Student teaching is on-going. Yesterday, when third block, which has lunch right in the middle of class making for some rowdy students, came back from lunch many of the students had little orange New Testaments. I asked one of the kids why they had them. He said "Some old guy was handing them out." He didn't know any more than that. Another kid said "I think he's from some church." Probably. Oh yeah, did I mention I teach in a public high school? Did I mention I teach in rural NC? Yes, I did in a previous post about prayer before teacher meetings the first week of school. So, I was feeling a bit odd seeing all the students coming in with half-Bibles, when I heard a student gasp, "You don't believe in Jesus?" The girl he was talking to responded, "I just said I'm not Christian. What more do you want?" When they saw I was watching and listening to them they stopped their conversation and got to work.
Theological discussions are great. They are fine for high school students to have... even at school! However, these conversations were spurred on by something that should NEVER have happened. Another table was discussing something about Judaism. When one student saw I was watching them he asked me if I was Jewish and proceeded to say that he has nothing against Jews, he just thinks it's funny how certain cartoon shows make fun of them. I explained that it's usually because the creators ARE Jewish. This is the same student who last week made a comment to the Indian kid about getting to White Castle. Obviously, he misses the point of all these racial stereotypes in comedies. Just like the Archie Bunker question: Did children who saw their parents laugh at how ridiculously ignorant and prejudice Archie was think that what Archie was saying was true and funny or did they realize their Archie was showing how wrong those views really were/are?
Anyway, back to the Bible thing. Just for reference, I went to a Catholic high school. I carried a Bible with me pretty much every day because it was a required text book for religion class. I see nothing wrong with using the Bible as a text, even in public school as long as other religions are given the same attention. For instance, a world religions class would be wonderful for public school... especially here. The students are so sheltered. There is so much racism and bigotry in this town.
Today when third block came back from lunch they were discussing whether or not someone was gay. I think I know who they were talking about and I believe he is probably gay. However, a friend was "defending" him saying he had a girl friend. The others didn't buy it and said it was just a cover up. Then one country boy proceeded to talk about how gay the kid had been to him and how his dad would beat him up if he got up in his face and was gay. That was about all I could take. At that point I told the kid that someone would go to jail for doing that. He disagreed. I explained how assaulting someone because of their sexual orientation is a hate crime and hate crime offenses are often given more punishment than other types of assault. He wanted to know how the judge would be able to prove it was a hate crime. I told him peole are subpoenaed and have to testify about the person and what they heard, just like people in this room have heard this conversation. He used the word faggot in conversation about 10 times today. I hate that word. Kids used it when I was in school, too.
After school I went to Wal-Mart. I went down the shaving aisle to get aftershave for W. There was a dad and his middle school aged son looking at the men's body washes. They were smelling them. The kid wanted to get one his dad didn't want him to get. Finally the dad told him it smelled gay. I think the kid still got it. More country folk. I have prejudice against rednecks and country people. I admit it. This is where I can say, yeah I'm an elitist. I don't want to associate with intolerant, ignorant people. These are the people who believe the propaganda and think that Obama is lying when he says he never was nor is a Muslim. But really, like it matters! So many Americans are prejudiced against Islam. Even my neighbor told me the other day that the Qur'an tells Muslims to kill anyone who isn't a Muslim. Sometimes when people say stupid shit like that I just say "hmm." But I didn't let that slide. I told her it does not and that Islam is a very peaceful religion and that the terrorists were extremists and not true Muslims because Muslims do not hurt innocent people and certainly not women and children. She didn't believe me either. But, again, this goes back to my Catholic education where I had an actual World Religions class and had Muslim classmates who gave us lots of info.
Sigh. W. Eugene Smith: "The only thing to be intolerant of is intolerance itself." It makes me feel justified in feeling the way I do.