Mandating "Voluntary" Recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance: Christians v. Atheists in Massachusetts

GirlpledgingTobkatrina: dreamstimeAtheists and Christians are fighting again over reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools - this time in Massachusetts. They are arguing over the words "under God" in the Pledge, but the real argument is why should any state mandate the "voluntary" recitation of the Pledge in any public institution? A federal district court judge noted way back in a 1938 Pledge case the irony of the "totalitarian idea of forcing all citizens into one common mold of thinking.”

Look, I am the kind of guy who gets misty-eyed when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner and when I drive along flag-lined streets in the little central Virginia towns near my house on Memorial Day. Although my primary loyalty is to human liberty everywhere, I am not immune to having my heartstrings tugged by American tribalism.

Despite my patriotic impulses, I have long been troubled by the semi-mandatory rote recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by students in public schools. In 1919, Washington State was the first jurisdiction to make reciting the Pledge mandatory in public schools. Jehovah's Witnesses objected (and the pledge didn't even contain the words "under God" back then) and filed suit against the mandates on First Amendment grounds and won in federal district court. The case, Minersville School District v. Gobitis, was appealed to the Supreme Court. As Reason Contributor Greg Beato explained back in 2010:

In 1940, however, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the case, and ultimately reversed the lower court’s original ruling by an 8 to 1 margin. National unity, it concluded, trumped individual liberty. In the wake of this decision, unified Americans tarred and feathered a Jehovah’s Witness in Wyoming, castrated another in Nebraska, and publicly beat others in Texas and Illinois as police and city officials watched.

Three years later, with the U.S. in the midst of war, the Supreme Court  reversed its decision. Since then, recitation of the Pledge has not been mandatory, at least from the perspective of the highest court of the land.

I vividly recall how uncomfortable our daily recitation of the Pledge made Jehovah's Witness kids in my elementary school classes. Of course, when I became an "out" atheist in high school, I rather ostentatiously refused to say the words "under God" although I still stood and pledged.

Without going into the history of the Pledge, the words "under God" where added in 1954, evidently as a way to distinguish our country from those ruled by Godless communists. One would think that liberty, rule of law, and freedom of speech and religion would be more than enough to make that distinction clear.

As noted above, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is now considering a case in which an atheist is suing to eliminate the words "under God" from the Pledge arguing that it violates the equal rights amendment of the state's constitution. The relevant section reads:

All people are born free and equal and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.

So what is at issue? After all, kids in public school may opt of reciting the Pledge. According to the Washington Post:

Attorney David Niose, representing anonymous atheist parents, told justices that atheist children “are denied meaningful participation in this patriotic exercise” because the language refers to God.

“Children every morning are pledging their national unity and loyalty in an indoctrinating format, in a way that that validates God belief as truly patriotic and actually invalidates atheism,” said Niose, former president of the American Humanist Association and now president of the Secular Coalition of America.

Pledge advocates hit back. No one has to say the pledge, they noted, citing a court ruling that confirms the pledge must always be voluntary. What’s more, they said, reference to “one nation under God” does not necessarily affirm theistic belief.

“It’s not an affirmation of religion?” asked Associate Justice Barbara Lenk.

“It’s a statement of our political philosophy,” answered Geoffrey Bok, attorney for the defendants. “It’s the founding thing upon which our country was founded. Our rights did not come from the king or the tsar or the queen. They come from something higher.”

Something higher? Natural law as devised by a super race of Giant Purple Space Squids [Youtube] perhaps? In any case, the defenders of the Pledge are asserting that reciting the Pledge is a "patriotic activity" not a religious one. That convoluted claim was affirmed in 2005 by the Fourth Circuit Federal Appeals Court decision in Myers v. Loudon County Public Schools. In that case, a Mennonite father of two kids in public school sued arguing that the daily voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in Virginia’s public schools, violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Court ruled:

Undoubtedly, the Pledge contains a religious phrase, and it is demeaning to persons of any faith to assert that the words "under God" contain no religious significance. …The inclusion of those two words, however, does not alter the nature of the Pledge as a patriotic activity. The Pledge is a statement of loyalty to the flag of the United States and the Republic for which it stands … Even assuming that the recitation of the Pledge contains a risk of indirect coercion, the indirect coercion is not threatening to establish religion, but patriotism… The fact that indirect coercion may result from voluntary recitation of the Pledge in school classrooms is of no moment under the Establishment Clause. Because the Pledge is by its nature a patriotic exercise, not a religious exercise….

Just how the words "under God" make reciting the Pledge more "patriotic" is not at all obvious to me, but then-again I am not a constitutional law scholar. I do note, however, that the U.S. Constitution does not have a single reference to any deity at all. Without evident irony, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has intervened in the Massachusetts case to protect the "patriotic" right of believers to continue to say the Pledge in public schools with the words "under God" in it.

So why mandate "voluntary" recitation of the Pledge at all? In his lonely dissent in the infamous 1940 case of Minersville v. Gobitis, Justice Harlan Stone correctly argued:

The Constitution may well elicit expressions of loyalty to it and to the government which it created, but it does not command such expressions or otherwise give any indication that compulsory expressions of loyalty play any such part in our scheme of government as to override the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and religion (emphasis added).And while such expressions of loyalty, when voluntarily given, may promote national unity, it is quite another matter to say that their compulsory expression by children in violation of their own and their parents' religious convictions can be regarded as playing so important a part in our national unity as to leave school boards free to exact it despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. The very terms of the Bill of Rights preclude, it seems to me, any reconciliation of such compulsions with the constitutional guaranties by a legislative declaration that they are more important to the public welfare than the Bill of Rights.

Remember that Stone wrote his dissent before the words "under God" were added to the Pledge. Of course, one way to avoid this fight is to privatize the school system and let parents and kids choose to attend Pledge-free schools or not. But that is an argument for another time.

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  • ||

    Attorney David Niose, representing anonymous atheist parents, told justices that atheist children “are denied meaningful participation in this patriotic exercise” because the language refers to God.

    “Children every morning are pledging their national unity and loyalty in an indoctrinating format, in a way that that validates God belief as truly patriotic and actually invalidates atheism,” said Niose, former president of the American Humanist Association and now president of the Secular Coalition of America.

    So if God were removed you'd have no problem with children pledging national unity and patriotic loyalty to the government in an indoctrinating format? Aren't atheists supposed to be free-thinkers?

    Sorry, but there are better reasons to reject the pledge than for the fact that it refers to God in the deistic sense.

  • John||

    And from the conservative perspective, there are about a million horrible things being taught in these schools every day. And this is what we fight over?

  • ||

    Like 3 X 4 == 11

    http://nation.foxnews.com/2013.....curriculum

    I dunno both are pretty bad.

  • John||

    We are doomed.

  • Zeb||

    That's kind of a lazy interpretation of what she is talking about. 3x4=11 is a deliberately overly simple example. I think that the more real world examples would be things like getting partial credit on a complicated algebra or calculus problem where you pretty much get the process right, but drop a minus sign somewhere or screw up some arithmetic or something like that. And that is not really a new thing or a bad thing.

  • Tony||

    I think you missed the point. The last few seconds explain it: teach kids not just that the answer is 12, but why is it 12 and how do we get to that answer.

  • ant1sthenes||

    That's a pretty shitty example. Multiplication is a time for rote memorization.

    Still, both sides have a point. Math is often a process, and when you show your work, a skilled teacher can ascertain that you stupidly forgot to copy a minus when going from step 5 to step 6 and otherwise understood the concept, which is what they want to know.

    On the other hand, it's important for students to be taught to value to rigorously avoid that sort of fuck-up, because in the real world, shit blows up or buildings collapse when you make those kinds of mistakes.

    Probably you ought to weigh mastery and correctness about equally.

  • AlexInCT||

    I am not a big fan of man-dates. Would never go on one, but I wouldn't deny those that go for that their thing either. Live and let live!

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    I've had this exact argument with other atheists before. It goes nowhere. I've quit bothering.

  • Ron Bailey||

    Visc,J,Autocrat: Just curious - what do you think of Justice Stone's dissent that he wrote 14 years before "under God" was added? Isn't that real argument that supporters of liberty should be pursuing? Included in post, but also see below:

    The Constitution may well elicit expressions of loyalty to it and to the government which it created, but it does not command such expressions or otherwise give any indication that compulsory expressions of loyalty play any such part in our scheme of government as to override the constitutional protection of freedom of speech and religion (emphasis added).And while such expressions of loyalty, when voluntarily given, may promote national unity, it is quite another matter to say that their compulsory expression by children in violation of their own and their parents' religious convictions can be regarded as playing so important a part in our national unity as to leave school boards free to exact it despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. The very terms of the Bill of Rights preclude, it seems to me, any reconciliation of such compulsions with the constitutional guaranties by a legislative declaration that they are more important to the public welfare than the Bill of Rights.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. It's just that a large number of the atheists I discuss this with still worship statism.

  • AlexInCT||

    That's the only true religion, don't you know?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Given that super-statists tend to imbue the state with many of the properties and responsibilities theists invest in a god, is it even meaningful to call them atheists? A guy who worships a rock as a god is as much a theist as a guy who worships an invisible, transcendent entity; shouldn't the guy who worships a government or ideology be?

  • Tony||

    Nobody worships the government.

    However, a good case could be made that you guys worship, or at least fetishize, the market.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Nobody worships the government.

    No, you just see it as a powerful abstract authority that
    * dictates and enforces a supreme code of justice
    * is responsible for endowing human beings with rights
    * materially provides the necessities of life for its people
    * can or must see everywhere at all times to observe and punish wickedness
    * establishes and legitimizes the authority of human leaders
    * eradicates its peoples' enemies from the skies with cleansing fire
    * is entitled to regulate all aspects of human behavior in the name of an ever-changing standard of morality defined by its servants

    You believe this entity and its servants requires the regular sacrifice of material resources in proportion to the wealth each of its followers acquires, on the premise that this entity's intervention and providence was chiefly responsible for their good fortune.

    Despite all evidence to the contrary, you believe this entity is not only good-natured and just, but that it is effective at realizing its good intentions.

    And you are entirely comfortable this entity's servants running schools for children where the principles above are imparted, and which feature a ritualized profession of loyalty and praise for that entity, except insofar as the ritual's words contains the lamentable suggestion that there is another more powerful such entity beyond and above it.

    This is entirely unlike God-worship, it is plain for all to see.

  • lafe.long||

    *Extremely* well done.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Forgot to mention that, unlike a God, your favored entity is generally anthropomorphized in pop culture as a stern, elderly, long-bearded white man.

  • Ron Bailey||

    TRHSMV: I agree. But to paraphrase Rumsfeld: "You go to court with the case you have - not the case you might wish you have."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    But this is a battle between two versions of the pledge - neither side is saying abolish it.

    Unless you peel back the pledge in suit after suit - with the neo-Confederates removing "indivisible," the Sioux removing "one nation," the monarchists removing "Republic," etc., until there's no words left.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Except the word "I" - a good libertarian pledge!

  • Ron Bailey||

    EvH: See my 1:43 post above.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'm inclined to agree, but I don't see how it's connected to the present suit.

  • Rasilio||

    Hey I live in Massachusetts, I wonder if some lawyer would sue on my behalf to prevent it from being used in schools at all

  • Tony||

    That is an extra good reason to reject it.

  • Zeb||

    Regardless of the content, the very idea of a pledge of allegiance has always seemed like some awful fascist bullshit to me. I'm not pledging allegiance to anything or anyone ever. The end. You want my allegiance, you have to earn it every day.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    When I hear the government pledge allegiance to me, I'll consider pledging allegiance to them.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Shut up, serf.

  • ||

    Repeat after me:

    "I (I)...
    Your name (your name)
    Ugh, schmucks. Do pledge allegiance...(do pledge allegiance)
    To Hedley Lamar...(Heady Lamar)
    That's Hedley! And to the evil (and to the evil)
    For which he stands (for which he stands)

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Now go do that voodoo that you do so well!

  • ||

    I thought it was eveyeeel.

  • Rrabbit||

    seemed like some awful fascist bullshit to me

    Some versions of the Bellamy salute that was originally part of the Pledge and the nazi salute are almost identical.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....salute.jpg

  • John||

    I will never for the life of me understand why people want to die on this hill. Why are they even wasting valuable school time saying the pledge? It amazes me how stupid people are. They are teaching Howard Zinn and every other kind of leftist claptrap as gospel truth in the public schools and all these idiots can worry about is whether kids say the pledge and include "under God" in it.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Might have to do with people taking that wacky Establishment Clause seriously.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    But not so seriously that they're opposed to compelling speech.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Different clause, no?

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    The establishment clause is a specific application of that general principle.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Is it?

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Unless you think the Founders were fond of repeating themselves in the most important legal document they crafted I do not think they saw one as subsumed under the other.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    In point of fact, I don't think conserving ink was their top priority, but that wasn't what I was saying. If your takeaway from the establishment clause is that the government can't compel tithing or church attendance, but all other forms of compulsory expression are a-okay, you're doing it wrong.

  • Irish||

    Could you tell me? Should we only talk in questions? Are you Socrates?

  • tarran||

    Freedom of speech includes the freedom to not utter any words.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Maybe. I do not think it is obvious (or rather was to the Founders).

  • Agammamon||

    Its the same thinking that says that freedom of religion is also freedom to *not* have a religion - and their are people who are fighting against *that* also.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I understand the thinking, and I am happy that for the most part modern jurisprudence embraces it. I merely say that I do not think it is obvious that the Founders thought that statements of such rights also covered their inverse. If that were true then you would not need an Establishment Clause, the Speech and Free Exercise would have covered it.

  • tarran||

    Bo Cara, you are being a fucking mouth-breathing idiot on this.

    In the 1600's, in colonial America, people were imprisoned for failing to make loyalty oaths to the King of England. In Virginia, *the* major political fight was between the Dissenters and the Anglicans sent by the English crown.

    In the 1760 - 1790's that was pretty high on people's minds. So high that in the Treaty of Amity and Comity, the U.S. government promised that nobody would be compelled to swear an oath of loyalty to the United States govt as a price of remaining within its territory.

  • RBS||

    I guess this is what Tulpa would be like if he went to law school.

  • ||

    No, because the pledge is a quasi-religious statement fellating the government.

  • John||

    Or you not understanding which side I was criticizing. Reread my post and try again there sparky.

  • Tony||

    You are more upset that they might teach Howard Zinn than a governor thinking it's his role to personally intervene in school curricula because he doesn't like the alleged politics of what is being taught.

  • tarran||

    Ahem:

    Every few years, some organization sues a school district because it compels children to state the pledge with the clause “under God”. These suits invariably claim that it violates the clause in the U.S. Constitution forbidding the establishment of a state religion. Unfortunately, these lawsuits miss the main point. The human rights violation is not that children are forced to pledge their loyalty to God – t is the fact that the children are forced to make any loyalty oath at all!

    The pledge of allegiance is not compatible with a free country. Written by a socialist who sought to indoctrinate children with the idea that they should be servants of the state, it opposes the very principles underlying the Declaration of Independence. It is the duty of every patriotic American, whose loyalties are to those principles rather than some flag or body of men, to oppose it. Let the enemies of freedom distinguish themselves by compelling people to take oaths against their will. Let us once again embrace freedom and expel the rotten pledge of allegiance from our schools.

    Captain Subtext's Version of the Pledge

  • Almanian!||

    Yeah, I was fine reciting the pledge mindlessly each morning in elementary school in the 60's. At my more advanced age, I really do have trouble saying it out loud - not because of "God", but because "to the flag".

    I DON'T pledge allegiance to a "flag" - that's fucking stupid! I will pledge allegiance to an IDEA, about freedom and...shit like that.

    "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." has just struck me as fucking stupid since about Middle School, and I've been against the pledge ever since.

    Now, singing the "Star Spangled BAnner" - yeah, hat off, right hand over heart...misty eyed. PLAY BALL!

  • ||

    Don't you think the "flag" could be the embodiment of that idea?

  • Zeb||

    Flags are for identifying ships and marking your territory. They don't embody shit.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    They are for showing what side you're on in a battle. If there's a side in this battle that's for freedom, I don't know what their flag looks like.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, that too. I knew I was missing one.

  • ||

    How is a piece of cloth an embodiment of an idea?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    GREEN! PURPLE!!

  • ||

    Never said you follow blindly. But I do consider the flag a representation of what America was supposed to be as defined by the Founders. THAT, I am proud of.

    A nation, NOT "the government".

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    A flag could be, but not the United States flag. It represents a specific regime, and it is contrary to the ideas of the American Revolution to be overly loyal to one of those.

  • Rasilio||

    It could, but the US Flag does not embody an idea, it embodies a government, one which only marginally represents the ideals that it was founded on.

  • Agammamon||

    It *can* - it can also start off as the embodiment of that idea and have its meaning shifted over time to mean something completely opposite.

    That's why pledging to the *flag* is stupid.

  • Rrabbit||

    Don't you think the "flag" could be the embodiment of that idea?

    It could be, but I think it no longer is. Politicians of all kinds are waving around the flag of have the flag support their newest bullshit bureaucratic unconstitutional monstrosity.

  • NoVAHockey||

  • ||

    O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

    No. It is just as fucking stupid as the pledge and I won't stand up for it either.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    the land of the free and the home of the brave

    We haven't been either of those since 9/11.

  • Zeb||

    The one thing that makes the Star Spangled Banner a bit better is that the whole first verse is a question. You aren't declaring anything and "no" is a perfectly reasonable answer.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Libertarian pledge: "I pledge alliegance to... liberty and justice for all."

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    That is actually how I said it toward the end of high school once I became a libertarian.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "They are arguing over the words "under God" in the Pledge, but the real argument is why should any state mandate the "voluntary" recitation of the Pledge in any public institution?"

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the plaintiffs seeking to *keep* the Pledge, just without the God part? That would put it back to the way it was written by that weird socialist fella in the 19th century.

    "Without going into the history of the Pledge, the words "under God" where added in 1954, evidently as a way to distinguish our country from those ruled by Godless communists."

    What, no scare quotes around "Godless?"

  • John||

    I think the pledge is a waste of time. But I really get tired of the various atheists and religious nuts telling me how standing up and not doing it makes them "feel uncomfortable". Fuck you. If you believe in your ideals, you should be happy to have the opportunity to stick out and show the world how different you are. If you don't want to feel "uncomfortable" go with the fucking mainstream because you clearly don't have the balls to fight against it.

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: But what about the kids?

  • tarran||

    My kids think the pledge is a farce.

    Of course, I suspect much of that is because my ex is an expert in coercing people into expressing love for her, and the kids recognize the pathetically bush-league efforts of the school to do the same thing.

    I did have to have a series of talks with my son about debating the DARE officer. Finally he agreed that he should let the Wookie win.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    I'm curious how many people have to deal with psychopaths in their families growing up and respond by becoming libertarians.

    Or progressives.

    I guess it depends on their level of awareness.

  • ||

    Great question!

    tarran: How do you get along with your kids? Have they ever tried to have you committed?

  • tarran||

    No, but they do other me for having a gut, and liking 'old' music such as Motorhead.

  • John||

    It is a good education for them Ron. IF you can show me where they are being coerced or punished, then that is different. But just having to step out and say "no, I don't do this"? That is an experience every kid should have. Part of growing up is learning how to not conform sometimes and act on your beliefs.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    IF you can show me where they are being coerced or punished, then that is different.

    It doesn't exactly make the police blotter. This would reduce me to anecdotes, which I wouldn't expect you to believe.

  • John||

    I would believe it. But those are cases that should be dealt with one by one. It doesn't mean that when done properly, you can't just expect kids to opt out.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Hey, you don't have to pay the confiscatory 75% income tax rate, as long as you're willing to wear the "I refuse to do my fair share for society" banner at all times. Please show me where you are being coerced or punished. But just having to step out ans say "no, I don't do this"? ...

  • John||

    Wow, that is even a stupid post for you. Show me where these kids are being asked to do anything but say no. If you are unwilling to so much as say no, I really don't give a shit about your views because you clearly don't take them seriously yourself.

    Show me where these kids are being made to wear scarlet letter and you will have a point. But since they aren't, you as usual have just polluted the discussion with idiocy.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Kids love to pick out some perceived difference or deficiency in other kids and treat them horribly over it, and kids know this and are rightly very concerned about being so perceived. Unlike the teaching of Howard Zinn or New Math the pledge is something that is done as and in front of the entire group. So I think you are underestimating how challenging this situation can be to a child.

    Let me ask you, are you opposed to secret ballots for union certification votes? Do you think the issue is not worth fighting for because, hey, people may have to vote no in front of their union co-workers, but everyone has to learn to be uncomfortable sometimes!

  • John||

    Kids love to pick out some perceived difference or deficiency in other kids and treat them horribly over it,

    Sure they do. And do you think if they want to pick on you because you are an atheist or some Jehovah, you not having to say the pledge is going to change that?

    Kids pick on each other all of the time. But it isn't because one kid didn't say the pledge this morning. Were you ever a child? Again, see my post below about putting up Patriots banners. Kids sure as hell torture each other mercilessly about sports teams. By your logic, no school should ever hang a "Go home team" banner because there might be kids who don't root for that team and it will make them uncomfortable.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    So, card check not a big issue for you?

  • ||

    Have you ever thought about anything you write here? I don't mean just repeated the words to yourself over and over and agreed with yourself. I mean actually contemplated something either before or after writing it.

  • ||

    I was addressing the meletary loier)

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Talk about Socratic! Do you have a point here that you would care to make?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Oh, I see.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I am a law student, not a military lawyer.

  • Zeb||

    John's a military lawyer. Or at least a lawyer who was in the military and still works for the government in some capacity.

  • ||

    I think in the proper context the comment makes its point.

  • Redmanfms||

    Uhh, what?

    Voluntarily sitting out =/= being forced to wear a banner.

    Please show me where you are being coerced or punished.

    In your stupid example, one is being coerced to where the banner.

    BTW, PROG BULLSHIT.

  • Redmanfms||

    wear, FML.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If "sitting out" == being required to visibly abstain from an activity in front of the entire class every day, then they are essentially being forced to wear a banner.

  • Redmanfms||

    If "sitting out" == being required to visibly abstain from an activity in front of the entire class every day, then they are essentially being forced to wear a banner.

    No, it's not.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    So to update our list of things that Redman considers progtard:

    1. Insufficent warbonerism at the though of blowing up Muslims
    2. Refusing to publicly fellate the state every morning

  • Redmanfms||

    1. Insufficent warbonerism at the though of blowing up Muslims

    Cite?

    2. Refusing to publicly fellate the state every morning

    Nope, just your dipshit false equivalency. I don't like the Pledge at all, but your argument was the prog bullshit.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Cite: the previous discussion of Egypt where you kept trying to tell us how the noble Egyptian army massacring civilians was completely different from the MB massacring civilians.

    And using socialist income redistribution as the "absurdum" in a reducto ad absurdum is "prog bullshit"? I'm starting to think "prog bullshit" mean "anyone who disagress with me about anything".

  • Redmanfms||

    Cite: the previous discussion of Egypt where you kept trying to tell us how the noble Egyptian army massacring civilians was completely different from the MB massacring civilians.

    Cite?

  • John||

    Dragon,

    You are a classic prog retard. It is just too much to expect you or any of your little snowflakes to opt out to something you object to. No, the world owes you stopping everything they do that might make you uncomfortable.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This is absurd. According to you all the conservative furor over the children being directed to sing the Obama song was stupid. I do not know if you posted on this site back when that occurred or if Reason covered it, but I would be shocked that if both were true that you were not making comments highly upset about that.

  • ||

    Except singing a song to Dear Leader is a helluva lot different then reciting the pledge, whether or not it has "Under God" in it.

  • ant1sthenes||

    How is that analogous? They aren't being forced to wear some sort of banner. Maybe if people's tax payments were optional (Humble Federal Bundle), but listed publicly. But that actually would be libertarian-friendly.

  • Zeb||

    I think that it is an actively negative thing to force (or strongly encourage) people to do. At some point in elementary school, I stopped standing or saying the pledge. Felt quite comfortable to me.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Yeah, those 7 year olds should stop being such pussies.

  • John||

    Yeah, because not doing something is such an ordeal. I did a lot of nonconformist things when I was seven. I went to a school where I was the only kid who didn't go to church every Sunday. It never bothered me. The world doesn't owe you not being uncomfortable, even if you are seven.

  • Rasilio||

    Where did you grow up, because there are places where it sure would have.

  • John||

    In the buckle of the bible belt. And yeah, didn't get me laid or any friends. But tough shit. Sometimes life is like that. I am not going to insult people who faced actual hardships in life by claiming that was one.

  • ||

    I spent my most formative years in Texas and people didn't even look at you weird if you didn't say the Texas Pledge.

    Maybe my school was just weird.

  • Irish||

    John, what seven year old is going to think enough to say 'Yeah, I'm not going to do this?' Do you know any children?

    This is why brainwashing kids is so nefarious. Even if you don't technically force them to attend your brainwashing session, if you point a seven year old in a direction he will tend to go there.

  • John||

    what seven year old is going to think enough to say 'Yeah, I'm not going to do this?'

    Me. And any seven year old will do that if their parents tell them to. If their parents tell them not to and the teacher doesn't punish them for not doing it, the seven year old will not do it. Kids are easy to manipulate, but they will do something their parents tell them to and their teacher lets them do.

    Again, it comes down to coercion. If teachers are punishing kids, sure, that is wrong. But if the whole bitch is "my poor kid has to be different", then fuck off. Being different is part of life. Your kid better start learning that.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    And any seven year old will do that if their parents tell them to.

    Government brainwashing is only a problem if you haven't preemptively brainwashed them yourself! Because it's not really about their individual freedom, it's just a dominace fight on who gets to be alpha thug.

  • RBS||

    Wow, you really brought the derp with that one.

  • John||

    Government brainwashing is only a problem if you haven't preemptively brainwashed them yourself! B

    Yeah because having to say "no I am not doing this" is just like brainwashing.

    God you are fucking stupid. I mean dangerously fucking stupid.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    He's obviously referring to this:
    -any seven year old will do that if their parents tell them to.

  • ||

    Yeah, cause no parent could have a discussion with their kid on why they think they shouldn't say the pledge. Nope, no parent has ever done that. Only brainwashing.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Having a discussion with your kid about something isn't the same as simply telling them not to do it.

  • Tony||

    Weren't you the one wondering why people are dying on this hill?

    You seem awfully obsessed with something you don't think is a big deal.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Are you telling me that if you found your child's class was being directed to sing a song in praise of Obama (as has occurred before in our fair land) but was told he or she could sit out if they did not want to you would not complain one bit? I am a bit incredulous about that.

  • John||

    I might complain, but I wouldn't sue over it. And my complaint would be about the waste of time it was not because my little snowflake was made to feel uncomfortable. What a joke. I would hope my kid could handle going against the group once in a while. And if he can't, he has a lot more problems than singing an Obamaa song.

  • ||

    ^THIS^

  • ant1sthenes||

    I think the basis of the complaint would be that a teacher was abusing his position of authority to force his beliefs on a captive audience, not that the poor kid who said no suffered the shame and terror of being outside the herd.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I wish Massachusetts would secede from the union. Then they could pledge their lives to Barack Obama, Carolyn Kennedy, or whoever else the fuck it is they pray to.

  • Rasilio||

    Tom Brady

  • #||

    "I wish Massachusetts would secede from the union."

    It would also give the rest of the country a really good example of how progtards unleashed will destroy all prosperity.

  • Marshall Gill||

    I have long been troubled by the semi-mandatory rote recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by students in public schools.

    I simply love this kind of shit. I want those on the dole to be unhappy about their loot. These kind of articles give me the sweetest schadenfreude.

    Don't like the things done during Socialist indoctrination? Don't steal from your neighbors in the name of educating your children.

  • Zeb||

    Don't steal from your neighbors in the name of educating your children.

    And you have a choice in the matter? Your neighbors are going to be stolen from just the same whether you have kids in public schools or not.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Reason #156 to homeschool.

  • Zeb||

    There are lots of good reasons to homeschool, but I don't really see how the fact that you have to pay school taxes in any case is one of them.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If you're not sending your kids to public schools, they can no longer use the fact that you're sending your kids to public schools to justify taxing you.

    It's now straight theft.

    The more we send our kids to private schools or homeschool, the less of a justification they have for taxing you and your neighbors.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I think the "anyone who sends their kids to a public school is automatically a bad person" argument is just as dumb as the "anyone who doesn't send their kids to a public school is automaticlaly a bad person" from last week.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I worked my way through boarding school, the same school both my parents and two of my grandparents worked their way through. In fact, you're not really allowed not to have a job at that school. Because not being productive--especially at a tender age--tends to ingrain in kids a sense of entitlement, which is extremely immoral, and can ruin both someone's life and hurts society.

    That's an old tradition, really. They used to call it the Protestant Work Ethic.

    I know a lot of people nowadays have come to imagine that having kids and sticking your neighbors with the bill is perfectly okay, but it really isn't. I'm not here for you or your children's benefit. This may shock you--but I'm not here to pay for your elderly parents' healthcare costs either.

    Seriously. Take some responsibility for yourself. Take care of your own children, too, and leave me out of it.

    Until people start taking responsibility for their own children, public school kids saying the Pledge should be the least of their worries. The parents of children in the local public school should be marched to my door at gunpoint during the holidays and forced to sing me Christmas carols.

  • Tony||

    They used to call it the Protestant Work Ethic.

    Keep your religion off my kids' bodies.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's a private school, you idiot.

    And if you don't want other people forcing their opinions on your children, then send them to a public school or homeschool them yourself.

    In the meantime, do you know what no taxation without representation means? It means that as long as you're taxing people, they have a say in how their money is spent. You're lucky they don't force public school kids to pray to Jesus every morning.

    P.S. I don't know why I'm even talking to a dirty anti-semite, like you.

  • Ken Shultz||

    *Edit*

    And if you don't want other people forcing their opinions on your children, then send them to a [private] school or homeschool them yourself.

    You knew what I meant.

  • Marshall Gill||

    I don't really see how the fact that you have to pay school taxes in any case is one of them.

    If you bothered to look at the cost of socialist indoctrination you would find that few people pay enough property taxes to fund their own children. Obviously, since those who do not have children or do not utilize this "public service" still pay property taxes too, only the product of the same indoctrination could think it was not stealing.

    By your metric there is NO government service that should ever be refused because at some point you paid some taxes. Since the wealthiest pay the most, that means everyone who collects from the system is a thief/looter.

    Your argument amounts to "I paid in". And yet we are a gagillion dollars in debt.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Isn't essentially the ROADZZ argument?

  • Zeb||

    No, that's not what I was saying at all.
    He specifically said "homeschool" and that is what I was responding to. I said nothing about whether or not taxes are stealing nor about any metric for determining whether it is moral to use any given government service. And my only point in my original response to you was that your declining to use a government service is not going to stop the government stealing from you or your neighbors. Maybe if you responded to what people actually say rather than what the people in your head are saying you wouldn't be so much of an asshole.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Your declining to use a government service is not going to stop the government stealing from you or your neighbors."

    But at least you wouldn't be stealing from your neighbors. I mean, how can you criticize other people for ripping off the taxpayers if you're ripping them off yourself?

    Please explain how we get away from public schools for anyone except the poor and needy--if not even the libertarians are willing to stop sucking blood out of the taxpayers' backs?

    In then end, libertarianism has a moral component featuring a qualitative preference for freedom. I don't see why anyone would expect us to ignore that. There's also a strong dose of reciprocity underlying the whole thing.

    Why are you willing to do unto others what you aren't willing to have done unto you? If I don't want to pay for other people's children, then why would I accept them paying for mine?

  • ||

    I know I'm just echoing many on this thread, but this is such a ridiculously stupid thing to be wasting time & money over. I mean, FFS, I was a hard atheist when I was young, and you know what, when I came to "under God", I just DIDN'T SAY IT. How fucking hard is that?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, but didn't your feel othered when you weren't saying it?

    No one should ever be made to feel othered. That's what being an American is all about, and if you don't like it, then you're just a stupid redneck.

  • ||

    Actually, I felt superior. "Fuck these conformists."

  • Ken Shultz||

    That's a typical reaction to feeling othered, MP. Oh, the trauma!

    You've probably been thinking for yourself since then, haven't you? I don't know how you'll ever be reintegrated back into society now.

    ...and all because you heard other people saying the Pledge without you.

  • PH2050||

    I think MP needs some reparations for such a traumatizing experience.

  • ||

    Although my primary loyalty is to human liberty everywhere, I am not immune to having my heartstrings tugged by American tribalism.

    Well isn't that extremely irrational of you, Ron. You really, really shouldn't be OK with this.

  • Ron Bailey||

    E: Alas, it is true that the antics of my government have significantly eroded my American tribalism.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    It is no small thing to lose a love. When the ideals of our country (if ever) were represented by the actions of our government then I can see being patriotic. But it take intellectual honesty to be dedicated to liberty (Which I think Ron has) and that can and will cause some emotional discomfort and take some time when your government betrays your trust. Now, some people are just cultists. And others are not interested at all in "joining" when it comes to ideals (even if they are the same ideals) and that is cool. But I can understand how and why people are patriotic and how hard it is to admit that your once love has turned to an abuser.

  • SugarFree||

    Pledge allegience to me or suffer my wrath.

  • ||

    "I pledge allegiance to the fag of the United States of NutraSweet, and to the repulsive for which it stands, one nation under Zod, indivisible, with diabetes and anal prolapse for all."

  • SugarFree||

    "United"?!?

    You know nothing, Epi Snow.

  • ||

    Fuck, you're right. Let me correct:

    "I pledge allegiance to the fag of the Altered States of NutraSweet, and to the repulsive for which it stands, one nation under Zod, indivisible, with diabetes and anal prolapse for all."

    And yes, you should be thinking of Ken Russell.

  • ||

    And the anus's red glare
    The wailing of despair
    Gave proof through the night
    That SugarFree was still there

  • SugarFree||

    You may live. For now.

  • ||

    This is a version I could get behind.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    waaaaayyyyy behind.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Repulsive? Surely repugnance scans better.

  • ||

    I will only suffer the Wrath of Khan.

    All other wrath pales in comparison.

  • rts||

  • Andrew S.||

    Back when I was a neocon (High School and early college), the pledge still struck me as strange, and I stood silent when the pledge was recited in class. Will be teaching my daughter the same (and I'll note that the pledge is posted in her Pre-K classroom right now; attempted indoctrination starts early)

  • creech||

    My mother was old enough to remember when the approved salute was not hand over heart but a fascist type salute.
    Apparently that was changed only when Hitler came to power.
    My pledge: "I pledge allegiance to (silence) liberty and justice for all."

  • John||

    So when schools in Boston put up Go Patriot signs before last year's Super Bowl, should the parents of kids' who rooted for other teams have complained because it made their little snowflakes uncomfortable? Why not?

    And don't tell me that kids are not a hell of a lot more cruel and nasty over sports teams than are over some dumb ass daily pledge no one pays any attention to. I guarantee you more kids have gotten into fist fights over sports teams than over "your parents won't let you say God".

    If the whole point here is to make sure no kid ever feels uncomfortable, then why are we allowing such sports partisanship? What about the kids who are Ravens' fans?

  • Zeb||

    I'd be more worried about teachers being an obnoxious bully about it. That was the only time I felt the least bit uncomfortable about my refusal to say the pledge.

  • Irish||

    Are you seriously arguing that being a fan of a sports team is the same as being told to recite a pledge of loyalty to a government?

    I'll tell you what. If teachers required kids to pledge fealty to the New England Patriots there might be some comparison.

  • John||

    Are you seriously arguing that being a fan of a sports team is the same as being told to recite a pledge of loyalty to a government?

    I am telling you that kids take sports teams a hell of a lot more seriously than they take the pledge of allegiance. Being in the second grade in suburban Boston and rooting for the Jets will get you ostracized than refusing to do the pledge of allegiance ever will.

    So if we can't say the pledge because it makes kids feel uncomfortable, how in the world could we put up a Patriots' sign when we know that kids are going to be bullied and picked on for not being a fan?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Being in the second grade in suburban Boston and rooting for the Jets will get you ostracized than refusing to do the pledge of allegiance ever will.

    Dammit, John was bullied a child, and now that he's big enough to bully small children himself how dare you try to take this away from him! It was finally gonna be his turn!

  • Cliché Bandit||

  • Zeb||

    Other kids aren't pressuring kids to say the pledge, teachers and administrators are.

  • John||

    You have a citation for that? I don't see where they are at all. They are just complaining that their kids have to say no rather than be catered to.

  • Zeb||

    That was my experience. May not be typical, I suppose.

  • Agammamon||

    You know, I must have grown up in a window where the pledge *wasn't* recited. I remember doing it in first and maybe second grade in Kentucky, but by third I was living in Arizona and *none* of the schools I attended in Tucson did that - all the way through high school graduation.

    Many years later, I'm back in AZ (Somerton) and a teacher friend of mine says they do it in the school he teaches at - though he personally doesn't *make* the kids do it, its played on the school PA and he just goes and does his own thing while the kids recite. I tell him he should just not let the kids do recite it in his class - as a Social Studies teacher he should be more aware than most of the evils of collectivism.

  • SugarFree||

    You were lucky. In the late 70s in rural Kentucky we still had morning prayer and then the pledge.

  • Agammamon||

    I started school in 77is - I just must have been really lucky to miss out on school prayer and the pledge.

  • John||

    We never had that during the day. But any sort of assembly they loved to pray. And that was in the 1980s.

    I never liked any of it and never participated in it and never had a problem telling people why. This is why I have a hard time finding much urgency in people "feeling uncomfortable". Get over it and stand up for yourself.

  • ant1sthenes||

    I never felt the tiniest bit of shame saying "I pledge alliegance to Queen Frag, and her mighty state of hysteria" in class. But I can understand how herdfolk would see it as a fate worse than death.

    Anyway, either it's directly or indirectly compulsory, in which case it's wrong whether the word God is present or not, or it isn't, in which case there isn't much of a first amendment issue.

    Should "under God" go? Absolutely. If anything, Christians should be leading the charge; the notion that the sort of underhanded shit USG gets up to has the endorsement of their deity is the worst insult they could offer Him.

  • John||

    Christians should not want the government seeing itself as an arm of God. And schools shouldn't be requiring kids to pledge to anything beyond following the school rules.

    There are good reasons to get rid of the pledge. My little snowflake has to say no and be different isn't one of them.

  • Damned Fool||

    There is that bit in the Book of Romans about authority.

  • Redmanfms||

    There are good reasons to get rid of the pledge. My little snowflake has to say no and be different isn't one of them.

    Fucking THIS!!!!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I would get education privatized, so each school would have whatever pledges it wants, without the govt stepping in.

    What the newly-privatized schools would need to consider is the effect on dissident students (whose parents pay tuition) versus whatever community feeling they're trying to build up.

    But if the private schools have a pledge, I hope it includes God. The point isn't to endorse everything the govt does - quite the contrary, the point is to remind citizens and government officials they're accountable - rejecting the positivist notion that legitimacy comes out of "the nation" or the collective.

  • Damned Fool||

    "And to the republic, for which is stands, one nation, under God..."

    God: "Don't pass this shit off on me!"

  • Tony||

    I could never decide if I hated the pledge more because of its endorsement of religion or because the insertion of "under God" reduced its euphony.

  • #||

    But you didn't have any problem with it reciting blind loyalty to the state.

  • Azathoth!!||

    How old are you people?

    In elementary school we perfunctorally said the pledge and listened to/sang along with some patriotic song every morning.

    In middle school we had the pledge played over the PA followed by the Star Spangled Banner. No one said it or sang. Sometimes they'd make us stand up.

    In high school we had the pledge played over the PA followed by the Star Spangled Banner. No one said it or sang. They never had us stand up.

    That was New York.

    My kids, in Kentucky, went through school with the PA thing from K-12. I think we stood for the anthem at their graduations and at games.

    Where in the Zinnified US are kids held up for derision for ANYTHING to do with the pledge?

    Finally, if you can find this magical bastion of patriotism, one can easily say the entire pledge without the 1954 add-on without anyone noticing. Or you can keep it. Or you can say something appropriate to you like 'under gods', 'under Allah', 'Underdog'. Nothing stops you. There is no penalty for doing so.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "In the wake of this decision, unified Americans tarred and feathered a Jehovah’s Witness in Wyoming, castrated another in Nebraska, and publicly beat others in Texas and Illinois as police and city officials watched."

    No, that was just some friendly nerd bullying. Jehovah's Witnesses are a kind of dork, aren't they?

  • newshutz||

    IIRC, there were many substitute words in the pledge said by my classmates in school. No one got on their cases.

    I have taken to saying this when appropriate:

    "I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and the republic it defines. A confederation of States with liberty and justice for all."

  • Westmiller||

    A simple solution for those willing to be bold:
    Substitute the words "under Law" for "under God", which makes far more sense and isn't obviously disrespectful.

  • Michael Price||

    A pledge of alliegance is traditionally two-way. The lord and vassal pledge to be loyal to each other. Of course the way your lords treat you it's not surprising that they insist on YOUR loyalty without even pretending to pledge theirs.

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