"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Poster Child 

Many of you have probably already seen this story from the AP:
Posters that depicted President Bush with a Groucho Marx-style mustache and cigar were ordered torn down at a high school after a student complained.

Theater students, who had created the posters to advertise a satirical play, countered with new posters with a First Amendment message.

Principal Kenny Lee ordered 100 posters removed from the campus of El Camino Real High School in the Woodland Hills area last week on grounds that they promoted smoking and "endorsing one ideology over another."

"That's our take on the student speech and conduct," Lee said.

The school-funded posters advertised the students' play, "The Complete History of America (Abridged)," which satirizes U.S. history.

There's plenty to chew on in this account, including that hilarious rationalization about "promoting smoking," but if you want to get the good stuff you have to look beyond the AP and go to the account in the Los Angeles Daily News (emphasis supplied):
Because the jacket of the original play depicts George Washington with a Groucho treatment, students thought their production promo deserved a fresh look.

So on Dubya's sleepy-eyed mug they dabbed black bushy brows, a thick mustache and a lit Macanudo cigar. Dubya stood for politics; Groucho for satire. Perfect twin symbols of their play, they reasoned.

All went well until a high school senior and Bush supporter wrote a letter of complaint to the administration last week for the way the president was depicted, according to teachers and students. The complaining student added that Bush was also made to look "like an Israeli."

"We had one student who was very upset," Lee said. "So much turmoil within himself, he was distraught. The older generation understood the message. I don't think the younger one did.

"If something is bothering a student on campus, we're going to address it. We're not going to sweep it under the table."

Oh, so much turmoil within himself! Talk about drama! (We were talking about drama, weren't we?) I guess that making the Boy King look like "an Israeli" (whatever that might mean) clearly constitutes endorsing one ideology - the Israeli ideology, apparently - over another. Clearly, we can't just sweep that sort of thing under the table. The older generation understands, even if the kids don't.

Anyway, as a famous dramaturge once noted, all's well that ends well. AP again:
The principal asked the drama students to come up with new posters. The new designs all feature a silhouette of Bush and a burning cigar, along with inscriptions such as "Free Expression for All (unless you are in high school)" and "What First Amendment?"

"They're good," Lee said. "I like the follow-ups."





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