Mississippi Bawling


Perhaps it’s just a reflection of our age and Midwestern upbringing, but Jewdar remembers a time when being a White Anglo-Saxon adult male actually meant that you suffered in silence.  Nowadays, that once storied stiff-upper lip has become a sad relic of a bygone era, and WASPs have gone from being paragons of stoicism to exemplars of that most ignoble of animals, the great American Crybaby.  Sure, Jews and blacks and others cry a lot about persecution, but in our defense, we actually took a lot of punches before we put together our assorted ADLs and NAACPs–but Homo Americanus Protestantus Albinus?  Let one thing go wrong for him and he begins bawling.  “Reverse racism!” “Jim Snow Laws!” “War on Christmas” and over course, “Attacks on Religious freedom.”

That last is the flag being waved in the great state of Mississippi (which, to be sure, is preferable to the actual state flag which still proudly bears the Stars and Bars) as the governor there just signed a bill authorizing “unofficial” prayers at public schools and events, because,  according to the governor:

“we are about making sure that we protect the religious freedoms of all students and adults whenever we can.”

Now, Jewdar is no constitutional scholar, but we’re pretty sure that when the Founding Fathers put together the First Amendment, they intended it to protect the practice of religion, in the ways in which religion is practiced.  That is to say, they want to make sure that the public (in the form of the government) doesn’t intruded on the private practice of religion, not that private religion intrude on the public.  A Jew has an absolute right to face Jerusalem and pray three times a day, but it’s perfectly reasonable for his boss to require that he do that on his own time, and not in the middle of a big business meeting.  And while we’re also not a theologian, we’re pretty sure that while Christians may feel obligated to preach the Gospel, there is no requirement that they do so in every social setting.  Jewdar has, in our life, had friends who were fairly devout Christians, who were able to get through lengthy conversations without praying publicly.    Indeed, we know of no religion that mandates that JV football games be preceded by a prayer.


But while Jewdar finds the law absurd, we wish that the usual suspects (Jews, atheists, and Jewish atheists) would show a little more creativity in responding to the law than they doubtlessly will.  Of course, there will be a lawsuit, and of course, the lawsuit will be successful.  But wouldn’t it be better if they decided to call the crybabies on their bluff, and instead of suing, took advantage of the law? Jewdar knows it may not be easy for the people involved, but we have a sneaking suspicion that after a few football games open with a speaker calling upon Ganesha to remove the obstacles to victory, or calling for a jihad against the rival school, the laws’ most vocal defenders will be the first to get it revoked.

What do you think?

About The Author


The Tel Aviv-born, Milwaukee-bred Jewdar has a bachelors' from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters from NYU, and an Honorable Discharge from the US Army, where he spent two years as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division. He's the co-author of "The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies", the Humor Editor of Heeb Magazine, and a watcher of TV. Smarter than most funny people, funnier than most smart people, he lives on the Lower East Side with his wife and two sons.

6 Responses

  1. william wright

    What do I think? I think you need to take this article and shove it up your ass.

    The Mississippi law is obviously Constitutional — what part of “Congress shall make no law” do you not understand? Hint: The Congress does not sit in Jackson, Mississippi.

    Fuck your Talmudic bullshit. The law is the law (Torah).

    Mind your own business, and leave us alone. If you don’t like Christians, MOVE … TO … ISRAEL. Or Manhattan. But it is inarguably EVIL for you to use the central government to force others to do things your way in their country.

    And, by the way, thousands upon thousands of football games in the South have been preceded by a Rabbi leading the crowd in prayer.

  2. moishe

    You’re thinking like a Jesuit, Jewdar. Not surprising if you were schooled in Milwaukee and Madison.

    Still: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    It’s really simple.

    So you can laugh at these people for “bawling” (nice ageist/sexist turn, that)…but they have the right to talk to their imaginary friends, just as you and I do. They have the right to claim it as what the Constitution considers is: a right prior to the constitution of any government, including this republic’s.

    If devout Christians want to flog their beliefs publicly, you have every right to ignore them, as do I. and we are all free, thank His Noodlyness, to laugh at anyone’s religion. But your racist slaps against the folks in Mississippi strike more as elitist than anything. And surely not in line with the simple leading salvo in the Bill of Rights.

    Some states choose to let their religious folks proselytize. Some states choose to restrict it. Steppin ahead one in the Bill of Rights, some states choose to preserve the tools for self defense away from women, queers, elders, the disabled, atheists, and minorities. Some states choose to take them away and leave these people at the mercy of the violent and degenerate, who follow no laws.

    That’s the tension between federalism and states’ rights inherent in how our republic was constituted. Sorry it displeases you, but I guess your skills align mainly with ridicule, not reading comprehension. So have a ball. But we come to Heeb for intelligence. Please exercise some.

  3. moishe

    I believe I missed some typos in my message. My apologies; I am mostly blind and working with new voice software.

  4. jewdar

    Please note, William, I never said the law wasn’t constitutional. That’s for the oourts to decide (judging by the record on such things, chances are that they will have some issues with it). I understand “congress shall make no law;” Do you understand the 14th Amendment, because the last time I checked, it has been pretty much universally interpreted by American courts to mean that the Bill of Rights applies to the each of the United States. You do know where Jackson is, right? It’s part of the United States.

    As for interpretations of the 1st Amendment, you are free to interpret is as you see fit, but the federal courts–which, based on the constitution, have a say in the matter–may see things differently.

    I don’t believe I said anything in my post which was against Christians. If my assorted non-Jewish friends want to go to church, baptise their kids, or try and convert me, that’s fine. The constitution, which I swore to support and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic when I was in the army, gives them that right. It gives me the right to practice my religion. It gives Muslims the right to practice their religion. And here’s the thing–I have no particular problem with prayers at government-sponsored events. I just don’t think it’s a right. Some people sacrifice chickens. They don’t have a right to do that before a public school graduation. Some people make offerings to idols. They don’t have a right to that before a public school graduation. I also don’t believe that people have a right to make an anti-religious statement at a public school graduation, since that, by definition, is also a statement of religious belief. Part of what makes us a United States is a common civic culture. At some point, that common civic culture was also a Protestant (not “Christian, since catholics wer most definitely excluded)one, but that’s not longer the case. I’d much rather have a society in which we all agree to maintain our religion privately as opposed to attempting to force it on others in public, because what would ensue is a situation in which some places would have Muslims offending Christians, and some would have Christians offending Muslims, and some would have Jews offending Christians, and some would have Hindus offending Muslims, and some would animist offending Christians, etc. etc. You might like Christian prayer in public events in Mississippi, but I can guarantee that there are a lot of folks in Mississippi who would be outraged by Muslim prayer in public events in Michigan. It seems to me that the best solution is to say that we are all free to practice our religion as we see fit on our own time, but that you, a Christian, should not be obligated to participate in a graduation for your own child, paid for with your tax dollars, in which a Hindu makes a sacrifice to Ganesha. What exactly is unreasonable about that? It’s your kid’s graduation, it’s your tax dollars, it’s not your god. That seems like a no-brainer.

    “Religious freedom” in America is the freedom to do what your religion demands, not what you personally want to do. What I dislike is the tendency of selfish people who care more about their personal interests than the fabric of society, people who place their desires ahead of civility. What I love about America is that you can want to pray at a public school gathering, and somebody can oppose you, and the matter can be settled with a suit and not with a bomb.

    As for using the central gov’t to “force others to do things [my] way in their country,” I’m not forcing anyone to do anything.
    1. I am not forcing people to pray to an alien god, or not to pray. I’m simply raising objections to the notion that those people have a right to pray at state- sponsored events.
    2. Last time I checked, ours is a democratic Republic, of which I am not in charge. We elect presidents, those presidents appoint federal judges, and those federal judges, as the constitution requires, rule on matters of constitutional law.
    3. Last time I checked, this is my country. I have all kinds of paperwork to confirm it. Among them is an honorable discharge, which, if I interpret the wording correctly, reads “The Bearer of This Document Has the Right to Say Any Fucking Thing He Pleases.” So it’s a bit amusing to receive a lecture accusing me of a lack of loyalty to the United States because of my opposition to a law passed in Mississippi, a state whose flag includes the Confederate flag, which represents both the greatest act of disloyalty in American history, and, of course, which was built on the premise of “forcing others to do things” somebody else’s way (in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, please see the Keystone Address by Alexander Stephens, the Confederate vice president).

  5. jewdar

    Moishe, Jewdar has been accused of many things, but Jesuitry is a new one (although the Hasidic rabbi of our childhood shul did go to Marquette). And I’ll give you Milwaukee (see Marquette reference) but Madison is hardly a town that reveres Ignatius de Loyola. Oh, and “elitist?” Please. I’m a middle-class, modern Orthodox, army veteran from Milwaukee whose ideal morning is drinking beer and reading comic books. To what “elite” exactly do I belong?

    That said, you aren’t getting it–I have absosmurfly no problem with people praying. Jewdar does it three times a day (and four on Saturday). Jewdar agrees 100 percent that the constitution protects your right to practice your religion. Which is precisely why the Supreme Court has tended to frown upon prayers in public schools. A Christian child should not be forced to attend a prayer to another God. There is a difference between doing things in public, and doing things under the aegis of the state. If somebody wants to stand in front of city hall and pray out loud, Jewdar says more power to them. If somebody wants to harangue people as they pass by and tell them they are going to hell unless they embrace Christ, that’s fine with us. If somebody wants to ring our doorbell on Sunday morning and teach us the Gospel, God bless ’em, the First Amendment protects all of that. But there is no inherent right to pray before a government sponsored event, nor can there be, for the obvious reason that in a religiously diverse country, since the state can’t “play favorites,” you can’t say that Christians have a right to lead prayers in public schools, but Muslims or Jews or Polytheists can’t. that’s showing a pretty clear preference, and that’s not permitted.

    A lot of people seem to have forgotten that the Bill of Rights was not adopted to protect the rights of the majority; those are already protected by the nature of democracy. It was adopted to protect the rights of those who might in fact be in danger of having the government take their rights away. The majority doesn’t have a right to force religious minorities to attend religious services, which is essentially what a government-sponsored prayer amounts to. It’s the minorities that have a right to not be subjected to the tyranny of the majority.

    and please note (we don’t do this often but it’s important, so we’ll go to big letters, so our meaning is clear): NOBODY IS PREVENTED FROM PRAYING AT GOVERNMENT SPONSORED EVENTS. They are prevented from leading prayers publicly. You are absolutely free to sit there before graduation, or a football game, or anti-drunk driving presentation, and mutter whatever prayers you want to, and that is absolutely one hundred percent protected by the First Amendment. Jewdar will absolutely speak out on behalf of anyone who is told by a government official that they are not allowed to engage in private prayer, even in a public space.

    As for the Constitution, and federalism, and states rights–we’ll give you the reminder we gave William–the Constitution didn’t stop in the 1790’s, and the 14th Amendment is currently interpreted to mean that the Bill of Rights applies to the states, and the First Amendment is currently interpreted to ban government sponsored prayer in public schools. Note how we keep saying “currently interpreted.” Jewdar will blow some minds, but for all that people talk about the sanctity of the constitution (and isn’t America great, where zhlubs like us can pontificate publicly about the Constitution as if we are great legal scholars), the truth is that the Constitution means whatever the current lineup of Supreme Court justices say it means. There are lots of great legal scholars on any side of any issue–2nd Amendment, Healthcare, abortion, you name it–and all their scholarly opinions about whether or not a particular law is “constitutional” are rendered irrelevant by whatever the court says–if they say it’s constitutional it is, and if they say it ain’t, it ain’t. That’s just how the system works, and has since at least Marbury vs. Madison if not the drafting of the Constitution itself. So crybabies of all stripes feel free to bawl (and as a parent, that’s most definitely ageist–babies do bawl–as for my alleged “racism,” as I am white, I’m not quite sure how my comments about other whites who adhere to a different religion and set of cultural values counts as “racist”), the constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is, and no matter how much one cries, George Bush was still legitimate president and Obamacare is still the law of the land.

    Finally, Moishe, while I’ve never been called a Jesuit, it has often been suggested that my skills align mainly with ridicule. As I’m the Humor Editor, however, you’ll forgive me if I take that as a compliment.

    And whatever else we disagree on, I trust you won’t mind if I exercise my First Amendment right to wish you a gut shabbos and chag kasher v’sameach.

  6. Contemptible | Heeb

    […] readers know, Jewdar is not a fan of America’s crybaby culture.  Nor do we care for people who don’t do the job for which they are being paid.  To that […]


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