Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
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24-04-2017, 05:49 PM
Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
I wrote this letter/e-mail to both the JCCF - Justice Centre For Constitutional Freedoms, and the CCF - Canadian Constitution Fodunation, and it turns out JCCF are all about "religious freedom" and the response I got basically said that the free speech part doesn't matter because I said "not nice things" about religion. I did respond to them to explain that "Religious Freedom" does not include being able to force people to follow, or to even respect their religion.

Today I contacted the Canadian Constitution Foundation, I have not yet gotten a response, but I expect it to be better because of this:





Anyways, here is what I contacted them with, my question for you guys is, if I can and were to go through with this, would you support me?

Greetings,

I am writing about something which happened when I was in senior year of
High School, at Assumption Catholic Secondary School, in Burlington,
Ontario, (obviously Canada), under the Halton Catholic District School
Board.

The situation began when I was doing an assignment for English class,
the assignment was connected to a book we were reading in class titled
"The Book Theif".
The teacher told me to write about death. Death was a character in the
book, death was symbolic of death in real life.

I began the assignment with writing about Death's relationship with the
main character - Leslie Memminger.

In subsequent paragraphs I wrote about the general fear of death, this
led me next to criticism of religion, mostly the idea that the fear of
death is why a lot of people may be willing to believe things they might
not otherwise believe. After that I criticised other aspects of religion
such as it's seemingly negative impact on personal freedoms, treatment
of the LGBT community, and the general negative effect it seems to have
unfortunately, in the daily life of certain groups, and in the societal
"ether" in general.
I specifically remember mentioning, how recently (in early 2013 when the
assignment was written), Turkey had banned public displays of affection
for something to do with the religion of Islam. I also mentioned that I
am a Satanist (as per the Church of Satan), and and as such I feel that
one should live their lives to the fullest because this is the only life
you have
.
About a week later, the last week of my final year of high school, my
parents got a call (even though I turned 18 in February of that year,
and as such my parents should not have been contacted), the call said
that my assignment offended my teacher and for me to please not come to
my final school day.

My parents arranged for a meeting with the vice principal and the
principal, I told them that since they "asked" me not to come, my
response was "no", and that I would indeed come to school that day, the
same day, later that same morning. After some more disagreement, I
mentioned the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that all I did was
express my beliefs, and that my criticism is protected under Freedom of
Expression.

I also said, that I had issues with the entire thing, and that I had a
good mind to contact the media, if they do not let me attend my usual
classes. The principal and vice principal then went into a small room,
and came out and said that I can attend all classes and the school as
usual, except for my English class, which was first period, I accepted that.

However, I have been recently thinking, that since I had to fight to be
allowed to attend my class when I did nothing wrong, that I had to
explain to the administration why I did nothing wrong, they are still in
the wrong, and it doesn't matter if eventually after fighting them, I
was allowed to attend all classes except for English as usual.
I am a big supporter of invdidiual liberties, rights, and freedoms,
which includes freedom of and from religion, and freedom of
speech/expression.

It bothers me that a publicly funded school (whether Catholic or
secular) would attempt to discipline a student because they expressed
view points, and made criticisms a teacher did not agree with, and/or
found offensive.

There were no threats made in my assignment, no "hate speech", no
incitement of violence, etc nothing understandably illegal, or concerning.

This was as I said in the first half of 2013, June of 2013 to be more
specific, since then I have went to college, graduated from college, and
have been an alumni of Niagara College for over a year and a half, and
now have three employers at this point in time.

I would like to see to it that the people responsible are disciplined
for their actions, and that the free speech of students in all publicly
funded schools is completely protected.

Since that time, I have formatted the hard drive of the computer I wrote
the assignment on, however, it was sent to my parents, and later to my
psychologist (who said, herself, that she didn't see where I said
anything wrong, and agrees that everything I said, I was perfectly
within my rights to say), there is a chance that I can recover the
assignment's contents.

However, before I do make that effort, is there anything that can be
done, any options that can be explored, any pathways taken, or is it too
late after the fact to do anything about this?

I feel that maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to criticise religion in a
school assignment, but hat doesn't really matter, bottom line is, I was
just expressing my views and I was treated what I feel is unfairly for
doing so, even though this was a Catholic school, it is still a public
institution (which we all pay for VIA taxes) and as such, has guidelines
to follow, guidelines which I feel it broke.

Regards,

"It says you have to be saved in order to go to heaven. The way I see it, you only have to be yourself to go to hell!" - Marilyn Manson, Copps Collesium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (1997)

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24-04-2017, 06:14 PM
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
Hi,

Interesting post. I moved it to a better forum.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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24-04-2017, 07:44 PM
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
(24-04-2017 05:49 PM)Twiggy Wrote:  ... I feel that maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to criticise religion in a school assignment ...
That you still have this sort of feeling underscores the depth of the problem; no one should ever feel that criticism of any kind in a scholastic context "isn't smart". I wish you well with your campaign to make reason prevail.

That said, given your description of the assignment, I think the general criticism you leveled at religion, getting into detail about religious intrusion into arenas having nothing to do with death, was outside the scope of the assignment and were I the instructor I'd've marked the paper down for straying off the topic. Which then raises the issue of your wondering if such a downgrading was based on the instructor's proper critique of the essay or the instructor's religious prejudice. In this case the instructor claiming to have been offended and then going beyond a downgrade into punishment makes it clear that prejudice was the principal driver, but the tone of your post makes me wonder if, were the outcome a downgrade only, would you have taken the criticism in its intended spirit or assumed a prejudice. Not having read your actual essay this is naturally just speculation, but that's my five cents (Canadian cents) for what they might be worth.
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25-04-2017, 03:50 AM
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
I think you're overstating your case with this, for a couple of reasons...

You said you "also mentioned" that you were "a Satanist" as per the Church of Satan in an essay to be graded by a teacher in a Catholic school. I see that as deliberately confrontational, and unnecessary in your essay.

You were specifically told to discuss "death" as per: The teacher told me to write about death. Death was a character in the book, death was symbolic of death in real life. You then chose to go off on some unrelated tangent of your own in order—apparently—to get on your soapbox and denigrate religion—again in a Catholic school of all places!

In short, you seem to be rather desperate to manufacture some sort of case on the basis that you were discriminated against by the school.

If you ever again have to write a thesis about a given topic within the halls of academia, I can only suggest that you follow the directive more closely. It would also be more beneficial for your own advancement.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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25-04-2017, 03:43 PM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2017 05:21 PM by Twiggy.)
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
(24-04-2017 07:44 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  
(24-04-2017 05:49 PM)Twiggy Wrote:  ... I feel that maybe it wasn't the smartest idea to criticise religion in a school assignment ...
That you still have this sort of feeling underscores the depth of the problem; no one should ever feel that criticism of any kind in a scholastic context "isn't smart". I wish you well with your campaign to make reason prevail.

That said, given your description of the assignment, I think the general criticism you leveled at religion, getting into detail about religious intrusion into arenas having nothing to do with death, was outside the scope of the assignment and were I the instructor I'd've marked the paper down for straying off the topic. Which then raises the issue of your wondering if such a downgrading was based on the instructor's proper critique of the essay or the instructor's religious prejudice. In this case the instructor claiming to have been offended and then going beyond a downgrade into punishment makes it clear that prejudice was the principal driver, but the tone of your post makes me wonder if, were the outcome a downgrade only, would you have taken the criticism in its intended spirit or assumed a prejudice. Not having read your actual essay this is naturally just speculation, but that's my five cents (Canadian cents) for what they might be worth.

I did get down graded, but I didn't mention that, because that is not my concern, I don't care about that.

This may further answer your question:

the OP is not "I got a bad grade so I want to sue", I didn't even mention grades as that is irrelevant and not my concern.

The Idea is that since this is a PUBLIC school (please do more research on Ontario Catholic Schools), they must abide by the charter of rights and freedoms, which includes freedom of expression, the administration went beyond grading it badly for going off-topic, they went into discipline mode, because of the specific contents, which is where the charter rights violation is, and what the case would be about.

"It says you have to be saved in order to go to heaven. The way I see it, you only have to be yourself to go to hell!" - Marilyn Manson, Copps Collesium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (1997)

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25-04-2017, 03:50 PM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2017 05:20 PM by Twiggy.)
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
(25-04-2017 03:50 AM)SYZ Wrote:  I think you're overstating your case with this, for a couple of reasons...

You said you "also mentioned" that you were "a Satanist" as per the Church of Satan in an essay to be graded by a teacher in a Catholic school. I see that as deliberately confrontational, and unnecessary in your essay.

You were specifically told to discuss "death" as per: The teacher told me to write about death. Death was a character in the book, death was symbolic of death in real life. You then chose to go off on some unrelated tangent of your own in order—apparently—to get on your soapbox and denigrate religion—again in a Catholic school of all places!

In short, you seem to be rather desperate to manufacture some sort of case on the basis that you were discriminated against by the school.

If you ever again have to write a thesis about a given topic within the halls of academia, I can only suggest that you follow the directive more closely. It would also be more beneficial for your own advancement.

Maybe, maybe, maybe, but that is not the issue

It doesn't matter if it was confrontational or not, or strayed from the topic or not, free speech is free speech. I have the freedom to denigrate religion if I so choose, even in that school since it is publicly funded.

Catholic schools in Canada, or at least some Canadian provinces are fully publically funded and have to abide by government directives and laws, etc including the Canadian Constitution or "Charter of Rights and Freedoms".

Whether I went on a tangent or not, is irrelevant to the issue. Do you really think what happened happened because I went off on a tangent? Seems like quite a weird and unfitting overreaction for going off on a tangent....

For someone who tries to give people advice on what to do in academia, you seem not to be able to grasp the main Idea of the OP.

The OP is not "I got a bad grade so I want to sue", I didn't even mention grades as that is irrelevant and not my concern.

The Idea is that since this is a PUBLIC school (please do more research on Ontario Catholic Schools), they must abide by the charter of rights and freedoms, which includes freedom of expression, the administration went beyond grading it badly for going off-topic, they went into discipline mode, because of the specific contents, which is where the charter rights violation is, and what the case would be about.

"It says you have to be saved in order to go to heaven. The way I see it, you only have to be yourself to go to hell!" - Marilyn Manson, Copps Collesium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (1997)

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25-04-2017, 06:22 PM
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
@Twiggy

http://www.thecharterrules.ca/index.php?...&concept=5

Please refer yourself to this. If you attempt legal actions, your school administration will most certainly beat you. Your freedom of speech is restricted due to the nature of schools. That's why I can, as a teacher, tell you to shut up and enforce my decision in a completly legitimate way.

Freedom is servitude to justice and intellectual honesty.
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25-04-2017, 06:44 PM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2017 06:56 PM by Twiggy.)
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
(25-04-2017 06:22 PM)epronovost Wrote:  @Twiggy

http://www.thecharterrules.ca/index.php?...&concept=5

Please refer yourself to this. If you attempt legal actions, your school administration will most certainly beat you. Your freedom of speech is restricted due to the nature of schools. That's why I can, as a teacher, tell you to shut up and enforce my decision in a completly legitimate way.

I've read it, and what I did, doesn't seem to be cause for restriction, my assignment was read by the teacher only, and no one else.

I was not affecting the school or the class in anyway. Nor was I putting any students in danger, or disrupting the order of the school, etc.

This is important to consider as well:

Quote:Material and substantial interference with the school order or other students justifies restrictions on speech. Lewd or offensive speech can also be limited because schools have a role in inculcating values and serving as role models for studentsiii. Written speech associated with school curriculum or classroom activity can be regulated by administrators. Canadian courts would potentially follow limitations that balance the right of students to express their opinion with the needs of schools to maintain order and protect students.

"It says you have to be saved in order to go to heaven. The way I see it, you only have to be yourself to go to hell!" - Marilyn Manson, Copps Collesium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (1997)

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25-04-2017, 07:06 PM
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
(25-04-2017 06:44 PM)Twiggy Wrote:  
(25-04-2017 06:22 PM)epronovost Wrote:  @Twiggy

http://www.thecharterrules.ca/index.php?...&concept=5

Please refer yourself to this. If you attempt legal actions, your school administration will most certainly beat you. Your freedom of speech is restricted due to the nature of schools. That's why I can, as a teacher, tell you to shut up and enforce my decision in a completly legitimate way.

I've read it, and what I did, doesn't seem to be cause for restriction, my assignment was read by the teacher only, and no one else.

I was not affecting the school or the class in anyway.

Depending on the formulation of your work, it might have come in conflict with the educational goal of the school. Note that there is also this specific sentence:"Written speech associated with school curriculum or classroom activity can be regulated by administrator." This clearly state that, even if your views aren't made public, they can be sanctioned.

Personnaly, I wouldn't have expelled you for your opinion (to which you are entitled to), but because you answered completly outside of the question which is deeply disrespectful. This was an exam on characterization not an opinion piece on your perception of religion and death. I don't take kindly to students wasting my time. Then again, I'm harsh with my students.

Freedom is servitude to justice and intellectual honesty.
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25-04-2017, 07:44 PM
RE: Publicly funded religious schools, free speech, and criticism of religion.
(25-04-2017 07:06 PM)epronovost Wrote:  
(25-04-2017 06:44 PM)Twiggy Wrote:  I've read it, and what I did, doesn't seem to be cause for restriction, my assignment was read by the teacher only, and no one else.

I was not affecting the school or the class in anyway.

Depending on the formulation of your work, it might have come in conflict with the educational goal of the school. Note that there is also this specific sentence:"Written speech associated with school curriculum or classroom activity can be regulated by administrator." This clearly state that, even if your views aren't made public, they can be sanctioned.

Personnaly, I wouldn't have expelled you for your opinion (to which you are entitled to), but because you answered completly outside of the question which is deeply disrespectful. This was an exam on characterization not an opinion piece on your perception of religion and death. I don't take kindly to students wasting my time. Then again, I'm harsh with my students.

I wasn't expelled, I wasn't even formally suspended, I was just "asked" not to come, but I did end up coming and attending every class except for English.

Seems that now, I will have to support the "One School System" movement, for one public school system, which is okay with me, I do not wish for any amount of my tax dollars, no matter how minute to go to paying for any religious institution, especially a school, and even more especially if no other religion also has the same chance.

The public catholic schools were made to appease quebec, but since quebec already got rid of their public catholic schools, the deal seems to be off, no longer valid.

"It says you have to be saved in order to go to heaven. The way I see it, you only have to be yourself to go to hell!" - Marilyn Manson, Copps Collesium, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. (1997)

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