Brickbats

Brickbat: Feeding the Multitudes

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Credit: noricum / photo on flickr

Officials at Wisconsin's Middleton High School are demanding that parents stop hosting a lunch each day at a park near the school. Students are free to leave campus for lunch, but school officials insist that the park is part of the campus because it has a lease on it. They say that the lunches violate school rules because the parents aren't following food safety standards and aren't checking in as visitors. Parents say the school officials are upset that the lunches feature Christian discussion. They also note that the school's lease on the park does not bar the public from using it and that they themselves rent the park pavilion.

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  1. Since parents can’t be trusted to feed their kids lunch,what about dinner? And weekends and on summer break? We obviously need home food inspection.

    1. That’s coming.

      First, you’ll hear some talking head a-la Maddow or Melitha-Perry or academic or politician talk about the need to combat – insert disease/epidemic/malady du jour here – for the good of all and ultimately yourself.

      Then, it’ll spread to the useless idiots, people who shouldn’t leave the house without a helmet, who will engage in faux-activism on Facebook to support this proposal.

      The Thinkprogress, Salon, backed up by the NYT etc. will get the message out.

      Don’t you worry.

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  3. “The parents contend that it is their First Amendment right to provide free food and hold a religiously oriented event on this property during school hours,” the letter to parents says. “The district believes that we have jurisdiction of this leased property, which is part of our campus.

    “They have a First Amendment right and a right to access facilities after hours. All those are accurate, but we don’t necessarily allow the Hindu community and the Buddhist community and Islamic community and Wiccans and others to come in and proselytize and bring their message to our students” [District Administrator Don] Johnson said.

    The school grounds is the Temple, Johnson is Jesus and the lunch is the money-changers table that must be overturned.

    1. Unapproved food and speech? Oh my,TRUMP 2016.

    2. “You have turned my SJW paradise into a den of wrongthink and homemade sandwiches.”

      Needs work.

  4. They should continue to have the lunches, they just need to subtitute the religious language with “diversity”, “privilege”, “climate change”, and so on.

    1. The students already get that in class, so it would be redundant.

  5. Damn Christians. Always feeding people and being nice and stuff. WTF is wrong with them?

    1. Ino, rite, that’s the government’s jerb.

      /Idonnowhothat’ssupposedtobe.

    2. One of the downsides to being a Christian: You are discourage from shouting “Fuck off, Slaver”.

      1. But shouting “you brood of vipers” or “you blind guides” is totally fine.

  6. I’ll contradict my eye-rolling attempt at humor with this: I’m sure that if it were some other type of group putting on an outreach program adjacent to a school there’d be a lot of outrage, particularly from the Christian community. Not just a similar Jewish or Mormon program, but if there were a Communist Party “lunch bunch” at the park, or maybe an LGBTQAI support group, I’m sure there would be quite a bit of consternation that they were “targeting our youth at school.” Even if it wasn’t technically at the school.

    The way our society operates, I can see how the school administrators feel boxed in by this situation.

    1. In a lot of those alternate scenarios you present, the administrators would be supporting the outside group and it would be the parents up in arms.

    2. Wow, these alternate-universe Christians are just as big jerks as the real-world SJWs!

      1. Because Crusades!

        1. Good Idea!

          Lets found a new Knightly Order and march on the infidels

          1. Infidels, Byzantines, what’s the difference, really?

            1. Look, that whole sack of Constantinople thing was just a big misunderstanding.

      2. Whether or not you consider them Christians, they call themselves that. This isn’t even Westboro Baptist stuff; lots of people who call themselves Christians act like public moralists. It’s hardly unique to Christians; you could substitute “atheists”, “libertarians”, “communists”, “liberals”, whatever.

        1. hyper bloviating douchebags?

        2. I’m simply suggesting that if you want to use an example of Christians acting like the school administrators in the story, you should mention a real-world example, not an example plucked from an alternate universe.

            1. Note well that I never said they speak for all Christians, or you, or your church, or anything you believe.

              The claim was only that they call themselves Christians and do similar things.

            2. Just to clarify the issues, which of these new rules do you disagree with?

              1. These are fun:

                7. Individuals not affiliated with the school either as an employee or student may not direct, control, conduct or regularly attend meetings or an activity. Regular attendance is defined as attending a meeting or activity more than two times per school year.

                12. Maintain open membership to interested students (Any restricted membership requires approval from the Director of Schools as stated in board policy).

                5. Agendas, student sign-in sheets and minutes of the meeting are to be kept on file by the advisor; copies will be available for school administration and the Director of Schools to review upon request.

                Note that 5 is from the second list (Non-Academic Clubs), which is why the numbering is out of order.

                Also, it is blatantly obvious from the link I gave that they want the club shut down, and they openly describe the club as foisting the pernicious influence of outside adults upon the hapless children.

                Outside adults would include such disreputable individuals as priests and religious laypersons.

              2. Shit, rule 7 basically says that Sally’s mom can’t bring cupcakes to the FFA meetings more than twice.

                1. OK, stipulate that the rules go too far and that, absent the rules, priests, nuns and moms would be able to go into the school to help out at the student groups.

                  Still, it’s a far cry from banning an activity altogether, as in the brickbat, so you still haven’t established moral equivalence.

                  1. I supported Cyto’s argument and refuted your counter-argument. That is all I set out to do.

                    1. How on earth did you support his claim:

                      “I’m sure that if it were some other type of group putting on an outreach program adjacent to a school there’d be a lot of outrage, particularly from the Christian community. Not just a similar Jewish or Mormon program, but if there were a Communist Party “lunch bunch” at the park, or maybe an LGBTQAI support group, I’m sure there would be quite a bit of consternation that they were “targeting our youth at school.” Even if it wasn’t technically at the school.”

                    2. One would think that school officials could simply ban a high school club that promotes dangerous, unhealthy. and perverted sexual behaviors. But the national LGBT movement has been determined to force their “recruitment” clubs into schools, usually using threats of expensive lawsuits.

                      In recent years other school districts around the country have crafted strict regulations for all school clubs ? which disallow the secrecy, duplicity, and abhorrent practices that are specific to the “gay” clubs.

                      Schools should be vigilant in their oversight of such clubs, which are often mere conduits for adult homosexual groups seeking to spread their message directly to impressionable teenagers.

                      What the fuck would you call that if not “consternation that they [are] ‘targeting our youth at school'”?

                    3. So they passed rules to deal with the problem. Either the LGBLT clubss can comply, or they can stay out. But they’re not banned categorically.

                2. and have you tasted Sally’s mom’s cupcakes? they may be so bad that no one should be exposed to them more than twice…save the chidrenz

          1. I understand how it might be hard to imagine a group of Christians attempting to influence the public schools. Only in an alternate reality would a conservative Christian attempt to influence the nation’s schools. Imagining a group of Christians protesting school related activities is so extraordinary you’d really need to provide some examples to obtain any credibility.

            The point wasn’t to poke any particular group as being a problem. I was tossing a little sympathy toward a school administration who is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Pretty much anything they do is going to piss someone off these days. Tolerate a group of Christians and you’ve got the LGBTQAIMNOP guys after you. Don’t smack down the Republicans and you’ve got the SJW crowd on your tail.

            So I can understand how someone in their position might routinely take the most cautious route, trying to avoid appearing to endorse anything other than reading, riting and rithmatic.

            1. Here’s your original claim:

              “I’m sure that if it were some other type of group putting on an outreach program adjacent to a school there’d be a lot of outrage, particularly from the Christian community. Not just a similar Jewish or Mormon program, but if there were a Communist Party “lunch bunch” at the park, or maybe an LGBTQAI support group, I’m sure there would be quite a bit of consternation that they were “targeting our youth at school.” Even if it wasn’t technically at the school.”

              None of your links are about outreach programs adjacent to a school, they’re all about the school curriculum.

              1. Now you are just being intentionally obtuse. If you cannot imagine how it is possible that any school administrator might ever feel that they need to avoid any controversial groups having access to their students, I can’t help you.

                Side arguments about what type of rules for clubs are acceptable and the definition of exactly what type of an outreach group really is an outreach group are not germane. Although you do underscore my point. It really isn’t possible to take a stand of any sort, no matter how innocuous, without someone having a beef.

                1. “It really isn’t possible to take a stand of any sort, no matter how innocuous, without someone having a beef.”

                  OK, but I was responding to your original claim, which, again, is this:

                  “I’m sure that if it were some other type of group putting on an outreach program adjacent to a school there’d be a lot of outrage, particularly from the Christian community. Not just a similar Jewish or Mormon program, but if there were a Communist Party “lunch bunch” at the park, or maybe an LGBTQAI support group, I’m sure there would be quite a bit of consternation that they were “targeting our youth at school.” Even if it wasn’t technically at the school.”

                  1. Hmmm…you simply say there’d be consternation, not that they’d try to ban the outreach program.

                    All right, I’ll agree with that much.

                    And if you find an example of a school trying to ban a communist outreach, I’d agree even with the stronger interpretation of your claim.

                  2. So you really don’t think anyone would complain if Penn Jillette set up a tent for the United Church of Bacon at the park next to a high school in Las Vegas and served up delicious bacon-themed dishes for lunch every day while proselytizing about the non-existence of God? Nobody is gonna show up at the school board and protest if Caitlyn Jenner has a catered lunch at the park next to the Malibu Beach High School on a daily basis, so she and her Transgender cohort can explain their lifestyle to the students?

                    Nah, I doubt your judgement on this one. There’s pretty much no issue that you could couple with “feeding the students during lunch to get them to listen to your message” that isn’t going to piss someone off. Particularly not if you couple it with a religious component. In general, people don’t have a sense of humor about their kids being taught things that go against their core beliefs.

                    1. “So you really don’t think” etc.

                      I just said there’d be consternation.

                      Now you’ve done it, you made me RTFA.

                      “[Principal] Plank said the event violates school and district policy because parents are not following food safety standards, are not checking in as visitors to the school, and the event seems to be adult-organized and not initiated by students.

                      “We believe that religious or political events do not have a place in our school or on our campus, [said District Administrator Don Johnson] except when sponsored by a student group in accordance with our rules, which require prior approval.”

                      Oh, so there’s an element which wasn’t in the *Reason* summary – student religious and political meetings, during school hours, have to be student-initiated, and this was initiated by the parents.

                      Which, now that I read the actual article, makes it like the example above about the gay groups.

                      OK, I’m sorry I relied just on Reason’s summary, I should have known better.

                    2. And the school wants to treat the park as school property even if it’s only leased, so why did they say it was a park *near* the school? That confused me.

                      If this is the situation, then I’d say this is a 10th Amendment issue, not a 1st Amendment issue.

                    3. (assuming the school is impartially applying its criteria to all groups)

                    4. None of which was to say the school has a leg to stand on. I’m just sympathizing with the administrator who is stuck in an unwinnable situation.

                      Which doesn’t mean he’s absolved. He might be an anti-christian SJW activist for all I know. He’s definitely stretching definitions as far as he can to get the desired result.

                      I’m just adopting the most charitable interpretation of their actions: They’re worried about having groups from outside trying to reach their students during lunch because “it is going to cause me problems”, so they’ve made up a rational for getting rid of the outside group – regardless of whether they actually have the authority to do so. Under this interpretation of their motivation (which matches my experience with bureaucrats), the nature of the group is much less relevant than the perception of the administrator that he’s going to catch some flack for this.

                      Other likely reasons for their actions: They initially were worried about what people might say, but then when they went to talk to the parents about it they were not treated with proper respect for their authoritaih. Or maybe a couple of the parents have had a running feud with the administration and they are just screwing with each other. In my experience, these are also common motivators in school matters.

                      On the question of “can the school dictate what citizens do in a public park near the school” I don’t think there can be any debate.

    3. The funny thing though is that equivalence reveals something quite telling: none of those groups are any “danger” to the average high schooler. Whether they become stoners, or born-again Christians, or radical gay rights advocates, they’re in high school and will almost certainly be something else entirely in 4 years’ time.

    4. I agree, we should put all school administrators in a box…nail the fucker shut and drop it in the ocean…just say’n

    5. If any of your alternate scenarios actually happened, the school administration would first do their damnedest to keep parents from finding out and we’d never hear of it at all (and, in fact, if you have or have had kids in school, you know things like this happen all the time–because kids talk.

      –if they got discovered, they would insist they had the right to do this and stand in solidarity with the groups in question.

  7. “They say that the lunches violate school rules because the parents aren’t following food safety standards”

    You mean they break standards at home?! HOW DO WE EVER MANAGE TO PROGRESS WITHOUT BUREAUCRATS?

    What utter bull shit government food guides are.

    1. “What utter bull shite government food guides are.”

      What utter bullshit governments are. FTFY

  8. WE’RE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS BUT WE CAN’T ARTICULATE WHY. PLEASE STANDBY WHILE OUR LAWYERS DECIDE WHAT LAWS ARE BEING BROKEN.

  9. District Administrator Don Johnson

    Fuck this guy. I care more about what Superintendent Philip Michael Thomas has to say…

    1. Miami Vice-Principle

        1. who brings the ‘gator?

  10. “In addition, many students have conveyed to us their concern about a group offering free food to incentivize participation in a religious event on campus.”

    Bullshit.

    1. When I was in high school (01-05, fwiw), I would have said the same thing. Free food is free food. But I think a lot of pants shitting and pearl clutching has happened since then and… I’m not saying it happened, but it seems entirely plausible.

      1. Free food is free food.

        Exactly. Eat their food if you want, and belch during the proselytizing until they kick you out.

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  12. “They say that the lunches violate school rules because the parents aren’t following food safety standards and aren’t checking in as visitors. ”

    Are they requiring all park users to check in as visitors? I didn’t think so.

  13. for crying out loud, Phils Neighborhood Bar is right around the corner, just take the kiddies over there for lunch and a prayer, I’m sure Phil would appreciate the business. Either there or at the big Catholic Church on the other side of the school. Problem solved no hard feelings, done and done.

  14. OK, based on my free and frank exchanges with the heathens above in the thread, I checked the article and saw that the school seems to be adopting a perfectly constitutional and understandable policy, assuming it’s applied in a nondiscriminatory way.

    Apparently, the school rules say that students can’t have meetings on school grounds during the school day – except of student-initiated groups which have been cleared by the administration. That’s a perfectly constitutional thing to do if you’re nondiscriminatory about it.

    And it may well be the wise thing to do, given the risk that at some point the ACLU might sue them if they let parents hold Christian meetings on school grounds.

    Yes, it’s leased property, not belonging to the school itself, but I’d imagine they could *treat* it as part of school grounds.

    1. My kids’ elementary school has an adjoining public park where the students play during the school day. Most of the park consists of a couple of baseball fields inside a giant fence that also encloses the blacktop/basketball play area for the school.

      I’d assume that the school treats this all as school property during the school day, even though the ball field area is not school property and is a public park. In fact most of the schools around here seem to have a similar arrangement.

      I’d be interested to see if they would try to control what happens during the school day in this public park. I am pretty certain that the answer is “yes”. I’m also pretty certain that I have no interest in personally putting this to the test.

    2. But did they rent the pavilion from the school that leases the park? Or did they rent it from the same organization that leased the park itself to the school? So the schools problem either rests with the fact that the parks department is double-booking, or if the park is within their rights to rent space despite the already existent lease, they don’t have a real problem at all.

  15. Can’t help noticing that in all the noise about other types of groups an important datum is being ignored–the people providing the lunches are the kids parents. Why does the school have any say at all?

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