Virginia (Kate Coil-Bluefield Daily Telegraph) — The Giles County School Board is asking to reveal the identities of the plaintiffs who filed suit over the school board’s decision to display a copy of the Ten Commandments in county schools.
Matthew Staver with Liberty Council said his group has filed a motion on behalf of the Giles County School board, requesting the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation to make public the names of the plaintiffs in the case against the school board. However, the ACLU said the anonymity of the plaintiffs must be protected due to several email threats their offices have received.
According to Staver, revealing the identify of the plaintiffs needs to be established for the case to move forward.
“Liberty Council asking for the court to disclose the plaintiffs identities so we will know if they even have a legitimate right to bring this lawsuit,” Staver said. “We need to know if they have standing to bring this lawsuit and the only way we can know that is by knowing who they are. We have filed this preliminary motion to determine who these people are before we move ahead.”
Staver said that he doesn’t take stock in claims that the plaintiffs have made in the case.
“That is ridiculous,” Staver said. “No threats have been received. They can’t receive threats if no person has been identified. There is no threat toward these plaintiffs.”
According to Staver, there is no hostility in Giles County toward the persons bringing the suit.
“I’ve litigated a lot of these cases, and I’ve seen that not to be a reality,” Staver said. “I think people respect other individuals even though they disagree. To assume there is hostility in this case would be wrong. I have not seen that in 20 years of cases I have litigated.”
However, Staver said it is common for the ACLU to seek anonymity for plaintiffs.
“It’s common for the ACLU to seek anonymity for plaintiffs,” Staver said. “People don’t always seek anonymity, but it is something done frequently by ACLU. We had a case in Florida that was brought by a student claiming anonymity who had long-since graduated from the school. They were using that anonymity to bring a case that is moot.”
Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the legal division of the ACLU of Virginia, said “hostile threats” have been received by both the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“The reaction to this controversy in Giles County has been extremely emotional and very angry,” Glenberg said. “We want to protect the plaintiffs and, in particular, the student from the repercussions that could occur if their identity was exposed. The ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation has received a number emails suggesting that we should ‘go to hell’ or that our ‘end days’ will come as soon as possible. Our concern is that the ill-will that is currently directed toward the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation will be directed toward the plaintiffs of the case. We are currently the ones drawing the fire and we don’t want those hostile feelings directed at the plaintiff.”
In the motion prepared for the counter suit, the ACLU reported they have received email messages from Giles County residents offering to “buy each of you a ticket to ‘you know where,’ and stating that members of the ACLU legal team “have a special place in hell.”
The motion also states thru a message posted online that said the family who filed the suit “should (be) ship(ped) overseas to play in the sand with al-Quiada (sic) for a little while.” According to the filing, another letter writer, who was identified as an elementary school teacher in the county sent a message to the Freedom From Religion Foundation reading “you folks are allowing Satin (sic) to rule you.”
Glenberg also refuted Staver’s suggestion that the identity of the plaintiffs is being concealed for any reason but protection.
“I can assure you that is not true,” Glenberg said. “There is a student and the student and their parent is very distressed by the posting of the Ten Commandments in the public school. They are, in my opinion, very courageous for standing up for their principles.”
The ACLU is preparing to file a counter motion in the suit before the hearing to determine whether or not the anonymity of the plaintiffs will be preserved. According to Glenberg, anonymity is often granted to plaintiffs in cases involving the separation of church and state.
“Courts have frequently granted anonymity when the matters involve a very personal matter, and religion is a very personal and private matter that courts have been willing to protect identities for,” Glenberg said. “It is very common for plaintiffs to seek anonymity where religious beliefs are belonged, especially in cases with community hostility toward the plaintiff. There is a long history of threats of violence and harassment against plaintiffs in church and state cases.”
Glenberg listed at least four district court cases where courts ruled to keep the identities of plaintiffs in cases centered around religion anonymous. Glenberg said there are also 13 well-known cases where plaintiffs in church and state cases were harassed, threatened, beaten, and even forced to move or switch jobs or schools due to public reaction to the case.
Alright, who’s the asshole? There’s a widely accepted idea of this separation of church and state, I get that. But come on, the Ten Commandments are causing someone distress? You remember the Ten Commandments;
1) Thou shalt have no other gods
2) Thou shalt not worship false idols
3) Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain
4) Remember the Sabbath day
5) Honor thy father and thy mother
6) Thou shalt not kill
7) Thou shalt not commit adultery
8) Thou shalt not steal
9) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
10) Thou shalt not covet (thy neighbor’s wife, neither thy man-servant, nor his maidservant, his ox nor his ass, his house, nor anything that is thy neighbors)
That’s what all the fuss is about???? That’s what’s causing someone distress??? It seems to me that if that Ten Commandments, hanging up is bothering someone, then perhaps the real problem is with THEM. Again, I understand that there is this popular notion that because church and state are separate, that religious anything is a no-no in the public schools – but this is ridiculous. Christmas can’t be called Christmas anymore, the nativity scene is banned from any public land, now it’s frowned upon to say God Bless You, or even Merry Christmas, and even Easter is up for debate. Why????
What, because some anonymous panty waste, with a sore pussy wants to whine simply to whine? Hey America, did it ever occur to us that if we enable people to whine, and actually give in to it, rewarding their discontent, they’re just going to whine more? Seriously, have you ever looked at people who seem to complain just to complain? Some people are just unhappy by nature and aren’t happy unless they can complain and make someone else unhappy as well.
So what are we doing now? We’re addressing an ANONYMOUS complaint, about something that is in the PUBLIC arena, demanding a change to something. Well I would want to know who the fuck is complaining and why… What are we supposed to do, hop from one foot to the other, hoping that we can appease this anonymous person, who wants to make demands but won’t come forward and say why.
I appreciate that “whistle blowers” need protection, but this isn’t one of those cases.
Let’s take a look at it another way – let’s take a look at what is happening in today’s public schools.
Kids are receiving sexual education earlier and earlier in schools these days, many times, without their parent’s consent. Students are instructed in safe sex practices, know about various forms of contraception, and are even taught to accept homosexuality – many times BEFORE they are even out of elementary school. ARE YOU GETTING THIS, AMERICA???????
Earlier this year, 7th grade students were given a survey asking them if they had participated in various drug use and if they knew how certain sexually transmitted diseases could be caught. Asking specific questons about anal, vaginal, and oral sex. As you can imagine, the children’s parents were PISSED. How old are you in 7th grade, like 12???? Aren’t there laws about exposing children to harmful and sexually explicit material? What makes it happening in schools, legal?
Well here’s my point, America; why is it that this crap is perfectly fine to engage our kids in, and the Ten Commandments so disturbing? Can someone explain this to me?
One doesn’t have to subscribe to any particular Judeo or Christian faith in order to understand and appreciate the message that they send. The first 4 deal with acknowledging and respecting a power greater than yourself. You can call it God, Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, or even (what a bunch of smartasses attempt at mocking faith) the Flying Spaghetti monster… The rest all deal with very moral and important rules. These are pretty much accepted universally; don’t steal, don’t kill, honor your parents, don’t cheat with or on a significant other, don’t lie about people.
You mean to tell me that someone out there has a problem with this?
Let’s think real hard about who would have a problem with these sort of guidelines… Who would have a problem with people having faith in a God versus the state? Who would have a problem with kids trusting their family versus the state? Who would have a problem with a more conservative and responsible view of sex, verses the state sponsored, “anything goes” message?
Who wouldn’t have a problem protecting someone who has no burden of proof to accuse a community school of personal damages, potentially bearing false.
This displaying of the Ten Commandments was the accepted practice and message of this community, and that is their right. Why is it now called into question, or even threatened, because some pussy wants to come in and throw stones, because they want to be a pain in the ass? Am I looking at this wrong?