News for Youse: Religion versus free speech, let the battle commence!

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      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.


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      May 8, 2012 at 10:46am

      It's politics, not religion. Jesus would never tell anyone they were a waste. Whoever the hell Jesus was.
      You've got freedom of religion and the right to build an edifice to mouth your inanities in. Stop going around annoying the rest of us.

      13 7Rating: +6


      May 8, 2012 at 10:50am

      This is not a battle between religion and free speech. It is a battle of free speech versus people who think they know what is right about everything. Religion just happens to be the topic. While I may not agree with what is printed on anyone's shirt, they have the right to wear whatever they want. The problem is that people on the left don't understand that when they support actions like what this school board did, they are in fact just exactly like they people they rant against.

      10 7Rating: +3

      Mark Fornataro

      May 8, 2012 at 12:01pm

      My advice is that Swinimer change his name to Life is Wasted Without Jesus- and then see how much he likes it.

      7 8Rating: -1


      May 8, 2012 at 12:01pm

      Doubletalk wrote: "The problem is that people on the left don't understand that when they support actions like what this school board did, they are in fact just exactly like they people they rant against."

      Nonsense. The progressive left gave you the "rights" you think you enjoy today. Where do you think those rights came from - a conservative think tank?

      If this young man had been better raised, he would know that the message on his t-shirt would be offensive to many. He either didn't know that, or didn't care (more likely, his parents didn't care).

      Either way, I'm glad that the school is doing what his parents failed to do ... which is to teach him some manners and how to get along with others.

      You have the "right" to believe in the god of your choice, to worship that god, to congregate with others who share your beliefs, and even to OFFER to discuss your beliefs with heathens like me. But you do not have the right to stick your face in my face and insult me with a t-shirt message.

      10 9Rating: +1


      May 8, 2012 at 12:16pm

      Swinimer has the right to his own beliefs. He has the right to free speech. But with already having a history of harassing other students about THEIR religious beliefs---to which they are also entitled any they want---the shirt is an extension of said harassment.
      I can pretty much guarantee you that this would never have been brought up as an issue if he did not already have a bad rapport with his peers. If what has been said about his character by his classmates is true, he is not promoting Christ, he's promoting intolerance.

      13 7Rating: +6

      Gentleman Jack

      May 8, 2012 at 12:23pm

      "18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28)

      Thus William is clearly and legally bound and beholden (note the imperative: "go") by his Chief Lord to evangelize others, teaching them to obey everything Jesus, the Chief Justice of the world, commanded.

      This sort of speech control is exactly the same sort of thing that happened within the German education system during the Nazi regime---except they weren't so concerned with "feeling safe" as with their "war effort." Same emotional bullshit tho.

      Clearly, anyone made to feel uncomfortable by evangelism is experiencing the effects of sin and should consider why God is making him feel that way, rather than projecting the blame for his experience onto the t-shirt/guy in the t-shirt and his talking.

      9 8Rating: +1


      May 8, 2012 at 4:06pm

      With Swinimer the issue wasn't just a T-shirt. The shirt was, in fact, the last straw, so to speak. He had apparently been badgering his fellow classmates for quite some time with aggressive proselytizing despite their continual requests that he stop. Finally when he wore the shirt the students complained and that resulted in the principal's decision to tell Swinimer not to wear the shirt anymore. Of course Swinimer decided to play the martyr, and to pretend it was all about him being denied the right to wear an innocuous shirt.

      11 9Rating: +2

      Point of Order.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:06pm

      "Without Allah, life is not worth dying for".
      "Without Buddha, life gives me no meaning".
      "Without Yahweh, life is full of worry".

      " And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28)"

      Yes Sir, and as per the literal translation of the ancient Greek and Hebrew texts, not the English transliterations that are potentially and quantifiably rife with problematic translation, the word "AGE" is related to the "Great Year" which is a period of 25,920 years divided into 12 "AGES" , of which the most recent one is the age of PICSES ("PIcses, the fish, the fisherman") , 2100 years or so before that we had the AGE of ARIES (Aries, the Ram, the Rams horn used to call people to prayer) and before that the AGE of Taurus (Taurus the Bull, the Golden Calf)

      ‘Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water... follow him into the house where he entereth in.’. - Luke 22:10

      Welcome to the AGE of Aquarius.

      The AGE of Picses, for which Jesus represents the strongest figure is either in its waining years or over. Jesus fortold this in the passage above from Luke, it is not an end, it is a new beginning.
      If William is to teach, he needs to teach current..... even Jesus was aware of this.

      12 5Rating: +7


      May 8, 2012 at 5:10pm

      If i were Jesus I'd ask the world to stop making me its saviour.
      If i were Jesus I'd ask the world to be a little more braver.
      Believe in yourselves, trust in yourselves.
      Then you would be out of danger.

      9 10Rating: -1

      My few cents worth

      May 8, 2012 at 6:21pm

      The guy in question clearly, in any free thinking society, has a right to wear that T-shirt or anyother for that matter (provided it doesnt contravene reasonable obscene publication laws). However he does not have the right to preach to fellow students or behave in a verbally aggressive way towards them. If they want him to preach to them - fine....if he brings up his views in a suitable forum such as a debate - fine...if he continues to espouse his views particularly after being told he's not welcome then he should be simply deported to a suitable location in the US Bible Belt.....

      11 7Rating: +4