Interesting Case of a Florida Teacher


You may have heard by now about the teacher in Florida who was briefly suspended after posting some relatively obnoxious statements on his Facebook page about same-sex marriage. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook:

On July 25, Buell posted on his Facebook page, “I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up.”

“If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???,” Buell added.


The school took him out of the classroom and put him in an administrative position for three days while they investigated, but ultimately decided that he had not violated the school’s code of ethics and reinstated him to teaching. And I think that’s the right result for that particular action. His Facebook page is personal, not official, and that expression is clearly protected by the First Amendment.

But here’s the more interesting development. Some of the statements on his official school webpage are clearly a problem.

On his school webpage, Buell wrote that he tries to “teach and lead my students as if Lake Co. Schools had hired Jesus Christ himself.”

His syllabus also offered this warning to students: “I teach God’s truth, I make very few compromises. If you believe you may have a problem with that, get your schedule changed, ’cause I ain’t changing!” On a separate document, he also said the classroom was his “mission field.”

Mihet said the webpage was since removed and Buell has been instructed to remove some parts of his syllabus.

At a rally staged by the Liberty Counsel Thursday evening, Buell was anything but contrite.

Fighting back tears, he said: “I’m a social studies teacher, and I knew I what the heck I was doing.

“There’s a thing in this country called the First Amendment,” he told the crowd of a few hundred. “I firmly believe in the right to express my opinions passionately.”

But the statements on his official website may well not be constitutionally protected, nor should they be. Your job is not to teach “God’s truth” it is to teach the curriculum, which is entirely secular and not religious. Given those statements, I’d say there’s a darn good chance that Buell has been teaching things that would clearly be out of bounds and I hope the school does a real investigation of that. What supplemental handouts has he been using? What kinds of things has he been saying in class that are not in the curriculum?

Unlike the Facebook page, what you say on an official school website and in the classroom can be proscribed because in that setting you are not an individual citizen, you are a representative of the government. And he has pretty much declared publicly in that forum that he thinks his job is to proselytize.

Comments

  1. Dennis N says

    In theory, as long as you separate your personal and official life, have at it. And many people can do that just fine, see Hemant Mehta. But in practice, fundies have a problem with this. Scratch the surface a little bit and you find out crap like this ^.

  2. Chris from Europe says

    Fighting back tears, he said: “I’m a social studies teacher, and I knew I what the heck I was doing.

    “There’s a thing in this country called the First Amendment,”

    Well, you obviously don’t know what you were doing. Somebody tell him that he cites the very thing making his actions in the classroom illegal.

  3. imrryr says

    “If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as Newt Gingrich’s three marriages! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???,” Buell added.

    I like my version better.

    Also, I’m a bit confused by the phrase “God will not be mocked”. Seems like God gets mocked quite a bit, but doesn’t do much about it. Though sometimes he lashes out with storms and other poorly aimed disasters like a child throwing his toys around when his mother doesn’t let him have what he wants.

  4. daveau says

    I’m pretty sure that Social Studies was where we studied the Constitution. You’d think a Social Studies teacher would know what it says.

  5. says

    Buell wrote that he tries to “teach and lead my students as if Lake Co. Schools had hired Jesus Christ himself.”

    Get over yourself, dude. Didn’t Jesus say something or other about being humble?

  6. rabbitscribe says

    I’m one of Mr. Buell’s 4th period social studies students. I realize this is going to be almost incomprehensible to a bunch of liberal social engineers, but BUTT OUT! This is a local issue and we don’t need to turn it into a major Federal project.

    Buell wrote that he tries to “teach and lead my students as if Lake Co. Schools had hired Jesus Christ himself.”

    So you know what? Maybe he is engaged in “proscribed speech.” But we wouldn’t know, because he speaks only ancient Aramaic and nobody can understand a fucking word he says. And that’s just the way we like it.

  7. remo says

    Never trust a man who watches the TV while eating dinner (exception being sports). Sounds like a social retard.

  8. Dennis N says

    I’m one of Mr. Buell’s 4th period social studies students. I realize this is going to be almost incomprehensible to a bunch of liberal social engineers, but BUTT OUT! This is a local issue and we don’t need to turn it into a major Federal project.

    Is this poeing or sarcasm? I can’t quite tell.

  9. Chris from Europe says

    I realize this is going to be almost incomprehensible to a bunch of liberal social engineers, but BUTT OUT! This is a local issue and we don’t need to turn it into a major Federal project.

    So you don’t want to have the protections of the Bill of Rights and don’t be part of this major Federal project (“United States of America”)? Well, it’s your choice.

  10. Michael Heath says

    The more devoutly one follows the New Testament’s explicit demands on Christians, the more difficult it becomes for many Christians though certainly not all to:
    a) defend the U.S. Constitution,
    b) remain in compliance with it when one is the government like this teacher is when he’s acting as a teacher, and
    c) to defend others’ rights under the Constitution such as this teachers’ students.

    Christians who choose fealty to the Biblical edict over the Constitution and then lie as we repeatedly encounter in cases like this provides a line of evidence demonstrating the fundamental dishonesty that is a general attribute of modern-day Christianists. They’d get more respect from me if they just be honest about where their loyalties actually lie rather than continually lying about it as we repeatedly see with examples equivalent or similar to this occurence. But of course they’re not looking for respect from people like me, instead they seek to leverage the power of the government to:
    1) promote their religion
    2) misconstrue reality to their falsified worldview
    3) ostracize and eventually eradicate people like me (the latter by sufficiently controlling the government so future generations are indoctrinated rather than educated and taught to critically think).

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    … I hope the school does a real investigation of that.

    Uh, well, read up on other “culture wars” stories out of Lake County before you place any major bets on that, okay?

  12. Chris from Europe says

    Is there a way to improve the situation without ending local control over schools? I find school boards a pretty stupid idea. Ever since the fundies started targeting low-turnout elections, they should have either be abolished or at least have their powers constricted by the law.

    But maybe a suit increases the board wisdom in regard to this situation.

    P.S.: Apparently the ADF wants to help schools to continue censoring (non-porn) LGBT sites.
    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2011/08/adf-vs-aclu-on-internet-filters.html

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