Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Apr/13

5

That “stomp on Jesus” episode: Not quite as advertised

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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?

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3 comments

  • John · April 7, 2013 at 1:43 am

    I’m not sure I buy this. Of course Poole is going to go on and on about how much he loves Jesus, because he is fearing punishment. I simply find it hard to believe that any devout Christian would set up a situation where students would stomp on Jesus’ name, just as a patriotic professor would not have students stomp on an American flag in class just to prove a point.

    Inside Higher Ed is a liberal publication, so of course it supports him. I think that the point that he would not have allowed students to stomp on the name “Obama” was well taken, and if he had, there is no way that Inside Higher Ed would have an article defending him. This is a pretty textbook example of liberal hypocrisy.

  • acilius · April 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    @John: I think I’m with you. When I first read about this incident, I was sceptical- I suspected that the facts might turn out to be unrecognizably different from the stories I’d read. But in this defence, Mr Poole seems to concede the facts and hide behind his church affiliation.

  • Polichinello · April 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    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.

    Insufferable or not, he’s right.

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