The ACLU has applauded as a “civil rights victory” a
$65,000 settlement for a small-town art teacher who was fired from his job
for painting paintings on the Internet with his butt. Yes, you read that
right. It says what you thought it says.
* * *
The facts for this Outrage come from an article in the Danville, Va.,
Register & Bee for 10 March, 2008.
Stephen Murmer was fired last year as an art teacher at Monacan High School
in Chesterfield County, after students discovered a video of him in
disguise, calling himself Stan Murmur, and painting paintings with his
buttocks. Although the article says that Murmer is the “pioneer of butt
painting” according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the article is unclear as
to how this is done. Whether brushes are involved, and if so, how they are
“held” is unclear from the article.
The only clue as to technique that the article offers is this: in the video,
Mr. Murmer “wore a thong and was disguised with a turban and Groucho Marx
In any event, Mr. Murmer’s tendency to get a little behind in his work,
publicly, came to the attention of school officials. They decided this was
“conduct unbecoming” to a school teacher, and fired him. The ACLU then
entered the picture, claiming this was discrimination against a certain form
of freedom of speech.
This paragraph from the article deserves to be quoted in full and as is: “‘I
think this lawsuit has sent a message to school administrators that teachers
have a right to express themselves outside the classroom,’ said ACLU of
Virginia Legal Director Rebecca K. Glenburg, who was one of the attorneys
This is not just a message. This is threat to all school boards in the
nation, especially those in small districts who can ill afford a judgment
against them, or an award of attorneys fees, or both, when they fire a
teacher for conduct that they disapprove of, but the ACLU applauds.
Here is the comment of the School Board on this $65,000 settlement: ” ‘The
School Board strongly believes that its decision was justified based on its
core values and the disruption in the classrooms,’ Chairwoman Dianne E.
Pettitt said in the statement. The decision to settle was based on the cost
of continuing with the litigation and ‘the risks, however remote, that the
court would reinstate the teacher to the classroom.’ “
The subject matter of this Outrage is funny to the point of ridiculous. But
the bottom line, if you will excuse that expression, is quite serious. The
ACLU is not in the civil liberties business. It is in the legal extortion
business. It will extract money especially from small towns and small
school boards, whenever it catches them enforcing “community values” which
the ACLU does not like. That is what just happened in Danville. That can
happen in any community in America.
Source for original story on the Net: