by Max Brantley
And a Merry Xmas to you, too, from the pages of the Paragould Daily Press.
A counselor in the Greene County Tech Primary School was instructed to take down her bulletin board Nativity Scene with its "Happy Birthday Jesus" legend after a citizen complaint to school officials.
Naturally, the outcry has been huge and e-mail and websites are humming with protests, as well as comments on the newspaper website. See, majority rules in Paragould. If you don't like Christian ways shoved down your throat, you can shut up or get the hell out of town. It is pointless to ask angry church folks how they'd feel about a Muslim or Jewish or Wiccan teacher who posted spiritual observances year after year because they damn well know what would happen to such teachers. Tar, feathers, rail to ride.
Since Greene County Tech is the place that wasted a bunch of money trying to defend violation of the FOI law, I'm kind of surprised they folded, even if on advice of counsel, over a mere 1st Amendment violation. There's a history here. The counselor, Kay Williams, had been instructed in years past to take it down. But she kept putting it back up and snuck it through last year without complaint. This year, after another complaint, she apparently riled the principal by slow-walking the directive to remove the display. Clearly, Counselor Williams is not a tolerant or obedient sort.
The school superintendent is all apologetic.
“As a Christian, the last thing I wanted to do was to remove the nativity scene,” Noble said in an e-mail. “However, this is not Jerry Noble School District. It is Greene County Tech School District. If the [school] board wanted to make a stand, I would gladly be out front. However, [school board members] are following the advice of our attorney who says it is a fight we would lose to the point that it could even be a civil rights violation.”
Not to worry about Ms. Williams' employment.
“I’m not going to fire somebody over Jesus,” Noble told the newspaper. “There’s no way we would do that.”
It's not Jesus that's at issue, of course. It's the Constitution. And insubordination.
Counselor Williams ought to be lionized on Fox News shortly.
UPDATE: Paragould's religious tyrants — "pray our way or the highway for you, bub" — are chewing my head off on Twitter. That's no biggie. But one of them claims the School Board has folded to pressure and is going to let the renegade teacher go back to preaching her religion to her students. This, of course, is exactly the sort of religious coercion the Constitution was designed to guard against. When minorities aren't protected, no one is protected.
Take a look at the typically heated Topix Paragould bulletin board, where the first question from a zealot was aimed at identifying who brought down the baby Jesus' birthday greeting. Happily, some people are pushing back for sound constitutional and practical reasons.