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Bloomberg has almost got it right…almost

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 1, 2009

A recent article on the NYTimes reports that the City Council voted to add two Muslim holidays to the public school’s holiday schedule. Mayor Bloomberg has a problem with this:

Spurred by a broad coalition of religious, labor and immigrant groups, the City Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Tuesday to add two of the most important Muslim holy days to the public schools’ holiday calendar.

But the vote, which was nonbinding, put the Council in conflict with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has the final say to designate the days off and has said he is resolutely opposed to the idea.

The mayor told reporters before the vote that not all religions could be accommodated on the holiday schedule, only those with “a very large number of kids who practice.”

“If you close the schools for every single holiday, there won’t be any school,” he said. “Educating our kids requires time in the classroom, and that’s the most important thing to us.”

I agree with this, however, Mayor Bloomberg seems to reach the wrong conclusion. It is true that you cannot accomodate every religion, therefore you should accomodate none! First of all,  kids don’t practice any religion. It is their parents that do so, so this issue is not about the kids who practice and how numerous they are. Second, since when is an argument from popularity acceptable when issues of civil rights and equal treatment are on the plate? Such argument only makes sense to the people on the majority. Furthermore, if the City Council felt pressured to pass this resolution it appears to me that the Muslim population must be quite numerous.

The current school calendar recognizes major Christian and Jewish holy days like Christmas and Yom Kippur, but no Muslim holy days.

Can you say discrimination? I don’t know about you, but I live in NYC and I can tell you that there are many, many practicing Muslims living here. If the state is going to honor Christian and Jewish holidays then they cannot discriminate against Muslim ones, based on some cowardly argument from popularity. In fact they should not be discriminating against any religious belief regardless of how numerous or not it’s followers are. The First Amendment to the US Constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

Picking and choosing which religion deserves to be recognized in the public schools’ holiday calendar is in fact doing the opposite, by firmly endorsing and supporting the Christian and Jewish faith over the Muslim faith. As such the only solution that is in line with the US Constitution and which is equally fair to every US Citizen and resident is not to endorse any religious holidays and exclude all religious holidays from the calendar. If the holiday is so important to the parents of the children they can keep the kids home.

The state’s job is not to decide which religion should be favored over which other religion. It’s job is to be equally indifferent to all religions. Mayor Bloomberg would do well to remember that.

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Defacing Mars

Posted in SkepticBlog by Skepdude on July 1, 2009

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT SKEPTICBLOG

Are you an exhausted antiscientist? Has railing against the mainstream science paradigm got you down? Making up “facts” is tough, and it’s tiring CONSTANTLY TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS, using different color fonts, and don’t forget all those exclamation points!!! Not to mention comparing scientists to Hitler and Himmler, and yourself to Galileo and Einstein.

And of course, your mind is soft and not used to real work, so you need to take constant breaks.

Have I got the time-waster for you! Head (haha, as you’ll see in a sec) on over to Discovery Channel’s Faces of Mars jigsaw puzzle page!

marsfacepuzzle

READ THE FULL ENTRY AT SKEPTICBLOG

2005 Uri Geller: Michael Jackson’s career comeback to be “most dramatic ever seen in showbiz”

Posted in Center for inquiry by Skepdude on July 1, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT CFI

In a 2005 interview published in London’s Daily Telegraph, 1970s spoon-bending psychic / magician / alleged fraud Uri Geller spoke of his confidence that his friend Michael Jackson would soon make the greatest comeback of his career: “I’m quietly proud of my part in relaunching Michael’s career. This comeback of his is going to be the most dramatic ever seen in showbiz…. In fact, the only thing that could beat this would be for Elvis to come back from the dead.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT CFI

To everyone who wants prayer in American public schools

Posted in Saganist by Skepdude on July 1, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE SAGANIST.

To everyone who wants prayer in American public schools: I say fine. That’s a great idea. In fact, it would be much more convenient, especially for the dhuhr, if it were led by school officials. That way, no students would have to worry about drawing attention to themselves when they take out their individual prayer mats at whatever time they deem best. After the recitation of adhan and iqama over the public address system, the gym would probably be the best place to gather for school prayer. That way, everyone can say the prayer together and no one will feel left out. There could even be markings on the gym wall to ensure that everyone knows the exact direction to Mecca.

prayerWhat’s that you say? You don’t want to take part in these prayers? I will remind you that Allah’s mercy is great for those who believe in him and obey, but he has little patience for infidels. Nevertheless, you will not be forced to take part in school prayer. You may sit around the edges of the gym and watch. Everyone is free to participate or not. There’s no need to feel you are being discriminated against, just because you choose not to take part in the historic American tradition of school prayer.

You’re still not satisfied with this arrangement? I thought you were the one who wanted school prayer in the first place! Oh, I see… you only want school prayer in the manner of your religion. Well, I’m sorry to say that not everyone believes in your religion, and we can’t have school prayers for every possible religion! That would be ridiculous! Why don’t you just pray silently to your own god while everyone else is reciting the school prayer?

Still not good enough? Okay, how about this compromise. Instead of trying to shove any particular religion into public schools, why don’t we just focus on educating the students instead?

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE SAGANIST.

Jackodolia

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on July 1, 2009