In yesterday's comments section, Ray points out that I didn't address the issue of the abuse flung at the student whistle-blower, Matthew LaClair:
In this tale of the teacher who preached in class and the pupil he offended, students and the larger community have mostly lined up with Mr. Paszkiewicz, not with Matthew, who has received a death threat handled by the police, as well as critical comments from classmates.
Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz's class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.” Some anonymous posters on the town's electronic bulletin board, Kearnyontheweb.com, called for Matthew's suspension.
On the sidewalks outside the high school, which has 1,750 students, many agreed with 15-year-old Kyle Durkin, who said, “I'm on the teacher's side all the way.”
I'm dismayed, of course, but not surprised that many people who agree with Mr Paszkiewicz's beliefs would agree with his actions. I also might expect such behaviour from his classmates but not from the adults in the community, though it's probably consistent that the adults are tending to blame Matthew's parents for putting him up to it:
Frank Viscuso, a Kearny resident, wrote in a letter to The Observer that “when a student is advised by his ‘attorney’ father to bait a teacher with questions about religion, and then records his answers and takes the story to 300 newspapers, that family isn't ‘offended’ by what was said in the classroom — they're simply looking for a payout and to make a name for themselves.”
But I'm surprised and appalled by the death threat. When I think I've seen everything, people still astound me with their lack of perspective and their unbelievable nastiness.