adjective sin·is·ter \ˈsi-nəs-tər, archaic sə-ˈnis-\
According to Webster, “sinister” means:
“evil or productive of evil”
“presaging ill fortune or trouble”
“accompanied by or leading to disaster”
It can also be a reference in heraldry to the supporting object situated on the left side of the shield, with “dexter” being the proper reference to the supporter on the right side.
So to which of these definitions do you suppose the preschool teacher in Oklahoma was referring to when she called a four-year-old in her classroom “sinister”?
According to a report published last week in Huffington Post, the boy was writing with his left hand. The teacher allegedly made him switch his pencil to his right hand because, as the boy later explained to his mother, “This one’s bad.”
When the mother confronted the teacher, the teacher gave her a copy of an article – the Captain suspects it came from the internet – describing left-handed people as “evil, unlucky, and sinister”.
While it is not uncommon (although archaic) to refer to the left side of something as the “sinister” side, that’s not at all what the teacher meant. According to the article, the Devil is left-handed. As proof, it says, look at historical artistic representations of the Devil – usually holding his staff in his left hand.
|There ya go!|
The article goes on to explain that in the 17th century it was believed that the Devil baptized his followers with his left hand.
Thus the association with left-handedness being evil.
As a proud lefty, this kind of stuff really pisses off the Captain!
Several years ago the First Mate was working in the preschool program at the church where I was a pastor. One day the lead teacher was absent so a substitute was brought in for the day. It was reported to me later – probably knowing how I would react – that at one point the substitute had snatched a Crayon out of a 2 ½ year-old child’s left hand and placed in her right hand, with the admonition, “Oh, no. We’re going to start you off right!”
As if one’s predominant hand is simply a choice.
Sadly, some believe one's sexuality is also simply a choice. But that is a blog for another day.
Had the Captain been informed about the sub's actions earlier in the day, she would have been sent home immediately, never to return.
It can be difficult for a lefty living in a predominantly right-handed world – think about using everyday items like can openers, spiral notebooks, computers, and musical instruments.
For the most part, we learn to adapt.
For example, legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale is left-handed. Instead of learning to play "right-handed" [doesn't that sound arrogant?] or re-stringing his guitar, he simply flipped it over and taught himself to play it upside down.
…lending one more testimony to my personal belief that left-handed people are smarter and more creative.
We have to be!
And I must admit that being left-handed has often worked to my advantage. As a child I excelled as a little league pitcher. As an adult I found I had an advantage in fencing class.
|Captain's Note: No, I am not in this photo.|
What irritates me most about this recent news story out of Oklahoma is that the teacher’s actions are based on pure superstition.
As a teacher of small children, I expect better.
Yes, I know there are cultures wherein one eats with the right hand and wipes one’s bottom with the left, and thus the left hand is considered “unclean”. I get that.
But to tell a small child that his left hand is “evil” – of the Devil! – is just plain wrong.
The news report indicates the superintendent is “looking into it”.
“We take this very, very seriously.”
I wish I could believe the double emphasis on “very” means something will be done, but the Captain is not optimistic. To date, the teacher still has a job.
If it were simply a mother’s word against a teacher’s word, there might be something to “look into”. But the very existence of the article the teacher gave to the mother makes this a pretty clear case of willful ignorance – for which the teacher should be fired.