Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Am I not supposed to laugh at this story from Alaska? Am I being an arrogant blue-stater if I do?

Well, frankly, I don't care:

Matanuska Christian School's principal has been fired and a teacher has quit over a disciplinary incident in which the principal had himself whipped in front of two students.

When ... two seniors, 17 and 18, got caught kissing girls in front of younger students in late October, [principal Steve] Unfreid said that while contemplating what discipline to hand out, he woke at 3 a.m. and prayed how to avoid expelling them. He said that was when he remembered years ago he had cured his son of chronic lying by telling his son to hit him with a wooden ladle instead of spanking the youngster.

Later at school, Unfreid walked the boys down to a basement room with [a teacher, Joe] Brost. He told them, "'Guys, this has gotta stop,'" he said. "'I've let the atmosphere get too lax. I share in this discipline. This is a one-time deal.'"

Then the principal took off his belt, gave it to Brost, and instructed the teacher to "discipline me like you would discipline your own son," he recalled.

He told the teacher to stop only when the students acknowledged their mistake. The whole thing, starting with the trip downstairs, lasted 5 to 10 minutes, he said....

Yeesh. Five to ten minutes? I think a certain person has seen The Passion of the Christ a few too many times.

It's interesting: When someone from a "secular humanist" background goes off the rails -- John Walker Lindh, for instance -- people with conservative worldviews have no trouble blaming an entire culture (even though the vast majority of people from the same culture don't engage in the same behavior). And when they do, the culprit is inevitably "moral relativism," as contrasted with the rock-solid belief system of Christian conservatives, which tells them in no uncertain terms what's right and what's wrong.

This little story tells us things aren't quite that simple. Unfried thought God wanted him to do this; the parents and administrators of the school believe in the same God -- but God, or at least their religion-based moral code, told them (quite appropriately) that Unfried is nuts.

And Unfried isn't nuts because a secular message of "anything goes" made him so -- he's nuts because even a strict moral code can be interpreted more than one way. Because of his belief system, Unfried would never become a Muslim jihadist -- but with a few more turns of the loose screw in his head he might have decided that God wanted him to found a "boot camp" where he could subject troubled teenagers to excessive discipline.

The moral of the story: Secular people do good things and bad things. And so do religious people. Profound, no?

(Link via salto mortale and Steve Gilliard.)

No comments: