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Date: 20/05/11

Without A Prayer

Damon Fowler is a young American man who is about to graduate from his high school. The graduation ceremony is this evening (Friday). By rights, it should be one of the happiest moments of his life.

Except that it almost certainly won't be.

The salient reasons why what should have been a celebration of his academic achievements will instead be a time of deep pain for him are:

This seems to have been borne out by what has happened since he made his intervention on the side of what was right and lawful. The reaction from his peers seems to have been one of scorn, mockery and sheer, naked hate; the reaction from his parents (mental-fundyists by all accounts) has been to take his phone off him so he can't call his brother for support (said brother lives six-hours' drive away and is on Damon's side); and the reaction of the school has been little short of disgraceful, to judge from the comments attributed to its officials in a pathetically biased article in the local hack-rag. A 'senior advisor' from the school, rejoicing (if that's the word I'm looking for) in the name of 'Mitzi Quinn', went public with her vilification of young Mr Fowler:

In the past, Quinn said there have been students who were atheist, agnostic and other non-Christian religions who "had no problems" with the prayer. "They respected the majority of their classmates and didn't say anything," Quinn said. "We've never had this come up before. Never."

(In other words, they were too scared of the consequences to stand up for their legal and constitutional rights. Shameful for them, but understandable in a human sense)

and, worse still:

"And what's even more sad is this is a student who really hasn't contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates," Quinn said.

This from someone who has been on the staff of Bastrop High School for nearly twenty-five years? Presumably as a janitor, because she seems to know an awful lot about dirt and how to spread it.

Of course, 'Mitzi' (and is that really the name on her (long-form) birth certificate?), the school principal, the scorn-mongers and hate-threateners amongst the rest of the student body at Bastrop High, the alleged journalist who wrote the piece in the Bastrop Enterprise from which the above quotes have been taken, and the flaky commenters on the paper's website; all will, no doubt, proclaim their 'faith' in the Gahd of Lurve. This is the sort of 'lurve' they mean:

"If they don't want to pray then stick your fingers in your ears."

"[T]here are enough God fearing people in this parish, I don't think they [the American Civil Liberties Union] would want to come down here and start something that the majority of Bastrop would finish."

"We are all responsible to Keep our freedom to PRAY."

"What would be funny is if the 99% of the students that are ok with GOD & prayer being a part of their graduation proceedings didn't show up for graduation & let this one student stand alone. Afterall, that's what she or he wants isn't it to be singled out!"

"When I go to a graduation in America I expect to hear a Christian prayer."

"What a disgrace to this town. That student should just have to have his/her one man graduation ceremony all alone."

"Our country was built on Christianity. And that includes the right to pray! There are two things you stand for. They are GOD and Family!!!!!"

(Note that: five exclamation marks - a sure sign of the deranged mind)

"WE have the right to pray and he has the right to just sit there, because those are his beliefs!!!!"

(Same hick, but only four this time; perhaps his meds had kicked in)

"If the graduating seniors and the entire audience decided to pray in unison at anytime during the ceremony nobody including the ACLU could stop them. Then this young man would either have to close his ears or listen."

"To say that it is unconstitutional for someone to pray at a school event is tyranny [...] These people, including this student, as simply people who want to silence other people."

"I know of many students and parents who have decided to pray out loud during the moment of silence. There is nothing that can be done to stop them. I hope that the little athiest is offended."

"GO YOUNG CHRISTIAN LEADERS of Bastrop! Stand up for your faith."

"This kid is no hero [...] The kid was likely a recluse and apathetic about most everything until now."

"If this kid can't sit still while others pray, he's got problems [...] He can sit and twiddle his thumbs for the (2 minute?) prayer OR step out while it is going on."

"I hope that spontaneous prayer during the moment of silence makes a profound statement. The little atheist will have to listen to prayer one way or another."

"I'm a Senior at Bastrop High School. This is not FAIR to the Class Of 2011. It's 200 plus students that will be on that same field as that student that don't believe in GOD. If he don't want prayer at graduation he can stay at home and not come to graduation."

(Snide comment: if this is an example of the educational standards at Bastrop High, then Damon Fowler is well out of it).

"Shame, shame, shame! Shame on this student and shame on the evil, communistic, atheistic Muhammadan supporters at the ACLU! This yet another example of creeping Sharia law in our sadly fallen nation."

(I would like to think that this was an ironic comment, but given all the heretofore and a later comment by the same asshat, I fear not)

"So who care's if you are anyone else in this blog are offended by Christians. I hope they put enough pressure on this kid to convert him and save his soul from the fire of hell !!"

(I've just tried to count how many Deadly Sins these 'Christians' have committed in these comments; my calculator has just exploded).

"If you don't like what the majority has to say... Move !!"

Well, that is what it seems Damon Fowler is going to have to do. Especially after what happened on Thursday night. That was the evening of what is called Class Night, which seems to be a combination of a prize-giving ceremony for the senior class and a dry-run for the graduation ceremony proper.

In it, one student - assigned to deliver a welcoming speech - got up and recited a prayer, thus immediately rendering her school in violation of the Constitution. Not only that, but the 'prayer' went on for about three minutes without interruption. Worst of all, the conclusion of this breach not only of the law but of basic good manners was met by loud cheers and a storm of applause from nearly all those there assembled.

I should imagine that Mr Fowler (who was obliged to be present) gained another important insight last night, in addition to the ones he may already have accrued on subjects as diverse as the perverse hatred which leads a woman to care more about her Gahd than about the well-being and integrity of her own son, and the never-ending weaseloid behaviour of so many who proclaim their own moral superiority on the basis of what someone scribbled on a goat-skin fifteen hundred to three thousand years ago.

The insight he may have gained was a first-hand view of how tyrannies begin and are maintained; in a kind of mob conformity which will countenance no opposition, however rationally expressed, however correct it may be in legal or ethical procedure, even how well it may conform to simple good manners.

In which case, it seems highly probable that Damon Fowler will leave not only Bastrop High School and its poisonous students and officials, but also the very town of Bastrop, La. itself which has now earned a thoroughly deserved reputation for being mired in unthinking mediaeval primitivism. His brother has stated that he will take Damon away immediately after the graduation ceremony (should he decide to attend it; I would like to say that I would have done, but I haven't had to face what he has endured these past few weeks), and take him to stay with him in Texas.

He will be better off without Bastrop, and Bastrop can bask in its newly-won status as the fundy asshole capital of the western world.

Mr Fowler, I salute your courage and wish you peace of mind and every success. You, rather than those who scorn you, embody what America should be.

Update (later that same night): I have to append this fine verse from The Digital Cuttlefish:

Attack Of The Minnows

"The big fish in their tiny pool
Where all the world is just one school
Can taunt and tease the godless fool
And bow their heads and pray.
But video technology
Means now the outside world can see
The worst of Christianity
In prominent display.

"Replacing prayer with silent thought?
Not good enough! And so, they fought!
They never figured to be caught -
And also, it was fun!
So, proving that they have no shame,
The cowards held the kid to blame
And broke the law; it's just the same
As Jesus would have done."

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