Ohio Teacher Gives Cross-Burning Whole New Meaning

21 06 2008

[John] Freshwater has taught eighth-grade science in the district for 21 years.

In April, the school board hired HR On Call Inc. to investigate Freshwater, four months after the parents of a child in his class said he had burned a cross into the child’s arm, causing swelling and blistering.

[family photo provided to media via school district]

Hamilton called the complaints “fabrications created by a couple of students. … Not a single child has ever been harmed,” he said.

Freshwater’s earlier “defense” claim was to dismiss the children’s brand-like burn scars as merely X shapes, not the Christian cross symbol.

I don’t see how this would’ve helped him with shocked parents and school officials concerned with potential liability for his actions. It’s downright delusional imo– considering that hitting kids and leaving any mark at all is a serious offense with or without religious motive, and I seem to recall a kindergarten teacher fired for hugging kids who looked like they needed it! (Here’s a recent teacher-hug-spells-trouble news item from Texas.)

Intelligent teachers designing or not, Christian or not, effective or not, all ought to have learned one big lesson in our litigious system by now: any physical contact with a student in your charge is fraught with peril no matter what your intentions, and cooperation of the child with any such contact is no defense for the teacher.

Because the child’s independent consent is deemed not yet possible, the teacher must do all the thinking for both of them, and bear all the responsibility alone, like Rick singlehandedly deciding Ilsa and Victor’s fate — if not the free world’s! — in the movie Casablanca: “Oh, I don’t know what’s right anymore; you’ll have to do the thinking for both of us.”

And another thing, wouldn’t his Christian creationist supporters be put off by him trying to call the cross burns an X and deny it was religious expression (unless it was a wink-wink conspiracy to lie about it in service of the greater truth, which I can’t imagine ten commandment literalists rationalizing with a straight face?)

So maybe I’m not the only one who noticed that was a dumb argument all around. Read the rest of this entry »