Sometimes it seems as though the world is made of outrage and bad decisions. It’s the perfect environment for good satire. The classic example is Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, which was written when the wealthy were coming up with radical solutions to the problem of the poor (as well as England’s general attitude toward the Irish being generally hostile). A Modest Proposal outlined a solution of preparing the children of the poor as meals for the wealthy, thus reducing poverty and raising money through the extravagance of the meals. It mocked the bad decisions of the time and generated outrage, which could be turned from the satire to the real issues.
Now Louisiana’s Sabine Parish School Board has upgraded the level at which satire operates by turning it into a live performance art piece.
It starts at one of the public schools in the region and a sixth-grade student there who is going by “C.C.” in the news reports. The school actively toys with the constitutional separation of church and state by routinely having Christian prayers school-wide, featuring various depictions of Christian representation including a portrait of Jesus, and displaying Bible quotes on the school’s electronic marquee. This is a public school, remember, funded with taxpayer dollars. This is a thing that is legal for schools in Louisiana.
That’s a good start, but performance art needs an edge, and teacher Rita Roark provided it. Roark is a science teacher, and among her teachings is that the Bible is literally accurate, and so the world was created in six days and evolution is false, telling her students that if man evolved from apes, there’d still be apes evolving into humans today, thus making it impossible. One apparently representative sample test question reads as follows:
ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While many are harping on a science teacher using a question where you only get credit for a correct answer by answering “Lord,” let’s focus on the genius of the way that question was put together, namely with all caps and all those exclamation points. Did you count them? There are 32. There’s no way a person in charge of the education of children would ever write like that as part of a test. This was clearly part of the performance, one of those little winks to the audience to let them know it’s all a gag, and you should be thinking about the larger issues.
Of course, none of this would even be noticed if a child and his parents didn’t have a problem with it. Most kids would be happy to fill in the blanks and get their good grades and show their parents how good they’re doing in science. That’s where C.C. comes in.
C.C. is of Thai descent and is Buddhist. He did not fill in “Lord” to the above question, and he did not get credit for a correct answer. In a comparative religions discussion, Roark also apparently called both Hinduism and Buddhism “stupid” and told C.C. flat out “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”
C.C.’s parents found out about this rousing educational discussion and complained to the Sabine Parish superintendent, Sara Ebarb. Ebarb listened to their comments, weighed the issues at hand, and gave them the guidance they so desperately needed. She allegedly told the couple “this is the Bible belt” and they shouldn’t be offended to “see God here.” But Ebarb provided other options if being told to not be offended wasn’t enough. She also instructed them that C.C. could change his religion, or that they could send him to another school 25 miles away that had more Asians. Bravo, Ms. Ebarb, bravo.
The parish has put enough time and effort into their performance and are ready to take it to a wider audience. Let’s hope so anyway, because the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the school district on the basis of these claims, so this could be going primetime nationwide.
People are, naturally, outraged by this story. A publicly funded organization teaching Christian-based ideas. An outcast child who believes differently than the majority. The person in charge telling him he’s wrong for his different feelings. The authorities telling him just to stop being that way.
Congratulations, Sabine Parish, for creating a pro-gay satire performance art piece that Jonathan Swift would applaud. You are the first recipients of the Soft Core Sophistry Respek Knuckles.