Friday, December 7, 2018

A teacher victimized by religious teachings

French teacher Peter Vlaming believed that he had a religious duty to be obnoxious towards a trans boy.
Photo via West Point HS, West Point, VA
Thursday evening Tony Perkins was whining about a teacher who was suspended for refusing to use gender-correct pronouns in regards to a transgender boy in his class. Perkins' idiotic obtuseness is infuriating. Perkins is cunning and even determined but he is not very intelligent. LifeSiteNews joined in but showed some restraint in contrast to Perkins' inflammatory language.

That teacher has now been terminated. I expect outrage from both outlets.

The terminated employee is 47-year-old Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at West Point High School in Virginia. By all accounts, Vlaming was an effective and well-liked part of the faculty of this 300 student school about 38 miles east of Richmond. Vlaming enjoyed the respect of students and his colleagues.

Vlaming decided to be a martyr for the faith. Late Thursday the school board obliged, firing Vlaming with a vote of 5-0 for disobeying school district policies. I actually feel bad for the guy. He got what he deserved but the notion that his flavor of Christianity requires him to create a toxic learning environment is preposterous. It makes no sense whatsoever.

In addition, given the deviation of religious belief from medical science, one should be capable of more and better critical thinking when it comes to the treatment of children. There are no volunteers in the transgender orbit. No kid woke up and said to themselves that today is the day to be gender diverse. Why inflict further harm due to religious belief? Religious belief, or faith, is not substantiated by evidence.

Vlaming has a lawyer, Shawn A. Voyles, who seems to be proficient in spite of the fact that he is a graduate of Regent University's law school. I expect that one of Alliance Defending Freedom's mullahs is already in contact. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Even as a public employee, Voyles said, Vlaming has constitutional rights of his own.

“One of those rights that is not curtailed is to be free from being compelled to speak something that violates your conscience,” Voyles said.
I do not think that he is correct. The compelled speech doctrine is derived from First Amendment freedom of speech. In 2006, The Supreme Court ruled in Garcetti v. Ceballos that government employees do not have First Amendment protections unless the speech is as a private citizen.

Clearly Mr. Vlaming's speech involves the routine performance of his duties. At the core of the ruling is the notion that (as in the private sector) an employer has the right to provide for good order in the workplace. The majority in Garcetti were the conservative judges with Kennedy as the swing vote in a 5-4 ruling.

Could the Supreme Court, now with Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, carve out a religious exemption? Could they find that the school board was hostile to religion? Who knows?

The legal arguments are less important than the effects of bad judgment. Who suffers more harm? Vlaming if he complies with the policy or the student if he is the recipient  of religious opprobrium? In fact, what harm would Vlaming suffer? Damnation? Does he forfeit his ticket to the afterlife for being kind and considerate?

As for Tony Perkins' abject stupidity:
But in this case, it's more than Vlaming's beliefs. It's science. It's human history and tradition since the dawn of time. And ignoring that isn't just harmful -- it's child abuse. That's why the American College of Pediatricians, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association, representing over 30,000 health professionals across the nation, sent a letter to the Trump administration,
No Mr. Perkins. No. It is not science. It is religious belief which is highlighted by the fact that the December 4 letter you are applauding is from religious groups rather than recognized professional associations. The medical science is quite clear with respect to gender. It is a separate construct from natal sex.

Furthermore, in the mid 19th century one could claim that slavery was “human history and tradition since the dawn of time.” Tradition is rarely a persuasive argument.

Child abuse, Mr. Perkins, is substituting superstition for medical science, particularly when the evidence on which science is based is clear and compelling. With the exception of a few noisy religious crackpots at the fringes of medicine, the science regarding gender has virtually universal acceptance.

I find this to be a profoundly stupid controversy. It is reminiscent of Young Earth Creationists (like Mat Staver) pitting themselves against accomplished scientists and tools like radiocarbon dating.

By all means, let's go back to the Bronze Age when most children did not survive past the age of five and many women died giving birth. A minor cut could result in an infection and then death due to septicemia. Pain relievers, vaccines and antibiotics were nonexistent. It would take a couple thousand years for x-rays. A broken leg created a limp for life. By all means, let the texts of that age dictate our understanding of science today. It makes perfect sense.

The next time that Tony Perkins has an ailment he should consult with a Baptist minister and then submit to the “cures” known to Moses or then Jesus. I hear that bleeding is quite effective for the flu.

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