Posted by: Kevin | May 10, 2007

Help! Help! I’m Being Oppressed

I’m not a big fan of persecution complexes.  Certainly there are people in this world who suffer from persecution.  Generally speaking, White Christian Americans aren’t among them.  Yet it’s hard to tell that given the rhetoric coming from the Christian right.  This latest example is the story of Principal Dave Terwilliger of the San Juan High School.  Mr. Terwilliger made the decision to suspend students for wearing t-shirts with anti-gay slogans.  The response, led by Dick Otterstad and his son(about 2/3 of the way down), is suprising.

Most recently, the Otterstads have organized rallies against Dave Terwilliger, the principal of the San Juan High School in Sacramento, for having suspended 35 students for wearing t-shirts bearing anti-gay slogans and Bible verses on the April 18 “Day of Silence,” an annual student protest in support of gay rights – and in an amazing coincidence, the Otterstads own a store, No Gay Gear Inc., that sells the shirts!

So out of the goodness of their hearts, the Otterstads rallied the people to the defense of oppressed Christians.  The school district responds.

“Trent Allen, a spokesman for the San Juan Unified School District, said the problem with the shirts worn by San Juan students isn’t that they espouse religious beliefs, it’s that they target a particular group or refer to a sexual act,” wrote Tod Milbourn for the Bee.

Ok, so it’s all cleared up now.  Christians weren’t being singled out.  The principal was simply enforcing an existing policy on appropriate dress.  After all, the school has also suspended students in the past for wearing clothing with anti-Christian slogans.  So we’re all set right?  Right?

But that wasn’t good enough for the Otterstads, who decided to follow Terwilliger home and pass out flyers to his neighbors reading, “Your neighbor is persecuting Christians. You need to confront him over his tyrannical behavior at a public high school.” They also picketed outside Terwilliger’s church, carrying signs calling him a hypocrite and calling for his excommunication.

I think we need to re establish what is and isn’t persecution.  Here is a quick primer.

If you’re like this guy tied to the wheel.  You are, in fact, being persecuted.

If you’re like this women and on trial  for witchcraft.  You also are being persecuted.

If you are making money selling hate in the guise of religion.  You sir, are not being persecuted.  Are we clear now?

Hat tip to Pharyngula

Update:  I took a break from working late to see if I could find the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail that mad me think if this title.  Sadly, it turns out the I f’ed the title up.  It should read “Help!  Help!  I’m being Repressed!”   Damn it man!  Anyway, here’s the scene.



  1. on a side note, I did not know Terwilliger is a real name. I thought it was the made up name of a Simpsons character (Sideshow Bob’s surname). Go figure.

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