Friday, October 26, 2007

A Moment of Stupidity

The Illinois state legislature has passed a law mandating a "moment of silence" in public schools.

According to Democrat Monique Davis, who supported the measure, the moment of silence will allow children "to listen to the rustling of leaves, to listen to the chirping of a bird, to listen to the tip-tap of a child walking." That doesn't sound too "silent" to me, and what's that kid doing tip-tapping? Shouldn't he be observing the damn moment of silence?

And do they really need to enshrine this in law? If they want a moment of silence in the public schools,they can just call for a volunteer to come up and point out the United States on a map. But I digress.

As anyone with a brain can figure out, this legislation is really all about school prayer. And like calls for posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms and courthouses, it has nothing to do with protecting the sensibilities of the religiously inclined.

Those children who want to pray are going to anyway, and they don't need any legislated moment of silence to do it. As with any statutory intrusion into the "sacred", the target is the kids who don't pray. By ritualizing the act into a moment of silence, they are either trying to force these kids to pray or, more to the point, to feel bad and abnormal for not wanting to. It's pretty safe to say that no one's going to find their way to Jesus while being forced to listen to rustling, chirping and tip-tapping by the state.

In addition to being blatantly unconstitutional, school prayer is bad for religion (the real kind; not the pseudo-faith strong-arm kind). It takes what is supposed to be a sacred and transcendent moment and turns it into farce—just another quotidian ritual no different from recess or gym class. My wife recalls during her public school days back East that they would combine their moment of silence with the mandatory "Swish & Spit" program, which brought the wonders of fluoride to the unwashed masses.

There's no better illustration of how paltry and demeaning all of this really is.
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