Saturday, May 06, 2006


Pupil banned from singing anti-Bush song

Some democracyWhat kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away,
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay,
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say,
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

The above lyrics are from a song called Dear Mr. President by the singer Pink and I was interested to learn that a 10 year-old schoolgirl in America named Molly Shoul, pictured above, has been banned from performing the song at her elementary school talent show in Coral Springs, Florida, because her principal deemed the song inappropriate and too political.

The song is an anti-Bush ballad questioning the US President's stance on a number of issues ranging from Iraq to gay rights (you can read the lyrics in full here) and Molly said the song's message resonated with her:

"He should listen to people a lot more than just his secretary and other people in the government branch and stuff like that."

However Molly was informed the song was inappropriate:

"I went to her office and she said it was too political.

"The word gay wouldn't be appropriate and the words whiskey and cocaine and stuff like that."

Park Springs Elementary Principal Camille Pontillo has refused to comment on the issue but a Broward County School District official said the principal had the right to determine what music her students could hear at a school function:

"This is a fifth-grade student that wants to perform a song filled with lyrics about drug use, war, abortion, gay rights and profanity.

"This is an elementary school that includes kindergarteners and pre-K students."

In actual fact the song's lyrics don't mention abortion and no profanity is used unless one regards "hell" as a profanity.

Molly's mother, Nancy, who is a high school teacher herself, has lashed out at the decision to ban her child from performing the song and has claimed the ban violates her daughter’s right to free speech:

"If this was a student singing a pro-administration song, no one would quibble with it.

"The principal is just running scared and doesn’t want to upset any parents.

"To me it sort of bordered on censorship."

Molly and her mother are taking the issue to the superintendent in hopes that they will get a different response.

Molly said she still wants students to hear the message in the song and she'll keep practicing. She has a back-up number though - a hip-hop tune about a boyfriend cheating on his girlfriend.

I must say I find this story deeply disappointing. One of the most important aspects of a democracy is the ability to express your views, even if they are unpalatable to others.

The excuse that this song was "inapproprite" seems like a bunch of baloney to me. I wouldn't object if it was a 50 Cent song and contained plenty of vulgarity but I see nothing wrong with the lyrics of this particular song.

And anyway, over here kids can turn on the BBC at 7:30 and catch Eastenders where they can come across some of the most depressing, demoralising aspects of real life you could ever imagine!

I suspect the little girl's mother is bang on the money. The Principal didn't want to upset the Bush backers and thus chose to dismiss one of the most important principles in the United States of America - freedom of speech.

Let the girl perform the song for pity's sake.


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