Skepchick Quickies, 8.13


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. I am fine with people expressing their beliefs, but barcodes are not the Mark of the Beast. I guess Satan has had our cereal boxes marked for years. He also has no right to avoid enforcing students to wear the badges. I feel like that would completely defeat the purpose of the badges…

  2. Also, the Jesus Pan made me laugh for a little bit. The guy that works in the cube next to me had to come over and ask what was so funny, oops.

  3. Well, I guess there really is no extreme that this “religious objection” excuse won’t be used for… If the job conflicts with your religious beliefs then work somewhere else for ****’s sake!

    And do these folks really think their going to be sent to hell for wearing an id badge with a bar code on it? I thought the mark was supposed to be stamped on the head or the right hand anyway… And since he is a physics teacher, I wonder what Mr. Hudok thinks of the physics of the Book of Revelation, what with stars falling from the sky, flying dragons, and rivers of blood and all that jazz… argh, this is the dumbest religious related thing I’ve heard in like 12 hours or so.

    Here’s a rap from the folks at CERN:

  4. <devil’s advocate>
    So, hypothetically speaking, if you were an atheist teacher taking your class on a field trip to, let’s say, some kind of county fair event with a Christian theme for some reason…(stretching, I know…) you can secure for yourself the right not to prey yourself, but you have no right to avoid enforcing your students to prey?
    </devil’s advocate>

    I know the whole point of it’s inclusion in the quickies is how wacky the Mark of the Beast thing is, but the last paragraph in the article is also somewhat interesting for the discussion.

  5. I feel like that would completely defeat the purpose of the badges…

    It defeats creating the illusion of security and getting people used to being little more than numbers at a young age? Damn, I guess I have to support it, then.

  6. @Peregrine: I try to prey on Christians whenever I can :)

    I don’t know how a situation would arise where the school forces you and your students to pray at a county fair, so I can’t really answer that. If I worked at a school where things like that went on then I would probably quit.

  7. Curse my inattention to detail!

    Spelling errors aside, my point is that if the students have no issue with wearing the badges then the teacher shouldn’t have an issue with giving them their badges. That would be imposing his beliefs on them, and obviously, that would be wrong.

    But where he apparently has an issue with wearing the badge himself, he feels that he should not impose the badge on others. That’s how I’d imagine he sees it, anyway.

    If it’s not too much of an inconvenience to have another teacher or administrator hand out the badges for him, then it’s a reasonable accommodation. Otherwise, I’d agree that he should suck it up, or ask for a transfer to another school.

  8. I didn’t get the impression he was refusing to hand out badges or anything of that nature – merely that he was refusing to enforce the school’s rule requiring students to wear badges in his classroom. That is to say, that he allows those students who care to to remove them during his class, and if he sees a student in the hall without one, he doesn’t stop them about it.

  9. I used to work at a call center that made us use RFID swipe cards to get into the building, and clock in for work. Security made us wear them on a lanyard around our necks. They had to be visible at all times.

    The rent-a-cop hassled me about it on a few occasions, because I kept it in my pocket instead of around my neck. I mean, we have the same shift, he sees me every day, he recognizes me, he knows I work there. So why be a stickler about it?

    In that case, I had no moral objection to wearing the badge, aside form the obvious allusions to 1984, and the company branding their employees like cattle. I was just being difficult, and I knew it. If it came down to it, I would have let it go, and worn the badge like a good little phone-lackey.

    Eventually, I used the patch of eczema on my neck as an excuse not to wear the lanyard. The security guard let me get away with it, but told me to let the card drape out of my pocket or something so that it was visible. A reasonable compromise.

    So I can sort of understand the teacher’s perspective.

    So yeah, if it’s a case of that he just doesn’t want to gripe at kids for not wearing it, then sure, he’d end up being the nice teacher that lets kids get away with ignoring a stupid rule. We had a few of those when I was in school. That would be even less of an issue than my scenario. I have no problem with that, as long as he’s performing the rest of his duties with reasonable competence.

  10. I can understand not wanting to wear the badge in class. I take mine off when I am sitting in my cube at work. That is fine in my mind for him to allow.

    But if he is allowing the students to remove their badges because he thinks it is the Mark of the Beast, is ridiculous. Plus, if my knowledge of the scripture is correct, the Mark is permanent, and as someone said earlier, it is either on the head or the hand.

    “Revelations 9:V16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads”

  11. When I was in college you were technically supposed to show your ID and sign in every time you entered the dorm. The security guys on duty (and it was always the same guys) usually just let you through without any of that stuff once they knew you, but there would always be a day once in a while where they would force everyone to do it. One day, the guy who lived across from me freaked out on the security guard for forcing him to sign in… and as he forced me to hold the elevator for him while he dug through his bag for his ID I remember thinking, “Jesus, dude, stop being such a baby.” I guess when you pay to go to college you get easy-going security guards, but when you’re getting paid to go to work you get the hardassed ones.

    But anyway, I can agree with you Peregrine, as long he’s doing a reasonable job in the important aspects of being a teacher it’s not a big deal, but if he has such a big problem with the badges then he needs to suck it up or quit. Regarding those badges, those kids are far more likely to be abused or abducted by a “trusted” family member than by a total stranger, and I doubt highly that anyone is going to kidnap these kids during class. I imagine it’s more for the kids who are going to skip class… but I thought that was what attendance rolls were for. Creating the illusion of security is definitely what those badges are all about. Not to mention what a huge waste of time it is for everyone involved.

  12. This man is working in a public school system. As a teacher, part of the job description is to enforce the rules of the school. I think ID badges suck big time (believe me, I’m all about calling out Big Brother whenever I can), but if them’s the rules, the teacher enforces them. Just like those pesky rules about not teaching anything religion-based in a science classroom (or any public school classroom, for that matter). If you’re a public school teacher and you refuse to follow or enforce rules based on your beliefs, get a new job. If your job is to issue marriage licenses and you refuse to give one to a gay couple because you don’t like it, or if you’re a pharmacist who refuses to hand out the morning after pill because you don’t like it – get a new job. Your religion does not put you above the law, or before other individuals’ legal rights, such as students who deserve an educator that can be trusted to do as the school requires (whether it’s ID badges or not teaching their own preferred superstitions), or parents who pay taxes for that same school to operate. Get a new job. That’s all there is to it.

    I don’t really think the hypothetical example of an atheist teacher not being able to avoid enforcing rules that students shouldn’t pray makes much sense. First of all, if any public school teacher, atheist or not, would ever be taking a public school class to any sort of religiously-based event that is not strictly for observation’s sake would, whoever organized it would and should be in a ton of trouble (and might be even if it were only for observation’s sake). Plus, there are no laws against students praying in public schools on their own. Absolutely nothing prohibits them from taking a moment during their lunch or recess, or quietly at their desks when nothing else is required of them, for prayer. The only thing that is prohibited legally is school-sanctioned prayer.

  13. In my school I could get suspended for a calling a guy a “redneck”, but he wouldn’t be suspended for calling me a “freak”. The powers had apparently deemed that “redneck” was offensive while “freak” was not. A friend of mine actually got suspended over this issue. But I have to admit that your school sounds like it was even worse…

  14. Jen, I must respectfully disagree. What is taught is one thing. Arbitrary rules are another. I would stand by a teacher who refused to enforce the dress code, who refused to punish students for swearing, or who refused to send them to office to shave. I would prefer, of course, that he stood up and shouted it, and I would definitely prefer that it be for religious reasons, but like I said before “right actions, wrong reasons.”

  15. I know I was stretching a bit with my scenario, but I was trying to construct it from another angle. And incidentally, the laws in Canada are different from the US. I don’t think they’d go as far as school sanctioned prayer, but when I was in school, Teachers were within their rights to lead the class in morning prayer. Parents were within their rights to have their children excluded from the prayer if they wanted, but unless they opted out, it was acceptable to have it as part of the lesson plan.

    I don’t agree with it, and I certainly hope they do things differently now, but back then, and being from a christian family, I sort of had little say in the matter. So yes, it’s a stretch, but not that much of a stretch.

    As for your other point, now we’re getting into a matter of scale. And really, that’s a more serious consideration. A teacher decides not to enforce a rather minor rule that he disagrees with for whatever reason; that’s small scale. Maybe it’s his job to enforce the rules, but it’s a rather minor oversight compared to, as you mention, a civil servant refusing to issue marriage certificates to a gay couple.

    It’s wrong to withhold public services. Maybe there’s some concessions that can be made, such as having the objector refer the couple to another clerk who doesn’t have an issue with it. And those options ought to be considered, while all these details are sorted out. But until it’s settled, it’s a debate that we’re likely going to have to face again and again, in the foreseeable future.

    That’s annoying. But it’s worse when a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription. Now you’re messing with people’s lives.

    If I may indulge in another hypothetical scenario, (I’m good at those lately, aren’t I?) could a physician who happens to be Jehovah’s Witness refuse to give me a blood transfusion? I certainly hope not.

    Where do you draw the line? I’d side with the teacher, but the physician and the pharmacist had better pony up and do their jobs.

  16. The lip-synching girl is really just a big metaphor for the Chinese olympic games in general, isn’t it? It’s all about getting prestige for putting on a pretty face instead of actually doing something laudable.

  17. Greydon Square is too busy running for his lawyer right now to worry about his money. Much as I personally dislike Brain Sapient, physical violence is not warranted. Being off your meds only caries a defense so far.

  18. Rystefn & Peregrine, I think we have the same underlying opinion on the issue at hand – personally, I do agree with you. But I don’t think a school-wide ID badge system is really all that arbitrary. It would take board approval, and some time, work, and money to put into place. It’s different than an individual teacher disliking a student’s hair or clothes. School-wide policy is part of the same game as curriculum.

    And, in a larger sense, when it comes to public school teachers, discipline and rules are part of the game as well. I feel that you should know that when you get into it. If that’s not what suits you, look into teaching at private schools, or higher education, or a lot of other programs that educate in different ways and that might suit your own personal beliefs better. It’s like joining the military and then complaining about having to follow orders. Public school teachers are still essentially public servants. That puts a lot more restrictions on their behavior than other professions.

    If it’s a policy that is instituted arbitrarily by a single teacher, than yeah. Raise hell. But if it’s a school policy, it’s something different, and I think needs to be handled differently.

  19. It was instituted arbitrarily by the school board, same as dress codes and haircut restrictions. It’s wrong, same as dress codes and haircut restrictions. Just as a soldier has a responsibility to make a stand when his orders are all fucked up, so does a teacher have a responsibility to make a stand when school policy is all fucked up.

    ID badges aren’t exactly on the same scale as shooting civilians, but the principle here remains the same: every individual has a responsibility to stand up and resist when the rules are in the wrong. There’s enough of a shortage of decent teachers already, the last thing we need is to encourage an attitude in them to give up and walk away if they disagree with fascist policy decisions… and make no mistake, that IS what this teacher sees it as. Mark of the Beast, Big Brother… it’s all about those in power requiring things to keep the rabble under their heel.

  20. Rystefn, I couldn’t agree with you more. You’re a rebel after my own heart. I think the only thing we disagree on is the method of resistance. Maybe it’s just that I’m even more radical – my method is to find a better way of doing things on my own terms, and nothing really less. I think those who allow themselves to become a part of an existing unfair system have no one to blame but themselves when the system treats them badly. Get out of it and start something new is my advice. If someone doesn’t have the guts to do that, my sympathy for him or her is limited.

  21. Geez, I sound bitchy. If you guys ever meet me in person, I’m much funnier, I promise. I haven’t beat anyone up for weeks now.

  22. I have to say, I fully support at least some sort of dress code in a school. I don’t like the idea of uniforms, and I think people should express themselves. I absolutely do not want to see some 16 year old girl wearing clothes that make her look like a skank. My High School was fairly lax on any forms of attire, there was just limits on the length of the skirts (which I agree with now, looking back on it) and I think on how low cut a top was. I can’t stand seeing young girls (emphasis on girls) wearing clothes that only go on to degrade them. While people may argue that it should be the parents job to watch what their kids wear, sometimes the parents don’t care enough, aren’t around, or don’t know how to control their children. I think it is completely within the realm of the school board to set up regulations like that.
    At my High School, we all had to carry IDs, but I don’t think we needed them for anything other than the library. Though we were the first class to use them, so perhaps the idea wasn’t fully implemented. I am for the idea of IDs in a school, especially in a college situation. If you don’t have an ID, you can’t get in to a building. Sorry, but I would rather be slightly inconvenienced by having to scan my ID on a pad than to have some creepy rapists/thieves/homeless wandering the halls of my dorm.

  23. Jen, I’m very much a “tear it down from the inside” kind of person… especially since many children have no choice of schools and few enough people fighting for them anyway.

    GS, if there was actually a real risk of rapists and thieves wandering onto campus, I might agree with you, but the rapists and thieves at school are the students, and they all have the same badges anyway, so it’s serving no purpose.

    Also, I’d rather see a dress code that disallowed clothes entirely than any dress code I’ve ever seen at any of the schools I went to. Yeah, my experiences as a 16-year old trying to fight the system without parental support color my perceptions on the matter, but the law requires you to go to school, and a 16-year old cannot legally homeschool himself (or at least couldn’t at the time where I lived, maybe it’s different elsewhere). I had to put up with the law trying to mandate what clothes I was allowed to wear, how long I could grow my hair, and whether or not I was allowed to grow a beard. Now I watch the news, and I see that it’s even worse, and even fewer people are fighting on behalf of the children being oppressed in these ways, and it makes me furious in ways I just can’t express adequately in words.

  24. I’m not sure I understand the dislike of ID badges. You (all) seem to be assuming they have some sinister purpose of control. Their purpose is to show that you are authorized to be where you are. This is important in any environment where a lot of people are present and not everyone knows everyone else.

    This was a major issue at one of my previous employers, where there were multiple buildings with thousands of employees. All buildings were locked with RFID badge access panels. The problem was that often times, people would keep their badges in a pocket or wallet rather than wear it visibly. It’s impossible to know everyone in such an environment, and the basic impulse is to be polite and hold the door for a stranger. As you can imagine, this resulted in a lot of stolen property. The policies were changed to require people to keep their badges visible at all times. Also, it was advised that people should scan their badges even if someone was holding the door for them. This way, you would always have easy confirmation that someone wasn’t sneaking in to cause mischief. If they don’t have a badge, or it doesn’t scan, you don’t let them in. You feel like a jerk for a few minutes, but if they’re legit, they just have to check in with the receptionist and get a temporary badge.

  25. Yeah, except, as stated before, at a school, the thieves are the students who are authorized to be there, and do have their own badges anyway. I tell you what, you show me a study that shows a reduction in theft at a school after ID have been implemented, and then we can talk. Until then, I stand by my previous statements. Much like taking off your shoes at the airport, it’s not about security, it’s about the illusion of security and keeping the rabble used to oppression.

  26. I was absolutely incensed at the situation with the little girl who wasn’t cute enough to be on TV. As a musician, I love it that so much of it is truly merit-based. Obviously in the pop world being attractive (especially for women) is pretty well required, and it doesn’t HURT in the classical realm, but you’re not going to get very far in any genre if you don’t have at least some talent. (Spice Girl -type situations aside.) So it really ticks me off to see them combining what they perceive as the best bits of two little girls to get a musician who does not, in fact, exist.

    And besides, what does this say? This tells the singer that she’s not attractive enough to have an incredible, career-boosting gig in person, but we’ll take your voice, thanks. It tells the other little girl that as long as you’re cute, everything else can be faked. (And also by the way, you can’t sing well enough to do this but try to pretend you didn’t notice that part.)

    And what does it say to the snaggle-toothed, freckled, plain little girls like I was, whose talent far overshadowed their physical appeal? I guess this struck a little close to home …

  27. Re Lin Miaoke: its two different things to be a good singer and a good performer. You know what I think?– they obviously didn’t start training the vocalist young enough. China better get on that.

  28. I was an RA on my campus, and I know for a fact that some of the thieves and other sinister folks were from the outside. I worked closely with campus police on this. I would say about 90% of violent or otherwise criminal offenses within our building were caused by people that did not live there. A lot of them got in when our security was not as tight and students let them in the buildings, IE, during the day.

    I personally have no issues with the ID badges. I understand fully having them in schools, in the workplace, etc. My badge at school lets me in to the parking lot, my building, and other places. My work ID lets me get in to the server room and the building. Without the badge, who is to say who would go in to the server room and muck with our machines?
    Rystefn – I agree it is silly to tell kids how to grow their hair. The only thing I approve of is a slight dress code for high school and under. But, we both seem to have our opinions on this, so lets agree to disagree :)

  29. Yeah the thieves at my high school didn’t live there, either. The fights? 100% of the combatants didn’t live there. All of them, however, were students. Every last one.

  30. There are times when ID badges are appropriate, and times when they’re overkill. We all know that. That’s not an issue.

    The issue is whether or not the teacher has the leeway to decide to what extent he wants to enforce them.

  31. Actually, they’re both at issue. Also I think it’s more about whether or not the teacher should have leeway rather than whether or not he does.

  32. I suppose. He does have leeway, because he bitched, and the boss gave in, but the discussion is over whether he should have such leeway.

    To answer that, we need to address whether ID badges are excessive in his situation, which depends heavily on the environment of his particular school. But That’s more of a background detail, than a point of contention.

  33. I assume when he started working, he was told what the rules are. If he doesn’t like the rules, he can find a new job. He gets paid to do his job. If he doesn’t like the conditions that much, go through the teacher’s union.

  34. If he doesn’t like the rules, he can find a new job.

    Isn’t that kind of like saying “If you don’t like the laws, emigrate”? I mean, if you see a problem and you just walk away, leaving others to deal with it, especially those who can’t walk away themselves (students, in this case), aren’t you part of the problem? At least this guy has the courage of his convictions.

  35. Exactly. Not all rules need to be rigid. A little flexibility here and there is not too much to ask. He doesn’t like a rule, he asked for some flexibility, and he was granted his request.

    Had his request been denied, he would then have a choice to make; either suck it up, or move on.

  36. Hey Everybody (in voice of Dr.Nick)! My computer was broken and now fixed! I missed much!

    anyway: “GS, if there was actually a real risk of rapists and thieves wandering onto campus, I might agree with you, but the rapists and thieves at school are the students, and they all have the same badges anyway, so it’s serving no purpose.”

    Well, at my college, we had to start wearing badges after some teacher’s crazed ex came on campus with a gun or something. I guess high schools are a little more secure than college campuses…

    but really, the mark of the beast? Nothing’s going to ever shut these wingnuts up. A freaking barcode? Some cred-head friend of mine once was telling meabout how all barcodes arethe mark of the beast and it turned out that it was some kind of elaborate thing where you REALLY had to see patterns where there weren’t any.

    Shit, what’s next, the Western numeral system itself being satanic because it contains the numbers 666?

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