I�m with you a hundred percent. As I think I�ve now made clear, I�m a quite impassioned defender of free and open discussion, and, even though I disagree strongly with traditional Christian beliefs, I am deeply appalled by attempts to limit Christians� freedom of expression.

When I was in public high school, our sophomore English teacher (a brilliant teacher � the best I�ve ever had) assigned the book of Job in the OT and also MacLeish�s play �JB,� and we compared and contrasted the two different presentations of the same material. The teacher, I suspect, was an agnostic, and some of us in the class were agnostics, deists, atheists, etc. But the teacher explained quite clearly that we were not discussing whether Job was true (I doubt that many Christians even care whether Job is literally true or simply a parable) but merely looking at the larger questions raised by the book and how these questions were also addressed by Archibald MacLeish.

No one complained.

I mentioned this a few months ago to a friend who is a teacher in one of the better local public high schools. John told me that there is no way he could do this today.

I have also been told by some friends who work in the public schools and who are responsible for overseeing �church-state� issues that they can approve using school funds to purchase a copy of the Holy Quran, but not a copy of the Bible!

Something is very wrong.

You wrote:
>I mean things like my GS8, then 6, was told he could not read his Bible in school. Are you all OK with censorship, as long as the book being censored is one you wouldn't read?

I have to admit, that, if my kids were in that school, even though we are atheists, I�d send them to school with a copy of the Bible (after all, everyone should know the Bible � it�s part of our common cultural heritage) and, when they were ordered not to read it, I�d call the ACLU and force a test case.

I don�t like confrontation, but the price of liberty is indeed eternal vigilance.

Frankly, I�m not sure even how offensive the �filth� and �stink rubbing off� comments were. They would certainly cause anyone to be taken aback, but I would have used them as a somewhat unconventional conversational opener and found out what the evangelical Christian�s real beef with that school was. Maybe she was just misinformed and thought they were teaching all the children to be witches, but maybe she had some serious points that she could have presented rather than letting the conversation end with the rather inarticulate word �filth.�

As the ACLU likes to see, the solution to �wrong� speech is more speech. To connect it the original topic of this thread, far too many Americans have allowed their own misguided �defensiveness� to serve as an excuse for limiting free and open discussion.

That�s wrong and needs to be energetically resisted by all decent folks of all religious and political persuasions.

You wrote:
>OK, off my soapbox�

Hey, keep that �soapbox� handy. It�s the truest symbol, even better than Old Glory herself, of what America is really all about!

All the best,