Someone Tell This Kid ‘Thou Shalt Not Throw A Tantrum If A School Refuses To Bend To Your Will’
Have you heard about the school strike currently going on in Marion, Ohio? Probably not, because it involves no teachers – in fact, this strike is limited to a single high school student. Freshman Anthony Miller is refusing to do any schoolwork or homework until district administrators agree to reinstate the copy of the Ten Commandments that used to adorn a stairway near Harding High School‘s main entrance.
The plaque listing the Ten Commandments was an outgoing gift from the Class of 1953 and was displayed in the school until this year, when it was taken down. School officials had been concerned over other Ohio schools‘ legal battles to keep similar religious artifacts in place; district Superintendent Gary Barber told local news station WBNS-10TV that he’d rather use tax dollars to, you know, buy textbooks and pay teachers rather than fund an unnecessary legal fight. Four for you, Gary Barber! You go, Gary Barber!
Miller, however, remains unconvinced. Since school attendance is legally mandated, he’s still going to class, but refuses to complete any work: not a single sentence parsed, not a single equation solved, not a single paragraph read. He insists he doesn’t care what happens to his grades, because the reinstatement of the Ten Commandments, in his public high school, is of paramount importance. Because, you see, it’s not a religious issue:
However, Anthony says the commandments are not just a religious symbol they are rules students should strive to follow.
That’s why he says he will continue his strike.
Um, no. I can get behind the whole “thou shalt not murder” business – that’s a pretty fundamental part of the whole social-fabric thing we’ve got going on (although if you need to remind students to follow that particular rule, your school probably has bigger problems than what is or isn’t posted on the walls). But it’s hard to figure out how “You shall have no other gods before me”, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”, and “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” can possibly fall under the purview of totally-not-religious, applicable-to-everyone general rules to live by.
In fact I think the only way you could possibly consider those three Commandments in particular to be perfectly secular is if you have your head buried so far up your perception of Christian cultural hegemony that you’re no longer aware that people who believe differently even exist. Or maybe you know they exist, but that they just don’t matter – at least not as much as your ‘right’ to have your favorite religion endorsed or enforced by your school.
The fight has been going on since September, and although Miller is the only student to go on strike, two others have started a petition to get the Commandments put back up. There’s no word on how many signatures they’ve gotten, but district officials have agreed to meet with students Wednesday morning to discuss the matter. Hopefully the words “you know you’re failing geometry, right?” come up at some point during the chat.
If the Ten Commandments are really so important to Miller, he could wear a t-shirt with them printed on it. He could tape a copy to his school folders and inside his textbook covers. He could put up a poster in his locker. Or he could
throw a tantrum go on strike until an exclusionary document gets re-posted in his school. One of these things would have gotten the Ten Commandments back into his school right away, and well within Miller’s actual legal rights. The other option has gotten Miller attention from Fox News and the Daily Mail. So much for that whole ‘not having any false idols’ business, I suppose.