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LIfe out here by Bret Kofford: Making a new (right-wing) friend

April 24, 2002

Marshall Fritz is a conservative who takes the issues, but not himself, seriously.

I am not a conservative and I don't take much of anything seriously.

We both have a strange love for Fresno.

We got along famously.

Fritz heads the Fresno-based Alliance for the Separation of School and State. Last week he sent a press release to this newspaper with the headline "Dr. Laura Supports Dr. Dobson: ‘Take your kids out of (California) public schools.' "

Yes, two of the holier-than-thou trinity of doctors of condemnation (Dr. Falwell must have still been in the buffet line) had lined up, again, against the public schools. There was some info in the press release on James Dobson declaring on March 28, "I think it's time to get our kids out" of California's public schools. There was a quotation from April 9 from Laura Schlessinger saying, "I stand with Dr. James Dobson: Take your kids out of public schools."

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What Fritz forgot in his release was to state why we, as parents in California, should yank our kids out of public schools and pronto. Being something of a balloon-popper, I called him to let him know about his little problem.

"I know," Fritz said in conceding his press release had a hole big enough to drive Al Sharpton through. "Perhaps it was an oversight on my part or trying to keep it under 500 words or something."

Fritz said his main point is public schools are undermining the values children are taught by their parents, particularly if parents are "traditionalists" who teach their children about chastity and Christianity.

"Do you have any specific examples of that undermining going on in California schools?" I asked.

"No I don't," Fritz conceded. "I am going to have to get myself those kinds of things. I should be quicker with specific examples. My ‘shtick,' or my ‘approach' is probably a better word, is to get people to look at principles. There are other people with specifics."

He knew of plenty of Web sites and sources I could go to for specifics. (He has his own at www.SepSchool.org.) But who cares about specifics when you are having fun? I liked Marshall Fritz because he was refreshingly honest and honestly engaging.

Fritz talked about "mutual outercourse" and how it is being taught in the public schools in Peoria. Ill., ("Ya gotta stay warm in the winter in Illinois some way," I thought) and other outrages.

"Is it in every school district?" he asked of the teaching of mutual outercourse. "No. But is it growing? Yes."

Fritz said it is easy to call someone such as himself a prude but added, "If you agree with someone, he's concerned. If you don't agree, he's uptight."

Fritz said nowadays it is common to mock those who believe in chastity or conservative Christianity "or those who don't believe in participating in recycling or …"

I laughed and Fritz stopped.

"That's just plain stupid," I said. "Why would anyone not want to participate in recycling? That's funny. Who does it hurt? What idiot would start a movement against recycling, just to be contrary?"

Fritz said there are people, including an atheist publisher friend of his, who think recycling has become a religion in itself, particularly among young people being taught about it in our public schools, and since his atheist friend is opposed to religion, he is opposed to recycling as religion. Others think it is more cost-effective just to produce new things than recycle. Then there are those convinced if we recycle, fewer trees will be grown for paper, meaning, well, there will be fewer trees.

I giggled through his entire explanation.

"I don't think I'll use the recycling example in the future," he said. "But I'm glad it amused you."

Fritz said public education has always undermined politically weak groups. In the past those groups included American Indians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Cajuns, Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics. I knew he was right about that. Now it is conservative religious people, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, who are undermined. I knew he was right about that, too, as I have been guilty of some of the undermining.

The difference, I countered, is conservative Christians are far from oppressed in this country. They have good jobs and live in nice neighborhoods, and the scary thing is if they ever got in charge, they would do the oppressing.

"That may or may not be true and they vary from person to person. And I agree that some would oppress if they got in charge," he said. "It was they in the past who oppressed Jehovah's Witnesses, it was they who oppressed Catholics."

Fritz cited a case in Maine in the 1800s in which a Catholic boy was flogged for 30 minutes for refusing to read the Protestant version of the Bible. Still, he said, it is horribly wrong for schools to undermine the teachings of Christian parents.

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