Monday, November 20, 2006

Embarrassingly bad arguments in support of David Paszkiewicz

The website is an online forum for people in Kearny, New Jersey, where U.S. History teacher and Baptist youth pastor David Paszkiewicz has used his Kearny High School classroom (apparently for years) to evangelize students with his own brand of Christianity and conservative politics. I've already commented on how some Kearny High School students have made a poor case defending Paszkiewicz, now I'm afraid the adults of Kearny are no better.

The adults posting at are noteworthy (just like the students) for a complete failure to address the issues raised by Paszkiewicz's actions--they ignore the content of what he's been teaching, they ignore the fact that he lied about what he had done until confronted with the recordings, and they ignore the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Instead, they accuse Matthew LaClair of having set the teacher up, invent new "crimes" like "premeditated entrapment" that they accuse LaClair of having committed by recording the class, and say that he should have been suspended, expelled, or jailed for creating this issue and "embarrassing the town." They say that LaClair, by protesting the Bush administration by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, "practically spits on our 'Pledge of Allegiance'" and "is free to leave this country if he does not agree with what we stand for!" They claim that Paszkiewicz is "the best teacher to hit town in years" and "A PROUD AMERICAN [who] IS 100% RIGHT!"

I've posted there to point out the issues they aren't addressing, to which the only response has not been any attempt to address those issues but to claim that there is no evidence that Paszkiewicz lied and to express doubt that I've actually listened to any of the recordings. (You can find a cleaned-up version of the first online recording here, some more recordings here, and a partial transcripts here and here and here. The November 22 issue of the Kearny Observer will include numerous transcripts from Paszkiewicz's classes based on LaClair's recordings. Also note that Kearny Observer editor Kevin Canessa has an online poll up on his blog about whether you support Paszkiewicz, LaClair, or neither. At the moment the results are 7 supporting Paszkiewicz, 8 supporting LaClair, 0 don't care and 0 don't know enough about the situation.)


Arthur_Vandelay said...

From the forum:

Yes it the right, but it's wrong, I stand for evrything this country is about, you must be one of those Canada people, who instead of protecting and serving our country you decided it was "Your Right " not to be an American.

Should Canadians be worried by this kind of rhetoric . . .

The " Pledge "
as you call it, is an oath, and it is every Americans duty to stand when taking an oath of allegiance.

. . . or should Americans?

Anonymous said...

As a recent graduate from Kearny High School, I would like to comment on the state of the community which you all seem to be unaware of. Just outside the Ironbound of Newark, Kearny has somewhat recently turned into an immigrant town due to the spillover. In the younger generation (those in high school now at least) it is primarily a Brazilian, Portuguese, and various Hispanic blend. There are gangs, drugs, and little interest in education. Those who grow up in Kearny tend to stay in Kearny, Newark, or Jersey City for the rest of their lives. It's kind of hard to get out of. I consider myself an exception. Their comments are not a surprise to me since I grew up with it and their defensive arguments are based on gut feelings rather than factual knowledge of the constitution or principles of our country. I was lucky enough to find intellectual culture elsewhere, but I'm glad I grew up there. It gave me dirtier upbringing you wouldn't find in a classic New Jersey suburb.
Now, I'm not saying they're right, and I'm not saying that Paszkiewicz was right, but I know how they feel and that they don't know how to express themselves.

I am a big supporter of Dave Paszkiewicz (or "Packy" as those close to him like to say) and that is because I love the man. He really is a great person and an inspiration to me (I'm not Christian in any sense of the word). So if you're wondering why he has so much support, it's not because so many people believe what he's saying, but because he's a good person. I feel like sometimes you have to take things on a case-by-case basis and realize that some minor infractions aren't worth ruining a good thing.


Arthur_Vandelay said...

So if you're wondering why he has so much support, it's not because so many people believe what he's saying, but because he's a good person.

I don't think this incident should spell the end of his teaching career.

I do think he should own up to his error, and accept that what he did in his classroom was wrong. However fervently religious he might be, it is not his role, as a public school teacher, to proselytise to his students.

If he's the good person you say he is, he'll be able to do this gracefully and not play the burning martyr.

Unknown said...

I'm seeing a lot of people saying that the student made an "illegal" recordings of the other students/teacher. It is my understanding that Public schools are paid for by Public funds and, therefore, Public Places. It is my understanding that "hidden" recordings (be they audio OR video) are *not* illegal in Public Places.

If I'm wrong, I'd love to see some law/part of our Country founding documents that prove me wrong.

Lippard said...


It's been pointed out to me in email (and I agree) that public school classrooms are not "public forums." The rest of this comment is quoted from that email (thanks, Dean):

Classrooms are not public forums, despite our intuitive, even reasonable sense that they ought to be. Take this: "Classrooms are not public forums; but the school authorities and the teachers, not the courts, decide whether classroom instruction shall include works by blasphemers..." That appears in Linnemeir v. Board of Trustees of Purdue University, a Seventh Circuit ruling from 2001. Or: "There is no dispute that the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade public school classrooms where the alleged constitutional violations transpired are non-public forums, in which school officials can reasonably restrict the speech of students and teachers." That's from a New Jersey(!) district court opinion, Walz ex rel. Walz v. Egg Harbor Tp. Bd. of Educ. And so forth. There are plenty of contrary holdings that prove the rule, too.
For example, "University facilities opened for meetings of registered student organizations qualify as a designated public forum ... as do public school classrooms that are available to the general public outside of school hours for limited purposes..." That appears in Church on the Rock v. City of Albuquerque, a Tenth Circuit decision from 1996.

Tattaglia said...

Bravo for Matthew LaClair, who has the intelligence to differ from a pastor in a PUBLIC SCHOOL. I hope that he has really support from intelligent people.

Roj said...

David Paszkiewicz seems to be a Dominionist, who teach that lieing is ok, if you are dong the Lords work.
I think the Kearny BOE should consider firing David Paszkiewicz, at the very least a temporary suspension of David Paszkiewicz.

David Paszkiewicz is smart & intelligent, & has likely knowingly broken the law.

For god sakes get the man out of public school, he's a fruitcake, next thing ya know he'll be teaching that the universe revolves around the Earth.

Truth said...

Mr Paszkiewicz is only telling the truth....the truth of JESUS CHRIST, which obviously makes the many blinded attack and very afraid, that's why the use the "law" "system" to prosecute, just like JESÚS suffered, but one day you will all get on your knees and realize what's truth!! THE TRUTH!!