I’m Too Pissed to Come Up With a Witty Headline

There is so much wrong with this story that I don’t even know where to begin.  (Since the Altoona Mirror is now online for subscribers only, the link may not work, but I’ll be quoting much of the story below.)  Death threats, the “press” overstepping its bounds, the police trolling Facebook for “criminal” activity, and a stupid teenager.  Yep, this story has it all.  If it came out of a theocracy, it would be just one more thought crime out of many, but this took place in the United States, in Pennsylvania, in a town not far from my home.

An Everett teenager faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly “desecrating” a statue of Jesus outside a religious center in his hometown, an act that drew violent threats online.

Now I know what is going through your minds right now.  “He desecrated a religious statue, why did Foster put “criminal” in quotes?  That is a real crime.”  Stay with me for a minute, let me describe the “desecration” for you.  Any guesses?  Do you think he painted a pentagram and “666” on the statue?  Toppled it over, perhaps?  Smeared it with feces?  Maybe he dressed up a statue of the Virgin Mary in Victoria’s Secret products?  Make sure you use a number 2 pencil for your answers, and…………..pencils down!

In a report issued Tuesday, state police said the 14-year-old boy posted photographs of the desecration on the Internet. Photos on his Facebook page dating to July appear to show the boy standing over a statue of a kneeling Jesus, simulating a sex act.

If someone has the ACLU on speed dial, give them a ring.  This kid needs a good lawyer.  Yeah, you read right.  He didn’t vandalize the statue in any way.  He did no physical harm to the statue at all.  He took a picture of himself in front of the statue so it looked like Jesus was giving him a hummer.  How the fuck is that criminal?  That isn’t desecration, or vandalism, he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for a thought crime.  He is being charged with blasphemy, disguised as “desecration.”  But wait, it gets oh so much worse, thanks to a vigilant organization known as the Bedford County Free Press.  See, while this teenager is being railroaded by the police for taking a picture that offended their invisible sky daddy, the police can not release his name because of his status as a juvenile.  The Bedford County Free Press however, with their pearls firmly clutched and their knickers mega twisted, were offended.  Those folks in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia may be Satan worshiping, feminist, Muslim, liberal, socialist, Nazi, Demon-crats bowing to the altar of secularism, but this is Pennsyl-tucky, the God fearing, Atheist hating, church going, Republican voting, women submitting, gun toting, bathed in the blood of the lamb, Jesus meek and mild, real American part of the state, and they are not going to stand for anyone making it look like their statue of Jesus on his knees is down there for any other reason than prayer, thank you very much!  So they published the 14 year old kids name.

While police released few details and didn’t mention the juvenile’s name, the Bedford County Free Press – an online news organization that shares police reports and gossip – first discussed the case last month, posting the photos and sharing the child’s name and hometown.

With predictable results from the Christian community.  You know, the community who believes in Jesus, the son of God who preached such tactics as “turning the other cheek.”

Hundreds of comments followed, many from outraged county residents. Several posted violent threats. A new post on the charges has drawn more threats.

“Break his arms and legs, teach him some respect,” one read.

Can you feel the Christian love?

The teenager’s juvenile court charge, formally titled “desecration, theft or sale of a venerated object,” is a second-degree misdemeanor in the Pennsylvania Code. The law defines desecration as “defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities” of people who learn of the action.

Did he deface it?  No.  Damage it?  No.  Pollute it?  No.  Physically mistreat it in any way?  NO.  THERE WAS NO CRIME COMMITTED!  (Apologies for the caps.)  He took a picture at a certain angle that made it look like Jesus would have supported marriage equality.

Charges under the 1972 law appear to be rare: The last case to make widespread news in Pennsylvania was in 2010, when a Wilkes-Barre college student urinated on a Christmas Nativity scene. The student in that case pleaded guilty and apologized publicly.

Do you see the major difference in the cases?  Perhaps how the student in the 2010 case actually did something?

Look, I never do this.  I post here for the few that stop by, and enjoy knowing that a small amount of people care enough about what I say to follow my blog.  But this is a local story in a small city, and I am afraid this is going to get passed over by the larger community.  I’m sending it on to other outlets, but please, share this post if you can.  This poor teen is getting a raw deal from an unconstitutional law.

I am a very vocal atheist with beliefs that are on the fringe in some cases.  I believe that teaching children that people who do not follow your exact religion are going to Hell is child abuse.  I’m also of a mind that home schooling your kids so you can teach them made up garbage in place of factual science and history should be illegal.  I think using a 6 year old as a prop at an anti-abortion protest is immoral.  I think the Quiverfull movement and America’s favorite freak show, the Duggars, are harmful to their children, no matter how many smiles they give the cameras or even what they say themselves.  Dissent is not a trait nurtured in families such as those; more like a weed to be pulled as soon as it sprouts.  Yet as harmful as I find much of religion, I do not advocate the vandalism of churches, or the desecration of their symbols.  We as an atheist community are supposed to be above things like that.  We claim we hold our ideas because of evidence and rational thought, and in an open society, our ideas will win.  Vandalism and desecration moves the conversation away from rationality.  Let them lash out and vandalize atheist plaques and displays out of fear.  We have no need to respond in kind.

But this is a kid.  Who took a photo.  That’s it.  The only damage he caused is in the minds of people who viewed the photo and lost their shit.  The statue is still there, longing for a dick to suck deep in prayer.  If he would have vandalized, or damaged in anyway, the statue, then I would back up the charges, though not the Bedford County Free Presses’ irresponsible act of publishing his name.  But he didn’t.  He took a picture.

That is not a crime.

 

 

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