Sunday, May 13, 2012

What the ... religious intolerance?

I read an article in The Chronicle Herald on the weekend called "T-shirt tempest distracting". It irked me a bit. Enough that I decided to write about it.

Why did it irk me? The author, Monica Graham, came off as disingenuous. She ignored reality and tried to make it all about Christians being persecuted.

"Swinimer, a student at Forest Heights Community School in Chester Grant, was punished for repeatedly wearing the shirt to school after he was told to stop. It was a courageous act of defiance on the part of an apparently shy young man who felt his faith was under attack."

Swinimer is shy? What a crock of shit. He has been a source of aggravation for other students at his school for proselytizing. He would preach at them and tell them they would burn in hell if they didn't believe what he believes.

Monica is being VERY disingenuous here. Either that or she is a moron. Her article was written weeks after the incident started. Weeks after more information about the "censorship" came out. 

As one student told reporters;

“It’s ridiculous. It should be a normal school day, but no one can be able to focus today,” he said. 

This thing never was about a shirt. He’s telling kids they’ll burn in hell if they don’t confess themselves to Jesus. He’s said that.”

So, who was under attack? Swinimer or anyone who didn't agree with him? It sounds like Swinimer was the one doing the attacking.

Graham wrote;

"It’s unclear if anyone was truly offended, or if there was simply a concern that someone might be offended. Who knows?"

Really? Unclear? Yet it was reported that at least one student HAD complained about the t-shirt. No to mention the complaints about Swinimer's proselytizing. Seems clear to me that someone felt offended. Whether you or I think it was offensive, it did bother someone. And it came out, before Graham wrote her piece, that Swinimer has harassed other students with HIS intolerance. It looks pretty clear to me.

At the time Graham wrote this there was something else she ignored. The school was having a tolerance discussion. A day was devoted to it. There were speakers and students were encouraged to participate. The father, John Swinimer, REFUSED to allow his children to attend any discussion about TOLERANCE.

It seems to me that Graham missed the boat on this one. The father, the way his son proselytizes, and how they are actively intolerant of others is more of the issue than censorship by the school.

It is kind of funny that Graham started off the article with the statement ...

"Much ink has been spent (dare I say, wasted?) on the case of William Swinimer and his bright yellow T-shirt."

... and she just went on to waste more.


  1. I have just stumbled across your blog post. I could not disagree more with what you have posted.

    The action taken by Ruth Wilkins, the Vice Principal at Forest Heights, in demanding William Swinimer not wear his t-shirt, and citing hate speech at the time, was the catalyst for the escalation of this student's behaviour and this full event.

    I am agnostic, and for years worked as a Teacher's Aide with teen students that had difficulties with social cues.

    The actions of administration here, IF William had been demonstrating harassing behaviour BEFORE the escalation of events, would have been to log events of harassment. That's what aides do. In this case there was no such action taken, and that would be because the prosyletizing was not over the top until school administration took such a wrong step.

    To quote students who are NOW giving their take on his behaviour provides no information about William Swinimer's behaviour weeks ago.

    Was he most likely annoying. You bet. So are students who loudly announce, through the hallways, their sports wins and how much they had to drink on the weekend. Annoying does not equal harassing.

    Had he probably told some students they would burn in hell. Probably. That is not harassment either. That is his allowed opinion. Students say much, much worse to each other regularly. They also have the ability to walk away and ignore.

    With regard to the 'discussion' administration arranged, I am not with you on that either. They are setting up that student, yet again, to be in the hot seat. Just more subtle administrative bullying. As a parent of an 18 and 16 year old there would be no possible way I'd allow either son to a 'discussion' lead by an administration that had so fully failed to start.

    If you followed this story further you would find at the meeting that did take place, without the Swinimers, other parents complained about the perceived atmosphere of intolerance towards Christians at the school.


  2. You can't agree more that the person who wrote the article left things? Hmmmm ... I went back and reread her article and I still can't see her mentioning any of the facts that would have hurt her view.

    From what I have read people had been complaining about the proselytizing. It didn't just come out during that day of discussions. The shirt was, unfortunately, what the principal decided to act on. I think she should take a page from the father's book the next time William Swinimer starts acting out.