Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Making Up Rights

There are so many things wrong with what the people are saying in this report on a student getting a zero for using religious imagery in an art class assignment.

"assistant principal Cale Jackson told the boy his religious expression infringed on other students' rights."

How on earth does non-coercive religious expression -- an image, in this case -- infringe upon anyone's rights? First, this shows these people have no earthly idea what a right is. They think that a right is something that not only prevents harm, but prevents offense. I have already talked about the problem of offense and how you do not have a right to not be offended precisely because it is you who is choosing to take offense, or not. I can harm you without your agreeing to participate -- but you can take offense at something I do even if what I do would not offend anyone else on earth. If I do something that would harm you, and I do that same thing to someone else, they will be harmed too. But if I do something that you take offense at, one could find many others -- perhaps a vast majority of people -- who would not take offense. Thus, it is you who are responsible for taking offense. You do not have a right to not be offended -- since offense is arbitrary, based upon your whim or your mood, and entirely subjective. Thus, it is not like murder, rape, or theft -- all of which actually do infringe on other students' rights. That idiot ass. principal is equating an image with murder, rape, or theft -- and that's ridiculous.

As it turns out, there is all sort of religious imagery throughout the school, including Buddhist and Hindu images. Further, there are religious images in the art and metals rooms: "Drawings of Medusa, the Grim Reaper with a scythe and a being with a horned head and protruding tongue hang in the art room and demonic masks are displayed in the metals room." Yes, Medusa is a religious image, being a character from ancient Greco-Roman paganism. And the Grim Reaper is a Christian image! This latter fact shows that the "rule" was being applied entirely at the whim (or with the inexcusable ignorance) of the teacher. Either a rule must be applied equally to everyone at all times, or it should not be a rule.


John said...

Ridiculous. What is art supposed to be about, then, if not spiritual and cultural values? And how can teachers and administrators make any sense of rules like these if they can't even recognize spiritual and cultural values when they see them?

You don't even have to be a Christian to appreciate the aesthetic and philosophical value of Christianity (or Buddhism, or Hinduism, etc.). Black box pluralism is asinine.

Troy Camplin said...

Let's go a step further and remove all art that has a religious context. What would be left? Even Rothko's paintings of squares were intended to create a meditative space. Of course, I would suspect this high school art teacher to not know that.