Getting Sent to the Kids Table

Over at his blog, dangerous ideas, Victor Reppert reports that Peter Boghossian has sent Reppert to the “kid’s table” because of Boghossian’s problems with reading comprehension.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Victor also writes:

What I said was that having a course at a public university that brings up religious issues, and in that course makes it evident that if they have certain religious views and express them in the course, they cannot get a passing grade, or will not have the same chance to get a passing grade as those who adopt another religious perspective, then serious questions from the point of view of the Establishment Clause have to be raised.

Yet I’m not sure the bar is set that high.  Thanks to the FFRF, that is.

Recall that back in 2013, Jerry Coyne and the FFRF led a campaign to get Eric Hedin, from Ball State University, to stop teaching a class where he was promoting his own religious viewpoints.  According to the FFRF, this violated the Establishment Clause.  As they explained:

Another legal issue with this class is Hedin’s active promotion of his personal religious views.  In Bishop v. Aronov, the University of Alabama ordered a teacher, Dr. Bishop, to stop injecting religion into his classroom…….The court specifically held that the university classroom “is not an open forum,” and upheld the university’s order that the professor “separate his personal beliefs and that he not impart the former to his students during ‘instructional time’ or under the guise of courses he teaches in so-called optional classes. Id. at 1071.  The court was “not persuaded that, even in the remotest sense, Dr. Bishop’s rights of free exercise or worship as those concepts are comprehended in constitutional parlance are implicated.” Id. at 1077.

Notice the problem was not about atheist students being able to get an A in the class; it was about the “active promotion of his personal religious views” in a state run university.

And as it turned out, Ball State University agreed with the FFRF.  The president of the university shut down Hedin’s class, explaining

As a public university, we have a constitutional obligation to maintain a clear separation between church and state. It is imperative that even when religious ideas are appropriately taught in humanities and social science courses, they must be discussed in comparison to each other, with no endorsement of one perspective over another.

Jo Ann M. Gora, PhD

So using this example as a precedent, the issue would be not whether a Christian could possibly get an A in Boghossian’s course.  It would just be whether Boghossian is promoting “his personal religious views” in the classroom or whether he is adhering to the standard of “no endorsement of one perspective over another.”

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6 Responses to Getting Sent to the Kids Table

  1. Dhay says:

    I case anyone wonders whether or not Ball State University and Portland State University have the same legal status, Wiki states that “Portland State University (PSU) is a public, nonprofit, coeducational research university …”; they do.

    Looks like Peter Boghossian is now violating the constitution as Eric Hedlin was. I look forward to Jerry Coyne’s anguished complaints that Boghossian’s courses have violated the Establishment Clause. And I look forward to the FFRF’s letters of complaint and their threat of legal action.

    They wouldn’t want to be hypocritical, would they.

  2. Oh, they’re not being hypocritical. It is wrong to advocate for a religion in the public university, because when religious ideas are presented, they have to be presented in a neutral manner, without endorsement. However, atheism is not more a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby. Therefore we can shove atheism down your throat to our heart’s content, since it is not a religion, but is instead a non-religion, and treats all religions with equal contempt. Besides, all we’re doing when we are creating atheists is supporting science and critical thinking.

    I got some ocean front property in Arizona.
    From my front porch you can see the sea.
    I got some ocean front property in Arizona.
    If you’ll buy that, I’ll throw the golden gate in free.

  3. Dhay says:

    Victor Reppert Oh, they’re not being hypocritical. …

    I see what you did there.

  4. Glen says:

    The thing that surprises me is the court stating…”the university classroom “…is not an open forum,…”. Since I didn’t read the whole decision, I’m left to wonder in what context this was said by the court. Does this also hold true for the student? If a university is not an “open forum”, I’m not sure I know what is.

  5. Dhay says:

    Michael (November 2014 thread of same title as this one) >

    Peter Boghossian did his “adult/childs table” schtick on his Twitter/Facebook page

    “If you’ve been relegated to the Kid’s Table because you can’t have an adult conversation, I’ve banned you & won’t be able to see your tweets”

    Some of the comments in reply are pretty funny:

    Does anyone else think that sounds suspiciously like a recipe for “doxastic closure”?

    I think tweets are what people do at the kids’ table.

    Is this how adults deal with criticism in your world?

    Looks like the criticisms have hit home. When I try the link now (or Google for the text) I find Peter Boghossian’s Facebook post has been removed — which conveniently for Boghossian expunges from his Facebook account not only the post jeered at but also the jeering.

    Boghossian’s Twitter Tweet is still there, but instead of the several responses that I would expect a run of the mill tweet to generate, or the many which would surely be triggered by such a contentious and jeer-worthy tweet, I find just the daft humorous question of “rat”: …can they still see yours? will they know you can’t see theirs? *taptap* is this thing on?. My conclusion is that probably Boghossian has blocked all the jeering tweeters, and thereby removed those jeering tweets from not just his own view but from the view of everybody else viewing his Twitter account.

    Could this be anything to do with Boghossian’s Twitter account being required reading on his Atheism course syllabus — the merely ‘Suggested Twitter’ accounts follow as a separate section there: could it be that Boghossian wants to cover up evidence that generations of his students might come across, that Boghossian has been publicly jeered and sneered at.


    Heck, even Ophelia Benson at the Butterfies and Wheels blog jeers at Boghossian:

    You have been schooled. Or relegated. Or something.

    Peter Boghossian isn’t going to talk to you any more, because he’s the adult and you’re the child.

    If you’ve been relegated to the Kid’s Table because you can’t have an adult conversation, I’ve banned you & won’t be able to see your tweets.

    That’s not convincing, coming from him. I’m not going to claim I’m always adult and level-headed, because I’m not – but I don’t see him as a paragon of reason and maturity either. On the contrary, I see him as someone who makes a point of provoking people and then jeering when they react; a troll, in short.

    And he doesn’t, that I’ve seen, provoke people for good reasons, or on trivial points. He does it for bad reasons and on subjects that cut deep. What’s so adult about that?
    [My emphasis]


    Peter Boghossian (OP tweet) > [Victor Reppert’s] not ready to have a conversation with adults yet. He’s relegated to the kid’s table until he intellectually matures.

    I think the two tweets between them (or singly) make plain enough what the “kid’s table” is about: it’s about Boghossian refusing to continue engaging with those who critique, criticise or detract; it’s about pointedly ignoring and blocking his ears to those people he refuses to have a conversation with.

    And he doesn’t do it in an open, adult way, but by the infantile pretend-game storified play-acting of “sending” someone to a “kid’s table” — a piece of make-believe which surely fools nobody but himself.

    I feel inspired to channel TS Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral”: In the small circle of pain within the skull [he] still shall tramp and tread one endless round of thought to justify [his relegating to the “kid’s table”] to [himself], weaving a fiction which unravels as [he] weave[s], pacing forever in the hell of make-believe which never is belief.

  6. Dhay says:

    Someone else who has a bad opinion of Peter Boghossian, of Boghossian’s failure to apply his much-vaunted epistemology to his own thought-processes, and is scathing in turning Boghossian’s “kid’s table” rhetoric back on him, is Richard Carrier; in the very long linked blog post entitled “Peter Boghossian on Gay Pride and Hobnobbing with an Online Misogynist” Carrier attacks Boghossian for his misogyny:

    By simply declaring your critics dogmatists, learning nothing, picking up all your marbles and pouting your way home, refusing to have any conversation at all. I say ironically because Boghossian keeps saying these same things of his critics: that they just shut down discussion and refuse to have an adult conversation. When in fact, it is quite evidently the reverse. It seems pretty clear that Boghossian is the one refusing to have an adult conversation — by not even responding to his critics or even acknowledging what their criticism was. That is quintessential bad epistemology.

    … if this kind of failure on Boghossian’s part is typical, then it means professor Boghossian is a really bad philosopher.

    So Boghossian and Molyneux are behaving exactly like the religious people they condemn. They are not behaving like good philosophers, or good atheists or good skeptics of any worthwhile variety. They are acting, well, I kind of have to say…like children. The rest of us are having a conversation at the adults table. They have resolutely stomped their way into their bedroom and locked the door. Harsh to say, I guess. But let’s be honest. That’s really what this looks like.

    We needed a complete worldview, one that stood on the best evidence of the world as presently known, with especial care for cultivating a good, reality-detecting, self-correcting epistemology. Atheists like Molyneux and Boghossian don’t have one of those. And in result they remain mired in false beliefs; in Molyneux’s case, even horrifyingly toxic beliefs.
    [Emphasis original.]

    I have deliberately selected choice quotations that jump out at me as representing what Carrier said about Boghossian’s disuse of epistemology and poor abilities as a philosopher, though the wider-ranging full blog article also slates Boghossian as a full-blown shoot-off-mouth-without-thinking (my paraphrase) highly prejudiced misogynist.

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