Intolerance Plus School Cowardice=Cultural Deprivation

The Supreme Court has refused to reconsider a Ninth Circuit decision agreeing that a school could forbid the school band from playing Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria”.

I don’t want to argue about the legal issues (you can read Justice Alito’s dissent here), although I suspect tha the law favors the school’s absurd conduct. But although self-righteous intolerance can effectively bully people and institutions in an atmosphere of school administration cowardice and timidity, it still is wrong, and we all suffer for it. Because one student objected last year to a musical piece at her graduation that mentioned God and angels, the pusillanimous administrators at the school decided to nix an orchestral rendition of “Ave Maria,”  because the title might offend some other intolerant and insufferably self-centered child. Thus one of the world’s most beautiful musical compositions will be prevented from enlightening and charming students who may not have had an opportunity to experience it, because one student was “offended” that a mere mention of angels assaulted her tender ears. So because her parents, who must be a really fun couple, couldn’t bring themselves to tell their daughter, “Oh, deal with it! We put up with your music and vile videos! What’s the matter with you?” a large chunk of the world’s best-loved music is verboten.

So much for “Onward Christian Soldiers,” “The Messiah,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “My Boy Bill,” and “You Light Up My Life.”  You can show “The Mummy” in school (yes, they do!) but not “Fantasia,” which ends with that insidious Schubert ditty.

The individuals who delight at bending others to their will in the name of “offense”and derive a thrill from shrinking our cultural options in their aggressive phobia of religion,  hints of religion, whiffs of religion or anything that might be used for religious inspiration, need some lessons, not in religion—the Horror!— but in basic ethical values like consideration, tolerance, kindness, fairness, and respect for the feelings of others, not to mention proportion and common sense. And the school administrators who fold up like accordions at the thought of having to stand up for the principle of cultural diversity?

It’s unethical to accept a leadership position in the absence of a backbone.

5 thoughts on “Intolerance Plus School Cowardice=Cultural Deprivation

  1. Good post–I saw this story in the news today. It is a shame that one person’s silly rejection ruins thi classic for all. It certainly makes private and home-schooling look more appealing.

  2. Ironically enough, my old high school music program plays a highly popular winter concert with a version of the Requiem and Handel’s Messiah every December, despite the fact our principal is a lesbian. Of course, “highly popular.”

    But really, it’s like saying that we can’t read Martin Luther’s The 95 Theses for a European History class. I wonder what would have happened had the school tried banning a performance of Muslim folk music.

  3. So we can no longer teach the Declaration of Independence and most of our Founders’ writings because they mention God?

    And in art, is Michaelangelo out, along with all the other Renaissance painters and sculptors, whose works were so often religiously based, nor even Egyptian, Mayan, Chinese, etc., art for the same reason? So we’re left teaching kids about cave paintings, Picasso, Grant Wood, Modigliani? (Not that there’s “anything wrong” with them… though I WOULD draw a heavy back line at Jackson Pollock…) I won’t even start on literature…

    Don’t these morons know that fr9m antiquity to today, most of the major political conflicts and world-changing events have been driven by religion? Similarly, until the advent (OOPS! A semi- Christian religious term… sorry!) of the latter 20th century term “secular humanisn” reared it head, most art and culture world wide was driven — at least in part — by religion as well.

    Go out of your way to delete works of art like “The Messiah” and you’re on the slippery slope to a generation that has no understanding at all of it own human history. We want an informed electorate? Good luck: keep caving to ignorant parents because you’re all cowards and can’t make a cogent argument.

  4. I’m certain those who want all traces of religion’s existence wiped from public education are well aware of the role religion has played in major political conflicts and world-changing events. From their perspective, that role has been the source of the world’s worst social ills. They’d argue the sooner religion is forgotten, the better. How this is supposed to be a successful strategy for rational, secular thinking, I cannot fathom.

  5. Pingback: Citizenship, Ignorance, and The Star Spangled Banner « Ethics Alarms

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