Monday, November 27, 2006

Suspending Disbelief In Oregon

The Art Institute of Portland has apparently expelled student Bob Averill for telling another student that leprechauns and other beings that "live on another energy layer," don't exist:
"I jokingly asked her if she believed in leprechauns. It turns out, she does. They live on another energy layer," Averill wrote in notes to himself later that day. "In the interest of bringing my own view to the discussion, I began to ask her how she knew these things. Again I know all too well that people can be sensitive about their spiritual beliefs, so I was pretty much walking on glass as I did so."

Averill says he wasn't trying to disprove the other student's religious beliefs, but "to convince her not to insist that they were scientifically proven."

The student, apparently offended, complained to the teacher. Averill was called into a meeting that evening, he says, with the Art Institute's dean of education, associate dean, and the dean of student affairs.

According to Averill, he was told the meeting was "because of my altercation with [the other student]." Averill says he pointed out that he'd "only offered a different viewpoint in a discussion that [my classmate] had started."

"They didn't respond well," Averill told the Mercury. "Their mantra was 'no discussing religion in school,' which is fine except that I did not initiate the conversation, she had."
Averill was suspended and then expelled after a judicial hearing that, the school says, focused more on Averill's "belligerent behavior" than on the initial classroom discussion.

According to Averill, school administrators informed him that atheists were not "a protected class of people."

The school has offered to re-admit Averill if he will undergo "psychiatric evaluation."

As for the leprechauns, I'll keep chasing the one who lives over on the next block until I catch him and get 'em to give me his pot 'O gold.
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