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View Diary: Breaking: Equal Rights for Atheists Denied by Massachusetts Court (100 comments)

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  •  They presented no evidence of harm. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrganicChemist
    As the motion judge noted in her memorandum of decision, however, there is no evidence in the summary judgment record that the Doe children have ever been subjected to any type of punishment, bullying or other mistreatment, criticism, condemnation, or ostracism as a result of not participating in the pledge or not reciting the words "under God."
    •  Think about it for two freaking seconds. (3+ / 0-)
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      corvo, jodylanec, matador

      If you are a kid who objects and every other kid is saying it, are you likely to sit down?

      I mean, kids are so impressionable and peers are so ruthless. Not fitting in is one of the greatest fears kids have. Heck, most adults are the same way... They want to belong so desperately they will do all kinds of things they wouldn't otherwise do...

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Fri May 09, 2014 at 01:12:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They presented no evidence of harm. (2+ / 0-)
        The plaintiffs nevertheless press the claim that the children are adversely affected by the recitation of the pledge because of their religious views. They claim to be "stigmatize[d]" and "marginalized," and to "feel excluded," when the pledge is recited by others, regardless of whether they participate. Specifically, they contend that having the pledge with the words "under God" recited in their schools effectively conveys a message that persons, like them, who do not believe that the Nation is "under God" are "outsiders," "second-class citizens," and "unpatriotic."

        The plaintiffs do not appear to be claiming that their children have been punished, bullied, criticized, ostracized, or otherwise mistreated by anyone as a result of their decision to decline to recite some (or all) of the pledge. There is no evidence in the summary judgment record that the plaintiffs' children have in fact been treated by school administrators, teachers, staff, fellow students, or anyone else any differently from other children because of their religious beliefs, or because of how they participate in the pledge. Nor is there any evidence that they have in fact been perceived any differently for those reasons. The plaintiffs do identify what they claim is a poor public perception of atheists in general, and they maintain that their children's failure to recite the pledge in its entirety may "possibly" lead to "unwanted attention, criticism, and potential bullying." However, there is nothing in the record indicating that this has in fact happened to the plaintiffs' children or to any other Massachusetts schoolchildren because of their decision to exercise their right not to recite the words "under God" in the pledge.

        [FN22] In short, there is nothing empirical or even anecdotal in the summary judgment record to support a claim that the children actually have been treated or perceived by others as "outsiders," "second-class citizens," or "unpatriotic."
        The plaintiffs' claim of stigma is more esoteric. They contend that the mere recitation of the pledge in the schools is itself a public repudiation of their religious values, and, in essence, a public announcement that they do not belong. It is this alleged repudiation that they say causes them to feel marginalized, sending a message to them and to others that, because they do not share all of the values that are being recited, they are "unpatriotic" "outsiders." We hold that this very limited type of consequence alleged by the plaintiffs--feeling stigmatized and excluded--is not cognizable under art. 106.

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