It seems like my post the other day about Justin Katz not being a good fit for a seat on the Tiverton School Committee resonated locally. Tiverton Patch picked up on the story and it caused quite a commotion in the always-vibrant comment section.
While many of the commenters agreed with my assessment that Katz is too committed to Christian dogma to be a healthy addition to the Tiverton School Committee, that isn’t why I am posting more about it. I’m posting more about it to clear up some erroneous statements Katz made about me, my post and RI Future.
First off my post had nothing to do with Katz’s intolerance towards organized labor. While he and I may differ on this issue, it’s simply not the reason I think he would be a bad school committee member. I think he would be a bad school committee member because of his intolerance on issues having to do with the separation of church and state. There’s no shortage of evidence in the RI Future archives that documents this is an important editorial issue to us.
Secondly, Katz asserts that RI Future has a “financial relationship” with the teachers’ union. This is true. The NEA-RI has purchased one ad on RI Future since I’ve owned it. While I very much appreciate their business, and hope they advertise again in the future, I believe everyone at the NEA understands they purchased some temporary real estate on RI Future, and nothing more.
(I should note, that I think it’s pretty ironic that Katz would call into question my financial relationships … ask him who funds his blog and he won’t tell you, but other conservatives familiar with the operation say the money likely comes from big tobacco and big oil companies, the Heritage Foundation, the Koch Brothers and other ALEC-worshiping members of the 1 percent.)
While I often support organized labor in general and the teachers’ unions in particular again, there is ample evidence in RI Future’s archives to illustrate that I do not do their bidding. In fact, my friends at the NEA are often critical of my editorial judgement, just as my friends in the education reform/deform movement are as well. Specific issues that come to mind include their endorsement of state Senator Michael McCaffrey over Laura Pisaturo and Gov. Chafee’s municipal aid package to struggling cities and towns.
Katz offers as evidence of my “ties” to teachers’ unions that a former RI Future owner Pat Crowley works for the NEA. While I like Crowley and his politics (if not always his tactics) he’s got no special influence over me or my web site. In fact, we may just disagree on RI Future more often than we agree!
The assertion that I found the most disingenuous was when Katz wrote in a comment on Tiverton Patch that “suggested that Jesus is ‘creepy.'” This is simply false. I wrote that a passage Katz cited attributed to Jesus was creepy. Katz, on the other hand, called it profound.
Here’s the comment in it entirety, so you can judge for yourself:
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.
And here is what I wrote about it:
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.
I believe Katz understands the difference and was being intellectually dishonest as a way to discredit me. But either way – if he was being intellectually dishonest or if he just doesn’t understand the difference between thinking a statement is creepy and a person – it’s just more evidence that he doesn’t belong in public office.