Monday, March 5, 2012

How Inspiring

This has Titanic vs. Iceberg written all over it.

The Florida House voted 88-27 Thursday to give final approval to a bill that allows school boards to set policies that would allow students to offer “inspirational messages” at school events, including mandatory gatherings such as student assemblies. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott didn’t give a firm yes or no when asked Thursday whether he would sign the bill, but he is expected to do so. “I haven’t seen the bill, but I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe individuals should have a right to say a prayer,” he said.

The vote ends several years of effort by Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, and Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, who has a Masters of Divinity and who also attended Western Baptist Theological Seminary. Siplin’s measure passed the Senate a week ago.

Van Zant said that the bill was not about prayer, but about “inspirational” messaging and free speech. He also said student-crafted messages — faculty and staff are banned from involvement — would bring a tone of respect and civility to the classroom.

He noted that much has happened — for the worse — in the 50-plus years since the U.S. Supreme Court banned compulsory prayer in schools.

“Before we removed inspirational messages, the No. 1 problem was talking out of turn,” Van Zant said. “Now, it’s drug abuse.”

Translation: “inspirational” = “Jay-sus Is Lord!”

Mr. Van Zant may think he knows something about problems in school, but take it from someone who not only taught school but also was one of those kids who spent a lot of time with his friends coming up with ways to amaze and annoy the administration: if they had handed me and my pals a gift like this, you would have heard “inspirational” messages ranging from paeans to Jimi Hendrix to hymns in praise of Elbereth.

I can’t wait for the first graduation ceremony at a high school in rural Florida to feature a Wiccan prayer, or a Druid tree-worshipping benediction. Maybe they’ll tone it down and celebrate a shrub.

Just curious; I wonder how much money the Florida legislature is going to set aside to pay for the inevitable lawsuits?