Aug. 14, 2007
 
MANN TALK: Kids at Risk
 
By Perry Mann
 
Hinton, WV (HNN) -- Karl Priest, a teacher of mathematics in public schools for a number of years, writes in the Readers’ Forum (7-31-07) that children are not at risk from outside danger but from inside danger.
 
The inside danger is sexual misconduct of teachers and what teachers are infested with, to wit: …”secular humanist and New Age worldviews... and with lies of humanism, evolutionism and twisted ideas of marriage and the family.” He continues with his rant with this: “Teacher unions, working in concert with homosexual activists, abortion groups, left-wing feminists and environmental radicals, have greatly expanded their influence upon public schools.”
 
He considers public school children under attack from these nefarious secular humanists and he proposes that “It is time for thinking people to exit the public schools and seek safety of home and private education.” A proposal that is tantamount to intellectual incest.
 
I am a secular humanist and I certainly believe in evolution and consider Creation a myth. I am the father of a homosexual male who is a tenured professor of creative writing at a first rate secular university, who has never been accused of abuse of anyone, male or female. I believe that women should have the liberty to have a child or not have a child by whatever means; and that they should have the option of marriage or singleness in parenthood. And above all I believe in the concept of secular, public education for all children. A proposal that envisions intellectual cross fertilization.
 
A person who is enslaved by the dogma of the church should have no place in education. Indoctrinating children in Christianity or in any other religion or any social or economic or philosophical system is a crime against nature. Every child should be educated; that is, taught all history, all philosophy, all religions, all economic ways, the arts and everything else that helps to orient a student to live a life in harmony with nature and its truths.
 
Of course, no society can teach all that to students, only a priority of concepts. One of those priorities is to teach students to think for themselves, to study for themselves, to learn for themselves and to use their knowledge first and foremost to guide them through the dangerous shoals of dogma, ignorance and demagoguery.
 
The best argument against home schooling and the privatization of schooling is the mindset of and worldview of Karl Priest. I would leave my child to the school of nature before I would allow him or her to attend a school in which the teachers taught what Karl Priest would have them to teach.
 
Priest is so enthralled by church dogma and so unaware of his ignorance and of the vast literature on evolution that he had the effrontery to challenge Richard Dawkins---one of the foremost and distinguished scholars on evolution---to a debate on the theory. If one is on the side of Priest, I challenge him or her to read Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale.” Evolution is no longer a theory. It is a fact.
 
Priest is a homophobe and a bigot. As a result of my son being gay and being accepted by his family just as though he were not, I have had many gay men and lesbian women in my home, all of whom were good people, educated people, extraordinary people, honest people, law abiding people --- but all of whom were frightened by bigots and some had been attacked by bigots. Not one of them chose to be gay. They were born gay. Just as I was born heterosexual and just as Priest was born heterosexual. No one in a society in which 90 percent of it is heterosexual would choose to be gay, considering the enmity toward gays.
 
Yet Priest writes about the ominous agenda of the homosexual activists. He suffers a bit of paranoia. A lesbian cares for my grandson with the patience, attention and love of a saint. The homosexual agenda is freedom from bigotry, freedom from the demagoguery and ignorance of people like Karl Priest. Freedom to live in a society with all the rights and security and respect enjoyed by straights
 
He rails against environmental radicals. He has the fundamentalist mindset of a former Secretary of Agriculture under Reagan. The secretary said not to worry about the environment, for the Rapture was imminent and then all the saved Christians would ascend to Heaven and wouldn’t need the environment. Such thinking from one so high in government and from one who was a teacher is what is scary.
 
He raises the issue of sexual misconduct by teachers --- humanists teachers, I suspect. The answer to that is the recent settlement of $600 million in California alone by the Catholic Church to compensate sexually abused Catholics by its priests.
 
I suspect that Priest is a theocrat. He speaks of private schools. To him I guess private schools would be indistinguishable from Christian schools, where creationism would be taught and the worldview that nations should have an established church with its powers commensurate with the civil powers. That is, he longs like Don Quixote for the days of yore, to wit: The Middle Ages, when the church could condemn a heretic to the flames of the stake.
 
The danger in schools to students is not left-wing feminists, abortionists, homosexuals or environmental radicals. It is fundamental religionists and theocrats, who believe literally in the Bible and believe it is the revealed word of God. That is, people who read Karl Priest and say amen.
 
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Perry Mann is a former teacher, a lawyer, a former prosecuting attorney of Summers County and a regular columnist for the Nicholas Chronicle in Summersville and Huntington News Network.

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