Steven Williams Case - more factual information
sjamar at law.howard.edu
Fri Dec 10 11:20:22 PST 2004
Is it a sociology class? I think it depends a lot on purpose and
I also think that we as lawyers, having been trained in a certain kind
of compartmentalization and detachment and objectivity (please don't
ignore the "certain kind" and blast me for an assertion I am not
making), underestimate the difficulty of making the distinctions that
we take for granted. And the whole experience of a believer is
different from that of an outsider and some believers believe that it
would be untrue to their beliefs even to investigate other things or to
present information they don't agree with as anything but falsehood.
And some of these people are teachers.
My boys experienced a variety of incidents in schools where
fundamentalists or evangeilcals and in one instance even young earther
Christian teachers made explicit statements about religion and religous
truth and/or taught, and in one case tested, certain things that
excluded as religions anything other than Islam, Christianity, and
Judaism. These were mostly social science and English teachers.
As much as they or anyone else guards against injecting beliefs into
the classroom, it happens -- the time together is just so extensive and
intensive. So we need to cut a bit of slack for those sorts of things.
But there comes a time when the teachers go over the line in
assignments or comments or whatever. And this seems to be one of them.
But I would really need to know all about it to make that decision.
There are those on this list who have in the past opined that it is not
possible to teach about religion without demeaning believers in the
process -- it is, to them, inherent it teaching about instead of
teaching the truth of it. That level of paranoia or thin-skinnedness
or world view or whatever motivates those sorts of comments cannot be
responded to effectively. There is no way around that world view. But
that does not make that world view the right one or grant it a unit
veto over the rest of us who want to understand each other.
Prof. Steven D. Jamar vox: 202-806-8017
Howard University School of Law fax: 202-806-8567
2900 Van Ness Street NW mailto:sjamar at law.howard.edu
Washington, DC 20008 http://www.law.howard.edu/faculty/pages/jamar/
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to
pause and reflect."
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