EDITOR’S VIEWPOINT/County adds an ‘I’ to the curriculum’s three Rs
Sister Aloysius Gonzaga had a look that could freeze water. Most of the time, it was trained on me. At some point, Sr. Gonzaga had decided that I was a smart-mouthed little brat, totally beyond redemption and headed, in all likelihood, for Mother Murphy’s Home for Wayward Girls. Or hell.
I swear to you I never did anything to merit the animosity. (There was that huge wad o’ gum-in-the-teacher’s-desk-drawer thing, but that was more an indication of the madcap hijinks indulged in by the sixth graders of St. Michael’s Elementary School and Torture Chamber than any expression of personal evil on my part.)
The point is that, in our experience with the American system of education, we have all had a witch or two leading us to the light of learning. Sr. Gonzaga, who, if she is still alive and reads this is going to track me down like a dog and whack me with a yardstick, was mine.
In Scotland County, N.C., students also had a witch. But, unlike Sr. Gonzaga, whose vocation was “nun” and hobby was “witch,” Shari Eicher was the real thing. She practiced Wicca, a pseudo-religion based on ancient pagan beliefs. Wiccans call themselves “white” witches and have the interesting habit of dancing around naked in forests. And, while I think dancing around naked is peculiar no matter where you do it, I find it much more acceptable in the middle of a forest than in, say, a smoky bar with a guy named Big Gus guarding the door.
Scotland County officials apparently didn’t think so. When students located a web site that featured some of Eicher’s fellow witches dancing around — a site that, by the way was filtered and contained multiple warnings about its contents — county officials went ballistic. Urged on by a group of local ministers, who apparently believe that religious tolerance thing in the Constitution is subjective, the county school board suspended Eicher. That same day, the Scotland County Commission thumbed its collective nose at decades of American jurisprudence and voted to post the Ten Commandments in the county’s public schools.
Now, I am sure that the Scotland County commissioners and board of education members are a swell bunch of well-meaning folks. But they just taught who knows how many impressionable kids that the law is fluid; that if something bugs you enough — even if that something is protected by the gol’ darned U.S. Constitution — then you have a right to take action. To Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmatic, they have added Intolerance.
And they have made themselves look small-minded and scared. Sr. Gonzaga woulda whacked ’em.