What right should students have to talk about God in homework, assemblies, club meetings, and graduation speeches? This is the question at stake in a new law in Tennessee and other states across the country. On Thursday, Governor Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones. At first, this might seem uncontroversial; religious expression has always been protected by the First Amendment. So why did two Republican state legislators feel the need to write the bill?
"Christian conservative groups have for many years been frustrated by what they see as a hostile environment for religion in public schools," said Charles Haynes, the Director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum. "They are convinced—with some justification—that there’s a lot more that public schools can be doing to protect religious expression."
In Tennessee, legislators pointed to one case in particular as the motivation for creating the bill. In October, a teacher told a Memphis fifth grader that she couldn’t write about God in an essay about “her idol.” In defiance, ten-year-old Erin Shead wrote two essays—both about the Almighty, although only one was about Michael Jackson—and her mom sought legal help. The elementary schooler was later allowed to turn in her God essay (and earned a score of 100%, as local news organizations dutifully reported at the time).
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Y’know what would eliminate even the need for this law? A “keep your religion to your damn self” cultural norm/campaign/law/etc. There’s no question of anybody being offended, or anybody’s rights being infringed, or where the limits of those rights are, if everyone keeps their private views private.
Someone ought to start a campaign.
Before Frozen came out, I followed its progress like a hawk. As a diehard Disney fan, animation nerd, and feminist, there were a lot of things about the movie’s premise that appealed to me. After seeing it (more than once, now), Frozen easily became one of my favourite Disney movies to ever be released, because I related the story so strongly. Especially Elsa.
After all of my friends see the movie, the first thing I say to them is, “So, I have this theory about Frozen.” This is that theory: Elsa is gay.
Personally I thought this was almost obvious. (My thought was not nearly so detailed or exhaustive as this analysis, but yeah.)
Actually, ‘fall’ has its origins as an Anglo-Saxon word, and was popularized for use to denote the season around the 16th century from the poetic term ‘the fall of leaf.’ In the language that would develop after 1066, words that were coded as being common or lowly generally had Anglo-Saxon roots while the ‘educated’ words of the elite had French and Latin roots. This is why, even in modern English, we use ‘cow,’ which has an Anglo-Saxon origin, for the animal out in the field and ‘beef,’ which has a French origin, for the food to be consumed. The poor handle the animal while the rich eat the meat, and that is reflected in the language. The language of the conquerors was elevated while the language of the conquered was made base and common. If ‘autumn’ sounds smarter than ‘fall,’ that is only the linguistic snobbery of history talking.
I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!
When I’m introduced to someone as a writer, a now familiar pattern of events often follows.
“Oh, really! How interesting!” the someone—let’s call her Jane—says, sounding quite enthusiastic. “What do you write?”
“Science fiction,” I say.
Jane instantly glazes over. “I’m afraid I never read science fiction.”
In other instances, people who know me have read a book of mine out of curiosity and then told me, in some surprise, that they liked it—“even though I don’t normally like science fiction.” Indeed, when a short story collection of mine won a non-genre prize, it was apparently a surprise to the judges themselves: According to the chair of the judging panel, “none of [them] knew they were science-fiction fans beforehand.”
The assumption seems to be that a book that comes with a genre label like “science fiction” must necessarily be lightweight stuff—not really comparable with “non-genre” works.
This may partly be due to the fact that the word “genre” has two different meanings which are often muddled up. The basic meaning of “genre” is simply kind or category or form of fiction, and in that sense, any work of fiction can be assigned to some genre or another. But “genre” is also used in a different way to make a distinction between “genre” and “non-genre” fiction. “Non-genre” fiction is the stuff that is placed on the “general fiction” or “fiction and literature” shelves in Barnes and Noble. “Genre” fiction is the stuff that is placed in its own designated corners: Crime, Fantasy, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction.