven to suicide? Was this a larger issue, like maybe mental illness and depression that drove her to suicide, regardless of her religious beliefs?

    IMO, this girl committed suicide because she was depressed, outcast, and just didn't feel like she could take it any longer. The other kids decided to use her religion as another point of ridicule. If she was publically a Born-Again, I bet she still would have been harrassed.

    We need to start looking at core issues rather than attempting to place blame on outside factors for what seems to clearly be a mental health and stress issue. I kept rereading this article, and the linked article, and it seemed pretty clear that this k5 article was sidestepping the issue as much as video games, music, movies, and guns being completely responsible for school shootings.

    Committment to religion by children (4.54 / 11) (#40)
    by MarkCC on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:48:07 PM EST

    I've got some issues with this. First, can a 12-year old be a practicing, committed Wiccan? Did she actually know what it meant to be a Wiccan or did she borrow a book from a 14-year old who thought Wicca was 'cool'? In terms of suicide, how committed to a religion can a 12-yo be, that she will endure taunts and ridicule until driven to suicide? Was this a larger issue, like maybe mental illness and depression that drove her to suicide, regardless of her religious beliefs?

    If this were a case of a 12 year old Christian girl who had been tormented by a group of atheist kids, would you be questioning whether or not the girl could have been a committed christian?

    There's an attitude among too many Americans that somehow, their religion is special, and gets a kind of default assumption of sanity. But other religions are automatically questions simply by virtue of their non-mainstream status.

    We don't know what this girls background is. But it's automatically OK to question her committment to her religion, because it was Pagan.

    We don't know much of anything about the kids who tormented her. But you can be damned sure that coverage and discussion will focus on how they weren't really Christian, because real Christians wouldn't do that.

    But turn it around, and no one would question the religious convinctions on either side: the Christianity of the victim would be beyond repute, and the Paganism tormentors would be highlighted and unquestioned.

    [ Parent ]

    Disagree. (4.00 / 8) (#52)
    by Narcischizm on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:29:04 PM EST

    I disagree because of my own upbringing as a Christian youth, not because the girl was a Wiccan. You misread my post if you thought that I was putting down Wicca as a valid religion, or the false belief that I am a Christian. At 12, I had no concept of what it meant to be a Christian. Christianity meant going to church, it meant saying my nightly prayers to Jesus, to protect my pets, my mom and dad. My commitment to that religion would have ended on the playground if I was ridiculed because of it, because I was too immature to know what it actually meant, in terms of my faith, and beliefs.

    Once I understood what that faith actually meant, I went through a 15-year period of spirit-searching, was no longer a Christian, for various reasons, and was a practicing Wiccan for 6 of those years. But this isn't about me, this is about a depressed 12-year old that unfortunately felt the only way out of a tortured existence was to commit suicide, and at root, that tortured existence had nothing to do with her religion.

    When I was in High School, the group most likely to receive ridicule was the Born-Again Christians, but none of them committed suicide because of it. People suffer religious persecution daily, but their answer to this persecution is NOT suicide. And this is the core of the issue, that mental illness is ignored for other causes, only because they are convenient, not because they address the real issue.

    It seems that many people's complaints center around press coverage. That a Christian girl would have recieved MORE press than this unfortunate Wiccan girl, and that Christians would have been up in arms. I would accuse them of the same thing, sidestepping the issue (like the myth of the Columbine murders being anti-Christian) and ignores that the girl is dead as a direct result of unbearable depression, treatable mental illness, and people can only think far enough to blame little Christian soldiers for singing taunting hymns.

    [ Parent ]
    Not the only core issue... (4.00 / 3) (#131)
    by Danse on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:55:54 AM EST

    And this is the core of the issue, that mental illness is ignored for other causes, only because they are convenient, not because they address the real issue.

    That's not the only issue here. The other major issue is the fact that this sort of harrassment is allowed to go on at schools across the country. I saw it all the time in the schools I went to. It happened to me as well. As I've said in another post here, what it came down to was that those who are popular can get support from the other kids to keep them from getting in trouble. If you're the target, you probably can't get much support, if any.

    Until parents teach their kids tolerance, there will continue to be violent incidents in schools and there will continue to be kids committing suicide rather than face the harrassment any longer.




    An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
    [ Parent ]
    Mainstream religions and support systems. (4.33 / 3) (#184)
    by MarkCC on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:32:28 AM EST

    Once I understood what that faith actually meant, I went through a 15-year period of spirit-searching, was no longer a Christian, for various reasons, and was a practicing Wiccan for 6 of those years. But this isn't about me, this is about a depressed 12-year old that unfortunately felt the only way out of a tortured existence was to commit suicide, and at root, that tortured existence had nothing to do with her religion.

    I don't disagree entirely, but I think there are some important distinctions to be made.

    While I agree that a childs committment to a religion isn't necessarily the same thing as an adults, I don't think that it should be shrugged off like this. I've known young teenagers with a well thought through, deep commitment to their beliefs. I don't think it's fair to simply ignore her religious convictions simply because she was young.

    And second, I've been through the experience of being taunted for religion. I'm Jewish, I spent four years living in a small town in Ohio, starting when I was six years old. We were the only Jewish family in town; my brother and I were the only Jewish kids in the school. It's hard to explain how alienating and isolating it is. I really sympathize with the pain this kid went through.

    When I was in High School, the group most likely to receive ridicule was the Born-Again Christians, but none of them committed suicide because of it. People suffer religious persecution daily, but their answer to this persecution is NOT suicide. And this is the core of the issue, that mental illness is ignored for other causes, only because they are convenient, not because they address the real issue.

    The difference with the Born Again Christians is that they have a strong support system. They're not alone being taunted for their beliefs. And that makes a huge difference. The pain of isolation is hard to explain, and harder to endure. When you're part of an established group, the members support each other, and the simple fact of group membership provides a huge amount of reinforcement. A member of a taunted group doesn't experience the same kind of pain as an isolated, unsupported individual.

    Through all this, I'm not trying to say that I really believe that it was the taunting alone that drove this poor girl to kill herself. Obviously, she was seriously depressed, and that points to other problems, either physical or emotional, in addition to what was happening at school. But the pain that was inflicted on her was significant, and it clearly contributed to the severity of her depression. And what's more, I really believe that if the roles were reversed, we'd be seeing a very different reaction to the whole story.

    I still think that if a group of Wiccan kids taunted a depressed Christian kid with religion-based attacks, and the Christian kid hilled themself, we'd be seeing a huge uproar, the likes of the Littleton incident, leading to a crackdown against any expression of paganism in the school. Instead, the kids who taunted this poor girl mercilessly get off scott free.

    [ Parent ]

    My focus... (3.00 / 2) (#209)
    by Narcischizm on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:02:58 PM EST

    I think the only place where we have even a minor disagreement is that focus seems to be around 'What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander' (Christian=Goose, Wiccan=Gander). Witchvox has an article about this, and basically the bent seems to be that the media wouldn't treat this the same if it had been a Christian girl that committed suicide. That a Christian girl would have received more press coverage, and the nation would have been outraged seeing big graphics titled 'Christian Persecution 2001', that Bush should launch an official investigation of Pagan persecution, and politicians should shout a rallying cry for increased tolerance of our Pagan-American Sisters and Brothers. My position is that its a tragedy either way, and no matter who gets more coverage, the real problem isn't given the coverage it deserves.

    Cruelty, hatred, intolerance. It happens every day, but not every story gets channeled through the media. The Taliban are committing heinous crimes against humans, but the press didn't give much coverage of these acts until they planned to destroy a few old statues. If the Taliban were torturing and killing Christians, they would have gotten a lot of press, but politicians and the media do not presently include Pagans or Muslims as a significant voting power or 'marketable demographic'. The press places potential ratings well before Right vs. Wrong. But thats another discussion.

    [ Parent ]
    false equality (1.66 / 3) (#223)
    by bobsquatch on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:24:02 PM EST

    basically the bent seems to be that the media wouldn't treat this the same if it had been a Christian girl that committed suicide.
    [snip]
    My position is that its a tragedy either way, and no matter who gets more coverage, the real problem isn't given the coverage it deserves.
    You claim that a tragedy leading to a nationwide repression of a minority religion is just as sad as a tragedy leading to a nationwide shrugging of shoulders. Really? It really doesn't matter if the press decides to manufacture a national issue based on the particular religion of the actors in a story?

    There are many tragedies here. It's trendy to say that the biggest tragedy is the loss of a human life; I don't think so. The biggest tragedy is that this story (like all "newsworthy" stories) is being used as a weapon by third parties to promote their point of view.

    The k5 story is yet another "Christian righteousness is evil and kills others" tale (even if the author didn't intend it that way). If the religions were reversed, Falwell & Co. would be spouting a "Wiccans are evil devil-worshippers and kill righteous Christians" tale. It's not an equal "tragedy either way" because of the difference in power and reach between the wiccan+geek press and the christian+"mainstream" press. Which story is more likely to lead to more torture in the schools? Which story is more likely to provoke retaliation? Hell, which story is more likely to even be heard?



    [ Parent ]

    Huh? (3.50 / 2) (#246)
    by Narcischizm on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 05:58:58 PM EST

    You claim that a tragedy leading to a nationwide repression of a minority religion is just as sad as a tragedy leading to a nationwide shrugging of shoulders. Really? It really doesn't matter if the press decides to manufacture a national issue based on the particular religion of the actors in a story?
    Where did you get that from? Did you read my other posts in this thread or someone elses? I was stating that the press has given statues more importance than people who are being killed for the same reasons the statue is being torn down. Ancient Art gets higher ratings than torture. This has little to do with the suicide of a little girl, it has everything to do with the way the press goes for ratings, not justice. If they cared about justice, the Taliban would have been covered long ago, the religious right would have been under fire long ago, The Wiccan Prohibition case would have been covered long ago, as would the hundreds of people restricted from holding jobs because they were bound by their religion to wear a certain peice of clothing, like a Chidoor(sp?) for Muslim women, or a Yamika for Jewish men (Yes it happens, 5 times locally in the last year). Further, if you had actually read my post in context, it is important what the press covers, but that should not be the focus if we are going to blame something that is only peripherally responsible. That would be Christianity.

    I say this again to make it clearer. A 12 year-old girl read some books on Wicca. Her mother recently bought them for her, according to the article. The girl was an outcast at school, and was frequently picked on, regardless of her chosen religion. Girl, depressed and feeling like an outcast, commits suicide. Why did she commit suicide? Can we prevent this in the future somehow especially since teen suicides are on the rise? What of the kids that taunted, harassed and teased her (independent of claimed religion), should they be punished? How can bullies in other schools be punished or dealt with to reduce the level of fear and dejection that some teens feel, possibly agitated because of clinical depression, or some other mental health issue? These are the questions that need to be asked, not 'Why do Christian get more press coverage?'

    Pagans are hopping into the same boat as Falwell & Co. by attempting to blow this into a religious issue, instead of a common sociological and psychological issue, that must be solved or teen suicide, and hatred and fear of simply going to class will continue to rise. Again, independent of religion, or press coverage, since neither seeks to solve the problem.

    As you yourself state
    The biggest tragedy is that this story (like all "newsworthy" stories) is being used as a weapon by third parties to promote their point of view.
    Exactly, read my posts. For example:
    the real problem isn't given the coverage it deserves
    which is that some students are subjected to constant harrassment. Some students suffer from depression, or other mental health issues. That the bullies are rarely punished. That teachers and school administrators could care less, until its too late.

    Which is most likely to cause retaliation? Now you are starting to get to the point. That kids will be bullied by someone in the majority or most powerful clique, until we figure out that we need to do something about it instead of simply accepting and ignoring the real problems that stem from this fact.

    Sorry if this sounds like a rant, my weekend is here, but I'd be happy to continue over the weekend.

    [ Parent ]
    where I got that from (1.80 / 5) (#257)
    by bobsquatch on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 08:29:45 PM EST

    Where did you get that from? Did you read my other posts in this thread or someone elses?

    Actually, I got it from your post, three above, subject "My focus..." In it you say that the press treats different groups unfairly all the time, yet claim that "thats another discussion," irrelevant to the story here, which should really be focused on schoolyard bullies, teacher policing, and catching teen depression.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your claim that we need to work harder to discourage bullying in the schools, and to catch the bullied victims early. Yes, yes, yes. However, I claim that press coverage and religious education are not irrelevant to the bullying.

    The press is perverse in its priorities, and thus distorts the news we get (just as you say). Witness the skapegoating of trenchcoat-wearing teens after Columbine -- how'd that happen? Or the repression of any of the other bogus "warning signs" that the gunmen supposedly showed. Some of these secondary victims of Columbine were harrassed even before the shootings, true, but many were harrassed because of the press coverage of the shootings.

    The press, and the intolerance preached at the pulpits of many of America's mainstream churches, don't seek to solve the problem of teen suicide; it's true. But they both contribute to the problem, as they go about seeking their own ends -- therefore they have to be addressed in any solution.

    Which is most likely to cause retaliation? Now you are starting to get to the point. That kids will be bullied by someone in the majority or most powerful clique, until we figure out that we need to do something about it instead of simply accepting and ignoring the real problems that stem from this fact.

    Who creates the most powerful clique? Who tells most of the students in the school that they belong to the One True Faith? Who teaches them that religious difference is Wrong, and those who don't do things the Christian way are going to get what they deserve in Hell? That'd be a good percentage of the Christian church in the USA. Who teaches them that black-clad teenage atheists are probably sociopaths? Who teaches them that it's the quiet weird bullied kid that will pipe-bomb their school? That'd be the mainstream press in the USA.

    Yes, kids will create their own reasons for bullying and torturing their peers. They don't need reasons pre-packaged for them by the press and the church, and they don't need people claiming that the encouragement from outside isn't part of the problem.



    [ Parent ]

    re: Hmmmm (4.33 / 3) (#181)
    by Tannim on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:22:39 AM EST

    I've got some issues with this. First, can a 12-year old be a practicing, committed Wiccan? Did she actually know what it meant to be a Wiccan or did she borrow a book from a 14-year old who thought Wicca was 'cool'? In terms of suicide how committed to a religion can a 12-yo be, that she will endure taunts and ridicule until driven to suicide? Was this a larger issue, like maybe mental illness and depression that drove her to suicide, regardless of her religious beliefs?

    First off, from following this issue on the various Pagan commmunity web sites, from what I've heard she was not a 'practicing, committed Wiccan'. She was a 12-year old who was interested in Wicca and had been reading about it with her parent's blessing. From the article:

    Smith, who raised Tempest alone, wasn't concerned when her daughter became interested in witchcraft. "She asked me if I'd buy her some books about Wicca, and I said I wanted to read them first," Smith said. "The books all talked about love and nature. I didn't see anything wrong with that."

    And yes, as some people have said, this was more an issue of the children targeting someone who was different, than of specificly religious harasement. From my point of view, it wasn't that the kids were teasing b/c they were Christian and she was Pagan, it was because they were a majority(or a mob as someone farther down mentioned) and she was minority.

    But regardless of why they were doing this, it still was harrasing someone about their (percieved) religious beliefs, and should not have been permitted to go on for so long as to drive her to her end.

    BTW, for a quick take on the Pagan point of view, you can visit the homepage for the Witch's Voice website

    [ Parent ]

    Read a bit between the lines (4.15 / 20) (#29)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 01:59:37 PM EST

    From the Detroit News article:
    Although Tempest had a few friends, many of her classmates had teased her constantly since elementary school. They teased her because she wore dark "Gothic" clothing to school. They teased her because she read books about Wicca, a pagan religion often associated with witchcraft. Her classmates often taunted her with Christian hymns.
    Now, it may well be that some of the children doing the taunting were self-professed Christians. We don't know that. All we know is that the children doing the taunting were using Christian hymns as part of the barage of hate.

    The implication of this writeup is that it is Christians that drove poor Tempest to suicide. This may be the case, but if it was, it is only because that those Christians that made Tempest's life a living hell weren't living out their faith.

    Ideals v. Practice (3.85 / 7) (#33)
    by Electric Angst on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:14:19 PM EST

    It's true, given the tenets of most all versions of Christianity, these kids weren't acting within the faith. What we get into now, however, is the actual actions of the people of the faith verses the ideals that it espouses.

    I'm not attacking the faith itself, I'm attacking the culture that incorporates that faith. This isn't really about Christianity, this is about American Christian Culture.


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    Close, but not quite (4.16 / 6) (#35)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 02:31:08 PM EST

    I'm not attacking the faith itself, I'm attacking the culture that incorporates that faith. This isn't really about Christianity, this is about American Christian Culture.
    Its about US Culture. Period. If you honestly think that the US is now, or ever has been a Christian culture, you've bought a lie, hook line and sinker. Many USians (like the Rutherford Institute or the Moral Majority) would like you to believe that US culture is predominantly Christian in nature, but it just ain't so.

    Our culture, mores and values are steeped in the Humanism of the Rennaisance and the Enlightenment. As a culture we owe more to Rationalism, Humanism, and Individualism than we do to Christianity.

    I will admit that certain factions of Christianity were commonly used as a vector to spread the message of Humanists. (This is why founding fathers such as George Washington attended Church services even though they weren't Christians.)

    These children that tormented Tempest used Christian hymns because that was the best way to get under Tempest's skin. If Tempist had been a Christian, they would have used something else. Children in most schools in the US will torment anyone that they perceive as being different.

    [ Parent ]

    The case could be made (3.50 / 4) (#61)
    by slick willie on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:56:29 PM EST

    If you look at some of our societal attitudes towards, sex, drugs, and almost anything remotely related to the seven deadlies, many of our mores and attitudes are right out of 17th century Puritanism.

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    [ Parent ]

    US societal norms are Puritanical? (3.00 / 3) (#67)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:17:05 PM EST

    If you look at some of our societal attitudes towards, sex, drugs, and almost anything remotely related to the seven deadlies, many of our mores and attitudes are right out of 17th century Puritanism.
    Sure thing. Those Puritans would have heartily approved of our current movie ratings system which allows decadent films to be publicly viewed on the provisio that only the adults get to watch them. Those same Puritans would also have heartily approved of the ease in which alcohol and tobacco can be purchased. If you think that current US mores and societal values are Puritanical, you really ought to do some reading of the Puritan movement and then go take a stroll down to the cinemaplex to see what's playing.

    I suppose the grass is always deader depending on which side of the fence you're on. Social libertines constantly complain about the social tyranny of current US culture at the same time as the religious right is condemning current US culture for being so decadent.

    BTW, how many of the seven (really it's eight) deadlies can you name off of the top of your head? Look them up if you can't remember. I think you might be surprised.

    [ Parent ]

    RE: US societal norms are Puritanical? (3.33 / 3) (#69)
    by slick willie on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:47:11 PM EST

    Avarice, Lust, Covetousness, Gluttony, Anger, Pride, and, my all-time favorite: Sloth. All from memory, all of the top of my head. You've got me on number eight, though. OK, so that comment was a little specious. Is that the point you're trying to make?

    You're taking the argument a little to the extreme, my point being that, for example, violence is willingly shown on TV, while we get squeamish about anything sexual. Very puritanical.

    As for your arguments about alcohol, etc., all you need to do is think back to Prohibition, and ahead to our current attitudes toward any substance that alters your mental state.

    Seen any witch hunts lately? Seriously. Look around and see who is trying to hang whom for what.

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    [ Parent ]

    Reasons... (3.20 / 5) (#89)
    by theboz on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 07:10:04 PM EST

    I wouldn't say some of the attitudes are puritanical. We'll use sex as an example. If you were a parent, would you want your 12 year old having sex? There are reasons why the answer should be no. 1) I have heard statustics that claim about 1/3 of the people in the world have an STD. I am not sure what it is for the U.S., but that number is way too high still. Most of the STDs I know of would not be easy to cure if they are curable at all. These diseases can ruin the rest of your life. 2) Pregnancy. Once a child starts puberty, which is fairly young in girls, she can get pregnant. That is a responsibility that most adults have trouble with, much less a child. That can ruin the life of your child as well.

    Some of these puritanical beliefs are merely for survival. I do agree that there are backwards laws, for example in Georgia you can't buy alcohol in a store on Sundays but you can buy it in a restaurant. There is no reason to not be allowed to buy alcohol on Sunday. However, the drinking and driving laws can be good, because it puts lives in danger for people to drive drunk. I see a definite advantage to some of these things.

    Stuff.
    [ Parent ]

    Sex (4.00 / 2) (#183)
    by j on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:29:52 AM EST

    I always wanted that as a subject :)
    I wouldn't say some of the attitudes are puritanical. We'll use sex as an example. If you were a parent, would you want your 12 year old having sex?I wouldn't say some of the attitudes are puritanical. We'll use sex as an example. If you were a parent, would you want your 12 year old having sex?

    If the American squeamishness about sex is all about keeping our kids safe, what about the violence? My daughter is just 2, so I don't really know But I'm pretty sure I'd rather want you to have sex than being shot or beaten up.
    So, why do we get all the violence on prime time TV and no decent nudity? Perhaps calling the underlying ideals puritan would simplify the issue too much, but an issue there is. A good friend used to say 'The only way you can show a female breast on TV is if it belongs to a murder victim.' A bit over-stylized, but not that far off. Is that really the culture in which we want our children to grow up?
    If you ever get the opportunity, watch some hours of German TV. No shampoo commercial is complete without a pair of breasts, but Germans tend to be rather squeamish about violence on prime time. I liked that. It's more... life affirming.

    [ Parent ]

    I whole-heartedly agree with you... (3.00 / 3) (#196)
    by theboz on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:38:30 AM EST

    I was just playing the devil's advocate there. I agree that sex isn't a bad thing, and that it is often demonized by religious people, but at the same time it can be harmful to be in the circumstances I mentioned in the previous post.

    As far as the violence, I do think that is pretty hypocritical for TV to be ok with showing real videos of people being hit by trains but not a tit or two, but I don't watch it anymore as it's all a load of crap anyways.

    Stuff.
    [ Parent ]

    Why I don't consider the US to be puritanical (3.66 / 3) (#175)
    by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 09:50:11 AM EST

    1. Supermarket check out lanes: the headlines on the most common magazines indicate how-to articles on achieving better orgasms or what celebrity is bonking what other celebrity.
    2. Movies: it's quite difficult to find any movie rated above G that doesn't contain nudity and/or what most Puritans would consider to be blatant sexual immorality.
    3. TV: Friends, ER, Jerry Springer. Need I say more?
    4. Adult book stores: I don't know about where you live, but in my hometown you can't pick a ten mile radius without at least one adult book book store.
    5. Birth Control: Contraceptives are quite easy to find and purchase.
    6. Pregnancy tests: in my local grocery you can buy them by the six pack.
    7. Social Tolerance: I've yet to work in an environment where cohabitation without being married is frowned on.
    8. Newspapers: Read through the personal ads sometime. Hardly what I would expect from a nation of Puritan values.
    I'll concede the point that US society isn't as libertine as Imperial Rome under Caligula. But by no means does that mean that US society is even remotely Puritanical. When's the last time you saw someone publically flogged for adultery? How often is someone forced to where a visible sign of his or her sexual immorality for an extended period of time? (Outside of child molesters.)

    My point about the deadly sins is that lust is only one of the deadly sins, and not even the most deadly at that. Evagrius of Pontus first listed the following sins in order of increasing seriousness as being captial or deadly: gluttony, lust, avarice, dejection, anger, apathy, vainglory, and pride. Lust is ranked of second to least importance. Consider the others and how aptly they fit US society. If the US were Puritanical in nature, we wouldn't as a society praise the attributes of hubris and pride. Apathy wouldn't be a way of life. We wouldn't glorify anger and revenge in our movies.

    Somehow, I think that if the US really were Puritanical that William Jefferson Clinton would have never made it to the office of president and if by some queer quirk of fate he did, he almost certainly would have been impeached and convicted of the Lewinsky affair. As it is, most of the US public thought the impeachment was little more than a witch hunt. That doesn't sit well with viewing the US as a puritanical society.

    [ Parent ]

    Blue Laws, Sodomy, Etc. (3.50 / 2) (#190)
    by slick willie on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:18:57 AM EST

    As it happens, I agree with you, by and large. But, I also think that there are, to a large degree, incomprehensible remnants of prudishness throughout our culture and our laws. Prudishness being a defining characterisic (IMO) of puritanism.

    Perhaps I should not have used a capital 'P' for Puritanism, so that it was not specifically tied to the relgious movement, but rather to a general attitude. I didn't want to imply that we were a puritan culture, moreso that many of our laws, traditions, and so forth are steeped in puritanism.

    The last time I saw someone publicly flogged for adultery was during the whole Monica flap!

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    [ Parent ]

    puritanism != (prudishness || morality) (3.33 / 3) (#193)
    by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:35:07 AM EST

    The last time I saw someone publicly flogged for adultery was during the whole Monica flap!
    I must have missed this part. I thought that the worst thing that happened was Bill Clinton, Robert Livingston and Henry Hyde all got their formerly hidden affairs brought into the public light. Hardly a flogging. Just ask Michael Fay if such comes even close to a public flogging. Travel abroad, some cultures do still flog people for adultery.

    Being prudish is being overly modest or proper in behavior. A prude doesn't do certain things because he or she finds them embarassing.

    Being puritanical is being strict in morals and behavior for a specific religious person. A puritan doesn't do certain things because he or she believes that an utterly pure lifestyle is one of the marks of salvation.

    Being moral is having a set of ethical guidelines. A moral person doesn't do certain things because he or she believes it is wrong to do so.

    Obviously a person can be a prude, a puritan, and moral. A person can also be a moral puritan, a puritanical prude or a moral prude. One does not have to be all three.

    [ Parent ]

    Depends on where you look (2.50 / 2) (#208)
    by slick willie on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:50:47 PM EST

    • puritan: One who lives in accordance with Protestant precepts, especially one who regards pleasure or luxury as sinful. (From dictionary.com, emphasis mine.)
    • 2: one who practices or preaches a more rigorous or professedly purer moral code than that which prevails (From m-w.com)
    These are the senses of the word to which I was speaking, and I maintain that it applies -- not that it's pervasive, not that it's the way our culture is, but that it is one of the underpinnings of our culture. Much as your house probably isn't made entirely of concrete, but there's likely to be some in the foundation.

    With regard to public flogging, it's fairly obvious that no one was literally flogged (or caned, as the case may be) over Monicagate. However, there was a faction of people who would have gladly done that very thing, given the chance. Metaphorically, however, it was a flogging any [P|p]uritan would have been proud to witness.

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    [ Parent ]

    What am I missing? (3.00 / 3) (#210)
    by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:17:04 PM EST

    From my reading, either of the two definitions of puritanism you provided could be dropped into my distinction between morality, prudishness and puritanism and it would still be apt.

    I think it safe to say that: (1) if puritanism sees pleasure and luxury as being sinful, the majority of USians is far, far away from being puritanical; and (2) if puritanism is defined as being practicing or preaching a more rigorous or purer moral code than that which prevails, obviously the prevailing culture of the US can not puritanical.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmmmm (2.50 / 2) (#242)
    by slick willie on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 05:34:31 PM EST

    We may be arguing apples and oranges.

    Waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy back when, you spoke thusly:

    Our culture, mores and values are steeped in the Humanism of the Rennaisance and the Enlightenment. As a culture we owe more to Rationalism, Humanism, and Individualism than we do to Christianity.
    The main point that I wanted to make is that, yes, these belief systems that you mentioned are all part and parcel of our culture, but...there are also the underpinnings of [P|p]uritanism, and protestantism, both of which are, by extension, Christianity. I make no claims of predominance, just that, from another view, the case could be made.

    Hell, yes, the vast majority of USians are decadent and id-driven, there's no disagreement there, however, I don't think that the contribution of religion should be understated.

    Looks like we can agree to disagree on this one. <G> Thanks for the debate!

    BTW, Iam not a Christian, in case you were wondering.

    "...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
    --Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

    [ Parent ]

    Alcohol (2.66 / 3) (#71)
    by Blarney on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:05:19 PM EST

    As far as I know, the Puritans did drink alcohol. I remember reading once - I don't remember who said it - that the Mayflower crew was severly bummed because they were running out of beer.



    [ Parent ]

    They weren't "bummed" (3.00 / 2) (#272)
    by dgwatson on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 11:02:43 AM EST

    In olden days ( :) ), you didn't have any way of keeping water safe and clean. Generally, the only things that were safe to drink on a ship were alcoholic, because the alcohol would kill off dangerous microorganisms. I'm sure even the children drank beer.

    So when they ran out of alcoholic drinks, the choice was to either drink filthy water on the ship and get horrendous diseases, or to make landfall.

    [ Parent ]
    perhaps not even Christians (2.66 / 3) (#141)
    by Delirium on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:17:42 AM EST

    I think the point is that these kids might not even have been Christian at all (not even claiming to be Christian). I know for example that if I knew someone who was very arrogantly Wiccan and anti-Christian it's likely I would sing Christian hymns at him/her just to piss him/her off, despite the fact that I'm atheist. I like pissing off intolerant people. =|

    [ Parent ]
    Special pleading? (4.40 / 5) (#51)
    by elenchos on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:25:09 PM EST

    1. No Christian would do such a thing.
    2. Well, here's some Christians who did.
    3. They weren't true Christians. No true Christian would do such a thing.

    I think a certain fraction of Christians are terrible people, the same with non-Christians. The problem is, the rats aren't counted as real Christians, which means that anyone claiming that Christianinty makes people behave better than they would without Christianity only has to count the nice Christians in their favor, and so pretend that the evils done by "Christians" have nothing to do with Christianity.

    Honestly, if a bunch of Wiccians had driven a Christian kid to suicide, would you have any sympathy for someone saying "They weren't real Wiccans. True Wiccans would never do such a thing."

    Adequacy.org
    [ Parent ]

    Actually, yes. . . (3.75 / 4) (#56)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:41:09 PM EST

    Honestly, if a bunch of Wiccians had driven a Christian kid to suicide, would you have any sympathy for someone saying "They weren't real Wiccans. True Wiccans would never do such a thing."
    If such an event occurred I quite likely point out that the behavior of the Wiccans involved violated the only tenet that comes close to being universally accepted among all Wiccans, do what you will as long as it harms none.
    1. No Christian would do such a thing.
    2. Well, here's some Christians who did.
    3. They weren't true Christians. No true Christian would do such a thing.
    This is not my case. My case is that if the children that tormented Tempest were Christians, then they were not living out their faith. I suppose that one could construe this statement to imply that one that fails at living out his or her faith is not a true witness to that faith. That conclusion is somewhat arguable. People like Reverend Phelps (the God Hates Fags guy) certainly engage in behavior that is repulsive to Christ. Does this mean that they aren't Christians? I dunno. I'll let Jesus decide that on judgement day.

    Think of Ronald Reagan. He supposedly was somewhat libertarian in bent and yet he helped contribute to the largest US government in history. Does that mean that he didn't really believe in smaller government? I can't say that, but it is fair to point out the tension between his words and his behavior. To the extent that Ronald Reagan believed that government that governs best, governs least while in office, he certainly didn't consistently act his belief out.

    [ Parent ]

    Totally reasonable. But... (4.00 / 3) (#74)
    by elenchos on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:30:38 PM EST

    ...I leaves me wondering. As we have discussed elsewhere, there is this claim that Christianity makes people behave better, that it is the foundation for morality and that it is a positive influence. In my Catholicism class Father Egan claims that the involvement of the Church with the warlords of the Middle Ages, the prohibitions on fighting on certain days of the week and year (that sound silly to us today, because they imply: "slaughter away on these other days!"), and the establishment of militarty-religious orders had the effect of making people more civilized. While that stuff may seem unchristian to us today, given the realities of those times, it was the only thing the Church could do to make things a little better. I mention this Roman Catholic history as just one example. There are dozens, hundreds.

    So how do I test these claims? It seems like any time I give an example of a Pope or a monk or a church, or just a bunch of self-described Christians somewhere, who do something evil, they are defined away as being not real Christians. So it is rigged: all acceptable examples of real Christians are going to be examples of people behaving decently. Given that, what allows anyone to argue that the decent behavior was caused by their being Christian?

    The other evidence being ignored is all the non-Christians who are also quite decent people. To me it seems there is simply no correlation between religion and good behavior. So where is my reasoning going wrong here?

    Adequacy.org
    [ Parent ]

    when is an adherent a litmus test? (4.40 / 5) (#95)
    by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 08:28:08 PM EST

    First, I'd like to say that I'm glad that a more appropriate forum has come up to continue our prior dialogue. Second, I'd like to express my appreciation for the way that you, elenchos, have been almost entirely disagreeing with me while maintaining a very calm and rational manner. Unfortunately, such behavior is somewhat rare.
    So how do I test these claims? It seems like any time I give an example of a Pope or a monk or a church, or just a bunch of self-described Christians somewhere, who do something evil, they are defined away as being not real Christians. So it is rigged: all acceptable examples of real Christians are going to be examples of people behaving decently. Given that, what allows anyone to argue that the decent behavior was caused by their being Christian?
    The best group of people to use as the examplars of Christianity would be the people that Christians hold up to be exemplars of Christianity. In the case of the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican (to a limited extent), and non-Chalcedonian Churches of the East, this would be the individuals recognized as being Saints. In the Protestant world, I suppose such towering figures as the Reformers would suffice, but for the sake of Protestants, I hope not. (Jean Calvin and Maritn Luther both approved of both extracting confessions from heretics by means of torture and sentencing heretics to be burned. To be fair, the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church had a similiar attitude and so did some of the Eastern Orthodox Churches such as the Russian Orthodox Church.)

    So let's consider Orthodoxy. To find people that would be suitable for your test, I would look at the roles of Saints and pay special attention to the ones that had converted to Christianity. Many of these had lived quite nefarious lives before becoming Christians. Saint Moses the Ethiopian and Saint Cyprian the Sorcerer would be two good examples. (Saint Cyprian the Sorcerer is so named because before his conversion to Christianity, he was a sorceror.) Other examples also abound. A modern Orthodox example would be Tatiana Gordecheva. She isn't considered to be a saint. (At least not that I'm aware of.) Her memoir, Talking About God is Dangerous, however, is a very compelling tale of someone that turned from leading a very ugly life to leading a very saintly life.

    The obvious response to this would be that most major religions have such conversion stories. The very astute elenchos alluded to this response.

    The other evidence being ignored is all the non-Christians who are also quite decent people. To me it seems there is simply no correlation between religion and good behavior. So where is my reasoning going wrong here?
    Orthodox Christian docrine specifies that such is the case, that not all godly people are Christians. Saint Justin the Martyr (also known as Saint Justin the Philosopher) held that godly men like Socrates were "Christians before Christ." Orthodoxy posits that all people have a conscience built into their soul. Individuals that listen to this conscience "are a law unto themselves" in the words of the blessed Saint Paul the apostle.

    An important aspect of Orthodoxy is that it claims to be the full truth and not the exclusive truth. Orthodox Christianity is the fullest revelation of ultimate truth. This does not mean that other religions do not contain some aspect of truth. But to the extent that those religions differ from Orthodoxy is the extent that those religions are either lacking (in cases where they are incomplete representations of truth) or perverted (in cases where they flat out wrong).

    My question to you, elenchos, is if we are to construct a system of morality without resorting to religion or faith, on what foundation are we to build? Are we to hope that enlightened self interest will prevail? History seems to me to demonstrate that most people (at least the people in positions of power) are incredibly unenlightened in terms of their self-interest. Are we to hold to some sort of utilitarianism? It seems to me that nothing approaching a common definition of "good" is forthcomng despite centuries of discussing the notion. How about altruism? Most intellectuals I know of laugh at the very notion. Is there a non-religious system of morality that I am unaware of?

    [ Parent ]

    Ugh... sorry. OK. Here's a swat at some of it... (4.00 / 2) (#262)
    by elenchos on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:37:32 PM EST

    I wrote this really long and well thought out reply to this yesterday, and then I looked and somehow it didn't get posted. I don't know what wrong thing I clicked, but it was gone and I couldn't even find it in the cache or anything. So now I have to rewrite it and my motivation is waning.

    Skipping some fairly off-topic nit picking that I wrote yesterday (it was brilliant I tell you), I think you maybe miss the point of my question. You mention that there are saints and saintly people in various denominations, and then mention some specifically in Orthodoxy. I would have been surprised if there weren't any; these are large populations we are sampling from after all. It is admirable that Orthodoxy acknowledges that there may also be wonderful people who are not Christian, although in some ways it reminds me of the lazy husband who can't stop reminding his wife how he took out the garbage without being nagged back in 1987. Of course there are good people outside $RELIGION. To think otherwise is to be appallingly chauvinistic, to refrain from doing so is not cause for that much praise. But given the fundamentalist turn of US Christianity of late I guess we have to be appreciative of the smallest things.

    Anyway, you make me respect Orthodoxy more and more all the time (Fr. Egan says has some kind things to say as well), but none of this is reason to believe that people are more ethical with Christianity than without. To argue that, you would have to start talking about the behavior of whole populations, not list a few individuals. You could figure out a way to know how many saintly people a population is expected to have, and then show that a Christian population has more, but that doesn't sound promising. Perhaps statistics like divorce rates and teenage pregnancy could be used, but unfortunately those numbers do not make Christianity look good at all. And since we have evidence that these numbers, like crime rates, correlate very well with other things, like economic status, it seems all the more unlikely that religion is involved. So while the purpose of religion may be to make people behave better, I still await evidence that it does.

    As far as shifting the burden to me to provide an alternative basis for morality, I decline. I assert that Christianity has not been proven to be successful in the goal of making a population behave better than it would otherwise, but that does not mean I must provide an alternate to Christianity in order to prove that Christianity fails in this goal. I only must show that populations without Christianity are no worse off than with it, and that Christians are capable of the same evil as non-Christians.

    However, this does lead me to suspect that the cause of a moral society is not a sound moral philosophy. I think that given a society that is healthy in the ways that do affect moral behavior (free from massive dislocations and upheavals, corrupting influences like exploitive overlords or empires, economic disaster, for example) then just about any `pretty good' moral code will do. Utilitarianism, Marxism, pragmatism, existentialism... there are a number of secular ethical systems that would serve well enough. Sure, any clever boy can come along and poke them full of holes, but you can say the same of Christian ethics. Yet Christian ethics can do the job in an otherwise healthy society. So it appears that a perfect ethical system is not really required. It appears that only intellectuals feel the pressing need to remove all the contradictions and special cases from an ethical system.

    Normal people actually behave well because they were brought up in a decent home and live in a decent society. This is conditioned into them, and just because some Socrates comes along and points out that the foundation of their system (ancestor worship, Jesus, pursuit of honor, rational self-interest, whatever) is not solid, they are not all of a sudden going to start raping and murdering. The will keep on about their business as usual, without some other factor to make them change their behavior.

    That is basically a behaviorist take on morality, but it seems to be verifiable. The time when that kind of socially conditioned morality fails is when a new problem is presented, like the discovery of a new race of people who look different, and therefore might not be defined as human, or the discovery of a new technology that raises questions that no answer for was ever taught. I would bet that the application of reason has and shall continue to be the best guide in these cases.

    This is why I don't fear new humans of greater intelligence. They should be expected to behave intelligently, and I don't see why a hyper-intelligent man would sit there and decide to go wipe out all the dumb people. What would make him want a genocidal war? How would he justify to himself oppressing people?

    Anyway, that is just speculation on my part. None of that has any bearing on my assertion that the hypothesis remains unproven that Christianity is a boon to the morality of people, or that it is the necessary foundation of morality.

    There. Now I have work to do and so can't go on amusing myself here. It isn't enough that I get paid to think. I want to get paid to think about what I want to think about.

    Adequacy.org
    [ Parent ]

    nothing to report here. (3.45 / 20) (#49)
    by gblues on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:16:13 PM EST

    Okay, a young girl gets teased at school, becomes depressed, and commits suicide. There have been a bazillion after-school specials on this subject. All you're doing is using it to bash Christianity.

    Someone, please, show me where in the gospels Jesus says anything about persecuting those who did not have faith in him. You won't, because he says quite the opposite: love those who hate you, and do good to those who persecute you.

    Yeah, some people claim to be Christians and don't act like it. Obviously such people are not what they claim to be. That's life, and definitely not worth this pathetic write-up.

    Nathan
    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
    Actually... (4.22 / 9) (#50)
    by Electric Angst on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:24:57 PM EST

    To say that these children weren't Christian is a cheap cop-out. Just because their actions were in opposition to the general teaching of the majority of the varients of the religion, does not invalidate their faith, or the fact that it was that faith they used as a weapon against their peer. What we should be doing is examining what it is that makes children who claim to be Christian do something as vicious and cruel, in spite of their faith. There is obivously some problem in the culture that allows entire groups of children to use their faith as a weapon against another child.


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    You hit the nail at an angle (4.28 / 7) (#58)
    by Narcischizm on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 03:51:04 PM EST

    'Faith' has nothing to do with this. What makes Children so cruel, not just those that claim to be some religion? I posted to Lee_malastesa's diary a few days ago about a few kids who were picked on in my High School. Like my legally blind friend who had his glasses stolen frequently because some kids thought it was funny to watch him crawl around unable to see anything. There was a kid who had milk poured over his head almost everyday. I was beaten up in Elementary school at leat once a week because I was short, fat and black.

    I grew and was on my High School football and weghtlifting teams. I ended up spending a good deal of my high school career beating up other jocks, even my own teammates, because they picked on my friends in the gaming club, or the chess club, or the theater tech crew, or the band, or the computer club, etc. to the point of hanging dead animals in their lockers, stripping them to their underwear in the halls, or slapping them upside the head with dogshit. None of this cruelty was done in the name of Christianity.

    It isn't a problem with Christian Culture, it is a problem of ignoring very real problems of many kids, and letting cruel activity from certain people go unpunished.

    [ Parent ]
    Don't stop there (2.83 / 6) (#63)
    by ubu on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:11:10 PM EST

    What we should actually be doing is interning Christians in camps and subjecting them to various tests. Ditto for anyone who becomes a "problem" for society.

    Also, shock treatment for political opponents of the state. "We" must do something.

    Ubu


    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    Also... (2.28 / 7) (#65)
    by ubu on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:12:36 PM EST

    Klebold and Harris were obviously celebrating the birthday of Marcus Aurelius. We should examine what makes Stoics so murderous.

    Ubu


    --
    As good old software hats say - "You are in very safe hands, if you are using CVS !!!"
    [ Parent ]
    Minor nit (4.00 / 5) (#68)
    by gbd on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:39:55 PM EST

    Someone, please, show me where in the gospels Jesus says anything about persecuting those who did not have faith in him. You won't, because he says quite the opposite: love those who hate you, and do good to those who persecute you.

    You're correct that Jesus never (to the best of my knowledge) instructed his followers to persecute anybody. But your example is not entirely valid; the girl in question did not hate or persecute Christians. She simply wanted to be left alone.

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
    [ Parent ]

    what? (2.50 / 2) (#103)
    by ODiV on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:28:07 PM EST

    The poster was saying that the _tormentors_ weren't following Jesus, not the girl who killed herself. gblues was saying that the attackers obviously weren't representing Christianity. You can't blame Christianity for the maliciousness of kids.


    --
    [ odiv.net ]
    [ Parent ]
    Oh I get it (2.00 / 1) (#228)
    by ODiV on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:05:25 PM EST

    You were saying that Jesus said "Love your enemies," but he didn't say anything about the quiet people who leave you alone. You're saying that Jesus could have endorsed violence and intolerance towards your family, friends, and aquaintances since he doesn't specifically condone it in that one sentence. That _is_ a nit.


    --
    [ odiv.net ]
    [ Parent ]
    Another minor nit... (4.33 / 3) (#116)
    by Zeram on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:43:35 PM EST

    While you technically correct that Jesus himself never preached any sort of intolerance (except perhaps against Jews). The bible does however specifically endorse the killing of witches. Exodus 22:18 says "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

    Also Deuteronomy 18:10 says: "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch."

    And while I don't feel that either one of those quotes has any real bearing on the case at hand, my point is that there is historical presedent for the killing of witches by christians.
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    [ Parent ]
    Old Testament = different contract (2.50 / 2) (#125)
    by gblues on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:51:10 AM EST

    The Old Testament is a record of the birth of Israel. The covenant established was based on laws established by God, documented in Exodus, Deutoronomy, Leviticus, etc.

    If law was sufficient to justify a man before God, Jesus' sacrifice was for nothing. Jesus came and died precisely because the laws were not enough to justify a man. It only succeeded in condemning him. He who had no sin became sin on our behalf, and bore out our rightful punishment--death.

    Therefore, since Christians are no longer under the law established in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, saying the Bible encourages Christians to kill witches is a fallacy. There were a LOT of things that were punishable by death.

    Nathan
    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
    [ Parent ]
    If Satan is a liar, so are you (1.00 / 2) (#161)
    by slaytanic killer on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:49:45 AM EST

    Therefore, since Christians are no longer under the law established in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, saying the Bible encourages Christians to kill witches is a fallacy.
    Now tell that to the 12-year olds taunting the girl.

    After all, you can twist Scripture to fit your own ends, just like any devil.

    [ Parent ]
    So... (2.00 / 1) (#195)
    by Zeram on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:37:59 AM EST

    your saying that there is no point in having anything to do with the old testement? If the kids that taunted this girl were active christians then chances are they read those passages at some point.
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    [ Parent ]
    I'm saying.. (2.00 / 1) (#218)
    by gblues on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:55:10 PM EST

    I'm saying that the kids were wrong, and their actions do not reflect Christianity as a whole. The term "Christian" itself means "Christ-like," and so again I will ask you: where in the gospels does Christ say anything that advocates persecuting people?

    Nathan
    ... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
    [ Parent ]
    on having one's cake (2.00 / 1) (#227)
    by riot158 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:42:19 PM EST

    > where in the gospels does Christ say anything that advocates persecuting people?

    that doesn't seem to slow them down, though, does it? and 'persecute' is a mild term compared to some of the monkey business in the Old Testament.

    (pre-emptive response: you have no authourity to decide who is a 'real' christian.)

    [ Parent ]
    Draining anger (4.00 / 1) (#215)
    by slaytanic killer on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:11:35 PM EST

    Now that I am over my anger...

    How much is one allowed to pick and choose from the bible? You say that Christians "no longer" need to listen to parts of the bible. Then why isn't there an addendum, for all the simplefolk and children to read? Why was there the Inquisition, part of the legacy of which I visited a short while ago? Why was there not a single footnote in any part of the bible?

    The point is that organized Christianity has become a death machine, and though my Mormon friends have quite disturbing ideas, I much prefer their heresies to quietly strangle the earth than the savage desires of the Catholic/Protestant moloch running amok again.

    Point out more subtleties, please, while the world passes you by...

    [ Parent ]
    OT woes (2.00 / 1) (#225)
    by riot158 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:38:40 PM EST

    However, without the OT, Jesus was nothing more than the son of a carpenter.

    To discard the OT because the commandments and laws are inconvenient is... well, it's amusing to me, but I'm not a christian. I can imagine that certain other parties might have a different opinion.



    [ Parent ]
    A mild objection... (4.25 / 27) (#66)
    by seebs on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:13:17 PM EST

    I would argue that the kids who taunted the poor girl, while they may have had little "Christian" hats, were not doing a very good job of sticking to the beliefs their religion supposedly holds.

    If a bunch of people claiming to be "communists" pursued their belief in shared property by killing me and taking all my stuff, I'd hate to see the ideology of communism, however flawed it may be, blamed for what is clearly a behavior that has little to do with it.

    Similarly, what we see here is the cruelty of children, not a religious act.


    Exactly. (3.66 / 6) (#76)
    by Electric Angst on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:51:02 PM EST

    I would agree, from my knowledge of the tenets of Christianity, that these kids weren't following them very well. The point is, why would these kids choose to pick on this girl because of her religion? What would make them use the trappings of their own religion to drive her to suicide? What has happened to our culture that things have allowed to progress this far?

    These are the questions to which I want answers. The answer I brought forth in this article were that there is an innate prejudice within our culture, and that prejudice was the lead cause. The idea out there is that it's okay to pick on the kid with the odd religion, because you're in the correct one, and that other kid is just foolish.

    I believe we need to look at how and why this prejudice exists in our society, and how we may remove it, so that there won't be another Tempest Smith in the future.


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    That reminds me of something... (4.28 / 7) (#87)
    by theboz on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:47:07 PM EST

    It sounds a lot like all the people that complain about the U.S. that are in Europe that only know about us from TV and McDonalds. These kids picked on the girl and scorned her, probably based on ignorant TV shows and the Blair Witch Project.

    I think part of the answer to your question is that people need to "walk a mile in each other's shoes" to understand each other. However, that won't happen until people are willing to be tolerant. When will the majority be willing to learn about each other? I'd say a quarter past never. The human race is mostly made up of dumb beasts. These kids that picked on the girl didn't know what they were doing. They were simply trying to get someone to conform to their way of thinking (which was not Christian by the way) so they would be comfortable. They were too lazy and indifferent to want to know about her, and if her beliefs were right or not. You are correct that this is a problem in society, though I would say it's the problem of the entire human race. This was a very mild case compared to some situations (I won't invoke Godwin's Law but you get the point.) I don't think there is a way to fix it.

    However, those of us that can be enlightened enough to be willing to learn another person's opinions and way of life will benefit. People have to be secure enough in their own beliefs, or lack thereof, that they can learn about others. Since most of the human race doesn't want to think, it's somewhat of a lost cause. The thing I find most ironic is that this Jesus guy was around 2000 years ago and trying to teach people to get along with each other and act on what is right, even if it's against the religious rules and against the cultural standards. I do admire true Christianity, just like I admire true Buddhism, and true Islam. What I despise are the people that corrupt such things for their own goals. That goes for using pieces of Christianity to hurt other people, as well as putting the blame on a set of beliefs rather than the brats that were to blame. They were very responsible for their own actions, it wasn't any religion that made them be mean to this girl. It was their own ignorance.

    Stuff.
    [ Parent ]

    Kids aren't stupid (3.83 / 6) (#98)
    by quantum pixie on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 08:37:14 PM EST

    They can be quite artfully cruel. If you have a weakness, that's where they will attack. In her case, it was he religion that was different, and hence vulnerable to harassment.

    In someone else, it might've been their weight, or intelligence.

    ---------
    Free qpt!
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah they are. (3.00 / 3) (#240)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:52:13 PM EST

    But the worst are possessed of a certain animal cunning.

    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    Sounds like progress to me... (3.50 / 4) (#128)
    by Danse on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:30:58 AM EST

    What has happened to our culture that things have allowed to progress this far?

    I think it means things have been improving for the last several centuries. Christians used to do far worse things to nonbelievers.

    Ok. Call that a cheap shot if you want, but it's true. Christians are by far the majority in the US. Heck, they'll even tell you that this country was founded as a Christian nation. I doubt the teachers bother to intervene when kids harrass other kids with hymns. They didn't do much when some kids beat up other kids in the schools I went to either, so this doesn't surprise me. It comes down to whether or not you're popular and can get other students to take your side or not. If you can, then you can usually get out of trouble pretty easy. If you can't, you're screwed. This seems like an example of the latter.




    An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
    [ Parent ]
    What about the crusades? (2.71 / 7) (#113)
    by Zeram on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:29:03 PM EST

    Would you say that the crusades were religious acts? They were sponsored by the church. I am not saying that all christians are evil because of those events, but the church has never (to the best of my knowledge) made a serious and whole-hearted attemt to say that it is sorry and/or repent for what happened. then if you look at the catholisisms stance of gays and lesbians, well I'm surprised that the more fanatical elements of the catholic church haven't been killing gays by the gross.
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    [ Parent ]
    Greed and xenophobia, not religion (2.33 / 3) (#121)
    by Pseudonym on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:05:01 AM EST

    Would you say that the crusades were religious acts?

    No, I would say they were economic and political acts.

    Europe wanted access to trade routes through the Middle East and so came up with some story about freeing the Holy Lands from the evil Moors. It is true that the leadership (and the church) used religion as an excuse to beat up support amongst the hoi polloi, but it was not fought over religion any more than the Vietnam war was fought over "liberty" and "people's rights".

    The crusades were government vs government and money vs money.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    Still a problem with religion... (3.33 / 3) (#129)
    by Danse on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:40:20 AM EST

    It is true that the leadership (and the church) used religion as an excuse to beat up support amongst the hoi polloi, but it was not fought over religion any more than the Vietnam war was fought over "liberty" and "people's rights".

    This seems to point out a greater danger, which is the fact that many religions preach blind acceptance of church doctrine. The Bible must be accepted as The Truth, etc. Never mind that it could take a lifetime or 12 to try to reconcile all the things the Bible says, and even then you'll never know if you've got it right or not. People rely on the Church to explain the meaning to them because they can't do it themselves. Combine that with the fear of divine retribution and you've got a pretty effective tool for manipulating the masses. And obviously the leaders of the Church weren't shy about using it.




    An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
    [ Parent ]
    Thing != Misuse of Thing (3.00 / 4) (#142)
    by Pseudonym on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:22:35 AM EST

    This seems to point out a greater danger, which is the fact that many religions preach blind acceptance of church doctrine.

    Thankfully, this is not a problem with modern mainstream Christianity, particularly in the Western world. Unfortunately, this has not filtered down to all Christian people. Also, the groups which constitute the exceptions to the rule are invariably the most vocal.

    But remember that if it wasn't religion, it'd be something else. Fear of Communism caused some of the most outrageous civil rights violations of the 20th century United States, for example. People really don't need an excuse to behave badly. It just helps when you can rationalise it with a "good" cause, like religion or freedom.


    sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
    [ Parent ]
    But (2.00 / 2) (#201)
    by Zeram on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:53:39 AM EST

    the economic aspects of the crusades greatly benefited the chruch. And really many parts of the church are still very, very greedy. Have you ever seen what some priests want to lead a given parish? I have personally heard a priest brag about getting a very expensive european sports car and a large cash bonus. And as I understand it, that sort of thing is not uncommon. Frankly I don't think the church has changed as much as people think.
    <----^---->
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    [ Parent ]
    No offense to Catholics, but... (2.75 / 4) (#133)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:04:37 AM EST

    The Catholic Church of the Crusades' era was extremely far away from being Christian. Christ's message was one of tolerance and love - the second-greatest commandment, according to him, was "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Compare this to the parable of the Good Samaritan, whose moral was 'every man is your neighbor', and no true Christian would have sponsored the Crusades.

    Besides, in an effort to expand the Church's power, religion and government became inseperable.
    --
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    [ Parent ]

    More to the point... (3.50 / 4) (#132)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:57:01 AM EST

    As someone who was raised a Christian (and who incidently is friends with a number of Wiccans), I would agree that these kids were not acting much like Christians. However, they were acting like a mob. The unfortunate fact is that the majority tend to opress the minority, and this is a clear case of that.

    However, I think the real issue is that parents (a) do not make it clear that malice toward someone who is different then them is unacceptable, and (b) set a bad example. My parents taught me early on that even if I believed that someone else's ideas were unacceptable that I should respect them as people, and respect thier right to think freely. I find this to be grossly lacking in our society today.

    Those few parents that do try and emphasize that bullying is not ok are often guilty of setting a bad example. I've known many parents who will badmouth, say, homosexuals in front of thier kids. Now, those people may believe that homosexuality is immoral - and that is certainly thier right - but they have no right to teach thier kids that it's ok to insult or hate them.

    Unfortunately, a world where everyone's beliefs are respected and tolerated seems to be a Utopia that will never exist.
    --
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    [ Parent ]

    Religion and respect (2.33 / 6) (#148)
    by Nyarlathotep on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:11:17 AM EST

    The bottom line is that the common christian teaching that "we should convert everyone" really dose justify all mannor of horrible activities like bulling, culture destroing missionaries, and the crusades (just to name a few). Clearly, these things are not necissarily the sole fault of religion, but it dose play a non-trivial role by providing a belief system which is tailor made to be bent into support of personal agendas, i.e. "it's ok for me to kill them since it will make their kids go to heven."

    We will all get allong much better if people learn from a very young age that they should respect everyone's religious beliefs. Note: you can not be teaching respect for diffrent beliefs if you are teaching the kids to try to convert people.

    BTW> The school teachers should get in LOTs of trouble if it can be shown that they allowed this sort of behavior to continue because of their religious beliefs.

    Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
    [ Parent ]
    Imagine .... (4.24 / 33) (#70)
    by FlightTest on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 04:59:28 PM EST

    that someone attempted to post a story condeming all geeks/goths over Columbine in the same manner in which E.A. has condemend all of Christianity over the actions of these children. It would be quickly voted to oblivion, after all, you can't condem an entire culture of the actions of a select minority, can you?

    And the real story isn't that some children taunted another child until the tormented child lashed out in some (self) destructive manner. No, the REAL story is that news is selectively filtered to advance an agenda, and the only reason it gets noticed here is because of the decidedly anti-Christian bias (intolerance) present on this site.

    For example, everyone in the United States has heard of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd (and well we should), but how many have heard of Kevin Shifflett,an eight year old white child slain by a black man screaming racial who left a note in his hotel room reading, "Kill them racist white kids". How many have heard of Jason Befort, Heather Muller, Bradley Heyka and Aaron Sander, who, along with Jason's fiancee, were kidnapped, robbed, raped, and executed (Jason's fiancee was the lone survior, and not named in the news stories I've seen) by 2 black brothers. Oh, by the way, all 5 victims were white. Neither case is being prosecuted as a "hate" crime, either.

    You wouldn't dream of condeming all blacks based on these two crimes, would you? So why condem all Christians based on the actions of a group of childern? No, the REAL story, as I've said, is that NONE of these stories (INCLUDING the story discussed here) have received national attention, or even attention outside of the communities where they occured. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd stories were all over news in evey state. Why the difference?

    Sorry, I just can't go along with condeming entire groups of people based on the actions of a few. It's wrong when you characterize racial groups that way, it's wrong when you characterize social groups that way, and it's wrong when you characterize religious groups that way.



    Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
    Condemnation. (2.62 / 8) (#73)
    by Electric Angst on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:28:22 PM EST

    First, I would like to say, once again, that I am not critisizing the Christian faith. I am critisizing a culture where children use faith as a weapon to drive one of their peers to take her own life. That culture is not specifically Christian/Pagan/Humanist/etc. It is American, and it is something that we, as Americans and other citizens of the world must examine if we wish this kind of horrible prejudice to end.

    Second, the crimes you speak of are not hate crimes. The second was obviously a simply robbery, and the inclination of the one source you quote to make that seem as a hate crime puts an obvious strain on their credibility when reporting on the first, which might actually be a hate crime. Just because the attacker is of one race and the victim of another does not a hate crime make. When one commits a hate crime, one is not mearly attacking a person, but a group of people. While one person suffers the physical damage of the attack, the entire group of people must deal with the psychological damage of knowing that they can and will be made targets simply because of who they are.

    In conclusion, what this really seems like is a member of the priviliged majority simply wishing that those in the minority will simply accept that they will be subject to the prejudice and abuse that is part of our culture, rather than do something so horrible


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    Oops... (2.66 / 3) (#75)
    by Electric Angst on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 05:37:28 PM EST

    Hit 'Submit' too early. The last sentance is supposed to read:

    In conclusion, what this really seems like is a member of the priviliged majority simply wishing that those in the minority will simply accept that they will be subject to the prejudice and abuse that is part of our culture, rather than do something so horrible as to ask the entire culture to re-examine it's viewpoint to help remove these prejudices.


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    Not hate crimes? Really? (4.20 / 5) (#78)
    by FlightTest on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:08:47 PM EST

    A simple robbery? Matthew Shepard was robbed. Was that just a robbery?

    I have to admit though, yours is the first rational, logical reasoning I've ever seen for why hate crime laws should apply to any crime in which a white attacks a black, but never to a black attacking a white. Not that I agree with your reasoning, but it is a rational stance. I'm not being sarcastic, in fact I'm quite sincere here. If hate crimes were defined the way you state, then I could agree that the 2 examples were not hate crimes. But that is not how hate crimes are defined. Hate crimes occur when someone commits a crime against another person based on the group that person belongs to. No general fear by the targeted group is required. The second example clearly meets the criteria of a hate crime, and should be labeled and prosecuted as such. The first is trickier, of course, because no one can know what was inside the minds of the 2 brothers when they commited the acts. But of course, that's the problem with almost all hate crime prosecutions, isn't it? We devine to know what someone was thinking when they commited a crime.

    Which is pretty much why I think all hate crime laws ought to be scrapped. It's too close to criminalizing thought. But if we're going to have these kinds of laws, then they should be applied evenly.

    You also sidestepped my point. Why weren't these crimes (as well as the suicide) national news? Because they don't fit the political agenda of the media. That's the real story. The media doesn't report stories that don't fit their agenda.

    Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
    [ Parent ]

    Hate crime is the worst sort... (2.80 / 5) (#156)
    by Mr Tom on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:19:04 AM EST

    > Which is pretty much why I think all hate crime
    > laws ought to be scrapped. It's too close to
    > criminalizing thought.

    I disagree. Hate crimes are the bane of society, because of their lack of reason. Although I concurr that /actions/ can be criminal and not /thoughts/ ...

    Someone who, for instance, mugs someone on the street for money because they are poor and need to eat is , IMHO, deserving of a more lenient sentence that someone who mugs someone on the basis that they just don't like that person. Reason being - in the first case, the intent and drive is to obtain money for survival, whereas in the latter the intent is to cause harm.


    -- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

    I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.
    [ Parent ]

    Not as bad as you think (3.00 / 3) (#169)
    by Slaine on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 08:06:58 AM EST

    > Someone who, for instance, mugs someone on the
    > street for money because they are poor and need
    > to eat is , IMHO, deserving of a more lenient
    > sentence that someone who mugs someone on the
    > basis that they just don't like that person.
    > Reason being - in the first case, the intent
    > and drive is to obtain money for survival,
    > whereas in the latter the intent is to cause harm.


    You americans just hope it doesn't deteriorate to the point where this happens: case #1: A man breaks into a house. A divorced niddle aged woman lives in the house, and is very afraid. she sneaks up behind the criminal, whacks him with a pan. The woman is now in jail, for assault, while the criminal, who stated "he broke in because he was hungry", walks free, without even a second glance, because the court acquitted him on grounds of valid explanation. case #2: man sets up camera outside house (high resolution). videotapes a criminal breaking into his car and stealing it. The criminal on the tape is easily identifiable, and a known criminal. The case is rejected on grounds of "inconclusive evidence"

    [ Parent ]
    I think you've missed the point... (2.50 / 2) (#170)
    by Mr Tom on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 09:15:11 AM EST

    > You americans just hope it doesn't deteriorate
    > to the point where this happens:

    What I said has nothing to do with conviction, but sentencing. Context is all-important in determining a guilty party's sentence. For instance, I would hope that a single mother would be less likely to receive custodial sentences, as the cost to her children and society of imprisioning her would outweigh the benefit of putting her behind bars.

    (Note: I am not suggesting that single mothers should never be imprisoned, just that mandatory tariffs are a silly thing, IMHO)


    -- Mr_Tom<at>gmx.co.uk

    I am a consultant. My job is to make your job redundant.
    [ Parent ]

    Hate crime laws don't criminalize thought (2.00 / 1) (#263)
    by roystgnr on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:04:50 PM EST

    They criminalize thought+action; criminalizing thought alone would earn a law a rapid Supreme Court bitchslap.

    Not that I'm a big hate crime law supporter, mind you. I was quite amused by this comic on the subject, for example.

    [ Parent ]

    Politically correct journalism (5.00 / 1) (#338)
    by cwong on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 12:43:43 AM EST

    The point was not specifically hate crime, but that the media is self-selective and has its own political agenda and bias. Another example is here, where the writer (himself gay) noted that the Matthew Shepard murder recorded over 3000 stories on Nexis, but the rape/torture/murder of a 13 year old by 2 gay men recorded only 46. Both were newsworthy, but the vast difference illustrates an ideological agenda in the former case and politically correct squeamishness in the latter case. The point remains: our news is selected by ideological filters.

    [ Parent ]
    touche! (3.00 / 4) (#155)
    by Akaru on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 05:19:14 AM EST

    << Imagine that someone attempted to post a story condeming all geeks/goths over Columbine in the same manner in which E.A. has condemend all of Christianity over the actions of these children. It would be quickly voted to oblivion, after all, you can't condem an entire culture of the actions of a select minority, can you? >>

    Who says its condemnation? Just you, I see it as criticism, and the problem is The Christian faith is too eager to ignore criticism, just as most people are.

    You are correct however this story isn't about Christians and there religious intolerance, now if an Archbishop had taunted her by singing hymms and making fun of her wiccan ways well that would be different.

    Because of the way it has been presented it has obviously been used to highlight a series of matters the posted feel strongly about. And also that a lot of people feel strongly about, after all, most immigrants to America where trying to get away from religious intolerance. I mean it would grate pretty hard that after only a few hundered years that they had become the thing they were trying to escape from in the first place.

    Leaping on the defensive is not the way to go about doing things because you usually do irrational things, which is exactly what most people do.

    From your post I can see that you think we should persecute the minoritys because obviously the majoritys are bigger and therefore more important.

    The problem is a problem of society you can't tell someone what to think, and one bad apple always spoils the barrel. All we can do is do our best. And yet we shall all fail anyway, but we will have tried.

    [ Parent ]
    Not just me ..... (3.50 / 2) (#187)
    by FlightTest on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:01:11 AM EST

    Who says its condemnation? Just you, I see it as criticism, and the problem is The Christian faith is too eager to ignore criticism, just as most people are.

    Well, from reading the comments, I sure wouldn't say I'm the only one who thought E.A. was condeming Christianity.

    From your post I can see that you think we should persecute the minoritys because obviously the majoritys are bigger and therefore more important.

    Persecute minorities? Where do you get that from? I pointed out that the media does not widely report stories that do no fit their agenda. I illustrated that point with 2 examples of "hate crimes" that were not reported in the national news because they do not fit agenda that "hate crimes" are by definition crimes comitted by white males against anyone else. I also used these 2 examples to point out that "hate crime" laws are not applied uniformly, and offered my opinion that they should be scrapped because I think they criminalize thought.

    Sure, the examples I used were inflamatory as well. But how else to point out what stories the media *ISN'T* reporting? It's precisely these kinds of stories that aren't being reported because they don't fit the media agenda.



    Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
    [ Parent ]
    Well... (3.33 / 9) (#88)
    by Remmis on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 06:51:46 PM EST

    I think there is a given that should be removed from the equation. (maybe it was already assumed that way) Kids pick on other kids, that's simply the way it is. But I suppose the point EA is trying to make is, how did it come to pass that religion became a point of mockery. The concept that one religion is right and one is wrong. The answer, of course, is that it is simply built into our culture. It is roughly equivalent to people arguing about how to indent their source code. Even if the compiler turns the two files into the same program, people will ceaselessly argue about how to get to the same end. Trying to contemplate how to swiftly end all intolerance in this country, religious or otherwise, is like trying to drain the Atlantic ocean through a straw.

    OTOH, if you want to simply view it as, how could we have prevented this one suicide, there are certainly steps that could have been taken. If those sorts of steps were taken everywhere, you'd have billions of straws draining the Atlantic. Until people learn some preventative maintenance, we will only move to change things for the better in schools where horrible things like these have already happened.

    I only use schools as an example, because I think that most parents are pretty set in their ways, and trying to remove their intolerance would be quite futile. Needless to say, since kids learn most of their values from their parents, any structured plan would take a lot of time and money to have any effect.

    And since no politician would make money from it, it won't ever happen :P

    coder1: "What the fuck are you doing?"
    coder2: "I'm declaring a loop control variable."
    coder1: "Inside the loop? Are you nuts?"
    coder2: *BANG*






    When? long ago... (2.50 / 2) (#177)
    by darthaggie on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 09:57:58 AM EST

    But I suppose the point EA is trying to make is, how did it come to pass that religion became a point of mockery.

    I doubt that's the point. I suspect the real point is to mock Christianity. In particular, and religion in general.


    I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
    [ Parent ]

    Anti-bullying Policy (4.56 / 23) (#90)
    by Paul Johnson on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 07:23:25 PM EST

    As others have rightly commented, the issue here is not Wicca vs Xtian but child vs child. Children have always bullied those weaker than themselves. The issue here is how to stop it before it causes suicide.

    For the school to say "we didn't see it so we can't stop it" is a poor excuse. Its equivalent to saying that the police can only stop crimes which they happen to see. Bullying to this level will happen unless the school takes an active role in stopping it. That means:

    • All children are told, more than once, that bullying is unacceptable behaviour. Make it a topic of class discussion and do drama workshops around it.
    • Children are told that bringing bullying to the attention of adults is the right thing to do. Bullies will use fear and the victim's desire to be accepted to persuade their victims to suffer in silence.
    • Any allegation of bullying is taken seriously and investigated. Even if strong evidence is found, the fact that teachers take the time to investigate will not be lost on the bullies.

    This head teacher says that he doesn't want to make the kids feel guilty. I suspect the person who would have real trouble handling the guilt is himself. So much easier to pretend there was nothing he could have done.

    Paul.
    You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

    Geez (3.75 / 8) (#127)
    by Anonymous 7324 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:08:05 AM EST

    This head teacher says that he doesn't want to make the kids feel guilty.

    Pity ... not only can we not make little brats take responsibility for the things they do, we can't even make them feel _guilty_ and correct their wrongdoing ways. Good going, head teacher.

    The only real solution, of course, is to cap them in the head -- it's the least we can do. Makes a nice warning about what happens to bullies, too.

    [ Parent ]
    Responsibility!? In America!? (3.50 / 6) (#191)
    by el_guapo on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:26:27 AM EST

    That, sadly, seems to be the American way these days. I'm only responsible for something if it in some way will benefit me. Otherwise, not only is it not my fault, but you owe me money for it for some lame reason.
    mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
    [ Parent ]
    Responsibility? Ha (4.30 / 10) (#206)
    by pmk on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:17:34 PM EST

    The mass of Americans reinforce each other's denial of the realities of life and death with a spectator lifestyle in which nothing is supposed to hurt, nobody can be held accountable, and anything that goes wrong is a "tragedy" that could not have been foreseen or prevented.

    Those who are courageous enough to live a real life are shunned as heathen unbelievers and (probably with justification) viewed as subversive and dangerous. The mere presence of an nonconformist is a threat that might puncture the bubble and force the sheep to look up from the grass.

    The kids who bullied their classmate didn't do so because they were Christian and their target wasn't. They did it because she was different and difference is threatening. The presence of a nonconformant lifestyle implies that they themselves actually have the right to make a choice about their own. And the possibility that they might choose to change and hence become subject to the same persecution that they know all too well cannot be contemplated.

    You want to hold these bullies responsible to some extent for the consequences of their actions? Point the finger instead at their parents, pastors, and teachers who raised up this next generation of vicious sheep, who taught them that they could think for themselves only to the extent that they arrived at one of a few acceptable nonthreatening answers, who inculcated them with the tools of a persecuting religion so that they would be properly equipped, and who protected them from accountability so long as they conformed. Every trip to church in a gas-guzzling SUV, attention distracted by a meaningless conversation about television on a cell phone, to hear pap about a all-protecting sky-god, was a reinforcement of these empty American values.

    [ Parent ]

    Why make another legend? (4.11 / 26) (#92)
    by pw201 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 07:28:48 PM EST

    I don't believe that anyone can seriously say that Tempest Smith's suicide will be given nearly as much thought or lip service at the death of Cassie Bernall, and I want to ask the question; Why?

    Because one was a teen suicide (which is a moderately common thing) and the other involved a couple of loonies going into a school and opening up with guns (which isn't that common, even in America, so I'm told).

    To acknowledge that Tempest Smith's classmates were exerting cruel psychological torture on the young woman with the hymns their church had taught them would be to indict not only the school children, but the hymns as well.

    How does one accuse a hymn of wrongdoing, and what would one do it if it was guilty?

    To make this tragic event public knowledge would be to put a mirror to the face of the majority, forcing them to see the intolerance in their own eyes, crumbling their arguments that it no longer exists.

    Kids can be cruel. These kids found a way in which this girl was different and exploited it. If she was fat, they would have used that instead. Kids being cruel is a bad thing. It is tragic that this girl killed herself. If these are church kids, they are guilty and should be disciplined by their parents. I don't think anyone is denying that these things are true.

    That being so, I'm not sure what the point of this story is. It'd be a shame if, because the Christian Right in the US likes to generate their own legends, the pagans felt they had to do likewise. (There's a good article about these Christian urban legends, which is worth a read).

    A lesson, not a legend. (3.20 / 5) (#99)
    by Electric Angst on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 08:39:58 PM EST

    How does one accuse a hymn of wrongdoing, and what would one do it if it was guilty?

    I'm not talking about the hymns literally. I was using them as an allusion to the fact that condeming the children who commited these acts would also be a condemnation of the community and culture these children came from. After all, they were the ones who taught them the hymns that were used to harass Tempest Smith.

    Now, I'm not trying to create any type of martyr situation with this young lady, what I'm trying to do is bring to light a problem in our culture that is too often, the very problem that caused this horrible event.

    Yes, kids can be cruel, but it is not very common for them to drive one of their classmates to suicide. Yes, more common than driving them on shooting sprees, I will give you that, but in the end we must ask exactly what is causing the children to do this in the first place. It's approached the point where they are attacking people of different religions by constantly singing hymns at them, which is far more intense than the more common weight and appearance harassment.

    I don't want the Pagan community to use Tempest Smith the same way that the religious right used Cassie Bernall, I simply want all the other Pagan children to be free of this type of harassment.


    --
    "Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
    [ Parent ]
    Hymns don't kill people... (4.00 / 5) (#163)
    by pw201 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:16:16 AM EST

    I'm not talking about the hymns literally. I was using them as an allusion to the fact that condeming the children who commited these acts would also be a condemnation of the community and culture these children came from. After all, they were the ones who taught them the hymns that were used to harass Tempest Smith.

    I'm not sure what you mean here. As far as teaching people hymns goes, "Hymns don't kill people, people kill people." Now, while this argument is bogus for guns because guns are designed to kill, hymns are not designed to be used to torment people. They are there because they're fun to sing, because singing in a group bonds people and because writing teachings as the words to songs is a good way to teach things because people remember songs.

    But I agree that these kids should have known that what they were doing was wrong, and if their culture didn't teach them that, that culture is faulty. Coincidentally, I've recently been preparing a Bible study on Mark 9:33-42, which is precisely about not thinking you are better than other people because you're in a Christian in-group. So Christianity does not teach that sort of teasing.

    While I don't want to use special pleading, it seems that going to church is much more the "done thing" in the US than here in the UK, so I'm wondering how much of that is what my vicar calls Churchianity. But maybe I'm being hard on the parents here: possibly it's just that bringing up kids is hard and mobs of kids can be evil.

    Yes, kids can be cruel, but it is not very common for them to drive one of their classmates to suicide. Yes, more common than driving them on shooting sprees, I will give you that, but in the end we must ask exactly what is causing the children to do this in the first place. It's approached the point where they are attacking people of different religions by constantly singing hymns at them, which is far more intense than the more common weight and appearance harassment.

    According to the article you linked to, such suicides are becoming more common. I doubt they are all linked to religion (and note that according to your own reference, this one wasn't entirely about that either: the teasing was also about Gothic appearance). I don't think it is justified to say that singing hymns is more intense than other slurs: what drives people to suicide is when the teasing is repeated until they cannot take it anymore.

    [ Parent ]

    "Churchianity" (none / 0) (#335)
    by mwa on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 09:41:00 PM EST

    I like that word. It's going in my dictionary to be used in all the places religion is used negatively. Like "I don't like organized religion." As if they'd prefer disorganized religion. No. What they mean is "I don't like churchiantiy!

    Thanks.

    [ Parent ]

    It's nice to see someone thinking of the children, (1.66 / 24) (#93)
    by eLuddite on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 07:30:01 PM EST

    even if the witch did try to make a meal of Hansel and Gretel.

    ---
    God hates human rights.

    The story left out a few facts. (1.00 / 2) (#302)
    by donw on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 01:58:07 PM EST

    Hansel and Gretel were actually MPAA lawyers, and the witch was the head hacker working on OpenDVD and maintaining the various-forms-of-DeCSS web page.

    [ Parent ]
    trendy "grief" (4.43 / 30) (#104)
    by Seumas on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 09:29:48 PM EST

    One of the things that I find most disgusting about this is the "grief" and "guilt" that the school children supposedly expressed after her death. What a bunch of fake brats. In this day and age, it's become trendy to morn the death of someone, even if you never knew them or cared about them. It's drama and it puts attention on you for awhile. Look at the kids in this latest school shooting in California who, while being interviewed looked like they had dressed and prepared specifically for the cameras and seemed eerily eager to participate and rather comfortable in front of the cameras as they commented on this "nice kid" or "evil kid" or "weird kid" or whatever their particular slant on the shooter might have been or commented about the kids that were shot and killed.

    It's particularly sick that the same kids who drove her to this point so quickly turn around and say "oh gee, i'm sorry -- i didn't know what I was doing when I was following you around chanting religious crap after you and humiliating you day in and day out".

    When I was in school, I was always the one that got along with people. I wasn't popular and I didn't particularly like most people, but I wasn't necessarily disliked or ever bothered either. I can tell you one thing however -- I've seen enough people harassed day after day for years in a row that if I ever have children, the last place they ever go for an education will be public school and any private school I might send them to will have a detailed contractual obligation to assure the safety and appropriate learning environment for my child. The moment they fail to stop any repeated harassing is the moment we meet in court and let their contract bite them in the ass.

    For the teachers to claim "gee, we didn't know -- honest!" is absolute crap. I remember teachers in school who not only knew about harassment of students, but participated. Hell, I remember jocks taking girls in the class, forcing them on their desks and grinding themselves against them while the teacher just looked on and said "hey, you boys stop that, okay?" -- which was of course ignored. The fact is, teachers don't give a fuck and if the government can't promise a safe environment for learning in the schools that they require students to attend, then every parent needs to stand up and fight against these schools in ever venue possible until they get their act together. If I entrust my child to you and you show complete negligence resulting in damage to them (mental or physical as the case may be), you better believe you're going to be responsible for your actions or lack of them.
    --
    I just read K5 for the articles.

    Government shoots itself in foot. (4.00 / 8) (#135)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:11:40 AM EST

    I remember jocks taking girls in the class, forcing them on their desks and grinding themselves against them while the teacher just looked on and said "hey, you boys stop that, okay?" -- which was of course ignored.

    Part of the problem here is that in the rush to stop teachers from harming students physically, which I agree is a good thing, the legislators and enforcement went too far. Teachers are now afraid to take any action beyond verbal "Stop That!" for fear of being sued by parents, fired, and $DEITY knows what else. I'd like to see a teacher take reasonable action to stop such a behavior, get sued, and have all the teachers' unions nation-wide stand behind that teacher.

    But of course, our society has been so deftly trained to be gutless that it will never happen.
    --
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    [ Parent ]

    agreed (4.11 / 9) (#140)
    by Seumas on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:15:50 AM EST

    The solution is to make parents and students aware that physical harassment and violence may be met by physical means by school staff to prevent any harm to other students or staff and that verbal and other means of harassment will be treated as serious violations. If any student steps over the line, everyone understands ahead of time what the results can be.

    For the longest time, I was of the opinion that kids will be kids and that bullying and harassing as well as being bullied and harassed was part of growing up -- a right of passage that goes back as far as American -- and likely, human history of education.

    But underneath that, you realize that this attitude within the school leads to as much or greater harassment outside of school. I've seen kids who were teased in school beat up to a pulp outside of school -- and I don't think the students who did it would have felt as comfortable with doing that to him if they had been punished and prevented from doing it on school time. There are some kids, like myself, who were always taught that you stand up for people no matter what the cost -- that coupled with my individual contact sports background meant that I could either be an asshole or I could stand up against the assholes. However, I don't think it's the job of the more physically powerful students among which I was one to be the school security. That's the job of the staff and if teachers don't want that responsibility, the administrators should drop a bit of their six figure salaries and hire some full-time security to patrol the schools. That means patrol, not sit around and play cards or listen to the radio.

    I don't believe school is the appropriate place for social indoctrination (turn your parents in for drinking, give a hoot don't pollute, republicans are evil and want to kill you, if you ever make money you'll turn into a *gasp* capitalist, men are the root of all evil, etc) and I don't believe it's the place for excercising your popularity or brawn. People often claim that school is supposed to be a place for socializing and building social skills. I completely disagree. School is supposed to be a place where you gain a solid and broad education of the world around you and that is what things should be focused on. I go to work to do my job, not to socialize or build social skills -- and likewise, I don't go there to bully people. Schools need to be thought of more like a workplace environment -- a place of distinct honor and a safe, secure resource for those who desire to learn.

    Unfortunately, Billy Bob who lights cats on fire and gropes his sister at night at home and spends his days in detention are forced into the environment of the students who are interested in spending their days concentrating, studying and interacting with otehrs who want to be educated. Perhaps the first step is to put the little bastards and thugs into a state-run day care five days a week and put the rest of the students into a school where education is emphasised over the trivialities of an ignorant outlook on life.
    --
    I just read K5 for the articles.
    [ Parent ]

    Thank you (1.33 / 3) (#157)
    by Robert Gormley on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:19:57 AM EST

    Seumas, I usually vehemently disagree with you, but finally, I don't :)

    [ Parent ]
    Easy way out (1.95 / 21) (#106)
    by maarken on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 10:15:39 PM EST

    Seems to me that commiting suicid is becoming trendy and "in". Not to mention being depressed. "Oh, I'm very depressed" and the kid gets some <anti-depression-drug-of-the-week>. I have a cousin on Paxil (I think that's the one), and I have to wonder if it's really needed.

    Any more you seem to see two things happen when kids get picked on:
    a) Kid goes on a shooting spree.
    b) Kid gets depressed and then medicatied
    c) Kid commits suicid

    What happened to giving as good as you get? I tend to take the "an eye for and eye" stance. If you get picked on for being Wiccan, taunt them back. If you don't, they win. Suicid is letting them win forever. So I guess my advice is this:
    Grow a backbone, take a stance, taunt back, go to the principal, whatever. Don't ever fold.

    All spelling errors in thist post as hurstdog's fault since there isn't a spellcheck in scoop. :)

    --Maarken

    Flip the symbols in my email.
    what? (2.66 / 6) (#110)
    by lucid on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 10:59:28 PM EST

    Can you explain to me how suicide could become 'trendy?' I'm guessing it hasn't. Are you sure getting a drug is as simple as saying "I feel sad a lot?" Do they sell Paxil over the counter? Maybe it was prescribed for your cousin? Maybe it was prescribed for your cousin for a reason? Sure you have to wonder, but it is important to remember that wondering in itself is not a conclusion. Of course, you're saying you wonder, but you don't wonder, you don't think your cousin needs the drug. Don't be dishonest.

    As for the rest, the three items on your list of "two things that happen," are ridiculous. Obviously you haven't bothered to look at more than the front page of the newspaper. Possibly, you only looked at the picture of the front page of a newspaper. You tend to take your eye, Hammurabi, because you like to. Some people don't. I'd prefer not to have to bother dealing with small people and their small religions. I avoid dealing with people, because I don't like them.

    What happened to giving as good as you get? Some people give better than they get. Bang bang, baby. Odds are the gunmen didn't fold.

    Suicide isn't letting "them" win forever. Suicide is the word that describes someone who kills him or herself. Self-destruction. Try it sometime.

    [ Parent ]
    Trendy? (2.00 / 3) (#152)
    by Akaru on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:53:54 AM EST

    >Seems to me that commiting suicid is becoming >trendy and "in". Not to mention being >depressed. "Oh, I'm very depressed" and the kid >gets some <anti-depression-drug-of-the-week>

    To be honest you sound jealous and bitter, though I will admit children are shallow enough to make this kind of thing happen, called Peer Pressure, like having to lose your virginity before your 16, or everyone has to have the latest pikachu.

    However I'm not the best one to talk, as I believe Children get too much of an easy ride, they know how easy it is to ride rough shod over teachers and parents, because they have more rights than everyone else, and they do

    >What happened to giving as good as you get? I >tend to take the "an eye for and eye" stance.

    I don't know about you but when i was a kid I didn't have the balls to stand up for myself, because when your alone, and you upset and scared, and you've only been alive for 12 years and you don't know any better. Now, sure I'd probably, gladly rips someones jugular out with my teeth if they gave me a sideways glance but today I am older and more experienced.

    [ Parent ]
    clarification (2.50 / 2) (#222)
    by riot158 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:22:16 PM EST

    > I tend to take the "an eye for and eye" stance.

    the 'eye for an eye' stance is a plea for mercy, not a license for a vendetta. it's better translated as the 'let the punishment fit the crime' meme.

    just thought you might like to know.

    [ Parent ]
    You obviously do NOT know what you are talking!!!! (2.50 / 2) (#254)
    by anthrem on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:23:41 PM EST

    Yeah, I suppose it is easy to talk like that if you have never known depression. Sure, Prozac was overused by a bunch of lazy general practitioners, but I work with the mentally ill, and I have seen Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil SAVE PEOPLE'S LIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Pardon me for the flamebait, but you are completely moronic if you think your three outcomes are the standard. MOST people suffer all their life without getting help. Try being a human being instead of slicing things up into an easy to digest list. This is not MTV or an American High School, we are talking about people's lives! Try and have some compassion.



    Disclaimer: I am a Buddhist. I am a Social Worker. Filter all written above throught that.
    [ Parent ]
    My experience (3.56 / 23) (#112)
    by TheSpiritOf1776 on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:15:59 PM EST

    I remember being picked on and harassed in school. I went to a Catholic school by the way. One day I got tired of it. I beat the daylights out of one of the kids that harassed me. A teacher broke up the fight, I served a one day in-school suspension and a Saturday detention. The kid served a Saturday detention for the harassment (the dean felt he was defending himself in the fight since I threw the first punch). After that, no one ever bothered me again.

    I think that bullies are just like criminals, predators that prey on the weak, though bullies are arguably more cowardly. I think the best way to deal with a bully is beat the shit of him/her, and to continue to do so until the bully learns that such behavior is not tolerated in a civilized society.


    And yes, I think that's exactly what Tempest Smith should have done.

    Evolution in action (2.16 / 6) (#115)
    by malathud on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:41:59 PM EST

    I quite agree.

    Myself, I think of this sort of case as evolution in action. You had enough chutzpah to stand up for yourself. OTOH, this poor kid decides to get out of the gene pool.


    Flames to /dev/null, please.


    [ Parent ]
    Now, THAT is harsh (3.20 / 5) (#126)
    by rabbit on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:54:33 AM EST

    Two things:

    1. Much as love the idea of social darwinism, that is just HARSH.

    2. I think we know full well what happens these days to kids who "stand up for themselves" in school. They get even more harassment from the administration for not "playing nice"

    Personally, I think suicide IS an act of cowardice, but I hope those xian fuckers rot.

    --rabbit

    -- I have desires that are not in accord with the status quo.
    [ Parent ]
    You, sir, are a barbarian (3.66 / 6) (#139)
    by Delirium on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:04:20 AM EST

    IMHO "beating the shit" out of anybody should not be tolerated in a civilized society.

    [ Parent ]
    It works though (3.25 / 4) (#162)
    by FeersumAsura on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:52:31 AM EST

    It worked for him and it worked for me. Just be careful you don't take it too far. In my case I was never caught as I was subtle. We found out where he lived and and spoke to him out of school in a quiet area. It was brutal but it made me feel better and taught hima lesson.

    I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
    [ Parent ]
    And you, sir, are idealist (3.25 / 4) (#165)
    by axxeman on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:46:57 AM EST

    Where did you gather the opinion that out "society" is "civilised"?

    Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
    [ Parent ]

    yes, but poster claimed to be civilized (2.66 / 3) (#221)
    by Delirium on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:19:08 PM EST

    The original poster claimed to be doing this to show the bully that his actions should not be tolerated in a civilized society. I was pointing out that this person's actions should not be tolerated in a civilized society either, so his actions reek of hypocrisy.

    [ Parent ]
    And (4.16 / 6) (#174)
    by finkployd on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 09:50:06 AM EST

    What leads you to believe that a high school approaches anything resembling civilized?

    Finkployd
    Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
    [ Parent ]
    hyprocricy (2.66 / 3) (#220)
    by Delirium on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:17:53 PM EST

    I was replying to the claim:
    I think the best way to deal with a bully is beat the shit of him/her, and to continue to do so until the bully learns that such behavior is not tolerated in a civilized society.

    Since beating the shit out of somebody is not civilized either, I was pointing out the hypocracy in that statement.

    [ Parent ]

    What would you have done with a bully? (3.50 / 4) (#179)
    by TheSpiritOf1776 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:16:34 AM EST

    Give them a good talking to? Give them a "time out"?

    The actions of a bully/harasser/etc have shown that they don't understand how to behave in a civilized society. They can either learn by having someone beat the shit out of them when they commit their cowardly acts, or they can continue, and when they become an adult get a well-deserved bullet between the eyes.



    [ Parent ]
    vigilante justice is bad. (2.50 / 4) (#219)
    by Delirium on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:16:20 PM EST

    If the bully is not using physical violence, then you ignore them. There is something to be said for having a thicker skin than many people seem to have. If the bully is using physical violence, it is the authorities' job to deal with them. Vigilante justice is nearly always a Bad Idea.

    Same goes for your "bullet between the eyes" remark - vigilante justice is bad.

    [ Parent ]

    No justice at all is worse. (3.50 / 4) (#235)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:31:41 PM EST

    And sometimes it really is a choice between vigilante justice and nothing. That's life. Come to terms with it.


    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    I don't see how what I'm advocating is vigilantism (3.00 / 3) (#245)
    by TheSpiritOf1776 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 05:50:03 PM EST

    What I am advocating is that people defend themselves (yes, using physical force) against unprovoked attacks. The level of force depends on the severity of the attack. I don't see how that is vigilante justice.

    As for your claim of letting the authorities deal with them, I live the United States. I don't know where you live. Here the courts have ruled that "It is a fundamental principle of American law that the government is under no obligation to provide any services, including police protection, to any private individual." In other words, you're on your own when it comes to protecting yourself.





    [ Parent ]
    self-defense vs. vigilante justice (2.66 / 3) (#247)
    by Delirium on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:00:50 PM EST

    I was under the impression that you were using physical force against people who were taunting or otherwise non-physically "bullying" you. IMHO that's not justified. If what you're instead doing is fighting back in self-defense against a physical attack, then that is justified. However, I still wouldn't go so far as to say that "beating the shit" out of someone is justified, even in self-defense.

    And yes, I do live in the US, and I'm aware of that ruling - that only means that you cannot sue the police if you happen to be attacked somewhere that police were not present. It does not mean, however, that police will not attempt to combat crime (including assault and battery). If there's a problem with systematic bullying, reporting it to the proper authorities is a much better solution than "fixing" the problem yourself by physically assaulting the bully - that's what I meant by vigilante justice.

    [ Parent ]

    In a fully civilizied society, the question... (3.50 / 4) (#234)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:29:53 PM EST

    would never arise. But this is an imperfect universe, and a perfectly civilized society will never be. We simply have to make the best of what we've got.

    Smashing some asshole's teeth in, just once, is not an option we can afford to rule out.


    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    Who is 'we'? (3.00 / 2) (#305)
    by roystgnr on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 07:27:58 PM EST

    I don't know about you, but I'm out of high school. Kicking someone's teeth in is not an option for me. So what should those of us in my position be doing, if we want these types of events to occur less often? Asking my school board to support the installation of an "ass-kicking room" next to the principal's office? Cash bonuses for vigilante justice? Boxing classes for nerds?

    [ Parent ]
    um, no... (2.66 / 3) (#287)
    by kjd548 on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 05:04:33 AM EST

    I think you are busy denying reality. The fact of the matter is, bullies sometimes need a good bit of bullying themselves so as that they too might understand what it feels like to be bullied.

    [ Parent ]
    When dealing with barbarians... (4.00 / 3) (#301)
    by donw on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 01:48:07 PM EST

    ...one must communicate at their level.

    Most K5 readers are the types that can respond to logical, rational arguments -- the type who will deal with their problems in a civilized, intelligent manner. Most people that I run into on the street simply don't do that. Your only options with people like this are either to be inferior and run, or take a stand and fight.

    I ahbor violence. I hate fighting. Hurting others is not something I take a great deal of pleasure in. But sometimes, it is necessary. Especially in the case of a bully; because, once a bully understands that their actions will be met with retribution, they will back down. If, after they back down, you show them no ill will, they will often come around to become quite a bit more friendly.

    How do I know this? Well, some developmental psychology classes, and the personal experience of kicking the crap out of a very mean kid in the eighth grade. Afterwords, I helped him up, grinned at him, and walked us both to the office (he wasn't walking that well). We both got suspended, and afterwards became great friends. He joined the Air Force about a year ago.

    So am I a monster? A terrible man? Or someone who knows how to use the tools he has availaible?

    [ Parent ]

    Geek Mafia (4.66 / 3) (#304)
    by craser on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 05:46:19 PM EST

    The other novel solution that I've heard is rather effective is collective revenge on the bullies. When he was in high school, a friend of mine formed what he calls the "geek mafia", which took up the cause of anyone who came to him with a bullying story. The bully was punished (locker stuffed with garbage, intimidated by 4 or 5 'geeks', etc.), and the kid who was bullied was responsible for organizing the troops the next time anyone was picked on.

    Legend has it this worked extremely well. The bullies eventually realised that they were up against larger (and more determined) forces, and that they'd pay for any bullying they did. The geeks realised that they had more control of their lives than they thought, and formed a very close-knit community at the school.

    This brings a tear to my eye just about every time I talk about it, it's so beautiful. No, I'm not kidding. -chris

    [ Parent ]

    yup (none / 0) (#346)
    by Requiem on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 01:07:39 AM EST

    When I was in elementary school, there was this one kid who used to be mean to me incessantly. taunt me, beat me up, etc.

    So one day I decided I wasn't having any more of it and beat the shit out of him. I've never been a big guy, either. I'm kind of scrawny.

    In any case, he never bothered me again. Problem solved. I don't like violence, but it seems to be the only way to deal with some situations. "Time out" and talking doesn't work with irrational creatures.

    Offtopic, I think the guy's peddling pot now. Meh.

    [ Parent ]
    Weak Christians (2.00 / 25) (#114)
    by Brother Grifter on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:40:48 PM EST

    I'm not religous. I went to catholic school since pre-school, and though my family is historically islamic, we don't practice any faith. Christianity is the bane of all humanity. I don't look down at religion, though I think its a worthless instrument. Christianity is all about judging others, and if others don't judge your peers, then God will. And yet even if you live a good life, you're still judged by God at your death. I can appreciate religions like buddhism or hindi, who don't use a figure to drive you to live a certain life. In hindi it takes the individual to motivate themselves to be a good person, and in their belief they move closer to the greatest state of being. Christians use their weak philosphy and numbers to push non-christians in political and social manners. Hindi and buddhism don't practice in such a way, and allows the individual to commit to what kind of the life and what beliefs they choose to hold.

    If the Christians are right, and a God does exist, I perhaps may goto hell. At least I'll be in the devil's presence when he's done slaughtering you christians before your delivered to your Lord, as that is the fate due to your devotion to God. So keep praying fuckers.



    Huh? (3.00 / 7) (#136)
    by Greyjack on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:23:33 AM EST

    Christianity is all about judging others,

    Huh, I must've missed that Bible verse. Care to explain?

    --
    Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett


    [ Parent ]
    RE: Huh? (2.33 / 3) (#150)
    by Akaru on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:37:35 AM EST

    >Christianity is all about judging others, >Huh, I must've missed that Bible verse. Care to explain? Ahh ha i think you've just hit the nail on the head. The Bible can be interpreted in many ways, and modern day christianism, is probably as wild an interpretation of the Bible as is possible. The teachings of Jesus are a good thing to believe in, but how much does christianity actually conform to his lessons? Usually when it suits them, and its not just about the lessons, its about his ethos, his morals, his point of view and i don't see anyone teaching that kind of thing in church, or sunday school. Like it or not Christianity has always been used as a way to control people, its been used as a tool for good and a tool for evil, ok so i might be talking about 100-200 years ago, but that in the life time of Christianity isn't a very long time. And the problem is that Christianity hasn't changed enough in that time, so its seen as an outdated belief, a way of controlling people, a group that want you to accept there concepts of whats right and wrong. I believe Religion can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing, Right now Christianity is really close to becoming a bad thing.

    [ Parent ]
    John 7:24 (2.50 / 2) (#281)
    by enterfornone on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 07:36:39 PM EST

    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    Not to nitpick... (2.75 / 4) (#144)
    by MaximumBob on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:31:04 AM EST

    ...oh, sure. I guess I will nitpick. You just called one of the organizing philosophies of my life a "weak philosophy" "all about judging others."

    If there is a Hell, and I sincerely hope there isn't, I believe it's probably reserved for people who can't wait to watch the slaughter of millions.

    Also, I think you mean "Hinduism." Hindi is a language.

    Furthermore, your assertion that, in contrast to Christianity, the other religions you mention require the individual to motivate himself to the greatest state of being, is nuts. That's not a contrast at all. You're choosing to pick on political movements in the country you (presumably) live in.

    Just for the record, there's a Hindu party in India that is, in a lot of ways, similar. Check your facts.

    Oh. And check and see if Christianity is REALLY about pushing non-Christians in political and social matters. Instead of trolling.

    [ Parent ]

    Christianity and judging others (4.00 / 3) (#180)
    by raptwithal on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:18:13 AM EST

    In fact, the Bible does say some things about judging others, such as:

    • "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." (Romans 15:7)
    • "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 1:1,2)
    • "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Ephesians 5:21)

    I see a lot of misconceptions about Christianity in this discussion. I would propose the idea that it's one of those things that one cannot get to know without getting up close. And misunderstandings about Christian doctrine cause many problems. I know not if the children who taunted Tempest Smith thought themselves Christians, but I can say for certain that what they did was not compatible with biblical teachings.



    [ Parent ]
    It is an issue (3.85 / 14) (#119)
    by Khedak on Thu Mar 15, 2001 at 11:55:15 PM EST

    I see lots of people responding to this saying "this has nothing to do with religion or christianity; this was just bullying". Absolutely right. Most people who are annoyed by Christians don't have any particular problem with the religion as a system of belief... it's the actions of Christian individuals that gets them upset. Christians are notoriously intolerant of other faiths, and to treat that fact like a non-issue in the light of what has happened is willful ignorance.

    I, too, was ostracized to some extent by my peers when I was very young on religious grounds. My peers were, of course, young Christians wanting to know if I was 'saved'. When I told then I didn't know what that meant, they told me that if I didn't know what it was, then I wasn't, and that I was going to hell. I thought it sounded stupid at the time, and to be honest, I still do.

    Generalizations... (2.87 / 8) (#122)
    by cezarg on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:18:03 AM EST

    Christians are notoriously intolerant of other faiths[...]

    Sorry to nitpick on your otherwise insightful post but I hate people saying that. I am not a practicing Christian (although I was brought up in a catholic family) but I don't see Christians as being any less tolerant than other major religions of the world.

    [ Parent ]

    Generalizations, cut two (3.50 / 4) (#164)
    by ejf on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:16:20 AM EST

    Hmm... Of course generalizations are always false, but ...

    Most practicing Christians I have met, at some point or another, try to "save" you or inquire whether you have been saved. While this is not much of a problem for myself (I have been brought up Christian, after all), it annoys me when this happens with people known to be of another belief ...
    I spent a year in the US, and my host-family were Baptists. That being the case, I was practically obliged to go to church and sunday school (for a year) and more than once, the message carries across was to try to convert any non-believers to Christian faith, no matter what, I'd be doing them a service. Mind you that another exchange student, from Hong Kong and not of Christian belief, was in another family in that church (incidentally very involved with church) and forced to attend -- despite his being atheist. I don't know what to call it, but it's not tolerance. He didn't mind all that much, thanfully ;-)
    Granted, I have less experience with many other religions in the world, yet this does not disarm the point that Christians, on the whole (or better : Baptists, or better : the individuals I met) were "notoriously intolerant" ... Mind you, they are fine people and I love them dearly, but that aspect is intolerance.

    Combine that with the recent banning of the teaching of the theory of evolution in some states, the call for prayers in school, etc. and you have yourself a fine picture of what intolerance there is -- not that it's bothersome. For Christians.

    --- men are reasoning, not reasonable animals.
    [ Parent ]
    Specific examples (3.33 / 3) (#192)
    by cezarg on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:27:47 AM EST

    Yes I too know of many examples of intolerant Christians. This does not change the fact that I also know a number of very fundamentalist muslims for instance. But I would not go as far as saying that all or majority of muslims are fundamentalists. That is generalizing and that is what the original poster did.

    [ Parent ]
    Generalizations... (4.20 / 5) (#167)
    by Akaru on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:53:29 AM EST

    i've never met an intolerant Buddist or Taoist, but then i've never had a Buddist or Taoist come to my front door and ask to convert me to there faith.

    Could you give examples of the intolerance of other Major Religions.

    [ Parent ]
    Ignorance of history... (2.00 / 2) (#309)
    by elefantstn on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 10:17:08 PM EST

    I'm not exactly sure how to take the above comment...do you really think that Christianity is unique in guilt of being intolerant? I mean, a statement like that just blows my mind. Were you just trying to get a rise out of people, or do you really have zero knowledge of religious history? Hell, not even history. Just today on the news, there was a report that the extremist Muslim Taliban rulers of Afghanistan had finished destroying colossal Buddhist statues because they were an "affront to Islam." So I guess there's one for you.



    [ Parent ]
    re: Ignorance of history (2.00 / 1) (#321)
    by Akaru on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 11:05:28 AM EST

    Well in that case if we allowed to include extremists i'd say christians are looking in a sorry state,
    But i was careful not to mention muslims as there is enough case that could be brought forward for there intolerance(however i doubt you'd find many intolerant muslims in the USA or Europe), most of the wars in the middle east have been for these kinds of reasons.

    Still I've never met an intolerant Buddist or Taoist.

    And apart from that whats history got to do with it, sure in the past Religion was used as a way of controlling people, bloody religious wars, excommunication of people who didn't follow the words of the church, the list is as long as your arm. But i imagine the world has changed since then.

    [ Parent ]
    re: Ignorant of History (2.00 / 1) (#322)
    by Akaru on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 11:29:55 AM EST

    << i've never met an intolerant Buddist or Taoist, but then i've never had a Buddist or Taoist come to my front door and ask to convert me to there faith.

    Could you give examples of the intolerance of other Major Religions >>


    I don't see where exactly in that post I said that Christianity is unique in being guilty of intolerance.

    I don't see why in that post you felt you had to lambast me for having no knowledge of History.

    The reason I mentioned Taoists and Buddists was that I was pretty sure It would be difficult to dredge up any storys of intolerance from them.
    Also Buddism is apparently the largest practiced religion in the world.

    I finished my post asking people to give me example of other faiths Intolerance. Certainly you mentioned a valid point.

    I'm not looking into history for intolerance, I'm looking for intolerance in today. I mean the Romans converted the whole of britain to Christianity merging the Christian religion with the current Pagan one. Throughout Britains history the ruling religion has changed as different Monarchs with different religious ideas came into power and the new religion would depose the old religion burn down its building and build new ones.

    If you want history I could probably provide you with a 50 volume set of the intolerance of Christianty in the past. But I feel persecuting people for past atrocitys, things done a long time ago is wrong.

    However if you want to talk about today and the intolerance of religions, Christianity in Britain cannot be seen as intolerant. In the USA perhaps it is, i wouldn't know, certainly there are enough conflicts that arise from religious intolerance lately that are not about Christianity.

    You may enjoy reading between the lines, but if you read what was there and only that not some of your own ideas put in there.
    If you refuse to become so annoyed about something you feel strongly enough whether someone is trying to blacken its name or not.
    If you respond intelligently, without insulting me or whoever reads your post, It might really make a difference.

    However Your post conveys to me your intolerance for people who feel differently to you, i apologuise if i am reading your post incorrectly but when someone directly insults my intelligence, my knowledge and what i'm talking about, when they are not issues about what i am saying, that were created when someone interpreted my post wrongly. It really annoys me.

    And apart from that it completely obscures the point you might have been trying to make.

    [ Parent ]
    Generalizations... (2.00 / 1) (#334)
    by mwa on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 09:15:04 PM EST

    Perhaps it would be better to say that, as a religion, Christianity has more than it's fair share of intolerant people. There are a lot of Christians, it doesn't take a very high percentage of outspoken individuals to paint the whole religion as intolerant, but I don't think that's a fair assesment. No more fair than saying Islam promotes terrorism. These attributes of the followers not the religions.

    [ Parent ]
    asdf (2.66 / 3) (#261)
    by Dogun on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 09:01:23 PM EST

    I've gotta agree with you on this. One of my friends is a Jehovah's Witness; he made several attempts to convert me, way back, but after displaying my disagreement with the anthropic principle, he let up. He does however, still cause another one of my good friends a great deal of distress by taunting her now and again when she's depressed (a very vulnerable person, prone to depression. Picture an army of the taunters, make them more immature, and make my other friend a little more unstable...

    [ Parent ]
    The Devil's greatest triumph... (3.18 / 16) (#124)
    by Ray Chason on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:33:16 AM EST

    ...is not, as has been said, convincing the world that he doesn't exist. The Devil's greatest triumph is convincing the world that his will is that of God.
    --
    The War on Terra is not meant to be won.
    Delendae sunt RIAA, MPAA et Windoze
    The Devil's greatest triumph... (3.50 / 4) (#147)
    by Akaru on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:08:08 AM EST

    > ...is not, as has been said, convincing the world that he doesn't exist. The > Devil's greatest triumph is convincing the world that his will is that of God.

    I beg to differ The devils greatest triumph is convincing the world he does exist. Only when the devil exists can people fob off there evil by saying, it wasn't me the devil made me do it. Or maybe the Devils biggest triumph was convincing the world they don't need to take responsibility for there actions. Because by not taking the consequences of your actions and accepting them, you are every kind of evil you ever might make out he Devil to be.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: The Devil's greatest triumph... (3.00 / 2) (#189)
    by Ray Chason on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:08:45 AM EST

    My point stands the same way, whether you read "the Devil" as Satan/Ahriman/Morgoth/etc. or as a metaphor for the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. There are none so evil, so dangerous to others, as those convinced that their foul deeds are for a higher good.
    --
    The War on Terra is not meant to be won.
    Delendae sunt RIAA, MPAA et Windoze
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Devil (2.00 / 2) (#207)
    by russmay on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 12:20:12 PM EST

    I agree, not taking personal responsibilty for your actions and words is a great tool of the Devil, be the devil a metaphor or a religious icon.

    [ Parent ]
    religion is only a side point (3.92 / 14) (#137)
    by eudas on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:25:03 AM EST

    ok i would like to present my opinion on the matter here.

    thus far, i've seen quite a few posts on the matter concerning themselves with christians vs wiccans, christians vs the world, definitions of christians, definitions of wiccans, consequences of organized religion, and a few on basic insecurity of people.

    i have yet to see any that address the true issue(s), those being
    1. the girl's own situation such that suicide seemed a viable option;
    2. the children who teased her and all aspects relevant to them (their own insecurity, mental conditions, beliefs, parents, etc.);
    3. [major point] the fact(?) that religion is most likely not the true issue at hand; children after all tease each other every day. it sounds more like the religion was picked up only as an issue to use against her. it could have been her ugly hair, her large nose, or her best friend's annoying laugh;
    4. the issue of why teasing (in the sense of 'oh, everybody gets teased') is tolerated at all, or at a minimum, why it is so loosely policed (and thereby implicitly approved);
    5. the aforementioned issue of the press ignoring this issue largely potentially due to the inherent focus of the event; it makes christians look bad on the shallow level, and on a deeper level makes people re-examine their beliefs (which most people abjectly do not want to do).

    the point i want to focus on is (3). religion is not the true issue -- the issue is really that they were picking on her until she felt that her only option was to commit suicide.

    my $0.02.

    eudas
    "We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
    re: religion is only a side point (3.71 / 7) (#146)
    by Akaru on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:39:42 AM EST

    > i have yet to see any that address the true issue(s), those being
    > 1. the girl's own situation such that suicide seemed a viable option;

    You may have had such a wonderful childhood that you never got depressed or felt like taking your own life, but it isn't the same for all people, Children are extremely shallow, they have a way of blowing things all out of proportion.

    When a person or group of people persecute you daily, whether it is religious or otherwise, you generally get depressed and to end it all you think ahh yes if i kill myself it will all go away. The thought to ignore them or otherwise doesn't even exist. its hard to understand, but as I was an ape shit crazy kid myself who was bullied a lot at school i know the kind of feelings you face as a child. She may have also been having trouble at home, or she may have just been someone who gets easily upset.

    > 2. the children who teased her and all aspects relevant to them (their own > insecurity, mental conditions, beliefs,
    > parents, etc.);

    So what you want to do is turn this into a full scientific review? I know the reasons i was bullied at school, simple, it was because i was smaller i was a good target for bullying. The people bullying me would bully me to make themselves feel good, to be better than me, to impress there friends etc.
    I don't see how knowing if the psycological profiles, beliefs and aspects is relevant.


    > 3. [major point] the fact(?) that religion is most likely not the true issue at > hand; children after all tease each other
    > every day. it sounds more like the religion was picked up only as an issue > to use against her. it could have been her ugly
    > hair, her large nose, or her best friend's annoying laugh;

    Your right this isn't really about religious intolerance, its about being bullied at school, it might have taken the form of taunting about a religion, but it could have equally been about anything else. All it really shows is either the christianity those children are following promotes religious intolerance, or those children don't understand christianism.
    Again as they are children you can't expect them to understand and the fact no one at the school was willing to tell them, says something about the education system.
    Apart from that if this happened in America, it can also be wonderfully ironic, in a very dark way.

    > 4. the issue of why teasing (in the sense of 'oh, everybody gets teased') is > tolerated at all, or at a minimum, why it is
    > so loosely policed (and thereby implicitly approved);

    The reason is because Children aren't listened to, so maybe the first time you get bullied you go tell a teacher and they say there there it isn't that bad, and they tell you its nothing, so when its repeated and repeated, they don't tell a teacher because they didn't listen before, or somethimes they might be embaressed to tell a teacher, or fearful of what might happen if they tell a teacher.
    Unfortunately you can really only police this kind of thing if someone tells you this is happening. Which is often not the case. There is no way for teachers to know whats going on, or sometimes they might know and not care. Or they might act on what someone has said and find out the Kid has lied. How can you police something like that?
    Really what should be done is making parents aware of there children, making them realise when something is wrong, make it clear that if they are being bullied they should tell there parents and there parents can take it up with teachers, or make some move to solve the problem.
    Too much responsibility is put on the school plate, when at the same time, a huge amount of restrictions is also given to them, thereby askign them to create miracles whilst being stabbed in the back at the same time.
    All the while Parents are told they get to do less and less.


    > 5. the aforementioned issue of the press ignoring this issue largely > potentially due to the inherent focus of the event; it
    > makes christians look bad on the shallow level, and on a deeper level > makes people re-examine their beliefs (which most
    > people abjectly do not want to do).

    Do you understand the media? Most times the media does something is to make money. Making a highly moral stand against bigotry and supporting a minority isn't going to sell papers, it will lose customers. Whats to say in this story except, a bunch of spiteful girls made another girl so depressed she killed herself. Thats it, it might get a mention in a small collumn next to the classifieds. On the other hand when a crazy goes firing a gun at a bunch of kids, now this, has potential, it should appeal to people with guns, kids, psycologists, the morbid, people who have overly emotional reactions to events completely unlinked with them, etc. Its more exciting, but i can guarantee it won't be run because they feel the need to highlight the issue it'll be because people will buy it.


    All this article conveys to me is a deep sadness, because these days its never about people, its always about something else, no one cares about the us anymore or at least no one worth mentioning.

    [ Parent ]
    christian intolerance (2.75 / 4) (#168)
    by area51 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 08:02:02 AM EST

    3. [major point] the fact(?) that religion is most likely not the true issue at hand;
    The whole reason for the taunting and harassment was that the girl was a different religion.

    Christians used to be persecuted back in time; they did not learn tolerance from it.

    Too many christian parents give their kids no moral upbringing; that's why those christian kids teased that girl until she felt truly miserable. But since the mainstream media wants to avoid upsetting fundagelical christians, this story won't be flogged like the Cassie Bernal bullshit.

    [ Parent ]
    was it? (2.50 / 4) (#186)
    by j on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:52:51 AM EST

    The whole reason for the taunting and harassment was that the girl was a different religion.
    Not according to the article in the Detroit News.

    [ Parent ]
    We have failed miserably (4.00 / 15) (#145)
    by Haglund mdh on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:35:23 AM EST

    Well, I have a few things to say to this.

    First of all, this is a great tragedy, and it reminds me of the 8 (?) year old girl in UK who hung herself because of her being bullied and teased all the time in school. There are no words for how sad it is to see that children that young, actually are having serious thoughts of committing suicide, and also do it.

    Somewhere, we have failed. In more than one way.

  • The principals and the teachers at our schools either can't see, or if they see, they try to forget and hide the problems.
    I know that some of the people working in schools are not the brightest people around. However, I like to think that most are. So WHY ignore the problem, thinking it will go away if you pretend it's not there?
  • Parents doesn't seem to even TRY to teach their kids what's wrong and what's right.
    Kids do what they want and they seem to be in desperate need of guidance. For example such basic things as to be taught what is right and wrong.
  • Whoever have and are raising children to be good christians, have done something wrong.
    Obviously, the children knew they were christian. Sadly, they have no idea how to be good christians.

  • School is broken, lethal and needs to be replaced (3.00 / 3) (#280)
    by leonbrooks on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 07:30:36 PM EST

    and it reminds me of the 8 (?) year old girl in UK who hung herself because of her being bullied and teased all the time in school
    Search the web for ``John Taylor Gatto'' and/or ``John Holt'' and be amazed. I have a collection of on-line Gatto here as well.

    Schools do everything badly or wrongly from the POV of making well-intended, thoughtful and self-reliant graduates, for the very simple reason that it is not designed to do that. For this reason, reform will not work, complete replacement is required.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Wiccan beliefs? (1.72 / 11) (#151)
    by lazerus on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:47:39 AM EST

    Wiccan beliefs include that marrying an animal (known as handfasting) or someone of the same sex is acceptable. I'm not pro- or anti-Wiccan one way or another, but I'm just wondering, as such things are acceptable according to this religion, or rather group of religions, is it any wonder that Christians, with their staunch right-wing beliefs, are opposed to such religions or belief systems? The idea of marrying a dog or horse would be completely unnacceptable to almost any Christian. Whether they're right or wrong, though, is a matter of religious/spiritual belief.

    "Wiccan" beliefs (4.25 / 4) (#182)
    by davidduncanscott on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:27:55 AM EST

    Wicca runs quite a gamut. We're not talking about a church here, we're talking about what, a movement? Life style? Fashion statement?

    Wicca comes in a close second to Discordianism for lack of dogma. There's no Wiccan bible, no Wiccan pope, none of that. Beyond a sort of vague and largely hypothetical tie to the "old religion", it's pretty much a do-it-yourself affair, with every Wiccan or group of Wiccans (some are covens, some are not) putting together what they believe.

    In other words, no doubt some Wiccans do believe in marrying animals, but that doesn't make it a Wiccan belief. Some Christians believe in polygamy, but I wouldn't describe polygamy as a Christian belief.

    [ Parent ]

    re: Wiccan Beliefs? (4.00 / 3) (#185)
    by Tannim on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 10:40:41 AM EST

    Wiccan beliefs include that marrying an animal (known as handfasting) or someone of the same sex is acceptable. I'm not pro- or anti-Wiccan one way or another, but I'm just wondering, as such things are acceptable according to this religion, or rather group of religions, is it any wonder that Christians, with their staunch right-wing beliefs, are opposed to such religions or belief systems? The idea of marrying a dog or horse would be completely unnacceptable to almost any Christian. Whether they're right or wrong, though, is a matter of religious/spiritual belief.

    I'm not sure where you came across this information, but as a practicing Wiccan, I've never come across the idea of marrying an animal. Handfasting is usualy taken as either the actual marriage, or as something similar to an engagement. Basicly, you're married for a year and a day. After that time is up, if you have second thoughts, you part (idealy) peacefully and still friends. As for same-sex marriage, most of us just don't see what all the fuss is about.

    [ Parent ]

    Suppose you were to marry a goat... (4.00 / 3) (#241)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:57:32 PM EST

    and then later you got divorced.

    Who gets custody of the kids?

    I'm a baaaaad boy.


    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    where... (2.50 / 2) (#260)
    by Dogun on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 08:45:55 PM EST

    Where the heck to people come up with this stuff? Please, verify your information before posting stuff that a third grader's common sense would doubt. Christians need to learn that heathens, pagans, and godless scum like myself are not really any different. I see a lot (but not all... I have a few very good Christian friends who don't conform to that bullshit) of Christians who look down on non-Christians as immoral; they see themselves as somehow greater. Christianity is not morality. Wicca is not morality, relitgion is not morality, atheism is not morality... morality is morality. As for goats... that's not as odd as you might think. There's some statistic about boys who grow up on farms and the nature of their first sexual encounter... <This is where a third grader would question the statistic, if he knew what it supposedly was. Common sense, people!>

    [ Parent ]
    right wing? (none / 0) (#351)
    by Ian A on Wed Apr 11, 2001 at 07:49:58 PM EST

    Christians != 'right wing'. That is why their is a 'Right Wing' within the United States rather then just 'Christian'. The Right Wing generally denotes Republican-voting, Fundamentalist Protestants and/or devote Catholics. I am a Christian and vote liberal, and surely do not consider myself 'right wing'. The idea of a human marrying an animal I believe would be unacceptable by 95% of the human population, Christian or not.

    [ Parent ]
    Old news (2.50 / 8) (#160)
    by slaytanic killer on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:47:15 AM EST

    I have no illusions that dominant religions don't stir deep arrogance in creatures just barely evolved from monkeys. But this very bittering event is old news.

    Even though my emotions are cheaply stirred by this damn article, god, don't I wish I had known these people who've lived such lives. Persecuted by Christians or not; that's irrelevant.

    Except for one thing. Go to Europe if you haven't. Visit the churches, whose domes are constructed in ways that one can hear the whispering of others if you stand in the right location. Christianity, as well as music and anything else that allows people to gain happiness in life, is highly politicized and misused. These kids and families don't worship god, they worship their own damn Satan.

    christianity is diseased (1.37 / 43) (#172)
    by wobblie on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 09:17:54 AM EST

    Christians make me sick. Wiccans can be classified as harmless dimwits.

    Christianity is the most venomous nonsense ever perpetrated on the human race.

    Not Just Christians (2.00 / 2) (#212)
    by mattyb77 on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:30:51 PM EST

    seems like flaimbait to me, but the same argument can be made for just about any religion throughout history and the world, especially those that different from your own beliefs.

    --
    "I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
    [ Parent ]
    The problem with Kuro5hin (2.40 / 5) (#226)
    by Bob Abooey on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:40:27 PM EST

    First of all, yes, I am a well known troll. Despite that I am going to tell you that this post is the problem with kuro5hin. This person expresses a strong opinion and it gets a moderation rating of 1.11.

    This site is so hell bent on being politically correct that you think anyone with a strong opinion must be flamebait or troll material. On slashdot I can understand that, because their are a lot of trolls there, but that's also part of the charm of slashdot. And that can also stimulate intelligent discussion. If you smack doen anyone with a strong opinion you will never get to the truth, if you only promote those who have pleasant white-bread thoughts you only cheat yourself. Well, so be it. Kuro5hin has a bunch of hear-no-evil say-no-evil zombies marching around debating what kind of community you are. Sad, that's what kind, you have a sad community.


    -------
    Comments on politics from a man whose life seems to revolve around his lunch menu just do not hold weight. - Casioitan
    [ Parent ]
    christian virtues (2.25 / 4) (#233)
    by wobblie on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:29:10 PM EST

    The primary christain virtue is obedience; it comes before all else. Obedience is a good quality in dogs, hardly a good one in humans, unless you are a slave.

    Christianity is nothing less than a breeding ground for slavery. It is sick, it teaches hatred of life and everything physical, instead we are to worship a fantasy. It isn't that it's not true, I could deal with people believeing in something that isn't true. It's that is venomous.

    [ Parent ]

    And now you're plagiarizing Nietzsche. (2.00 / 2) (#239)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:48:15 PM EST

    Get some new material. This is more tired than fart jokes.

    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    I don't care about Nietzsche . . . (2.50 / 2) (#269)
    by raptwithal on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 08:44:02 AM EST

    . . . but the primary Christian virtue is not obedience. It isn't even close. That's a total misconception. A Christian is only required to put God or Jesus at the centre of his life. If his lifestyle changes, it's because he wants it to change, not because he's following a set of fixed rules.

    If you had to find a 'primary' Christian virtue, it would have to be love. But the complexity of Christianity diminishes the overall importance of that fact.

    [ Parent ]
    I love a good troll. But this guy is just lame. (3.33 / 3) (#238)
    by marlowe on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:46:18 PM EST

    Lots of people have strong opinions. Big whoop. A few people have interesting or original opinions. Far too few. A small minority are able to argue a point of view cogently, or at least with creative use of irony.

    There's nothing about the output of "wobblie" that's likely to spark an intelligent discussion. He's just another braying jackass.

    -- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
    [ Parent ]
    How very pompous of you (2.20 / 5) (#243)
    by Bob Abooey on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 05:34:34 PM EST

    Yes, I suppose if one cannot meet your standard of "discussion" then they should be pushed aside and disregarded. That's certainly an elitist view of things. I'm of the opinion that regardless of somones posting history they should be judged by each post. I'm also of the opinion that a short and emotional post can mean much more than some well crafted literary masterpiece. Emotion and heart count more than pomp and posture.

    But alas, you can contimue to live in your closed little world, you are the one to suffer.

    Yours,
    Bob


    -------
    Comments on politics from a man whose life seems to revolve around his lunch menu just do not hold weight. - Casioitan
    [ Parent ]
    The original post had no *content* (3.33 / 3) (#267)
    by magney on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 12:51:49 AM EST

    It's not elitism to expect a reasonable attempt at discourse on a discussion board - and wobblie made no such attempt at discourse; he just vented his spleen. Emotion and heart may count for something, but untempered by reason they can cause more harm than good. If anyone's living in a closed little world here, it's wobblie - and you.

    Do I look like I speak for my employer?
    [ Parent ]

    Can I marry you? (2.50 / 2) (#276)
    by mirimoo on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 03:11:20 PM EST

    It's nice to see someone who grasps the concept of "disscussion board".
    ____________
    No two snowflakes are exactly alike,
    but every fucking snowflake is pretty much the same
    -- McGrath
    [ Parent ]
    completely off topic bu.t (none / 0) (#331)
    by mwa on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:48:15 PM EST

    Emotion and heart count more than pomp and posture.

    No they don't. They count the same, which is zero. Without content, you;ll get a 2 from me. If your just flaming or insulting, you'll get a 1 (and you have have to try pretty hard). Now if wobblie had backed up had backed up the claim with something, anything, just an attempt at reason, it would be worth something.

    [ Parent ]

    To Die or Not To Die... (3.40 / 10) (#200)
    by jd on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 11:53:39 AM EST

    That, sadly, is too often the question.

    And, whilst people will no doubt argue about whos religion caused the death, this time, few will spare a single thought for the girl, or the culture of abandonment which led to her taking her own life.

    It's EASY to point fingers. Anyone can do that. All it takes is a hand. But how often do we see anything being done, at school or at home, when bullying or abuse (including verbal abuse) takes place?

    Verbally-abusive people point to the First Ammendment to justify their actions, and tell you that the abused "could have walked away". Yeah, right. Like you can just walk out of a classroom when you feel like it.

    As for blaming Christianity, I'll say this much. Christianity is a "good" religion for abusers. There's a lot of rich material which can be twisted to justify almost anything. But that doesn't make them Christians. "Thou shalt not kill" seems pretty definitive. It doesn't leave much room for debate. Yet the extreme right-wing of America claims to be Christian AND pro-Death Penalty.

    Sorry, but whilst Christianity may be a good source for excuses, it's a label that no killer, abuser, bully, thief, confidence trickster, liar, cheat or any other person who harms another, can EVER legitamately claim.

    But, hey, if they're already up to their armpits in blood, what's one false claim?

    Two different issues (3.00 / 5) (#213)
    by RocketScientist on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 01:42:37 PM EST

    Let's look at this as two separate issues.

    First, there was a considerable amount of bullying and harrasment going on here, and for some reason this child was not able to deal with it, either because it was more than she could bear or because she was more brittle than most. Yes that should be stopped, good friggin luck. Unless you gag every kid and strap them down to their chairs all day, there's going to be bullying and harrasment in schools.

    Second, the parents of the kids doing the bullying obviously didn't teach their children very well what it means to be a Christian. Christianity is, in theory, a religion about love, consideration and respect for your fellow humans, and tolerance. Of course, there's also that New Testament verse that goes "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" somewhere in the New Testament. Literally, Christians are required by their religion to kill witches.

    Christianity is the religion that brought us both sides of the Troubles in Ireland, the Crusades, the Inquisition, countless instances of religious martyring (Hypatia was mentioned earlier, there are easily millions more).

    Christianity is a religion full of internal dissonance (peace and love, crusades and inquisitions; charity and tolerance, ostentatious churches and bigotry). In short, for anyone with a mindset that can detach from their beliefs momentarily, Christianity is an easy target for any criticism of not only its theory but also how it is practiced.

    Christians have been both persecuted and persecutors throughout history, and through that has managed to maintain a level of intolerance for other religions that in many cases rivals the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    This is not all to say that Christianity is an altogether evil thing. Christians were instrumental in preserving many of the writings and antiquities that we have today (well, at least the ones they didn't BURN IN ALEXANDRIA). Christianity preaches the value of good work, charity, and sanctity of life, things that are generally considered good.

    By the way, most Wiccans I've met are discreet enough that you won't know one from just looking at them. Their entire proselytization (is that even a word?...umm..."outreach for the purpose of increasing the number of believers") is based on people that need to find them will be able to find them. It's oddly effective despite the lack of logic and seeming mysticism.

    rocketscientist.

    Weird, huh? (2.44 / 9) (#216)
    by AgentGray on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:29:52 PM EST

    How did her wiccan beliefs help her cope with the taunting?

    The kids were wrong to taunt her, but she was wrong to let it take her to that point. It's HER fault she died. SHE made the choice. I didn't see her fellow peers do it.

    Yes and no (3.66 / 3) (#224)
    by arcterex on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 03:37:46 PM EST

    Saying that it was her fault she couldn't handle it is wrong I think. The same could be said for anyone else who has been tormented into some sort of action. "It was their fault they couldn't handle it."

    This can, I think, be applied in some cases of mentally unstable people who honestly can't handle what they are faced with, and choose the "easy" way out. I of course have no knowledge of the mental state of Tempest Smith other than what I can gather from the articles, however, I would be willing to bet she had the same state as probably most of the other 12 year old girls in the area (and probably all over the world).

    Saying that she buckled under the pressure and gave up is fine, as long as you acknowledge the weight she was holding up at the time.

    [ Parent ]

    U need help (2.50 / 2) (#295)
    by mainframe on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 11:24:54 PM EST

    dude wtf is wrong with u? how is a 12 year old supposed to cope with such things? she was too young to handle this on her own. if we didnt still allow such action in our society we would be fine. people are sayin that they picked on her because she wasnt part of the crowd, well i wasnt part of the crowd when i was 12, in fact im still not. but if i had been 12 and constantly teased because of my religion i would be probly be in her position. it was not her fault, is was the kids that teased her.

    [ Parent ]
    Child psychology. (4.33 / 3) (#299)
    by donw on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 01:30:18 PM EST

    One of the most common errors when evaluating the mental state of a child is assuming that they think, and are motivated, exactly like adults. The baby cries because it wants to annoy you into giving it what it wants. The child throws a tantrum out of spite to get attention.

    Children are not miniature adults.

    Taunts like these attack the very foundation of an individual. A well-balanced adult can rationally evaluate them, and debunk them for what they are (simply a lot of mindless kids). A child, however, doesn't have the luxury of years of experience, nor the capability to stand up to one of the greatest psychological weapons of all time -- religious persecution.

    So why didn't her wiccan beliefs help her with taunting? Because she stood alone. Take a single "christian" child, stuff them in a school of Muslims, and see how long they last. The christian kids have peers to fall back upon; whereas a single, outcast child has no backing at all.

    Yes, her peers didn't physically kill her -- but they gave her every reason to want to die, and no escape route save one -- become a christian, and fight everything your parents stand for. I hardly call that a fair fight.

    [ Parent ]

    those kids are NOT Christian (3.50 / 10) (#236)
    by Bridge Troll on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 04:35:45 PM EST

    I consider myself a Christian.

    My girlfriend is Wiccan.

    I love her very much (hi Ashley!),and never in my life would I ever consider making fun of someone just because their religion was different, even a "fringe" religion like Wicca. Besides, are the concepts of "Do no harm" and "Love thy neighbor" so fundamentally incompatible? At the core, most religions promote the same base: Love each other, don't fight, there is a benevelent force looking out for you.

    These "Christians" were violating a basic premise of their faith by doing this. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, and are probably guilty of at least involuntary manslaughter, IMHO.




    And besides, pounding your meat with a club is a very satisfying thing to do :) -- Sleepy
    Thank You! (2.50 / 2) (#270)
    by Matrix on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 09:53:00 AM EST

    Glad to see some sane posts here on the issue... When I saw the post counter, I was afraid there'd be a lot of Christian-bashing here. That seems to pop up everywhere a story about religion appears on the net. But as Lai Lai Boy points out above, people are far too quick to paint an entire group of people with the same brush thanks to the actions of a few. So, when the media starts throwing around the word 'hacker' in the wrong sense, and saying that all of us who use alternative operating systems, or support free software, are out to destroy the world, remember this.

    I agree with Bridge Troll (eaten any billy goats lately, BTW? ;) ) about this - whatever these kids were, they weren't Christians. Few of my friends are Christian, and I've no problem with any of them.

    The main point that needs to be raised here is: where were the teachers? Why didn't they see what was going on and help?


    Matrix
    "...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
    - Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
    [ Parent ]

    Well said, sir! (2.50 / 2) (#300)
    by donw on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 01:35:16 PM EST

    Sadly, your attitudes (which I share, despite not being Christian), are in the minority. Most of the christians I know are highly intolerant of other faiths, and even have problems dating outside of their respective churches.

    It's good to see that rational thought can flourish even where discouraged.

    [ Parent ]

    very true. (none / 0) (#345)
    by Requiem on Thu Mar 29, 2001 at 12:54:19 AM EST

    When I used to be Anglican (Church of England, I think Americans call them Episcopalians?), I got shit from various people for dating a Wiccan. My most recent ex-girlfriend is a Unitarian (I've been athiest for a number of years). Dating outside my "religion" (or lack thereof) has never been difficult. I may not agree with a person's beliefs, but a belief is something that a person holds to be true, so it is not for me to dictate what is true and what is not.

    [ Parent ]
    Tollerance (2.00 / 8) (#248)
    by AntiEgo on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:02:10 PM EST

    Thank you for this thoughtfull essay. It has opened my eyes to the fact that Christians are evil, and must be stopped before they ruin our tollerant society.

    ...boy, you make it difficult. (1.50 / 2) (#251)
    by goosedaemon on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:50:47 PM EST

    I'm trying to decide if you're being sarcastic, serious, or trollish. Want to elaborate?

    [ Parent ]
    Prejudice Against Christians? (3.54 / 11) (#250)
    by thegreatbadger on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 06:31:59 PM EST

    I find it more than a bit hypocritical that posters here and at Slashdot are always preaching tolerance, while many are totally intolerant of the religious beliefs of others. The logic here seems to be that because some Christians are intolerant, then by default all are intolerant. By this logic, because the two kids responsible for Columbine liked Doom and other videogames, anyone interested in such games is also likely to go on a rampage. Makes a lot of sense huh?
    In the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair. But Gollum and the Evil One crept up and slipped away with her.
    God forbid we pre-judge the Christians. (2.60 / 5) (#285)
    by psiox on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 11:46:14 PM EST

    Sure, they were hostile towards Christians and they'd played video games. How many examples can we find of the massive groups of Christian youths persecuting the few atheists/non-Christians in modern public schools? Then take into account the nightmares that go in the private schools. This never gets press coverage; you never hear about some poor child driven to suicide or the like because they weren't christian. You see -one- christian go down for it and they're immediately a martyr, even when they shouldn't be (i.e. Columbine). Makes a lot of sense, huh?

    And the river's running through my veins. Lately she don't seem the same. And the blood keeps calling out my name.
    [ Parent ]

    Thanks :-) (3.50 / 4) (#293)
    by thegreatbadger on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 03:21:49 PM EST

    LOL - Yeah, you've got to watch out for those "massive groups of Christian youths". Especially those that go on medical mission trips and volunteer at local homeless shelters. In my experience, it's been the kids who are Christian or follow some other type of faith that are the ones who get persecuted for standing up for their morals or failing to take part in what's considered normal high school activities.

    Anyway, although you gave my previous comment a 1, your reply does more to prove my point than anything I could add. So, if it makes you feel better, go ahead judge the whole by the actions of a few. I could bring up the names of several other historical figures who have subscribed to this train of thought, but you probably wouldn't appreciate the comparison.
    In the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair. But Gollum and the Evil One crept up and slipped away with her.
    [ Parent ]
    No prizzoblem, Captain Fantastic (1.66 / 3) (#307)
    by psiox on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 09:33:02 PM EST

    I've /never/ seen them be persecuted. Maybe that's just my experience and it's pointless to argue that. But standing up for /their/ morals? When I stand up for my morals, which I do on a regular basis as I am now, it's morals I've developed for myself. Christians stand up for their perscribed set of standard-issue morals. Morality isn't something you can just adopt, you have to develop it. That's why I still have little respect for even the christians that go out of their way to help people; it's not out of altruism, but a selfish want for salvation. And, yeah, I gave you a 1. I'm persecuting you independantly of being a Christian. Furthermore, let's examine a small portion of the history of persecution. 1) Who can say 'salem witch trials'? 2) Jews. Yadda yadda. Crusades and what not. Please, feel free to name when agnosticism incited genocide. Anyway, I humbly await your reply.

    And the river's running through my veins. Lately she don't seem the same. And the blood keeps calling out my name.
    [ Parent ]

    You know just enough history... (2.50 / 4) (#310)
    by elefantstn on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 10:36:10 PM EST

    ...to get it massively, massively wrong.

    let's examine a small portion of the history of persecution. 1) Who can say 'salem witch trials'? 2) Jews. Yadda yadda. Crusades and what not. Please, feel free to name when agnosticism incited genocide.

    Agnosticism incited genocide? Well, I'd have to say the Holocaust, for one - Hitler was very antireligious. Also see the Jews persecuted by Stalin. Please go back to school and pay attention in your history classes. It will make you appear more intelligent the next time you post.



    [ Parent ]
    Sigh. (1.50 / 2) (#311)
    by psiox on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 02:55:50 AM EST

    I /knew/ you'd try to use those.

    I'm not trying to get ugly, here. You're just attempting to feel better about yourself by spurting out these things. But it's okay. It's kind of a waste of my time to correct you, though.

    First, there's no record of Hitler being any certain religion. He /did/, however, use the Bible as a way to pass off his slaughter of all the jews. He was against religion that went against his beliefs; however, much like in the Soviet Union we all know and loved under Communism, religion that supported the state was looked upon with much relish.

    Plus, Stalin's being atheist wasn't the reason for that genocide. It had /nothing/ to do with his being atheist; it was a purely communist endeavor. Meanwhile, there's a directly Christian influence behind all of the others.

    Please try to be less presumptuous about your answers, Captain Christ. I'm trying to debate this somewhat civilly.

    And the river's running through my veins. Lately she don't seem the same. And the blood keeps calling out my name.
    [ Parent ]

    Exactly! (3.00 / 2) (#316)
    by elefantstn on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 04:05:35 PM EST

    Plus, Stalin's being an atheist wasn't the reason for that genocide. It had /nothing/ to do with his being atheist; it was a purely communist endeavor. Meanwhile, there's a directly Christian influence behind all of the others.

    I love it when people refute their own statements. You're right, Stalin's being atheist had nothing to with wanting to kill Jews. So why is it different for all the other genocides you try to blame on Christianity? Christianity was not the cause of the persecutions, it was the excuse for the persecutions. If it didn't exist, some other excuse could have presented itself just as easily.

    There is no major religion that espouses genocide as one of its main tenets, so why do people insist that the religions are the problem?



    [ Parent ]
    oh come on (2.00 / 2) (#317)
    by NovaX on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 04:00:28 AM EST

    Lets expand the Jewish junk, simply out of your pure and utter ignorance.

    Christianity was not only the excuse of jewish persecution, it was pushed the 'cause'. For example, Pope Pius II is currently being "beautified" by the Church (basically - lets burn the history books and rewrite them). He comes under massive attacks for abducting a jewish boy from his home and taking the boy under his wing and bringing him into the Church (ended up as a bishop). At that time, the Jews were in walled ghetos, forced into them by the Roman Catholic Police, and labelled (where do you think Hitler got the idea?).

    The direct involvement of the Church in the holocost, destruction of temples (ie, the holiest), etc are well documented. The Pope JP has apologized and asked for forgiveness, which is unique and a good sign. But as just one simple example above, the head of the Church - those who talk directly with God (oh lordy), etc were the ones at fault.

    [ Parent ]
    One thing I'm not doing... (3.50 / 2) (#319)
    by elefantstn on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 07:20:21 PM EST

    ...is defending the Catholic church here. Don't get that impression.

    What I'm saying is that the belief system that is Christianity (which by the way != the Catholic hierarchy and temporal power) cannot be held in any way responsible for various persecutions and genocides, including the one you just mentioned. Christianity and "Christians" are separate things, and the former is not responsible for the actions of the latter. The Bible is no more responsible for the ghetto-ization of Jews in Medieval Rome than the Declaration of Independence is responsible for the Tuskegee experiments.



    [ Parent ]
    Let me try to be a (biased) mediator... (none / 0) (#348)
    by RickBigNail on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 06:26:41 PM EST

    Hi psiox,thegreatbadger,elefantstn,
    (psiox,my reply is not target at you in specific. But why am i replying to you instead of the other? i don't know ... perhaps from your posts i could not tell whether you are just responding to thegreatbadger, or has your own misunderstandings, or somewhere in between )

    It does not seem like we are getting anywhere.

    I find it more than a bit hypocritical that posters here and at slashdot are always preaching tolerance, while many are totally intolerant of the religious beliefs of others.

    Now, hypocritical is not a good word here. It could be accurately used to critize a person. But if you use it to critize a group, you must expect oppositions from both the average joe in the group and those in smaller number but smart Kants/Humes. It does not matter be it a christian group, an ethnic group, environmentalists, left, right, or a 'geek' group. Or the overall population for that matter.

    ...you never hear about some poor child driven to suicide or the like because they weren't christian. You see -one- christian go down for it and they're immediately a martyr, even when they shouldn't be (i.e. Columbine). Makes a lot of sense, huh?

    What do you expect from the mass media? Or a group of people and publishers with a set of common viewpoints? I am quite sure it is the same from some 'extreme minority left' (unions, evironmentalists, etc.) (is the extreme right in majority?)

    In any society/community, there are people who are oppressing, with or without propagandists, those who are being oppressed, those third-parties who do nothing to resist the oppressors or help the oppressed, and those third-parties who helped/resisted in one way or another. The oppressions could be either physical or mental. Christians/Jews have been in all these (except propagandists, i hope...) situations in history. It is sad to see people who were once oppressed would turn around to oppress people (see medieval church authority, early soviet union, or, people with post-secondary education...) We should learn from history, should we?

    Now time for my personal opinion. There are too much we-they mentality. If J believes in X, and A attacks J's belief in Xprime, then J sees A is one of 'them'. If K also believes in X but not Xprime, then J treat K as a betrayor,traitor. Sigh, X could be shallow liberals, conservatives, chistianity, mormons, communists, imperialists, psedoscience.

    And as a christian, i think sometimes we are misunderstood. It is part of our faults, but ... we are often judged by the deeds of some (many? most?) of us rather the real teachings/implications in the Holy Bible.
    For example, Christians stand up for their perscribed set of standard-issue morals. ... That's why I still have little respect for even the christians that go out of their way to help people; it's not out of altruism, but a selfish want for salvation.
    No, i don't think, we are saved because we help others. Or we help others in order to be saved. We help others /because/ we are already saved. I think many of us help others /even when/ we are not saved, and in some odd situations we would not help if we are not saved.

    And finally, agnosticism did not incite genocide because, i think, it never was in power and a majority in history. Or (just a guess) genocide continues/occurs if a person of any belief (include agnosticism) are not amoung the targeted people being killed so they do nothing even able to.

    [ Parent ]

    Read Before Responding (4.00 / 1) (#341)
    by thegreatbadger on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 02:04:45 PM EST

    You make me laugh.
    When I stand up for my morals, which I do on a regular basis as I am now, it's morals I've developed for myself. Christians stand up for their perscribed set of standard-issue morals.
    Everytime you post and make blanket statements about Christians and Christianity, you simply reenforce my initial statement.

    Please, in the future, before responding, read what I actually write. I didn't blame anything on agnosticism, but on prejudices such as the one you're displaying now.

    In the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair. But Gollum and the Evil One crept up and slipped away with her.
    [ Parent ]
    Law of the Playground (2.66 / 3) (#256)
    by zak on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 07:33:32 PM EST

    As Leviathan said, I think you should look for the obvious answer. And while you're at it, check out http://ds.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/rdd18/playground/ Which is a shocking/hilarious site devoted to school bullying. Slanted towards British school culture.

    As a member... (3.90 / 11) (#259)
    by Lai Lai Boy on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 08:40:23 PM EST

    of a religion often poorly percieved by outsiders (Islam), I find it wrong to equate all of Christanity with the actions of these children.

    That this girl was driven to sucide is horrible. But is wrong to assume all Christains are like these children. It's the same for me, when one equates terrorists with real Islam.

    People like that aren't truly Christain or Muslim - it just makes good headlines.

    Lai Lai Boy

    [Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

    Thank you! (2.33 / 3) (#265)
    by Lord Snott on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 12:15:02 AM EST

    I'm a christian, NOT a Catholic. There is nothing worse than being associated with or being persecuted for something because of the ignorance of the masses. Cheers to Lai Lai Boy for saying something that REALLY needed to be said! The Bible and the Koran are good books, it's a shame the Vatican and the Taliban haven't read them. PS: I'm a protestant christian, and I know this sounds like a troll (it probably is :) but I do believe what I've said.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
    registration number 2,347,676.
    Bummer :-(

    [ Parent ]
    Catholics? (3.00 / 3) (#278)
    by enterfornone on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 07:23:23 PM EST

    I don't think Christian intolerance of Wiccans is a Catholic thing. It tends to mostly be those Christians who consider the KJV to be inerrant, in my experience they tend to be protestant although they are a very small minority.

    The Koran (I think the preferred spelling is Quoran BTW) suggests men should physically discipline their wifes and various other things that most people would not agree with, although I've never really looked into it enough to see how much it supports the Taliban's view.

    The bible has a lot of intolerance, especially the the earlier books where God and Jews would regularly commit genocide against nations of sinners. Jesus was certainly more peaceful and would regularly associate with prostitutes and tax collectors (considered the most vile of people in those days) but he still insisted that his way was the only way.

    However Jesus also recognised that each person has to find the truth for themselves, I doubt he would support state imposed religion or any other form of enforced religion. It is those who look at the laws in the bible (again, generally protestants in my experience) rather than Christ's example that tend to be the most intolerant.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    intolerant christians, koran (3.33 / 3) (#308)
    by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 09:40:11 PM EST

    I don't think Christian intolerance of Wiccans is a Catholic thing. It tends to mostly be those Christians who consider the KJV to be inerrant, in my experience they tend to be protestant although they are a very small minority.
    In short, I guess it's the people who take their religion most seriously. Unfortunately, they also take themselves very seriously, which the Bible explicitly enjoins them not to do. However, consider the vast number of people who didn't take anything particularly seriously during the Dark Ages, yet were happy to band together to drown witches, burn protestants etc.
    The Koran (I think the preferred spelling is Quoran BTW) suggests men should physically discipline their wifes and various other things that most people would not agree with, although I've never really looked into it enough to see how much it supports the Taliban's view.
    Q'ran. As with most branches of Christianity, Taliban takes a mile when given an inch. Q'ran says that woman is ``one step lower'' than man. The resultant abuse derives from this. Dark Ages authoritarianism derived from the two-millennia-obselete priesthood with a good splash of Mithraism.
    The bible has a lot of intolerance, especially the the earlier books where God and Jews would regularly commit genocide against nations of sinners.
    Actually, the biggest body counts arose when Israel and Judah didn't carry out specific genocides. The survivors went on to cause problems that resulted in orders of magnitudes more death than had the genocide been carried out. Since then, another big problem is men taking it into their own hands to decide when a genocide was in order, as happened in Yugoslavia during WW2 (we still see the echoes of this today).
    However Jesus also recognised that each person has to find the truth for themselves, I doubt he would support state imposed religion or any other form of enforced religion.
    I think it would be safe to say that he came to announce the end of state religions.

    Good post, by the way. Uncommonly rational. (-:
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Ministry of Truth/Justice/Peace (3.33 / 3) (#279)
    by leonbrooks on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 07:28:26 PM EST

    I'm a christian, NOT a Catholic. There is nothing worse than being associated with or being persecuted for something because of the ignorance of the masses.
    And an elitist Protestant at that - ``the masses'' indeed - which means you're making exactly the same attitudinal mistake as most militant Catholics, including the ones responsible for Inquisitions, triggering wars, and the political subterfuge constantly indulged in. This attitude in that one group alone is probably responsible, directly and indirectly for several hundred million violent deaths.

    The attitude is the ``us and them/I have arrived'' attitude. Remember that you are not saved by wearing the correct religious brand name. Remember that God's message for these last days, is ``come out of her, my people,'' or in other words most of God's people are a part of organisations such as the one you condemn wholesale out of hand. Has the penny dropped?

    Now, as a Christian, what is your job? Reaching the unconverted, or slagging them off?

    Whether or not Lai Lai Boy will eventually come out of this well, he currently has a better attitude than you, and better than the average here, on one of the most thoughtful message boards on the 'net. I'm guessing that his attitude will be more conducive to Lai Lai Boy accepting and obeying the clearest truth available to him, regardless of personal cost, than to you (and I suspect to me). Something to think about.

    Having said that, yes, Catholic and Christian are different (if partially overlapping) things in practice. In fact, if Catholicism wasn't politically united, the various groups participating in it would be so diverse as to form several score distinct denominations.

    The Roman Catholic Church has a track record of political interference, pressure, lying, cruelty and re-engineering history which shows the Church of Scientology (of recent electronic fame) up for the amateurs they are. The late Yugoslavia, for a recent example, was/is a religious war (Roman vs Islamic vs everyone else) which has been so slanted by Catholic influences within media and politics that most Westerners will not believe it. Rival churches are still occasionally dynamited in various parts of South America, and there are no headlines in New York about it.

    At the same time, among their billion members (four for every North American), the Roman Catholic Church contains many millions of kind, compassionate, hard-working people struggling for the welfare of their fellow men. Mother Theresa, for example. These people either don't know the real history of their church, or regard it as regrettable mistakes now long past rather than an inevitable and recurring result of the basic principles of the church.

    The killer principles which bring this about are the idea that any wrong-doing can simply be paid for by ``repentance'' and the odd penance (this puts an often achievable price on wrongdoing), and the notably Jesuit idea that ``the end justifies the means,'' also a favourite of Co$ and many other toxic organisations (in practice, this basically amounts to ``if I can get away with it, it's OK''). These concepts destroy the morals of people anywhere they occur.

    The Bible and the Koran are good books, it's a shame the Vatican and the Taliban haven't read them.
    Actually, they each have, and each are expert at reinterpreting some relatively plain words to mean whatever they like.

    The Romans in particular add stuff to the Bible which effectively render it useless: anything officially pronounced by a Pope, a Diet or a Council throughout the long history of the Medievel Church is as binding for them as the Bible. Needless to say, the resulting behaviour is a long way from Christ-like.

    The Koran gives militant Moslems some choices; for example, it says to be gentle to ``the people of the book'' - that is, practicers of Judaism or Christianity - but it also says to destroy infidels (ie non-Muslims) if they refuse to convert, and apostates. It also mentions that women are ``one step lower'' than men, and by taking this and running with it a whole culture of what amounts to gender-based abuse has arisen.

    Cheers to Lai Lai Boy for saying something that REALLY needed to be said!
    Hear, hear! (-:
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]
    So what? (2.25 / 4) (#271)
    by samsara on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 10:43:45 AM EST

    Religeon in any form is one of the most beautiful things we have. I have a deep respect for the beliefs in others, even if those beliefs are agnostic in nature. What I don't see however, is the direct relationship between Christianity and this girl's suicide. She was bullied, and they found a button they could push...that's it. Some bullies use size, race, sex, or just plain looks to push someone over the edge. In this case, it was religeon. The title to this post is obvious baiting to spark the "Christianity Sucks!, God is good" debate. I'm sorry I had to contribute to it...but it's only a symptom to a much larger problem which is unregulated bullying in our schools.

    Selfish groupthink killed Tempest Smith (3.60 / 5) (#273)
    by leonbrooks on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 11:47:54 AM EST

    It becomes very tempting at this point to blame a society and media heavily dominated by Christians. To say that the story of a Christian persecuted for her beliefs is seen as more valid than the persecution of someone who follows a less established religion.
    You could play Madlib quite happily with this for some time. Cast it in racist terms and it would be just as true. Which is very sad, because a genuine, working Christianity would by definition exclude taunting and so would stand out as more than just another member of the set ``religion.''

    What's really going on is that Tempest was being taunted for being a member of a different social group.

    Put it in the context ``school'' and suddenly the perspective changes. I have a lot to say on that topic, but this is not limited to school.

    You could write it off as just ``kids being kids,'' but that would also be stupid and irresponsible - and highly unfair: not all children are like that.

    This is really more of the particular brand of human stupidity which I call ``football team theology,'' and it's becoming so important with George W Bush running around implementing religious-right policies as fast as he can sign documents that I think I'll write a whole K5 article on it and the chilling consequences we face. Maybe tomorrow night if I'm not exhausted after the planned day's running around (happy birthday, Aiyana).
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee

    My thoughts (4.22 / 9) (#282)
    by enterfornone on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 08:03:49 PM EST

    Most of this has been said already, but if anyone is still reading these comments....

    First, this wasn't because they were christians and she was wiccan, it was because they were "normal" and she was different. Simple as that.

    That said, there are many christians who belive Wiccans are the witches mentioned in the badly translated passages of the KJV. There are also any christians who think Wiccans practice the completely fictitions religion of gothic satanism.

    Second, most of the "true" Christians I know are very kind and tolerant people. While many believe that non-christians are misguided, they express this with love not hate. A true Christian would have gone out of their way to be this girl's best friend in order to "save" her. Such Christians are a very small minority however.

    Most "Christian intolerance" comes from the much larger group of "Christians" who think that some vague intellectual belief in Jesus and being straight are the only things they need to get to heaven. These people are numerous, however I don't think its fair to call them Christians.

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.

    ... in order to "save" her ??? (3.50 / 6) (#286)
    by forrest on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 12:51:19 AM EST

    A true Christian would have gone out of their way to be this girl's best friend in order to "save" her.
    To "save" someone, in Christian termonology, is to convert them to Christian beliefs.

    Some "best friend", being nice to somebody just to get the chance to undermine their spiritual beliefs. Harrumph.

    [ Parent ]

    Well yeah... (3.60 / 5) (#289)
    by enterfornone on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 06:52:57 AM EST

    Face it, most Christians do think their way is the best way. However most real Christians beleive that the best way to demonstrate God's love is to act lovingly to other people (as Jesus suggests).

    --
    efn 26/m/syd
    Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
    [ Parent ]
    It's true (3.00 / 1) (#324)
    by MadDreamer on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 03:29:37 PM EST

    You're right. A real Christian would have simply been good to her, not 'in order to' anything. Sadly it becomes incresingly hard to find any real Christians anymore. They're all converting machines, on a mission to change minds. But don't throw out the whole religion just because some of the followers have sawdust for brains.

    [ Parent ]
    Saving is undermining? (none / 0) (#336)
    by leandro on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 09:58:05 PM EST

    Only if you think that spiritual beliefs are non-objective. If they are objective, and that's what Christians believe, if you show people a more perfect truth you are not undermining, but perfecting their beliefs.

    Now perfecting your beliefs may equal shedding some points of belief while adopting others; and if someone comes to believe in Jesus, now he's a Christian!

    I can't see evil here, if it's done in a fair way.

    [ Parent ]
    Saving is undermining ... (none / 0) (#337)
    by forrest on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 10:54:46 PM EST

    Only if you think that spiritual beliefs are non-objective.
    So, if you don't believe in One True Way (Christian or otherwise) then there's no other viable position than the chic postmodern abyss of absolute cultural relativity, in which every individual's beliefs are equally "true", and thus equally irrelevant?

    I think you can have beliefs that are real (and not just "real to you", I mean real) and still be open to the perspectives of others.

    The progress of science has always worked like that ... when people stop questioning, they stop learning, yet they needn't abandon the foundation on which they stand in order to be able to question. The way Newtonian physics gave way to Relativity provides an excellent example of this. (Please don't confuse my reference to scientific progress with the Religion of the Current Scientific Dogma, which some people adopt to comfort themselves with bland certainties, just like any other religion.)

    I'd say if want to be someone's best friend, you'd better be willing to open your heart/mind to the potential for validity in their beliefs, which you can do without abandoning your own.

    If you can't do that, you're no best friend at all.

    [ Parent ]

    Thank you. (2.80 / 5) (#292)
    by regeya on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 01:34:04 PM EST

    I've noticed from your diaries that you're learning about Christianity, and present your views as those of an outsider...at least, that's the impression I got. It sounds like you've learned more in a short time than I have in a lifetime of living in the U.S. Bible Belt.

    Second, most of the "true" Christians I know are very kind and tolerant people. While many believe that non-christians are misguided, they express this with love not hate. A true Christian would have gone out of their way to be this girl's best friend in order to "save" her. Such Christians are a very small minority however.

    Are you sure you aren't on your way to becoming a preacher? ;-)

    You hit the nail on the head. What I've been taught all my life is that you're supposed to learn from the teachings of Jesus, learn from his examples, and follow them to the best of your ability. Jesus wasn't an entirely kind being, but he had, within the Judeo-Christian line of thought, the best intentions. However, we're also reminded that we are only human. We don't always do the right things, etc. Heck, I remember my school days well, and there was one poor girl who got nearly driven to the brink because she was openly Christian. People who profess a Christian faith are tormented. Oh, you get things thrown in your face like half-understood biblical verses (see kitten's comment) the Crusades,the Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch Trials, and so on. It's probably part of the reason I've never been inclined to join a church--not because of the FUD other people spread, but because I don't particularly enjoy being the target of FUD. :-)

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    Is it really ficticious? (2.75 / 4) (#297)
    by mikeyo on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 12:49:09 PM EST

    There are also any christians who think Wiccans practice the completely fictitions religion of gothic satanism.

    It seems to me that if someone is practicing this religion, you can't label it as ficticious.

    [ Parent ]
    Jack Chick Christianity (4.25 / 4) (#283)
    by forrest on Sat Mar 17, 2001 at 11:33:02 PM EST

    This story reminds me of the sort of Christianity promoted by Jack Chick's little cartoon tracts.

    Those were sooooo popular at my high school -- I'm sure I was given many by people wanting to "save" me.

    I've heard a lot of people say, those aren't real Christians, but I don't know about that. This letter to the editor of a Georgia newspaper from a Christian minister seems to reflect a very common flavor of that religion.

    Can a religion that teaches that everyone is born evil, and only those who follow the One True Way can ever overcome their inherent badness, ever truly be tolerant of other beliefs? How could it? Hey, if you don't believe ...you're evil. To many Christians (those whose views are represented by the links above), it's as simple as that.



    founding father's Xtianity (4.00 / 3) (#294)
    by kurthr on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 04:07:28 PM EST

    I feel compelled to mention on reading the ravings of that minister that I was brought up Universalist, and learned early on that the founding fathers we've all heard of were not strict Xtians. See this link or the sited book for more information. In particular, the fact that until the McCarthy era "In God We Trust" was not printed on all bills.

    Something that taught me great tolerance and effectively inoculated me against most organized religion was my church's practice of taking its junior high age members to a different church every other week. We went to visit various congregations to hear their sermons (Methodist, Episcopalian, Baptist, Catholic, First AME, Pentecostal, Jewish (Reformed), Moslem, Hindu (actually Jain), B'Hai...), and discuss our experiences the next week. Our minister would approach the head of their congregation, and almost none could refuse the chance to reach our youthful innocent souls. It took most of a summer, and parts were uncomfortable, but I'd never give up that experience. The incredible similarity of their worship, and their differences (in how they worshiped and received us) were telling. At the end we attended the Unitarian sermon every other week.

    The type of religious intolerance that this girl suffered was just as common when I went to school so I certainly didn't relate these experiences to my non-Unitarian/Universalist friends except when I occasionally met one on these outings (and usually they were just as tight lipped and ?fearful? as I).

    [ Parent ]

    Founding Fathers (5.00 / 1) (#344)
    by Spatula on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:57:06 AM EST

    ...the founding fathers we've all heard of were not strict Xtians.

    IIRC, they were, by and large, Deist. However, few people I 'talk' (read: argue) with on this subject seem to know or agree with this. And, if they do know this, they automagically assume that 'Deist' means 'hardcore Christian', and neglect to remember that 'In God We Trust' and '...under God' were not added until McCarthy.

    I feel that one major step in the right direction will also be *education* on the facts of the origins of the US, most especially in these two aspects, as they are so ingrained in our collective culture that they are hard to parse from the origin.

    You make an excellent point, kurthr, regarding the cross-religion education. I, too, attended different church services, not as a part of school, but as (get this!) an exercise when I was in the Boy Scouts. The Scoutmaster's notion was to show us that there are many different beliefs out there, and that we should find one that feels right to us. Of course, he was kicked out a few years later after he admitted that he was Buddhist.

    Education is the big key to preventing bullying like what has happened in this case, and until that education is brought into play, religious (or whatever) bullying of the so-called 'weird' will just continue as normal.

    I am *so* reminded of the Negativland song "Christianity is Stupid", too. "Shop as normal/and avoid panic shopping", I think.
    --
    someday I'll find something to put here.
    [ Parent ]

    Overcoming inherent badness (none / 0) (#333)
    by leandro on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 09:06:27 PM EST

    You mistake the doctrine of original sin and redemption. It instates that everyone is born sinful, but those who follow the One True Way (which BTW is Jesus the person, not any Christian church in itself) have their sins pardoned. Having their sins pardoned they will be able to follow their Lord, while still being prone to sin.

    The Christian doctrine thus teaches that Christians are as bad as non-Christians, but *because* they are pardoned they have a better chance of learning more. It does not imply that every Christian will be better than any non-Christian.

    [ Parent ]
    What happen ? (3.00 / 10) (#288)
    by kitten on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 05:12:58 AM EST

    An earlier post begged readers:
    Someone, please, show me where in the gospels Jesus says anything about persecuting those who did not have faith in him. You won't, because he says quite the opposite: love those who hate you, and do good to those who persecute you.

    I'd reply to that directly, but I hope that my post has more to say than simply answering that question and being done with it.
    At any rate.
    Jesus pronounced that he was identical with the God of the Old Testament called Jehovah on several occasions (one is John x 30). This claim to oneness with God renders Jesus liable for any mistakes Jehovah may have
    According to the scriptures themselves which anyone may freely search, God advised, permitted, or countenanced:
    Deception (Ezek xiv, 9) , stealing (Ex iii, 21-22) , murder (Deut vii 16), killing of witches (Ex xxii 8), slavery (Lev xxv, 44-46), capital punishment for rebellious sons (Deut xxi 18-21), and other acts representing the concepts of this pre-industrial, pre-scientific society.

    As for Jesus himself, well. He wasn't always the protector of peace and harmony that he is revered as. In several cases, Jesus threatens unbelievers with the idea of a physical Hell in which people spend eternity in torment for the 'sin' of disbelief. (see Mark ix 43, Matt xxiii 33, Luke xiii 3 Mark iii 29, and many others).
    Jesus threatened his hearers with death if they did not agree with him (Luke xiv 26, John viii 24).
    Several comments made by Jesus show a remarkable acceptance of the violence and strife that affects the planet. Matt xxiv 6-7, Mark xiii 7-8, Luke xxi 9-10, and several others all include remarks which accept war: "For Nation shall rise against Nation, and Kingdom against Kingdom" he would say, including a warning to all his listeners to not be afraid when they heard of wars in far off places. These statements show that he believed war to be inevitable. Did he not feel competent enough to counteract mass militia? He offers no pacifist solutions for settling international disputes, no policy of war resistance, and no peaceful substitute for war between nations. He advocated "Love thy neighbor" but never criticized war.
    Other remarks of Jesus favor violence. "Suppose ye that I come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather, division." (Luke xii 21-22.) "Think not that I come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matt x 34.)
    In Matt xxvi 52, we find Jesus preparing his disciples with weapons. "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one... And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, That is enough." Thus did the supposedly nonviolent Jesus arm his followers with swords. True, they were for defense only, and Jesus did in fact discourage their use when the disciples thought they should strike, but nevertheless, he armed his followers instead of adhering to his principle of non-resistance. He did not set a positive example of disarmament. Jesus took diametrically opposed positions, since the use of swords and the principle of non-resistance are mutually exclusive. He preached non-violence while arming his companions with swords.

    From these examples and many others, I can't sit here and listen to everyone say "The bullies weren't true Christians, because they were mean and borderline violent, and that isn't the way of Christ."
    It seems to me that they were doing a pretty good job of executing the program that Jesus had set forth.

    It's my opinion that in general, the world would be a much more peaceful place without religion; so much of the strife and hate stems from petty disagreements regarding doctrines.

    I see a lot of people trying to dismiss the entire case as being secular: "The teasing wasn't really about religion, it was about being different. They simply found a way in which this girl was different and exploited it."
    That may well be true; kids will tease each other about their weight, gender, size, even their name. However, with most other exploits, the victim can at least shrug it off with "hey, it isn't my fault I'm ugly/fat/small/have a funny name". Relentlessly attacking someone's personal set of beliefs, it seems to me, is much more damaging, as it implies that this person is evil because they chose to be.
    mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
    Yeah, what you said... (none / 0) (#326)
    by mwa on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 06:39:00 PM EST

    Relentlessly attacking someone's personal set of beliefs, it seems to me, is much more damaging, as it implies that this person is evil because they chose to be.

    With all due respect, kitten, isn't this what you just did? I'll readily admit that passages you quoted can be interpreted as you did, but I have to ask, then, what is the value of doing so? Does it help Christians to suddenly understand the error of their ways, recant their faith and determine to become better human beings? I don't think so.

    You're apparently quite familiar with the Christian texts. I would encourage you to promote other passages that would elevate the behaviour of those who claim to follow it, rather than promote the same interpretation that results the persecution of non-Christians. (I've had my fill of it, thank you.)

    If religion be a cause of disunity amongst mankind, it would better be that there were no religion at all -- Baha'u'llah

    [ Parent ]

    Bullies executing Jesus' program? (5.00 / 1) (#332)
    by leandro on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:53:22 PM EST

    It is interesting that you have so much good information, but then your hatred of religion gets in the way.

    Iaveh's (Jehova's) program included war and witches' execution *for the state of Israel*. Christianity is not bounded to a nation, so there is no specific Christian command to make war, but there is a command to obbey law (whenever the law doesn't force a Christian to disobbey God) and to love other people. That would exclude bullying.

    Yaveh commanded war because there was also a command to do justice, so there was the idea that Israel's wars would be just wars; and witches actually harm(ed) people, so that was the justice of the time.

    And before anyone says "how can I now witches harm people", I live at Brazil. There are lots of witches here (witchcraft here has many different names, including Macumba and Candomblé). They actually kill people when they can get away with it; if not they just harm, physically or morally.

    Without religion there would still be *secular* religion, and that may be worse than religion itself. One instance of secular religion is Marxism... look at the fruits to evaluate the tree.

    [ Parent ]
    What??? (2.57 / 7) (#296)
    by sombragris on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 03:15:57 AM EST

    It becomes very tempting at this point to blame a society and media heavily dominated by Christians. To say that the story of a Christian persecuted for her beliefs is seen as more valid than the persecution of someone who follows a less established religion.


    To say such a thing shows an extreme ignorance of the public media, or of the public state of Christianity in America, or even of both.

    EA, Please do better next time.

    Fixing that now... (3.00 / 2) (#306)
    by leonbrooks on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 09:17:08 PM EST

    To say such a thing shows an extreme ignorance of the public media, or of the public state of Christianity in America, or even of both.
    What you say is true, from one POV. The public state of Christianity in America (most Western nations) is fairly tragic.

    However, if you care to lump together those who call themselves Christians with those who act like Christians, the change is dramatic. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say ``if you care to overwhelm act-like Christians with claim-to-be Christians'' instead.

    Three of the five judges who participated in the Florida debacle which saw George W Bush elected were Roman Catholics. George W Bush is now working with frantic energy to bring in legal measures which just happen to be favourable to the Roman Catholic POV (which could be summarised as ``all your government are belong to us'').

    Some of the measures are being taken against abortion. I think that chopping up children who have no say in the matter (and how much could you say if you were immersed in amniotic fluid?) is barbaric and needs to be outlawed. The Religious Right will see it outlawed not because it is inherently barbaric but because it is against their religiously-based rules. This is a mistake.

    It should be outlawed because it is barbaric. If it is outlawed because it breaks your religious rules, the time will come when other things, not at all barbaric, are also outlawed ``for the greater public good.'' It's not going to be nice to be around during those times. We called the last batch of similar times ``the Dark Ages'' and need only look back at them to see what we're headed for here.

    I'm Australian, not American, but this concerns me because when the USA catches a cold, Australia sniffles. Similar moves are afoot here, and will flourish a few elections from now.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    You make good points (3.00 / 1) (#327)
    by sombragris on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 07:38:14 PM EST

    Thank you very much for what you have said. I concur entirely with you in your stance against abortion, and I hope that more people could think like you. I do not see it likely to happen, though, because people are either so extremely biased against Christianity (like the majority of Americans and our author, Electric Angst) or towards it.

    But I still would differ. Any measure proposed by Bush would not be enough to turn the anti-Christian tide of the American society. Anyway, what you have said here are words of wisdom and I am grateful for your contribution.

    [ Parent ]
    What is barbaric? (none / 0) (#330)
    by leandro on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:41:01 PM EST

    You fail to notice that your notion of "barbaric" comes from your values. They may be non-religious values. That's because you have none (or little) religion, or rather some secular religion like Optmistic Humanism or Leftism.

    Now if you had a world-view conditioning religion your values would be religious, and so the rules derived from them. Or more precisely your values may be conditioned by your secular religion, whichever that may be.

    There is nothing barbaric if you don't have a system of values. That is precisely why abortion is legal in the US: because most people lack a coherent system of values.

    The real problem is that different religions (including secular ones) will have different values systems, just because they are different. Now Christians will always try to live by their own value system, even if in a non-Christian country. The issue is that US *was* a Christian country once, and that is a very sad, upsetting thing to those still Christian themselves; so they try to teach (and sometimes force) the country about the Christian values it does not believe in anymore.

    [ Parent ]
    Why must we blame the child or the taunts? (2.66 / 6) (#298)
    by jester69 on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 01:30:08 PM EST

    Suicide is always a tragedy. But, this story highlights something I hate to bring up amidst grief, but is a valid point.

    My belief is that the events of the world cannot make you "feel" one way or the other. Everything that goes on in the world has to be filtered through our perception... And this mechanism colors everything so that one cannot really ever experience the world as it truly is.

    Try to imagine the situation that she experienced, now picture a person that could handle it, what would they do? Everyones idea of a response would be different but i am sure there are just as many that dont lead to suicide as there are that do....

    I think the real place to lay blame for a tragedy such as this isn't at the feet of those doing the taunting, Nor on the girl. The blame lies in not teaching people that the events of the world have no sway over your mental health, who you are, or anything that matters emotionally.

    People need to learn that the world has only as much power as you give it, no more no less... The real key to happiness lies inside.

    I have had problems with suicidal depression in the past, so i know of what i speak. Medication has helped, but, what has helped infinitely more is being introduced to the idea that other people DO NOT have any way to make me feel good or bad. I do it all myself, therefore the power to change how i feel lies not in changing the world so it treats me better, but changing my perceptions to realize that people cannot hurt me emotionally. Their words have to go through my perception and it is my decision how to interpret them, and how to react.

    This revelation ended the blame game of pointing the finger at the world, and began my path into self discovery that has ultimately left me a happy person most of the time.

    the jester
    Its a lemming thing, Jeep owners would understand.
    Let me get this straight... (none / 0) (#325)
    by mwa on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 06:20:11 PM EST

    So if this young lady had realized that her true self was greater than her own perceptions, and vastly greater than those of her taunters, the pain would not touch her, so she wouldn't commit suicide.

    OTOH, if her taunters had had that same understanding, they would have realized that her value as a person was worth much more than the entertainment value of teasing her, so they wouldn't have teased her.

    You could translate that:

    The flesh profiteth nothing, it is the spirit which quickeneth the man.

    and:

    "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

    Good Christian principles, I think you'll agree (whether your Christian or not). None the less, this situation arose from kids barely old enough to question God, let alone be confident in their own understanding of whatever He may be. Christ told his followers to be "as little children", meaning, I assume, younger than would inflict this kind of persecution on someone. At some point beyond that age, we start to follow the crowd, looking for acceptance in others to give us some sense of worth, questioning, looking for evidence to replace our diminishing faith. It takes many years for us to come to our own conclusions or beliefs, about God, ourselves, and others. It may take many years beyond that for us to become comfortable with those conclusions. This young lady will not reach that stage (at least not here), because her peers where not yet capable of doing what their own religion prescribes.

    Should we blame the kid or the taunts? Maybe not. Maybe that would make us just like them. Maybe we should blame a society that would rather condemn than understand, taunt than initiate a conversation, and do what they damn well please rather than abide by the rules that they claim to espouse.

    But if we blamed society, we would be blaming ourselves as well. The taunters where just as much Christian, as this girl was a witch. Neither were either; they're just kids. We have got to move past labels, past what we think of others based on anything other than simple, individual, human interaction.

    What truly saddens me is that this is the essence of every belief system that claims divine authority (religions) as well as virtually every accepted belief system that has been purposed by human beings. Rather than condeming each others beliefs, trying to put each other down, and looking for someone to blame, we should all be striving to help each other reach our full potential; to learn from our mistakes. If that means praising Jesus, by all means do so. If it means dancing in the moonlight, go for it. But whatever we do, we simply must have patience and understanding with our youth while they try to figure out what is best for them. And we must teach them, by example, to do likewise for their peers.

    Our kids will start acting like human beings when we do.

    [ Parent ]

    Problem here lies with the american right (2.75 / 8) (#312)
    by TheBlueJackal on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 08:57:13 AM EST

    This situation is made worse by the abundance of right wing politics in US media and government.

    The president is a jock, most of the senators were jocks, arrogant, corrupt, old-boy-network shysters.

    The schools are anti-difference, trying to breed GAP ad kids all the same with the same figure, religion (mid west creationism wacko US interpretation of bible) and same clothes and no racial or religious tolerance.

    This is exasperated by right wing parties pushing there own wacko christian fundamentalist ideas in schools (US Flag on the wall, Christian bias enshrined in the government and education systems) and the huge intolerance of the majority of voters in the US (well close enough to elect an intolerant and jockstrap brained spoilt coke snorting criminal corrupt president) teach their kids the same stupid intolerant bullshit.

    The US is looked on by the rest of the first world as a bunch of crazy gun-toting, religious and racist bigots little improved from the extremists who left plymouth to start their own puritanical country (they seem to have been succesful).

    Yes thats very harsh, and doesn't apply to the majority (of population as opposed to people who's votes elected a president) but religious intolerence isn't natural to kids, its ingrained as they were bought up and by their environment - this says a lot about the environment that the US provides for its children.

    Ajt. The Blue Jackal

    Christian bias (4.00 / 1) (#329)
    by leandro on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:24:48 PM EST

    Perhaps there is Christian bias in the government because Democracy is a Christian invention.

    And the Third World mostly sees the US as an immigration goal, because it is so much nicer to live under a WASP government than under a Third World one.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Christian Bias (none / 0) (#347)
    by jordanb on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 08:19:24 PM EST

    Perhaps there is Christian bias in the government because Democracy is a Christian invention.

    Err, I guess I don't understand much about christianity then. I had no idea that the Ancient Greeks were christians.

    So, God(tm)'s real name is Zeus, right? So would Jesus be Hercules? What about all of the other gods? See, I thougth that Christianity was a monotheistic religion, yet the greeks practiced polytheisim. Was it because the greeks were before Reformation?

    Perhaps I should have actually paid attention in Theology class, it seems that I missed a great deal of history.


    Jordan Bettis
    [ Parent ]
    Democracy (none / 0) (#349)
    by RickBigNail on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 07:35:29 PM EST

    was invented, i believe, by Aristotle.

    What the Athens did was called republic. Citizens, which by definition at that time exclude slaves, women and people who are uneducated, voted some representatiives, who would themselves be citizens, to represent them. Aristotle thought this is better than Democracy, because in democracy every people in a state including slaves and the uneducated could vote and be voted.

    So modern democracy

    = old democracy + universal education + women - slaves.

    I may make a mistake along the line because i am not an expert.

    [ Parent ]

    Democracy reflects high school social conditioning (3.00 / 2) (#318)
    by DrKlip on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:46:24 PM EST

    From the Detroit News Article: "Experience shows that about 15 percent of students do the teasing; 10 percent are teased; and 75 percent are glad they don't get teased," Kinda how in the last election, 15% voted for Jock Boy W, 15(.1+-.11)% sympathized with Sad Sack Al, and the other 70% were glad to get through the day without "The Man" fucking them over...

    Bullies' Guilt (3.57 / 7) (#320)
    by desiree on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 10:22:47 PM EST

    There's a comment a ways down this page that I really feel the need to respond to, the one that says the grief and guilt of the children who used to pick on this girl was obviously fake and to be scorned.

    I'm going to out myself here. I was a taunter in junior high. Okay, not one of the sociopathic ones who locked peers in closets or forced them to eat cat turds, or even beat up on the playground. But I picked on kids who weren't like me. I called names. I did a lot of sneering. Immature, rude behavior? Absolutely. But it wasn't because I was an evil, intolerant, cruel person who liked inflicting pain, or had mental problems, or even (I think) had particular self-esteem issues. It was because I was an immature, rude child, and it wasn't till many years later that I realized the full effect my behavior was having on others.

    My point here is this: if some kid I'd teased had killed herself because of it, I would have been shocked, horrified, guilty, and very sorry. It was just a game to me, and I had no idea that it might be more than that to somebody else.

    When I have kids, I'm going to try to convey to them how seriously other people can take hurtful things they say. If I'd really realized that, I wouldn't have done it. I know because by the time I got to high school, I'd figured enough of it out to stop. I'm betting a lot of teasers are like that too, and that these kids are genuinely remorseful over their taunted classmate's suicide. I never wanted anyone to kill themselves, geez; I never even wanted anyone to sit alone in their room and cry for two hours, and if I knew some kid I was teasing was doing that, I would have thought twice about it.

    The answer here, I think, is to realize that KIDS ARE NARCISSISTIC. They think their own life experiences are the only thing in the whole world. Bullies and teasers just like winning interactions; for the most part they don't have any comprehension that their actions can have repercussions long after the fact, because for THEM they don't. I didn't remember saying something mean to somebody later that night, so why would they? Meanwhile, the kids who are teased take that way out of proportion--for them it's the sum of their whole existence, and it makes the whole world seem unbearable and intolerable. So some kids pick on others for no good reason, and some kids go and kill themselves over something any sane grownup would completely shrug off.

    The answer, in both cases, is to teach children perspective. That's easier said than done. But if Tempest's tormentors had known how distressed they were making her, they wouldn't have done it. If Tempest herself had known that this wasn't the end of the world, maybe she wouldn't have hung herself. For my part, I'm going to try my damndest to teach my kids that there's more out there than they necessarily perceive at any given moment, and hopefully, they will be empathetic enough not to bully other kids OR to try to kill themselves every time they think the world is crashing down around them.

    Is religious tolerance the answer? (3.00 / 2) (#328)
    by dosgod98 on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 07:56:00 PM EST

    It is interesting that people who advocate religious tolerance will usually denounce christianity in their next breath. This is largely because most people don't realize what religious tolerance is. It is a passive action. Most people will immediately want to blame either the children or the Christian church. But that is merely guilt by association. If all of the Children had been wiccan and she the only christian, the outcome could very well have been identical.
    It comes down to this. Children behave in the fashion that they are taught to behave by their environment. Only if the rules of their environment are challenged will they question them. It is simply, "the way things work" to them. If we are teach our children to accept the existence of other religions, we need to begin with ourselves. Until we let go of the preconceived notions of who is right and who is wrong, we cannot teach our children to do the same. The best thing that we can teach our children is how to question, in hopes that the act of questioning will open their minds to a point where they will understand the answers that they will find.

    Another possibility (none / 0) (#350)
    by RickBigNail on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 08:03:58 PM EST

    Until we let go of the preconceived notions of who is right and who is wrong...

    Even in fact one is right and the other is wrong, we could 'agree to disagree' and most importantly, don't force our believes on other.

    Of course, a child (or young teenager) may not understand that. I think the best way is to teach them this principle

    Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to you

    and that there are other ways, only that they would not understand yet.

    I am not proposing that a government should not make laws that a random citizen might disagree with, at least for countries like China, America and India in which the populations are high.

    [ Parent ]

    Persecution vs. Ridicule (3.33 / 3) (#339)
    by Tjekanefir on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 11:56:09 AM EST

    This is an interesting discussion. I'm new here, but after skimming through all the responses to this article I wanted to stick my two cents in on a couple of religious matters.

    First: People seem to be arguing a lot about whether Christianity is the *most* oppressed religion in the United States or the *least*. But the people on either side of this are talking past each other, because they're talking about different things. As the majority religion in the country, Christianity is by far the least PERSECUTED religion. When have you ever heard about anybody fired from a job or attacked because they went to church on Sundays? On the other hand, it's by far the most RIDICULED religion. Because so many people are familiar with it, because people who were raised Christian feel entitled to mock it and there are many of them, and because it is the only religion powerful enough to have a real social agenda (with which many disagree), Christianity is the butt of MANY more jokes and diatribes than any other religion.

    Persecution and ridicule are two different things, though it's probably obvious I disagree with both. But Christianity is not even *slightly* persecuted or oppressed in this country. Sorry, but it's not "persecution" to be prevented from legally imposing your religious views upon others. Persecution is when you are attacked, harassed, and discriminated against because of what you believe. Not being allowed to make a public school teach the Bible isn't persecution; having your Bible confiscated, being forced to teach evolution or the Koran in Sunday School, churches shut down, barred from jobs or neighborhoods unless you convert to another faith, or, to a certain extent, your children being forced to pray to Allah in public school, would be persecution.

    I'm going to put my second point in a different post, this one is getting long.

    More Religious Distinctions (5.00 / 2) (#340)
    by Tjekanefir on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 12:13:02 PM EST

    In the same way, I think there's a distinction to be made between religious intolerance and, well, individualism intolerance. The girl in this article did not come from a Wiccan family. She was not being harassed for her race, ethnicity, or religion. She was being harassed for doing her own thing--among other things, reading a book about Wicca. This is equally insidious, and equally wrong, but I think it's an important distinction. The girl's culture/family/belief system wasn't under attack, her *right to free expression* was under attack. I'm sure most of us recognize that pattern from our own schooldays. I was ridiculed primarily for reading "boring" (complicated) books, working hard at classes, and liking weird music (folk music, in my case). I was a geek. Other friends were ridiculed for their clothes, their choices of friends, playing with computers, and other various interests of theirs. Being mocked for reading books about Wicca (as well as wearing goth clothing and writing poetry, according to the article) is really another instance of this: kids harassing another kid for doing his or her own thing, for asserting him or herself as an individual. That's very wrong and deserves attention, but Christian hymns aren't to blame for any of it. If this poor girl had liked, say, classical music, you can bet they would all have been bumping and grinding Ricky Martin at her.

    *pays 2 cents*

    Shallow US Americans (3.00 / 2) (#342)
    by heresy on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 02:51:37 PM EST

    There isn't much difference between the girl who kills herself and the boys who shoot up their classmates. Like that posted before, it is a reaction to the treatment of an individual by their peers. In all cases the people got what they asked for. Most people really don't understand themselves. They don't understand what it means to live. I can speak only of the US, but I assume that the following is true for a large part of the world - people find it easier to blame than take responsibility for themselves. No action, or reaction, can be attributed to any cult actions, such as Christianity. No one can blame another for the way they feel or act. All of this is self imposed. While I agree that the actions of the girl's peers (and the boys of Colombine) are really terrible, the reaction is just as bad. I don't feel sorry for those who were shot up any more than I feel sorry for the girl who hanged herself. I do feel sorry that they weren't able to see themselves for who they really are and actualize their own selves. You can't do anything in this country without having someone, or some marketing campaign telling you who to be and how to act. We seem to have forgotten that acting on these messages is a personal choice. We define ourselves, not our peers and not our TV sets. You as an individual can be anything you want to be. The people as a group can be much more than what we allow when we believe in ourselves and take responsibility for our own actions. We get so wrapped up in blame, and fear of blame, that we do not progress. Infact, it will be what kills us all. What has happened so far is only a small taste of what is to come unless there is change. Will people change? Of course not. That is too difficult isn't it? It's too easy to blame, too difficult to be responsible. No religion, no marketing group, no government action, no social action is going to change the course. This way of living is a failure. This society is a failure. It is time to accept that and change. Change the way you live or die by the way you live. Don't agree? Then place the blame on someone else and watch your TV's. Those who know better will survive.

    12 Year Old Girl Commits Suicide After Christian Taunts. | 351 comments (297 topical, 54 editorial, 5 hidden)
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