That “stomp on Jesus” episode: Not quite as advertised
Oh, what outrage some of our grievance-collecting friends managed to work up over the story of the Florida Atlantic professor who had asked students to write the name “Jesus” on a slip of paper and step on it. John Hawkins at Right Wing News declared that Prof. Deandra Poole had gotten his “just deserts” in being suspended by the university following days of talk show execration. Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit flatly described Prof. Poole as “far left,” on what evidence is not clear from his post. Fox News Insider informed readers that Poole was “also the vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party” — feeding their presumed expectation that a Democratic party official, even an African-American one in a southern city, will turn out when examined closely to be a devotee of Black-Mass-like sacrilege. The Catholic League’s insufferable Bill Donohue suggested that Poole would never have offered students a chance to write the name “Obama” on a slip of paper and step on it.
If you suspected the actual story would prove more complicated than the first reports made it out to be, you’re right. On Monday Poole told his story in an interview with Inside Higher Ed (also summarized at the Moral Compass blog). Sample:
Much of the critical commentary about Poole has suggested that he is anti-Christian. In fact, he said, he has been connected to churches all of his life, has served as a Sunday school teacher, and understands the power of the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper because he cares deeply about Jesus.
“I am very religious,” he said. “I see how the name Jesus is symbolic. For people like myself, Jesus is my lord and savior. It’s how I identify myself as a Christian.”
A few of the sites that had run coverage implicitly or explicitly blasting Poole as a crazy liberal atheist have noted these new details, and sometimes even walked the story back a bit. Others, however, haven’t bothered. Why should they, when they can instead move on to the next outrage to whip their readers up about?