Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, New York. It’s titled: Amsterdam High graduate still upset about censored speech.
This thing isn’t actually a letter. It’s a column about the Amsterdam High School salutatorian (who presumably ranks second in the graduation class), but we’ll treat this as if it were her letter. We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so although the graduate is named and there’s a big picture of her at the head of the column, we’ll use only her first name, which is Rebekah. Here are a few excerpts from the column, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis:
[W]hen Amsterdam High School salutatorian [Rebekah] turned in her remarks to school officials, red flags were quickly raised. [Rebekah], a young woman who has strong Christian beliefs, included a verse from the Bible and some strong religious rhetoric in her original speech that caught the eye of the school’s principal, David Ziskin.
Ah, the plot thickens. Then we’re told:
The school reviews all graduation speeches before allowing students to read them, and [Rebekah] said officials forced her to remove parts of her speech in which she shared personal religious messages with both her fellow students and the audience at graduation. “Instead of saying ‘Put your trust in God,’ they wanted me to say something like ‘I put my trust in God,’” she said.
Outrageous censorship! Let’s read on:
The 18-year old Amsterdam resident began her speech, which is posted on YouTube, by saying: “This is not my original speech … because it contained a personal message to each individual here of what God can do in your own life.” She was disappointed she had to remove those parts of her speech. “I worked really hard to become the salutatorian and to reach that stage,” she said.
We know what you’re thinking: What does this have to do with creationism? Be patient, as we continue:
After looking at the speech, Ziskin decided to turn it over to Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo … . Perillo and school district attorneys poured over the language in the speech extensively — Perillo said they wanted to make sure the speech could not be considered proselytizing and in no way favored one religion over another. “It is the district’s responsibility to make sure a speech at graduation does not favor one religion,” Perillo said. He concluded the Bible verse and a few other parts of the speech were indeed proselytizing and told [Rebekah] to take them out.
This is secularism run wild! Here’s what Rebekah thinks:
“The fact that parts of my speech were removed shows the direction our country is headed in,” she said. “We are losing the rights to voice our opinions, and our rights are diminishing every day. People should be able to decide whether they want to believe in what I am saying or not.”
Yeah! Why not let the kid preach? But that’s not all she has to say:
She equated the school district’s decision to remove parts of her speech to the its mandatory curriculum, which, she said, forced her to sit in science classes where the theory of evolution was taught and the idea that Adam and Eve were the first humans to walk the Earth was refuted.
“I had to sit through those classes, even though I didn’t want to,” she said. “After taking the classes, I had to make up my mind and decide what to believe in.”
Oh, how horrible! She had to endure classes that taught blasphemy, but when it was her turn, she couldn’t give a sermon at her graduation. Then we’re told that Rebekah plans to go to nursing school. The column ends with one more quote from her:
“I am really excited to begin the next phase of my life and to continue to speak out for what I believe in,” [Rebekah] said.
Your Curmudgeon hopes that Rebekah recovers from the nightmare of her education, and that she has a happy life as a creationist nurse.
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