by David Safier
Here we go again. A student had a picture of a bloody Christ on the cross on her notebook. Another student complained, and the teacher sent the student to the principal, who said the student couldn't bring the notebook to school.
The student had a right to complain about the notebook. A student can complain if someone is wearing a Smurf t shirt. But the teacher should have stuck up for the kid with the Christ notebook. And if not, the principal should have stood up for her right to bring the notebook to school.
Teacher and principal made a mistake, taking away a student's right to personal expression without a good reason. Students lose some of their rights when they step into the school building, but only if a student's right to free expression creates a situation where another student would rightfully feel uncomfortable or threatened. That's not the case here.
So two people screwed up. It happens all the time. Slap them on the wrist, tell them to do better next time, and let the student parade around the school proudly with the Christ notebook, feeling she won a battle for her faith.
But Rich Crandall wants to use this as an excuse to promote the annual Religious Expression in Schools law. Not only is it unnecessary. It's very problematic.
Example. A kid wears a t shirt that says, "Christ was right. Mohammed was wrong." It's an expression of religious belief. So another kid wears a shirt that says, "Christians do not know the true faith. Praise Allah!" And another kid wears a shirt that says, "God hates homos." Another wears "The Jews killed Christ." And so on.
Does Crandall want to protect any religious speech, no matter how offensive it may be to members of other groups? I doubt it — if it offends Christians, that is. What he and the folks at the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group, want is to allow Christian expression to flourish, probably with the right kind of prayer thrown into the mix. As for members of other religions? Something tells me a notebook that says, "Christ died for nothing, the idiot!" with an offensive cartoon of Jesus wouldn't go over so well with Crandall and his friends.