[Posted here on 13 January 2008, nine years ago today]
ne of the things that irritate me—and there are many—is the way certain people seem to think that they are privileged to do things to others that would annoy the hell out of them if the situation were the other way around. Like distributing bibles at school, for example. People who would be horrified if their little angel came home from school carrying her brand new Koran or The God Delusion under her arm claim to see no problem with sending other people’s kids home with a Gideon Bible. “But it’s the Bible,” they exclaim, with much arm-waving and gesticulation, as though that somehow made things better. Maybe so, but remember, it's somebody else’s Necromonicon, and their horror is no different from your horror.
Not that I have a lot of sympathy with people who want to be protected from running into ideas they may find uncomfortable. There are lots of them out there, and one way or another we all have to develop thick hides to protect us from somebody else’s notions of reality.
But there are many times when a little peace and quiet are appropriate, and as a bus rider myself, I feel strongly that people should be prepared to shut up rather than disturb other passengers. This especially applies to people who seem to think that it is appropriate to read from their chosen text, whether it be from the Bible or from a syndicated advice columnist, in a loud carrying tone, just in case there are people at the other end of the bus who can’t hear it.
Which brings me to this story: A Fort Worth woman is claiming religious discrimination because she was asked not to read to her children from her Bible in a loud voice while riding the bus. When she refused to desist a supervisor came and escorted her off the bus, then drove her and her children to their church, allowing her to read on the trip as loudly as she liked. This woman is now demanding an apology. “She said in her mind, what happened this past weekend was religious persecution, and she refuses to go along for the ride.” Her representative, a person from the Liberty Legal Institute, proclaims:
I’m extremely shocked that a bus driver would pull over and take time out of his busy schedule in order to kick off a lady and her two kids while they’re trying to read the Bible on their way to church…. They should be ashamed of that.
Richard L. Ruddell, president of the bus company, however, sets the matter straight:
It was not what she was reading, it was the very loud and disruptive volume. She was asked to lower her voice, but refused. Other passengers on the bus were looking to the driver for proper enforcement of the rules.
This driver acted in a very courteous and professional manner to properly deal with the situation. The T, as a public transit authority, has no policy against reading any type of material on the bus. Only when behavior of a passenger reaches an extreme volume, such as in this case, is a supervisor called.
On this same excursion into Internetland I turned up this story:
BEIJING - A Chinese Christian businessman has been released from detention after police grabbed him from his home in the early morning hours over a month ago, says his wife. Zhang Jing said her husband, 37-year-old Shi Weihan, was set free on January 4 after being held in a cell for 37 days, the legal limit in China before formal charges have to be filed. He was arrested on November 28, while his two young daughters cowered in their bedroom, for “illegally” publishing Bibles and Christian literature for distribution in home churches. His family had been worried he would be sentenced to at least five years.
Now that sounds more like persecution to me.