Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Silent Treatment

Even in the heated times in which we find ourselves, I want to give credit where credit is due. To the Governor. Governor Blagojevich.

The Governor today vetoed SB1463, legislation that would have mandated a moment of silence in schools, a moment of silence which is now a permissive option left up to the decision of local school officials.

Only one member of the Senate, Dan Rutherford, had the wherewithal to vote against the bill in that chamber, and if memory strikes me correctly, I was the only House member to speak against the bill in debate in our chamber, although to their credit, about two dozen House members refrained from supporting the bill.

I could write at some length as to why I found some fundamental flaws in what I would trust is well-intentioned legislation, but I doubt that I could put do it as effectively as the late Justice Seymour Simon did:

True, a child could silently recite a poem or count sheep (during a classroom moment of silence). However, that is not the point. It is the government-sanctioned and government-enforced religious purpose that is forbidden by our Constitution. So long as the purpose of the silence is to permit prayer, that purpose helps to establish religion, to break down the barriers between church and state and to undermine our precious religious freedoms. Even silence highlights the non-participant as different. The child who does not join the silence is singled out. Also, many religions have a format for prayer. Muslims kneel on a prayer rug facing Mecca. Catholics sometimes kneel. Many Protestants bow their heads. The moment of silence can end up with children acting in different ways to conduct their prayers, again causing some to feel different than their classmates. Like organized vocal prayer, an organized period of silent prayer will carry the sanction of the school authorities, the participation of the government in what should be strictly private activity. The minute of silence is dangerous in itself, but even scarier is the possibility that its advocates will use it as only the first step toward required, organized vocal prayer in the public schools....the late Illinois Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon, 1995

To read the thoughts of several other prominent individuals more eloquent than me, take a look at Eric Zorn's post on this issue from earlier this year.

It would have been easy for the Governor to go along with the overwhelming number of legislators who supported this issue, but he held the line where it needed to be held. He did the right thing. And I give him full credit for doing so.


At August 29, 2007 at 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now it sounds like you are pandering to the Governor so that your member initiatives will not be cut in the future, as long as you vote for his rule changes in JCAR!

At August 29, 2007 at 10:53 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Riiight. Because that's just what I have a track record of doing.

Fairness dictates that if I am going to be vocal in my criticisms when I disagree with him, I should do the same when I agree with him.

No more, no less.

At August 29, 2007 at 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s all about the Salsa Festivals

How many times can you say Salsa Festival in one press appearance?

At August 29, 2007 at 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might have pointed out to anon 10:27 that the Governor already spared many of your intitiatives, potentially with hopes of securing your vote. Not the other way around.

At August 30, 2007 at 11:23 PM, Anonymous respectful said...

Will the G.A. override the veto, since large majorities passed this bill?

At August 31, 2007 at 12:23 PM, Anonymous silentk said...

Respectful(11:23 PM):

Remember it takes the full GA to override the veto, House and Senate. As Emil Jones has indicated he supports the Governor and will not call a veto override vote, it seems likely that the veto will stand.

At September 1, 2007 at 11:27 PM, Anonymous John said...

John -

I wish I could copy and paste the transcripts from the ILGA site, but if you can, look at the Senate debate from March 21, when they debated this bill.

It is hilarious.

These rise in support for reasons like "kids are hyper at the beginning of the day", and having a moment of quiet at the beginning of the class is something all teachers would want.


Thank god our Governor is a Democrat. I fear that some times, these kinds of bills don't get looked at until unless someone on top of things (like you) or a Governor's legislative staff looks at them.

My question - how can we take any of the reps or senators seriously who came out in support of this for those ludicrous reasons?

Did they think anyone would believe that drivel? C'Mon!


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