- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 9, 2000

Noble: Virginia Attorney General Mark Early, for speaking up for a moment of silence.

Is prayer disgusting, revolting or repulsive to society? In essence this is the question being asked by Virginia's new school requirement this year a moment of silence to begin every school day.

The state's attorney general says, no. The thought of students voluntarily praying in school shouldn't bother anyone. This may sound sensible and not the makings of The Washington Times' noble of the week. But that's where the American Civil Liberties Union steps in. The ACLU, which ironically was started to foster religious activity and freedom in society, has long stood up against any public expression of religion. In this case the organization supported 12 students who objected to the moment of silence.

With the ACLU's help the students went to court, but Virginia's attorney general's office fought back, recently winning court approval to allow the mandate for a moment of silence go into effect while the legal fight is waged. That fight promises to be a protracted one, and may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ACLU argues that the law is unconstitutional because it lists silent prayer as among the acceptable activities during the moment of silence. By simply listing prayer the government is implicitly encouraging the practice of religion, the group argues. Furthermore, the group argues, the Supreme Court has already ruled on this type of law in Wallace vs. Jaffree (1985). That decision tossed out a similar Alabama law.

Not quite. The Alabama law was written to encourage student prayer and therefore forced religion onto students. In Virginia prayer is not mandated, only a quiet moment which can be used to pray. The attorney general's office prevailed with this argument in an Alexandria courtroom last week, allowing the law to go into effect temporarily.

School is supposed to be about affording students the opportunity to ponder serious questions and develop intellectually. For some this involves a small prayer to start the day. For others, it does not. Too bad some people are offended by allowing students a quiet moment to just that. After all, in that way public school students just might learn something.

Knave: New York Times chief congressional corespondent Adam Clymer, for whining.

The New York Times likes to be called the paper of record; too bad for the record the paper's chief congressional correspondent is a knave. George W. Bush called Adam Clymer much worse recently and got into a spot of trouble for it. Unfortunately for Mr. Clymer according to his police record, at any rate Mr. Bush's description is not so far off the mark.

The U.S. Capitol Police have filed a formal complaint against Mr. Clymer, a rarity for an organization that prides itself on good relations with the nation's media. Apparently, Mr. Clymer was upset that Officer Marc T. DeJames would not allow him into a restricted area it was cordoned-off for an impending head-of-state arrival, according to this newspaper's John McCaslin in a recent Inside the Beltway column.

Mr. Clymer began shouting profanity in the crowded area and tried to push himself past the officer. "He was loud, profane and obnoxious," Officer DeJames' supervisor, Sgt. Edward O. Humphreys told the Senate Press Galleries. "He does not have any right to make physical contact, or place his hands on any officer who is performing his duties in an official capacity."

Of course, no one is perfect. But this is not the first time Mr. Clymer has reportedly acted unprofessionally in public view. Indeed, he has a long record of such behavior. The 1970s presidential campaign book, "The Boys on the Bus," described him as "a shy man, he communicated best by griping." Too bad. If Mr. Clymer can't hold himself to a higher professional standard why is he demanding perfection from Mr. Bush and others in office?

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