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Are you gutsier than a 5th grader?
November 16, 2009 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Arkansas 5th grader refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance until gays and lesbians have equal rights. CNN and The Huffington Post pick up the story.
posted by Daddy-O (272 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome tee-shirt.
posted by ColdChef at 11:34 AM on November 16, 2009


Ahem. Awesome tee-shirt.
posted by ColdChef at 11:36 AM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Good kid. I really hope he makes it out of school alive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:36 AM on November 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


Awesome. As a show of support I now refuse to stand up for the rest of today.

It's 11:30am currently. This could get messy.
posted by mannequito at 11:38 AM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


"With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge."

I like this kid.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:39 AM on November 16, 2009 [37 favorites]


This is the sort of thing that makes me with compulsory pledge-saying were still in effect where I spend most of my day so that I could do this.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:39 AM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Er... 'wish'.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:41 AM on November 16, 2009


“They [the kids who don't support him] are much more crazy, and out of control and vocal about it than supporters are.”

Glad to see we've got another batshitinsane right-wing generation in the incubator. I'm sure their parents (and Sean Hannity) are very proud.
posted by Brak at 11:41 AM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fantastic.
posted by Mavri at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2009


huh. my first thought was honestly, "ok, so did your parents tell you to do it?" because as wonderful a gesture as it is, 10 year olds aren't prone to noble gestures.

turns out his parents had nothing to do with it. kid, I wish you luck in your endeavors, and hope you weather it well when you find out just how little world appreciates your considerable nobility. schoolyard taunting and an asshole sub are nothing compared to what's coming.
posted by shmegegge at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's official: there is hope. Film at eleven.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:43 AM on November 16, 2009


Well, something tells me we'll be finding out what his kitchen countertops are made of by the end of the day.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:44 AM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I keep telling my kids not to say the Pledge* but they do it anyway because everyone else is doing it. *sigh*

* As resident aliens living in the US I don't think it's appropriate for non-citizens to recite the Pledge.
posted by GuyZero at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the one hand, this kid is really young, and I'm pretty uncomfortable with parents teaching their kids to parrot beliefs for some hokey "out of the mouths of babes" effect.

On the other, I agree with him. Maybe he can open some of his friends' eyes.

On a third hand, he's wearing a Nerds 4 Ever shirt, so he might not be the kid that his classmates choose to listen to with open minds.

Anyway, Will, if you're out there, good luck.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2009


The US needs more kids like this. Good on him.
posted by brand-gnu at 11:46 AM on November 16, 2009


Order me up a set of the giant balls this kid is wearing.

At 10 I was walking around with a pair of acorns, but this kid just dropped a pair of 15 pound bowling balls on the table.
posted by cbecker333 at 11:47 AM on November 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


That kid's a bad-ass. More power to him.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:48 AM on November 16, 2009


His bravery is super cool.
posted by bearwife at 11:48 AM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why not just amend the pledge?

I remember having to say the Lord's Prayer aloud in scripture classes at his age, but I couldn't fathom why people would pray for plain, boring old bread, so always used to tack on "Give us this day our daily bread and peanut butter and forgive us our trespasses..."

Along those lines, he could say "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, including the gays and lesbians"

I like to imagine the way that last phrase would hang in the air after the other students have finished the pledge. Give them something to think about. And, kids being kids, it's hard to see it not being picked up by others in the class & turned into a bit of a meme.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:48 AM on November 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


Well, something tells me we'll be finding out what his kitchen countertops are made of by the end of the day.

I-what?
posted by The Whelk at 11:49 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will's answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?

Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That's what I think pretty much being an American represents.

posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


On the one hand, this kid is really young, and I'm pretty uncomfortable with parents teaching their kids to parrot beliefs for some hokey "out of the mouths of babes" effect.

I think its an honest reaction from the kid, the parents clearly are not telling him what to think. Kids have a way of seeing things without the fog of cynicism that we all have accumulated. This is a great example of what happens when a kid is lucky enough to have early exposure to gay culture and see that, oh my gosh, they're just like non-gays! People.
posted by cbecker333 at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Absolutely bad-ass.
posted by brundlefly at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


because as wonderful a gesture as it is, 10 year olds aren't prone to noble gestures.

Funny, I started doing this in 5th grade as well. My parents had no idea. Maybe it's a 5th-grader thing. ("Under God" part for me.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:52 AM on November 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


Actually, I take my first hand back. Parents teaching kids to be open and accepting and decent to all people isn't brainwashing, it's good parenting. Rock on, little nerd.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:52 AM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


> On the one hand, this kid is really young, and I'm pretty uncomfortable with parents teaching their kids to parrot beliefs for some hokey "out of the mouths of babes" effect.

I would agree in principle, but reading the article, it looks like the kid formed his opinion and took his stand on his own. Pretty good sense for a 10 year old.
posted by Brak at 11:53 AM on November 16, 2009


Funny, I started doing this in 5th grade as well. My parents had no idea. Maybe it's a 5th-grader thing. ("Under God" part for me.)

I did as well. Not till 7th grade, but for the same reason.
posted by brundlefly at 11:54 AM on November 16, 2009


My wife is an elementary teacher and was fired from a job once for refusing to say the pledge. She didn't ban her students from doing it. She didn't even explain why she wasn't doing it. (It wasn't for the same reason as Will's refusal.) She just made "pledge leader" one of the duties that the kids--5th graders--rotated through and sat quietly at her desk during the pledge.

We were in a small town at the time, so I know that when the principal found out about her quiet abstention from the pledge, she contact the district's HR people to see if that was grounds for dismissal, which of course it wasn't. No one can be compelled to make the pledge as a condition of employment. But her next evaluation noted her "failure to maintain a positive workplace environment" and similarly weaselly critiques appeared throughout the rest of the year until she was dismissed.

Actually, even the dismissal was a mess. It was her first year in the district, and they held the right to non-renew any first year employee without giving cause. So the vice-superintendent told her that she could accept non-renewal without knowing what they were going to eventually write in her personnel file as the reason (if any), or she could "voluntarily" resign.

She resigned with a page of reasons listed about violations of her rights and inequitable treatment. I don't know how the big wigs downtown reacted, except that we've discovered that when later employers called her principal from that year to check on her employment history, she would tell them that she could confirm that Mrs. Aletheias taught there one year, but wasn't able to say anything beyond that.

All of which is just to say that the pledge is stupid, making anyone say it is stupid, and there are real consequences in a lot of the country for refusing to participate, whether you are 10 or 30.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:55 AM on November 16, 2009 [57 favorites]


Man, kids today.

ARE AWESOME.
posted by scody at 11:56 AM on November 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


This kid seems to have learned things in his household, from his parents, the same way that the kids who are calling him "gaywad" learned in theirs. Nerd on, kid!
posted by rtha at 11:56 AM on November 16, 2009


My hat is off to this kid. I probably wouldn't have the balls to do this as an adult, let alone as a kid (if I was even aware enough at the time to have it be a question).
posted by DU at 11:56 AM on November 16, 2009


This kid is more mature and intelligent than many people who are 7 times his age.
posted by naju at 11:58 AM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The teacher, Will said, told him that she knew his mother and grandmother, and they would want him to stand and say the pledge.

“She got a lot more angry and raised her voice and brought my mom and my grandma up,” Will said. “I was fuming and was too furious to really pay attention to what she was saying. After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge.' ”
Uh, so much for the voluntary pledge of allegiance, which is the whole reason it's legal to have "under god" in there.
posted by delmoi at 11:59 AM on November 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That's what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

I like the way this kid thinks, and we could use a few more like him.
posted by quin at 12:00 PM on November 16, 2009


Sounds like normal behavior for a smart fifth-grader. Good luck to him getting out of that town- being smart like that can lead to the other kids being incredibly cruel, and they don't necessarily get nicer as they grow up.
I always found compulsory pledges to be rather odious.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:01 PM on November 16, 2009


Also, what makes this kid a "nerd"? He says he wants to grow up to be a lawyer.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2009


With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge.

Kid, on your 21st the first round's on me.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Do Alaskans abstain because of the 'indivisible' clause?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I probably wouldn't have the balls to do this as an adult, let alone as a kid

It's pretty amazing how freaked out people get about these sorts of gestures, and how willing you've got to be to steel yourself (and the people around you) for an unexpected level of shit. I haven't stood up for the national anthem at baseball games, etc. for about 15 years -- and people can get really fucking angry. Sometimes no one's reacted, but other times I have been nudged, yelled at, friends with me have been ordered to "pull me up" to make me stand, etc. If I'm with friends or family (particularly with kids) who I think are going to have a hard time with any fallout, I've found that it's just easier to take trip to the bathroom or the concession stand right around that time, rather than to risk fucking up their entire day at the ballpark because a bunch of freedom lovers around us have become unglued at the spectacle of someone exercising her first amendment rights.
posted by scody at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


I'm pretty uncomfortable with parents teaching their kids to parrot beliefs

I'm pretty uncomfortable with schools teaching their charges to parrot the Christian beliefs of a handful of dead legislators. Lucky thing for both of us that this particular individual can reason for himself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That's what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

In the one meeting my wife had with her principal, she asked if "liberty and justice for all" included her liberty not to recite the pledge.

The principal exercised her freedom to make no response.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Brave kid. When "under God" was added to the Pledge in 1954, I just didn't say those two words.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2009


Also, what makes this kid a "nerd"? He says he wants to grow up to be a lawyer.

Based on the T-shirt, "nerd" is Will's self-chosen label.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2009


because as wonderful a gesture as it is, 10 year olds aren't prone to noble gestures.

Actually, you'll see noble gestures from many kids. That guileless innocence, not yet jaded by the world and life experience, often amounts to a real desire to help people, make a difference, etc. However, it's an everyday, small-scale series of gestures that you might miss if you're not around kids all the time. Most of these things don't make the news. They are simpler than that.

More power to this kid and to other kids like him.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I have a 5-month-old daughter. I hope I can be as good a dad as Jay Phillips.
posted by nickmark at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Speaking as a Canadian who dutifully recited the pledge for three years of elementary school in the midwestern US without realizing what it meant and became retroactively royally pissed (pun probably intended) at being made to swear my allegiance to a flag other than my own, I would like to thank Will for doing what I lacked the insight and fortitude to do when I was around his age.

That said, this?

“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said.

Sure hope this is just a passing phase he grows out of. It'd be a real waste of a citizen of his calibre.
posted by gompa at 12:07 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Regardless of the politics, it's heartening to see a kid able to make a stand like that. Not just make it, but reason it out in the first place. Good job!

I've been debating as to what the appropriate age will be to tell my kids that they don't have to say the pledge if they don't want to. And that includes the pledge to the Texas flag, which is crazy, in my opinion.
posted by Shohn at 12:07 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


This kid gives me a certain amount of hope.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2009


I remember being a 10-year-old well enough to be very impressed. The idea of doing anything at that age that would have drawn any undue attention to myself by consciously behaving in a way that would make me stand out, as opposed to quietly blending in with the majority, was such a foreign concept that I'm sure I would have never considered it. That this kid continues to take a stand while being relentlessly teased shows a kind of strength I really admire and wish I'd had at that age ( and frankly, now too).
posted by The Gooch at 12:10 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sure hope this is just a passing phase he grows out of. It'd be a real waste of a citizen of his calibre.

I know that was snark, but many lawyers work for LGBT causes full-time.
posted by naju at 12:11 PM on November 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Sure hope this is just a passing phase he grows out of. It'd be a real waste of a citizen of his calibre.

The Bill of Rights is the creation of lawyers. The U.S. Supreme Court decisions that make us proud are the creation of lawyers. There are never too many fine lawyers.
posted by bearwife at 12:12 PM on November 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


Not only have I found a hero who isn't a century dead, it looks like I have an entire lifetime of this kid's badassery to look forward to. Keep fighting the good fight, kid.
posted by absalom at 12:12 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This kid is allowed on my lawn.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:12 PM on November 16, 2009 [115 favorites]


oh, man, that kid has got the nerdiest voice ever. I want to mail him some cookies.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:12 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


the pledge is stupid, making anyone say it is stupid

Out of interest, which other countries do this?

It certainly wasn't a part of school life for me growing up in Australia.

I vaguely recall former Prime Minister John Howard trying to introduce mandatory flag-raising & pledge-saying ceremonies in schools, but I think it was derided as a great big wank, and fundamentally un-Australian - a bit like those portraits of the Queen of England that seem to adorn a lot of school walls.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:13 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did as well. Not till 7th grade, but for the same reason.

I can remember quietly omitting the "under God" bit in later elementary school, not out of any particular sense of principle but because as a member of an irreligious family I thought it was a wierd thing to have to stand and recite. Then in 7th grade I started going to parochial school (for the academics, you understand, not for the churchiness) and suddenly I was drowning in such an ocean of liturgical wierdness that I stopped caring too much about the Pledge.
posted by killdevil at 12:15 PM on November 16, 2009


Oh, manomanoman. This kid is awesome. Would it be too creepy-internet-stalkerish for me to research an address to send him a thank-you card? Because I would totally send him a really cool card. You know, if it wasn't all creepy creepster for me to do that.
posted by hippybear at 12:19 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


A thousand times, yes. What a great kid. Good luck, Will.
posted by littlerobothead at 12:19 PM on November 16, 2009


I think that this kid is awesome.

Predictably, fellow students have taunted the kid and called him a "gaywad," but he says he doesn't see his quiet act of protest ending any time soon.

Ask you can see in the attached clip, he recounted this story on CNN, and John Roberts actually asks him "A gaywad? What's a gaywad?" Hard hitting TV journalism, that.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 12:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Why not just amend the pledge?"

I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, under several gods, goddesses, prophets, spirits, and the sky, indivisible (in a geographical sense, at least), with liberty and justice for some.

Doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well. (And yes, I know I probably missed some things.)
posted by hallowdmachine at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Predictably, fellow students have taunted the kid and called him a "gaywad," but he says he doesn't see his quiet act of protest ending any time soon.

I don't envy the experience a kid like this will have in the U.S. public school system.
posted by killdevil at 12:24 PM on November 16, 2009


If I'm with friends or family (particularly with kids) who I think are going to have a hard time with any fallout, I've found that it's just easier to take trip to the bathroom or the concession stand right around that time, rather than to risk fucking up their entire day at the ballpark because a bunch of freedom lovers around us have become unglued at the spectacle of someone exercising her first amendment rights.

See, me, I'd turn to the yabbos and say something about how the prosthetic leg the VA hospital gave you was acting up that day...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:25 PM on November 16, 2009


I've been debating as to what the appropriate age will be to tell my kids that they don't have to say the pledge if they don't want to. And that includes the pledge to the Texas flag, which is crazy, in my opinion.

Huh. I don't remember a Texas flag pledge. But it has been a long time since I've been in primary or secondary school.

And man, I wish I had this kid's guts when I was that age. I stopped saying "under god" pretty early on, but that's the kind of thing nobody would notice anyway since I was still standing like everybody else.
posted by kmz at 12:26 PM on November 16, 2009


I am proud to say that my buddy David wrote that ArkTimes article. Koon's a goddamn good writer, covering a goddamn awesome kid there.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:27 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, actually, we are paying attention to the other side.

Except, you know, being a kid and choosing not to say the Pledge of Allegiance is way cooler than being a parent and refusing to let your kid watch his president on TV because he's black and liberal.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:27 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


(quick math)

Phillips 2024! Let's get the bumper stickers ready.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 12:29 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Shall we take up a collection to get him a scholarship to a nice, progressive private school?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:29 PM on November 16, 2009


Out of interest, which other countries do this?

It's pretty uncommon, but here are a few examples that I could find:

The Philippines does a similar thing. There is an Oath of Allegiance recited by schoolchildren and a Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag. The recitation of the Oath in schools dates back to 1955, so it's a fairly modern thing and no doubt influenced by the American Pledge of Allegiance given that the Philippines only became more-or-less-completely independent from the US in 1946.

The Singapore National Pledge is also recited at school functions. It dates to 1966.

The Indian National Pledge is recited at school events as well.

There is a draft South African schools pledge but I'm not sure if it's actually come into use yet.
posted by jedicus at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole concept of a "pledge of allegiance" is crazy and terrible to begin with.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


Cool kid.

I moved into a new neighborhood recently and, earlier this month, went to the local Father's Club* meeting. I was surprised when one of the boardmembers said "and we always start with the Pledge." It felt a little too much like Boy Scouts again. But I stood and participated, omitting 'under God' like apparently many of my fellow mefites.


*you don't have to be male, or a father, to join. they do community good works: breakfast with Santa, halloween parade, fishing contests, etc.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 12:30 PM on November 16, 2009


To the extent the pledge has any value (and I believe it does, a little) it is usually demeaned by forcing kids to recite it regularly. This is not just because it is paradoxical to require a daily oath of national allegiance in a free country (whether the requirement is formal or social). Have you ever listened to a bunch of kids say the pledge? It's typically a muttered, monotone, thinking-about-something else exercise, which in chorus sounds like moans and groans from a dungeon. It's a little better with adults, but not much.
posted by brain_drain at 12:31 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't stood up for the national anthem at baseball games, etc. for about 15 years

Us too! Although the chances of getting shit for that at a Giants game is probably fairly slim. Haven't been yelled at, had beer poured on me, or peanuts thrown at my head yet. We always clap and holler for the person or people who performed the anthem, though, because damn, that's bravery right there.
posted by rtha at 12:31 PM on November 16, 2009


obamamustlose: "Come on people, this is Metafilter. META. Do you not see this for what it is?

This has nothing to do with this 5th grader. This is a story about CNN and the media,
"

oh man, this is the best sock puppet ever. who are you normally? that is a pitch perfect parody of right wing stupidity.
posted by shmegegge at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I don't have many heroes, and now one of them is a ten-year-old. Thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


For the record, here's my personal version of the Pledge. I don't recall where I took it from, but I genuinely believe every word of it:

"I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the ideals for which it stands: one nation, many peoples, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

That ought to make a few neocon heads explode.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2009 [34 favorites]


We always clap and holler for the person or people who performed the anthem, though, because damn, that's bravery right there.

Oh yeah, absolutely. One of my nightmares, guaranteed to make me wake in a cold sweat, is having to sing the anthem in front of a stadium crowd.

Although the chances of getting shit for that at a Giants game is probably fairly slim.

Yeah, the "STAND UP YOU COMMIE BASTARD" shit's been less common since moving to L.A. and going to Dodgers games. In Chicago, though, it's a whole nother story (whether at Comiskey or Wrigley)...
posted by scody at 12:36 PM on November 16, 2009


Although the chances of getting shit for that at a Giants game is probably fairly slim.

Heh. I almost invariably wind up heading for the beer booth at Arkansas Travelers games when the anthem starts up, and I never stop. I always pretend I'm Hiro Nakamura navigating through frozen time, weaving around all those still bodies facing the flag and the jumbotron. The only difference is that on Heroes, the frozen people can't flash you dirty looks for power-walking in the general direction of a bottle of Fat Tire instead of singing about how awesome Old Glory iooks in battle.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:37 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow. Anchor can really hold that smirk.
posted by JBennett at 12:37 PM on November 16, 2009


Shall we take up a collection to get him a scholarship to a nice, progressive private school?

Interesting idea, but the kid goes to school in West Fork, Arkansas, population 2,042. The nearest school that might conceivably fit that description is a 20 minute drive away. What's more, it only goes to the 7th grade, and the only private high schools in the area are religious, so far as I know.

No, so long as his safety isn't in question and the kid is in the driver's seat I think it's great that he's working for change in his own environment.
posted by jedicus at 12:37 PM on November 16, 2009


I hope that FOX goes after this, even though it seems like a no-winner for them, based up "facts"
and the kid being "technically correct." Although, when has it stopped them before?

Best bit so far, digging through the info on The Pledge:

The guy who wrote it was a Christian Socialist.

A Socialist.

THIS is why FOX won't touch it. Hundreds of thousands of trailer park husbands having a simultaneous aneurysm would overflow the hospitals, and put more favor on the populist
view of health care.
posted by gcbv at 12:38 PM on November 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


> Don't accept this crap just because it falls on your side of the political fence today. Eventually they will do it with something you don't agree with.

Settle down Beavis. You've drawn the wrong conclusions about CNN's motives. They're reporting this because gay marriage is a hot button topic in the national consciousness, and as such this kind of story will simply garner more ratings for them.

You actually think CNN as an organization gives a shit about whether gay marriage is legal or illegal? They're whores, not kingmakers. Now, if you want to be incensed that they're whores, I can't say that I'd blame you. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for CNN to steer the population into some political abyss, unless the population themselves have already decided to go that way, and there's a buck to be made in it.
posted by Brak at 12:38 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Good on you, kid. I missed bits out of hymns in church when I disagreed with them from a pretty young age (notably this one, particularly the fifth verse, in case you're interested), but I doubt I'd have had the guts to do something as visible and counter-cultural as Will here.

Incidentally, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at all just seems weird from my cultural standpoint. Patriotism in the UK isn't anywhere near as visible as it is in the US - the only times you ever hear the National Anthem are: ...and that's about it, barring some other occasions I've probably forgotten. And although some members of the older generation would get cross if I didn't stand up for it, most people my age wouldn't bat an eyelid, and it's certainly true that no-one would care whether I had my hand over my heart.

I'm guessing that it's something to do with the US being a much younger country, comparatively speaking, as well as being one where historically national identity has been something you chose rather than something you grew up with. Doesn't stop it from looking really, really odd from this side of the pond, though.
posted by ZsigE at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm still incapable of hearing the pledge as anything other than I pledge allegiance to the wall...

Good on the kid.
posted by Drastic at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2009


That dad looks very proud. I would be too.
posted by Taft at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2009


I haven't stood up for the national anthem at baseball games, etc. for about 15 years

I always make sure not to be present for the (seemingly now required) 7th Inning Stretch singing of "God Bless America". Fuck that shit.
posted by hippybear at 12:44 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love the kid.

However, you people warming the seats during the national anthem are not brave and not making any kind of interesting commentary. I hope your little pulses are racing while you are thinking of everyone watching you.
posted by found missing at 12:44 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This kid is 18 kinds of awesome, with chocolate sauce on top. I wish he would run for President some day, I'd be at that inauguration with bells on.

This reminds me why I won't buy whatever packaged crap the Boy Scouts are selling outside our local grocery store, but I will happily buy Girl Scout cookies -- one organization discriminates against LGBT people and the other does not.

In fact, even though I got kicked out of Girl Scouts for being a mouthy little kid myself (note: troop leaders do not react kindly to being called 'bitches' even if they are, in fact, totally being one), in my late 20s I was recruited to serve on a board of our local GS council. I told them well, I got thrown out, are you sure? And they laughed and said of course -- we're not going to hold something you did 15+ years ago against you!

People who don't bear grudges against kids for speaking their opinion are the greatest, too.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:45 PM on November 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Sadly, I had given no thought whatsoever to this issue for my son, who starts school in two years. Probably because I kind of enjoyed saying the pledge; not because of the meaning of the words themselves, but because it has a kind of pleasing rhythm, and it put off class starting for two more minutes.

Same with the national anthem; not many times I get to sing with large groups in public. It's kind of fun.

But this kid is still awesome, and his teacher is a brainless dink.
posted by emjaybee at 12:47 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Out of interest, which other countries do this?

No such thing in Canada, and (at least in the muddled seventies) we used to -- in public schools -- recite the Lord's Prayer and then sing a song that would not become the national anthem for several years yet. And occasionally we sang "God Save The Queen," but whether this was in addition to or in place of, I cannot recall at this remove. Of course the whole thing is kind of muddled:

Official changes to the English version were recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons. The National Anthem Act of 1980 added a religious reference to the English lyrics and the phrase "From far and wide, O Canada" to replace one of the somewhat tedious repetitions of the phrase "We stand on guard." This change was controversial with traditionalists, and for several years afterwards it was not uncommon to hear people (some by choice, some by memory reflex) still singing the old lyrics at public events. By contrast, the French version has never been changed from its original.[6] In fact, at public events where there may be participants singing both the French and English versions simultaneously, it is common to hear people singing the beginning in French and then switching to the English version, usually three or four lines before the end.

Myself, I am not sure I know the lyrics to the first verse in full to either the English or the French version, and tend to be one of the people who sings it bilingually.

---

Anyway, count me in with those who think that requiring an oath of loyalty to be taken under duress is something unbecoming of a civilized society.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:49 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I always make sure not to be present for the (seemingly now required) 7th Inning Stretch singing of "God Bless America". Fuck that shit.

After all the dead people and the erosion of civil rights, this is the worst thing that came out of 9/11.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:49 PM on November 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


Why not just amend the pledge?

Srsly. After seeing modernhumorist's book titled "One Nation, Extra Cheese" I found myself wishing I could go back to childhood and recite the pledge that way.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:50 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't accept this crap just because it falls on your side of the political fence today. Eventually they will do it with something you don't agree with.

1) You may not realize it, but I feel like someone should let you know that when you rant like this, you sound like a crazy person.

2) If you kid wants to refuse to say the Pledge because he doesn't like Barack Obama, or interracial marriage, or the fact that Dollhouse just got cancelled, or whatever, more power to him. Nobody should be (or legally can be) forced to say the Pledge; that's the whole point.
posted by EarBucket at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


By the way, this kid is so far ahead of where I was at that age it's not even funny. In fifth grade our big subversion was to say "United Butts of Amerifart" and other similarly-witty substitutions.
posted by brain_drain at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


"With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge."

In the CNN piece he expounds: "I said solemnly, with a bit a malice in my voice, 'With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge.'"

When I was 10 years old I think "Sleestak" was the probably the smartest word I knew. Go get 'em Will.

Also his dad looks totally proud of his son in a sort of "whoa my sperms help make this? YEAH BOYS!" kinda way.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:54 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cool brave kid. I wasn't expected to say the pledge much during school but the few times I did I only mouthed the under god part. I didn't have the cojones to make a public issue of it though.


Back in the days when I was generally in an 'enhanced' frame of mind I jotted something in my journal that popped into my head. A pledge for the black market...

One nation, under dark shades, invisible, with libertines and just-in-times for all.
posted by Babblesort at 12:55 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


[did hatchet job on crazytalk and GRAR. MetaTalk is your option, take your hate there -- both sides of this argument, please, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:57 PM on November 16, 2009


About the time I hit 5th grade I was reciting the pledge with "...seeking liberty and justice for all". I don't think I had even the remotest thought of leaving out "under God", but now that I think of it (and 40 years after the fact . . .)

I like this kid just because he decided that he didn't want to recite the pledge - and acted on it.
posted by Man with Lantern at 12:57 PM on November 16, 2009


I have no problem with the national anthem at baseball games.

God Bless America, on the other hand, is way, way, way out of place. In 2001, I could handle it, but it's pretty tough to defend today.

In addition to the whole church and state problem, those parks that use it have pretty much wrecked the 7th inning stretch.
posted by rokusan at 1:00 PM on November 16, 2009


HEY YOU KIDS COME RIGHT IN MY YARD AND PLAY WITH YOUR FOOTBALL, WHICH YOU CAN KEEP!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


gompa
Sure hope this is just a passing phase he grows out of. It'd be a real waste of a citizen of his calibre.
John Adams, Daniel Webster, and Abraham Lincoln were all lawyers, I think we would be hard pressed to find anyone say they were wastes. Not all contemporary lawyers are that bad either, so why the categorical denouncement of an entire profession? That seems awfully narrow viewed. All professions have good and bad folk. What could be a better use of this kid's talents, foresight, and intellect than to become a great attorney and defend free speech and civil rights?

Pater Aletheias
All of which is just to say that the pledge is stupid, making anyone say it is stupid, and there are real consequences in a lot of the country for refusing to participate, whether you are 10 or 30.
The Pledge is not stupid, I can think of far worse things than an oath of loyalty to a nation that is supposed to stand for liberty and justice. Is it flawed? Yes. I have problems with the pledge, I'm an atheist. Your wife should have had complete liberty not to have to lead the class in the pledge, but that's not the source of her problems. Her problems were with the principle, someone who took the pledge, and everything it stood for, and threw it out the window in its "defense." Your beef is not with the pledge, it's with the actions of others in the name of the pledge. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the source of the problem, the principle is.
posted by thebestsophist at 1:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I always make sure not to be present for the (seemingly now required) 7th Inning Stretch singing of "God Bless America". Fuck that shit.

I don't know what baseball games you've attended recently, but only one (of thirty) MLB teams still does this every home game. The rest only break it out for special occasions these days.
posted by aswego at 1:05 PM on November 16, 2009


Ah yeah, the old days when we said the Lord's Prayer in school in Canada. The school I went to for a period in North Toronto so heavily Jewish that on the high holidays there were maybe 2 or 3 kids present in class. But every morning we all ground out the Lord's Prayer. It never struck me as incongruous until years later.
posted by GuyZero at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2009


Hatcheting the thread was unnecessary. The ideas were called out as crazy, and it wasn't like anybody called anybody Hitler.
posted by found missing at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2009


The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a (Christian) socialist with the express intent of shaming Southerners who remained loyal to the Confederacy (at least as an idea). Of course it got turned into some super-patriotic b.s., especially with the 1950s addition of "under God," and now refusing to say it is the braver act. So: pledge less lame than some think, but still bravo to this kid.
posted by graymouser at 1:07 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


You know I may disagree with the general slant of some kid who won't recite the pledge because Obama is the president or they have assbackward opinions about people who are gay. But, as far as caring about weather or not they say the pledge, for whatever reason... yeah that's a big fat meh.

Stand up, sit down, recite or not, flag pins and hand over hearts. These are all optional from enlightened gurus to neo-nazi bastards. It is when you force people to do these things that the problems start.

As to the, "because as wonderful a gesture as it is, 10 year olds aren't prone to noble gestures." issues, I was actually more prone to confronting what I thought of as injustice when I was a kid... course I lived in Canada at the time, but I like to think I would have been the same if I was in the US.
posted by edgeways at 1:09 PM on November 16, 2009


My giant Italian family has a big reunion picnic every 4th of July, and during the course of patriotic events, one of the little kids leads everybody in reciting the pledge of allegiance. This involves the right-wing fascist reactionary half of the family saying "one nation, UNDER GOD!!!!, indivisible..." while the terrorist-loving, freedom-hating, gay sex-having pinko half of the family goes "one nation, INDIVISIBLE!!!!!!, with liberty and justice..." and glare at the other side for screwing up the ending. Then we all eat some of Aunt Gloria's gingerbread cake.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:10 PM on November 16, 2009 [21 favorites]


I said solemnly, with a bit a malice in my voice, 'With all due respect, ma'am, you can go jump off a bridge.

That's gonna end up in someone's NaNoWriMo.

The idea of doing anything at that age that would have drawn any undue attention to myself by consciously behaving in a way that would make me stand out, as opposed to quietly blending in with the majority, was such a foreign concept that I'm sure I would have never considered it.

He's intelligent and just skipped 4th grade in Arkansas. He's used to standing out and it doesn't seem to bother his sense of self.

Keep standing up (and sitting down) for your rights and the rights of those around you. If you forget how, give Will a call.
posted by Revvy at 1:12 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. I don't remember a Texas flag pledge. But it has been a long time since I've been in primary or secondary school.

I was in a public school the other day and can confirm that they still do the pledge to the Texas flag after the US pledge. I was at a total loss. I just mumbled some Johnny Cash lyrics.
posted by mattbucher at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


. This involves the right-wing fascist reactionary half of the family saying "one nation, UNDER GOD!!!!, indivisible..." while the terrorist-loving, freedom-hating, gay sex-having pinko half of the family goes "one nation, INDIVISIBLE!!!!!!, with liberty and justice..."

This conflict can only be solved with a dance-fight.
posted by The Whelk at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget this fabulous old Life In Hell strip.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:14 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]



“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said.

Sure hope this is just a passing phase he grows out of. It'd be a real waste of a citizen of his calibre.


The extension of equal rights to any minority group has always come about in part due to the tireless of efforts of intelligent and devoted lawyers to cause. You should hope that Will becomes one of them.
posted by modernnomad at 1:14 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


(Oh, and the other variant by Groening...can't remember where this one was originally printed, probably also Life in Hell...)

I plead alignment to the flakes of the untitled snakes of a merry cow,
and to the Republicans, for which they scam
one nacho
underpants
(invisible)
with licorice
and jugs of wine
for owls
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


However, you people warming the seats during the national anthem are not brave and not making any kind of interesting commentary. I hope your little pulses are racing while you are thinking of everyone watching you.

Thanks for trying to read my mind. However, I usually think of my grandfather, a veteran of WWII, telling me he didn't stand for it, either, because of his anger at the treatment of Marian Davies.
posted by scody at 1:16 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


GAH! Marian ANDERSON! He had no opinion about Marion Davies.

*when I win the 100K raffle I will DEMAND edit powers*
posted by scody at 1:16 PM on November 16, 2009


I'm still looking for a map that shows Forwichitstan.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:17 PM on November 16, 2009 [17 favorites]


The Pledge of Allegiance is not the source of the problem, the principle is.

Most appropriate error ever.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 1:17 PM on November 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


UbuRoivas: "Why not just amend the pledge?"

hallowdmachine : I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, under several gods, goddesses, prophets, spirits, and the sky, indivisible (in a geographical sense, at least), with liberty and justice for some.

Doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well. (And yes, I know I probably missed some things.)
I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, under several gods, goddesses, prophets, spirits, and the sky, indivisible (in a geographical sense, at least), with liberty and justice for some.

Doesn't quite roll off the tongue as well. (And yes, I know I probably missed some things.)


FWIW, "under God..." itself was one of 4 amendments. The pledge was written in 1892 in Boston by Francis Bellamy.

The Pledge has been modified four times since then, with the most recent change adding the words 'under God in 1954."*
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on November 16, 2009


Or, what graymouser and Carol Anne said!
posted by ericb at 1:20 PM on November 16, 2009


When I was a teacher, the legislature of the miserable state of Texas passed a law saying that Teachers were required to say the pledge (even if students were not). Despite many warnings that it was required, I refused for personal reasons. Principals saw me, visitors to the building saw me. District employees saw me. Nothing was ever done about it.

My class sat through it every day. I told the kids they could stand or say it if they wanted. No one did. Or at least, no one had the balls to stand up for what they believed in if they did want to stand up and say the pledges. Weak willed little losers.
I did require that the time be spent quietly, out of respect for something. I could never give them a good reason for that part of it. Personally, I just liked to have a minute of quiet before each day of madness began.
posted by Seamus at 1:22 PM on November 16, 2009


This kid would be able to walk on water if it weren't for his enormous brass balls. We could use more people like him in this world.
posted by porn in the woods at 1:22 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Calvin's version
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2009


Also of interest, the pledge was written by Bellamy in honor of Columbus Day and was originally accompanied by the Bellamy Salute.
"At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute -- right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.' At the words, 'to my Flag,' the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side."
It was replaced in 1942 with the "hand-over-the-heart" gesture because of its similarity to the Hitler salute.
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Man, I love the Star Spangled Banner. It is seriously cool and sometimes the last line will make me tear up if it is a special occasion. Since we only ever sing the first verse, we never have to do the godly-part, which is cool with me.

But the Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America are very uncool. Feel free to skip those.
posted by muddgirl at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I stand for the national anthem in honor of Wm Randolph Hearst's wife's refusal to grant a divorce so that he could marry Marion Davies.
posted by found missing at 1:24 PM on November 16, 2009


The Indian National Pledge is recited at school events as well.

I can't remember ever hearing anyone saying that pledge when I was in school (in India). I remember seeing the text in our 4th grade reader and thinking "well that's all very nice, but what's the point?"
posted by phliar at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2009


However, you people warming the seats during the national anthem are not brave and not making any kind of interesting commentary. I hope your little pulses are racing while you are thinking of everyone watching you.

Why the fuck do you care? I sit there drinking my beer, hoping the performer doesn't get too far out of tune, and praying that our starter doesn't collapse by the 3rd inning. I don't think I'm brave. I'm just not interested in standing for the national anthem.
posted by rtha at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I only mouthed the under god part.

There is something vaguely dirty sounding about this sentence that I kind of like.
posted by quin at 1:25 PM on November 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Actually, I could get behind a 7th-inning stretch performance of This Land Is Your Land happening once...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why the fuck do you care?

My point is that I don't.
posted by found missing at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that "The Star-Spangled Banner," one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses. Each time Captain Black forged ahead of his competitors, he swung upon them scornfully for their failure to follow his example. Each time they followed his example, he retreated with concern and racked his brain for some new stratagem that would enable him to turn upon them scornfully again.

Without realizing how it had come about, the combat men in the squadron discovered themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them. They were bullied, insulted, harassed and shoved about all day long by one after the other. When they voiced objection, Captain Black replied that people who were loyal would not mind signing all the loyalty oaths they had to. To anyone who questioned the effectiveness of the loyalty oaths, he replied that people who really did owe allegiance to their country would be proud to pledge it as often as he forced them to. And to anyone who questioned the morality, he replied that "The Star-Spangled Banner" was the greatest piece of music ever composed. The more loyalty oaths a person signed, the more loyal he was; to Captain Black it was as simple as that, and he had Corporal Kolodny sign hundreds with his name each day so that he could always prove he was more loyal than anyone else.

"The important thing is to keep them pledging," he explained to his cohorts. "It doesn't matter whether they mean it or not. That's why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what 'pledge' and 'allegiance' means."

posted by Sebmojo at 1:30 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


At 10 I was walking around with a pair of acorns, but this kid just dropped a pair of 15 pound bowling balls on the table.

This kid would be able to walk on water if it weren't for his enormous brass balls.


NO YOU ARE UNDERESTIMATING THIS LAD, HIS BALLS ARE PLANETARY, HE COULD TEABAG GALACTUS
posted by brain_drain at 1:31 PM on November 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


Your beef is not with the pledge, it's with the actions of others in the name of the pledge. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the source of the problem, the principle is.

Actually, my beef it with both. You, of course, are entitled to your opinion, and I'm obviously in a minority position here (nationwide, at least), but the whole idea of asking citizens of a free country to make any sort of a pledge of loyalty in language unchosen by them is inherently problematic, if not self-contradictory. Having a pledge at all is a problem in itself. Compelling people to say it is worse.

But, if we need to break it down:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America"
What does this even mean? What could the flag ask me to do? Why does it mean to be in league with a symbol? Or to be loyal to a symbol? The beginning is just weird. And you can't say, "Well, they don't mean the flag itself, they mean the county." Because America qua America is the subject of the next phrase.

"and to the republic for which it stands."
this at least makes sense to me

"one nation, under God"
as a Christian, this rankles me to no end. What nation is not under God? Why are we claiming this language for ourselves? This comes out of a flawed and troubling theology that claims that America has a special relationship with the Almighty that other nations do not enjoy, and is just wrong, wrong, wrong to the core. And it if wasn't intended to mean that (which it was), it's just pointless drivel that could be said of any nation on Earth.

"indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"
which are nice ideals, but none of them are true, or have ever been true, and certainly not in the 1890's when it was written.

There's a deep and nasty irony in a free nation formed from rebellion against a tyrant asking its citizens to pledge loyalty to a piece of cloth, and to affirm that certain things are true with are not. It's a bad idea, and it perpetually creates situations where someone is essentially told "hey, kid, we're going to pressure and cajole you to stand up and say how wonderful it is that we're all free here." It doesn't work. A clearer-thinking Congress would have tossed out the whole idea rather than codifying it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:31 PM on November 16, 2009 [48 favorites]


However, you people warming the seats during the national anthem are not brave and not making any kind of interesting commentary. I hope your little pulses are racing while you are thinking of everyone watching you.

I wouldn't go this far, but I do have different feelings about the Pledge and the Anthem. The Anthem is more of a celebration of Americanness*, and I genuinely love America, even when, as in the not-too-distant past, I burn with hatred for the people running it. The Pledge, on the other hand, is a creepy, Big-Brotherish loyalty oath, and the pretense that it's truly voluntary is absurd, as cases like this have shown again and again.

And nthing all those who have celebrated Will's courage. I'm not sure whether I would have been this principled at his age, but I damn sure wouldn't have had his guts.

*That interpretation might not stand up to a close reading of the text, including all the verses we don't sing, but it's my perception of it, anyway.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2009


One of my friends e-mailed this kid's mom after hearing that opponents were more vocal than supporters; the mom called her back to thank her and chat for a bit.
posted by not that girl at 1:34 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think educators (okayokay, really administrators) are really afraid of 1) not being able to tell kids what to do and have a reasonable expectation that it will be followed and 2) kids being able to influence other kids publically to a higher degree than adults.

When I was a junior in high school (like 20 years ago). I had first period with a kid who refused to stand for the pledge. I don't even remember if he ever said why, but it kind of fit his MO, as he was the kind of kid who wore a leather jacket and got told he looked like a "gay nazi" (ha) and got in trouble for dying his hair blue (even though there was no rule against it) and had a girlfriend who got her pet snake entangled in her hair (and then she chopped off part of her hair to get the snake out, but then never went to a stylist to make her hair look normal again). So refusing to stand for the pledge was like completely in this kid's party line.

And I sat right behind him, and I knew his girlfriend, and I thought he was an okay guy even, but there was no way I was going to follow his lead (even though I was an angsty teen who would prefer to be asleep for most of the time I spent at school). If some kid doesn't want to stand or say the pledge, then just let him do that. Absolutely nothing is going to happen. Most kids will choose to stand and say the pledge, and things will continue to roll along as they usually do.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:37 PM on November 16, 2009


The Anthem is more of a celebration of Americanness*

*That interpretation might not stand up to a close reading of the text, including all the verses we don't sing, but it's my perception of it, anyway.


Laurie Anderson explains it to you.
posted by hippybear at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


*Sigh* I will admit it to you all, I love the US of A, and all the ideals on which it is founded. I love the Pledge and say it with all the words, even the "under God" ones, because I believe in God too. I love "God Bless America" and I love singing it, the national anthem, "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" etc.

One of the biggest reasons I like doing these things is that we live in a country where it is supposed to be fine for others NOT TO DO THEM. It should be fine here to be an atheist, a believer in ancient gods, or someone who despises all of the above and/or doesn't want to participate.

God bless Will for being a brave little American citizen.
posted by bearwife at 1:42 PM on November 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


It's a pity; seems to me the Pledge should be taken as a hopeful, wishful prose poem. This, this is what it should be like. Okay, so the republic isn't like that ... but we should aspire it to be so. You're pledging allegiance to a good thing, to a flag that's a symbol of a republic, still only a notional one, that is indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Sure, the "under God" stuff rubs folks the wrong way these days (what do you do with your money?), and sure, the young Mr. Phillips will have his 15 minutes in the rocket's red glare. I just hope that one day we'll want to say this pledge because it will be true: with liberty and justice for all.
posted by chavenet at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]



I-what?

Sorry, making a crack at Michelle Malkin's stalking of children.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:45 PM on November 16, 2009


I love the Pledge and say it with all the words, even the "under God" ones, because I believe in God too.... One of the biggest reasons I like doing these things is that we live in a country where it is supposed to be fine for others NOT TO DO THEM. It should be fine here to be an atheist, a believer in ancient gods, or someone who despises all of the above and/or doesn't want to participate.

As I see it, the problem with the "under God" words is that, when you say those words, you are not personally citing a belief in a God, but rather asserting that the United States is a Christian nation.

Since that's really not the case at all, the Pledge of Allegiance in its current form is really sort of subversive. There are a whole bunch of Christians who fervently believe in the separation of church and state, who nevertheless teach their children to affirm the exact opposite.
posted by muddgirl at 1:49 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I haven't stood up for the national anthem at baseball games, etc. for about 15 years.

Out of genuine curiousity, do you mind if I ask why?
posted by rollbiz at 1:52 PM on November 16, 2009


When I was a kid growing up in a private Christian school, we said three pledges every morning: to the US flag, to the Christian flag ("I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose Kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe"), and to the Bible ("I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's Holy Word, I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God.") I turned out okay, but man. That seems really weird looking back. Not to mention that we said them in that order; from an evangelical Christian standpoint, you'd think your first allegiance should be to the Bible, not to a national flag.
posted by EarBucket at 1:52 PM on November 16, 2009


Out of genuine curiousity, do you mind if I ask why?

Because of Marian Anderson. Talk about holding a grudge.
posted by found missing at 1:55 PM on November 16, 2009


The interesting thing about the initial exchange is that the kid wasn't in the wrong. If the substitute didn't pay him any mind or simply asked him why he was sitting down (and assuming he gave an answer she would take as reason for not participating), we wouldn't be hearing about it. If the principal informed the well-meaning sub that this was not required of students and it ended there, we wouldn't be hearing about this. Or if the mother didn't tweet this to friends (who then passed the info along to the local newspaper), we wouldn't know of this at all.

The kid wasn't making a big show of his beliefs. He didn't stand on his chair and yell that the pledge was meaningless until all people had equal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation. He didn't wear shirts with his feelings (from the pictures shown), even when he was interviewed on TV. He wore a shirt with a geeky joke on it.

His rebellion was a small, personal one, and I think that's important to remember. He stood his ground all the way up, and had support from his parents, but he didn't start this with the intention of getting local or national news coverage. Kudos, kid.

As I see it, the problem with the "under God" words is that, when you say those words, you are not personally citing a belief in a God, but rather asserting that the United States is a Christian nation.

Or it could be any other god you deem to be watching over everything. And it's easy enough to pluralize, if your believe in multiple overseeing deities. It's when you say "One nation, under Jesus," that it becomes strictly Christian. My wife is a high school teacher, and she says some kids change the pledge that way, making the god their own.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:55 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could we please stop talking about how courage and bravery require overly developed male genitalia?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:57 PM on November 16, 2009 [31 favorites]


muddgirl: "As I see it, the problem with the "under God" words is that, when you say those words, you are not personally citing a belief in a God, but rather asserting that the United States is a Christian nation."

yeah, that's the problem, and since the "under god" part was added only 55 years ago, specifically to make that implication, it's less of a "oh it's fine if you're a christian" thing and more of a "oh, it's fine if you're a theocrat" thing.
posted by shmegegge at 1:57 PM on November 16, 2009


overly developed male genitalia

That could explain the sitting.
posted by found missing at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It appears my original comment was deleted, which I have to assume is not because of the content (hardly incendiary) but my username? Even though I've used my username on Metafilter other times.

You're jumping to the wrong conclusions about both that story and my criticism of it. It is neither about his support of gay marriage (I support it, too) nor about his being allowed to express himself through this kind of civil disobedience. The point is the manner in which this story is used; it isn't to convey information.

Flight Light Thief-- "his message is quiet refusal to participate in the pledge." But that's not CNN's message, and it isn't quiet-- here it is on Metafilter, Huffington Post.

David Habecker was voted out of office in Co. in a recall election, because he had refused to recite the Pledge, because he objected to the "under God."

Mr. Habecker, who lost by a vote of 903-605, said he is considering whether to pursue further legal action to overturn the recall outcome, arguing that the voters had infringed upon his First Amendment rights.


Of course, that story got reported in the Washington Times-- "filthy pinko atheist gets what he deserves." But there's no such story on CNN. This story of Will Phillips is on CNN, but it isn't on the Washington Times.

It's one thing for the country to be divided. It's another thing for the media to be complicit in dividing it.
posted by obamamustlose at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2009


I'd like the kid a lot more if he'd managed not to pop off with "go jump off a bridge". He got sent to the principal's office for being a smartass, apparently, not for refusing to say the pledge.

I did the same thing, 20+ years ago (albeit jr high school). And yeah, I got sent to the principal's office without being disrespectful to the teacher. I had no desire to cause trouble, I would stand like everyone else and just remain quiet, but that wasn't good enough for my homeroom teacher.

We had a conference, and in the end the teacher was told to stop causing problems and leave me alone.

Damn, I wish CNN had been around to give me my 15 minutes.
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:59 PM on November 16, 2009


UbuRovias: Out of interest, which other countries do this?

Malaysia has the Rukunegara. We had to recite this bit (in Malay) every Monday at assembly for the 11 years I was at school:
We, her peoples, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends guided by these principles:

* BELIEF IN GOD
* LOYALTY TO KING AND COUNTRY
* UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION
* RULE OF LAW
* GOOD BEHAVIOUR AND MORALITY
It never occurred to any of us to protest it by not saying it (I found the "Belief in God" bit a bit dodgy as a teenager but didn't know what to do about it), but - knowing the general attitude towards vaguely counter-cultural youth, it probably wouldn't go down well.

The Rukunegara is printed at the back of most exercise books (with the introductory preamble) and is even on tissue boxes.
posted by divabat at 1:59 PM on November 16, 2009


Could we please stop talking about how courage and bravery require overly developed male genitalia?

THANK YOU. I agree.

Not only because plenty of brave women manage to be brave without male genitalia, but also since we're talking about a ten year old, and continued references to the size of a ten-year-old's testicles kind of skeeves me out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on November 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


But there's no such story on CNN.

You don't see why "fifth-grader stands up to his classmates" might appeal to an editor more as a human interest story than "fifty-four-year-old man stands up to constituents?"
posted by EarBucket at 2:01 PM on November 16, 2009


Good kid. I really hope he makes it out of school alive.

Even if the kid makes it out of school, I foresee problems in his future. While we should absolutely be nurturing those kids who stand up for what's right and his parents are clearly doing a good job of that, at some point, the kid's gonna find himself outside of the ambit of protection of his middle class parents and under the control of the assholes who see it as their bounden duty to break the spirit of a kid like this.

When and if that happens, I hope the kid has the smarts and the flexibility to bend when he needs to, and lie low until such time as he's got the opportunity to make a difference once again.

"You run one time, you got yourself a set of chains. You run twice you got yourself two sets. You ain't gonna need no third set, 'cause you gonna get your mind right."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:01 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


obamamustlose: It's one thing for the country to be divided. It's another thing for the media to be complicit in dividing it.

'The media,' that monolithic entity, is much more interested in profit than ideology-- Fox News included.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:02 PM on November 16, 2009


The future is bright! I bet this one little kid offsets a hundred young republicans :)

It will be interesting to see what he does with his life. And I say it as an optimist, even keeping in mind that people can change dramatically - especially from such a young age.

And while we celebrate this kid, I think of his parents. Even though the idea was the kid's alone, I think it's fair to say that his upbringing must have had something to do with it - attending pride parades etc. So the upbringing is very important - and on a less happy note, I think of the millions upon millions of fundamentalist families raising scores of kids each, home schooling them or sending them to religiously based schools and higher education (Bob Jones etc.). That's millions and millions of warriors for the dark side.
posted by VikingSword at 2:02 PM on November 16, 2009


I always make sure not to be present for the (seemingly now required) 7th Inning Stretch singing of "God Bless America". Fuck that shit.

Do what now?
Is that some weird version of Take me out to the Ballgame?
(substituting Cubbies for Home Team, naturally)
posted by madajb at 2:02 PM on November 16, 2009


This kid is absolutely awesome. I hope he finds out how many people are behind him.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:03 PM on November 16, 2009


"and to the republic for which it stands."
this at least makes sense to me


I would have thought that the idea of pledging your loyalty to a flag and the republic it represents instead of the Cross and Christ Jesus would be problematic.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:07 PM on November 16, 2009


I'd like the kid a lot more if he'd managed not to pop off with "go jump off a bridge". He got sent to the principal's office for being a smartass, apparently, not for refusing to say the pledge.

He did start with "With all due respect," though.
posted by empath at 2:09 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is that some weird version of Take me out to the Ballgame?

At Sunday games, the 7th inning stretch begins with everyone singing God Bless America while Kate Smith plays on the PA system. I am not making this up.
posted by rtha at 2:10 PM on November 16, 2009


Do what now?
Is that some weird version of Take me out to the Ballgame?


Yeah. Blame POST 9/11 WORLD, the New York Yankees, and Ronan Tynan (though he's currently persona non grata with the Yankees.)

I remember teams starting to use God Bless America near the end of the 2001 season once baseball started to get its shit back together. Sang it at the bottom of the 3rd or 4th inning, if memory serves. We felt like it was the right thing to do at the time and it was, really. Then the Yankees had to go bring out Irish tenor Ronan Tynan to sing it, a real showboater, and it became a spectacle instead of a break-like thing.

I hate it.

I want my Take Me Out To The Ballgame back, dammit. Every game.
posted by Spatch at 2:19 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


In addition to the whole church and state problem, those parks that use it have pretty much wrecked the 7th inning stretch.

While I agree with you that it's a bad choice re: inclusivity and the general terribleness of the song, church and state simply doesn't factor into it. Neither the MLB nor any of the teams are government owned. First amendment dictates that if they want to play a song called "Jesus Is the Lord of Awesome Sauce" during the seventh-inning stretch (or for that matter, "I Cornholed a Leather Daddy On Top of Your Bible"), they can.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


However, you people warming the seats during the national anthem are not brave and not making any kind of interesting commentary.

The greatest disrespect for the National Anthem isn't coming from the seat-warmers, it's coming from the programs which always cut it short after the first verse.

It's a long song, you don't want to sing it all; fine. You could play sports without any patriotic anthem, or you could sing just the fourth verse, or just the first and second. But just the first?

The first and second verses, paraphrased, read: "We knew that our revolutionaries were still alive and free while the battle raged on, but now that it's over - who won? Look! There's the American flag, still flying, still declaring our liberty!"

It is not adequate to simply sing "...who won? Eh, fuck it. Play ball!"
posted by roystgnr at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


continued references to the size of a ten-year-old's testicles kind of skeeves me out.

Yeah, tell me about it. It's horrific to imagine how out of proportion huge balls would be, alongside his ten-year-old's penis.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


At Sunday games, the 7th inning stretch begins with everyone singing God Bless America while Kate Smith plays on the PA system.

Except in Toronto, where we play "Okay Blue Jays" (the official cheesy booster song of the Toronto Blue Jays) and then "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," and everybody sings along.

This is just one of many reasons why my city is better than yours is.
posted by mightygodking at 2:21 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Since I'm not brave enough to completely abstain from the pledge, I say "one nation under DOG......."
posted by leetheflea at 2:23 PM on November 16, 2009


I would have thought that the idea of pledging your loyalty to a flag and the republic it represents instead of the Cross and Christ Jesus would be problematic.

Yeah. You would think this would start to kick in:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.


But it is from the book of Exodus so maybe it only applies to the Jews?
posted by Talez at 2:24 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I stopped saying the pledge at some point as a kid. I'm not sure when - I don't think it was a daily happening in first or second grade. We had a crabby old lady teacher in third grade who made it a daily thing again. I had an innate objection not only to the god part but to the whole idea of "allegiance to a piece of cloth," and even more to the strangely Orwellian "you must love Big Brother" indoctrination aspect of it. Though I could not have described it in those terms at the time, there was just something about it that felt antithetical to what we'd been taught was so great about America. It seemed against freedom - against individuality and free thought. At some point I heard some small news story about someone not saying it, and the story specified that it was not something anyone could ever be required to say. So I stopped. I think I still stood up, and may even have gone as far as the hand over heart pose, but I didn't say anything and didn't even fake saying it.

And the only time I ever sing "God Bless America" is at showtunes night in the local gay bar, where they play the film clip of the movie it comes from, which includes an appearance by Ronald Reagan. When he shows up on the screen the whole bar boos him in unison. I feel it gives the song a "us gay boys are more patriotic than you, you stupid fucktard excuse for a president" feel that I immensely enjoy.

This kid in the news story? Is just awesome.
posted by dnash at 2:24 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Jesus Is the Lord of Awesome Sauce" / "I Cornholed a Leather Daddy On Top of Your Bible"

Oh, please oh please oh please, let this be a "single w/ b-side" challenge for MeFi Music!!!!
posted by hippybear at 2:24 PM on November 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


This is what I get for not watching the local news. Kudos to the kid for acting on his principles.
posted by Atreides at 2:27 PM on November 16, 2009


“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said.

Oh, good.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:28 PM on November 16, 2009


I refuse to stand during the 7th-inning stretch as a protest of the park's decision to cut off beer sales in the eighth inning.

What a great kid. I don't think it ever crossed my mind to take such a stand, though I did pointedly fall silent for the "under God" bit. The thought that there are STATE PLEDGES, though, makes me shiver. Gah. No.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:29 PM on November 16, 2009


obamamustlose - It's one thing for the country to be divided. It's another thing for the media to be complicit in dividing it.

shakespeherian - 'The media,' that monolithic entity, is much more interested in profit than ideology-- Fox News included.

Media is driven by profit, but it is not monolithic. There are media factions that cater to certain markets, imagined or otherwise. Further distance your market from The Others, and you have a more devoted market, because if a viewer switches sides, they have become One Of Them. "Lets Be Friends" doesn't sell many papers, when you could pitch the story as "Kid Stands Up For Beliefs."

And deep down, media is made of people who live in this country. Scolding "The Media" is no different than scolding people.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:30 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


They had a priest at my public high school graduation who opened the ceremony with a prayer session. We were all on stage in front of an auditorium full of family members and staff and as luck would have it I was in the front row basically over the dude's left shoulder. When he started into the prayer I sat down. After the ceremony I was besieged by hoards of parents who were basically frothing at the mouth, which was perfect because at that age I was totally into telling people to fuck off.
posted by The Straightener at 2:31 PM on November 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


Damn, I wish CNN had been around to give me my 15 minutes.

You sure? Fame can do terrible things to a person.
posted by ODiV at 2:31 PM on November 16, 2009


On the one hand, this kid is really young, and I'm pretty uncomfortable with parents teaching their kids to parrot beliefs for some hokey "out of the mouths of babes" effect.

When I was about this kid's age, a man showed up up outside the school, right around the time we were all headed over to the library. He was giving away Bibles, little green plastic covered things. Every single kid in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade queued up to get their free Bible, except for me. I thought it was very strange and wrong that this man had come to school to do this, and besides, there was a library full of books in which I was far more interested. I remember it felt pretty good, walking down that hallway all by myself. Nobody told me to do it, nobody else was doing it. It was my decision, and I felt a little bit more powerful for making it.

Now, though I got a fair measure of shit for not loving Jesus and God and free stuff, what I did is nowhere near as brave as what this young man is doing. I told this story to illustrate the point that ten year old kids are perfectly capable of taking a principled stand on an issue without and adult pressuring them into it or telling them what to say and do. Ten year old children are not parrots. They are smart, engaged and curious. They understand and make their own decisions about what is right and wrong, and are capable of taking action based on their feelings.

Of course, they are subject to discipline and peer pressure, which is what makes what this boy's stand particularly noteworthy and courageous, especially given the violent, visceral and completely unjustified hatred that many people have toward homosexuals, compounded by the way people react to anything they think is "unpatriotic."
posted by louche mustachio at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


filthy light thief: Media is driven by profit, but it is not monolithic. There are media factions that cater to certain markets, imagined or otherwise. Further distance your market from The Others, and you have a more devoted market, because if a viewer switches sides, they have become One Of Them. "Lets Be Friends" doesn't sell many papers, when you could pitch the story as "Kid Stands Up For Beliefs."

HAMBURGER
posted by shakespeherian at 2:34 PM on November 16, 2009


I feel bad, if I were some where that even had a pledge I'd refuse to recite for much less noble reasons. Like the fact that it just creeps the f out of me even having a pledge to well um pledge..
In my eye it scarily links hand in hand with, attaching ones flag to any available pole or building, chanting ones country name in a grunt like manner, or wanting to police the rest of the world.
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 2:45 PM on November 16, 2009


I wasn't actually going to name any country but if the shoe fits....
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 2:46 PM on November 16, 2009


They are smart, engaged and curious. They understand and make their own decisions about what is right and wrong, and are capable of taking action based on their feelings.

I think in many cases, 10-year-olds have a much stronger and more rigid sense of what is right and what is wrong, because they really haven't developed a fully adult capacity for thinking in abstract concepts. The same capacity that turns adolescents into fervent believers of a concrete godhead can also turn them into fervent believers in concrete freedom and justice.
posted by muddgirl at 2:47 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


All through jr. high and high school I refused to say the pledge. Had one teacher say “Smedly, at least stand up…”

Really freaked them out when I showed up at the reunion in full military dress. But a lot of people equate making a big show about supporting something for, y’know, actually doing it.
I still have nothing but contempt for oaths and loyalty statements that are completely divorced from action.

While I think this is somewhat laudable in form, I think it’s more or less b.s. since he shouldn’t have to say it in the first place.

That said though – critically – he is making a sacrifice for what he believes in, and indeed an ideal of equality that is, IMHO, fundamentally American (and of course human, but we’re discussing an American kid saying the pledge) in value – so that I do find very impressive. And all the more ironic that he’s getting crap from asshats who say the pledge but do zip to embody or act upon any of the values it alludes to.
So the kid is awesome, yeah. But he’s just an actual citizen following his conscience. If the people giving him feces weren’t such asshats and weren’t so ubiquitous, he’d look like a regular kid participating in his culture.

Scary smart. Uh huh. No anti-intellectual sentiment there. Kid is actually interested in ideas and interesting concepts rather than being sedated by television? Scary.
Y’know, I always argue against the use of direct force as a poor response to a problem, but sometimes, man, it’s so hard viscerally to keep up.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:51 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'd like the kid a lot more if he'd managed not to pop off with "go jump off a bridge". He got sent to the principal's office for being a smartass, apparently, not for refusing to say the pledge.

From the Arkansas Times article:
The teacher, Will said, told him that she knew his mother and grandmother, and they would want him to stand and say the pledge.

“She got a lot more angry and raised her voice and brought my mom and my grandma up,”


In my opinion, he showed a lot of restraint by just saying "go jump off a bridge". Even at age 10, I know I would not have been able to resist using more...inappropriate...(but more satisfying) language.
posted by Jeeb at 3:01 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like quite a few others here, I stopped saying the pledge at a certain point in school, too (not as young as this awesome kid, but sometime around jr. high). I didn't remain seated for it, but I distinctly remember being skeeved first by the "under God" and then by the whole concept, so I just stood silently. Never heard word one about it, but this was in the San Fernando Valley in the 80s, not exactly a hotbed of conservatism. Then again, high school was the Reagan/Meese years...
posted by yiftach at 3:07 PM on November 16, 2009


This kid is awesome.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:08 PM on November 16, 2009


Yeah. Blame POST 9/11 WORLD, the New York Yankees, and Ronan Tynan (though he's currently persona non grata with the Yankees.)

I remember teams starting to use God Bless America near the end of the 2001 season once baseball started to get its shit back together. Sang it at the bottom of the 3rd or 4th inning, if memory serves. We felt like it was the right thing to do at the time and it was, really. Then the Yankees had to go bring out Irish tenor Ronan Tynan to sing it, a real showboater, and it became a spectacle instead of a break-like thing.

I hate it.

I want my Take Me Out To The Ballgame back, dammit. Every game.


They still do Take Me Out every seventh-inning stretch, along with God Bless America.
posted by aswego at 3:11 PM on November 16, 2009


"It appears my original comment was deleted, which I have to assume is not because of the content (hardly incendiary) but my username?"

Why would your user name be cause for deletion obamamustlose?
posted by Mitheral at 3:19 PM on November 16, 2009


Just for the record, I will add myself to the list of those here that refused to say the pledge, if I recall, it was sometime in junior high. During high school I stopped even standing for it, but this was no surprise to anyone as I was pretty vocal about my opinions and I never got any crap for it. There were apparently plenty of other reasons to give me a hard time...
This kid gives me hope for the future, and I could use some of that these days...
posted by Jeeb at 3:20 PM on November 16, 2009


Funny, I started doing this in 5th grade as well. My parents had no idea. Maybe it's a 5th-grader thing. ("Under God" part for me.)

I did as well. Not till 7th grade, but for the same reason


Me too! 7th grade and all! My homeroom teacher got really annoyed and was going to write a note to my parents in my homework book, but then she discovered that my mom had presigned my entire homework book. Whoops.

In conclusion, middle school is an overprotective mess.
posted by hopeless romantique at 3:21 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


how big is the gay pride parade in arkansas? somebody ought to set up a collection to send his family to nyc or sf this summer...hell, he should be hosting the thing. (i remember when hilary clinton wore a leather suit to the gay pride parade in new york...it was pretty brilliant.) does anybody know anybody who organizes that thing? anybody her own a hotel in new york? or an airline? srsly, somebody put that kid on a float...i wanna see the right wing take on the losing battle of trying to fight a ten year old.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:23 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Most appropriate error ever
Curses, serves me right for not proofreading.
posted by thebestsophist at 3:27 PM on November 16, 2009


Ooh, a place for my favorite Cold War relic, James Clavell's Children's Story.
Obediently all the children got up and put their hands on their hearts and the New Teacher did the same, and they began in unison, 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of -"
"Just a moment," the New Teacher said. "What does PLEDGE mean?"

The children stood openmouthed; Miss Worden had never interrupted them before. They stood and stared at the New Teacher. Wordless. And silent.

...The New Teacher waited, and the silence hung in the room, hurting. then she said, "I think it's quite wrong for you to have to say something with long words in it if you don't understand what you're saying."

So the children sat down and waited expectantly.
"What did your other teacher tell you that it meant?"
After a long silence Danny put up his hand. "She never said nothing, miss."

..."Did you ask each other what it meant?"
"I askt Danny once and he didn't know and none of us knowed really. It's grown-up talk, and grown-ups talk that sort of words. We just havta learn it."
posted by Flannery Culp at 3:30 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Go Will!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:34 PM on November 16, 2009


God Bless America, on the other hand, is way, way, way out of place. In 2001, I could handle it, but it's pretty tough to defend today. In addition to the whole church and state problem, those parks that use it have pretty much wrecked the 7th inning stretch.

But, woo-hoo, I'm all for keeping the singing of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' at Fenway Park in the middle of the eighth inning of every home game.
posted by ericb at 3:35 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"It appears my original comment was deleted, which I have to assume is not because of the content (hardly incendiary) but my username?"

Why would your user name be cause for deletion obamamustlose?

Because the G man is watching. Watching, watching, always watching..
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 3:38 PM on November 16, 2009



Arkansas? I'm sorry. But I fear for the safety of the boy and his family.
posted by notreally at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2009


I spent several years living in Arkansas, in this same general region, and it's always nice to see the place in the news for something that doesn't suck. Here's a Facebook group supporting Mr. Phillips if you'd like to join, sent to me by an old friend from the area.

West Fork is outside of Fayetteville, where the state's flagship university is, and there were often signs around Fayetteville about PFLAG meetings, etc., including outside of the local New Age/hippie supply shop (actually, at one point there was both a New Age crystals-and-silver-stuff shop and an odd little pagan/magic-with-a-k supply shop, as I recall). Fayetteville has a pride parade, etc. Even though I'm happier not living there, the metro area is not quite the desolate backwater that notreally and others may be picturing. That is to say, the family is probably no more at risk than they would be in a rural area outside of Bakersfield or something.
posted by wintersweet at 3:58 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I ain't pledging allegiance to any government or organization, sorry, I'm a free and sovereign human being. I'm happy to stand for the national anthem because I'm very glad I was born in the United States of America and it doesn't require me to pledge to anything, I'd stand for any countries national anthem, I got fuckin' manners.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:01 PM on November 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


At Sunday games, the 7th inning stretch begins with everyone singing God Bless America while Kate Smith plays on the PA system. I am not making this up.

Yeah. Blame POST 9/11 WORLD, the New York Yankees, and Ronan Tynan (though he's currently persona non grata with the Yankees.)

This is in place of Take me out? Not in addition to?
What a stupid idea. Talk about a hollow gesture.

Hell, if you at least did America the Beautiful you could get a plug in there.
"Today's Amber Waves of Grain brought to you by Budweiser"
posted by madajb at 4:01 PM on November 16, 2009


While I agree with his ideals, I think that his telling the teacher to "jump off a bridge" was totally inappropriate, and if the teacher owes him an apology, as the parents assert, then he owes the teacher an apology as well. Yes, the teacher handled the situation poorly. The pledge is voluntary, and the teacher can not force a student to say it. However, now this student, all the kids in the classroom, and all the students who see this news story end up seeing yet another case where a child grandstands in class and is rewarded for it. This story is also skewed toward the student's version of the story, and kids have a way of re-telling stories...um...creatively...at best.

The teacher was wrong, and the student was wrong. Call it a draw.
posted by pahool at 4:02 PM on November 16, 2009


Good kid. But I am forced to echo what notreally said.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:02 PM on November 16, 2009


and all the students who see this news story end up seeing yet another case where a child grandstands in class and is rewarded for it.

Standing up for basic human rights is 'grandstanding,' now?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This kid is TEN YEARS OLD. Stop fucking talking like he's some kind of mature adult. Yes, he told the teacher to jump off a bridge. Guess what? HE'S TEN FUCKING YEARS OLD.

Jesus christ, liberals, have some reproductive organs of your choice for once and stop turning your noses up and sniffing at good people because they don't meet your standard of perfectly civility.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:08 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


While I agree with his ideals, I think that his telling the teacher to "jump off a bridge" was totally inappropriate, and if the teacher owes him an apology, as the parents assert, then he owes the teacher an apology as well. Yes, the teacher handled the situation poorly. The pledge is voluntary, and the teacher can not force a student to say it. However, now this student, all the kids in the classroom, and all the students who see this news story end up seeing yet another case where a child grandstands in class and is rewarded for it. This story is also skewed toward the student's version of the story, and kids have a way of re-telling stories...um...creatively...at best.

After a heated argument there sometimes isn't much more you can say to an unreasonable person than a less than elegant "I'm right, you're wrong and I don't care". At least he prefaced it with "with all due respect" indicating while he does consider the teacher a position of authority and deserving respect he still thinks she's flat out wrong.
posted by Talez at 4:10 PM on November 16, 2009


“The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:
‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’
In 1923, the words, ‘the Flag of the United States of America’ were added. At this time it read:
‘I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words ‘under God,’ creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:
‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’”*
posted by ericb at 4:12 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


stop turning your noses up and sniffing at good people because they don't meet your standard of perfectly civility.

Or grammar.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:14 PM on November 16, 2009


But it is from the book of Exodus so maybe it only applies to the Jews?

I don't think "no idols" is supposed to be among the parts of Old Testament law that the New Testament superseded, but I'm the wrong person to ask... next time someone is patiently explaining to me why shellfish are no longer an abomination but teh gay is, I'll find out what they think.

But even the New Testament rules aren't taken any more seriously, and that's hardly surprising. Isn't the whole point of this thread that too many people revere symbols more than principles? The story is about folks who pledge allegiance to liberty while trying to take away the liberty of children to abstain from that pledge. I previously noted the demand that people listen respectfully while an arbitrary 25% of the national anthem is sung thoughtlessly. Why would religious symbols get any less respect than secular symbols, and why would religious principles get any more respect than secular principles?

The example which most boggles my mind is that we have people swear public oaths with their hands placed on a Bible, in which Jesus commands them not to swear oaths but to just let their "yes" mean "yes" and their "no" mean "no". It's been, what, a century since a President gave his oath of office without a Bible (or at least a missal, for LBJ) to swear on? If one did so today, what percent of self-proclaimed Christians do you think would praise him for following one of Jesus' teachings, and what percent do you think would want him crucified? I hope the former group would be a majority, but I'd bet the latter would out-shout them.
posted by roystgnr at 4:15 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Standing up for basic human rights is 'grandstanding,' now?

Let's be accurate here, dnab: he's sitting down for basic human rights.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 PM on November 16, 2009


This is in place of Take me out? Not in addition to?

At Giants games it's in addition to, not instead of.
posted by rtha at 4:16 PM on November 16, 2009


The Pledge of Allegiance is not the source of the problem, the principle is.

No, the pledge itself is still kind of creepy anyway. I don't recall saying the pledge every morning at any of my (private) schools, but my niece's elementary school does. They stand by their desks with their hands over their hearts and recite some memorized words for 30 seconds. What is even the point of having rows of children pledge their loyalty to the country every morning in their classrooms? Ick.
posted by lullaby at 4:21 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


While I agree with you that it's a bad choice re: inclusivity and the general terribleness of the song, church and state simply doesn't factor into it....

You're right, of course. There's no state involved. I plead guilty to sloppy thinking in a rush to find a three word phrase for "get your religion out of my baseball game".

Good thing I get two more swings.
posted by rokusan at 4:25 PM on November 16, 2009


This is in place of Take me out? Not in addition to? What a stupid idea. Talk about a hollow gesture.

It varies. I think MLB asked all parks to play it for all Sunday (ahem) games, because that use seems universal, but beyond that it seems to be a team-by-team decision.

Some parks do it every game. Some do it in addition to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, before or after. Some do it instead of.

I didn't mind it right after 9/11. It was even sort of nice. But it's been eight years. Enough, already.
posted by rokusan at 4:30 PM on November 16, 2009


The example which most boggles my mind is that we have people swear public oaths with their hands placed on a Bible, in which Jesus commands them not to swear oaths but to just let their "yes" mean "yes" and their "no" mean "no".

Completely agree with you here - I think this is utterly bizarre. The 39 Articles (which have been, to a greater or lesser extent, essentially the Church of England's Constitution for the best part of 500 years) attempt to cover this with Article 39, which seems to suggest that what Jesus was actually trying to do was stop people swearing oaths unless they really really mean it. Personally, I'm not convinced that this is remotely supported by the Biblical text, and it smells a lot more like part of an attempt to tie the Church as closely as possible into the judicial system.

Interestingly, however, although you do have to swear an oath when you're ordained as a minister of the Church of England, you're allowed to use a form of wording that says "I solemnly affirm" instead. My dad did that when he went forward for ordination, due to precisely the same concerns that you mention.

(Although he did claim that he wanted to swear his oath of allegiance to "Queen Elizabeth the Last", so there might have been a slight anti-authoritarian streak in there too...)
posted by ZsigE at 4:34 PM on November 16, 2009


Neither the MLB nor any of the teams are government owned.

But they are certainly funded by public monies. I doubt there is even one wholly-privately-funded MLB park in the country. Besides the endless and enormously profitable tax breaks, there is every chance the city or state kicked in a fair pile of cash incentive.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:39 PM on November 16, 2009


Jesus christ, liberals, have some reproductive organs of your choice for once and stop turning your noses up and sniffing at good people because they don't meet your standard of perfectly civility.

What makes you think it's LIBERALS in this thread who are "turning up their noses and sniffing at good people"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:49 PM on November 16, 2009


you do have to swear an oath when you're ordained as a minister of the Church of England

do you have to choose between Cake or Death?
posted by scody at 4:49 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What makes you think it's LIBERALS in this thread who are "turning up their noses and sniffing at good people"?

I think he's talking about the people who are saying, "Well I agree with his message but I think that young man was most intemperate." Which is silly since we're talking about a ten year old who told his teacher to go jump off a bridge. That is hardly a monocle-popping statement.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 4:59 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This kid is TEN YEARS OLD. Stop fucking talking like he's some kind of mature adult. Yes, he told the teacher to jump off a bridge. Guess what? HE'S TEN FUCKING YEARS OLD.

Of course he's ten years old and ten year olds say and do things like that. My point is that he was basically rewarded for telling a substitute teacher to go jump off a bridge and I don't think he should have been. The article is very skewed toward the student's perspective, and frankly, we don't have enough details here. The article never makes it clear whether or not he told the teacher why he wasn't standing for the pledge, and while this doesn't excuse the behavior of the substitute teacher (no student should be forced to stand for the pledge) it doesn't necessarily excuse the student's behavior either.

Another point is that students have a tendency to act up when a substitute teacher is present. Why did this student wait until he had a substitute teacher before he chose to perform this act of civil disobedience? And frankly, the article is skewed enough that I'm not entirely convinced that he's not fabricating his noble cause after the fact.

I'm just saying that I think could very well be a case of grandstanding. The kid sits for the pledge to impress his friends, the parents make a big issue of it and take it to the media. I think it would have been much healthier if this was all handled within the school. The article is poorly written and leaves a lot of these details very unclear. Unfortunately, now there are a bunch of kids who have seen a student tell a teacher to go jump off a bridge and be vindicated for it in the media. Personally, I just think that hurts classroom discipline universally.

I am 100% pro-gay, by the way.
posted by pahool at 5:04 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Arkansas? I'm sorry. But I fear for the safety of the boy and his family.

It's hard to think of a productive way to address this comment other than to simply say it's wrong and bordering on the same kind of stereotypical behavior its accusing an entire state of possessing.
posted by Atreides at 5:05 PM on November 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I feel so proud of Will.

His dad needs support too, though. Choosing between what might look good for your family (avoiding media) vs. letting your kid get their speech on is a hard choice.

Apparently Will's having to endure more than just names now, judging from his dad's facebook statuses this morning.

</pomfret express rider>
posted by rubah at 5:06 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


While I agree with his ideals, I think that his telling the teacher to "jump off a bridge" was totally inappropriate...

I respectfully disagree. As I pointed out earlier, the teacher brought up his mother and grandmother and pretended to know how they would feel about his stance. That would piss me off immensely. Rightfully so.
This can hardly be considered "grandstanding". According to the CNN piece, he did issue a written apology to the teacher. If other students are influenced by his actions, good for them!
posted by Jeeb at 5:09 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


NO YOU ARE UNDERESTIMATING THIS LAD, HIS BALLS ARE PLANETARY, HE COULD TEABAG GALACTUS

THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULA
posted by Evilspork at 5:14 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


The article never makes it clear whether or not he told the teacher why he wasn't standing for the pledge, and while this doesn't excuse the behavior of the substitute teacher (no student should be forced to stand for the pledge) it doesn't necessarily excuse the student's behavior either.


Sure, but the teacher's defense is basically "If the student hadn't been doing something which he was totally allowed to do, I wouldn't have engaged in my wrong behavior: trying to make his stand for the pledge", whereas the student's defense is basically "If the teacher hadn't been doing something which she WASN'T supposed to be doing, I wouldn't have engaged in my wrong behavior: disrespecting her by telling her to jump off a bridge". Both people did something wrong, but the teacher was waaaaaay wrongerer than the kid.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:27 PM on November 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


you do have to swear an oath when you're ordained as a minister of the Church of England

That's an interesting parallel with this American fondness for oaths & flag-waving, because (having been raised Catholic) I was amazed upon visiting an Anglican church for the first time, to find the place full of English flags & memorials to British colonial wars - it seemed so out of place in a religious setting.

At the time, I thought it was just a one-off aberration, but it seems that every Anglican church is full of the same kind of ubiquitous jingoistic symbolism that Americans are so famous for.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:33 PM on November 16, 2009


I'd like the kid a lot more if he'd managed not to pop off with "go jump off a bridge". He got sent to the principal's office for being a smartass, apparently, not for refusing to say the pledge.

Others have already pointed out that the teacher was being pretty heavy-handed. I'd just add that the disrespect to the teacher is the one thing Will's parents made him apologize for.

Like I said, I want to be as good a dad as Jay.
posted by nickmark at 5:46 PM on November 16, 2009


My point is that he was basically rewarded for telling a substitute teacher to go jump off a bridge and I don't think he should have been.

That's true. Rewarding kids for subverting people in positions of authority is exactly the wrong lesson to be teaching those goddamn little lemmings.
posted by blucevalo at 5:49 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm Gayacus.
posted by wrapper at 6:06 PM on November 16, 2009


Will & his dad should be pointed toward this thread. It'll do 'em both proud to see that there is an international, supportive admiration for Will's, er, balls.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on November 16, 2009


Hopefully they'll come across it. I'm sure they already know, of course, about the facebook page Will's friend made, and which is gathering supporters apace. There's been about 100 new people who've signed onto that group since I joined about 2 hours ago.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:31 PM on November 16, 2009


Oops, forgot to include five fresh fish's quoted comment in my comment just above. It was in answer to this:

Will & his dad should be pointed toward this thread. It'll do 'em both proud to see that there is an international, supportive admiration for Will's, er, balls.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:32 PM on November 16, 2009


I don't think "no idols" is supposed to be among the parts of Old Testament law that the New Testament superseded, but I'm the wrong person to ask... next time someone is patiently explaining to me why shellfish are no longer an abomination but teh gay is, I'll find out what they think.

Oh I wasn't being serious. I was being completely flippant in that so called Christians seem to completely ignore the more inconvenient (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor) and archaic (You shall keep the festival of unleavened bread) laws that the God of Abraham has set forth for his flock.
posted by Talez at 6:44 PM on November 16, 2009


No one can be compelled to make the pledge as a condition of employment.

I think that soldiers have to make the pledge as a condition of employment.

Also, if there are individuals who are hired places for purposes of leading the pledge, then I think they have to make the pledge too.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:46 PM on November 16, 2009


Oh, manomanoman. This kid is awesome. Would it be too creepy-internet-stalkerish for me to research an address to send him a thank-you card? Because I would totally send him a really cool card. You know, if it wasn't all creepy creepster for me to do that.
posted by hippybear at 3:19 PM on November 16 [+] [!]


I think you should totally go find out his address and bring him gifts and cards.

How eponysterical would that be?
posted by Slap Factory at 6:51 PM on November 16, 2009


Okay, I totally missed the CNN video and was writing my responses based on the Arkansas Times story. Seeing Will and his father together and hearing their story paints a very different picture from the Times story. I think that Will and his father both handled the situation well. I'm not sure how I missed the CNN link the first time around. It paints a much better picture of the situation. I love Will's tshirt as well.
posted by pahool at 7:13 PM on November 16, 2009


My two cents on the awesomeness of this, by virtue of his age: this is an age at which kids tend to learn things about themselves, their desires, and their beliefs and how they differ from those around them, a time when they start to think that conformity isn't the end-all, be-all that they used to think it was. So, when a child decides to take an action like this on their own, it reflects all that is good and right with being human, being able to recognize the society we live in for what it is, and being free to make choices that help drive us all forward, even if they don't always run in parallel.

...because as wonderful a gesture as it is, 10 year olds aren't prone to noble gestures.

That's really the point, I think; I know that I was around this age (perhaps a bit younger) when I told my mother I didn't want to go to church any more, because I'd realized I didn't believe in what they taught, so it didn't make sense to keep going. My parents didn't confuse me on the subject, I wasn't exposed to some outside influence that got my wheels turning; I just listened, really listened in church one day and realized that I thought it didn't make sense, that it probably didn't make sense because it wasn't the truth, or at least not a truth that I'd internalized. I'm sure I didn't think about it in those terms, of course, but I certainly acted accordingly. To her credit, my mother said "okay, my job was to expose you to this, but you're old enough to make up your own mind", so she kept going and I didn't.

So good on ya, kid, for discovering a defining tenet of who you are and what you believe in, and being willing and able to stand up for it.
posted by davejay at 7:37 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I would suggest to anyone interested in having your kid mindlessly recite an oath of obedience to the State every morning that North Korea might be more your speed.
posted by EarBucket at 8:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was in the fifth grade when they added the words "under god" to the pledge. I was incensed. It wasn't the god thing, though that rankled, but I thought, "Here they've got me into the routine of saying this every morning, and now they think they can change the words and I'll just keep saying it. Hell, they could put anything they want in there." Haven't said it since. Never got any pushback on it, either, but then I'm in L.A.
posted by carping demon at 8:22 PM on November 16, 2009


The kid is the son of a friend of a friend. Northwest Arkansas, despite being in Arkansas, is also chock full of free thinking hippy types and their kids. So this doesn't surprise me at all.
posted by geekhorde at 8:41 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


In all sincerity, I hope that my kid ends up half as awesome and brave as this kid.
posted by MeghanC at 8:52 PM on November 16, 2009


Northwest Arkansas, despite being in Arkansas, is also chock full of free thinking hippy types and their kids. So this doesn't surprise me at all.

Fayetteville and Eureka Springs are chock full of &c. Most of NW outside of those towns is like most of the rest of AR, conservative as all fucking get-out. Consider that Blanche Lincoln and MARK FUCKING PRYOR are considered Democrats in this state. Fayettenam, Eureka, and the Little Rock area are the only remotely blue parts of the state.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:52 PM on November 16, 2009


Thesaurus fun.

"I willingly bind myself to the symbolic representations of the United States of America and to the republic which it represents: one nation under Allah, indivisible, with freedom of choice and fairness for all."
posted by blue_beetle at 10:20 PM on November 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You guys are missing the point here.

When we do it: patriotism.
When they do it: brainwashing

Goddamit, now I've been reduced to Bad Religion liner-notes...
posted by joe lisboa at 10:25 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not only because plenty of brave women manage to be brave without male genitalia, but also since we're talking about a ten year old, and continued references to the size of a ten-year-old's testicles kind of skeeves me out.

You're thinking of the wrong kind of balls. We're talking about ethereal balls, which everyone has, including women and ten-year olds. They are a completely different thing than testicles, related only by metaphor.


My point is that he was basically rewarded for telling a substitute teacher to go jump off a bridge and I don't think he should have been.
No, he was rewarded for standing up for what's right, his own beliefs, and American values in the face of oppression. The suggestion of depontofation is incidental, and, all things considered, a relatively benign way to assert oneself.

as a ten-year-old, my response would've probably been something along the lines of "Fuck you! Zeppelin rules!" ('cept it would've been in Klingon)
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:11 PM on November 16, 2009


He could have said, "Go fuck yourself you withered old cunt" and then his teacher would have said "Mr. Cheney! You aren't a fifth grader! Get out of this room right now!"
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:29 PM on November 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's gonna end up in someone's NaNoWriMo.

Ouch!

Um ...

That hurts, right?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:40 PM on November 16, 2009


I just listened, really listened in church one day and realized that I thought it didn't make sense

I remember at the Greek Orthodox elementary school I went to, we had to go to mass every morning. And I'm not in the remotest possible sense any kind of Greek, let alone Greek Orthodox, yet every day we had to recite these answer-response prayers in Greek. There were no Greek classes to find out what we were actually saying, either. When I asked why we should be required to ask for things from God when we couldn't even understand what we were asking for, and suggested that God, being omniscient, would probably see through my not-so-clever ruse rather quickly… I was punished by having to clean the church pews after school.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:12 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


A little late to the party, but the oath I took years ago (despite being removed from the position shortly thereafter) when I entered the Air Force:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Of course, I'd leave out the So help me God nowadays. But to the point, I still believe in the oath. Especially that bold portion.

And I'm a liberal.
posted by grubi at 6:13 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


joe lisboa: Goddamit, now I've been reducedELEVATED to Bad Religion liner-notes...
posted by shakespeherian at 6:21 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shohn: "I've been debating as to what the appropriate age will be to tell my kids that they don't have to say the pledge if they don't want to. And that includes the pledge to the Texas flag, which is crazy, in my opinion."


Yeah, I was astounded when Boy came home and started reciting a pledge to the Texas flag. I was very confused. I didn't even know there was such a thing. I find pledges *to flags* offensive as a concept.

As to this kid...good for him. I hope my son is as thoughtful and cognizant and capable of explaining his reasoning when he's that age.
posted by dejah420 at 7:48 AM on November 17, 2009


I would want to have kids if someone could promise me they would be this amazing.
posted by audacity at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't object to following the example of Red Sox Nation and changing the national anthem to Sweet Caroline. (Though I prefer the Elvis version.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:57 AM on November 17, 2009


FUCKING AWESOME.

My friend David, who wrote the Arkansas Times article, just got contacted by one of Sir Ian McKellen's representatives. Sir Ian wanted David to know how much he enjoyed his article.

I told him if he had any hair on his ass, he'd reply immediately and ask if Sir Ian loved it enough to call David's nine-year-old boy and shout YOUUUUUUUUUU! SHALL NOT! PAAAAAAASS!
posted by middleclasstool at 10:58 AM on November 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Even better. Sir Ian asked to get the kid's contact info so he could personally thank him for taking his stand.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:02 AM on November 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


That is awesome, middleclass tool. If I was the kid, after that call, I'd get a T-shirt that says:

"Gandalf the White supports me, fuckwads!"

But then, I'm a huge geek.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:18 AM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Even better. Sir Ian asked to get the kid's contact info so he could personally thank him for taking his stand.

Just don't tell Slap Factory about him wanting to do that, or he'll get post another link to PedoBear.
posted by hippybear at 11:33 AM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I was the kid, after that call, I'd get a T-shirt that says: "Gandalf the White supports me, fuckwads!" But then, I'm a huge geek.

Going by the picture ColdChef linked to at the top of the thread, so is the kid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on November 17, 2009


Just read this the other day:
"In fact, 'when I've been asked what should be on my gravestone,' [Ian McKellen] noted, 'I've said: "Here lies Gandalf. He came out." Two big achievements."
Awesome! I hope he follows through with that in his last will and testament.
posted by ericb at 12:01 PM on November 17, 2009


Just when I think it's not possible to LOVE Sir Ian any more than I already do!

"Gandalf the White supports me, fuckwads!"

I can't even imagine the awesomeness if Will Phillips wore this on a t-shirt.
posted by scody at 12:27 PM on November 17, 2009


"Gandalf the White supports me, fuckwads!"

I can't even imagine the awesomeness if Will Phillips wore this on a t-shirt.


Well, he IS only ten years old. Maybe a bit of a tone-down of the language would be appropriate before could wear it to school.
posted by hippybear at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2009


um... there's supposed to be a "he" in that sentence.

Where is that 3-minute edit window, again???

posted by hippybear at 1:04 PM on November 17, 2009


This kid reminds me of me. Every year when I was a kid my Catholic grade school class took a field trip down to the state capitol in Olympia to protest Roe vs. Wade, and every year I refused to stand with the rest of my class on the steps. Every year the fucking teachers were PISSED, "what would your parents think" and "how can you support killing the unborn". Every year I'd say the same thing, "my parents want me to make my own decisions, and I've decided I don't agree with what we're doing". Needless to say I never made it to my confirmation.
posted by vito90 at 1:08 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


i know this family - i assure you that Will is as awesome and self possessed as you think he is. Any notes of support you want to send, please do. i know they are helping against the tide of hateful missives (including a guy who claimed that all 10 year olds hate "feces anal sex").

the email is nursenimue@yahoo.com and they're using the northwest arkansas center for equality po box. po box 9014 fayetteville, ar 72703 if you want to send that card, hippybear.

my boyfriend and i were discussing it this morning, and the hard road a nerdy boy who skipped a grade and goes to west fork has ahead of him. our conclusion: at least in the age of the internet he doesn't just have to take someone's word for it that the rest of the world isn't as idiotic and backwards as your homeroom class. he gets to see that, by and large, other people support him. although, even if they didn't, i don't think it would matter much to Will. he knows what is right and no one is going to talk him out of that.
posted by nadawi at 2:25 PM on November 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


You capitalized Will.
posted by found missing at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2009


i'm a rebel Like that
posted by nadawi at 3:42 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


At the time, I thought it was just a one-off aberration, but it seems that every Anglican church is full of the same kind of ubiquitous jingoistic symbolism that Americans are so famous for.

I'm not sure if you mean an Anglican church in Australia or Britain, UbuRoivas, and I couldn't speak for the latter, but I'm pretty sure this isn't pure jingoism. As the established church, and as the centre of the parish, the church was also the central administrative and social centre for parishioners for much of the history of parish Britain. There are still survivals of this, most obviously in the reading of the banns, which essentially means you have to turn up to the church you are getting married in a few times before you are married in it, even though these days church attendance is socially optional in most communities.

We're very big on our war dead, certainly, but having the names of the glorious dead up on memorials in parish churches is about the local community as much as or more than it is about the nation. You have a memorial at Waterloo station listing the rail employees who died in the world wars, you have a memorial at a school listing old boys who died in the wars, and you have a memorial in a parish church commemorating the members of the parish who did likewise.
posted by DNye at 5:33 PM on November 17, 2009


Back ontopic, though, what a remarkable and impressive bit of self-possession. Much more so than refusing to say prayers, as I did at my school, I'd say, because, although I can't speak for Arkansas, it feels like homophobia is closer to the average schoolchild's cherished expectation of the world than religion...
posted by DNye at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2009


Tonight I e-mailed a fan letter to a ten-year-old boy. I feel kind of creepy, but I know it was the right thing to do.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:53 PM on November 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, he IS only ten years old. Maybe a bit of a tone-down of the language would be appropriate before could wear it to school.

Well, we certainly wouldn't want him to do anything uncivil. That would totally eliminate our ability to support him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:13 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, we certainly wouldn't want him to do anything uncivil. That would totally eliminate our ability to support him.

....this is a new theme for you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:05 PM on November 17, 2009


I live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and read an editorial about this little guy a couple weeks ago in the local paper. Hmm, I thought, good for him. His use of "all due respect" and other rational statements explaining his feelings and behaviors impressed me. Then, I read the article a bit later. And then, the Facebook mentions started happening among my friends, many of whom had gone to school in West Fork.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see this here. I don't think this little guy was set up to do anything he thought was particularly out of the ordinary. I don't think he was grandstanding. As someone above pointed out, he just skipped a grade into 5th, which is a really, really big jump, when it comes to physical development. He's used to being different and seems comfortable enough, considering. He's a little bit awkward on camera, but endearing in a way that doesn't seem coached or forced. He's 10 years old.

For contrast, let me point you to the Billy Wolfe bullying thread, which also occurred here and made me cringe. Especially knowing some of the parents and their back-stories. Now, knowing what I know, I feel THAT was some lawyer-inspired attention-whoring.

This little guy, not so much.

I don't think you have to worry about this boy's safety. The family has a huge backing in the area. If it starts getting hairy for him in West Fork schools, and his parents can arrange transportation, there's the New School mentioned upthread and Haas Hall, a magnet school that just moved from nearby Farmington and is now starting at 7th grade. It's mostly for math and science, though. There is also a strong homeschooling cooperative, and not just to keep youngsters away from the Devil, but to teach kids to think for themselves. We've got an award-winning public library with lots of interesting speakers, events, and meetings.

Hell, I think my own two kids are bright, of course, but I don't think they'd be comfortable enough to break ranks to do this. Fortunately, we have a huge variety of friends and acquaintances, thanks to living in this special place, so they get to learn by example that people are people, regardless of skin color or sexual preference or whatever. They also get to learn that some people are just jerks and how to deal with that, too. They're also both going to want one of those Nerd 4 Life t-shirts, so now I know what else to get them for Xmas.

I moved here from Little Rock for many reasons 10 years ago. This young man is now one of them.

Please pardon the length. I've been saving up words from every time I want to knee-jerk respond to an "all Arkies/Texans/Southerners are just dumb, racist hicks, amirite?" comment for a while now.
posted by lilywing13 at 12:24 AM on November 18, 2009 [8 favorites]


....this is a new theme for you.

Sarcasm is hardly a new practice of mine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 AM on November 18, 2009


I sort of teared up when I saw this kids bravery. For someone his age to make a stand like he is against pretty much the whole damn school is inspiring. Every once in a while we get an American who won't go to the back of the bus! The future looks bright.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:05 AM on November 20, 2009


Will Phillips' story was featured on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I think both segments were excellent. Especially Mick Foley's appearance promising to bring "a world of pain" to anyone who is harassing this kid at school.

(Oh, ye Gods, whomever you are, please let Foley actually show up at the school to walk him between classes for a day. That would be freakin' AWESOME!)
posted by hippybear at 9:23 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


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