Switters’ Blog

Who is the biggest putz?

Posted by switters on December 23, 2006

The news media love polarizing stories – ones that get people all fired up over the latest hot button issue. And we, viewers, readers, surfers, tend to follow along, letting their desire for advertising revenue manipulate our emotions and opinions.

These stories are always painted in black and white (The evil Republicans who want to destroy the Constitution vs. the righteous Democrats who want to protect your liberty; the traitorous Democrats who want to sell out to Al Qaeda vs. the brave Republicans who want to defeat them; the devout Christians protecting us against the heathens who would deny our right to worship God; or is it the honest secularists trying to preserve freedom of religion against fundamentalists who want to turn American into a Christian theocracy?). But the world isn’t black and white. Often, the truth lies somewhere in between and both sides have legitimate points, some of which are conveniently left out depending on which angle the editors think will sell the most papers, grab the most viewers or drive the greatest traffic.

The real problem with us being manipulated into taking sides is that we fail to notice that in some stories, everyone involved is a putz. Thus we lose out on the fun of trying to figure out not who is right or wrong, but who is the BIGGEST putz.

A perfect example is a debate occurring at Kearny High School in New Jersey. Social Studies Teacher David Paszkiewicz seemed to feel that no discussion of American History is complete without a lecture on how “evolution and the Big Bang […] are not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven.” How do we know for sure he said these things? Because student Matthew LaClair, upset about his teacher telling students that “If you reject that, you belong in hell,” recorded them. And as you might have predicted, those recordings are now widely available on the internet.

So how has this been resolved? The school administration says that they have disciplined Mr. Paskiewicz, but they won’t say how since it is a personnel matter – but he is still teaching and hasn’t apologized. The community is up in arms – against Matthew Laclair. There have been rallies in support of the teacher with students and parents insisting that he did nothing wrong and that LaClair should be suspended from school for surreptisiously taping the class. LaClair has also received death threats.

So who is the biggest putz in this story? Let’s review the contestants:

#1) Mr. Paskiewicz. He may feel he has the right to say what he wants, but if you don’t know that public school teachers aren’t supposed to prostelize then you belong in a special ed classroom – (no, not on that side of the desk, take your meds and sit on the carpet. Good boy).

#2) LaClair. OK, so he is right that the Paskiewicz shouldn’t have been preaching. And it seems that he was justified in recording the class since the teacher initially denied the story until confronted with the evidence. But let’s back up a step here. So the kid was subjected to some two-bit preaching from a schoolroom zealot who thinks he’s God’s gift to, well…God. Is it really that big of a deal? After all, If you’re already on the team, then no harm no foul. And if you’re not a true believer, then who cares if some messianic nut job says you’re going to hell? And, if he was so bothered by all the discussion, why did he actively engage in discussions (on the tapes you can hear him peppering the teacher with theological questions about the nature of God).

The real issue is that the guy was wasting valuable class time with his own agenda – but sadly that’s a fairly common scenario. Classrooms from kindergarten to the graduate level are filled with teachers who don’t observe the Geneva Convention in dealing with their captive audiences. I still have nightmares about an former Bus. Mgmt. prof. who used to spend the better part of every every class regaling us with endless stories about his derring do as a captain of industry (sure, and that’s why he’s an adjunct professor in a second rate college). I think LacLair is lucky: I’d rather have someone tell me I’m going to hell than actually spend time there.

#3) Those brave souls making anonymous death threats. What better way to defend some one’s right to preach the gospels than with threats and intimidation. Is this 20th century America or 15th century Spain?

It’s a tough call, but look closely and a true winner stands out – it’s Paskiewicz, based on a detail most of the reports mention but none stress.

When confronted with the accusation that he was preaching in class, did he explain how his discussions fit the curriculum? Did he defend his actions as being part of the school’s larger mission to help students become moral, ethical, adults? Did he explain that he has the right as an American to air his views?


He lied. He said he never spoke those words. He only acknowledged the truth (and then used the above arguments) after he was presented with the proof.

Not only is this clown not man enough to own up to his actions, not only does he not have the courage of his convictions, he doesn’t even practice what he preaches – check the ten commandments pal, especially #9: “thou shall not lie” (in fairness, he had put the second half of the 10 commandments are on the syllabus for the Spring semester).

So here’s to you Mr. Hell-Fire Hypocrite, you prevaricating proselytizer, you Pat Robertson wanna-be, you low rent Billy Graham. May you, and frankly everyone else connected with this story, get exactly what you deserve.


One Response to “Who is the biggest putz?”

  1. dakeeper said

    The teacher is the moron here- he should have known better.

    Enjoy your Holiday.

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