Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Up to you

You know, I just don't get how some people are.  They have to force their wills and beliefs on others to an extreme point.

Not trying to start a thread about religion here.  I have my faith and deeply-held beliefs, and you have yours, as you see fit.  That's why the Pilgrims came here all those years ago, remember?  That, and the availability of much better seafood than they had been getting. And some people seem to enjoy feeling that they are more religious, or more favored by the Deity, than the next guy, and if that makes them happy, I guess they can stay happy.

But.  Down in the hopping town of Winter Garden, Florida, a citizen of the United States was forced to leave a town commission meeting.  Not for throwing bombs, or chairs, or epithets, but because he would not stand up for a prayer as ordered by hizzoner Mayor John Rees. The prayer thanked God for “allowing us to live in a country where we’re free to believe, think, and pray.”

A man in the crowd, Joseph Richardson, said, “I don’t believe I have to do that, thank you.” After the prayer, Rees told Richardson to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance as “children have to in school.” Richardson again politely demurred.

And then the mayor had the cops make him leave the meeting.

Well, Mr Mayor, you have by now read the case of "WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF ED. v. BARNETTE," a 1943 US Supreme Court decision - handed down at the height of World War II - that sorted out the matter of the West Virginia Board of Education, which had set a policy saying that a student's refusal to salute the flag was "insubordination," punishable by expulsion and charges of delinquency.

In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that compelling public schoolchildren to salute the flag was unconstitutional, saying that such a salute was a form of utterance and was a means of communicating ideas. They went on to say that "Compulsory unification of opinion" was against the First Amendment's prohibition of laws concerning religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble and the right to petition for a governmental redress of grievances.   

All of this is the long way of saying that Americans have the right to participate as they see fit in patriotic or religious moments, or not participate at all.  I have to love the irony of the mayor beaming with pride over a country where we're free to believe, think and pray as we wish...and then throwing a guy out of a public meeting because he wished otherwise.

I pray, I salute the flag, I proudly recite the pledge, but if the person on the left of me follows suit and the one on my right does not, I don't judge.  It's the American way.  As I see it.

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