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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/05/03/ns-jesus-shirt-student.html?cmp=rss

A Christian student suspended from a high school in Nova Scotia for sporting a T-shirt with the slogan "Life is wasted without Jesus" vows to wear it when he returns to class next week.

William Swinimer, who's in Grade 12, was suspended from Forest Heights Community School in Chester Basin in Lunenburg County for five days. He's due to return to class on Monday.

The devout Christian says the T-shirt is an expression of his beliefs, and he won't stop wearing it.

"I believe there are things that are bigger than me. And I think that I need to stand up for the rights of people in this country, and religious rights and freedom of speech," he told CBC.

Officials with the South Shore Regional School Board plan to meet with Swinimer to hopefully reach a compromise.

The shirt doesn't have profanity on it, doesn't tell people they are evil if they don't believe in Christ, It just puts forth a message.

No excuse for suspending the student for wearing a shirt that presents an opinion.

Had this been done to a Muslim student, I suspect a Human Rights Tribunal would be contacted.

Edited by Boges

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Had this been done to a Muslim student, I suspect a Human Rights Tribunal would be contacted.

Don't speak too soon - I'm sure someone will inquire about that.

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Swinimer wore the T-shirt every day to class for several weeks. The principal told him repeatedly to stop wearing it, but the student refused to comply Swinimer says the principal would have accepted a shirt with the slogan, "My life is wasted without Jesus."

"But I didn't go for that because I have my rights as a Canadian citizen," Swinimer said.

Interesting issue for the Supreme Court: Does freedom of religion mean freedom to make others see your message? ... In a public school where religious doctrine and proselytizing are not allowed?

If he's allowed to do it, be prepared for an onslaught of religious proselytizing via t-shirts in schools.

Kind of a back door approach since they're not allowed in the front door anymore.The school's in a tricky situation, because they do have to protect students from religious proselytizing.

I can see the principal's point, and I think what he suggested is reasonable. The kid could use a message that pertains only to himself, but he's trying to impose his beliefs on others, an intentional campaign ... every day for weeks! A bit much.

And yes, a student who wore a tshirt saying "Life is wasted without Allah" would be just as offensive and I expect students would complain about that too.

People are free to practice their own religion, but not to try to impose it on others, because that violates their freedom of religion.

Edited by jacee

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Guest American Woman

I think it's crazy how one person who's offended by someone else's viewpoint can cause such a scene and garner such an extensive response, yet I think the "My life..." compromise was a good one.

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Swinimer wore the T-shirt every day to class for several weeks. The principal told him repeatedly to stop wearing it, but the student refused to comply Swinimer says the principal would have accepted a shirt with the slogan, "My life is wasted without Jesus."

"But I didn't go for that because I have my rights as a Canadian citizen," Swinimer said.

Interesting issue for the Supreme Court: Does freedom of religion mean freedom to make others see your message? ... In a public school where religious doctrine and proselytizing are not allowed?

If he's allowed to do it, be prepared for an onslaught of religious proselytizing via t-shirts in schools.

Kind of a back door approach since they're not allowed in the front door anymore.The school's in a tricky situation, because they do have to protect students from religious proselytizing.

I can see the principal's point, and I think what he suggested is reasonable. The kid could use a message that pertains only to himself, but he's trying to impose his beliefs on others, an intentional campaign ... every day for weeks! A bit much.

And yes, a student who wore a tshirt saying "Life is wasted without Allah" would be just as offensive and I expect students would complain about that too.

People are free to practice their own religion, but not to try to impose it on others, because that violates their freedom of religion.

I was remember when I was in High School I was big into the Youth Group Christian thing. There was this group called dcTalk and I got a shirt from their concert that said "God is here and he is watching".

I wore it with no problems at the public school I went to.

It would be proselytizing if the student in question started preaching his message in the school but to wear a shirt, nothing new with that.

When I was in high school Marilyn Manson was big with his anti-Christian music. You could, in theory, see a fan wear an Anti-Christ superstar T-shirt. A shirt like that could be offensive to many people of faith. Or female students wearing promiscuous attire could be seen as offensive as well. Or a vegan student wearing some clothing conveying the message that meat is murder could be seen as forwarding a potentially divisive message in a school. Or a student wearing a Che Guerra T-Shirt. Or a student wearing a shirt advocating drug use. The list goes on and on.

I've never heard of any of these things banned.

I'd say banning this T-shirt opens up an even bigger Pandora's box because people could find offensive everywhere in a public school. The whole point of a public school is to try and breed acceptance.

Edited by Boges

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I think it's crazy how one person who's offended by someone else's viewpoint can cause such a scene and garner such an extensive response, yet I think the "My life..." compromise was a good one.

Agreed.

And about causing such a scene ... ?

Schools are under constant pressure to allow religious proselytizing. They only got kicked out of schools a decade or so ago. There would be an explosion of proselytizing t-shirt messages. It's an absolute certainty.

I'm proud of the students for complaining, and the principal for acting.

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Guest American Woman

I'd say banning this T-shirt opens up an even bigger Pandora's box because people could find offensive everywhere in a public school. The whole point of a public school is to try and breed acceptance.

My first reaction was "boo hoo, someone's feelings were hurt." Honestly, if someone is secure in their beliefs, I don't think someone claiming something else should make them feel less worthy. Still, I feel as if the school offered a good compromise.

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Well, to me, there is no question that the message is offensive and insulting. Nonetheless, I support free speech, and as such this person should generally be allowed to wear such a t-shirt. However, schools are in many ways restricted speech zones. One would similarly get suspended for racist remarks, swearing, insulting/bullying remarks, etc, even where such remarks are completely legal, so I don't see a suspension for this t-shirt as out of line with existing school policies.

Edited by Bonam

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He should be able to wear the shirt...and it seems he can. That's a good thing - this from an agnostic anti-theist.

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A couple of points...

The slogan in question-- "Life is wasted without Jesus" -- is not simply Christian, it's also condemning other religious views. (which is why adding "My" to the front of the statement was suggested as a compromise.)

As well, schools have restricted student dress in many ways for many reasons, and I believe the courts have held that it is reasonable. Graphics deemed offensive for whatever reason, slogans considered obscene or inappropriate, clothing considered too revealing, clothing implying affiliation with gangs, these are all things that have been banned from schools at various times and places. School uniforms can save a lot of headaches...

Third... the kid wore the same t-shirt to school every day for weeks. I mean, come on. Who does that, other than Charlie Brown?

Personally, I don't have a problem with the kid wearing his shirt (assuming it gets washed frequently enough to avoid becoming smelly... :blink: ) as long as the same policy is applied if a Muslim kid wants to wear a shirt that says "Islam is the only true religion" or an atheist kid can wear a shirt that says "All religion is lies."

Equally, I personally wouldn't have a problem with the school having a policy that prohibits religious slogans on clothing, as long as the policy is applied equally.

-k

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Guest American Woman

Since the school board decided that he could wear the shirt, it'll be interesting to see if any other t-shirts 'making a statement' will show up ....

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I would like to see how long an atheist kid lasts wearing a shirt to school that says "Your life is wasted with religion."

This isn't some innocuous "I love Jesus" message. I'm sure no one would give a crap about that. It's the fact that he thinks it's quite alright to broadcast to the world via his shirt that people's lives are a waste if they don't belong to his faith. F that guy.

Edited by cybercoma

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I think many people take things like this too seriously. I say let people express themselves with little mottos on their shirts. Let people show some individuality. Oppressing them doesn't create a better society.

Besides, lots of teens wear satanism on their shirts, from their favourite rock groups. I rarely hear complaints about that.

The final result of this desire to repress expressions of individuality through clothing is for everyone to wear drab grey uniforms, so as not to offend. Or a burka.

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Nancy Pynch-Worthylake, board superintendent, said some students and teachers found the T-shirt offensive.

"When one is able or others are able to interpret it as, 'If you don't share my belief then your life is wasted,' that can be interpreted by some as being inappropriate," she said.

What crap. It's a freaking t-shirt. The text for the word "Jesus" is very small. People are offended by the dumbest little things these days. Talk about "1st world" problems. GROW SOME SKIN!!!

Just because people complain of being offended, why is it that their complains seemingly so often are taken seriously? Principal should have said "yo, relax, get over it". We're raising generations of sissies.

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What crap. It's a freaking t-shirt. The text for the word "Jesus" is very small. People are offended by the dumbest little things these days. Talk about "1st world" problems. GROW SOME SKIN!!!

Just because people complain of being offended, why is it that their complains seemingly so often are taken seriously? Principal should have said "yo, relax, get over it". We're raising generations of sissies.

And yet, if someone wore a t-shirt to school with the f word on it, they'd be quickly suspended. Swearing, for all its prevalence and innocuousness in our society, is considered too "offensive" to be tolerated at school. Even though no one actually cares. And yet this hate-filled message is somehow better? If schools are to be restricted speech zones, as they are, then that restriction should be applied evenhandedly. There should not be special exceptions for Christian propaganda that degrades non-Christians. Or, if we want to make schools a place where anything goes so long as its legal, that's fine too. Then this t-shirt would be fine, as would be one covered in swear words, or racist slogans.

It's not a matter of having thick skin, it's a matter of wanting rules about the freedom and restriction of speech at schools to be applied evenly, rather than establishing a pro-Christian or pro-religious precedent.

Edited by Bonam

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Guest American Woman

What crap. It's a freaking t-shirt. The text for the word "Jesus" is very small.

Do you think the size of the lettering is actually a factor? Would you think differently about it if the text for "Jesus" was large?

People are offended by the dumbest little things these days. Talk about "1st world" problems. GROW SOME SKIN!!!

"PC" has run amok, IMO. Heaven forbid someone is offended! - yet it's impossible to enforce without offending someone else's "rights."

Just because people complain of being offended, why is it that their complains seemingly so often are taken seriously? Principal should have said "yo, relax, get over it". We're raising generations of sissies.

Even as I stand by my view as to what's happening in our "1st world," I think the principal offered a good compromise - I'm sticking to that view, and I think he should have, too. Kids don't have complete "rights" in school; they have to answer to an authority. Part of the learning process of schooling is to learn that sometimes one cannot do or say exactly what one wants.

If we are raising a generation of sissies, at the same time we are raising a generation of self-entitlement. So this kid can't 'spread the word' at school. I say "relax, get over it." If this had been a t-shirt stating, for example, 'infidels go to hell,' I'm sure there would have been complaints from the Christian front. As I said, it will be interesting to see what kind of t-shirts show up at school now. I don't believe a dress code for high school is violating students' rights and again, I believe the principal should have stood by his original decision.

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If we are raising a generation of sissies, at the same time we are raising a generation of self-entitlement. So this kid can't 'spread the word' at school. I say "relax, get over it." If this had been a t-shirt stating, for example, 'infidels go to hell,' I'm sure there would have been complaints from the Christian front.

Relaxing is something we should do more of, agreed most heartily.

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Bring on the androgynous grey uniforms then. Everyone can "relax".

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Guest American Woman

Bring on the androgynous grey uniforms then. Everyone can "relax".

Yes, of course, because there is no middle ground - only extremes. <_<

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Yes, of course, because there is no middle ground - only extremes. <_<

Have you seen what is happening in other western countries, such as the banning of religious symbols and elimination of words denoting gender? This is not "relaxing". It is my belief we are reaching that extreme now.

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Guest American Woman

Have you seen what is happening in other western countries, such as the banning of religious symbols and elimination of words denoting gender? This is not "relaxing". It is my belief we are reaching that extreme now.

Did you read the part of my previous post where I address that - re: PC running amok? But as I said, I don't put high school in the same category as the public domain. I do not think there is anything wrong with some limitations regarding a dress code in schools - kids need to learn that sometimes they have to deal with restrictions in the real world. Everyone isn't entitled to unlimited free speech in every circumstance without sometimes having to face some consequences. If this student chose to go against the principal's original compromise, he did have that right, and he could have chosen to receive his diploma via a GED. I also feel the principal has some rights regarding stating what's acceptable within the school/student body.

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Relaxing is something we should do more of, agreed most heartily.

Telling people to relax when they're offended is even more belittling. That's like telling them that their feelings are wrong or that they're perceiving things in a way that they shouldn't be. Look up the term gaslighting. Gaslighting is actually a form of psychological abuse. It's like blaming rape victims for being raped telling Jews to lighten up if racist propaganda was spray-painted on their synagogue. When someone does something that's offensive, people have every right to be offended. I fail to see how this jerk's t-shirt is not offensive when it's telling me and everyone else that doesn't believe in his faith that our lives are a waste.

If he wants to wear that shirt around in public and broadly proclaim his faith that's one thing. But it's terribly inappropriate in a high school, which is supposed to be a safe space and learning environmente. Moreover, the point I think the superintended and many others have made is that it's not about the faith. If he wanted to wear a shirt that said, "Jesus is my home boy!" or "I <3 Jesus!" it wouldn't even be an issue. The issue is the offensive tone of his shirt. It's like a Muslim student wearing a shirt that says "Infidels are Worthless!" Imagine! Then imagine him turning around and using the ludicrous excuse, "well that's what I believe! You have to respect my beliefs!"

Edited by cybercoma

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If he wants to wear that shirt around in public and broadly proclaim his faith that's one thing. But it's terribly inappropriate in a high school, which is supposed to be a safe space and learning environmente.

And given that Christian t-shirts are not only a fire hazard, but also contain asbestos, the safety of that environment would be compromized severely.

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"Infidels are Worthless!"

I don't believe for one second that you believe yourself here. It would be more comparable to a tshirt that said 'Life Without Mohammed is Wasted'. And would you really be offended over that? Seriously? You could not survive a day at school sitting next to someone with a shirt like that on? Are you that much of a baby that you worry about another person's shirt?

You are someone who clearly looks to be offended. And you will never have trouble finding it.

Edited by jefferiah

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