In which I annoy everyone all at once »« Cognitive dissonance

A mark of the beast

A Texas high school wants its students to carry ID cards with microchips, so that it can tell where they are.

ID badges containing radio tags started to be introduced at the start of the 2012 school year to schools run by San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District (NISD). The tracking tags gave NISD a better idea of the numbers of students attending classes each day – the daily average of which dictates how much cash it gets from state coffers.

I can’t help thinking it would be better if schools were small enough so that they could have a handle on how many students were attending just by eyeballing the classroom, but hey, I know that would cost more money and education of other people’s children isn’t a priority. So are these badges with tags ok? I don’t know; they seem intrusive to me, but then I don’t have a huge factory full of teenagers to run.

But one student refuses to wear the things because they’re of Satan.

Hernandez refused to wear the tag because it conflicted with her religious beliefs, according to court papers. Wearing such a barcoded tag can be seen as a mark of the beast as described in Revelation 13 in the Bible, Ms Hernandez’s father told Wired magazine in an interview.

That’s not a good reason. If that’s a reason, then another student could say that homework can be seen as a mark of the beast. If something that “can be seen as” whatever is a valid reason for refusal, then anything can be a valid reason for refusal. Hence the need for secularism. Once you can just paste the word “religious” on whatever you want to do or refuse to do, we’re screwed.

The Rutherford Institute said the NISD’s suspension violated Texan laws on religious freedom as well as free speech amendments to the US constitution.

But if “religious freedom” covers everything, then we’ll get paralysis.

The court’s willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go – not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled,” said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute in a statement.

Mr Whitehead said student tagging and locating projects were the first step in producing a “compliant citizenry”.

“These ‘student locator’ programmes are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government,” he said.

But that’s a different argument. It’s a different kind of argument. It’s got nothing to do with a mark of the beast. I think he has a point, but it’s a secular point. They should make that point, and leave Revelation 13 out of it.

 

Comments

  1. sheila says

    “These ‘student locator’ programmes are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government,” he said.

    Actually, this program will get students used to taking each others’ tracking tags into class so they can get credit for attending when they haven’t. I’m not saying this is good or bad, I’m just saying that I can see it coming a mile off.

  2. iknklast says

    Sheila, you must be a teacher!!!

    Fortunately, my classes (at college) are capped at 25, so I can usually see which students are there (thank goodness for classrooms that simply won’t sit more students, and an associate dean that can’t get a chair purchase order turned in to permit more students in the classroom). I require students to actually answer the roll in the morning, but only because I want them to be paying attention at that point, and quit talking to each other about irrelevant matters having nothing to do with science (well, maybe…I do teach Biology, but plant sex and human sex aren’t much alike, so it probably isn’t relevant!)

    Students get around that. But I was thinking…are they checking the teachers perhaps? Maybe they think teachers have been counting students present to make sure they get funding? That sounds a lot more like the thinking of a Texas school district to me. I did teach in Texas for five years, and they seem paranoid that someone will get a dollar they haven’t earned.

  3. Sili says

    Actually, this program will get students used to taking each others’ tracking tags into class so they can get credit for attending when they haven’t.

    *ding*ding*ding*ding*ding*ding*ding*ding* We have winner!

    I’d love that solution, since I’m horrible at learning names and faces.

    But as it is I just have to do rollcall for the first coupla months.

  4. says

    Wow, in the olden days, when I was at high school, the teachers *took attendance* at the start of each class.

    However, there are some very cool applications of the RFID tag technology – for example, putting them in the hardhats and vests of construction workers, tied into lockout mechanisms in vehicles and other machinery.

  5. peterh says

    Now, Seanna, you’ll spoil a perfectly good pie fight if you go about trying to think proactively!

  6. michaelpowers says

    In a perfect world, such a thing wouldn’t lend itself to abuse. That is obviously not the case. Using a religious argument against this is silly, unnecessary, and would put the credibility of one’s opposition in question.

    It is simply dehumanizing. We’re not a piece of inventory to be tracked.

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