What’s in a T-shirt? That’s the battle being fought at Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia, right now after officials suspended 19-year-old William Swinimer. Swinimer was suspended for five days after the principal repeatedly requested that the student stop wearing a T-shirt with the words “Life is wasted without Jesus” to school. Swinimer returned on Monday (May 7) wearing the same T-shirt only to have his father, John, remove him from class after the student was invited to take part in a discussion of freedom of expression and religious tolerance.
Now, we have a couple of questions, like, is he washing this oft-worn T-shirt or does he have a bunch of duplicates at home? Why is a 19-year-old still in high school? And if your 19-year-old is still in high school, do you maybe think you should be worrying about why that is instead of his sartorial choices?
But the real debate, of course, is about religious tolerance and freedom. Swinimer believes he’s being persecuted for his Christian beliefs, while Swinimer’s peers maintain that he was often proselytizing to them, despite frequent requests to stop. “It started with him preaching his religion to kids and then telling them to go to hell,” student council vice-president Katelyn Hiltz told the CBC. “A lot of kids don’t want to deal with this anymore.”
We don’t know which side of this debate we come down on. On one hand, you have the issue of freedom of speech, and we are all for that. (How else would we get our asinine opinions out there?) On the other, we’re tired of listening to Christians complaining about constantly being persecuted. White Christian dudes are kind of the ones in charge most everywhere in the world, and it’s been like that for centuries. (Helllllooooo, Pope!)
We are reminded of a quote from the esteemed Jon Stewart: “You’ve confused the war on your religion with not always getting everything you want. It’s called being part of society.” So there’s that.
What we do know is Taiwanese animation for the win.
We’re curious to see how Swinimer would respond to Nebraska’s Tyler Gold, who has legally changed his name to Tyrannosaurus Rex Joseph Gold. Would that be considered harassment by those who do not subscribe to the theory of evolution (it’s just a theory after all, not based on countless years of scholarship and the fact that we routinely dig dinosaurs out of the ground)? If a stupid yellow T-shirt can get accused of harassment, then this name better get a stern talking to as well.
Meanwhile, a Roanoke, Virginia, court is hearing a case about whether a school has the right to post the Ten Commandments. The case came about last year when an anonymous student at Narrows High School complained about a hallway display of the Commandments, claiming it violated the separation of church and state. The Attorneys for Liberty Counsel and the American Civil Liberties Union are currently duking it out in court, with the former arguing “It’s just a little history, yo!” and the latter saying, “Um, this is why we have a little thing called the Constitution.”
Anyone else feel that? I think we’ve entered a time portal and travelled back to 1965. Next thing you know, men will be claiming that women shouldn’t have the right to vote...
OH WAIT, THIS GUY THINKS THAT! If you’ve got 12 minutes today and a desire to get seriously angry, watch this video of Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson from March 2012, wherein he claims that the real problems with America stem from the fact that they let women vote.
We give up.
Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter, where she’ll be weeping for the future of humanity.