Intelligent Design

What *WE* Are Up Against!

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Final Update: I found one press report saying Waggoner did indeed send a letter of apology. I’m not sure why news.google.com didn’t return this story. Regular google.com did. That’s good enough for me. Waggoner is off the hook as far as I’m concerned. However, in this press report the superintendent says the reason she was placed on paid leave beginning 1/31/06 had nothing to do with the parental complaints. It appears Mark Young had no reason to complain about the parents after all and neither did I have reason to complain about Waggoner.

The brouhaha is over this music teacher showing elementary students the play Faust and saying it is a great part of our civilization and Western culture while prohibiting Christmas songs at their “winter concert”. Christmas songs aren’t a great part of our civilization and Western culture?

Then over at Panda’s Thumb Matt Young and the usual suspects are whining about this teacher being disciplined over it. Incredible. These are the people we are up against. I have absolutely had it with people like Matt Young and their concerted effort to censor traditional American culture and values and replace it with their own new age crap. Get out of my country, Young. Right now. Pack your trash and g-e-t o-u-t.

Update: Okay Young, you’ve shown a modicum of sanity. You may unpack. While you’re at it consider that the ability to terminate grade school teachers exists for a reason. The firing of one for making inappropriate decisions regarding what six year old children can and cannot be exposed to isn’t the end of the world.

Update 2: Several have asked what’s wrong with 12 minutes of a sock puppet Faust video. What’s wrong is that it was shown to 1st graders who can be as young as 5 years old and since kindergarten isn’t a requirement in Colorado these may include children that have been quite sheltered. Some parents claimed their children were frightened by the video.

Some parents demanded the teacher’s firing, complaining their children were traumatized by the appearance of a leering devil as well as such objectionable elements as an allusion to suicide and a man appearing to be killed by a sword in silhouette.

Many parents agreed the video’s violent moments and depictions of the devil were inappropriate for young elementary school students, she said. After receiving assurances that a similar situation wouldn’t happen again, most were satisfied.

But a small group refuses to let the situation die, she said, in part because of lingering anger over Waggoner’s decision to make a December concert an end-of-the semester recital without the expected Christmas carols.

So you basically have a very young music teacher that angered parents twice and refuses to apologize for it. In a high income Colorado neighborhood where they pay for and expect better than that from their public schools, twice is one time too many. So she was suspended with pay. I haven’t seen any reason given for why she resigned. She may have been asked to resign or she may have realized that refusing to apologize burned too many bridges to ever have a good working relationship with student parents in that town again and resigned for that reason.

Correction: Waggoner isn’t all that young. She’s 33. Mibad. I’m looking to see if she actually did apologize to the parents. If I find that she did then I’ll be on her side. An admission of error and an apology should have been sufficient unless there’s more to the story than what’s been printed.

61 Replies to “What *WE* Are Up Against!

  1. 1
    doramia says:

    1. Faust is an opera, not a play
    2. She didn’t show the opera, she showed a portion featuring puppets
    3. There was a sizeable Mormon community. She didn’t want to put on a religiously devisive show.
    4. She’s a (Waggoner) gosphel singer with a couple of recordings to her name
    5. The townspeople didn’t know anything about Faust, which was a shame. It’s a Christian morality play about a man who sells his soul and is lost.

    1. It’s a play. This was a musical adaptation of it. Check your facts FIRST next time.

    Faust, Part 1, (original title: Faust – der Tragödie erster Teil) is a tragic play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, perhaps the best known version of the Faust story.

    2. She showed a video to 6, 7, and 8 year olds that scared the crap out of some of them and probably gave them nightmares. That’s exceedingly poor judgement no matter what else you want to say about it.

    To support her take on the community, Grossaint pointed to the firestorm that erupted in January over Waggoner’s presentation to first-, second- and third-graders of about 12 minutes of an installment from the 33-year-old series “Who’s Afraid of Opera?”

    Some parents demanded the teacher’s firing, complaining their children were traumatized by the appearance of a leering devil as well as such objectionable elements as an allusion to suicide and a man appearing to be killed by a sword in silhouette.

    3. Who cares if there’s a “sizeable Mormon community”. They don’t have to sing Christmas songs if they don’t want to or they can ask that traditional Mormon pieces be added. This is America and Christmas along with Christmas carols are a longstanding tradition of a vast majority. Christmas is a national holiday and tragic as it is for the loony left it hasn’t been renamed Winter Solstice Celebration yet. Anyone that doesn’t like that is welcome to move to a country where they don’t celebrate Christmas. I’ll help them pack and pay for a one-way ticket on a banana boat out of here.

    4. What does her gospel singing have to do with anything? I didn’t say she wasn’t a gospel singer nor did I accuse her of devil worship. I’m accusing her of poor judgement for the twin decision of banning Christmas songs and showing Faust to very young school children, of being a hypocrite for defending Faust as important to western culture as if Christmas wasn’t, and of lack of character for not acknowledging and apologizing for her poor judgement.

    5. How on earth do you know the townspeople didn’t know anything about Faust? What a sweeping and assuredly false accusation. You just fabricated that statement out of whole cloth. -ds

  2. 2
    tnewell says:

    Your post seeems to give the impression that you think the manner in which Tresa Waggoner is currently being treated is acceptable. Do you? Regardless of what you may think about her earlier decision to include or not include certain music in the winter musical progam, it doesn’t justify the treatment she’s receiving now. And your quote: “Christmas songs aren’t a great part of our civilization and Western culture?” is kind of silly. As far as I know, she never claimed that Christmas songs weren’t part of our culture. She has, in fact, recorded two albums of Christian music so I suspect she actually thinks that religious music is an important part of our culture.

    Your post seeems to give the impression that you think the manner in which Tresa Waggoner is currently being treated is acceptable.

    No, it’s not acceptable. She should have been terminated outright and not been given a paid vacation first. -ds

  3. 3
    Qualiatative says:

    What happened to PT’s “teachers should stick to the curriculum” mantra?

  4. 4
    Doug says:

    She wouldn’t use christmas songs but she forced them to listen to Faust? She is not just stuck in PC limbo but she is sadistic too.

  5. 5
    Brian says:

    “‘I devoted half of my life singing in the church,’ she said, adding that she has recorded two albums of Christian music.”

    Say what, now? Why, if she was so inculcated with Christian music, would she not allow Christmas songs to be sung at the winter concert? Could they have not chosen a sampling from other relgious traditions that have songs for holidays around that period? Surely exposure to at least some of that stuff would be better than none; and probably more relevant than Faust of all things.

  6. 6
    russ says:

    Is Handel’s “Messiah” “a great part of our civilization and Western culture”?

  7. 7
    Jack Krebs says:

    I don’t think we have any idea whether the music curriculum of that school is specific enough to limit what the music teacher shows her class – most music curricula are quite general and unlike science curricula in this regard.

    Also, I don’t get calling Faust “new-age.” The legend of Faust is a signficant part of Christian literature – Faust standing for the arrogant one who sells his soul to the devil, and then ultimately pays for his rejection of God.

    I do imagine that people in the community (and DaveScot also) are upset about the music teacher’s stand on Christmas music, but it seems to me that is an issue that should have been dealt with directly rather than perhaps using this opera event as a payback.

    It doesn’t seem to me that Matt Young’s post at PT is about the Christmas music issue, but rather the subsequent suspension issues over Faust, which is a different issue.

    The townspeople have linked the two issues. That’s their prerogative. A teacher’s actions don’t happen in a vacuum but are cumulative. People don’t forget. She began offending them with the banning of Christmas songs in a Christmas concert (I’d have hung her out to dry for that alone) then drove them over the edge with Faust. The new age crap is political correctness that precludes celebrating Christmas in the traditional American way and the exceptionally poor judgement of showing a video of Faust to children so young that the images frightened them. -ds

  8. 8
    Tiax says:

    “Christmas songs aren’t a great part of our civilization and Western culture?”

    I’m not sure Jingle Bells is on par with Faust.

    You’re right. Jingle Bells is far more important for 6, 7, and 8 year olds. -ds

  9. 9
    russ says:

    I personally doubt that this was even an accurate quote of the parent in question. The teacher wants to keep her job so she’s got an agenda, and odds are that the reporter has taken the side of the “courageous teacher” fighting the “intolerant religous-bigot parent”. That’s a more appealing story to most reporters than “Renegade Teacher Exposes First, Second and Third Graders to Dark German Opera Themes”

  10. 10
    bFast says:

    To me the most salient point of this post is taken from Panda’s website, “It is against this backdrop that we struggle to keep creationism out of the public schools.”

    Creationism, in this context, seems to be spelled “ID”. ID, of course, is supported by Ph.D. Scientists, many of whom have no religious affiliation, and others whose position is not in agreement with the position of their own religion.

  11. 11
    tinabrewer says:

    First of all, Faust IS a great part of our western civilization and culture. Having said that, I am equally disgusted over the evisceration of meaning in the public schools in the name of ‘sensitivity’. My husband and I now basically dread attending our daughter’s Winter Concert every year because it is such a charade. The “Christmas” songs are all secular and deal with such lofty concepts as “snow” and “trees”, whereas we hear numerous songs and hymns from other religious traditions which are actually about those religious traditions! For me, this is less about respecting Western Civilization than it is about the gross misunderstanding of the idea of sensitivity and tolerance. A person cannot have sensitivity to other views unless he realizes that there ARE other views. I WANT my daughters to grow up knowing that there are people out there who believe differently than they do.. Why? Because it is only through the actual interactions with the psyches of their fellowmen that they have any hope of refining their own views and beliefs. An analogy to the human immune system is in order here: one view of disease says “kill all the germs because they cause disease and you don’t want that” Based on this view, we use lots of poisons and sprays to purify and sterilize our homes and lives, thinking that we will be safe. We use antibiotics at every turn, thinking if we can just get rid of the bad bad germs, then everything will be okay. The response of our bodies and the environment has been interesting though. We now have epidemic levels of asthma and other auto-immune diseases which are being directly linked to the unnatural antiseptic conditions of modern life, and threatening antibiotic-resistant diseases which have adapted well to our most clever attacks. Of course the answer is that the organism must be equal to its environment, and this equal strength only develops through full interaction with that environment. The same is true culturally and socially. If we think we can protect ourselves from conflict by sterilizing the public sphere from the bogeymen of religion, we will just become weakened in our ability to confront the natural conflicts which arise in life.

    Remarkable. Thank you that insight. -ds

  12. 12
    JKVisFX says:

    [troll]

    I guess you just don’t like being shown up for the fool that you are, do you? Can’t take it when someone else, much smarter than yourself, points out how you are wrong so you spew out a piece of bile at guys like Matt Young just when the defend a teacher who has clearly been treated unfairly? How about, instead, arguing the facts – oh, I forgot, you don’t have any facts that support your position so you use the only thing you do have – screeching, like a banshee.

    I lay odds on that you will censor or not post this reply at all.

    Have a nice day you ‘tard.

  13. 13
    dougmoran says:

    “Get out of my country, Young. Right now. Pack your trash and g-e-t o-u-t.”

    I second that motion and I’ll kick in a dime to help cover the one-way boat ride to any far away port.

  14. 14
    tb says:

    Someone is showing the Faust again, but who is right? Is Göthes play meant for first graders? I don’t think they would get much out of it! Is it great part of American civilization and Western Culture? I doubt that it plays a great role among American civilization just by looking at the reaction of the law abiding Christians that are trying to crucify some EVIL teacher because their littluns are being brought in touch with EVIL. It sure is nice to know that so much great German culture is taught in American schools (even in first grade ;)), but maybe at the right age would be more appropriate and even more appreciated. I can see where people at PT are coming from looking at the right wing Christian reaction, it is nothing but ignoranz. Hey but now lets all sing Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. No someone looked at Wiki and found out that some myths resulted from Faust and now they draw the line to ID, saying it is myth. How ignorant is that? A lot of German literature has been writtin upon Faust, but how does this all relate to ID? I find myself in the midst of a big Blog kindergarten mud fight about ignoranz on both sides.

    Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
    Juristerei und Medizin,
    Und leider auch Theologie!
    Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.
    Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
    Und bin so klug als wie zuvor;
    Heiße Magister, heiße Doktor gar,
    Und ziehe schon an die zehen Jahr
    Herauf, herab und quer und krumm
    Meine Schüler an der Nase herum –
    Und sehe, daß wir nichts wissen können!
    Das will mir schier das Herz verbrennen.

    “Es irrt der Mensch, solang er strebt”

    “Ein guter Mensch in seinem dunklen Drange ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst.”

    Sometimes I wish Americans would get a bit more open minded, maybe a bit more liberal towards things. Maybe it is time to stop dogmatizing everything. Embrace culture, and I mean all of it. Ignoranz destroys freedom. Now go and read Faust instead of using it. 🙂

    @russ: Händles Messias sure is a great part of my (German) civilization I don’t know about yours.

  15. 15
    JKVisFX says:

    Sooo…

    Are you going to have the guts – and honesty – to post the comments from those of opposing views? I see my earlier post was not put up yet, others have been since mine.

    Isn’t it interesting the difference in tactics between the bloggers at Science Blogs and Panda’s Thumb when it comes to replies to blog postings. The Sb and PD guys leave all replies as written, uncensored, unedited. When they respond, they quote the text in proper context and respond with facts, logic and reason. You guys, on the other hand, simply ignore the opposing replies by not even posting them, only allowing those that agree or only disagree on minor points. How’s that for a demonstration of honesty and integrity.

    How very Christian of you, DaveScot.

    Three comments of mine were deleted from Panda’s Thumb just yesterday. They were less offensive than yours, shorter, and I even used three different names in an effort to hide my identity. Don’t give me any sanctimonious crap about them being more open to debate. The only difference between me and them is I’m not trying hide anything (except the name DaveScot from PT censors). And I put your post up, little troll. Sans vowels. 😆 -ds

  16. 16
    jt636 says:

    Dave, why do you never post my comments? I find them stimulating and well-written, not to toot my own horn.

    I don’t recognize your name. Sorry. This is the only comment of yours I have for reference. Maybe I deleted the others for being unforgivably forgettable? -ds

  17. 17
    tinabrewer says:

    I almost want to take back what I wrote on a previous post. I read the segment in detail, instead of relying on the summation given by DAveScot, and I have to say I am truly appalled at the treatment of this teacher. You cannot seriously believe that it was appropriate for her to be punished and asked to apologize for showing the children 12 minutes of an opera? Actually, far from wanting to remove what I said on the last post, I would even more strongly emphasize it precisely because of the greater contextual understanding I now have: who the hell heck [see comment policy – cussing is not allowed] are these so-called Christians that they object to their children seeing representations of the devil? Is not the devil a primary component of THEIR OWN RELIGIOUS WORLDVIEW? The central moral of the Faustus legend is fundamentally a Christian one: a man of learning selling his soul to the devil in exchange for all knowledge is practically a restatement of the Genesis account of the origin of evil. When I was talking about the weakness which is engendered by the attempt to sanitize and purify the surroundings in order to be safe from attack, this is exactly the behavior you would expect to see from such a psychically weakened state: the person, completely unable to endure ideas which run contrary to their own views, blindly begins attacking everything in sight, in much the same way as a weakened and disordered immune system, unable to endure the normal challenges of the microorganisms in its environment runs amok and begins attacking the body it was designed to protect! How nauseating. This does no service to the cause of ID which will depend, for its success, on precisely the virtues of impartiality and openmindedness which are so deeply degraded by this type of mindless conservatism. When I hear about women like the mother who called up the teacher to complain, I almost fear the religious right more than the anti-religionists. It really doesn’t matter which is worse, in the end. Just that both extremes are deleterious to the truth, which shall set us free…

    Six years old is a little young for dark operas in public school without parental consent, don’t you think? She’s being punished for being too stupid and insensitive to be a teacher. Not everyone has what it takes. She probably should have never been hired in the first place. A hiring error is being corrected. -ds

  18. 18
    crandaddy says:

    I think people are just WAY too sensitive! The world will not come to an end as a result of showing a bunch of public elementary school kids a performance of Faust. Nor will it come to an end as a result of acknowledging to them the fact that Christmas is the holiday on which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. What worries me are all the knee-jerk reactionary wackos out there who file lawsuits and get people fired from their jobs at the slightest whim!

    Neither will the world come to an end by grade school music teacher getting fired for making inappropriate curriculum decisions. What good is the right to terminate hires that don’t live up to expectations if you never exercise it? -ds

  19. 19
    crandaddy says:

    I was just slumming through that thread and found this:

    “Christians, can’t live with em, can’t feed em to the lions anymore.”

    It’s comment #88206 by BWE. I should also say that I looked pretty hard to find where this person was somehow reprimanded for it but couldn’t see that it was even acknowledged. Over here, we have no tolerance for attacks like that directed toward any faith.

    I can hardly believe you wrote this immediately following a comment about people being overly sensitive. Non sequitur. -ds

  20. 20
    JKVisFX says:

    “Three comments of mine were deleted from Panda’s Thumb just yesterday. They were less offensive than yours, shorter, and I even used three different names in an effort to hide my identity. Don’t give me any sanctimonious crap about them being more open to debate. The only difference between me and them is I’m not trying hide anything.”

    That I truly doubt. But, if they were deleted, perhaps it was because you used three different names all coming from the same I.P.? Dishonest crap like that just might warrant your posts being deleted.

    “And I put your post up, little troll. Sans vowels. -ds”

    How very mature of you.

    Really doubt it, eh? Feel free to ask Lamuella where the comment is that he/she was responding to here. 😆

    Or you can examine the second to the last comment here which is the one Lamuella was responding to. The last two comments are mine and have been deleted from the main site but not from this database of PT comments sorted by author. Isn’t that just precious? -ds

  21. 21
    russ says:

    tb wrote: “@russ: Händles Messias sure is a great part of my (German) civilization I don’t know about yours.”

    Yes, it is a part of western culture and American culture as well (my parents were German-speaking Mennonite immigrants to the USA). That was my point. But it would likely be banned in American public schools since it is religious and specifically Christian in nature.

    Speaking of banning – isn’t it amazing that San Francisco hasn’t renamed itself yet? How that bastion of leftist lunacy has allowed itself to remain named after a Christian saint is just mind boggling. Maybe because it’s a Spanish name and the anti-Mexican bigotry sweeping the rest of California hasn’t inundated the bay area yet.-ds 😯

  22. 22
    JKVisFX says:

    The townspeople have linked the two issues. That’s their prerogative. A teacher’s actions don’t happen in a vacuum but are cumulative. People don’t forget. She began offending them with the banning of Christmas songs in a Christmas concert (I’d have hung her out to dry for that alone)…

    OK. So you admit that this very well may be vengeance taken out on this teacher because the “good townspeople” don’t like her or her positions. I guess that truly is the american way – according to you fundies at any rate.

    …then drove them over the edge with Faust.

    Sock puppets??? Are you serious??? If these kids were so frightened by images of some guy in a devil costume, it is only because their loving parents have already traumatized them with nightmarish tales of devils and demons. Perhaps she should have been sensitive to the fact that she was dealing with religiously traumatized children and not shown them that film segment for that reason.

    The new age crap…

    Why do you keep insisting that secularism is “new age crap?” We atheists no more buy into “new age” nonsense any more than we do your Bible tales.

    …is political correctness that precludes celebrating Christmas in the traditional American way…

    There you go again. Typical fundy – equating “American Way” with “Christianity.” That was not in the constitution the last time I checked.

    …and the exceptionally poor judgement of showing a video of Faust to children so young that the images frightened them. -ds

    As stated above – only because these kids quite likely have already been traumatized with nightmare stories from the Bible – kind of a preconditioning thing. Other kids, kids who’s minds have not been polluted with such savage imagery from toddlerhood, might have just laughed at it – bad special effects and all.

    I’m not a fundie you belligerent moron. I’m leaving your comment intact as a testament to fact that with friends like you, NeoDarwinian evolutionists don’t need enemies. You’re a poster child for everything that disgusts decent people. 😆 -ds

  23. 23
    russ says:

    Dave Scott wrote: “Speaking of banning – isn’t it amazing that San Francisco hasn’t renamed itself yet? How that bastion of leftist lunacy has allowed itself to remain named after a Christian saint is just mind boggling.”

    Dave, just wait. You may not have read about this but the City of Los Angeles (City of the Angels) recently removed the cross from the city seal, the cross being there because Christianity played an important role in the city’s history. They had been threatened with an ACLU lawsuit, and immediately caved. It was replaced with a non-descript building that might be a mission, or perhaps a Spanish-style waterworks building, it’s hard to tell.

  24. 24
    jasonng says:

    “They had been threatened with an ACLU lawsuit”

    They should seriously be renamed the Anti Christian Leftist Union, because that’s all they’re good for. I think it’s a disgrace that they have the word America in their name, and I’m not even an American.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Lutepisc says:

    Hi, tb. You wrote:

    “Händles Messias sure is a great part of my (German) civilization I don’t know about yours.”

    I’m a German Lutheran, so I’m inclined to agree with you. But Widipedia says:

    “In the summer of 1741 Handel, at the peak of his musical powers but depressed and in debt, began setting Charles Jennens’ Biblical libretto to music at his usual breakneck speed. In just 24 days, Messiah was complete. However it was not first performed until 1742, at a charity concert on Fishamble Street in Dublin’s Temple Bar district on April 13 after production difficulties and last-minute rearrangements of the score. Jonathan Swift (author of “Gulliver’s Travels” and a local clergyman), had put some pressure on the premiere and had it cancelled entirely for a period until it was retitled ‘A Sacred Oratorio’ and revenue from the show promised to local charities. Like many of Handel’s compositions, it borrows liberally from earlier works, both his own and those of others.

    “It is said that while Handel was writing the Messiah, his valet would often find him weeping silently at his desk, overcome by the beauty and majesty of the music that was flowing from his pen. The secondary source of this story is a pamphlet of the Choral Society at Trinity College Dublin. The original source is not known to this author.

    “The premiere of Messiah took place at the Music Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. Handel led the performance from the harpsichord, and Matthew Dubourg conducted the orchestra. Dubourg was an English violinist, conductor and composer. He had worked with Handel as early as 1719 in London.”

    Soo…can there be any doubt that Handel’s “Messiah” is integral to English/American culture as well? I play it every week as I’m mowing the lawn. It’s quite inspiring to me!

    And intelligently designed, as far as I can tell!

  27. 27
    crandaddy says:

    Dave,

    “Neither will the world come to an end by grade school music teacher getting fired for making inappropriate curriculum decisions. What good is the right to terminate hires that don’t live up to expectations if you never exercise it? -ds”

    I never meant to suggest that what the teacher did is entirely appropriate. In fact, I kinda think that these students she taught are probably a little to young to be seeing Faust. All I’m saying is that the impression I get from the article you linked to is that some of the reactions against her may have been a little unreasonable. She claims people have called her a “devil worshiper” and a “lesbian”. Do you find this behavior acceptable?

    “I can hardly believe you wrote this immediately following a comment about people being overly sensitive. Non sequitur. -ds”

    That this comment immediately follows one in which I express concern regarding oversensitivity is mere coincidence. The two thoughts are completely separate. I found (and still find) the comment by BWE to be particularly egregious; this is why I mentioned it. One can be sensitive without being overly sensitive. As John Davison would say, “Write that down.” 😉

  28. 28
    tinabrewer says:

    DaveScot: while I probably agree that the children were too young to be seeing Faust, AND I agree in principle that, on a purely political level, communities should have relatively broad powers of decision with regard to their public schools, I was under the distinct impression that the spirit of your opposition to the PT defence of this woman was based upon her ludicrous insistence on removing Christmas songs from the winter concert, NOT on the fact that she probably made a poor curriculum choice. In the news article which is linked, specific reference is made to the comment of the mother to the teacher “aren’t you a Christian?”. To me, this just says it all. So what if she isn’t a Christian? This IS the slippery slope that people fearfully react about when they claim that ID is just an attempt to introduce religion into the public schools. They envision just this sort of nightmare: the religiously-motivated agenda of the few resulting in the persecution of those who do not believe. Ironically, this woman apparently believes!

  29. 29
    aquarichy says:

    I have some questions. I am not trying to be critical, but the answers to them will help myself (and perhaps others) formulate their opinion. If you see fit to inform me but object to any of the questions, please tell me why so I might refine them.

    1. Do you agree that it is wrong to assert someone to be a devil worshipper or a lesbian when experience suggests they’re not?

    If a parent really did say that it was horribly wrong if not true.

    2. When do you think it is appropriate to introduce children to dark warnings about the devil?

    When the child’s parents or guardians decides it is appropriate.

    3. When do you think it is appropriate for children to be confronted with questions regarding suicide or murder?

    Well beyond 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade.

    4. Why is giving children nightmares a bad thing that should be avoided?

    Because it’s traumatic.

    5. Do believe showings like this might have negative effects resulting, perhaps resulting in some long-term trauma?

    Possibly.

    6. Can you see any benefit to the showing?

    At this age level none at all.

    7. Can you see any benefit to frightening children?

    Personally, no, not at this age level. I don’t want a public school teacher making that decision for other people’s children in any case.

    8. Above you assert Faust as a play, but since the article uses the word opera, isn’t this more likely an adaptation of Charles Gounod’s opera “Faust”, which was adapted from Michel Carré’s play “Faust et Marguerite”, which was “loosely based” on Goethe’s aforementioned “Faust: Part I”?

    It was a slip of the tongue. I know Faust as a story.

    9. Do you think children should be introduced to opera at all?

    Certainly but the value at 6 – 8 years old is questionable and the selection of age appropriate material a delicate one that should involve parents first.

    10. Do you think Charles Gounod’s opera “Faust” is significant to Western culture?

    Maybe for Europe. America isn’t Europe.

    11. Do you think “Island of Tulipatan” would have been an acceptable opera to show? If not, due to age?

    I think “The Three Little Pigs” opera adaptation would have been age appropriate.

    12. Do you dispute Ms. Waggoner’s Christianity?

    No.

    13. In principle, is it acceptable to you for songs about other religions to be sung at concerts held in the winter (I would say “at Christmas”, but students are usually out for Christmas break at that time)? If no, even though holidays of several other religions fall during the winter and where members of those religions have also financially supported the education system that organises the concert?

    Not merely acceptable but mandatory.

    14. Do you believe America is more your country than Young’s? If so, howcome?

    That was hyperbole designed to get the loony left stirred up enough to comment. That said I do believe that many people feel no patriotism and don’t really belong in the U.S. reaping the benefit of a country formed and defended with the blood and treasure of patriots. Young probably doesn’t fit that unpatriotic category but I want to see him explain why he doesn’t fit.

    Cheers,
    Richard

  30. 30
    wheatdogg says:

    Can we get our facts straight, and then flame?
    Waggoner showed the kids 12 minutes from an educational children’s video *about* opera, not the actual 1859 opera Faust by Charles Gounod. Some scenes from a filmed version of the opera were included, yes. So were Dame Joan Sutherland and sock puppets. Waggoner said the kids actually seemed to enjoy the show.

    She was prepping them for a live performance of a light opera later that month. She was not indoctrinating them into devil worship, which is not the subject of the opera/play/story anyway. She was teaching them music appreciation, which is the job of a music teacher.

    The community involved was not Mormon. In fact, according to the Rocky Mountain News, townspeople were wondering whether Mormons, who were building a church in a neighboring town, were Christians. Besides, I think Mormons sing Christmas carols. Waggoner was perhaps being over-sensitive, but maybe she knows the community better than we do. Maybe not. She ruffled some feathers by not including religious Christmas music. Politically, it was a bad move, but not cause for dismissal.

    Handel composed the oratorio Messiah in England, for an English audience. Though German-speaking, he used excerpts from the King James Bible for the lyrics.

    Goethe’s play was based on German folkloric tradition about a man, who near suicide, sells his soul to the devil to gain his services. A French writer based his version of the play on Goethe’s work, and Gounod in turn based the opera on the French play. The “man” attacked by another man with a sword (referenced in the newspaper stories) is in fact Mephistopheles, who is threatening the female lead, Marguerite. The rest of the story is probably not suitable for primary school students, but her aria is a famous one, and bits of it are quoted in the Tintin children’s stories.

    Did I mention she did not show the entire opera? Did you catch that part?

    Waggoner, the teacher, is quoted as telling her superintendent that she will pray for him, because of his unjust treatment of her. She is remarkably charitable. You folks might try to emulate her.

    She was not terminated, or fired. She was on administrative leave. The board did not reinstate her at its meeting Feb. 16. That’s all. The teacher resigned. So did the mayor of Bennett, in protest.
    At best, Waggoner made an error in judgment. She did not commit an offense that would be cause for dismissal. Who knows why she picked that particular video off the school’s music room bookshelf? Maybe she doesn’t associate Faust with devil worship, or didn’t realize parts of the video would scare her kids. She was trying to do her job. Is any one of you a teacher? Did you ever make a mistake in class? If not, then give it a rest. Go judge someone else.

    Okay, lets do get our facts straight. What Colorado law prohibits disciplinary action up to and including termination of a public school teacher for discretionary curriculum choices that parents or supervisors find inappropriate? Just because someone is trying to do a job doesn’t mean they are doing the job. “Go judge someone else” is exactly right. Follow your own advice. -ds

  31. 31
    Charlie says:

    I just might need emotional help, but for those “it’s an opera, not a play” types …

    From answers.com

    Opera

    A musical play, usually entirely sung, making use of costumes, staging, props, sets, and dramatic elements. Operas usually consist of two types of musical elements, the aria, which primarily expresses a single idea or theme, and the recitative which advances the story.

  32. 32
    dougmoran says:

    Tina: “In the news article which is linked, specific reference is made to the comment of the mother to the teacher “aren’t you a Christian?”. To me, this just says it all.”

    Are you kidding?

    Your point seems to be that somehow a caring mother’s questioning of the teacher’s faith vindicates her (the teacher) from the crime of conspicuous emotional and spiritual abuse of innocent children. Since when are 6 year old children able to judge the moral value of entertainment media? Any parent of a first grader would know that it is not a slippery slope, it is quite simply barbarian indoctrination to expose children to such c*%p. Put a six year old in front of a porno and they will react quite predictably. Note the esteemed Ms. Waggoner’s words:

    “They were on the edge of the seat,”, and “Nobody came to me crying, no one wanted to leave.”

    Any parent who has happened upon their six year old child staring at a porn internet video knows this is exactly the response to expect. On the edge of their seat. Don’t want to leave. Not crying. Thank you ACLU, for making it impossible to protect our children from your sickness.

    Ms Waggoner: your next step is to recruit the help of the ACLU. They’d happily protect your right to screw up our children with your filth. Locked behind closed doors in public schools, parents have no defense. You might as well bring in the live sex shows and indoctrinate our children in Kindergarden so they’re ready for all the pain and agony of the adulthood they’re being groomed for by the primary defenders of our democracy: sick teachers and the ACLU.

  33. 33
    dougmoran says:

    Tina: “In the news article which is linked, specific reference is made to the comment of the mother to the teacher “aren’t you a Christian?”. To me, this just says it all.”

    Your point seems to be that somehow a caring mother’s questioning of the teacher’s faith vindicates her (the teacher) from the crime of conspicuous emotional and spiritual abuse of innocent children. Since when are 6 year old children able to judge the moral value of entertainment media? Any parent of a first grader would know that it is not a slippery slope; it is quite simply barbarian indoctrination to expose children to such crud. Put a six year old in front of a porno and they will react quite predictably. Note the esteemed Ms. Waggoner’s words:

    “They were on the edge of the seat,”, and “Nobody came to me crying, no one wanted to leave.”

    Any parent who has happened upon their six year old child staring at a porn internet video knows this is exactly the response to expect. On the edge of their seat. Don’t want to leave. Not crying. Thank you ACLU, for bringing porn into public schools and libraries so it truly doesn’t matter what children are taught at home.

    Ms Waggoner: your next step is to recruit the help of the ACLU. They’d happily protect your right to screw up our children with your filth. Locked behind closed doors in public schools, parents have no defense. You might as well bring in live sex shows and indoctrinate our children in Kindergarten so they’re ready for all the pain and agony of the adulthood they’re being groomed for by the primary “defenders” of our democracy: the ACLU.

  34. 34
    Mark Frank says:

    Surely this would have been the Opera by Gounod and not the play by Goethe?

    Surely the Opera by Gounod was not written for performance by sock puppets. I don’t know what the video was other than an evidently poor choice for showing to a general audience including six year olds. -ds

  35. 35
    tb says:

    @Charlie: Faust I and Faust II is a tradgedy play written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on which later an Opera was adapted.

    I think there are 2 things to be looked at here:

    Firstly there is this stupid teacher that does not know what 1st graders can or cannot absorb or if the information given (Faust) is appropriate at their stage of development. I think we all agree, even those people from PT, that this was an error on the teachers side and that the School should and has taken actions to correct the teachers error.

    Secondly there are parents so angry about what has happend that they cannot forgive the teachers error and go further, even close to heretical accusations out of wrong conservativ Christian motive. It paints a wrong picture about what Christianity seems to be all about. I thought it was about LOVE not religious accusations.

    Now, I really want to know who honestly on this board has read Faust and knows what it is all about?

  36. 36
    Patrick Caldon says:

    Given that it’s an opera in French, I’d be very surprised if the students understood a word of it.

    I suspect, given that this was a music class for 7-year-olds, she was trying to show the kiddies that there is this thing called “opera” where there’s a lot of singing and people on the stage act stuff out and sing at the same time. That the music is pretty and dramatic. She was probably also trying to head off a few of the “why is that man a girl?” style questions. Maybe she was trying to introduce them to the idea that there’s 4 main different vocal parts?

    Have you seen Faust Dave? Why is a 12 minute exerpt (done with sock puppets of all things) inappropriate for getting these ideas across? Which opera would you suggest as appropriate?

    I added a link in the main article (I linked this in a comment before) to a story that quoted the reason – you don’t show just anything to 6 year olds. You snuck an extra year in on the age, by the way. She showed it to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. First grade can even have 5-year olds in it at the beginning of the school year. I was generous and since this happened towards the middle of the year made it 6 for youngest age. -ds

  37. 37
    Patrick Caldon says:

    I just got the contents of “Pavarotti’s Opera for Children”. It contains excerpts from (amongst others):

    * Carmen
    * The Magic Flute
    * Aida

    and of course

    * Faust

    Music CD, not video. Try again and make sure you get a video performance with a recommended age range along with it that goes at least as young as 6. Then you will have an arguable point. -ds

  38. 38
    Kipli says:

    The video in question is “Who’s Afraid of Opera?” a description of which can be found at Amazon.com:

    World famous Joan Sutherland and her three delightful puppet friends bring to life two great operas – Faust and Rigoletto in a special way that the whole family is sure to enjoy. Sutherland introduces her puppet audience to the story behind each opera and then performs their highlights in complete costume with elaborate sets. At key moments the Dame returns to her puppets to reveal more about the opera’s plot. As Maguerite in Faust, Sutherland falls in love with someone who sold his soul for eternal youth and pleasure. In Rigoletto as Gilda, she is in love with the flirtatious and corrupt Duke of Mantua to the despair of her father, the court jester. Who says opera can’t be enjoyed by kids?”

    (The description is of the 1994 DVD release of the 1973 original, but I expect it is still accurate.)

    And here’s a review from that Amazon.com entry:

    Soprano Joan Sutherland, the “Voice of the Century,” explains the operas “Faust” by Gounod and “Rigoletto” by Verdi with the help of some magical puppet friends. Designed for every child or adult who ever rolled their eyes at the prospect of having to listen to opera, this four volume series was designed to make the entire family comfortable with the wonderful world of opera. As Marguerite and Gilda, Sutherland explains the plot of each opera and sings a few highlights such as “Dieu! que de bijoux!…Ah! je ris de me voir si belle” and “Gualtier Malde…Caro nome,” respectively. Certainly a treat for fans of Dame Joan to see her talking so earnestly with the puppets about each opera.

    I’m getting a sugar rush just reading about this film, it’s so sweet.

    At the least, it appears that some parents misunderstood what the video (and Faust) was about, not realizing that this video was specifically geared toward children and families. Some parents are quoted in this article:

    “Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a high school student,” Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video.

    Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, “I think it glorifies Satan in some way.”

    But I have not seen any neutral educator (not involved with the school in some way) who supports the idea that it was not appropriate to show children. Are there any who have gone on record arguing that she should not have shown the video?

    Note the rating on the video: NOT RATED. This video was not rated by any ratings organization. The publisher claims it’s for children of all ages. Well, evidently the who in “Who’s Afraid of Opera” included some 1st graders in Bennett, Colorado and a teacher lost her job for that and other reasons. The issue here is really who’s in charge of public schools and who can be fired for what offenses. Some of you fail to understand that student parents are in charge and when they’re unhappy they can make heads roll and in this case they did exactly that. -ds

  39. 39
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #35. Nor was the play by Geothe written for sock puppets (or indeed the play by Marlowe or the operetta by Berlioz – it is a popular story). It is quite possible to use puppets of any kind to animate an opera (think of Fantasia). As it was part of a collection on an old set of tapes in the school music room with eight other operas and was shown to support a visit of an opera group, I think we can pretty much assume it was one of the operas – probably Gounod.

    Dave – you are very sure that this lady did a poor job. How much experience do you have of teaching children of this age? You cannot determine it was a poor choice simply from the content. It is quite usual to show excerpts from equally bloody and supernatural stories to this age group including Shakespeare, popular fairy tales and various parts of the Bible. It can be very educational and depends on the context in which the pieces are used. There is far too much politics around this story to tell whether the pieces were used well or badly on this occasion. You would have to be there.

    How much experience do you have of teaching children of this age?

    Oh I’d say about 10 years and still counting with my first grandchild about to enter 1st grade. His parents don’t even let him watch commercials on TV because they don’t approve of the contents. They record everything he watches with a TIVO and edit out the commercials. That’s beyond the pale even for me. I can only imagine how they’d react to a music teacher showing him sock puppets of devils and suicide and getting run through with a sword. May I ask how many years experience you have teaching children between the ages of 6 and 8 inclusive? -ds

  40. 40
    tinabrewer says:

    Tb: I have read Faust. I know what its about. I have not, however seen the opera. by Gounod, and I was referring to the version by Goethe.

    dougmoran: you cannot, simply cannot be serious in calling a serious opera on a major theme in the spiritual life of humanity “c$#@”. If you are, then you simply do not deserve to be taken seriously on this issue. And to liken the viewing of Faust to the viewing of pornography is further evidence of a trashy disregard for culture masquerading as morality. It cannot be long until the end of our civilization when such thinking begins to dominate. This is of course entirely separate from the question, which is a very legitimate one, of whether the teacher used bad judgement in showing this to such a young audience. I am the mother of three young girls. I am constantly vigilant, as I must be in this day and age, in protecting them from the very real dangers of garbage in the media and wider culture. They do not watch television. They do not go on the internet. So you can quit fantasizing that this is just the opinion of someone who has no concern for the morality of children.

    Further, it is completely and grossly inappropriate for a mother of a child to question the faith of a public school teacher in a way which challenges the person’s credentials. What if the teacher were Jewish? A Mormon? What if they were an atheist? Are you seriously proposing that parents should be able to reject certain teachers based upon their religious affiliation? If so, then I would have to say that the worst fears of the anti_ID crowd are coming to full fruition as we speak. I would oppose such bigotry with my life and freedom if necessary, and I must say I am deeply saddened to hear it expressed here, where I have spent many hours reading earnest and reasoned argumnets around just this issue. I suggest you recognize that such behavior is entirely, precisely the same as the bigotry we are fighting tooth and nail against in academia “Aren’t you a Darwinian?” and then you know the consequences which follow from a wrong answer…

  41. 41
    tinabrewer says:

    Did I get a post deleted? Or did something go wrong? I responded to dougmoran, and I believe I sent it off properly…

  42. 42
    Twist says:

    This was not the dark morality play Faust that many of us read in high school. This was not the mellower operatic version others may be familiar with. This was not even a comedic modern remake such as The Little Shop of Horrors.

    This was Who’s Afraid of Opera by Joan Sutherland & Her Magical Puppet Friends. Allow me to repeat that last little bit, Her Magical Puppet Friends.

    This video was designed as an introduction to opera for children and operaphobes. It showcases the talents of one of the modern world’s greatest soprano talents in her later years as her splendid voice began to ever so slightly fade. Dame Sutherland did not even attempt to scar children by presenting Faust in its puppet entirety, but instead performed a short piece of fluffy (by operatic standards) musical highlights.

    For those without a background in Faust or opera, allow me an analogy. Remember the Bugs Bunny short Falling Hare where Bugs fights a gremlin for control of a WWII era bomber? Imagine a teacher shows that in class. Imagine distorted tellings of this event spreading through cyberspace. Imagine outraged people ranting about poor children being traumatized by brutal depictions of carpet bombing, suicide attacks and death camps. Imagine their chagrin when finding out what actually was shown.

    See the added link in the article of parents describing what their children actually did see. No one has contested that these children were indeed traumatized by what they saw. Many parents agreed it was inappropriate material for indiscriminate, unapproved display to children that young. Some little children get frightened easily. Anyone that doesn’t know that doesn’t know much about little children and that’s why young teachers who haven’t raised children of their own or taught for long need to get things like this approved first. Waggonner angered parents twice with her unilateral decisions, refused to apologize for it, and got the axe as a result. Welcome to the world of working for a living in a right-to-work state, Ms. Waggoner. You actually do have to keep your employer happy with your job performance if you expect to remain employed by them. -ds

  43. 43
    Karen says:

    The well-known story of Faust, who sells his soul to the devil, was originally a German legend. It has inspired many works of art, including Goethe’s play, which in turn inspired 3 operas. So it’s kind of like the legend of the Fisher-King/Perceval inspiring many works of art, including the opera Parsifal.

    Here’s the synopsis of Gounod’s Faust from the Metropolitan Opera:
    http://www.metoperafamily.org/.....aspx?id=12

    Note how the last act ends:

    “When Méphistophélès [the devil] emerges from the shadows urging haste, Marguerite calls on the angels to save her (Trio: “Anges purs, anges radieux”), and she walks to the gallows. Méphistophélès pronounces her condemned, but as she approaches the hangman, a choir of angels proclaims her salvation.”

    Dangerous stuff! Gounod also wrote some lovely sacred music.

  44. 44
    Doug says:

    Crandaddy,
    I just went through that whole thread/post whatever you call it and BWE also quoted H.l. Mencken!

    We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

    – H.L. Mencken

    That just shows the level of emotional maturity and education the poor sap has. No one over there makes a single peep about it. The far liberal left can preach their values of tolerance all day long but when it comes time to actually tolerate something, they turn around and shut the door.

  45. 45
    Scott says:

    Let me summarize:

    Faust: Thoroughly inappropriate for that age group.

    Christmas Carols: Perfectly appropriate for that age group.

    Teacher: Silly and deserving of the walking papers.

    Is there really any more to be said?

    Perfect summary! You’re okay, Scott. I don’t care what everyone else says about you. 😉 -ds

  46. 46
    aldo30127 says:

    Let me bring this back to reality a bit. This teacher did not show them the entire opera. She showed them a video she found on the shelf in the school entitled “Who’s Afraid of Opera?” Google it. You can buy it. It often comes up under the section “Children’s Entertainment.”

    This is the product description from Amazon:
    World famous Joan Sutherland and her three delightful puppet friends bring to life two great operas – Faust and Rigoletto in a special way that the whole family is sure to enjoy. Sutherland introduces her puppet audience to the story behind each opera and then performs their highlights in complete costume with elaborate sets. At key moments the Dame returns to her puppets to reveal more about the opera’s plot. As Maguerite in Faust, Sutherland falls in love with someone who sold his soul for eternal youth and pleasure. In Rigoletto as Gilda, she is in love with the flirtatious and corrupt Duke of Mantua to the despair of her father, the court jester. Who says opera can’t be enjoyed by kids?

    And here’s a user’s comment:
    Soprano Joan Sutherland, the “Voice of the Century,” explains the operas “Faust” by Gounod and “Rigoletto” by Verdi with the help of some magical puppet friends. Designed for every child or adult who ever rolled their eyes at the prospect of having to listen to opera, this four volume series was designed to make the entire family comfortable with the wonderful world of opera. As Marguerite and Gilda, Sutherland explains the plot of each opera and sings a few highlights such as “Dieu! que de bijoux!…Ah! je ris de me voir si belle” and “Gualtier Malde…Caro nome,” respectively. Certainly a treat for fans of Dame Joan to see her talking so earnestly with the puppets about each opera.

    And here’s another user comment
    A must to teach children the wonders of opera, June 5, 2003
    Reviewer: A viewer
    I bought this set to teach my little boy the glorious music of grand opera. Of course, Dame Joan’s gorgeous voice helps. I think she’s one of the all time greats in the history of opera. Even better than Callas and Caruso.

    Regardless of the subject matter of “Faust”, do we have any indication whatsoever that this teacher was acting in poor judgement? Or that the clip from “Faust” is actually something that the average parent would deem inappropriate for children? For Pete’s sake, this was a video produced for *children*. With sock puppets!

    Maybe the clip actually was too graphic for some children; I don’t know. But neither does anyone else here. Given that it was a video that was already in the school, produced for children as children’s entertainment, I really don’t think we can say that she was grossly negligent.

    The rating on the video is: NOT RATED. One Amazon reviewer (who could be a friend of the author for all we know) with glowing remarks is not a substitute for a ratings organization giving it a G rating for all audiences. Parents are the judge of what goes on in their local elementary schools and many of them agreed it was inappropriate. Waggoner learned that the hard way. If she’d apologized to the upset parents I’d be on the other side of this but since she refused her termination is justified. -ds

  47. 47
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #40.

    I agree with the carols. But, as explained in my post above – there is nothing in Faust that you won’t find in fairy tales e.g. devils, torture, murder, cannabilism. It all depends how you use it.

    Cheers

    In our local elementary school curriculums must be preapproved and you won’t find any of the above themes being shown to 1st grade students. Of course my elementary school (and my middle and high schools as well) are all nationally acclaimed “Blue Ribbon” public schools with a high percentage of college educated Christian parents, mostly single income families where one parent can and often does spend a lot of volunteer time at the schools. We have dress codes and behavior codes that are enforced and it applies to teachers as well as students. The consistently excellent academic performance of the student body and lack of behavior problems is the proof of the pudding. It appears to be the same situation in Bennett, Colorado. Waggoner would be what we’d call a “rogue teacher” here and she would’ve been treated the same way or worse. The parents run the schools here and everyone knows it. School employees that displease parents don’t last long. I wouldn’t have it any other way. -ds

  48. 48
    Doug says:

    My comment didn’t post?? I read the moderation policy but I don’t think I broke any rules??? I’ve never had a comment not post before. Is there a problem with my IP?

    You’re fine. Your comments were going to the moderation sandbox (almost everyone’s does until they have a history here) for pre-approval and I can’t always get to them right away. I reviewed your comment history and not finding anything objectionable removed your name from the moderation list. Your comments should up right away now. -ds

  49. 49
    dougmoran says:

    Tina:
    I don’t know what happened. My post went up twice (one unintended). But I’m pretty much all thumbs and figured it was my fault. Maybe there’s some system problem.

    I found a couple of your posts stuck in the spam box. They must have contained a forbidden string in them. Anything with “diet” or “pill” in it will do the trick and seem to be the most common unintentional triggers. -ds

  50. 50
    tinabrewer says:

    dougmoran: I’ll try again, then! I responded more hotly than I should have anyway, so perhaps its good karma that it got lost in cyberspace! I feel very strongly that it is inappropriate for parents of schoolteachers to question the religious affiliation of the teacher. I cannot imagine a world (especially not a USA) in which this is an acceptable practice. Parents should feel free to question what a teacher says, what she does, what she teaches. They should not engage in religious litmus testing. It is fundamentally dishonorable. What if the teacher was Jewish? How should she then be expected to respond to the question “aren’t you a Christian?” Is the teacher obliged to be a Christian?

    Secondly, you referred to the opera as “c#@$p” This attitude stuns me. It is perhaps not the loftiest opera ever written, and as a previous post made clear, is considered ‘faust lite’ by the Germans. Nonetheless, to call it “c@#$p” is to me just ignorant. I have been raised (my parents are German immigrants) all my life with moral warnings from the Faust legend. My father loves this one…how men, in their intellectual conceit and desire to know all things, will sell their very soul in exchange for such apparent wisdom…wait…this kinda reminds me of the whole Darwinist quandry! WAIT! Is it possible that Faust, so loudly and roundly condemned on this thread, might actually provide insight into the very problem we are so diligently picking apart here day in and day out?

    I am the mother of three young girls. I am obsessively vigilant about their exposure to media, because I am appalled at the amount and intensity of the garbage out there. They do not watch TV. They do not go on the Internet. So, my opinion is not from someone who doesn’t care about the morals of children. I just really fear a world in which narrow interests use their powers to bludgeon people who believe differently. Whether or not it was legal and politically acceptable for the community to respond in the way they did is for me a far more superficial question than whether it was morally right. We have the RIGHT to do many many things which are morally reprehensible, and I think that the community could have dealt with her more charitably and with an eye towards perhaps opening their own minds instead of just lashing out at her out of ignorance. Reading the above posts which review the video and make clear that children were, in fact, the intended audience for this piece makes it abundantly clear to me that even if it could be argued that a couple of kids got scared, it is a far cry from the type of reprehensible poor judgement which would justify dismissal.

    I am the mother of three young girls. I am obsessively vigilant about their exposure to media, because I am appalled at the amount and intensity of the garbage out there. They do not watch TV. They do not go on the Internet.

    This from the same person that yesterday produced a remarkably insightful essay on how shielding the immune system from bad things results in high rates of asthma and auto-immune disorders and likewise shielding the mind from bad things results in weak minds? Non sequitur. Shouldn’t your daughters be exposed to the real world according to the philosophy you espoused yesterday? I’m middle of the road with all mine. My wife is far more protective of them than I am but not so much that they can’t watch TV or use the internet. -ds

    P.S. Your previous post DID make it. It was caught in the spam queue. I don’t know what word tripped the filter. Since you aren’t on the moderation list I simply marked it “not spam” without reading it and sent it along on its merry way.

  51. 51
    tinabrewer says:

    Dave Scot: point well taken. i stand by my previous post about the immune system, as I believe its a good working metaphor. I make an exception in the case of human evil and filth, which would be analogous to toxins and poisons in the environment, as opposed to legitimate differences of opinion and varying belief systems, which in my metaphor would be analogous to normal bacteria and viruses. I have the right to protect my children from evil and filth, just as any sane person would protect themselves from poisons, toxins, and the most virulent microbial threats.

    To stick to the metaphor, it is the hallmark of a fundamentally disordered immune system when it mistakes things which are essentially benign or at worst neutral for things which are truly threatening, and begins to attack these harmless things willy-nilly…

  52. 52
    Kipli says:

    DaveScot –

    I am not disputing the role of the parents in their children’s educations. What I am questioning is their wisdom in this particular issue. “Who has the power?” and “Is that power used wisely?” are two separate questions.

    The fact that the video is not rated is a red herring. There are many videos that are not rated by the MPAA, some are wholly unsuitable for children, and some are perfectly fine (including, for example, Billy Graham Presents – Something to Sing About and Brainy Baby – 123’s). I have not watched the video, but based on what I have read about it, I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the teacher.

    Again, I have not heard of any educator outside of that school system who objects to showing this video (in truth, only 12 minutes of it), to a group of children. If anyone has, I’d like to know about it and know their reasons. Until then, I tend to agree with commenter tinabrewer that this incident does not justify the kind of treatment that teacher received.

    Parents have power, yes, but they also have the responsibility to use that power wisely. It is their use of power that I (and others) question, not the fact that they have it.

    So you are calling the parents liars and even though the teacher denies nothing you are giving her the benefit of doubt about what she didn’t say. Right. You’re not biased are you. Completely objective you are. Your opinion has been duly noted. -ds

  53. 53
    Twist says:

    The rating on the video is: NOT RATED.

    Educational and training videos are not to my knowledge ever rated. Would not its preexistence in an elementary school’s collection be considered as evidence of conformance to community standards? Several news articles I have read have included quotes from graduates of that school district fondly remembering viewing the video. The video seems to have an established track record of acceptance

    One Amazon reviewer (who could be a friend of the author for all we know) with glowing remarks

    *chuckle* Assuming Dame Sutherland is considered the author…an eighty year old opera singer is astroturfing on a website in support of her thirty year old children’s video?
    I understand that elderly women are generally untrustworthy, but surely this is too low even for one of her ilk?

    angered parents twice and refuses to apologize for it

    and of lack of character for not acknowledging and apologizing for her poor judgement

    If she’d apologized to the upset parents I’d be on the other side of this but since she refused her termination is justified.

    Waggonner angered parents twice with her unilateral decisions, refused to apologize for it

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11167333/

    “She has sent a letter of apology to all elementary school parents in Bennett…”

    http://www.playbillarts.com/news/article/3840.html

    “After school officials investigated the incident, Waggoner sent a letter of apology to parents in Bennett…”

    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3448876

    “”I did not think it was inappropriate. Now I know that the parents did, and I feel terrible about that,” she said. Waggoner has sent a letter of apology to all the elementary school parents.”

  54. 54
    Mark Frank says:

    Dave re #48 above.

    I wrote:

    there is nothing in Faust that you won’t find in fairy tales e.g. devils, torture, murder, cannabilism. It all depends how you use it.

    You wrote

    In our local elementary school curriculums must be preapproved and you won’t find any of the above themes being shown to 1st grade students.

    Is an interesting approach to education. Presumably you exclude most traditional fairy stories and much of the Bible. How do you explain what is happening at Easter?

    I don’t dispute the right of parents to decide what is taught in local schools. That doesn’t mean their decisions are in the best interests of the children.

    But consider how was this teacher to know in advance that this video would be considered unsuitable? The forthcoming opera visit was presumably approved. The video is 12 minutes about opera specifically designed for family viewing. It was in the school music room. I cannot see any statement about the school’s policy on what is suitable to be shown to children – but it would be surprising indeed if the policy excluded this case.

    PS On another post you queried my credentials. I write this in conjunction with my wife who retired from teaching this age group last year and still teaches them drama on a voluntary basis. We are also parents – but most adults are.

    There is no explanation given by the school of what’s going on at Easter other than it’s a national religious holiday. The bible isn’t part of the curriculum and neither are Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Why on earth would an upscale community centered around high technology corporations be interested in having their children’s precious time in public school be wasted with Mother Goose crap? That’s preschool material. First grade is where real learning begins. This you call “an interesting approach to education”. Wow. I’d call it the only approach an educated adult population engaged in and having control of their public school system would ever reach consensus on. Who runs the public schools where you live – the inmates? How the teacher would know in advance if the video was suitable would be sending home a letter with each student outlining what instructional materials were going to be used in the class at the beginning of the school year, and/or getting explicit approval from a superior, and/or sticking to an already established syllabus, and/or having it reviewed by the school board. All these are mechanisms are in use here. Had Waggoner done any of these things she would have been beyond reproach. Instead she made a unilateral decision and hence had to shoulder the burden of parental reaction to it herself. -ds

  55. 55
    Kipli says:

    Where did I call the parents liars? I think they may have misunderstood the film, and the opera, but I never accused them of telling any lies. Yes, I have a bias. But it is a bias favoring that one should give good arguments that are relevant to the issue at hand, rather than those that divert from the issue.

    In this case, I think some of the parents overreacted. That’s not calling them liars.

    You said I have not watched the video, but based on what I have read about it, I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the teacher. Parents were reported saying their children were traumatized by the appearance of a leering devil as well as such objectionable elements as an allusion to suicide and a man appearing to be killed by a sword in silhouette. Couching your disbelief of what the parents are saying as overreaction instead of a lie changes nothing. You believe one teacher so young she’s almost a child herself with a vested interest in covering up a poor unsupervised syllabus decision over multiple parents saying their children were traumatized by what they were exposed to. I’m sorry but no wet behind the ears music teacher that sees her students a 45 minutes a week in groups of 20 is nowhere even close to being an accurate judge of how each child was effected compared to individual parental assessments of their own child. Get real. -ds

  56. 56
    avocationist says:

    I think it is great that Tina and Dave Scot’s kids are protecting their children from TV. I also didn’t have one in the house when my kids were small nor when I was small. I watched the very first Batman episode at a friend’s house when I was seven, and I was so traumatized by Batman and Robin being tied up on the traintracks with a train coming, that I couldn’t sleep and ran a fever. My mother had to calm me down.

    But we are very much in the minority. Most kids are exposed to multiple realistic murders on TV for years before they enter kindergarten.

    I just can’t help agreeing with the early poster who asks how parents can be upset by children getting exposed to the tenets of their own religion. At what point can they be told what their religion teaches? (Is this a religion that must hide the real facts from minds too young to take it in without trauma?) Yes, I know Dave you will answer, that it is up to the parents not the school. I do agree. I’ve found a website that researches the history of the hell teachings of Christianity. They have some excerpts from a Catholic children’s primer which graphically describes the intense and unending torment of a small child who goes to hell. And the language of the text shows that it is meant to be read to or by very small children. And at the end of this shocking (to my mind) passage, it says that God was kind to the little child because if God hadn’t taken his life when he was small, God would have had to punish him even more. (I’m not picking on Catholics, it is just one example.)
    When my stepson got taken to church by some friends, he came home and told me that he was given descriptions of how painful the torure of hell would be. Granted, he was older, about 13.

    I do not know what the current practices of churches are across America, but I think that large numbers of American chidren are exposed to some very stark ideas about hell and the devil, even if they are sent out of the main service. And I think that this is probably a more recent change in attitude towards young children.

    But how’s this for what the liberal left can dish out: When my son was 12, I found out that the novel A Day No Pigs Would Die was being read out loud to the boys and girls together. In this book, the boy’s beloved young pet pig is forcibly brought to a breeding pen when she was not in season, and it was graphically described how the male boar pushed himself into her, how she squealed in terror and pain, and how blood ran down her leg! And three times in this two-page passage, it was said that “he was all boar and there was no stopping him.”

    Now I am basically pretty liberal. I was stunned that they would read to 12-year-olds a passage of rape. Sure, these kids have seen many R-rated movies. Sure, this was the 90’s and they had seen kissing, some touching, maybe even some upper body nudity and the strong implication of sex to follow. I bet nonetheless that nearly every one of those kids were virgins who had not thought of the mechanics of what it would be like to have a violent first sexual encounter. Even though they might be sophisticated compared to earlier generatins, nonetheless the minds of 12 year olds are pretty delicate regarding sexual and emotional matters.
    I considered sitting them down and reading this to them a form of sexual/emotional abuse, perpetrated by the school system. I got my son excused from the class before the book got to that part.
    Has anyone heard the expression “he is all boy”? How much is that like “he was all boar?” Kinda similar, no? Seems like this story was a primer to excuse date rape. Or to engender guilt in the boys, and general loathing and resignation in the girls.
    I told the school board the book was good, but should be put off until at least the 10th grade. They sent me material about censorship.

    Your school board is a poster child for vouchers and home schooling. When they blow you off like that get some like-minded friends together, go to a school board meeting, and tell them you’re pulling your child out of public school and you will do everything in your power to get others to do the same. In fact go to every school board meeting and demand to speak. It’s your right to make a grand nuisance of yourself. Think Cindy Sheehan. Call the superintendent of schools every day and ask what has been done that day to address your concerns. Schools get money based on how many seats are occupied. By pulling your child out of public school you are immediately taking money away from the school. That means less money to pay adminstrators and teachers. It usually gets their attention. You have to hit these people where it hurts and nothing hurts more than taking away their operating funds. If enough people decide to home-school the local public school will be reduced to a stereotypical one-room schoolhouse with one paid employee. -ds

  57. 57
    dougmoran says:

    DaveScot: “It appears Mark Young had no reason to complain about the parents after all and neither did I have reason to complain about Waggoner.”

    Your retraction is a commendable act of good character. Good work staying with this and getting it clarified for all of us. As for me… I’ll give the benefit of doubt to the appologetic Waggoner also (as I hope the parents have), but I wonder what film clip her students will get next year?

  58. 58
    dougmoran says:

    One last comment. Can someone please tell me what this is:

    “gss y jst dn’t lk bng shwn p fr th fl tht y r, d y? Cn’t tk t whn smn ls, mch smrtr thn yrslf, pnts t hw y r wrng s y spw t pc f bl t gys lk Mtt Yng jst whn th dfnd tchr wh hs clrly bn trtd nfrly? Hw bt, nstd, rgng th fcts – h, frgt, y dn’t hv ny fcts tht spprt yr pstn s y s th nly thng y d hv – scrchng, lk bnsh.

    ly dds n tht y wll cnsr r nt pst ths rply t ll.

    Hv nc dy y ‘trd.

    Comment by JKVisFX”

    I’m getting a little older and I admit my eyes aren’t what they used to be, but I swear the only word I understood in that whole post was “Comment by…”. What language is the rest of it?

    It’s Lower Trollish. There are no vowels in that language. Makes it sorta hard to read but this poster was very concerned that it should appear so I obliged because I’m such a cool guy! 😎 -ds

  59. 59
    Karen says:

    Dave Scot,

    I’m curious– have you ever even seen a performance of Gounod’s Faust or any other opera? If so, where do you go?

    -Karen

    I played Hansel in an operatic adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. It’s German with dark themes. Does that count? I live in Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world. We have everything here. We also have the largest university in the United States. The capital building, the university, and the live music venues are all within walking distance of each other downtown. I don’t care for downtown much and prefer blues to opera in any case. The last live music I saw was weekend before last at the Austin rodeo Extreme Bull Riding competition. I get box seats up by the gates every year. Have you ever been to a bull riding competition or any other rodeo event? If so, where do you go? Cross Canadian Ragweed played a concert in the arena on a revolving stage after the bull riding was over. Good stuff. -ds

  60. 60
    dougmoran says:

    Karen said: “Dave Scot, I’m curious– have you ever even seen a performance of Gounod’s Faust or any other opera? If so, where do you go?”

    Sound like an invitation to me. Can we all go? 🙂

  61. 61
    atheist says:

    As Marguerite and Gilda, Sutherland explains the plot of each opera and sings a few highlights such as “Dieu! que de bijoux!…Ah! je ris de me voir si belle” and “Gualtier Malde…Caro nome,” respectively.

    Much hinges on just how much of the plot of Gounod’s Faust was revealed/glossed over by Sutherland and Waggoner. The devil is in the details, you might say. While the entire morality play of Faust may be too much for any but the more precocious first-graders, the Jewel Song (“Oh, heavens! So many jewels! … Ah! It makes me laugh to see myself looking so pretty”) itself is fairly innocuous in its subject matter. More appealing to the girls than to the boys, perhaps. Here it is, sung by Anna Netrebko; though I doubt that Joan Sutherland’s performance was significantly more diabolical. See and judge for yourselves if you would object to your kindergardener or first-grader viewing it or a similar video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQkoSQ_jmKo

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