Caught in a landslide

Joe McGinniss recently blogged about a most unusual story out of Wasilla, Alaska, also
reported by the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. The principal, Dwight Probasco, told the school’s symphonic jazz choir they could not sing the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” because the songwriter, Freddie Mercury, was gay.

(Eventually, Mr. Probasco relented and allowed the song to be sung with lyrics edited to remove a section about killing a man.) From the article:

[Senior Rachael] Clark said it didn’t make sense for the school district to tout tolerance for all and then turn around and allow homophobia to dictate something such as graduation music.

“We were joking about singing Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind,’ instead,” Clark said. “I guess no matter what you do, someone’s feathers are going to get ruffled.”

(For those that don’t get Rachael’s joke: Elton John is gay. Also of note is that Freddie Mercury was actually bisexual, not gay.)

Of all the reasons to censor a piece of music, this probably has to be the lamest. Especially from a school that promotes tolerance for all. I question just how much Wasilla High’s administration really promotes tolerance in light of this. Gay, lesbian, white, black, yellow, red, brown, male, female, dark hair, light hair, low IQ, high IQ… we’re all people.

I’m no fan of either violence or censorship. This was some of Freddie Mercury’s best known songwriting work, and I think it’s unfortunate they felt editing was necessary at all. I hope going forward, those at Wasilla High and at schools with similarly intolerant administrations get a chance to learn what true tolerance and diversity is about.

This is 2011. Let’s make sure everyone gets the memo.