Tiverton should be very wary of school committee candidate and conservative blogger Justin Katz. He’s a good enough guy and you’ve got to admire his tireless work ethic, but politically he’s way outside of the mainstream – and often on issues that matter to public education.
In fact, Katz is radically conservative on social issues and his religious convictions frequently trumps his regard for the Constitution, students and their rights.
Case in point: on Monday I retweeted a high school student’s tweet about a teacher who was forcing her students to pray to Jesus. Katz belittled the situation and the high school student’s initial tweet with this sarcastic reply: “My goodness. Are the kids OK?”
After this pretty obnoxious reply, the rebuttals to Katz came fast and furious. I captured some of them here in this Storify of twitter conversation.
Tiverton parents don’t want a school committee member who reacts this way to a teacher violating student rights. They probably don’t even want a member of their school committee to think that is a funny joke!
What if Katz were elected to the school committee and he had to choose between defending students’ rights and his own religion? Anyone who has ever endured a Justin Katz diatribe on why marriage equality would lead to the degradation of families everywhere, or why gay people should be banned from Boy Scouts would have a hard time believing he would even make a veiled attempt at pretending to put any set of beliefs above his Christianity.
Here’s an example of what he posted to EG Patch when a local church decided not to let the Cub Scouts meet there because of the Boy Scouts prohibition against gay people:
I believe Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” He also said that, where two are three are gathered in His name, He is there. I’m no theologian, either, but it’s awfully curious that the rector supports the boys one by one, but not by twos and threes.
The passage about children is miraculously relevant, here (Matthew 19:13). Jesus had just finished explaining why Old Testament rules allowing divorce should not apply to His followers, and the disciples said that the impossibility of divorce meant it would be “better not to marry.” He then likens men who cannot abide by such rules to eunuchs.
That’s when the children come forward and the disciples attempt to stop them. “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
It’s a profound passage.
Hmm, I’d say it’s more of a creepy and weird passage than a profound one … but either way, I’m pretty sure Tiverton parents don’t want someone on their school committee who thinks a parable about Jesus likening would-be divorcees to eunuchs is profound.
Full disclosure: I am a progressive blogger. So perhaps I’m prone to viewing a fiscal libertarian and social conservative such as Katz as being outside of the political mainstream. So take this for what you think it is worth, and I firmly encourage the local media in Tiverton to do their own due diligence on the matter.
In fact, they already have. Both Tiverton Patch and East Bay Newspapers recently covered inappropriate tweet from Katz about how the Sandywoods Farm development – which combines affordable housing, with live/work spaces for artists and a farm – was perhaps a “good way to subsidize the ‘right’ kind of poor people.” (Tiverton Patch even put together this super cool Storify on the Twitter exchange between Katz and RI Future founder Matt Jerzyk)
But they should do some more. Katz’s adamant belief in far-out Christian dogma is not what the average parent in Tiverton wants from school committee members, and it is up to Tiverton Patch and East Bay Newspapers to at the very least let their readers know that this is what they’d be getting if they voted for Justin Katz.