Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Displaying Lady Justice

Well, the Giles County School Board has released the minutes of its June 7th meeting at which it approved the "historical displays" that include the Ten Commandments. As I suspected, there is some good ammunition for the ACLU, should it go ahead with its intended suit.

School Board member Drema K. McMahon:

Our teachers and our staff continue to do an outstanding job even though they have not had a raise in 4 years and we are talking about spending $350,000 to fight this to the Supreme Court. They are paying the same fuel cost that we are, the same increased electric bills, they have house payments and car payments and children to feed and clothe and send to college. Our staff here has put hours and hours into this already. Dr. Arbogast has put many hours on emails and phone calls and interviews regarding these documents. His job is commitment to excellence in education for the students of our county. Speakers addressing the School Board have referred to the Ten Commandments, not the historical documents. You have come carrying banners of the Ten Commandments; you wear support of the Ten Commandments on your t-shirts.
This is important in that it shows that members of the school board were fully cognizant of the fact that the support for these "historical displays" was actually support for hanging the Ten Commandments as a religious expression ... a situation reinforced by the statement of a local citizen:

Samuel Marshall:

You were talking about the costs of this. Through southwest Virginia, you not only have the support in this county, you have the support of Christians throughout Southwest Virginia that will fight with you if necessary and the support of this $350,000 or whatever. I thank you again for accepting this. If we have to, we will fight. As a Christian, thanks be to god that it has gone this way and god will prevail. This is not over by a long shot and it wind [sic] up in schools across this country. We thank you.
Another potentially interesting statement was by School Board member J. B. Buckland, concerning a local businessman, Charlie Henderson, who had previously donated a playground and ball fields to the school district and who pledged his "spiritual, physical and financial resources" to the board if it approved the displays. Mr. Buckland said:

We appreciate Mr. Henderson. I think that relieves a lot of pressure thinking it is going to take local funds. He has assured us. He is a man of his word. We appreciate all of you.
Now, of course, the very intent of the law that makes governments responsible for the legal fees of individuals who demonstrate that government action violates the Constitution is to encourage individuals to fight such actions and to discourage governments from engaging in them. The fact that the board is counting on others to bail it out tends to show that the board was not considering what was right under the Constitution but was, instead, following the wishes of the majority in spite of the Constitution.

Lastly, there is this sensible statement:

School Board member J. Lewis Webb, Jr.:

This issue, in my thinking, creates a great conflict between what is in my heart as opposed to my mind. When I first became a school board member, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of this great country and to provide the best possible education for our students. Personally, I feel this issue violates the Constitution as it has been overturned many times by the Supreme Court. I feel that many people are asking the school systems throughout our nation to do more and more to help them raise their children. Schools can NOT do it all. Much has to come from the home and the community. As I've heard said many times before, IT TAKES AN ENTIRE VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD. I applaud all who have stood up for this VERY important issue and respect your opinion very much. All I ask of you is to respect my position as well. This nation would not be the strong nation it is if it were made up of all like thinking people and the freedom of every individual to have an opinion.


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