Okay, this is finally starting to really piss me off.
For the benefit of morons, here is a complete list of every situation in which calling a 16-year-old girl a “stupid bitch”, “not human”, “garbage”, and a “fucking worthless cunt”, and praying for her to be punched in the face, curb stomped, raped, and burn in Hell, is acceptable:
End of list.
Talking to anyone like that is a clear indicator that you’re either pointlessly obnoxious or have no control over your temper, and that you don’t have anything to say which deserves to be listened to. But this is a sixteen-year-old girl these people have never met.
Specifically, this is Jessica Ahlquist, a high school student in Rhode Island. She took objection to a banner with a prayer on it that hung in her school, and she responded by filing a lawsuit to have it taken down as a violation of the principle of separation of Church and State.
Some people have, in turn, taken objection to her actions, and they responded by threatening her with death, rape, and torture.
Seriously. She’s a young girl who tried to get her school to stop doing something illegal. Counter-arguments would be one thing, but people have gone insane over this. She was recently described as an “evil little thing” by an elected state representative. What the hell is wrong with you people?
I just want to point out two things about the wording of the banner itself. First, the text is clearly identified as a “prayer”, which opens with “Our heavenly father” and closes with “Amen”. This isn’t just overtly religious, it’s specifically Christian. If you’re okay with this hanging in a public school, but would complain if they changed the wording to “O Great and Glorious Allah”, then don’t pretend you’re not trying to impose a theocracy on the rest of us.
Secondly, if you pay any attention to the words in the prayer, you’ll notice it talks about moral values like compassion and generosity. It emphasises being “kind and helpful” as a worthy aspiration. It encourages us to “smile when we lose as well as when we win”. It says very little about violent abuse of teenagers in revenge for a petty infringement on your privileges.
This is what lends an almost darkly comic air to the whole business. The banner was praying for things we can pretty much all get behind. Atheists don’t generally have a problem with the values it describes. The God part isn’t something that state-funded establishments should be promoting, but that can seem like a minor worry. The effort to have it taken down wouldn’t have necessarily seemed like a fight especially worth pursuing, in the grand scheme of things.
And then the hundreds of religious maniacs came out of the woodwork, and the spitting hatred that lurks just beneath the surface was brought to the boil, and suddenly it seems vitally important that people keep fighting this kind of bullshit whenever they can and Jessica Ahlquist looks like a fucking hero.
Not enough people have been on her side with this. For what it’s worth, I’m joining the crowd.
(Addendum: Something else I support are the protests against SOPA/PIPA. I’m not holding a blackout myself, because nobody gives a shit what I do, but it’s an important cause. If you want to know some more about it, Wikipedia’s explanation for their own black-out is a pretty good place to start.