Watch it, PLANS!

 

Federal trials about schools, religion, and the U.S. Constitution that PLANS ought to be watching. What can and what cannot be legally taught in public schools without violating the law etc. Kathy's complaint. Censorship and banned books in the U.S. Censorship in Norway and Jens Bjørneboe's obscenity trial.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:23:42 -0500

There's a federal trial ongoing now in my county, dealing with a nearby school district which is being charged as illegally promoting religion. I suspect that when the decision comes down, it may have some precedential value for the PLANS lawsuit, though I'm sure it will be distinguishable in a number of ways. Here's this morning's report on the trial. I'm sure you will all find it intriguing:

---------------------------------------------

Teachers deny their lessons were religious

By LANNING TALIAFERRO
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Journal News. All rights reserved.
Publication date: 2/25/1999

WHITE PLAINS -- A teacher, a psychic and a Sikh insisted in federal court yesterday that they did not promote religion in Bedford public schools.

Teacher Maria Pappace testified she started a seven-week study of Mexico four years ago by reading a legend about the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, with her Pound Ridge fifth-graders. But, she said, the class did not discuss the ancient religion.

"The goal was to point out that a legend is not factual," she said, testifying for the defense.

Her view of what went on in her classroom differed with that of three Roman Catholic families who accuse district schools of illegally promoting non-Christian religions and the occult. The Altmans, DiNozzis and DiBaris want U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant to make the district stop.

Pappace dismissed as "ridiculous" their claims that a quetzal displayed in a hall was an image of the devil. The bird was displayed with a pinata, a topographical map of Mexico and a pair of maracas, all projects by students, she said.

Neither the bird nor the legend offended her Roman Catholic beliefs, Pappace told the court.

The plaintiffs' attorney, James Bendell, called yoga instructor Heia Akal Singh Khalsa to describe lessons he led last year at Fox Lane High School.

Clad in a white cotton turban, robe and vest and white Reeboks, Khalsa testified that he only led exercises and did not discuss his work as a numerologist and spiritual guide.

Pressed by Bendell about the origin of yoga as a Hindu philosophy, Khalsa explained he was a Sikh minister and that secular organizations such as fitness centers offer yoga classes for fitness and relaxation.

The psychic also called by Bendell testified that she, too, did not discuss spiritual aspects of her work during a 1996 visit to Pound Ridge school.

Nancy Weber said her work was designed to enhance students' creativity, learning and memory. Conceding she could not recall exactly what she did at the school, Weber said she probably had children close one eye and draw with their nondominant hands to exercise their brains in a new way.

The plaintiffs say her activities were an inappropriate psychological experiment.

Weber's work as a registered nurse, psychic detective, spiritual healer, telepath and minister in the LifeSpirit Congregational Church intrigued the judge.

"Can a psychic tell when this case will finish?" Brieant asked as she stepped down. Weber just smiled. The trial resumes Monday.

----------------------------------------

If you want to keep track as the local newspaper reports the progress of the trial, the URL is http://www.nyjournalnews.com/news. [site appears neglected]

FYI, a couple of the things complained of by the plaintiffs, which were reported in yesterday's news, were the D.A.R.E. program and the "Magic the Gathering" card game. Apparently, the plaintiffs objected to D.A.R.E. (a national anti-drug and anti-alcohol program) is being offensive because they wanted to reserve for themselves how to discuss these matters with their children. They objected to the refusal of the school to bar the playing of the "Magic the Gathering" card game by other students, because it allegedly brought satanic influences into the school.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: Re: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 10:38:23 -0500

I found the preceding day's story in the archive of the local Gannett paper. I couldn't find any other reporting on the case. For the sake of completion and the interest of those following this thread, here it is. I don't remember where I read about the D.A.R.E. complaint; maybe one of the New York City papers.

-------------
Student liked game that prompted suit against schools

By BRUCE GOLDING
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Journal News. All rights reserved.
Publication date: 2/24/1999

WHITE PLAINS --A student whose family claims the Bedford Central School District illegally promotes non-Christian religions and Satanism testified yesterday that he had enjoyed playing the controversial card game at the heart of the case.

The schools superintendent also said the game was no longer being played inside the district's schools, mainly because students were no longer interested in it.

Russell Altman, 14, said he played Magic: The Gathering for several months as part of a once-a-week school club when he was in fifth grade at Pound Ridge Elementary School three years ago.

The teen -- who now attends parochial school -- said he initially had his parents' permission to play the fantasy-based strategy game, then stopped when they told him to do so.

Under cross-examination by the schools' lawyer, Altman admitted that he thought the game was "fun" when he played it. He also said that he grew bored of it after a while, and that was also a reason he stopped playing.

Altman's family is among three Roman Catholic families suing in federal court to block the school from allowing Magic within its walls, on grounds that the game amounts to dabbling in devil-worship.

Some cards used in the game feature lurid images of demons and occult practices, including human sacrifice, and the lawsuit -- the subject of a nonjury trial that began Monday -- grew out of a 1995 controversy over Magic in the Bedford schools.

The plaintiffs also allege that various school programs and activities -- including annual Earth Day ceremonies and lessons about Aztec and Hindu gods -- amount to the illegal promotion of New Age spirituality and non-Christian religions.

Schools Superintendent Bruce Dennis testified yesterday that the district's policy was to teach about religion, but not to actually teach it, and to maintain a "balance" in the display of holiday decorations.

Dennis also said the Magic game was no longer being played in the schools because a parent who had voluntarily supervised one club quit to take a paying job, and a teacher who supervised another had retired.

But Dennis -- who briefly imposed a moratorium on the game during the earlier controversy -- said there was no policy preventing resumption of the game should students seek to establish new clubs.

The trial, before U.S. District Judge Charles L. Brieant, was scheduled to continue this morning with testimony from a psychic who led students in "right brain" exercises objected to by the plaintiffs.
------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 12:24:38 -0500

"Tolz, Robert" wrote:

I found the preceding day's story in the archive of the local Gannett paper. I couldn't find any other reporting on the case.

I believe I posted the AP story on this when it came over the wire. Must be below radar at this point.

Seems like holding any personal convictions as a teacher is being called into question. Maybe the future is in developing intelligent educational agents to piece together a curriculum based on parent preferences. (These agents already exits for comparative shopping, and the latest Wired has an article on the probably evolution of the semi sentient agent in the economy [they will set out with a set of preferences to say, negotiate all of Dan's wiring needs from various vendors with their own set of bargaining bots.])

I have a couple of bots filtering newsfeeds for me. Anyone read Karl Capek's "War With the Newts"? (grin)

e

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Debra Snell
Subject: Re: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 11:17:13 -0800

Thanks for sharing the article. Sounds like something PLANS should be watching.

Best,

Deby

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Dan Dugan
Subject: RE: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 11:35:54 -0800

[This is the first article in the series, Feb. 23. -dD-]

Students describe non-Christian school practice

By BRUCE GOLDING
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Journal News. All rights reserved. Publication date:
2/23/1999

WHITE PLAINS --Lessons about Aztec and Hindu gods, annual Earth Day ceremonies and a card game with demonic references were among the schoolhouse activities six students described yesterday at the start of a federal trial over education policies in the Bedford Central School District.

Steven DiNozzi, 13, testified that his religious beliefs were offended when a bird fashioned from a milk carton and tissue paper -- representing the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl -- was hung inside his former classroom at the Pound Ridge Elementary School.

"I knew it was wrong because another god is against the commandments," said the teen, who now attends a private religious school.

DiNozzi's family is one of three Roman Catholic families suing the school district, saying it promoted non-Christian religions, New Age spirituality and satanism under the guise of "multiculturalism" and an "enriched curriculum."

"We seek, quite simply, an injunction prohibiting further violations of the First Amendment by this out-of-control school district and its personnel," plaintiffs' lawyer James Bendell said in his opening statement yesterday.

Bendell also said the case offered an opportunity to end what he called a double standard allowing teachers to "smuggle in" lessons about Eastern and other religions while not permitting lessons about Christianity.

Defense lawyer Warren Richmond said the plaintiffs' allegations "mischaracterized, and in some instances wildly misrepresented, the programs and activities they challenge."

Richmond also said the courses under attack, including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program and a peer-counseling program, were "standard educational fare replicated throughout the United States."

"What distinguishes the Bedford school district is not satanic activities but rather the excellence of its students, curriculum and faculty," Richmond said in his opening.

The nonjury trial before U.S. District Judge Charles L. Brieant grew out of a 1995 controversy over a fantasy-based card game called Magic: The Gathering, which was formerly played during before- and after-school clubs in the district.

Some game cards feature lurid images depicting demons and occult rituals, including human sacrifice.

Yesterday, several student witnesses said they found cards for the game inside their classroom cubbyholes one St. Valentine's Day, but none played the game because of its satanic overtones.

"The cards were, like, really scary, and it's against my religion," eighth-grader Tiana "Niki" DiBari testified.

After seeing the cards, DiBari's grandmother and legal guardian, Mary Ann DiBari, and DiNozzi's mother, Cecile DiNozzi, both objected to Magic being played in the schools, prompting a 30-day moratorium imposed by the schools superintendent.

Joseph DiNozzi, Steven's twin brother, testified that the action prompted an angry backlash from some of the game's fans, who he said taunted him by waving game cards in his face and saying, "Magic." He also said he was punched in the stomach.

During cross-examination, Richmond questioned several students about the amount of time they spent preparing for their testimony and about how they were able to recall specific details from the classes being questioned, some of which took place six years ago.

One witness, 15-year-old Krystal DiBari -- who testified that her fourth-grade class was told to make clay images of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha -- blushed as she was unable to recall what books she read in English class the same year.

Brieant, who has openly questioned whether the case belongs in federal court, urged lawyers on both sides to speed up the trial several times. At one point, he addressed 17-year-old John DiNozzi's complaints about an Earth Day ceremony at Fox Lane High School.

"Senior citizens told them: Dust thou art and dust shall you return," Brieant said. "Shocking, isn't it?"

Testimony was scheduled to continue this morning.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: RE: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 21:03:08 +0100

My fellow subscribers,

I have been rather curious about Dan Dugan's religious cosmology. Now I understand that he may be an orthodox Christian, and that one of his major objestions to anthroposophy is the pagan elements of Nordic myths and the idea of the sun god. For this reason, he is citing the plights of devout Roman Catholics against Aztec and Hindu teachings, that have become intriguingly intermingled with charges of Satanism. Maybe anthroposophists too are eating babies after all?

Or perhaps it all has to do with the fact that Hindu lore lends support to the Theosophical version of evolution, so the Hindus must be Nazis. The Aryans, after all, include the populations of Iran and parts of India, so you never know in which schools the swastica-packing gurus are hiding out these days.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 19:07:25 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Tarjei Straume [mailto:tastraum@online.no]

I have been rather curious about Dan Dugan's religious cosmology. Now I understand that he may be an orthodox Christian, and that one of his major objestions to anthroposophy is the pagan elements of Nordic myths and the idea of the sun god. For this reason, he is citing the plights of devout Roman Catholics against Aztec and Hindu teachings, that have become intriguingly intermingled with charges of Satanism.

Cut Dan a bit of slack here, Tarjei. All he was doing was filling in part of the series of news stories that I had already started posting to the list. I don't think his intentions in posting the message you were referring to were anything other than to help make an interesting record more complete.

Bob

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: RE: Watch it, PLANS!
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 15:33:08 +0100

I wrote:

I have been rather curious about Dan Dugan's religious cosmology. Now I understand that he may be an orthodox Christian, and hat one of his major objections to anthroposophy is the pagan elements of Nordic myths and the idea of the sun god. For this reason, he is citing the plights of devout Roman Catholics against Aztec and Hindu teachings, that have become intriguingly intermingled with charges of Satanism.

Bob Tolz wrote:

Cut Dan a bit of slack here, Tarjei. All he was doing was filling in part of the series of news stories that I had already started posting to the list. I don't think his intentions in posting the message you were referring to were anything other than to help make an interesting record more complete.

Point well taken, Bob. I wanted to attract attention to the power of associations, which, by the way, is a technique also used by practitoners of mind control. Secondly, I am sincerely curious about Dan's religious philosophy and cosmology, and his interpretation of Charles Darwin.

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Dan Dugan
Subject: RE: Watch it, PLANS! (Bedford 3/3/99)
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 00:43:23 -0800

5 Bedford teens deny Satan worship

By LANNING TALIAFERRO
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Journal News. All rights reserved. Publication date:
3/3/1999

WHITE PLAINS -- Five Bedford teen-agers testifying in federal court yesterday disputed former classmates' charges that elementary school teachers violated their religious rights.

Their testimony supported that of a trio of Pound Ridge Elementary School teachers whose programs are under attack from three Roman Catholic families who say the Bedford school district illegally promotes non-Christian religions, New Age spirituality and the occult. The families have sued to stop the practices.

The week-old nonjury trial should end tomorrow, said U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant.

Students and teachers testifying on behalf of the school district acknowledged that they studied the Hindu elephant god, Ganesha, while learning about India's culture and geography in fourth grade. But they agreed that no one had been told to build shrines, bring food offerings, pray to or make clay images of Ganesha as the plaintiffs charge.

"We were told it was something that brought good luck and was something that Indians believed," said Julia Trotta, 16.

Teacher Jacqueline Reizes said she was following New York's social-studies curriculum when she read her pupils a legend about Ganesha and then had them make construction paper pictures of its head.

"I don't think my children making a picture of Ganesha was a religious experience for them," she said.

Pressed by the family's lawyer, James Bendell, Reizes conceded she would consider a picture of Jesus made for a class project a religious image.

Melissa Landau, 16, said her fourth-grade class did three art projects while studying India: the Ganesha head, a geometric design made from beans and a homemade version of an Indian board game. Landau testified that Reizes had not told students to display or worship Ganesha at home, as alleged by the Altman, DiNozzi and DiBari children.

Defense attorneys Neil Block and Warren Richmond entered Landau's art work into evidence.

A Jesuit priest called by the plaintiffs explained why Catholics would be offended by the Ganesha project.

"This is something that goes against the Second Commandment," said the Rev. Mitchell Pacwa, a University of Dallas professor. "The problem would be that we may not make images of other gods."

He told Brieant pictures fall under the Bible's prohibition against "graven images" because they can be meant as a focus for worship.

"I'm sure pictures of a crucifixion hanging in a classroom would be offensive to some people," he said.

Pacwa said spiritual elements could be improperly introduced even if teachers were not instructing students about religion. He cited the Sikh minister who led yoga stretching and breathing exercises in physical education classes at Fox Lane High School last year as an example. Yogis, he testified, say the primary purpose of yoga is to "achieve oneness with the universe."

"You're certainly introducing the children to a religious practice," Pacwa said.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Kathy
Subject: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 18:40:00 -0800

Robert Tolz posted:

There's a federal trial ongoing now in my county, dealing with a nearby school district which is being charged as illegally promoting religion. I suspect that when the decision comes down, it may have some precedential value for the PLANS lawsuit, though I'm sure it will be distinguishable in a number of ways. Here's this morning's report on the trial. I'm sure you will all find it intriguing:

The newspaper article you posted describes a case in which children are allegedly being taught religious beliefs or led in religious practices (yoga) that are offensive to a particular group of families. It also involves the use of Magic Cards on campus and presentation of the D.A.R.E. program.

These allegations are not analogous to the PLANS litigation (except perhaps, if one stretches the connection, the Yoga exercises). PLANS alleges that school funds are being paid to a sectarian organization (Rudolf Steiner College) and this is a direct violation of the California State Consititution. The case also alleges that the Waldorf method, as taught in the 2 public schools being sued, is based on religious beliefs and these beliefs guide the pedagogy. It also alleges that teachers are illegally being required to take Waldorf teacher training at a sectarian institution.

These types of allegations are not part of the case you quoted.

Kathy

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Robert Flannery
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 04:55:47 -0500

Kathy Sutphen posts:

These allegations are not analogous to the PLANS litigation (except perhaps, if one stretches the connection, the Yoga exercises). PLANS alleges that school funds are being paid to a sectarian organization (Rudolf Steiner College) and this is a direct violation of the California State Consititution. The case also alleges that the Waldorf method, as taught in the 2 public schools being sued, is based on religious beliefs and these beliefs guide the pedagogy. It also alleges that teachers are illegally being required to take Waldorf teacher training at a sectarian institution.

Can any of the PLANS board members on the list comment on the current status of your federal lawsuit, beyond the complaint itself?

Robert Flannery
New York

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 09:45:56 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathy

The newspaper article you posted describes a case in which children are allegedly being taught religious beliefs or led in religious practices (yoga) that are offensive to a particular group of families. It also involves the use of Magic Cards on campus and presentation of the D.A.R.E. program.

These allegations are not analogous to the PLANS litigation (except perhaps, if one stretches the connection, the Yoga exercises). PLANS alleges that school funds are being paid to a sectarian organization (Rudolf Steiner College) and this is a direct violation of the California State Consititution. The case also alleges that the Waldorf method, as taught in the 2 public schools being sued, is based on religious beliefs and these beliefs guide the pedagogy. It also alleges that teachers are illegally being required to take Waldorf teacher training at a sectarian institution.

These types of allegations are not part of the case you quoted.

As I believe I mentioned, the facts are certainly quite distinguishable. However, I will follow the case with interest nevertheless.

I'm looking forward to what the judge might say about the exercises taught by the yoga person and the psychic. If, as I suspect, he rules that what they teach arguably has a non-sectarian value, then the fact that the teaching is based upon some religious belief probably does not make it an unlawful religious intrusion. This is something that the judge could rule in the PLANS case as well, even if he were to make a finding that anthroposophy is a religion. Thus, he could find in favor of the school district without having to inquire about the religious foundation of the methods. Would you prevent a school sports program from teaching martial arts simply because they stem from a religious foundation?

I have more difficulty with the requirement that individuals have to take training at a "sectarian" institution. To analyze the issue, let's assume that the training is at a Catholic seminary as opposed to a Steiner college, so that we dispose of the quarrel, in your favor, over whether or not the teaching institution is sectarian or non-sectarian. Again, I think a judge could quite easily find that so long as the training is in methods of pedagogy, there is no lawful intrusion of religion. If the training involves giving background in the spiritual foundation of the pedagogy, then I think it would come down to whether the judge determines, as a factual matter, that it consists of unlawful indoctrination or something which is more on the order of FYI. If the trainee is not required to "believe" in Steiner and anthroposophy, it would seem more like FYI to me.

I'm sure you wouldn't want to prevent a public school from teaching a course in comparative religions. Such a course does not require the student to believe. Let's say that after the pre-requisite survey course in comparative religions, the public school then offers an elective advance class where the student can make an in-depth study of either Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Zoroastrianism or Pagan Religions. I doubt that you would consider that to be offensive either.

I think the question comes down to whether or not the public school is being used for religious indoctrination of either the students or the teachers. The presentation of facts in the PLANS case is likely to be crucial to the judge's determination.

Bob

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 10:40:54 -0500

I agree with Bob's summary observation and opinion.

The fact of the matter is WE does not indoctrinate the students, empirically speaking. Of what I've read from Steiner's spiritual writings (which ironically comes exclusively from this list), I believe almost nothing.

I do think his (holistic) curriculum is superior for the individual, for the thinker, for the artist and for the activist, no matter what your belief system (unless you are a fascist).

e

"Tolz, Robert" wrote:

I think the question comes down to whether or not the public school is being used for religious indoctrination of either the students or the teachers. The presentation of facts in the PLANS case is likely to be crucial to the judge's determination.

Bob

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: RE: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 10:32:45 -0700

On 26 Feb 99, at 9:45, Tolz, Robert wrote:

If the training involves giving background in the spiritual foundation of the pedagogy, then I think it would come down to whether the judge determines, as a factual matter, that it consists of unlawful indoctrination or something which is more on the order of FYI. If the trainee is not required to "believe" in Steiner and anthroposophy, it would seem more like FYI to me.

Yes. One indication of whether it is indoctrination or merely background is the response to those who question the beliefs. If questioning the existence of the astral body in class results in a good discussion of what "astral body" means, with the question being seen as a valuable topic for discussion, that would tend to show that it's background.

But if questioning the existence of the astral body is met with disapproval, anger, or an attempt by the teacher to convince the student that it does, indeed, exist, that would tend to show indoctrination.

From Kathy's account of her treatment, I suspect the latter. But I don't know what other witnesses would say.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 12:27:18 -0500

Steve Premo wrote:

On 26 Feb 99, at 9:45, Tolz, Robert wrote:

If the training involves giving background in the spiritual foundation of the pedagogy, then I think it would come down to whether the judge determines, as a factual matter, that it consists of unlawful indoctrination or something which is more on the order of FYI. If the trainee is not required to "believe" in Steiner and anthroposophy, it would seem more like FYI to me.

Yes. One indication of whether it is indoctrination or merely background is the response to those who question the beliefs. If questioning the existence of the astral body in class results in a good discussion of what "astral body" means, with the question being seen as a valuable topic for discussion, that would tend to show that it's background.

But if questioning the existence of the astral body is met with disapproval, anger, or an attempt by the teacher to convince the student that it does, indeed, exist, that would tend to show indoctrination.

From Kathy's account of her treatment, I suspect the latter. But I don't know what other witnesses would say.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

I don't know if it much matters to people on this list, but the court case involves classroom behavior for students, not teachers.

The example you give, Steve, does not apply since WE does not teach such things to students.

With regard to Kathy, I know the principals of her rancor personally, and would testify as to _their_ character.

e

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 15:17:10 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Premo [mailto:premo@cruzio.com]

Yes. One indication of whether it is indoctrination or merely background is the response to those who question the beliefs. If questioning the existence of the astral body in class results in a good discussion of what "astral body" means, with the question being seen as a valuable topic for discussion, that would tend to show that it's background.

But if questioning the existence of the astral body is met with disapproval, anger, or an attempt by the teacher to convince the student that it does, indeed, exist, that would tend to show indoctrination.

I tend to agree with you that an attempt to convince would tend to show indoctrination. But I think PLANS would have to show a consistent pattern rather than a single, or even several, isolated cases where a teacher shows disapproval or anger.

The reason for that is you have to separate the training as a whole from what might simply be a trainer who is simply lacking in communication or social skills or who does not have a clear head about backing off from any attempt to convince a student about the truth of Steiner's cosmology.

What might be interesting to see is whether the Steiner College has any written materials which tell its trainers what approach they need to take with the trainees. Do the trainers themselves get any training in this context?

From Kathy's account of her treatment, I suspect the latter. But I don't know what other witnesses would say.

I have no reason to doubt Kathy's account of what she experienced. As you mention, one wonders what other witnesses will say.

A number of participants on this list, myself included, have questioned (nay -- criticized) the habit of some Waldorf Critics to generalize from the specific to the general. The fact that Kathy had a particular experience does not necessarily mean that her experience is replicated across the board.

Bob

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 22:11:34 +0100

Ezra Beeman wrote:

I don't know if it much matters to people on this list, but the court case involves classroom behavior for students, not teachers. The example you give, Steve, does not apply since WE does not teach such things to students.

This is a critics' technique that tends to repeat itself once in a while: Instead of rational argument, they use the power of subtle association. For example, when Dan Dugan said that all anthroposophical doctors should have their medical licences revoked because they were all guilty of quackery, someone posted a report about religious sects denying necessary medical care to children in favor of prayer. Now we're getting reports about white-robed teachers using Tarot, Yogic mantras, and crystal balls or whatever. Soon they'll have classes in channeling extra-terrestials and automatic writing.

It's an appeal, unconscious perhaps, to the power of association: Waldorf schools are run by anthropops, anthropops are weirdos, and all weirdos are alike. Eastern religions are mumbo-jumbo quackeries infecting education and medicine all over the place, and anthropops have the virus, but they're hiding it with sneaky and dishonest and conniving trickery, trying to fool y'all. Lock'em up and throw away the key. They're hungry for your kids.

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Kathy
Subject: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 20:56:52 -0800

Robert Tolz posted:

Would you prevent a school sports program from teaching martial arts simply because they stem from a religious foundation?

I would if public school funds were going to a sectarian organization in order to provide the program.

I have more difficulty with the requirement that individuals have to take training at a "sectarian" institution. To analyze the issue, let's assume that the training is at a Catholic seminary as opposed to a Steiner college, so that we dispose of the quarrel, in your favor, over whether or not the teaching institution is sectarian or non-sectarian. Again, I think a judge could quite easily find that so long as the training is in methods of pedagogy, there is no lawful intrusion of religion. If the training involves giving background in the spiritual foundation of the pedagogy, then I think it would come down to whether the judge determines, as a factual matter, that it consists of unlawful indoctrination or something which is more on the order of FYI.

The training I received at Rudolf Steiner College contained a great deal of unlawful indoctrination.

If the trainee is not required to "believe" in Steiner and anthroposophy, it would seem more like FYI to me.

I was never told that I was required to believe in Steiner and Anthroposophy, but I was certainly required to *believe in* Waldorf. As it became increasingly apparent that I was not a "believer" I gradually became the victim of shunning, character assassination, etc. Furthermore, the classes taught by RSC personnel were unlike any other teaching/college courses I had ever taken. We were not permitted to question what we were being taught, we were just to do the exercise or listen to the lecture. I recall one class in which I asked why we were once again engaging in a particular activity and I was shouted at, "JUST DO IT!"

I'm sure you wouldn't want to prevent a public school from teaching a course in comparative religions. Such a course does not require the student to believe.

Gosh, how many times have I heard one version or another of the "comparative religion" argument. Is this what is being taught 2nd graders? It's a great way for Waldorf to get off the hook with their religious indoctrination: "It's a course in comparative religion for grade school children."

Let's say that after the pre-requisite survey course in comparative religions, the public school then offers an elective advance class where the student can make an in-depth study of either Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Zoroastrianism or Pagan Religions. I doubt that you would consider that to be offensive either.

As far as I'm concerned the point is moot. Generally speaking, these types of courses are taught on the university level, not in grade school. What public school or nonsectarin private school, even high schools, do you know that teach a course such the ones you describe above?

I think the question comes down to whether or not the public school is being used for religious indoctrination of either the students or the teachers.

Yes, this is certainly one of the points. Another point is the violation of the state constitution and, perhaps, the federal constitution as school funds (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - maybe millions by now) are funneled into the Rudolf Steiner College coffers. The latter point is what I believe the issue boils down to. I suspect RSC was in desperate need of funding and successfully sought to obtain it, illegally, by tapping public school funds. As a positive byproduct, for the diehard Anthroposophists connected with the RSC movement into the public arena, teachers and school children are being indoctrinated with Anthroposophical beliefs.

The presentation of facts in the PLANS case is likely to be crucial to the judge's determination.

It goes without saying.

Kathy

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 14:24:37 -0700

On 26 Feb 99, at 12:27, Ezra Beeman wrote:

I don't know if it much matters to people on this list, but the court case involves classroom behavior for students, not teachers. The example you give, Steve, does not apply since WE does not teach such things to students.

Kathy mentioned three things involved in the court case. She said:

PLANS alleges that school funds are being paid to a sectarian organization (Rudolf Steiner College) and this is a direct violation of the California State Consititution. The case also alleges that the Waldorf method, as taught in the 2 public schools being sued, is based on religious beliefs and these beliefs guide the pedagogy. It also alleges that teachers are illegally being required to take Waldorf teacher training at a sectarian institution.

So there are three issues, none of which turn on whether anthroposophy is taught to the students:

1. Whether it is a violation of the constitution to pay school funds to Rudolf Steiner College for teacher training;

2. Whether it is a violation of the constitution to teach using a method which is based on religious beliefs, and if so, whether the facts support this claim; and

3. Whether teachers are required to submit to religious indoctrination in order to teach at the school.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 04:32:31 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathy

Would you prevent a school sports program from teaching martial arts simply because they stem from a religious foundation?

I would if public school funds were going to a sectarian organization in order to provide the program.

By your answer, it would seem that you would admit that it's OK to teach martial arts if the funds were going to a non-sectarian organization. It follows then that if the judge determines that the Rudolf Steiner College is non-sectarian, he should not object to teaching Waldorf in the public schools. Is that a fair assessment of what you would think his logic ought to be (even if you don't agree with his pronouncement that RSC is non-sectarian)?

I would take it a step further though. I would think it is permissible to pay funds to a non-sectarian organization to provide training to teachers if that organization is the best source for the training.

Let me pose a hypothetical for you to explore the logic and the legalities here. Suppose that a public school wants to offer a particular brand of martial arts to its students and it is willing to send its young physical education teacher, George, for training. There are two options available for the training. One is to send George to a Buddhist monastery where the grand master of this particular martial art resides. The other choice is to send him for training at a local commercial establishment where all of the trainers are people who have trained under the Buddhist grand master.

I take it that your position would be that the public school would be prohibited from paying the Buddhist monastery to train George because the money is going to a sectarian institution. Though I haven't researched it, I doubt that's the law.

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether RSC is engaged in impermissible indoctrination of the teacher trainees (which we'll get to in a moment), I also doubt that it's the law that a public school would be prohibited from paying RSC (even if it is found to be a sectarian institution) if the RSC is the best source for training.

[Bob Tolz speaking now]

If the training involves giving background in the spiritual foundation of the pedagogy, then I think it would come down to whether the judge determines, as a factual matter, that it consists of unlawful indoctrination or something which is more on the order of FYI.

[Kathy]

The training I received at Rudolf Steiner College contained a great deal of unlawful indoctrination.

Objection, your Honor. That is a legal conclusion given by the witness, not a statement of fact to which the witness may testify. Please have the witness's comment stricken from the record. :-)

[Bob Tolz]

If the trainee is not required to "believe" in Steiner and anthroposophy, it would seem more like FYI to me.

I was never told that I was required to believe in Steiner and Anthroposophy, but I was certainly required to *believe in* Waldorf.

[In my summation to the judge at the end of the trial....] May it please the Court, the witness made the crucial admission that she was not indoctrinated in what she alleges to be the religious underpinnings of the pedagogical method. She alleges only that she was required to accept the pedagogical method itself. This is not religious indoctrination. If the witness were not able to accept the pedagogical method, then it is readily apparent that she should not be teaching in a program where it is required that the particular pedagogical method be used.

As it became increasingly apparent that I was not a "believer" I gradually became the victim of shunning, character assassination, etc. Furthermore, the classes taught by RSC personnel were unlike any other teaching/college courses I had ever taken. We were not permitted to question what we were being taught, we were just to do the exercise or listen to the lecture. I recall one class in which I asked why we were once again engaging in a particular activity and I was shouted at, "JUST DO IT!"

While it is entirely lamentable that the witness had certain experiences with the training staff which she judged to be offensive, those experiences do not detract from the conclusion that she was not subjected to unlawful religious indoctrination. That an instructor required an almost "religious" and unquestioning focus on how to apply a pedagogical method and become a "believer" in the method does not constitute unlawful religous indoctrination any more than when a college football coach demands religious and unquestioning focus on his particular brand of training and play. the witness may not have been exposed to this method of training before, but the method of training (for a pedagogical method that her school district, in its wisdom, determined to have a valid non-sectarian objective) is not unconstitutional.

[Bob Tolz]

I'm sure you wouldn't want to prevent a public school from teaching a course in comparative religions. Such a course does not require the student to believe.

[Kathy]

Gosh, how many times have I heard one version or another of the "comparative religion" argument. Is this what is being taught 2nd graders? It's a great way for Waldorf to get off the hook with their religious indoctrination: "It's a course in comparative religion for grade school children."

I apologize for not making myself clear. My reference to a course in comparative religions is meant to stay with the analysis of the training you received, not what the children receive. I'm not leaving the Rudolf Steiner College and going back into the grade school here. You admit that you were not required to believe in Steiner's beliefs or in anthroposophy. Therefore, whatever information you may have received respected those areas was no different from what you might have heard in a course in comparative religions.

I think the question comes down to whether or not the public school is being used for religious indoctrination of either the students or the teachers.

Yes, this is certainly one of the points. Another point is the violation of the state constitution and, perhaps, the federal constitution as school funds (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - maybe millions by now) are funneled into the Rudolf Steiner College coffers. The latter point is what I believe the issue boils down to.

I do not think the U.S. Constitution prohibits payment of funds to RSC, even if it is determined to be a sectarian educational institution, for services rendered by RSC to implement a program which a public school district determines meets a valid, non-sectarian purpose. How the state constitution applies, I have absolutely no idea.

Bob

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Kathy
Subject: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 15:35:53 -0800

Bob Tolz inquired:

Would you prevent a school sports program from teaching martial arts simply because they stem from a religious foundation?

Kathy responded:

I would if public school funds were going to a sectarian organization in order to provide the program.

Bob:

Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether RSC is engaged in impermissible indoctrination of the teacher trainees (which we'll get to in a moment), I also doubt that it's the law that a public school would be prohibited from paying RSC (even if it is found to be a sectarian institution) if the RSC is the best source for training.

The California Constitution prohibits the payment of public school funds to sectarian organization. See the PLANS website for the specifics.

Bob:

[In my summation to the judge at the end of the trial....] May it please the Court, the witness made the crucial admission that she was not indoctrinated in what she alleges to be the religious underpinnings of the pedagogical method. She alleges only that she was required to accept the pedagogical method itself. This is not religious indoctrination. If the witness were not able to accept the pedagogical method, then it is readily apparent that she should not be teaching in a program where it is required that the particular pedagogical method be used.

Kathy:

When I originally accepted a position with this Office of Education it was simply to teach according to the California state frameworks. I was required to have a California teacher's credential and, of course, my prior experience predisposed me as a good choice to work with the at-risk students at the specific school site where I was assigned. There was no mention of Waldorf until several years later.

How about this as a possible scenario: Imaginary judge, sitting in chambers & trying to decide this case from all the evidence presented:

"The pedagogy is based on a spiritual foundation derived from the collected works of one man, now deceased. This man's name is on the teacher's college. This man's poetry (Calendar of the Soul) is on promotional literature. This Calendar of the Soul (& it's polar verse) is based on both a form of astrology and a mixture of Christianity and nature worship. The contents of the curriculum are a clever admixture of so many religiously oriented ideas, that while it is, perhaps, not _a_ religion, it is, nevertheless _religious_. At the very least, it is, by the defendant's admission in public ad copy, _spiritual_.

While, perhaps, the deceptive level is quite high here, my duty (as a judge) is to be impartial and fair. It is also evident that the defendents are going to great lengths to 1) push this pedagogy on the public system and, 2) deny any spiritual aspect, despite the testimony of witnesses and this itching feeling I get in my frontal lobes as I try to read the writings of this Rudolf Steiner.

I find for the plaintiff on the grounds that the defense has not proved to my satisfaction that Waldorf pedagogy _is not_ religiously based. Furthermore, I interpret the Constitution, in the establishment clause, to include "spiritual" teachings as a synonym for religion.

The guidance of a student's soul development is not Constitutional. It directly contravenes the student's right to "liberty" and to "freedom of worship".

Further, it is ordered that Rudolf Steiner College refund all moneys received from the school districts in question."

Kathy:

As it became increasingly apparent that I was not a "believer" I gradually became the victim of shunning, character assassination, etc. Furthermore, the classes taught by RSC personnel were unlike any other teaching/college courses I had ever taken. We were not permitted to question what we were being taught, we were just to do the exercise or listen to the lecture. I recall one class in which I asked why we were once again engaging in a particular activity and I was shouted at, "JUST DO IT!"

Bob (as attorney for defense)

While it is entirely lamentable that the witness had certain experiences with the training staff which she judged to be offensive, those experiences do not detract from the conclusion that she was not subjected to unlawful religious indoctrination. That an instructor required an almost "religious" and unquestioning focus on how to apply a pedagogical method and become a "believer" in the method does not constitute unlawful religous indoctrination any more than when a college football coach demands religious and unquestioning focus on his particular brand of training and play. the witness may not have been exposed to this method of training before, but the method of training (for a pedagogical method that her school district, in its wisdom, determined to have a valid non-sectarian objective) is not unconstitutional.

Kathy:

However, your Honor, (attorney for the plaintiff), no public school district would allow a football coach to "demand a religious & unquestioning" focus on his particular brand of play. "Religious & unquestioning" are in direct contravention of the open and questioning environment that is found and should be present in all classrooms operating under the establishment clause. I would even go so far, Your Honor, as to state that "religious & unquestioning" are directly opposite to the requirements of any educational endeavor in a consitutional republic operating on democratic principles. Where there is "religious & unquestioning" behavior, there is no freedom of expression. This is in direct contravention of the First Amendement to the Constitution of the United States. I believe you will see, Your Honor, that by demanding "religious & unquestioning" behavior, Ms Sutphen's right to freedom of speech was violated; perhaps her right to "freedom of association" was also impinged upon.. Also, Your Honor, Ms Sutphen's subsequent experiences with the faculty and administration of RSC violated her right to "the pursuit of happiness".

My esteemed colleague, Mr Tolz, forgets that no school district may even require a "religious & unquestioning" attitude towards the flag and constitution of the United States of America. We in this country stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief. Your Honor, why did this teacher training facility require "religious & unquestioning" behavior from a public teacher-trainee? And, Your Honor, can one infer from that behavior that "religious & unquestioning" are demanded also of the parents and students of Waldorf Education?

Bob:

I'm sure you wouldn't want to prevent a public school from teaching a course in comparative religions. Such a course does not require the student to believe.

[Kathy]

Gosh, how many times have I heard one version or another of the "comparative religion" argument. Is this what is being taught 2nd graders? It's a great way for Waldorf to get off the hook with their religious indoctrination: "It's a course in comparative religion for grade school children."

I apologize for not making myself clear. My reference to a course in comparative religions is meant to stay with the analysis of the training you received, not what the children receive. I'm not leaving the Rudolf Steiner College and going back into the grade school here. You admit that you were not required to believe in Steiner's beliefs or in anthroposophy. Therefore, whatever information you may have received respected those areas was no different from what you might have heard in a course in comparative religions.

No public school teacher training course in the United States, nor in any Western democracy, can require a comparative religion course if that study violates the beliefs of the student. Why would a program of pedagogical training include, or, indeed, even allude to a course in Comparative Religion? And, in a course of Comparative Religion, where is there room for a 2nd level elective "concentrating" on any of the religions outlined by the esteemed Mr. Tolz?

It would appear that Mr. Tolz is attempting to draft an argument that supports Waldorf teacher training as innocuous and also attempts to convince the court that Comparative Religion is a necessary part of any public school teacher's training. This is based on a false premise, namely, that such a course is present in any secular teacher training anywhere in the world. Perhaps Mr Tolz will enlighten the Court as to the inclusion of such comparative religion and concentrations in religious study in existing pedagogical training in this country's public sector?

Bob:

I think the question comes down to whether or not the public school is being used for religious indoctrination of either the students or the teachers.

Yes, this is certainly one of the points. Another point is the violation of the state constitution and, perhaps, the federal constitution as school funds (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - maybe millions by now) are funneled into the Rudolf Steiner College coffers. The latter point is what I believe the issue boils down to.

I do not think the U.S. Constitution prohibits payment of funds to RSC, even if it is determined to be a sectarian educational institution, for services rendered by RSC to implement a program which a public school district determines meets a valid, non-sectarian purpose. How the state constitution applies, I have absolutely no idea.

Sounds like you need to do some research on this issue. Once again, please refer to the article on PLANS website: http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/AU_Novato.html re: "Americans United to Novato School Board." John C. Barker cites/quotes the specific portions of the California Constitution (Article 9, Section 8 - Article 1, Section 4) and also the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution as it pertains to this issue.

Kathy

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 10:18:02 -0500

Nice wishful thinking. I gather civics is not your subject?

Last I checked, we do not run our judicial system based upon the Napoleon code. We do not assume guilt and then try to prove innocence. Perhaps you should examine your cherished constitution more closely.

Kathy wrote:

I find for the plaintiff on the grounds that the defense has not proved to my satisfaction that Waldorf pedagogy _is not_ religiously based. Furthermore, I interpret the Constitution, in the establishment clause, to include "spiritual" teachings as a synonym for religion.

Oh boy, so anyone who is not a 100% true blue materialist (and I wonder about the theoretical physicists here) is ipso facto an adherent to Religion?? What a farce. Religious McCarthyism mean anything to you?

The guidance of a student's soul development is not Constitutional. It directly contravenes the student's right to "liberty" and to "freedom of worship".

Please try and read the article I posted regarding the religious aspect of education in toto. Or, for a more authoritative source, try reading Socrates Republic for the relationship of education to one's belief system.

My esteemed colleague, Mr Tolz, forgets that no school district may even

require a "religious & unquestioning" attitude towards the flag and constitution of the United States of America. We in this country stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief.

Uh, last I checked they were outlawing vibrators in Arkansas. Have you ever reviewed the list of banned books in this country? Try reading Howard Zinn's 'Peopl'e History of the U.S.' for a more lucid grasp of what this country stands for.

As an aside, it always makes me cringe when someone speaks for the collective.

But as I think Charlie Frey commented awhile back, if this list represents the fiercest of WE opponents...

e

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: RE: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 10:54:45 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathy

The California Constitution prohibits the payment of public school funds to sectarian organization. See the PLANS website for the specifics.

Interesting.

How about this as a possible scenario: Imaginary judge, sitting in chambers & trying to decide this case from all the evidence presented:

Your clairvoyance is as good as mine. :-)

I find for the plaintiff on the grounds that the defense has not proved to my satisfaction that Waldorf pedagogy _is not_ religiously based.

Here's where PLANS probably has a heavier burden than the school district. Ordinarily, the burden of proof is on the **plaintiff**.

Further, it is ordered that Rudolf Steiner College refund all moneys received from the school districts in question."

Now *that* would make news.

Kathy:

However, your Honor, (attorney for the plaintiff), no public school district would allow a football coach to "demand a religious & unquestioning" focus on his particular brand of play.

I suspect you're quite wrong on that count, Kathy.

"Religious & unquestioning" are in direct contravention of the open and questioning environment that is found and should be present in all classrooms operating under the establishment clause. I would even go so far, Your Honor, as to state that "religious & unquestioning" are directly opposite to the requirements of any educational endeavor in a consitutional republic operating on democratic principles. Where there is "religious & unquestioning" behavior, there is no freedom of expression. This is in direct contravention of the First Amendement to the Constitution of the United States.

Though I've never been in academic circles, I suspect your argument certainly represents the academic ideal, but that reality often falls far short of it in many educational circumstances.

I believe you will see, Your Honor, that by demanding "religious & unquestioning" behavior, Ms Sutphen's right to freedom of speech was violated; perhaps her right to "freedom of association" was also impinged upon.. Also, Your Honor, Ms Sutphen's subsequent experiences with the faculty and administration of RSC violated her right to "the pursuit of happiness".

Is a violation of the rights to pursuit of happiness and freedom of association really being alleged int the PLANS suit?

My esteemed colleague, Mr Tolz, forgets that no school district may even require a "religious & unquestioning" attitude towards the flag and constitution of the United States of America. We in this country stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief. Your Honor, why did this teacher training facility require "religious & unquestioning" behavior from a public teacher-trainee?

Because, says the defendant's attorney in rebuttal, what was being taught was a method. The witness was being asked to implement a method, not a philosphy. The witness's insistence on fighting the method chosen by the school district shows that she was not prepared to implement the program which the school district had chosen.

And, Your Honor, can one infer

from that behavior that "religious & unquestioning" are demanded also of the parents and students of Waldorf Education?

Not at all, says the judge. I will not interpolate from the facts you show me with respect to teacher trainees what was allegedly demanded of parents and students. Show me the actual facts.

No public school teacher training course in the United States, nor in any Western democracy, can require a comparative religion course if that study violates the beliefs of the student. Why would a program of pedagogical training include, or, indeed, even allude to a course in Comparative Religion? And, in a course of Comparative Religion, where is there room for a 2nd level elective "concentrating" on any of the religions outlined by the esteemed Mr. Tolz?

It would appear that Mr. Tolz is attempting to draft an argument that supports Waldorf teacher training as innocuous and also attempts to convince the court that Comparative Religion is a necessary part of any public school teacher's training. This is based on a false premise, namely, that such a course is present in any secular teacher training anywhere in the world. Perhaps Mr Tolz will enlighten the Court as to the inclusion of such comparative religion and concentrations in religious study in existing pedagogical training in this country's public sector?

The defense does not insist that comparative religion is a necessary part of any public school teacher's training. Rather, comparative religion, when taught without indoctrination for historical and background information as an adjunct to learning a secular pedagogical method, is not unconstitutional.

Bob

P.S. Although it must be fun for you to play lawyer once in awhile, Kathy, I'm not sure I want to play teacher. :-)

Bob:

I think the question comes down to whether or not the public school is being used for religious indoctrination of either the students or the teachers.

Yes, this is certainly one of the points. Another point is the violation of the state constitution and, perhaps, the federal constitution as school funds (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - maybe millions by now) are funneled into the Rudolf Steiner College coffers. The latter point is what I believe the issue boils down to.

I do not think the U.S. Constitution prohibits payment of funds to RSC, even if it is determined to be a sectarian educational institution, for services rendered by RSC to implement a program which a public school district determines meets a valid, non-sectarian purpose. How the state constitution applies, I have absolutely no idea.

Sounds like you need to do some research on this issue. Once again, please refer to the article on PLANS website: http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/AU_Novato.html re: "Americans United to Novato School Board." John C. Barker cites/quotes the specific portions of the California Constitution (Article 9, Section 8 - Article 1, Section 4) and also the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution as it pertains to this issue.

Kathy

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 10:53:42 -0700

On 1 Mar 99, at 10:18, Ezra Beeman wrote:

Nice wishful thinking. I gather civics is not your subject? Last I checked, we do not run our judicial system based upon the Napoleon code. We do not assume guilt and then try to prove innocence. Perhaps you should examine your cherished constitution more closely.

This is a civil trial, Ezra, not a criminal trial. The presumption of innocence has nothing to do with it.

You're right that the plaintiffs have the burden of proof, but not for the reasons you mention.

Not only is your insulting and condescending tone unseemly, it is misplaced.

Kathy wrote:

My esteemed colleague, Mr Tolz, forgets that no school district may even require a "religious & unquestioning" attitude towards the flag and constitution of the United States of America. We in this country stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief.

Uh, last I checked they were outlawing vibrators in Arkansas. Have you ever reviewed the list of banned books in this country?

Are you implying that this country does *not* stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief? The fact that the government frequently steps over the line does not mean that these ideals do not exist.

By the way, I have never reviewed the list of banned books. By banned, I assume you mean that it is illegal to publish, sell, or possess the books, not that some library or school district has deemed them unsuitable. It is one thing to say that the government cannot interfere with freedom of speech and of the press, and another to say that a public library must purchase every book that is published.

What books are banned in this country, and why are they banned?

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 11:58:06 -0500

I do not claim to be a lawyer or an expert in the field of law. Also, I thank you for pointing out the relevant points in my post (I learned something).

With respect to my tone, perhaps you should be sensitive to the fact Kathy continually insults, denigrates and slanders someone (Betty Staley) and something (Waldorf Education) I remember very fondly. Try, for a brief instant, to visualize someone attacking your mentor (of sorts) and your alma mater with politically driven rancor and insipid deduction. Then you might understand what my understanding of insulting is.

Steve Premo wrote:

This is a civil trial, Ezra, not a criminal trial. The presumption of innocence has nothing to do with it.

You're right that the plaintiffs have the burden of proof, but not for the reasons you mention.

Not only is your insulting and condescending tone unseemly, it is misplaced.

Kathy wrote:

My esteemed colleague, Mr Tolz, forgets that no school district may even require a "religious & unquestioning" attitude towards the flag and constitution of the United States of America. We in this country stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief.

Uh, last I checked they were outlawing vibrators in Arkansas. Have you ever reviewed the list of banned books in this country?

Are you implying that this country does *not* stand for freedom of thought, expression, and belief? The fact that the government frequently steps over the line does not mean that these ideals do not exist.

The fact these ideals may exist (but I bet we could not get a working definition from this list), does not mean our country stands or is based upon them. What is your point? Ontological arguments are quite difficult to defend (unless you are speaking in mathematics; not even physics can assure causality).

I am not implying I am stating this country does not stand for those things. Oh sure, those or our nationalist underpinnings, but the real motives for the revolution and the civil war, WWI and WWII have much more to do with taxes than anything Kathy invokes. Like I said, re-read your history. I recommend Howard Zinn.

By the way, I have never reviewed the list of banned books. By banned, I assume you mean that it is illegal to publish, sell, or possess the books, not that some library or school district has deemed them unsuitable. It is one thing to say that the government cannot interfere with freedom of speech and of the press, and another to say that a public library must purchase every book that is published.

What books are banned in this country, and why are they banned?

Whoa, I am not talking about the Lorax in Oregon here, I am speaking of books thought too violent (Clockwork Orange) are too perverse (Catcher in the Rye) for the public at large. How about the sedition acts of the first world war whereby anyone printing commentary deemed un-patriotic could be imprisoned? I was saddened to learn it was Oliver Wendel Holmes opinion against free speech at this time which gave rise to the 'Fire in a crowded theater' counter-argument to free speech.

Personally, I could not recount them (banned books) all, but my challenge comes from once upon a time in Greece, where I encountered someone (an American) in a T-shirt which listed all the banned books. It was long and depressing.

e

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 13:33:25 -0700

On 1 Mar 99, at 11:58, Ezra Beeman wrote:

By the way, I have never reviewed the list of banned books. By banned, I assume you mean that it is illegal to publish, sell, or possess the books, not that some library or school district has deemed them unsuitable. It is one thing to say that the government cannot interfere with freedom of speech and of the press, and another to say that a public library must purchase every book that is published.

What books are banned in this country, and why are they banned?

Whoa, I am not talking about the Lorax in Oregon here, I am speaking of books thought too violent (Clockwork Orange) are too perverse (Catcher in the Rye) for the public at large.

Clockwork Orange was on the bookshelves at local bookstores after it was published. I do not believe that it was banned, although there may have been attempts to ban it in some locations. If so, I imagine that any such attempt was overturned in court.

I do recall hearing something about Catcher in the Rye being banned in the early part of this century, though. I thought you were saying that free speech is an illusion because many books are currently banned in the U.S. I see now that you are talking about history.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 20:42:33 +0100

Steve Premo wrote:

What books are banned in this country, and why are they banned?

Try some of these sites for starters:

http://www.disinfo.com/cen/cen_bannedbooks.html [obsolete]

http://www.lib.wmc.edu/lib/staff/suttle/censorship/censors.html [obsolete]

http://www.aclu.org/issues/freespeech/bbwlist.html

http://www.afronet.com/BANNEDBOOKS/page1.html

http://nsn.nslsilus.org/MHONARC/FICTION_L/August1997/msg00166.html [obsolete]

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/People/spok/banned-books.html

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0313285179/qid=920316557/sr=1-2/002-74586
58-6181402

http://headlines.yahoo.com/granite/kntv/local/19970930.html [obsolete]

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 13:28:11 -0700

On 1 Mar 99, at 20:42, Tarjei Straume wrote:

Steve Premo wrote:

What books are banned in this country, and why are they banned?

Try some of these sites for starters:

Thanks for the cites.

All these sites seem to relate either to the decision of a school district or library not to use a book, or to historical examples of books that were banned in the U.S. many years ago, or to books that are banned abroad.

I found no instances of books that are actually prohibited in the U.S. in the sense that one could be punished for publishing, selling, or possessing the book.

With the exception of child pornography, I doubt if you will find such an example.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: censorship in America [was: Watch it PLANS!]
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 00:18:10 +0100

Steve Premo wrote:

Thanks for the cites.

All these sites seem to relate either to the decision of a school district or library not to use a book, or to historical examples of books that were banned in the U.S. many years ago, or to books that are banned abroad.

I found no instances of books that are actually prohibited in the U.S. in the sense that one could be punished for publishing, selling, or possessing the book.

With the exception of child pornography, I doubt if you will find such an example.

Plus national security, which can result in some very interesting controversies about the people's right to know government secrets. And then you have the kind of censorship excercised by the Church of Scientology based upon the abuse of copyright law.

Then you have the War on Drugs, which means that if someone asks you how to grow marijuana and you answer the question, you may be prosecuted for exercising free speech in America.

A little more than a century ago, there were mighty battles against censorship in America. Obscenity was the big thing. Women who fought for liberation were facing obscenity charges for teaching or publishing sex education and family planning information. The notable anarchist Benjamin Tucker, whom Rudolf Steiner praised as "one of the greatest champions for freedom," fought against Anthony Comstock, a representative of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice as well as a special agent of the United States Post Office Department. Ezra Heywood was arrested by Comstock for distributing "Cupid's Yokes" through the mail, charged and found guilty and served six months in jail in 1878.

Here is a quote from "Benjamin R. Tucker & the Champions of Liberty":

"Tucker and Heywood next were linked together in a struggle to oppose censorship of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." In the fall of 1881, the Boston publishing house of James R. Osgood and Co. issued an edition of the book. In the spring of 1882, Oliver Stevens, district attorney of Suffolk County, Boston, at Anthony Comstock's instigation, advised Osgood and Co. that portions of the book were obscene. The publishers, before printing a secons edition, invited Whitman to omit the offending verses. Whe he refused, they broke their contract and turned over the plates to the author, who entrusted them to David McKay, a Philadelphia publisher. Meanwhile, Postmaster of Boston, L.S. Tobey, had declared the book unmailable.

"Tucker decided to challenge this affront to liberty. He procured from Philadelphia a sufficient supply of the book and inserted an advertisement conspicuously in the daily papers of Boston. He challenged the authorities of Boston, Comstock, and "all other enemies of liberty" to arrest him for selling the book. Tucker reported that Comstock begged the United States district attorney to indict him but the request was refused. In a notice to the press on August 19, 1882, Tucker declared, "I have offered to meet the enemy, but the enemy declines to be met....""

It is a possibility that the U.S. district attorney declined to let Comstock prosecute because of respect and admiration for Tucker, I don't know. I'm mentioning this because of *my own* admiration for Ben Tucker. When I wrote an article about him, my co-editors teased me about what they called my worship of the guy. In other words, Steiner is not my *only* hero. In the cult of anarchosophy, Saint Tucker has a firm place between Buddha, Mary, and Steiner, in spite of being an atheist and all. And if I had my say about American public schools, I would arrange for a daily liberty-prayer to Saint Tucker at noon every day.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: censorship in America [was: Watch it PLANS!]
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 18:22:02 -0800

Thanks for your efforts! Usually I suggest an alternative and leave it up to one's initiative to educated oneself if one is truly interested. (As opposed to humoring the exercises in academia most of the challenges entail).

They are truly fortunate you take the time and effort in the face of such intellectual sloth. (both mine and other's)

e

Tarjei Straume wrote:

Plus national security, which can result in some very interesting controversies about the people's right to know government secrets. And then you have the kind of censorship excercised by the Church of Scientology based upon the abuse of copyright law.

[editorial snip]

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Kathy
Subject: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 18:09:46 -0800

My arch nemesis, Ezra Beeman posted:

With respect to my tone, perhaps you should be sensitive to the fact Kathy continually insults, denigrates and slanders someone (Betty Staley) and something (Waldorf Education) I remember very fondly. Try, for a brief instant, to visualize someone attacking your mentor (of sorts) and your alma mater with politically driven rancor and insipid deduction. Then you might understand what my understanding of insulting is.

Try for a moment to envision someone forced to repeat, over the course of several years, spiritually-driven incomprehensibilities and politically-inspired inculcation. Also consider having your livlihood threatened, your professional status invalidated, your life invaded by anonymous phone calls and veiled, as well as specific threats. Internalize this visualization to include somatic ills brought on by the above persecution. Realize that this actually happened and lasted not a moment, but more than a year.

Now, expand that momentary vision from one individual who dared to complain of unconstitutional behavior in the workplace to a variety of communities duped into spending millions of taxpayer funds on the same spiritually-driven content and politically-inspired inculcation. Visualize other teachers and professionals shunned in like manner as they protested Waldorf takeover at their public school.

Imagine the individual that originally concocted the lucrative plan to bring the religiously based curriculum into the public arena and sell it there for hundreds of thousands of dollars, all the while leaving out the key information regarding the spiritual underpinnings of the pedagogy. Add to this another picture of the same individual acting as mentor to the privately inculcated Waldorf youth and doing so with kindness and interest. Why not? These two pictures are not mutually exclusive.

Kathy

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 18:29:57 -0800

I do not mean to indict you by association (but since we're in Rome), but I agree with this sentiment across the board.

Tolz, Robert wrote:

P.S. Although it must be fun for you to play lawyer once in awhile, Kathy, I'm not sure I want to play teacher. :-)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Bruce
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 05:48:44 EST

In einer eMail vom 01.03.99 22:45:06 MEZ, schreiben Sie:

Clockwork Orange was on the bookshelves at local bookstores after it was published. I do not believe that it was banned, although there may have been attempts to ban it in some locations. If so, I imagine that any such attempt was overturned in court.

"A Clockwork Orange" will be performed at the Freiewaldorfschule Rendsburg on 26th and 27th March 1999 by the students of Class 12. If anyone is interested I can obtain tickets!

Bruce

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS!
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 14:12:54 -0500

Steve Premo wrote:

Clockwork Orange was on the bookshelves at local bookstores after it was published. I do not believe that it was banned, although there may have been attempts to ban it in some locations. If so, I imagine that any such attempt was overturned in court.

I do recall hearing something about Catcher in the Rye being banned in the early part of this century, though. I thought you were saying that free speech is an illusion because many books are currently banned in the U.S. I see now that you are talking about history.

My examples may have been historical (as most are) but my point (of the discrepancy between patriotic rhetoric and public policy) is contemporary. How contemporary must you be to be relevant? Is MLK contemporary enough? Try to criticize the government, call for revolution, and see what happens to your freedoms.

Our justice system now allows one to sue entities for putting ideas in one's head ("I learned it on Jenny Jones!!"). How can there be freedom of expression when you are held accountable for other's perception of your expression? What ever happened to volition, agency and personal responsibility?

My girlfriend is Welsh (i.e. not American), and she points out nearly every day the totalitarian state I have grown accustomed to. For example (speaking of the freedom of speech): The guys who pied our venerable Mayor of SFO (Willie Brown) each received PRISON sentences of 6 mos. They were found guilty of (insert legislative hack here). Freedom of Speech? HA!

e

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Daniel Sabsay
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Ezra)
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 15:52:16 -0800

Ezra Beeman wrote >

For example (speaking of the freedom of speech): The guys who pied our venerable Mayor of SFO (Willie Brown) each received PRISON sentences of 6 mos. They were found guilty of (insert legislative hack here). Freedom of Speech? HA!

Take a little more responsibility for your own speech, Ezra.

I saw the video tape of this particular incident, and we are not talking about any kind of speech here. This was a physical assault which looked like, and I imagine felt like, an attempted mugging. They surprised and trapped the mayor momentarily, restricting his ability to back away, and smashed him with several disk-like objects. I think he was almost knocked down, but in any event, he was obviously terrified for a few moments before it was all sorted out. On top of this, he is as you well know, black; his assailants were all white.

Get down off your high horse, this was much closer to an assault than free speech. In fact, just get down off your high horse.

-- Daniel

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Daniel Sabsay, president "Ignorance is the ultimate renewable resource"
East Bay Skeptics Society http://www.eb-skeptics.org

mail@eb-skeptics.org

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Ezra Beeman
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 16:56:08 -0500

Daniel Sabsay wrote:

Take a little more responsibility for your own speech, Ezra.

I stand behind everything I say. Are you suggesting I am irresponsible? What a lark, any other ad hominems while you're at it?

I saw the video tape of this particular incident, and we are not talking about any kind of speech here.

So you maintain protest is not a form of speech? I'm skeptical. I fear your vision of free speech (you are allowed to say whatever you wish, so long as you keep it verbal and within the privacy of your own home, preferably in the closet with the lights out). Furthermore, I saw the the video tape as well, it is probably available on the CNN archives for those interested.

This was a physical assault which looked like, and I imagine felt like, an attempted mugging.

You later go on to suggest lynching, can we please stick to a single metaphor?

They surprised and trapped the mayor momentarily, restricting his ability to back away, and smashed him with several disk-like objects.

These were pies, PIES! They look much more disk-like to the cameras (which see the aluminum side) and naive viewers, than to the Mayor who saw nothing but tofu and banana.

I think he was almost knocked down, but in any event, he was obviously terrified for a few moments before it was all sorted out.

Yeah okay, he was so scared and intimidated (Willie Brown is a political bad ass by the way) he managed to grab one of the hippies (yeah they're a real threatening bunch) for the cops.

On top of this, he is as you well know, black; his assailants were all white.

What the HELL does your last statement mean to infer? Your arguments are so one sided, as to be cartoonish, please describe your understanding of the motives involved here. Currently they seem to border on assault and lynching?

As an aside: We have lost the benefit of the fool's advice in our society, who is left to counsel the king?

Get down off your high horse, this was much closer to an assault than free speech. In fact, just get down off your high horse.

Where do you get off here? Since when you are the arbiter of high horses, Mr. East Bay Skeptics Society?

Good grief.

e

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Stephen Tonkin
Subject: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 06:45:48 +0000

Ezra Beeman wrote:

So you maintain protest is not a form of speech?

Ezra, I find it remarkably difficult to believe that you cannot see a distinction between a physical assault (however mild) and speech. Perhaps a few exercises in Goethean observation may help.

However, I do find it interesting, as an outsider, to watch so many defend the myth that the USA is a nation of free speech and no censorship. As I think I have said before, a single counter-example falsifies an hypothesis. The censorship may be more subtle than in Banana-republic-X; it may be disguised as something else; but allow me to cite two counter examples: Joe Hill, Halton Arp.

Noctis Gaudia Carpe,

Stephen

--
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ Stephen Tonkin | ATM Resources; Astro-Tutorials; Astronomy Books +
+ (N50.9105 W1.829)
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Steve Premo"
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 09:09:51 -0700

On 2 Mar 99, at 6:45, Stephen Tonkin wrote:

However, I do find it interesting, as an outsider, to watch so many defend the myth that the USA is a nation of free speech and no censorship.

Actually, I was defending the notion that this country *stands* for free speech, not that the ideal is always realized. Yet, things have gotten better, and the courts have been pretty good (not perfect) about ensuring that people are not criminally prosecuted for the content of their speech.

Censorship continues in various ways. Someone who speaks in opposition to the government may be safe from arrest, generally, but I suspect that if the person starts to become effective, he will be in danger of being framed on some criminal charge, e.g., drug possession. He will not, though, be prosecuted directly for speaking against the government, or for otherwise expressing his opinions.

This is not true of many other countries that are considered to be "free." In much of Europe, I understand, one can be prosecuted for preaching white supremacy.

But even in the U.S., there are plenty of restrictions on speech. Commercial speech in particular is regulated. For example, cigarette companies cannot advertise on television.

There are (or have been) limitations on political speech with respect to opinions that can be expressed on television. Specifically, if a station wants to run a story endorsing a candidate, that station was required to give equal time to the opposing candidate. This is a restriction on the station manager's right to express opinions on the candidate he supports. But I think this provision may have been dropped.

Obscenity is also not protected, although it's pretty much got to be hard core pornography to be actionable, and even that is freely available.

Libel and slander, of course, are not so much restrictions on free speech as they are a means to hold people accountable for the consequences of spreading falsehoods. Even there, the person injured must show not only that the statements were false, but if that person is a public figure, he must show that the lie was intentional, or without any cause to believe it to be true.

Finally, the laws relating to free speech cannot fully prevent the government from attempting to illegally suppress one's right of free expression. The courts cannot, and should not, control the day-to-day functioning of the other branches of government. But if the government infringes on one's rights, one does have a legal remedy. It may be difficult and expensive to pursue, though.

Of course, first amendment law is much more complex than this summary, but my point is this. Although this country has not fully realized its ideals with respect to free speech, it is one of the principles for which the country stands. We must all be vigilant in insisting that the government abide by its principles.

Steve Premo -- Santa Cruz, California
"There is a right and a wrong in the Universe and
that distinction is not difficult to make." - Superman

[This exchange continues in another thread]

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Stephen Tonkin
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 18:42:53 +0000

Steve Premo wrote:

On 2 Mar 99, at 6:45, Stephen Tonkin wrote:

However, I do find it interesting, as an outsider, to watch so many defend the myth that the USA is a nation of free speech and no censorship.

Actually, I was defending the notion that this country *stands* for free speech, not that the ideal is always realized.

[...]

I understood that, Steve, but I'm one of these boring old farts who is more interested in the actuality than the theory (at least, when it suits me to do so <G>).

Noctis Gaudia Carpe,

Stephen

--
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ Stephen Tonkin | ATM Resources; Astro-Tutorials; Astronomy Books +
+ (N50.9105 W1.829)
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Michael Kopp
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:12:04 +1300

Steve Premo writes:

On 2 Mar 99, at 6:45, Stephen Tonkin wrote:

However, I do find it interesting, as an outsider, to watch so many defend the myth that the USA is a nation of free speech and no censorship.

[PREMO]

Actually, I was defending the notion that this country *stands* for free speech, not that the ideal is always realized. Yet, things have gotten better, and the courts have been pretty good (not perfect) about ensuring that people are not criminally prosecuted for the content of their speech.

Censorship continues in various ways.

[snip]

Of course, first amendment law is much more complex than this summary, but my point is this. Although this country has not fully realized its ideals with respect to free speech, it is one of the principles for which the country stands. We must all be vigilant in insisting that the government abide by its principles.

Dissent in the United States is tolerated much more than in many other so-called democratic countries. But establishments -- governments, big businesses and their other apparatus, such as the mainstream media owned by big corporations -- use other techniques to fool the populace into agreeing to be governed in a particular way by all of these institutions. Yet a scholar and political activist such as Noam Chomsky can publish anti-establishment books to his heart's content; it is only when antiestablishmentarianism or dissent becomes unlawful, as in the case of the Unabomber, that it is legally suppressed.

Steve is right about the abuses of power that occur in the U.S. So are all the other America-bashers on this or any other forum.

But there is no other country in the world that has so consistently upheld its founding principles in individual freedoms through the rule and remedy of law.

(And that is said by a Yank who left America 17 years ago in some disillusion, and has watched it from abroad through the eyes of the rest of the world.)

Let's stop the America-bashing here, and get on with discussing the problems we see with Steiner/ Waldorf/ Anthroposophical education. Censorship is not an issue in regard to SWA; the First Amendment is. And a narrow section of the First, at that.

Cheers from Godzone,

Michael Kopp
Wellington, New Zealand

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: bhstudio@frontiernet.net
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 18:03:20 -0600

Hear, hear!!

And thanx for the "put up or shut up" in the previous post.

Going well, I hope?

Biz has picked up here: it's cold & wet.

R

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Tarjei Straume
Subject: Re: Watch it PLANS! (Watch it Daniel?)
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 21:14:55 +0100

Thank you Steve, for sharing your perspective on free speech and censorship in America. The first amendment to the U.S. constitution is one of the most valuable legal documents in existence, and it has been a beacon of inspiration for other nations too. I also appreciate the kind of work A.C.L.U. is doing.

Norwegians have basically the same rights that Americans have, with some of the same restrictions. Our anarchist magazine Gateavisa has always tried to stretch the limits of free speech. Lawsuits have often been promised, but rarely carried through, perhaps because the publicity they give us makes us very happy.

You wrote:

Censorship continues in various ways. Someone who speaks in opposition to the government may be safe from arrest, generally, but I suspect that if the person starts to become effective, he will be in danger of being framed on some criminal charge, e.g., drug possession. He will not, though, be prosecuted directly for speaking against the government, or for otherwise expressing his opinions.

That is true over here too. Some years ago, there was a big case about police violence in Bergen. What caught the attention of Amnesty International was not just the police violence itself, but the tactics used in the cover-up. The cops planted drugs on eyewitnesses, produced false charges, and threatened and intimidated them in every possible way. The matter was never cleared up properly, and the corrupt cops are still on the beat. Our "internal affairs" division is a laugh, because cops are exonerated 90 per cent of the time. Oh, I shouldn't get started on this.

This is not true of many other countries that are considered to be "free." In much of Europe, I understand, one can be prosecuted for preaching white supremacy.

That is true, especially in Germany, where racist and fascist organizations are forbidden. But Norway also has a law against racist speech. The leader for the "White Alliance" party is serving a sentence right now (to the best of my knowledge), and this party and their neo-Nazi cohorts are backing the ostensibly moderate populist "Progress Party." I find it frightening that decent people vote for them because of popular stands on certain issues, ignoring their brownshirt ties.

As a champion for free speech, I oppose censorship of all kinds. The reason for the laws against racist speech in Europe is that very many non-whites are first or second generation immigrants, and they are very vulnerable minorities. When right wing agitators say that all Asians and Africans living in Europe should be sterilized, that all Africans coming to Europe carry the AIDS virus, plus very ugly and insulting rhetoric, they increase the social problems that these people already have. When certain minority groups are libelled and slandered in this way, it is very much like libel and slander against single individuals.

There are (or have been) limitations on political speech with respect to opinions that can be expressed on television. Specifically, if a station wants to run a story endorsing a candidate, that station was required to give equal time to the opposing candidate. This is a restriction on the station manager's right to express opinions on the candidate he supports. But I think this provision may have been dropped.

There is a public debate here at the moment about whether or not to allow political and religious ads on television.

Obscenity is also not protected, although it's pretty much got to be hard core pornography to be actionable, and even that is freely available.

The fact that we haven't had an obscenity trial in almost 35 jears (against Jens Bjørneboe, the notorious anarchosopist!), is a great loss to those of us who like to have a cheap and easy weapon to provoke with. Last time Gateavisa was successfully sued was in 1982. The plaintiff was Kåre Kristiansen, a parliament member for the Christian Party. They pasted his face on a porn picture (and believe me, it was hilarious). The defense argued that no readers could possibly believe that this picture was authentic - it was an artistic expression of political protest. (Kristiansen wanted to legislate everybody's bedroom activities.)

Nevertheless, Gateavisa lost and was ordered to pay the legal costs and remove the offending double page (Kristiansen was the beautiful centerfold!), after it was clear that the magazine could not survive a total ban on the sale of the issue. (The offending pages were removed from the bookstore copies, but it was sold intact, and illegally, on the street.)

This case took place when I was in America, but when I read the court records a few years ago, I couldn't help but notice that the plaintiff's lawyer was Cato Schiøtz. I hit the ceiling in offended rage, because Schiøtz was not only a prominent Supreme Court lawyer, but a card-carrying member of the Anthroposophical Society who had written an excellent article about public criticism of anthroposophy in Norwegian media. I had enjoyed that article very much, but now I was morally offended! He had represented a wealthy and powerful jerk against a poor and struggling freedom-magazine! So I immediately wrote him a sarcastic letter, putting all the sarcasm between the lines, in the subtext. But when he called me on the phone and praised me for my own articles and for my "very nice" letter, I recognized how innocent he was, and that taking Kristiansen's case did not mean that he necessarily agreed with him.

Subsequently, Schiøtz and I became good friends, and we shared enthusiasm for Bob Dylan and his songs. (He has an imressive collection.) And incidentally, it was Cato Schiøtz who introduced me to the PLANS website, sending me the print-outs.

I am telling this story in order to show that anthroposophists don't think alike when it comes to social and legal issues. And on a personal note, I may add that I have the same communication problems with my son's mother, who is an anthroposophist with the entire Steiner-collection in German, that very many other men are having with their ex'es. She has no understanding for my anarchosophy, and she's hyper-critical of me. That's my side of the story. Her side of the story is that I'm a damn slob. Perhaps we should both seek therapy with dr. Fine or try some deprogramming. I doubt that it will do us much good.

The only thing that anthroposophists have in common is a high regard for Rudolf Steiner and the opinion that spiritual science is a legitimate science according to our definition of the word. But even though we share this element of cultural heresy, there are many bourgeois anthroposophists who make a sharp contrast to my outlaw anarchist profile. I ought to repeat for the record, though, that Norwegian anthroposophists as a group have always preferred the political left when they go to the polls. You'll have to look elsewhere for fascists.

Of course, first amendment law is much more complex than this summary, but my point is this. Although this country has not fully realized its ideals with respect to free speech, it is one of the principles for which the country stands. We must all be vigilant in insisting that the government abide by its principles.

I agree. Liberties and rights must never be taken for granted. They must be fought for constantly, and it is a continuous, tough battle.

Cheers,

Tarjei

http://www.uncletaz.com/

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: Watch it, PLANS! (continued)
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 23:39:59 -0500

Here are two more days of news stories of the federal trial in White Plains, NY.....
-----------------------------------------

Experts offer differing views on Bedford programs

By LANNING TALIAFERRO
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Journal News. All rights reserved.
Publication date: 3/2/1999

WHITE PLAINS -- To one psychologist, programs in Bedford schools to build students' self-esteem are dangerous and illegal group therapy. To another, they are worthwhile activities to help children cope.

The contrasting views came as both sides in a federal trial over students' religious and privacy rights brought in expert witnesses to bolster their case.

Retired California psychologist William Coulson testified on behalf of three Roman Catholic families who accuse district schools of violating their children's rights with New Age programs of pop psychology, non-Christian spirituality and the occult.

"The net effect of these programs is destructive," he said. "It's psychotherapy applied to children who don't have enough life experiences to find a fund of answers to draw from within themselves."

The district's meditation and bonding exercises, anti-drug and suicide-prevention programs, peer-mediation and self-esteem-building activities are illegal, unauthorized psychological services, Coulson testified.

Coulson's testimony evoked images of 1960s encounter groups, search for self-enlightment and sensitivity training, a view challenged by psychologist Marvin Goldfried, a defense witness who invoked the business world of brainstorming and problem-solving in his testimony.

Goldfried said school staffers were operating from a "psycho-educational" philosophy that believes education should foster students' academic and emotional intelligence.

"Personal or social intelligence involves knowing how to deal with other people, knowing how to communicate with other people ... knowing how to deal with difficult life situations," Goldfried testified.

He said the use of psychotherapeutic techniques was not limited to therapy, citing businessmen trained in problem-solving, and relaxation exercises for athletes, actors and others who want to improve performance.

The Altmans, DiNozzis and DiBaris argue that quizzes for high-schoolers on their levels of stress, relaxation exercises in darkened classrooms for elementary-schoolers and rope-climbing courses meant to instill confidence, promote teamwork and help middle-schoolers assess their own feelings and behavior are forms of group psychology.

They have asked U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant to stop those practices and others they find objectionable. Among those practices are activities like the DARE anti-drug program and the Yale Decision-Making Program, which ask students to discuss their feelings about risky, offensive or illegal behavior.

The trial resumes today.
-------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: Re: Watch it, PLANS! (continued)
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 11:39:20 -0500

There was no news story this morning to report, but a columnist had an article observing the clash between the First Amendment and the First Commandment. The column is not available on the newspaper's web site, and I don't have the time to type it in for y'all, but I thought the closing paragraph was interesting and could be food for thought for my fellow list-mates.

One of the witnesses for the plaintiff, I think he may have been a Jesuit priest, had been testifying about an exercise used in the school where children were asked to lie down on an old gravesite, ostensibly to get a sense of the height that people attained way-back-when. The witness complained that the exercise was just plain foolish. The judge, perhaps revealing his leanings in the case, commented something on the order of: The Constitution does not prohibit foolishness.

I believe the case is supposed to conclude today. I contacted the school's attorney just to get a little background. He fully expects to win the trial, but it sounds like he would be surprised if the plaintiffs fail to appeal a verdict against them.

Bob

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: "Tolz, Robert"
Subject: Watch it, PLANS! (Trial Finishes)
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 11:04:40 -0500

The final day of trial is over. The judge's decision is not expected for several weeks. Here's the article from the local newspaper:

----------------------
Collector: Rocks not mystical

By LANNING TALIAFERRO
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Journal News. All rights reserved.
Publication date: 3/5/1999

WHITE PLAINS -- Testimony in the Bedford school satanism lawsuit ended yesterday with a self-described "rock hound" telling that court that he never urged schoolchildren to use crystals for mystical purposes, as the plaintiffs claim.

"I told them I thought the belief that rocks had powers was ludicrous," said Harvey Brickman, 72, a retired financial analyst and rock collector who makes presentations on rocks and minerals at Bedford schools.

Brickman testified for the defense on the final day of a nonjury trial in which three Roman Catholic families say the Bedford school district is teaching satanism, the occult and New Age religion.

U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant told both sides to file final arguments as post-trial briefs within three weeks, so the issues are "fresh in my mind." He did not say when he would rule.

Some of the plaintiffs' children testified that Brickman, in a visit to a Pound Ridge Elementary School fourth-grade class, told them that crystals held powers, and that a person could benefit by holding a crystal to his forehead or chest.

"If the kids said that, they were coached or coerced or something," Brickman said after testifying. "I didn't say it because I don't believe it. A crystal is just a fancy type of rock."

Brickman also denied he wore a pendant with a crystal during his visit, as the plaintiffs alleged.

"I don't wear necklaces, I wear bolo ties," he said, sporting a handmade cowboy tie studded with pyrite.

Following Brickman to the stand were four students who disputed the plaintiffs' versions of lessons on Aztec and Hindu gods, annual Earth Day ceremonies and mental health and peer-counseling programs. One of them, Fox Lane sophomore Kerry Brown, 15, testified that a sixth-grade program portrayed by the plaintiffs as illegal group therapy helped students adjust to middle school.

Both sides left court feeling confident they would prevail.

Bedford Superintendent Bruce Dennis said Brickman's testimony exemplified how the DiBari, DiNozzi and Altman families had distorted the school district's programs.

"Here's an elderly man with a genuine interest in rocks mischaracterized as promoting the power of crystals," he said.

The families' attorney, James Bendell, said his side made a compelling case that students were inundated with religion in the classroom.

"It's pretty clear that the children were asked to make an image of a god worshiped by 800 million people," he said, referring to the study of a Hindu god called Ganesha. "The courts have been militant in making sure that there are no signs of Christianity in the classroom. This would make it an even playing field."

Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way, issued a statement saying the plaintiffs had held Bedford's schools hostage. If they win, she said, there would be "similar disruptions in school districts across the United States as right-wing ideologues seek to gain a veto over what other parents' children read and learn."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Click to subscribe to anthroposophy_tomorrow
 

 

The Uncle Taz "WC Posts"

Tarjei's "WC files"

Anthroposophy, Critics, and Controversy

Search this site powered by FreeFind